There's only so much enthusiasm having secured a Glastonbury ticket one can muster when in the throes of being very tired. Usually I'm in the grip of a hangover after some big Saturday night is followed by an 0830 alarm call to get into panic mode of pressing F5 whenever a ticket page fails to come up, but the joy of getting a ticket delays any headaches. Today I woke up after 4 hours sleep, likely curtailed by aforementioned excitement and trudged off on my now customary mile walk to start the day. This has been implemented post-creak in attempt to just get things used to moving, rather than dragging my muscles, ligaments and of course tendon sheaths kicking and screaming from their slumbers. This would have been the day we'd have gone to Austin City Limits if the RV delay and the creak hadn't happened, but we just readjusted our goals to reach Austin's City Limits instead. It was really cold this morning, to the point where I could see my breath and I reversed my usual routine of trying to find shade when the sun is still low enough to actually seeking out any shards of sunlight peaking through the dense woodland lining the road. Around a mile or so into actually running I came across a portly black and white chap sitting by a bin. I took a photo of this poor abandoned panda and trotted on, only to go back 50m down the road and decide he was coming with me. I settled on a straight arm by my side as the best compromise of not sweating on him and not killing my deltoids, but still, his weight and bulk meant it wasn't an easy job and when Nads took him off me (Anticipating he was in my possession the second she saw the posted photo) about 8 miles later, I was might relieved and found a 40 second per mile speed boost! Naming process is underway...he's definitely a boy though.
We reached the town of Bastrop, astride the Colorado River (No, no that one.) handily enough, taking lots of photos of the numerous statues that dot the streets here and crossed the Colorado over a bridge that provided both pretty and safe to the party, so I was happy. There I met Nads, who was quite stressed out over her deductions that the recent stink was due to the auxilliary battery, which fitted with the sulphur smell and the location. We had no luck getting into an RV repair shop so gambled on getting a new battery fitted and hoping that there's not a fault in the charging circuit that will send this battery the same way. This all happened as I ploughed on to Austin. Ploughing was going well until I reached a major bridge reconstruction project and the road that I needed to un on no longer existed. This meant trying to cross a road as busy as the M6 in rush hour, both carriageways and then run along a narrowed stretch with no space to jump off in case of any emergency. The construction worker offered to give me a lift as he was worried for my safety, but as I have no regard for this, I informed him I had to complete the crossing on foot and would hope for the best. After a harrowing mile of beeps and swerves, I got to the final meeting point, by Austin-Bergstrom Airport, only to see that the construction meant I had no chance of crossing the road and a half (bonus!) mile detour. I wasn't too upset at this as tomorrow was a semi-day off and as such, we were going out on the town in Austin. We stayed at a really quaint, hippyish RV park near the centre and got down to 6th Street, where dinner (and craft beer, obviously) went down at the Austin Ale House and we called in at Stubb's BBQ (Famous music venue) and a couple of other joints, before getting in after midnight. Rebels.
Start: Carmine. Finish: Austin-Bergstrom Airport. 34.3 miles
There's only one thing worse than not getting a lie-in on a day off and that's leaving someone to their lie-in as you get up. Nads deserved it though, so I wasn't complaining. Actually I was. I was pretty drunk after only a few beers that night and I had a headache. Makes a change for something to ache above the waist, I guess. It was still pretty late for me at eight thirty and there was no cold start today as I roasted in the sun waiting for the 100 bus to the airport. $1.75 will do very nicely and after doing my warm up walking from the bus stop to yesterday's pick up, I got into my running straight away, planning to do the 9 miles in one go. I was feeling pretty mobile this morning as often happens, weird things occur. This particular weird thing was the arrival next to us in the RV park of a family from California who are travelling the country after packing in work and selling their house to build a new life in another part of the country. Very exciting. Now it turned out that James is a chiropractor and I got chiropracted the previous night. It was pretty terrifying to be honest and after the crack of my spine or SI joint was noted, I checked to see if my toes still moved. All was well, it wasn't painful and felt quite...funny...in the amusing sense, but I did notice a difference! The closeness of the whole procedure made me happy James wasn't a stinky guy, but I'm not sure he got so lucky after my run. Three dogs were also in the RV too, so I declared my professional hand and discussed a few minor ailments and clipped some claws. It's their little lad Grayson's birthday today, so happy birthday and good luck on the new life hunt guys! I had a pleasant run in, aided by lots of little rests as I photographed Austin's quirky street art, houses and skyline. Notable mentions go to the large numbers of Donald Trump Pinatas and signs for Bernie Sanders – President 2016. Austin does things differently, for sure. I bumped into a chap who was on his first run in months after a back injury and it turned out he's a major player in the music industry, here for ACL, has met Macca and toured the world as part of his high-up role in REM's management. We were both at the same gig in 1999 at Glastonbury where REM were showcasing the Up album and this is still one of the best concerts I've ever seen. He mentioned that the guys are still really close to Athens, Georgia and said that maybe if I got that far, we could see what we can do about saying hello to them. If that ain't motivation! He is also a top level athletics coach and former sub-4 miler, so he was very interested in my run and especially the fact that I've started to listen to the body and ease off a bit. We could have chatted all day, but this time, it wasn't just me who had a run to complete.
