My long run this past weekend was a twelve miler. The half-marathon was less than a week away.
As I expected from watching the weather report the night before, I awoke at 8:00 Sunday to a very rainy morning. It was a tough morning to be a runner - such mornings do an excellent job of enticing a person to linger in bed a bit longer, drifting in and out of sleep.
"Normal people do not go out into the pouring rain and run twelve miles," I thought to myself as I munched on a trail mix bar, fueling up for the looming run and watching the steady rain fall outside the kitchen window.
I thought for a second that I could go do my long run on a treadmill at the gym. But I knew running on the treadmill wouldn't prepare me for the course or the terrain for next weekend's half-marathon. I would be soaked by the time I got to the gym anyway. And, honestly, running twelve miles on a treadmill sounded more miserable than just doing it outside.
So, off I went, much to the disapproval of my doorman who shook his head when he saw me. I was drenched by the time I crossed the street. But that's the thing with running in the rain: as much as the first steps outisde are dreaded, when you're soaked, you're soaked. It's not going to get any better, but it can't get any worse.
When I arrived on the Central Park running loop, I was greeted by hundreds of other crazy people: runners doing the eighteen-mile tune-up for the upcoming NYC marathon. I was running in the opposite direction of the race and my part of the road was quiet and sullen in comparison.
We were all soaking wet, doing a long-run in preparation for an upcoming race. I saw faces of happiness, discouragement, pain and determination. I wondered what these runners saw on my face as we silently passed each other.
Parts of the run made me think of playing in the rain as a child. The carefree kind of playfulness that allowed us to run around without worries of ruining clothes, make-up or hair.
Other parts of the run actually made me consider religion, kind of a hefty thought while trying to finish a strong twelve miles. Religion is something that I, self-admittedly, am still a bit confused about.
But this morning, as I ran quietly along the road with the rain pouring down, searching deep within myself for strength and finding inspiration from other runners when I thought I couldn't make it up another hill - I could not imagine anything else feeling so spiritual.
I gave thanks for the things that are so easy to overlook: for my health which allowed me to run, for Mike giving me a running rain jacket he knew I would never buy for myself, for the food which was waiting to refuel my body, for the apartment which would offer a warm shower and shelter from the rain.
One hour and forty-five minutes later, I found myself again standing in my kitchen, watching the rain fall outside the window. Like every Sunday before, I felt cleansed, renewed, at peace with myself and the world.