I’m running the New York City marathon in November and have fallen into a schedule and routine for working out that I quite truly enjoy. On Sunday mornings (long run day), I wake up ridiculously early, put in my miles, and return home on still sleepy streets.
This past Saturday, I stayed up late. On Sunday, I slept in. As I tucked my hair into two manageable braids, I haphazardly checked the weather. 8 am – 60% chance of rain. I slid into a white running shirt I had received from a 5K I had done a few months prior and jumped down the stairs.
I felt the gentle sprinkle of tired precipitation as I stepped out of my apartment building. I wasn’t concerned. Miles later, I would realize that, in my delusional haze, my mind had completely forgotten how weather works.
I cruised into Central Park – not my typical long run park – and saw the signs and markings of the NYC Duathlon. The loop remained open to the public and though a minor eye roll may have struck me (the one time I run in Central Park on the weekend…) I focused on my podcast and putting one foot in front of the other.
It had been drizzling on and off since I had left my apartment. It was the perfect kind of refreshing mist that cools you off, but still leaves your shirt dry enough to clean your glasses on when they start to get blurry.
Then, around mile 7, it began to pour. And I mean, pour. Seemingly out of nowhere, my glasses were splattered and my eyes were biting back the tears of windy rain. I tried, in vain, to wipe my glasses on a shirt that was now plastered to my body and at least 5 pounds heavier than when I took it out of my closet this morning. Smearing water from my lens with wet hands, I struggled to skip over puddles I couldn’t see.
The situation was suddenly too much. The lack of sleep. The late start. The Duathlon. The weather. I landed in a puddle. This run is a wash. Let’s just try to get home.
I finished my loop in the park, leaving me a little under 2 miles from home. I was frustrated.
For weeks now, Sunday morning long runs have been the highlight of my week. There was something amazing about waking with the sun, putting on music or a podcast, and just going. There was something absolutely beautiful about just running.
This Sunday morning didn’t feel that way. I still felt agitated and rather than the usual gratitude I felt for legs that could carry me through these long runs, I just wanted to get it over with and get on with my day.
Crossing the street, I landed foot first in a puddle, soaking my already sopping shoe. I thought about what it would feel like to take a hot shower and make a healthy breakfast and…
There weren’t many people out on the street and everyone I passed, huddled beneath their umbrellas, looked at me with the pity often reserved for the drowned rat that I’m sure I was resembling at that point in time.
And then it all clicked.
I love rain storms. I love dancing in the rain and running barefoot through the grass. I love splashing through puddles and throwing my face to the sky to feel the beads of water dripping down my cheeks.
I was already a mess. I was soaked to the skin. I could barely see where I was going. And? I was entirely free.
I turned the last corner to face my final uphill, a tangible sign that I was close. And rather than hating the cold wind and rather than worrying about the water I couldn’t see, I threw my arms out at my sides and charged up the hill.
It’s a good thing most people stay in on yucky Sunday mornings because at that point I began to laugh. I started to laugh until tears mixed with rain water and my body shook from cold and joy.
I was already in over my head. I was already soaked to the bone. I was already a sprinting disaster. Why not turn this into a dance? Why not bring some joy to this comically snafued morning?
Squishy socks and carrying enough rain water in my clothing to fill a bath tub, I finally arrived at my building.
It’s not often that I get to dance and run and splash through the rain without regards. It’s not often that I revel in the storm.
As I squeezed water from my head band and stuffed my sneakers with an old Time Out New York magazine I found on our coffee table, I smiled. Maybe there is a fine art to seeing the beauty in a poorly planned morning.