Monday, May 26, 2014

Adventures in the Rain - A Short Story

As of late I have not had anything interesting to blog about. My runs have been boring. I've had good runs and bad runs - runs that have left me feeling clean and energized and runs that I thought I would possibly die before I finished because they seemed so long and exhausting - but all and all nothing new. I have been running 4-5 runs a week in distances of 4, 5.5, 6 or 8 miles; usually at least one 8 miler and two 5.5-6 milers. In addition to that I have been doing Body Pump typically twice a week and doing one session of cross-training cardio depending on how many times I've run and how the week is going; either Zumba, elliptical, or walking.

Saturday's afternoon run broke up the monotony of the past several months' work outs like a hurricane. But let us start at the beginning, shall we?

Friday night, rather than go for a run, I decided to stay in and enjoy thunderstorms and to listen to what I now consider THE BEST rain album EVER. Mark was shocked to come home to me listening to a record, I'm almost always busy doing something; relaxing is not a norm for me!

Just what a long week called for!
After Portishead, we moved on to Fleetwood Mac; another good mood-setter for the rain.

Saturday, I decided that I would go for an 8 miler; I wanted to make sure to get my long run in for the weekend in case it rained for the remainder of the weekend as predicted, especially since I did not run the night before. I putted around the house a bit in the morning - cooking and cleaning whilst I waited for a break in the rain. I finally got to a stopping point in my busyness and the rain had ceased so I prepared to head out for my run.

I put my phone in a sandwich baggy on the chance that it may start raining again and strike out. I spend most of the time I'm running daydreaming, meditating and planning, so the first three miles were cool and quick. I hardly remembered running them by the time I wind my way through the neighborhood and come upon the park, I'm engrossed in my thoughts. In fact, I barely notice the darkening sky and the stronger winds until I enter the drive of the park and start running into the wooded area. It's as though the sky is just barely sniffling as rain drops sprinkle around me. I press on. Who doesn't enjoy a nice spritzing when they are sweaty and radiating heat? As I continue forward, the thought crosses my mind that perhaps the sprinkling was temporary and I might ought to prepare for a downpour. The logical option would be to immediately run home. I am not always logical though. The thing is, I had already made the decision to run 8 miles and short of extreme physical pain, I was not prepared to quit now.

Lightning illuminates the sky and I can barely hear the thunder rumbling over the music on my phone. I have entered a land of magic. And then Zeus unleashes his wrath. The sky opens up and the clouds writhe, wringing tears from its' swollen pillows. Minutes in and I am drenched. The rain was relentless, yet rather than weigh me down, I feel rejuvenated, regenerated - I feel alive. I enter the heavily wooded area around the lake/pond at the park and already water was sweeping mud onto the paths. The lake bubbled under the downpour and the tree branches quivered and drunk from the water. I keep going. I reach a bridge over one of the streams that led to the lake and water flows ankle deep. My clothes are completely soaked and I've already submitted to the fact that not an inch of me would come out of this dry, so I splash through the stream and keep on. Soon there is no portion of trails not submerged in at least inches of water. I get to the final bridge in the park at one of the lowest points and muddy looking water pours over in rivers of murkiness. I wade through it as water clings to my body, crashing around my calves and reaching for my knees. Pearl Jam is reverberating in my head. At approximately 4.5 miles in, I've reached the other side and am running uphill; in my mind, the excitement is over.