On arrival back at the RV park, Nadine and I headed off for some great falafel/meze at a local food truck court, before moving on to Zilker Park where the main stage was being dismantled. SO CLOSE! Fortunately the turtle population hadn't gone home and being able to have the time to enjoy a bit of nature whilst stood still was a novelty! After this, I was off to meet the students of Texas A+M University. More specifically, their running club. I picked up a box of Science in Sport (Nutrition suppliers to British Cycling, Liverpool FC and err...me!) gels on the way, that the local independent running store, Lukes Locker had held for me (Such are the difficulties with not being in one place). Austin is a big running city and this shop was huge, with really friendly staff who were still staggered by the challenge,despite being big runners. That's always more worrying to me! :D As you would expect with students, free stuff was gratefully received by the turn out of 50+ very fit looking runners. Madeleine, the head honchess, who has just qualified for his first Boston Marathon (One I hope to be at!) introduced me and explained that there were three routes to choose from: A 3, 5, and 7 mile offering. 3 please. That'll do nicely. They're a really chatty bunch and the state of the Longhorns college and England football teams, future races and running red lights were dotted into chat about Going The Distance and this chat was carried on in the Crown and Anchor over some veggie hotdogs and a couple of pints with some of the guys, including Colin, a Leicester fan of 5 years duration, who still can't believe his luck, Ryan, one of my main run chat buddies and Leah, a budding sports journalist who will be grilling me in the next week, before Ryan and Mads kindly dropped us back at the RV park, which is conveniently next door to a brewery AND a running club. Of course we checked it out, but this time we were home by 10. Business was about to recommence.
Start: Austin-Bergstrom Airport. Finish: Pecan Grove RV Park 11.7 miles, including the TRC run
Oh, it's hard to start again when you've had so much fun and it's also beef if you haven't really rested, so it wasn't really like a day off, as far as my legs were concerned. I think I need a Segway.
The guys at the Texas Running Club had said that after 50 miles or so of hills coming out of Austin it gets pretty flat. It says something about what we've done so far that I didn't even register that 50 miles bit until they started. They're not exactly monsters, but loooong and with the creak currently playing nice, but still there, downhills are as much of a worry, if not more than the uphills. This felt like another “start”, but one where distractions will be few and far between. It's about 580 miles to El Paso, which we hope to reach by Halloween, which is HUGE in the States. It reminds me of how we moan when Christmas starts getting pushed in October. We've seen massive promo stuff everywhere since we arrived in early Septemeber and the guys at the TRC were genuinely surprised that it's not a big deal in the UK. They also said that El Paso's Halloween is also heavily Latin-tinged, with a “Day of the Dead” or “Dia del Muerto” aspect. I'm more excited about that, but in the meantime, I've got a couple of weeks to find a suitable costume...
A general lack of suitable shoulder or a really steep camber, alongside the rolling hills led to it being fairly tough running and it wasn't until after lunch or so where I felt ok and really enjoyed a run. This was through the area of Bee Creek (Thank god it wasn't Wasp Creek) and this has provided the inspiration, alongside my covered distance thus far for my “Song of the Day”, which takes an unusual format today...I'll put it up a bit late to see if any of you guess it.
We're trying to get a bit more disciplined over rest breaks and it meant a finish around 1730 today, which I'm optimistic that we can get closer to 1600, now we're not trying to crack 40 mile days. When I get a bit closer to California I might try and have a bit more fun, in the masochistic running sense, but I'm happy with sensible at the moment. I think Nads is too.
Start: Pecan Grove RV Park. Finish: Spicewood. 33.4 miles
Total: 710.65 miles