Tri season is here! And grumbling about the hypocrisies of outdoorsy lifestyles in Austin

Yay it’s that time of the year when the sun is getting hotter and completely unhindered by those white fluffy things in the Texas sky. Means running is a dehydrating, headache-giving, nauseating prospect. It means that to run, you have to wake up at 5 am when it’s only 85F or at 10 pm when it’s still 95F. So last year, I dropped the running and started swimming and biking and yeah! It is so much better in the heat. Sure I’d probably have to bike 30 miles before I burn as many calories as a 5 mile run, but that 30 mile run is not going to make me wanna vomit. Relatively speaking.
The Texas Tri series is out but I’m not thinking of a race until June at least. But the interest has begun. Tri-Oomph forum has begun to populate. People are talking about bike tune-ups and going for a test ride. Such fun! Looking forward to it.

On a different note, I’ve been thinking about the negative impact of trail running, or for that matter Austinites’ outdoorsy lifestyles. While trail running is great, you feel one with nature and it’s a more natural way to run, like how humans learned to run – in the jungle, on the mountains, while hunting or running away from prey. So it feels completely natural to run in the woods. But one has to consider that we don’t really live by jungles and trails and we drive many miles to get to the trails. While we are really lucky to have the Austin greenbelt so really we have a huge network of miles of trails inside the city. But at 6pm, I sit in traffic and drive 3 times the distance from work to home to run for 1 hour. And then I’m also running in several environmentally sensitive zones. Its the same thing with piling your bike onto your car, driving out somewhere so you can ride your bike. Makes sense? On one of my long runs, I drove to Bastrop, 30 miles away, to run for 8 miles (8 looong hilly, rocky miles, too nearly 2 hours). My race was 180 miles away in a tiny town in hill country.

That doesn’t mean I am going to stop going for my runs but I’m struck with the irony.

That’s what I don’t get about Austin for that matter. At the end of the day, this is the US. We still drive everywhere. We still have crappy public transportation. Everytime we visit a real city, I am so jealous of the plethora of buses and trains and the complete lack of debilitating dependence on cars that we have here. I mean, we have some public transportation. But Austin prides itself in being ‘green’. Then why is running/biking an activity that needs driving? Why do we sell more bike racks than bus tickets (not verified, do not quote)? I commend everyone that commutes by bike. One of the girls at work, I saw her today completely changed from work clothes to bike gear. She bikes about 10 miles each way to work. That’s awesome. But that takes planning. It requires carrying clothes to work, finding a place to shower. That takes extra effort, something which the average joe or jane may not be willing to do.

So, here we have two sorts of people. Maybe three. People who care enough to bike/walk/bus to work despite the many inconveniences in Austin. I swear I was one of them. I took the bus until one night I was stranded and didn’t have a way to get home from my run. I signed up for a parking spot in the building the next day. The second type are people who do care but don’t have the time/money/opportunity to take all that extra effort to not drive. And the third don’t care. But I think the majority is the second type. Given a choice, if it was convenient, people would take the bus or train. And not just get on their bikes or put on their walking/running shoes to go run outside of their normal routine. The US model of city life makes it very hard for people to do that.

And so I gape endlessly, at people who drive big trucks and SUV’s, get into them and go run in the woods for miles but only after driving for several miles. Such is the irony.

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2 responses to “Tri season is here! And grumbling about the hypocrisies of outdoorsy lifestyles in Austin

    • haha you bet. The irony i feel is between the idea that you can go running for miles on end, but if you need to go to the store which is say a mile or two away, you get into the car and drive.

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