I reach the hill peak and start my descent, running alongside a small street which wraps around the outside of the park and is lined with residential neighborhoods. This particular road is rather annoying as a driver, low points for which you must slam on your brakes to breach if you're not driving slow enough or else be bumped all to hell once you hit them (going at a liberating speed of 30 mph), but I love it as a runner. It's a steady downhill jaunt with increments of plateaus and valleys scattered throughout. Super fun to gain a bit of momentum. Water is still pulsing all around me, grassy slopes under inches of water with rivets carving maps into the earth; in some spots the levels are ankle deep and I feel like a giant smashing footprints into the lakes of the world beneath me. Cars are driving past, splashing water which I no longer feel up onto the sidewalk and into the grass. I hit my first "valley" about a third of the way down this portion of the street and find the water not only submerging my ankles, but sucking at my calves, as though trying to claim me as part of the earth. I break out of the suction and press forward just as one of those huge trucks (you know, the trucks that sometimes have balls hanging from the hitch and are often driven by really annoying dudes) flies past me and in slow motion I see a tidal wave coming at me. The wave literally sweeps over the sidewalk, slams into me, reaches above my head, and up the grassy slope to crash against the brick wall that separates the housing addition from the street. I waver, wobble and cannot keep from grinning as I continue on. What a dick! But man, oh man, what a rush! Do not get me wrong, it hurts, but not bad and the thrill of it overwhelms any other aspect. Thankfully I was not inhaling the moment I was submerged so I did not breath in the water, I merely sputter on a mouthful of it.  At this point I feel unstoppable. "I am Jack's inflamed sense of rejection"**, "I am Jack's smirking revenge"**, I am enjoying myself immensely. I reach another valley in the road and can barely see the sidewalk at all under the sweeping streams. I figure the walk is just hidden by the murkiness of muddy waters and do not hesitate to run forward. I make it only a few steps before the water is suddenly at my knees and I feel my feet start to sweep out from under me and I start to tumble towards the ground. The water is relentless and trying to suck me down into the street and I steady myself on the slope and scramble up the side until I can walk alongside the brick wall. I breathe a few moments, trying to gather my bearings as an SUV slows to a stop down in the street below me. A man leans out the passenger side window, I assume, to offer a ride, my headphones were streaming APC and I doubt I could have heard him over the rain anyway; but I just smile, yell my thanks and wave him off. I start running again until I run out of sidewalk/grassy hill to run on and to the point where I needed to cross the street. After nearly being swept off the sidewalk, I am a bit apprehensive of crossing the street with the water rushing as it is, but I have no choice and tentatively scuttle across the street in mere ankle-high waters. Phew. Onward I go. I approach the lowest point in the street and try to gauge the depth of the water rushing past and I imagine I hear a roar beneath the soundtrack streaming in my ears and I decide to very cautiously attempt stepping into the water to see if wading through it would be manageable. Keep in mind, this entire duration lightning is still flashing, the sky is dark, angry and sobbing tirelessly. I hedge down the sidewalk, going deeper and deeper still until the water is knee deep; my feet remain solid so I continue. I unexpectedly drop into the street (a miscalculation of distance from sidewalk to street on my part) and the water is swishing around my thighs, down from the horseshoe of homes above and flowing into the street, tumultuous and raging yet. I think I can foot my way to the landscape island in the middle of the outlet and slowly move forward and now I am hip deep and waves are crashing against me and pulling at me and pushing at me and I'm being pushed closer and closer to the street and I see a car. It's in the water tire deep and stopping and reversing and I'm losing my footing and I'm not going to make it, I'm not going to make it, I'm not going to make it. And I'm no longer cautious, I'm panicky and backtracking and stumbling onto the sidewalk, grasping at the brick walls, climbing out of the water and onto the bricks, and maneuvering my way up and into the neighborhood to go around the pit of waves. I walk walls until I reach the other side. More cars are backing up and turning around, unwilling to risk driving through the flood. I finally reach sidewalk again and start running again, endorphins are flowing and I feel like I'm running on air. I'm still high on the thrill I just experienced and I reach recess in the sidewalk where a drainpipe is pouring out more rivers of water and I jump across it, landing on the sidewalk on the other side and I sprint forward, leaving the adventures of A River Runs Furiously behind me.

Now I'm back to the neighborhoods, running through only inches of water and small waves rush the path around me as cars drive past. I'm running down a street that bottoms out on a bridge over a creek and there's more roaring and flowing. It looks at least knee deep. I step up on a ledge by a metal handrail that lines the bridge and am about halfway across when a car drives past and another wave of water crashes up around me, pushing me against the rail. I barely feel it. On the other side I jump off the ledge and continue forward, running on yards to avoid the deep waters, I hit a driveway where a young man is hanging out the driver side window and he looks disgruntled and is yelling at me so I slow and take one of my ear buds out - come again? He proceeds to profusely apologize and affirming that he had absolutely no intention of "doing that", I could only chuckle and stare at the dude. Seriously? I respond: "Look at me dude, do you think I even felt that? Haha, no worries!" and I spring forward... only 1.5 miles left! The remainder of the run is a cinch, water levels remain shallow and I'm kicking it, I feel rain-kissed and clean, no smelly sweat on this girl. I am running along, about 3/4 of a mile from home, passing a strip mall, glancing at people sitting in front of a small local grill/cafe and water is lapping at my ankles and bam! I hit what could only be referred to as a pot hole and son of a bitch I've gone and rolled my ankle! M&(*&*$#^ F#$(&#$*&#!!!!! SHIT! These obscenities are spewing out of my foul mouth as at least four elderly people sit in lawn chairs about a quarter mile from me under the eaves of the grill look on. I limp a few yards to steady myself against a tree and carefully apply weight to my ankle - ouch. I stop and lightning flashes nearby and I envision lighting striking the tree I'm leaning against. I stretch my foot out, roll it around a bit, and start walking. The pain starts to ease and surprisingly so does the rain, and I walk faster, then a bit faster and now... now, I'm running again; I'm running faster and I'm only a half a mile from my house. I'm running through puddles, the sun is peeking out, only a drizzle remains and I'm standing on my porch and the sun is smiling down on me and I'm exhilarated; I'm enthralled. I am Jack's sense of accomplishment.

** Fight Club quote.
Soundtrack to "Adventures in the Rain" includes music by: Pearl Jam, The Cure, APC, The Dandy Warhols, Coheed & Cambria, Our Lady Peace, Tom Petty, and New Order.