Sunday, March 29, 2009

Running Nose

So, I know I said I would talk about SXSW, but I ran a 10K this morning and I feel like I should bang out a post about that while I'm still all buzzy with runner's high.

I'd been hearing all week about the Statesman Capitol 10,000, a 10K race sponsored by one of the big newspapers here in Austin. I didn't really think too much about it, until I discovered yesterday that the starting line is just a few blocks from our house and also that this particular 10K involves costumes. Costumes? And running? Two of my great loves combined into one inexplicably weird and self-punishing hour of sweat and chafing? Helllllll yeah!

I did a little more research and learned that the Cap 10K is the largest 10K in Texas, and that last year more than 18,000 people ran it. It's one of the official markers to the beginning of spring in Austin. I was planning on running 6 or so miles today anyway, so at 6:32pm yesterday I said, "Let's do this thing!" And then I ate some ravioli, because I figured carbs were appropriate in this instance.

I decided I didn't have enough time to prepare a proper costume, so this morning I just put on some regular old running clothes, made myself a smoothie and biked over to the starting line. There was a giant Sea of People at the starting line, just south of the Congress Ave. bridge over Town Lake. Lots of people were wearing capes, a few were dressed as Easter bunnies, and some just had funny t-shirts, like a girl I saw whose shirt said, "Race official - do not pass."

Something weird always happens to me when I'm lined up for the start of a huge race like that. Something about the combined energy and excitement and nervousness of those many thousands of people overwhelms me, and I feel the need to burst into tears and sob like it's an episode of "Extreme Home Makeover" and I've got PMS. Isn't that weird? Like, I'm so amped up to be part of a huge group of people doing something good for their bodies, all in really great moods, all yelling encouragement to each other, and I get really emotional. Do I sound like a huge freaking hippie or WHAT.

Anyway, the starting gun went off and the Sea of People began to ripple forward. From then on for as far as I could see it was just a solid mass of bouncing heads and t-shirts. It is such a gorgeous day and there were so many fun costumes and bands playing along the way, I ran with a huge, goofy grin for the entire 6.2 miles. There were some really stellar costumes, but I had two favorites. One guy was dressed in a cardboard box he'd painted to look like an electronic road sign that said "Caution! Zombies ahead!" and his friend was dressed as a zombie. (This is now an inside joke amongst the entire city of Austin. I've posted on it before but refer you to Austinist if you haven't seen the photos.)

But by far my favorite costume was a woman who was wearing a giant nose, like in those gross Sudafed commercials where the people are just huge, talking noses with legs. It covered her entire body from her head to about her knees, and on the back it said "Running Nose." A pun-related costume at a running event. .......!


I finished the race really strong, even though all that smiling slowed me down a little bit. Afterwards I treated myself to two breakfast tacos and a latte, which I enjoyed out on the front porch because it's such a beautiful day. And now I'm going to shower and get right back outside to enjoy the 75 degree weather and blue skies.

As Mike said to me the other day, "I don't think the weather's going to be nice for too much longer. I think that Austin heat we've been hearing about is on its way." I said, "I know, it feels like Sunday." He looked at me kind of confused-like, and I said, "You know, it feels really awesome and perfect right now, but in the back of your mind you know something bad is coming soon."

But for now I'm in love with spring and running and costumes and puns and AUSTIN! Yay!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

All Hail Free Beer

This was at the Aussie BBQ last Friday during South by Southwest (or SXSW. Or South by, in local lingo.) More to come soon, but for now I am still recovering from fun overload brought on by SXSW, St. Patty's Day and March Madness all happening at once. One thing I learned last week: I am certifiably old.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Pickles Day!

Mr. Pickles sometimes gets his holidays confused. He'll probably be drinking Guinness on Cinco de Mayo.

Mas cerveza, por favor!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Texas Passport Might Be Revoked

I've been delinquent! I know. In my first week as a full-time employee at the marketing agency I ate three square meals a day at my desk, plus second dinner around 1 or 2am before finally going home. Funny that they waited until I was no longer on hourly pay before asking me to keep speed-tweaker-lawyer's hours. The following week I didn't have energy for anything but re-runs of "My Super Sweet Sixteen," and that was just because I didn't have the mental wherewithal to press "guide" and see what else was on.

THEN, last weekend we went to upstate New York for my future-step-sister-in-law's baby shower, which was lovely, if not overly hyphenated. We just happened to have booked our return flight to coincide with the worst storm of the year, resulting in one canceled flight and several other delayed ones before we finally were back in Austin and drooling on our pillows. That's my way of making excuses for abandoning the blog for a little while.

Sadly, while we were up in yankee territory, I seriously set myself back in terms of Texas enculturation. I missed Texas Independence Day.

Ha! Texas Independence Day, that can't possible be a big deal, right? I mean, is it even a real thing, or is it made up, like Arbor Day? If you don't know anything else about Texas, you should know that Texas is very excited about... Texas. And Texas is very into the fact that for nearly a decade it was its own independent republic. So, in fact, March 2 -- the day Texas declared independence from Mexico -- is like a high holy day here. State employees have the day off. People throw parties and play hold 'em. There are chili cook-offs and period costumes. For. Reals.

Texans' pride in the unique culture and lore of their state is endlessly fascinating to me; I don't think the same type of allegiance exists in any other state.

In my research before moving here, I read "Kinky Friedman's Guide to Texas Etiquette - or - How to Get to Heaven or Hell Without Going Through Dallas-Fort Worth." Kinky is a country musician/politician/writer/cowboy and, most importantly, a Texan. He is kind of like a modern-day Mark Twain, if Mark Twain were Jewish and BFFs with Willie Nelson. Anyway, his book was full of useful information such as "things you would never hear a real Texan say" -- for example, "Duct tape won't fix that" or "You can't feed that to the dog." (Mike pointed out that real Texans also probably wouldn't say, "I just read this book on Texas etiquette..." Meh.)

I learned a lot of valuable information from this book, including the meaning of the "Yellow Rose of Texas." The final battle of the Texas Revolution against Mexico was the Battle of San Jacinto -- a last stand between the Mexican army led by Santa Anna and the Texican army led by Sam Houston. It seems Santa Anna had a penchant for lovely mulatto ladies (bow chicka bow bow!). Sam Houston supposedly sent a hottie virgin slave named Emily Morgan to distract Santa Anna with her feminine wiles while the Texican Army psyched themselves up to attack. The battle forced the Mexicans to retreat and gave Texas its freedom. Since Ms. Morgan traded her flower for Texas' independence, she's forever known as "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Turns out the best way to defeat your enemy is sometimes with his own... bayonette.

Of course I'm not in favor of pimping out ladies for any reason, but I do think it's an interesting story. Way racier than gardening, which is what I thought the phrase referred to. Anyway, happy belated Texas Independence Day, y'all!