The marketing and branding surrounding this event, or shall we say simply, the HYPE made me think that I wasn’t going to enjoy this race that much because it wasn’t “serious” enough about the running.
My sister, B, started running a couple years ago, and I accompanied her when she bought her first pair of “real” running shoes. We were shopping for shoes again today and reminiscing about that first trip, and she said I could re-post this hilarious entry she wrote for her own blog in 2011.
One thing I was really looking forward to during my trip to Austin was getting new running shoes. I bought my old ones because they were the cheapest, cutest sand-proof shoes I could find, and I needed them to wear to the elementary school where I teach. When I started walking and running, I wore them because they were my only athletic shoes. I wasn’t even sure I’d keep it up long enough to bother buying real ones. Shows you how I felt about myself!
But now that I’m planning to continue running for the foreseeable future, I wanted to spend the necessary money on good shoes. Proper shoes that fit your feet and are designed for your activity are one of the only things I think it’s worth to buy the best. DVDs, gym memberships, performance wear, heart-rate monitors, ipods and home equipment can all be optional or cheap, second-hand or improvised. But not shoes! And most people need to be fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing. Since Austin has several stores with such people, and my tiny hometown has none, I was excited to get myself a shiny new pair of shoes while I was there.
My sister, obviously in-the-running-know, recommended Luke’s Locker, a new place in Austin. I instantly loved the decor and vibe, described by Cate as “Anthropologie for runners!” Hearing I needed to be fitted for running shoes, one of the young, friendly employees directed me to “Matt”, who would be “taking care of you.” Hello, Matt.
Matt was young and good-looking, but not so good-looking that he knew it and was full of himself. Yes, I knew this just from looking into his blue-green eyes. He stared deeply into mine as he explained why it was important to wear shoes fitted to your feet and to replace them as they wore out. He questioned me about my running regime and I knew that he really, really cared about my answers. He had me run inside the store for him and praised my high arches that collapsed with each step as “ideal”. As he knelt to unlace my shoe, I began to feel my level of attraction to him ridiculous for a married woman. I tried to deflect attention off to my sister, much better suited to his age, which worked fine until she got up to go look at the clothes. We were alone in a corner of the store, with him holding different shoes for my feet like Cinderella’s prince, chatting like a good salesman about why each one was perfect for me. Finally out of shoe talk, he asked me where I was from, how long I was here, and so on. It really started to get frankly uncomfortable as I became more intensely aware of how attracted I was to him and the specialized attention he was giving me. I AM MARRIED. HE IS COLLEGE-AGED. HE IS JUST TRYING TO SELL ME SHOES. STOP IT.
In the car, I confessed to my sister and reproached her for leaving me. She laughed and said that the same thing happens to her, the feeling of intimacy caused by someone who is deeply interested in your running schedule while dressing and undressing your feet. In fact, she was once so flustered that she bought the wrong shoes! She said she thought he was cute, too, but she figured I was above such shallowness. Apparently not.
When I got home, my annoyance with Matt for being so good-looking was erased as I saw he had written me a note on my shoe box, on a fill-in-the-blank form taped to the side:
“__B__ Thanks for shopping at Luke’s Locker! __Matt__ ”
We’re BFFs again, Matt.
I don’t know if anyone would argue for the superiority of “Wacko Waco” over Austin, my hometown and perennial maker of “best places to live” lists. But there are some things that are better here in Waco, my college town, that people might not know. Behold.
1. Traffic / commutes / parking
Stuff is closer together since it’s a smaller city. In Austin, it’s not uncommon for me to drive 15 miles down a highway to go run, go downtown to do something fun or shop somewhere nice, or see friends. Urban sprawl, y’all. In Waco, I live 2 miles from the track, 1 mile from school, 1/2 a mile from the grocery store, 1.5 miles from work and downtown shops and restaurants. It’s a major expedition to go to the Target 5 miles away. I can bike almost everywhere. There are never traffic jams and rush hour is unheard of. Finally, public parking downtown is a breeze. Campus parking does suck (that’s why, if for no other reason, you should bike!) but it sucks in Austin at UT too. Anyway, this stuff makes daily life a lot more pleasant.
2. Cost of living
In general, food at restaurants, rent and entertainment is a lot cheaper here. And theaters … which brings me to…
3. $5 movies! Seriously. Not even matinee.
And since they’re not crowded you can literally decide to go to a movie 15 minutes before it starts, drive there and find a seat in plenty of time. In Austin, this requires a lot more planning and money. Tickets cost twice as much.
