Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Running in the Twilight Zone

It is pouring down rain today just as it has been all week long.  I had planned a post-work, hump day ten mile trail run and had been looking forward to it.  A little rain sure as hell wasn't going to stop me.  By the time I got off work and was going to pick up my daughters, the clouds had blown away, the sun had come out and it was dry and balmy.  Since the weather had changed, I didn't give clothing or gear much thought as I got dressed. 

Dog, leash, Garmin, trail shoes, light-weight long sleeve shirt and capri running pants were all that I felt I needed for today's 10 miler.  Japhy and I set off for our adventure.  The closer we got to the trail, the more I realized how unprepared I was for this run.  I didn't even have water; so who knew what else I have overlooked.  I swung by a convenience store and bought some water.  A mile away from the trail, the sky decided to open up and dump on me.  I looked down at my outfit.  Hmmm, this wasn't good.  No raincoat.  No hat.  Cotton socks?!  .

I parked the car and wondered if I should just go back home.  I was not dressed for this, had no Gu or a means to carry my water.  Crap, crap, crap!  I NEEDED this run.  I had two black garbage bags covering and protecting my dog's seat.  I decided that I'd just have to wear a garbage bag.  I yanked one off the top half the chair, ripped a neck hole, two arm holes and slipped it on.  Not bad!  Now for a hat.  I dug around the back seats of the car.  Nothing.  I hopped out into the rain and popped the trunk looking for lost treasure.  Score!  I found my holstered water bottle from last Saturday's long run and it held a Gu!.  This wasn't so bad after all.  Only thing that I wasn't able to conjure was a hat to keep my head and face from getting rained on.  I settled on securing my hair with a lone bobby pin I found in the console.

The rain was really coming down now.  I was sure it'd be better once I made it .25 up the hill and under the forest canopy.  It was time to hit the trail before I changed my mind.  It had taken me a whole 20 minutes to drive up here so I'd at the very least, I'd run four miles.  I could settle for six, be happy with eight and would be stoked with my planned ten.  Let's do this!  I opened up the door.  Japhy looked at me with confused eyes and didn't move a hair.  I expected HIM to come out in this weather?  Was I nuts?  I coaxed him out, carefully tucked the key into a pocket in my pants and set off for what might be a very short trail run.

My sleeves were instantly drenched and clinging to my arms.  The garbage bag covered me from my neck to my knees and was serving its purpose of keeping my torso dry and warm.  My hair was drenched and I'm sure I had mascara running from my eyes down to my cheekbones.  Note to self: Take off mascara before post-work runs.  The first mile, I had my doubts as to whether or not this was a good idea.  I had heard a few claps of thunder and tried to avoid thoughts of being struck my lightening.  Since I had only heard thunder and hadn't seen any lightening, it had to be very, very far away from me, right?  Onward!  This is CRAZY!  I thought as I ran up the hill that had turned into a quickly moving stream.  Did I mention that I opted for my non-Goretex trail shoes?  My feet were soaked after only 10 strides.

Regardless of the rain, I was feeling great!  My body felt strong.  No signs of the gimpiness that I had felt on my four mile road run yesterday.  Two miles into the run, I was completely loose and ready to rock and roll.  Up and down the hills I went with nothing but the sound of rain on trees, my breath and footsteps.  I practically needed windshield wipers to keep the rain off my face.  There were several people out on the trail walking dogs, hiking or riding mountain bikes in this crazy storm.  I smiled like a madwoman and shouted "Great day to be on the trail!" as I passed them.  I was having fun!  This was turning out to be a fabulous run.  It's only rain right?  I wasn't going to melt or anything.

I happily ran along appreciating a nice long flat section until I spotted someone standing in the rain in the middle of the trail.  It was a man and he had a companion who mysteriously slipped behind a tree as I approached.  I wasn't sure if I should quickly pass them or turn around and run in the opposite direction as fast as I could.  The man actually turned out to be rather young.  He was holding, or rather hiding something, maybe a bong, behind his back and looking at me like a deer caught in the headlights.  Japhy by my side, I peeked over the trail to see who/what was hiding before I would make the decision to pass.  Holy shit!  It had a shrouded face and horns!  What the fuck?  I decided to play it tough.  I was faster than these two bozos, had my dog and would kick them in the nuts if they tried anything funny.  I laughed and said "You scared the shit out of me!" to the guy wearing a black scarf over his face and a viking helmet.  They sized me up and down, from my wet and wild hair, bleeding mascara, garbage bag and muddy legs and actually backed up a little.  I clearly had the upper hand here.  As I ran past them, they yelled "In all fairness, you scared us too."  I had a good laugh about that.   It dawned on me that my halfway point that I'd have to turn around and pass them one more time.  Good grief.  "Me again!" I cheerfully announced as I ran by them for the second time in 10 minutes.  This time I noticed that it wasn't a flaming bong that the kid was holding but rather a video  camera.  It looked like we had some amateur film-makers on the trail today.  Let's hope I didn't make the cut.

I had turned around 4.5 miles into the run so it would turn out to be a nine miler today.  Good enough for me.  I felt something biting at my heels.  Upon closer inspection I noticed that my wet socks were turning red.  Cotton socks?! What was I thinking?  My socks had slipped down causing my heel to rub against my wet shoe that was coated with sand and dirt.  This repetitive friction had worn away the skin in both heels and caused them to bleed.  4.5 miles to go!  Whoopie!  I pulled up my socks the best I could to protect my heels and ran as fast and as hard as I could.  I was cold.  I was wet.  My heels hurt.  After my close encounters of the third kind, I was creeped out.  I started hearing things and whipping my head around only to see emptiness.  Japhy didn't help either.  He'd stop every so often, stare nervously into the forest and growl lowly.  Get me the hell out of here!  This is a somewhat challenging trail with very few flat sections.  There are lots of long hills, roots, rocks, gravel, slippery bridges and no cell phone reception.  I ran as fast and carefully as possible and hoped that I'd have enough energy to keep this up and that I wouldn't fall.  Seven miles in, I started feeling calm again and settled back into enjoying my run.  The rain had subsided a bit.  Japhy was my trusty scout.  I kept my eyes on his black body expertly making its way along the trail all the way to my car.  Was I ever ready for this run to be over!  The run was overall pretty darn good considering the conditions.  Had I ever learned a lesson about what a big difference foresight, preparations and the right clothes/shoes for the weather could make on a run. 

1 comment:

  1. Leah! Finally catching up on your fantastic blog. I was glued to this one! LOL on the bong-camera. I can't count how many times I've imagined something scary only to be fooled by it being something mundane. You are such a trail diva, I tell ya!