Back in the summer of 2011, I had fallen into a slump. I was going through a particularly stressful patch in life at that point in time, and even running began to lose its luster. Anyone who knows me, knows it’s pretty serious if “I” don’t want to run. Being the stubborn person I am, I wasn’t going down without a fight. I was still forcing myself to get out and run to maintain my energy and hope to feel better, but I was blowing off races left and right. I had run a mere 5K race in the spring, and the disappointment in finding my time from the past fall hadn’t improved didn’t help my lack of interest.
I can clearly remember the day things began to turn around. While this looked much more appealing,
I was dragging my sorry rear end out the door for a quick three-miler when I had a thought. Maybe I’ll tackle my monstrosity of a hill again. There is a mountain of a hill near my home that deserves it’s own zip code. Really. It’s that big. And steep. For some reason, which I was very thankful for later, I decided to forego the mountain work for another day, and hit the local trail instead.
Upon arrival, I noticed the sky transforming from bright, sunny, and blue to dark and sinister. At first I thought, “Hmm, maybe if I run fast, I can beat the storm,” but given the 90-degree weather, that thought quickly changed to “Oh, who cares? The rain will be refreshing in this heat.” I set off into the trail, passing several brisk walkers along the way, hurriedly making their way back to their vehicles. My first half-mile was a sluggish effort, but after that, my legs started to awaken and pick up speed. My mood, on the other hand, was not. I started to call upon all of my personal mantras, but I didn’t want to hear my own voice in my head at that moment. Then, I thought to myself “What would I be telling one of my clients if they were feeling like this? Practice what you preach!”
My thoughts were interrupted by a rumble of thunder accompanied by an almost immediate downpour. Within a minute, it was raining so hard that it was difficult to see in front of me. I was almost to the 1.5 mile marker, and wasn’t going to turn back now without finishing what I came to do. I could feel the mud from the trail flying up to stick to my legs, and my entire body was quickly drenched from head to toe, making me feel incredibly heavy. A familiar feeling: heaviness. Defeat. I detest that feeling. It makes me angry to feel this way. Then I heard my voice inside my head again. Then do something about it. How could you let one bad event take away everything else? Of all people, you know better than that. And how dare you allow yourself to be pulled down this far in the first place?! What are you doing?
Right then and there, I felt as though I had come to a crossroads: I could take this event and allow it to drag me down further, or I could get back to being me and make the best of it. The way I usually do with everything that comes my way. I was back. I reached my turnaround point and headed back through the torrential downpour, smiling and laughing as I ran through through the mud and water, and happily ran right through a few mud puddles on purpose, just as I did so many times as a child. Kids have the right ideas. 😉 I figured I may as well make the best of it since I’m already a mess. I started to sing Hilary Duff’s “Let the Rain Fall Down” song out loud, not caring if the people I passed heard me. I felt exhilirated and alive, which caused a few fist pumps to the air, and nothing could have stopped me. Except for lightning, of course, but thankfully, it didn’t.
Before I knew it, I was back at my car, soaked to the bone, filthy, and grinning from ear to ear. The rain had moved on, and I closed my eyes to listen to the remnants of water dropping down from the overpass nearby. My clothes were soaked and my legs and shoes were covered in mud, but I didn’t care. I was happy. Newly empowered, I decided to capture the moment so I would never forget. As if I could, but hey, a little bit of evidence never hurts. My smile had been in hiding for nearly two weeks and then
Some may look at this as just another runner caught in the rain, but I had a much different experience. As my trail singing performance goes, “Cause I wanna feel the thunder, I wanna scream. Let the rain fall down. I’m coming clean.” That’s what running does: it’s therapy. It helps clear the mind of the garbage so there is room for the important things. I love that I can lose myself while running, and even more so, that I can also find myself there. As the old saying goes…Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass – it’s learning how to dance (or run ;-)) in the rain.
On my way home, I encountered a major traffic jam along the mountain I was considering running earlier that day. I asked one of the emergency responders what was going on, and it turns out a driver had lost their brakes coming down the hill. Yikes! One more reason I am so glad I hit the trail that day.
Days later, I made a huge decision. Once the words were out of my mouth, there was no turning back. I am going to run a marathon. Gasp.