Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Holiday Slugfest is Over!

Yes, it's true. I spent the holidays having a fabulous time with my friends. We ate, we drank, we played. We ate & drank & played again. We ate...well, you get the picture. Did I work out? Ummm...only if rushing to the bar at last call counts for sprinting. Am I back in the saddle? Yes! The slugfest season celebrating couch potatoes is officially over. You know which one I'm talking about, right? Starts at Halloween or as I like to call it, Hallowine, and goes through New Year's.

I am coaching a walking group for the Cap 10K in March. Austin Fit head walking coach Elayne is tag teaming with me on Thursday nights. We've enjoyed the first few weeks of training, although we're walking on sidewalks and streets. I prefer to walk on the trail since it's so much softer. Concrete and asphalt are unforgiving. My walkers are great and I have a soft spot for one of them already. She doesn't quite believe she can do 6.2 miles. I know she can, if only out of stubborness and personal dedication. She was our ONLY walker who showed up on week 2, when temps dipped and abnormally chilly weather ruled the evening. Mmmhmm, she'll be fine.

I had a blast, blast, blast over the weekend. On Saturday I manned a water stop for AF's 21 miler, the last long run before the AT&T Marathon & Half-Marathon. We had all the usual water stop goodies: water, Gatorade, bananas, gummy bears, salted boiled potatoes, pretzels, cookies, chocolate and mimosas. What? Yes, mimosas. How do you think we kept warm? We offered up band aids, vaseline and rides back for a few runners who were courting injury if they kept going. We were only a few miles from the finish, but there's no sense risking harm so close to the marathon. Our water stop had the added advantage of being in the Double Dave's Pizzawork's parking lot. Mmmmm. Guess what lunch was? Yup. Cheese pizza.

Our volunteers were terrific, as usual. When the other water stops starting closing down, more volunteers came to join us. I can honestly say this was the best staffed stop, ever. And possibly the one with the most unusual topics of conversation. Our gabbing zigzagged from New Jersey squirrels with lead poisoning to the Colton Pitonyak trial to runner's issues such as digestive upsets and raw nipples. Why is it men (and some women) think they can run for miles and miles and not have chafed nipples? I saw at least two men who were bleeding. Trust me, bleeding from the nipples whilst wearing a white running shirt is not sexy. At all. Hello, people! Either use round band aids or buy some Nip Guards. The Nip Guards are easier to peel off than band aids, I think.

Sunday morning was even more fun than the water stop. I organized a cheer squad for friends running the 3M Half Marathon. Frank, Chel, Dan and I started off around mile 3.5, cheering in the cold for Coby, Gilbert, Christine, Todd, Rockett, Jason and assorted other friends. And let me tell you it was cold. Frank brought a jug of Starbucks, but after two sips my java was icy. Still, mile 3.5 was a good time, with Duran Duran blaring from Chel's SUV. We showed up at mile 9 as well, handing out Kleenex, bananas, potatoes, cookies and pretzels. Dustin joined us at that mile marker and cheered along with us. For some reason he was not as adept at getting rid of his snacks. I suggested he take off his shirt. Female runners (as well as a few males) would then veer toward him and he could thrust cookies at them. He did not follow my advice. It was cold.

It was exciting and thrilling to be in the thick of it but still on the sidelines. To be a good cheer station, you have to know the race route, road closures and limited access roads. Then you have to plan your stations around all that, keeping in mind that you can't cross any road on the route. Even limited access roads will sometimes have a 30 minute wait for a gap in runners before the police will allow a vehicle to cross. So, we dashed all over Austin but it was well worth it. Not much makes you feel as good as seeing teammates at their best or being supportive when they're at their worst. It's a cheer squad's own version of a runner's high.

Christine finished in 1:56, an awesome pace time. Gilbert had a 1:45 run and Coby a 1:48, both terrific and finished strong, as I expected. Todd sped in with a 1:57 finish. Rockett pulled out a 2:14, despite the pair of brand new shoes she had on...found out quickly they weren't as broken in as she had previously thought. Jason finished in 2:08 but I haven't found out if he PR'd, as he hoped he would. I wandered around at the finish handing out more Kleenex to runners waiting in line for Rudy's Bar-B-Q. Made sense to hand them out since we had them. If you've ever had to indulge in a "farmer's blow" while running/walking, you can appreciate free tissues.

After the run, the gang met up at Z'Tejas for brunch. Z'Tejas has expanded into a national chain, but we dined at the spot that started it all, W. Sixth Street. I can't complain at all about the mango swirl margaritas or the chicken and potato hash. The combination of fried shredded potatoes, cubes of jerk chicken, poblano peppers, roasted corn and red onions topped with two eggs (I chose sunny side up) and a touch of chipotle hollandaise sauce was sublime. I just about licked my plate. And no, it wasn't low fat. I did say fried potatoes. I am convinced, however, that my Cheertator duties burn calories.

The next biggie is the February marathon. I'll be recruiting cheerleaders and Todd will be serenading the runners. His band, The Humiliators, plays at mile 0.5, just out of the start. I know it'll be a rockin' good time.