Rain makes me drowsy. On rainy days, all I want to do is curl up with a book and fall asleep. So when yesterday’s weather report called for torrential downpours, hail, high winds and lightening – I thought, “Hurray, I don’t have to go running.” Rainstorms aren’t for runners, or are they?
I went about the day, huddled under my umbrella and scurrying from building to building. I winced when a few drops hit my face. I raced around – practically panicked and holding my breath – to get out of the rain. Unconsciously, precipitation was the enemy.
Yet, as Washington DC’s tempest droned on yesterday, a strange urge grew in me – an urge to run. But how? I don’t belong to a gym right now. I thought about joining one, just to avoid the rain, but the treadmill wasn’t appealing. The only other option was outdoors.
Arriving home around 5pm, it was still raining hard (although the hail and t-storms had passed). If I was going to satisfy my craving, I had to go quickly. What little “daylight” was left under the thick grey clouds was slipping away.
Running along my street sidewalk, I squinted as a side-wind blew rain directly in my eyes. Two blocks from home, a car hit a puddle, spraying muddy water against my ankles. I cringed. Wearing just a t-shirt and shorts, I felt naked – exposed and vulnerable to the elements. I’d even left my iPod at home – afraid the wet conditions might ruin it.
Thankfully, I soon turned onto a local running path. As the noisy rush-hour traffic faded, the more subtle sounds of nature filled the air. The rain pattered softly like a constant calm heart-beat. A nearby stream roared loudly, overcapacity because of the storm. Waves of frothing bubbles tumbled downstream with exuberant energy.
The forest landscape was a mixture of dark trees and dead grass and shrubs. Yet, I couldn’t help but smile when I spotted some bright highlighter-green grass rising between the matted hay – the first sign of spring.
Fresh natural aromas caught me off-guard – scents of evergreen and pine trees, the smokey flavor of a near-by burning fireplace, and the raw clean smell of rain. No laundry detergent or soap could even come close to this. I closed my eyes, tilted my head back and breathed deeply, surrendering myself to the undeniable beauty of my surroundings.
Towards the end of my run, I approached a steep hill. My quads ached just looking at it. My t-shirt – completely soaked – weighed heavily on my shoulders. Over the past few months, I’ve been struggling up this hill – usually stopping halfway to walk. Yet, much to my own surprise, I gracefully ascended the incline in the rain yesterday. I ran the whole way – a major personal feat!
In a recent post, I wrote about my difficulties getting back in shape this winter. Although I’m certainly not in marathon shape now, I am slowly regaining my sense of strength and athleticism. And yesterday, I discovered joy and energy when I least expected it, running in the rain.