Saturday, February 24, 2007


Today is the 28th Annual Cowtown Marathon. To me, that meant I couldn't get around on my usual back-road routes to do my Saturday chores (I am well known for refusing to drive on the freeways and avoiding any major arteries if at all possible). So I haven't yet gotten to Barnes & Noble, waiting for the back of the pack to pass, and I probably won't get to Central Market, which isn't the end of the world since I'm going out to dinner the next two nights amd have a freezer full of food.
But years ago the marathon was much more than a nuisance in my life. My ex-husband was one of the founders, and I did publicity for the event. Every year the children and I would go to the North Side, and I'd turn them loose for the day. The North Side then didn't have quite the strong and relatively safe tourist reputation it has today, and when I look back on it, I'm horrified I let them go unsupervised. But to this day they assure me they were always with a crowd of other kids. Of course back then, it was much smaller. The first Cowtown brought in a sleet storm--I can still see Joel sitting in our bedroom the night before, saying, "Sleet! I don't want sleet!" Some 200 runners showed up--today there were 14,000 which leads me to suspect it's lost some of the charm it had when we all knew everybody. I think my children still remember those days among the highlights of their childhood, and I am tickled today that Jamie and Brandon are doing triathlons, and Maddie goes along as a volunteer. Of course, in this day and age, they make sure she's supervised every minute. In late May, maybe Memorial Day weekend, Jamie is planning a big familiy get-together built around the Austin Triathlon. He assures those that don't want to run that they can still enjoy all the partying, but it may be hard for the families with young babies.
I feel like I've been on a marathon myself this week--a work marathon. We were one person short in the office, due to the flu, and several books have absolute deadlines that must be met. So I worked mornings in the office, afternoons at home on office stuff, and evening rereading and cleaning up the novel one more time. The mystery is as "done" as I can make it for the time being. Monday I'm having lunch with my mentor, and he may have some suggestions, but three chapters are in the hands of an agent and I'm waiting for a reaction. At the risk of being cocky, I feel good about this.
By Monday afternoon, we should have handled the crunch at work (part of it caused by the need to print out maps, which are in huge files that slow down a computer so much you might as well redraw the maps). I'm spending some of my weekend editing cartographic remarks on the 64 maps. They were written by someone who apparently sees no use in such words as "the" and "a" and "an," giving the remarks a terse quality. I'm going back to "nicen" them up (and put commas and periods inside the quotations marks where they belong!)
Going to dinner tonight at The Star, a North Side steakhouse owned by good friends Betty and Don Boles. For about six years I ran the cash register on Saturday nights. It's a cowboys and blue-jeans kind of a place, a dramatic change from my daily academic atmosphere--and I loved doing it and still love going there. Tonight my friend Jeannie and I are going, and Christian and Jacob will meet us since Jordan is out of town. But now I'm wondering if the place will be full of runners. It certainly fills up when NASCAR is in town or Willie Nelson is at Billy Bob's. I'll have to call and find out.
It's a nicer day for a marathon than that first year, mostly sunny, with a temperature in the seventies (maybe a little too hot for most runners). But as I sit at my desk, the wind is howling around my house at 35 or 40 mph--could blow some runners off course!

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