There are times when I feel like my little corner of the running world is neatly divided into two distinct camps: Those who run with music and those who never do.
Let me state right off that I love music (rock, country, bluegrass-roots) and listen to it all day while working. (Thank you Pandora and Spotify.) Just not when I run.
To be completely transparent, I have never actually listened to music on a run (other than the occasional treadmill run) so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing. If so, that’s an acceptable loss.
Even though I don’t run with music, I have nothing against runners who are unable to do a single run or race without their Yurbuds. That is, runners just like one of my daughters.
She’s similar to many casual runners without a set routine who takes off on a whim a few days a week for three or four miles. Whether she’s running through her Los Angeles neighborhood, on a treadmill or in an occasional 5-K, she needs to be plugged in to get up and moving.
Good for her.
Aside from the obvious safety-factor, I’m just thrilled she enjoys running. But, she doesn’t know what it’s like to run without music and can’t understand how I can possibly do so.
Actually, it’s quite simple to leave my iPod at home as it would block the symphony of my morning sounds. First, on my play list is my breathing which plays out based on my effort. Soon, I settle down into its normal rhythm, pound a couple of easy hills, while monitoring my running system for any abnormal effort.
After a couples of miles, I enter a greenbelt with a rocky deer trail I call Rattler Alley. It’s usually too dark to see them, but I’ve stepped on a couple of big boys down here in the high grass so I’m always on high alert and tuned for any rustling in the grass. (I hate snakes.)
As I emerge from Rattler Alley onto my favorite golf course, the danger has passed, but my play list continues. It’s usually pretty calm so early in the morning, but this morning a nice little breeze rustled the bone dry Live Oaks and cedars that line the fairways and I tuned into their crackling branches.
There aren’t any golfers at this early hour, but the greens keepers are hard at work, tending to the sand traps and greens. They never stop their work to chat, but every morning we greet each other with a simple “Buenos dias” that I would never have heard if I was plugged in.
The deer are oblivious to me—and continue their feeding. Mostly they are silent, but occasionally one of the small herd will sound some type of snort to his grazing friends. That usually means Mr. Fox is lurking nearby. He isn’t a threat, but they monitor any quick movements. As do I.
After hopping across a couple of bone dry creek beds, I take a shortcut through a wooded area, heavily populated with squirrels and rabbits. his is dangerous turf. Not for me, but there’s always a hawk or eagle gliding along the course, searching for breakfast. Occasionally, they nail a bird, but squirrels and rabbits are more of a mainstay.
As I swing up a long par-5, I approach a hiding spot where some of the workers sneak a smoke. If I listen closely enough, I can hear them riffing in Spanish. Nearby, is a family of armadillos. They compete with the feral pigs (who I never see) for digging rights on the fairways and greens, clawing for something to eat. The armadillos don’t have much to say, but scatter into the brush as I cruise by.
One more fairway and I’m done with the golf course, emerging from the solitude of the course into a new development which used to be part of a cattle ranch. Once I hit the pavement, my pace (and breathing) picks up as I head for home. At the top of my final hill, I pass the deaf kids waiting for the Texas School for Deaf bus.
Some of them interrupt their signing and texting to acknowledge me with a glance as I run by. Unlike the other school kids waiting for the bus, the deaf aren’t plugged into anything, but their own moods, feelings and senses.
Just like me.
O That Austin is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to cycle and run isn’t exactly a newsflash. A few weeks ago, another cyclist was hit and seriously injured. Brendan Sharpe, a two-time state cycling champ and a frequent participant in the Driveway Series, was headed home in the very early morning hours after a night out with friends. At around 3:45, he was riding home with his wife JoJo in the southbound lane on Lamar when he was hit from behind. The driver failed to stop (and hasn’t been apprehended), leaving Sharpe behind with a broken back, broken nose and busted sternum. He’s already had two surgeries and is looking at a long recovery. So far, Brendan’s friends have raised nearly $40,000 to help with his medical costs. If you’d like to contribute, go to gofundme.com/OperationBrendo.
