Jon Gugala, is on tour with the Karhu Originals Airstream. Here is how his first day went, as they started this week in Texas. Today’s column is a bit of a meditation on bats, getting lost on a run, time zones, and of course, the joy of being on the road with your own Karhu Airstream.
AUSTIN, Tex. – Running on Lady Bird Lake my first afternoon after joining the guys on the Karhu Originals Tour, I saw a sign that said, “Texas: A Home for Bats.”
I did not know that Texas was a home for bats–had never considered this–until the next morning, the official start of my trip, when it began at 4:45 A.M.
The local Karhu rep woke Joe Moore and me up after we’d crashed at his place. Moore, a 2012 Olympic team trials competitor in the marathon and a Minneapolis, Minn., local, had also joined the tour with me on day 0, and he was in worse shape, having come direct from 2012 USA Cross Country champ Bobby Mack’s wedding in North Carolina complete with a case of food poisoning.
For someone acclimated to the west coast and its time zone–as I am–waking up at 4:45 A.M. CST reduces you to a mass of cause-and-effect muscles: You do what you’re told, and nothing else. You are only dimly aware you’re mouth-breathing.
Joe and I death-marched our way to the Karhu rep’s car at 5 and drove through the neon Austin morning to Rogue Running, one of the city’s independently owned specialty running stores. There, Wesley, the departing American Joe was replacing on the Originals Tour, and Jyrki, the token Finn for the trip, had set up the Karhu trailer (referred to herein as an Airstream, since, as the CEO says, a trailer is something that gets hit by a tornado).
It was 5:15 A.M.
At 5:15 A.M., I am not normally out of bed. I am not even thinking about getting out of bed. I AM NOT AWAKE AT 5:15 A.M.
But at 5:15 A.M. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are on average 75 people in Rogue Running milling about, who by all appearances show no sign that this is abnormal. They wear little clothing (more on that in a second), preparing to put in a morning’s work before heading to their workday.
Most are what owner Chris refers to as “locally competitive,” which in the men’s case can mean a 2:35:00 marathon (God knows what the women run–fast). We were invited by one of the coaches to follow the marathon groups, which were doing six, eight, or 10 miles.
And that brings up another point of running in Austin before the sun comes up: it feels like the inside of someone’s mouth–hot, humid, and dark. It requires the navigation skills of a bat.