Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Running Through the Storm...Part I

Part I -- The Run

It's day 13 of Janathon and I haven't fallen off the workout wagon yet...(I still have to get in today's, but it's coming later this afternoon.) However, I did miss the mark on blogging yesterday. But, if I have to miss one or the other, it's better to miss a blog post than a workout in my opinion. So on to the workout...

For the first time in what seemed like ages (really only about 3 months), I got to run with the Cabot Country Cruisers for a Saturday morning long run. Between travel, races, and injury (mostly injury), I just couldn't get out there and run with the group. But yesterday they planned a 17 mile run and I was ready to get back with the crowd.

I didn't count, but it was probably 10 or so of us who met at 7 AM to set off. The plan was to do a 5 mile loop, then meet up with others who would join us at 8. So off we went!

What I like about these runs is the lack of stress. For a long time I avoided joining this fun-loving running bunch because I thought I wouldn't fit in, they'd be too fast, or a variety of other excuses I conjured up. But for the past couple of years, I've really enjoyed running with them, especially on these Saturday long runs.

It was a mixed group of fast, slow, and in-between runners, with me falling somewhere in the in-between category. The first five mile loop included a couple of halts to let others catch up, or to double back and rejoin them. It's as much a social affair as an exercise session and we don't want to run off and leave anyone behind.

We made the 5 miles at a nice, easy pace that included a pretty long break around mile 4, which just happened to be a really nice, clean convenience store where several of our group stopped to use the facilities. When we got back to the start, another joined us and a couple dropped out and headed home.

Again, our jaunt commenced at a pleasant pace, enabling comfortable discussions of running shoes, races, and all sorts of other stuff that interests runners. Our plan was to make this loop cover 10 - 11 miles to satisfy the mileage needs of some in the group.

But around mile 8, the skies opened up. It began with just a few drops, but within minutes, it felt as if we were being drenched by an open fire hydrant. I mean, you couldn't have gotten more wet by jumping in a lake. We were soaked, through and through, and more than 2 miles from the cars.

It was obvious there was no waiting this one out. Though the torrent ebbed and flowed with varying degrees of intensity, it was obvious this rain had set in and wouldn't depart any time soon. Several with us decided the best thing to do was head back by the shortest possible route.

Doing so was going to put us right around 11 miles when we arrived back at the cars. I decided to run it in with them, but it didn't take long for me to decide I'd go ahead and get in the rest of the planned 17 after we got back. I could have bailed there and finished the miles without going back, but I was really enjoying the company and decided to take advantage of it as long as possible.

It poured and it let up, poured and let up, continuing to soak us the entire 2+ miles back. But I knew I wasn't going to get an wetter than I already was. That would be impossible. With about a mile or so left before we arrived back at our embarkation point, we began to see a few flashes of lightening and hear the accompanying rolling thunder.

The last quarter of a mile was in a monsoon-like drenching rain. The sidewalks were like shallow, swift-moving streams. Running through the parking lot at the school where we park, I was splashing through ankle-deep puddles as I made my way to the awning where everyone was gathering.

As we all stood around in the dry (finally), water running off each of us like it runs out of a faucet, it dawned on me I was having WAYYYY too much fun to stop now. I told the others I was going to finish, but they opted to take what we'd already achieved and call it a day.

So after a few minutes, I pushed the button to restart the timer on my Garmin and struck out, back into the downpour, back through the puddles and streams, with ~5.8 more miles to make my planned 17.

For the next 3 miles, it didn't get any dryer. It didn't let up. I was still running through swift-moving water pouring across the streets. At one point, I was dodging floating tree branches that were being carried across the road. By now, I was beyond trying to dodge the puddles and rivers. I just plowed and splashed right through them.

It was reminding me of our runs in the Marine Corps, where we often intentionally didn't avoid the obstacles, our superiors choosing to force us through mud pits that could easily have been avoided. Back then, it seemed fun, recklessly attacking what those with the least bit of sanity would have detoured around.

Yesterday, I was back in that mode. For a mile or so, I even began singing loudly as I splashed through the streets.

When I had gone three more miles, since I charged out on my own, I turned around to head back the way I'd come. The worst of the rain ended about then. Much of the water I'd run through on my way out had drained off the streets on my trip back. There were still a few places with standing water and I just plowed right through them again. I was already as wet as I could be.

When all was said and done, I had my 17 miles I'd set out to run that morning. It wasn't fast at all, but still I managed an 11:35 pace. That's just barely over a 5 hour marathon pace, and with the rain and the stops and the great company and conversation, that's not bad.

I climbed back into the vehicle to head home feeling like I'd accomplished something, accomplished a lot actually, in spite of a storm that I could easily have used as an excuse to give up, to throw in the towel.

Now I don't blame anyone for not running in those conditions. As I hinted at earlier, it takes a certain level of insanity that not too many reach. Still, I'm really glad I headed back out in the rain and ran through that storm.


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