4. Street cred. ‘Nough said.
5. The Zoo
Austin’s got an “animal sanctuary” with three-legged wolves and old turtles. Commendable, indeed, but not close to matching the Cameron Park Zoo with its array of animals, the natural habitats, playgrounds and sculptures, and twisting pathways and boardwalks covered with shade trees. It’s big enough to be well-entertained for an afternoon, but small enough to where you’re not overwhelmed. Fun for dates, family outings and out-of-towners.
6. Places to ride your road bike
Austin’s road biking community can’t be topped, but as far as actual routes it’s a lot more convenient to ride in Waco. I can go wheels down right outside my door and hit rural roads in a couple miles. In Austin, I’m surrounded by more dangerous roads. I either have to ride through the city with a bunch of stop signs and street crossings, or drive 20 minutes to start my ride out of town.
7. Less distractions
I have a huge fear of missing out on fun stuff. I know there are cool concerts, bars, restaurants, fitness meetups, book signings or art galleries to go to in Austin every night, so if I spend an evening at home I feel like I wasted it. By contrast, Waco has a lot less to do (unless you’re into country music, ugh) so spending a Friday night baking cookies and getting a DVD from Redbox passes for sufficient entertainment. This fits in nicely with the runner lifestyle which requires a certain amount of restraint from the trappings of a rockstar lifestyle. This is actually what I tell people when they ask me if Waco is boring, if it sucks (no, you suck) or say “I’m sorry,” when I tell them I go to Baylor. Yeah, it is less exciting than other places sometimes, but that’s good for me. Besides, as long as you have cool friends, you can have fun anywhere.
In conclusion, most of these reason of why Waco is better stem from the fact that there are a lot less people who live in this metro (200,000 ish compared to Austin’s 1.7 million). This creates a paradox. You either have great service or a great experience, like a secluded mountain bike ride through Cameron Park or 1-on-1 customer service like at the running store where I work. Or you get crappy service because the place is way too popular for its own good and can’t scale their business big enough to help you, like at Chuy’s on the weekends.
I’ll be in Waco for the next five months at least, soaking up all the light traffic, cheap stuff, zoo animals sightings and good bikin’ I can get. Come visit anytime.
I started this entry poolside at the Austin Motel on South Congress. My mom and I wanted to do a mini-vacation before I got back to school and we decided we didn’t want to even go anywhere besides Austin. That is some serious city love, folks.
We spent a couple days shopping on SoCo, running and working out (we have time to do as many yoga classes as we want!), eating out every meal, visiting the Austin Museum of Art and chilling at the kidney shaped pool here. It’s just what we needed; the perfect getaway.
Vacation is a lot more fun when you actually deserve it. I did because, for the first summer in my life, I was busy 40 hours a week. My schedule was pretty sweet, and even though I was doing two things I loved, the whole being-busy-from-9-to-5 thing was quite the draw on my running, social life, close relationships, ability to run errands and overall stress. Welcome to the real world, I heard.
My two summer occupations were taking two graphic design classes at the community college here and interning at Flotrack.
Graphic design stuff
Wonderful. Four hours an afternoon, four hours a week with lab time included. Time consuming but fun – got to play a lot with Illustrator and Photoshop. I always knew I’d like these programs. I’m sure I only scratched the surface of their capabilities, but it was so satisfying to create my own artwork. I know I need some real art instruction too, but my most recent attempt at that, Drawing I at Baylor freshman year (charcoal and easels? What the heck?), was way too hard. Anyway, the instruction at ACC was decent and you can’t beat the price – about $500 for both classes. Sure, I could have taught myself but that would necessitate purchasing the Adobe Creative Suite and, even harder, making myself do the work. Much easier having a schedule and deadlines.
Here’s one of my projects. We were supposed to make a poster for an event, involving movement. I made mine about my weekly Wednesday run with my friends in Austin. It was one of the highlights of my week. Bonus points if you can tell which super fast runners I used for this poster.
Another fun project was this abstract composition – make a focal point! My prof said I had a good eye for color on this project. High praise! I have always loved color.I also did the blog design you are looking at now in my Photoshop class. For the rest of my projects, you can check out this album on Facebook.
Also wonderful. I was an editorial intern for this start up media company centered all on running. This fits in perfectly with my job aspirations of communications + running. It was an honor to be a part of the company that I admired so much. I’ve been a Flotrack fan for a long time, thanks to their coverage of my chosen sport.
At my internship, I helped with all things writing – news releases, newsletters, meet coverages and articles, updating media contacts, and other small projects. It was great experience and on top of that a ton of fun. The Flotrack guys, if you’ve seen any of their videos, are fun and passionate about the sport of track. They are just like that in real life! Never a dull moment at the Flocasts offices, believe me.
