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July 15, 2005

Rain is pouring down, pouring down all over me

I love being present for breakdowns of the social contract! Not the kind where there's bloodshed and fighting, of course, but the kind where people end up beaming smiles and shouting wild cries of happiness into the air and at each other. But I get ahead of myself.

Tuesday morning I'd planned to do my long run for the week, my first time going for eight miles. I was both trepidatious and confident. Circumstances conspired against me, though. I ended up going out later than I'd meant to, and the weather, which had been lovely over the weekend, had worsened to the point of misery by 9:30am. Since I was running further, and on a hotter morning than usual, I decided to bring Gatorade instead of water, a second mistake. When I tried to drink some, about a mile into my run, it tasted horribly sweet. I needed the hydration, so I drank it anyway, but it wasn't refreshing, and then it made me queasy. I ran another mile or so, but between the drenching humidity, the nausea, and the lack of regular water, I just couldn't imagine forcing out even four miles, much less eight. I walked the rest of a normal day's distance, and actually felt pretty good about the decision. Training runs are for learning things, and Tuesday I learned a lot.

As the day went on, the front went through, the temperature dropped and it became clear that Wednesday morning would be a nicer day for a long run anyway, so I felt justified in my earlier decision. When I went out Wednesday, it was overcast and cool, a little more humid than I like but not horribly so, and I was very excited. Prospect Park was beautiful; the light on the trees and the little lake was slightly polarized, and not too many people were out. I found my stride right at the outset of my run (instead of three miles in, as I sometimes do) and that, coupled with the odd painted quality of the scenery, gave me the impression that I was running in a continuous present: now I am running; I have always been running; I will always be running.

I did my first loop of the park, then turned around down at the lower corner and started back up in the opposite direction. When I came around to the north side of the park, I started to notice how strangely quiet it was. On weekdays in the summer, there are lots of day camps that use the park for their outdoor activities, and there is constant childish shrieking from the open fields. I hadn't realized I'd gotten used to it until I noticed its absence. Also, even for a weekday, there were markedly fewer runners and walkers out on the paths. Now, I'd checked the weather, but NOAA had said showers later in the day. I guess I'm just gullible.

The rain started just as I came to Grand Army Plaza. At first it was the gentlest warm summer mist, and I was delighted to feel it begin to barely coat me. Then that sped up to a drizzle, and I found I was still pleased; the rain was fresh and warm, and I was hot and sweaty -- it felt terrific. I passed a runner going the opposite direction, and we both had broad grins on our faces, and we nodded and gestured as we passed, indicating our pleasure. Then the rain got more serious. A really heavy drizzle, I'd say -- no normal person would go out in it without an umbrella. I started seeing even fewer runners, but the ones I saw were even more gleeful about being out.

Then, when I had two miles left to go in my eight mile run, the heavens let loose. It was absolutely glorious. The water was pouring down, I was soaked through, I could feel how heavy my clothes had gotten (it was a bad day to have worn cotton!), and yet I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. It was stunning. Every runner I encountered had something to say at this point. We were all shouting and hooting and smiling and waving at each other, thrilled that there were other nuts out sharing this experience. Down by the little lake at the south end of the park, where the path is really wide, I saw one man stop in the bike lane, running in place. He threw his hands up in the air and cocked his head back and shouted to the heavens, "THIS IS IT! THIS IS IT! THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!" as the water poured across his face and chest.

I was so caught up in the bewilderingly transcendent goings-on that I barely noticed when six miles were turning into seven miles were edging really damned close to eight miles. My iliotibial whatsits were getting a bit sore by the end, it's true, but not injured-sore, just used-sore, and that seemed perfectly appropriate. The rain slacked off considerably as I was finishing up, and then it was all done by the time I was. Were I superstitious, I'd imagine it had appeared to help me through my first really daunting long run. Unfortunately, I'm not superstitious. However, I was brought up to know when to be appreciative, and so: Jupiter Pluvius, yo, man, thanks.

Stats: 8 miles; 97 minutes; first place, wet t-shirt division (as judged by the cats)

Posted by Rose at 09:41 AM | Comments (5)

July 05, 2005

I got my feet on the ground and I don't go to sleep to dream

Update on the running progress, because there is Big News: this morning I went twice around Prospect Park, plus a little more to bring it up to, are you ready now? Are you really ready? SEVEN MILES! I ran seven miles, w00t! Slow as all hell, but without stopping, which was cool. The time will improve. (Actual time, 87 minutes, for anyone keeping track. A long time to be on my feet.)

This means I will definitely finish the half-marathon in under three hours, and the marathon in under six, because my times have been steadily decreasing. I know those predicted times sound awful, but they'll get shorter as I get more data (and more miles in my legs). I'd be pretty happy with a five-hour marathon, and I think that's doable by November 6th.

The running itself is getting pretty zen as the distances get longer. I'd heard that might happen, but it's kind of freaky. Not bad-freaky, good-freaky. Interesting; meditative. I seem to have given up the iPod, and I don't remember making a conscious decision to do so. It's not like I rejected the idea of running with music; it's just that one day I had a good run without music (my earphones were broken) and I didn't go back to it.

If I'm weirding anybody out with this ultra-calm, zen runnergirl talk ("It's just me and the road and the trees, man, mile after mile.") you can click on over to Francis's blog, where I've done a guest turn being all screamy and fussy. He's in Los Angeles this week, and we thought his regular readers would feel bereft without a good rant to help them through the week. I'll prolly post over there again this week, but it definitely won't be a rant; it's a little exhausting to work up such a head of steam!

Posted by Rose at 10:46 PM | Comments (7)