Monday, August 10, 2009

Running in the Rain . . .

I'm trying to take this running thing very seriously and I've come to realize that strapping on my running shoes, my iPod and my elastic-waisted shorts and hitting the streets of College Hill is a far, far better motivator for me than running on my treadmill (there are people on the streets that can see me sweating, panting and walking-it-off).

I committed, once my brothers left, to making four OUTSIDE walk/runs per week and I am not going to back away from that until shin splints, public ridicule or chaffed thighs stop me.

I have a great route. I go out of the house, stretch in the driveway (yep, neighbors, that is my GROIN you see me flexing and working) and then I run down the driveway out to the left and down about 1/4 mile to the corners of Hillside and Lewis. I turn hard right and run/walk Lewis all the way to Oliver (one mile with the first 1/4 to 1/3 being up a very subtle hill and the rest largely flat with a few dips along the way) with each block marking if I need to keep running or if I can walk for one or two and then I turn around, walk/run back down Lewis to Hillside and then I walk back to the house. 2 1/2 total miles with warm ups before and some lunges and other yoga-inspired moves to follow (in the air-conditioned comfort of the basement).

I'm happy with it. I see people walking and running. Cars drive by. Dogs bark. People wave. Children cheer me at the side of the street like so many French cheer the peleton every summer during the Tour de France. Okay - that part doesn't happen (grimace). I get a good sweat going and I get to enjoy the neighborhood we love so much.

So, tonight, with a thunderstorm rolling in from the west, I gave Ava her bath, strapped on the New Balance (my back up kicks), synched up the iPod and hit the streets hoping to literally outrun the rain.

Uh - not so much. I got down to Hillside and turned hard east. I headed back up Lewis and - BAM - rain. It started out as a bit of a drizzle with some thunder and lightning above me. I thought, no worries (actually what I really thought was Bill Murray in Caddshack telling the Bishop that he should play on because it will be a while before the "heavy stuff" comes down . . . of course if you've seen the movie you know that, shortly after, the Bishop gets hit by lightning in a torrential downpour) and I pressed on, iPod blaring in my ears.

And, for the next 1/4 mile it was fine. Just me running and listening to This Colorful World (which is actually a great song to run to) in a light drizzle and then, as Bill Murray hinted, the "heavy stuff" started coming down.

It started POURING rain. Sheets of rain. Heavy wind. Lightning and thunder. The other people walking and running all disappeared. The mini vans all pulled away from Lewis. It was just me, the weather and misery coming in.

Within a few blocks my iPod earphones refused to stay in my wet ears. My t-shirt clung to me like the prize winner at a Cancun Spring Break contest (my moobs shimmering) and my shorts started riding up in weird ways.

The wind was freezing cold. My glasses were fogged up and speckled with rain (and sliding off my face) and my sneakers started to get squishy. I looked up - I was more than 3/4 of the way to Oliver . . . press on, I insisted.

I put my iPod in my pocket (how much more miserable is running when you don't have an iPod to cheer you on) to prevent actually ruining it. I took my glasses off and put them in my other pocket (I couldn't really see through the sheets of rain and the wet lenses anyway) and I pressed down. I was NOT going to walk. I was going to run. JUST run tonight. And that was the way it was - the rest of the way to Oliver and three blocks back.

My sneakers got heavy. FULL of water but feeling much heavier. I was trying to jump over the streams of rain/gutter water that flooded over the bricked streets of the neighborhood. I did okay too. Until, uh, I didn't.

I was running as hard as I could and realized I was entering an intersection. LIFT (I demanded in my inner-most monologue) and lift I did. Up. Over the raging river (I swear it was three feet wide and likely six inches deep) that ran below me. The landing though . . . not so much. My heavy, wet sneakers and my feet sliding in them caused some law of physics I was not familiar with that made my sneakers stick like a gold medalist of the horse but my feet kept moving inside them and I dropped, sloppily, to the street.

I pulled myself off Lewis. Screamed profanities (that's how I roll, kids) and started walking. That lasted for about 100 yards (I wanted to make sure nothing was broken (remember, I'm still 500 pounds in my head and falling means certain skeletal destruction)) and then I started jogging again. Wet. In pain. Miserable. iPodless. Glassless. Distracted. SO distracted I ran right past Yale street (not realizing it for another block and then barely catching it after a U-turn back).

Apparently there are actual tips for running in the rain.

That would have been helpful a few hours ago!

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