It was also cool to be in an Austin startup (celebrated five years this summer) full of creative people who work hard every day for something they believe in. As a lifelong Austinite, I’ve always taken pride in Austin’s thriving tech scene, and seeing how that worked on a daily basis was inspiring.
Here’s a couple of the pieces I wrote for Flotrack –
Got to listen to a live teleconference with Ryan Hall, America’s top marathoner, then wrote about it. Also designed this banner that went on Flotrack’s front page.
Feature piece! My boss did this banner.
Both of my summer pursuits were great opportunities, I learned a lot, had fun and surprisingly, found an even deeper appreciation for my city of Austin. Maybe there’s good community colleges across the nation, but there is only one Flotrack and it’s headquartered right in Austin. How cool is that?!
The bad things about this summer were that I allowed myself to be stressed too much about these obligations, plus getting in all my training. Like I said, it was also quite the stressor on relationships… relationships take time, y’all.
As far as running this summer, fortunately my awesome coach let me take it pretty relaxed. I did mostly easy runs and I went with friends almost every day. Running with the Flotrack guys was also fun – always something to talk about. The hellish heat and drought made me pretty angry when I thought about it, but most of the time I just gritted my teeth and got up at 6:15 a.m. Definitely not optimal training conditions, but it worked out ok. I had my fastest long run average EVER on the last weekend I was home. Last 10 miles of a 12 mile run were at 65 minutes! Don’t know where that came from.
Anyway, now I’m BACK AT BAYLOR – ready to tear it up my senior season in cross country. Stay tuned and Sic ‘Em.
Lest you think my eating/cooking experiences are all fancy or all classy, let me tell you about where I ate lunch yesterday, and a sad, sad consequence of eating healthy.
My family and I joined some friends for lunch at Gatti’s Pizza in Round Rock (Gatti-Town, to be specific) after the service we attended at my mom’s church.
Now, my family literally grew up on Gatti’s. It was a local chain founded and based in Austin. We’d go to celebrate birthdays, after our swim meets, when we wanted to watch a big football game (we didn’t have cable), or just on a weeknight when my dad come home early. I have three siblings, and we all loved the pizza and pastas. Gatti’s was a treat that never lost its sway. Heck, even my parents liked it.
The pizza is decent – medium crust, a spicy-sweet sauce, with a nicely-browned cheese mix. They made normal variations like sausage, pepperoni and supreme. They had a couple dessert pizzas, like Dutch Apple Treat and cinnamon sticks. The pastas were good too; they had spaghetti with meat and marinara sauce that you could ladle on yourself (woohoo!), and mac & cheese at some locations.
I’m certain that Gatti’s biggest draw to our palates was that it was an all-you-can-eat buffet. We affectionately called it “Fatty’s” for the feeling we had after eating there. We hated the drive home after eating Gatti’s, because the car’s movement on the down hills hurt our stomachs.
Back in the day, though, before I knew or cared that overeating was bad for your body, I liked Gatti’s.
Enter healthy eating. I got serious about taking care of my body in high school, when I wanted to become a better runner. I started to learn about food as fuel, and that eating the right types of food could make you perform and feel better. I mean, not like its a new concept, I’d just never applied it to myself before. Out with the Fritos and Pop Tarts, in with the whole grains and vegetables!
With all its benefits, of course I’m not sorry I started eating better… but it did have a few drawbacks.
The biggest drawback to healthy eating is that unhealthy/low-quality food doesn’t taste as good anymore :( This is fine for most of the time. It’s nice not to be tempted to eat fast food, ever.
But then you find yourself facing a meal at Gatti’s, or some other place you used to love, and it’s gross.
I ended up eating a few slices of pizza, as well as some decent salad bar vegetables (cucumber, bell pepper, red cabbage). The pizza wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t good, and afterward my stomach hurt. Eating healthy/cooking takes all the fun out of eating bad, even the foods you used to enjoy.
I still love pizza, but Gatti’s just isn’t quality enough for me to be like “yay! We’re going to Gatti’s!” Healthy eating, AKA: say goodbye to a piece of your past!
The good thing about my lunch was that the fun of eating a meal with old friends hadn’t changed. I got to spend time with some friends from high school who still go to that church, and we had a great time catching up. We talked about the stuff we did in high school, just stupid stuff because we had so much free time. I felt like a part of me got to wake up again, because of the memories.
Food and eating was and still is really important to me. It’s more than just sustenance. But life is bigger than our experiences in it with food. Ultimately, no matter where I dine, going with people I love is the best part.
But a huge, fresh, salty, hand-crafted pizza pie doesn’t hurt.