It is very true to say that training for the marathon this summer has been one of weather extremes. Extremes that is of dryness and heat. We’ve seen the highest temperature only a month or so ago ever recorded in this country, and I’ve lost count of the number of runs where I/we have adjusted schedules so that runs could take place out of the heat of the day. Unusual for the UK yes, but it has been that kind of summer. I was only saying to Melanie the other day that I can only recall one run to date where I’ve really got wet at all, and that’s great, and unusual too, given that we’ve covered around 450 miles so far.
I thus have to describe to you this morning’s scene. It’s a Tuesday morning at the end of September, and it is 5:50am. It is dark, and the sun (if it is ever seen at all today, which is profoundly unlikely) isn’t due up for another hour at least. The rain is coming down so hard outside that even inside the house the noise is so loud that I can hardly hear myself speak, or think. And I’m standing in shorts and a thin running top about to go out for a six mile run.
I thought hard for a moment about not going out at all. I could go out later I reasoned to myself, as this is really torrential. But then I knew I had a busy day at work ahead of me, and that later might not come. And then I thought of the New York Marathon, and of the 3 or so months of hard work that I’ve put in so far, and decided that a little rain wasn’t going to bother me, right? Wrong.
Having then put on a rain jacket to at least soften some of the blows from the stair rods coming down at me, I soon realised that literally by the time I got to the bottom of my drive (which isn’t very long) that the jacket was futile, as I was already completely soaked to the skin. By the time I got to the bottom of the street, I stopped trying to dodge the bigger puddles, as my feet were already as wet as they would be if they were standing in buckets of water. By the time I got half a mile down the road, I stopped caring about the bow waves of water that were coming at times over my head from passing cars and lorries hitting the larger pools of standing water on the road. Once you’re wet, you’re wet, and that’s just that. Grin and bear it, I said to myself from somewhere.
But this was no ordinary rainstorm, and yes I’ve seen a few and ran in a few too. I thought to myself “what the hell are you doing?” on more than about 10 occasions, even having reasoned with myself about why I was out there. I actually couldn’t even see more than about 10 feet at one point, and the pavement in front of me wasn’t even a pavement any more, it was just all either standing water or running water, and I had no idea how deep or what I was putting my feet into at times, my headtorch not bright enough to help with the definition. I’m thus prancing around like I’m dancing on a bed of hot coals in my bare feet. My only consolation in this ridiculous spectacle and performance is that I know with 100% certainty that no-one was watching – as no-one can have been stupid enough to be out in this weather but me. Fun!
By the time I’d eventually done 12 lots of hill sprints (for this is what my programme this morning called for) up a hill which would have more accurately been described as a cross between a set of fast-flowing rapids and a waterfall, I don’t mind saying that I was as miserable as sin. Even my Garmin gave up at one point, presumably in protest at being dragged out into this mess too.
My sprints duly completed, I began the even wetter than wet two mile run back home, and when I got about half a mile from my house I actually saw another person! They were walking a dog! (At least I think it was a dog, as the rain was if anything heavier by then, and it is still pretty dark, but he had something on a lead which was probably his pet.) He half stopped on the pavement to let me by, and as I slowed to pass I couldn’t resist saying to him “you must bloody love that dog!”. Maybe he hated it, I don’t know, but some strange forces indeed must have possessed him to lead it out into the storm. People are strange I figured, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he thought precisely the same thing about me!
Hopefully tomorrow’s 10 mile run will be slightly dryer – the forecast however doesn’t look good. Anyone got a canoe?