Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Running Adventure: Houston Post Flood

Houston, Texas. A humid, burning concrete jungle where people pay to go to hot yoga. A “cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money, and violence. It’s a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the west – which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch.” ~Hunter S. Thompson

Despite the daily dose of sticky humidity slowly tip-toeing back in, signaling an end to the blessed 40-50 degree weather that is our winter, no gently cooling springtime showers were meant to be. In Houston, the proverbial “when it rains, it storms”, is the typical rule. Not so typically, we received a shocking 20 inches in under 24 hours no more than 2 days ago! Floodplains filled, man-made lakes overflowed, and streets and houses became unwilling submergeable hosts to myriad waterlogged wildlife – most likely just as confused at the loss of their homes.

I have been 2 days now rained out of work; there is indeed a downside to neighboring with a flood reservoir and pretty parks and trails – that downside I’m guessing you’ve already put together by the heading of this blog. Don’t misunderstand though, there are plenty of things to do when one is not at work. If I happened to win the lottery tomorrow I promise you I would have plenty of things to do without that annoying 7am alarm calling me to it!

A major (seemingly earth-shattering if my closet has anything to say about it) item I checked off my to-do list was spring cleaning. Gone are the days when I can’t see my closet floor, or decide what to wear based on its’ relative proximity to the door. Gone are five extra bags of items for charity. I have flood induced house arrest to thank for that. I do realize that some lost major items, lives, or everything they own, and I am not making light of that. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered in this. However, I write about what I know, and this is my experience.

Today being the second day inside, a serious case of stir-crazy began to set in. You know the feeling – nothing satisfies, no idea works, napping has lost its’ appeal (which isn’t often). With almost every major road surrounding me shut down, I decided to grab the running shoes and take off to the east.

I swiftly made it out of my subdivision, the only peculiarities being some downed branches and a stalled car in the middle of a street closer to the highway. I crossed the highway and headed further east through a neighboring subdivision. Everything seemed normal; an exhausted looking woman covered in a huge wrap hat was mowing her yard, and I nodded back to an old man out for a walk.

Coming out to the intersection of a major road, I will call it Sandy Road, cars began turning back. Both directions of this road were blocked off. I ran around the barrier and looked out before me. It was the strangest sight, you see this particular road is never without cars. Gazing as far down Sandy Road as I could, sun glancing off bare cement was all that existed. I took off running down the middle of Sandy at 2:30 PM, something that definitely made me feel like a brazen woman! It was the strangest and most peaceful thing, to be surrounded by nothing but wide empty road and waterfowl and bullfrogs. It felt like I was running by myself in a race. Perhaps this is what Callum Neff feels like when he’s winning races. Hmm.

To my left was nothing but woods, and to my right a half-submerged golf course, with wild ducks and cranes dotting the landscape. I slowed to a walk as I tip-toed accross a long thin 2 inch deep stream of clear water traversing the two halves of the road, being very careful to avoid three or four small snakes sliding along with the water. I briefly stopped to speak with a group of hikers walking in the opposite direction, and ran on. The hikers continued on their way and I was alone, with the exception of a huge county work truck loudly and easily making its’ way through the knee high water. The area had an almost post-apocalyptic feel. It got me thinking about 1984, and other such books with a similar theme. The code of the West would most likely change as well. Imagining is key, but I don’t think I’d like to find out.

I simply kept running in the sticky oppressive heat. I ran until the sidewalk ended. Literally. And the road, and the grass. I ran until sweat stung my eyes and it was hard to see without wiping my hand below the brim of my hat. Eventually, deep water appeared everywhere, gently lapping against the unburied road, owning my field of vision. It remained obstinately in the way, as if to say, “I’ll go when I please, and don’t you forget it.”. It was dangerous, and natural, and solitary, and beautiful. Too much of a good thing. I had to turn around, but by then it felt like a good time to head home anyway, to grab a bottle of ice cold water and chug it down. To cook dinner and move on. An entire world away for me, but in reality 5 miles complete.

I like to ride and run, and to work on speed, and hills, and endurance. But sometimes it’s fun to just get out there, explore something new, and go where you feel like going. Whatever your hobbies are, change them up so they remain new and interesting. A big change isn’t necessary, it can be something as small as how you choose to see it. Always try to remember why you began something. As we grow we change, and sometimes the reasons why you continue doing things aren’t the reasons why you are still doing them. It’s important to remember your roots. Sometimes it’s just as important to remember your original reason for beginning, and your reasons now, take what matters and merge the two. I think that’s a pretty good code of the west.

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