I confess: over the past six months or so, I have been a fair-weather runner. Exhibit A: none of my winter running clothes were used even one time from November till March. Exhibit B: Two weeks ago, when I really needed to get out and go, I instead just sort of hung out, talking to the kids, stretching, doing a few sit ups, and then when I finally stepped out the door, one tiny raindrop hit my forehead so I went back inside, called my run for rain, and played Just Dance instead. Exhibit C: my persistent back pain, which I am certain came because of me being lazy. Exhibit D: the ten pounds I have packed on since my last race.
Still, I have finally gotten myself back into my running groove, which means that when I drive somewhere I think about what it would be like to run there, or what it was like when I did run there. That I once again have runner’s feet: blisters and a missing toenail. And that I’ve been slowly building up my mileage again.
All of this is good, as in less than a month I’m running the Wasatch Back Ragnar (with Becky and 10 other people), which is a relay race that covers almost 200 mountainous miles. Each runner has three legs in about a day and a half. My legs go like this: almost 4 steep uphill miles, 5.5 flat-ish miles, and 7.3 extremely steep downhill miles (a total loss of 2091 feet which I just yesterday started sort of—read really—freaking out about).
So I’ve been running a lot of hills, and making sure to keep my weekly mileage growing. Yesterday I needed to run 4.5 miles, and Kendell was heading out somewhere, so I had him drop me off 4.5 miles from home. It was windy when we left, and the clouds a little gloomy, but just as I stepped out of the car, rain started falling. At first it wasn’t so bad—a bit cold, of course, but manageable. Then I turned a corner and started running downhill. Running downhill right into the wind, which was blowing so hard that the rain was perpendicular to the road. Blowing so hard that, despite the gloom, I wished for sunglasses just to keep the watery shrapnel from hitting my eyeballs.
But, rain or no rain—even if it started hailing or snowing or sleeting—I still had to make it home. No one was coming to rescue me; I could only get out of the rain on my own two feet. As I ran, I thought about this training run I did last fall, when I was training for the Halloween Half marathon. That run, too, was done in pouring rain and vicious wind. Remember—I passed that other runner and he shouted out “we are bad asses” just to keep me motivated.
Running in the rain, I thought about running. How each and every run you do is unique to itself (the weather, the route, the way you feel, the music that plays in your ear) and yet each one also builds upon the others. Running 11 miles in the rain last fall made it much easier to run 4.5 equally-wet miles last night. Running these training runs will help me enjoy Ragnar, which will help me enjoy my summertime half marathon and whatever autumn marathon I finally choose.
As if to confirm that unknown, fellow-insane runner’s encouraging words, “Headhunter” by Front 242—a song that, as it evokes my teenaged adolescent rebellious identity, also makes me feel like I am undeniably a bad ass—popped up on my shuffle list. It was just the five minutes of music I needed to pull me through the rest of my rainy run. My rainy run was just the thing I needed to continue my running return. And, just as I made it to my front porch, as if to confirm my just-run-more motivations, the weather nodded its head, shook off its clouds and stopped raining.