Saturday, May 29, 2010

Things That Ultrarunners Know (Part 1)

So much of our effort in civilization involves staying dry….yet so much of our effort as ultrarunners involves being wet. Besides getting rained upon, we do some big time sweating, to say nothing about routinely wading across creeks with not much of a thought about getting our shoes wet.
This past weekend, for example, I ran a 10 miler on local roads, and as I went out in the late morning I could see that the skies were threatening. Since the air temp was about 70 F and cold was not a concern, my only concession to possible rain was to wear a baseball cap (which I often do anyway). That way if it did rain I could pull the brim low over my eyes and keep the rain off my glasses.

Well, some 5 miles into the run I encountered a hard downpour that lasted a couple miles, followed by a lighter rain the rest of the way home. I could see in the eyes of the drivers of the passing cars that they were thinking, “That poor guy, he’s all wet!” or “He’s nuts!”

While I certainly was drenched (I love that word), I was not nuts. In fact, despite having a down day physically (my legs just felt flat and lethargic), my mental attitude was one of loving the freedom and feeling of running in the rain, careless of puddles, enjoying the pelting warm rain. See, “civilized” people just don’t, by and large, spend time in the rain sans umbrella—It. Just. Isn’t. Done.

Imagine how many millions (billions?) of dollars are invested in the umbrella, poncho, slicker, hood, and hat industries to keep us dry. I tried to Google some data for the umbrella industry but came up empty, but the figure has to be high. I trash a couple umbrellas annually, to say nothing of purchasing outerwear for the times that I don’t want to get wet.

So add this to the list of things that Ultrarunners know and the rest of the word doesn’t—the sheer exuberance of running in the rain.

I wanted to embed the famous clip of Gene Kelly dancing the title tune from Singing in the Rain, but You Tube won’t permit embedding for this one. So you’ll have to click over here to see it. Believe me, it’s worth 4:05 of your time…just imagine a muddy trail instead of the street scene….

(photo credit here)

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