Weather seems to be my great equalizer so far this year. A few weeks ago, at 1 Day for the KIA, we froze our rear ends off in cold, wind and snow. Fast forward three weeks to this past Saturday’s Outrun 24, it was a nice cool, spring day and then the rain arrived. Being outside in weather with no real escape allows your flaws to show up in ways you can ignore at other times.
Say, for example, by having enough sense to come in out of the rain. But on race day, the weather is what it is and you either deal and adapt or you break.
I think I did a little of all three. Running in the rain, in its essence, isn’t really where the problem is. It’s that everything you own is wet. Your extra clothes, even in a tent, are damp, your shoes are wet, everything you touch is wet and everything you try to keep dry soon is not.
Quickly, every task takes more work. Instead of just sitting down and changing your shoes and socks, you need to go in a tent, track more water with you, find a place to sit, keep your new socks from getting wet long enough to get them on and, of course, you put your shoes on and they are wet and soon your fresh and dry socks are wet, too.
All the food you eat is slightly wet or damp and it begins to just grate, if you let it.
Needless to say, I did. Then my right shin started to hurt pretty badly on the downhill run and it all started to get in my head as things do.
All that mental wrangling turns out to be part of why I do these crazy races. They teach me where I am unbending, where I am inflexible, where I am incapable of compromise or of things being different than I’d like. And you either have to get over it or your race is over.
Saturday, I did eventually get over it but I needed a short nap for that to happen. The rain pounded on the top of the tent for nearly 2 hours and I was staring at the “roof” of it thinking:
Will it stop?
I am cold!
Why is my pillow wet?
My feet are wet.
My left hip hurts
I would probably be warmer in the rain because I’d be moving.
Why am I in the tent?
After a while I decided that this was more suffering than just getting back out in the rain and so I did. Around 3 am, in the rain, in the dark and relative cold I was back on the course. As you can imagine everything hurt, was stiff and sore but I had about 5 hours to get in 100K (62.2 miles) or maybe even better.
It started slowly but within a couple of miles my body started to warm up and allow greater range of motion. And as the sky began to show signs of daybreak my spirits lifted as well. Around 6 am I woke up Swaggy J and told him I needed some real food. I was surviving on Pop Tarts and Clif bars while he was asleep but I was in need of soup; something warm, something that felt like sustenance.
I discovered that at 3 am, in the rain, in the woods is rather peaceful. And people, even in the midst of their suffering, are serene. They have surrendered to the experience in a way that’s uplifting. They are accepting of what is and they’ve stopped fighting it. And, thankfully, so had I.
Close to my 24 hours being up I reached the 100K mark and as I rounded toward the start/finish line Swaggy met me on the course to encourage another mile. And then another. I ended the day with 64 miles, a personal best in distance and enduring 20 of the 24 hours of the race. Each time I am inching closer to a better outcome and hopefully, a better me.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G