O Former Austinite Patrick Evoe had a breakthrough race at the Ironman Japan in Hokkaido last weekend. The 38-year-old pro finished second in the pro division in 9:28. Evoe’s run time of 3:08:29 was the fastest of the day. BTW: Evoe and his wife Megan O’Connor-Evoe, who live in Boulder, are expecting their first child in a couple of weeks.
O Although the Chinese stock market has fluctuated wildly this week, that didn’t stop a Chinese company—Dalian Wanda—from buying the Ironman Corporation yesterday from Providence Equity Partners. Get this: The purchase price is estimated to be a whopping $850-$888 million. Ironman HQ will remain in Tampa.
O Andrea Fisher, one of the co-owners of Texas Iron, has just been appointed Director of Aquatics at the YMCA—Town Lake. She’ll direct the masters program there as well as teach swimming. Fish had to pull out of the Beer Mile World Classic in San Francisco last weekend because of an injury.
O But in San Francisco, Canadian world beer mile record holder Lewis Kent took the Beer Mile men’s title in 5:09, while Caitlin Batten won the women’s division in 6:48. Former Austinite Chris Kimbrough (we still claim her) was second in 6:59, well off her PR of 6:28.
O The Leadville Trail 100 (The Race Across the Sky) was held last weekend in Colorado and San Antonio’s amazing Elizabeth Howard was the first woman in 19:34, more than 1 ½ hours faster than last year when she was second in the women’s division. The 43-year-old was sixth overall. Anabel Pearson of Helotes was the ninth woman in 24:41.
O Leo Manzano finished third in the first round of the 1500 meters (3:39.66) in Beijing to advance to the semis tomorrow night of the World Champs. If Leo makes it to the finals, it will be at 6:45 a.m. (Texas time) on Sunday. Former UT star Marielle Hall failed to advance to the finals of the 5000 meters. She finished 10th in her heat in 16:06. Another Texas Ex—Michelle Carter— won the bronze medal in the shot and Omar Craddock of Killeen (who jumped for Florida) finished fourth in the triple jump final. Trey Hardee begins the decathlon today. The Worlds are being televised on Universal Sports (Time Warner 407 but you have to pay for it) and will be on NBC Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
O There’s actually a “marathon” of sorts this weekend. It’s called BQ or Bust. Basically, it’s a Boston qualifier on the Brushy Creek Lake Park trail that will start at 6:30 on Sunday morning. The best part: It’s free. If interested, email Jen Harney at Rogue (email@example.com). She needs at least 10 runners to go the full distance to be a BQ. (She also needs aid station volunteers.)
O Former Vista Ridge stud Zac Ornelas—now a teacher in Michigan—finished 12th overall in the Bobby Crim 10-Miler last weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ornleas ran 49:22 and was the third American.
O Meanwhile, the Zilker Relays on September 11th is starting to shape up. Race director Paul Perrone reports more than 700 runners (175 teams) have signed up already.
O Former UT All American Craig Lutz, who is moving to Flagstaff, Arizona, will make his debut as a pro on October 4th at the USATF 10-Mile Champs in Minneapolis. Next year, he will try and get an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 10,000 (28:15). If he does the unexpected and makes the ’16 Olympic Team, Lutz will be the first Marathon Kids grad to do so.
O The UT cross-country teams have been out on the Lady Bird Lake trail on Sundays, getting ready for their season opener on September 4th. The Longhorns will host the Texas Invitational next Friday on their new home course—the Spicewood Course at Balcones Country Club in north Austin off 183.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Taking the Long Way,” by the Dixie Chicks. It’s been nearly 10 years since they released this great album and it was their last one together. Not coincidentally, the Chicks have reunited and will have a huge European tour next spring. No US dates have been announced, but Natalie Maines hinted they’ll play American shows. She tweeted, “I’ll never play nice again, but I will tour the States again.” Please, come home to Austin.
Have any news for me? If you have something, send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org.