So I’m a swimmer (well, water polo player technically) who dabbles in running. I played competitive polo for eight years, have done seven triathlons, and am a certified yoga teacher–so yeah I’d say I’m pretty active. But I have this weakness….it’s called land. After years of swim sets, tread wars and passing drills, I am physically conditioned for the water and mentally opposed to gym shoes. Honestly, even after months of not touching the water (thanks to injury, graduation, no lap pool access) I still refer to what people normally call a work out: “dry land”. It’s a supplementation. It’s cross-training. It’s a means to an end. And that end is always, inevitably in a pool somewhere…
Anyways I have this friend. Let’s call her “Anne Marie.” She comes into my life during one of my weaker moments where I’m nostalgic like crazy, missing my team and polo and even these terrible things we used to do called “Satan drills” because that had been my entire life for so long. So, she pitches me this idea of doing the Woodlands Half Marathon. She says she’s convinced my other fellow swimmer friend, Christen, to sign up for it as well. Christen and I are on the fence for a while. Have a minor freak out session. But somehow in one of our adrenaline moments of hysteria and delusion we put down the $100 or whatever and sign our lives away to go run 13.1 miles… for “fun”.
So I found myself a training plan that allows for lots of cross-training. (Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that its the running that is the main event. Like it’s the end goal. And not, idk an actual goal, like in water polo…). It’s 16 week long program that is a combination of sprint work-outs, tempo runs, cross training and of course, the ever
dreaded beloved “long run” day. If you are unfamiliar with how a marathon training program is organized, the long run typically occurs on the weekend and starts off with small distances, building each week until you inevitably hit that 13.1-mile mark on race day.
So today was the second week of my training program and my first real long run. I know… you must be thinking: But Anastasia! This is Week 2! Surely you went on the 5-mile run assigned for the Saturday of Week One? Ah. Well. A Series of Fortunate Events happened and that long run just didn’t get done last week. But I am here now and I vow to document the remaining weeks of training program and my adventures in the running world of Houston. Today’s featured Houston running spot? Memorial Park.
Memorial Park is a great place to run because you can go run there pretty much any time of the day. There are always 732139048 other people running, there are wide, maintained gravel trails and plenty of lighting and parking–so running at 5:30am or 9:30pm are totally viable options. (Basically, I have no legit reason to skip the long run). The main running trail is a 2.88 mile loop, but by the time you park you car and walk over, you can successfully call that a 3-mile loop. There are also tennis courts, a golf course, and a swimming pool that is open to the public (unfortunately only during the summer though).
Today, Anne Marie and I decided to do our long run together. We show up around 5:15pm. Sun is setting. Temperature is perfect #thankshouston and there are gazillions of people out. Perfect conditions for sweating in solidarity. As I’m pulling up to park I see this woman by the Arboretum (oh yeah, Memorial Park also is home to the Houston Arboretum) and she is walking some sort of CREATURE. Naturally, I park like a maniac, yell at Anne Marie to lock her car and lace up her shoes stat because we gotta GO and see what the EFF this woman had on a leash. We sprinted. Talk about motivation.
We found her. Found out that she was walking not one, not two, not three, but FOUR coutimundi. They are some sort of cousin to the raccoon family and originally from South America. And apparently this woman has four of them and takes them for walks. Waat.
If you were a recipient of my snap you would know that our conversation went something like this:
Me: Cool! You take them for walks?
Her: Yeah…because otherwise they would just stay in cages.
Me: Of course.
So needless to say, the rest of our run was pretty mundane. Although we did kill it with the 6-miles. Didn’t break pace the entire time! Feeling pretty good about the whole half marathon thing. I guess an
old swimmer can learn some new tricks?