Monsoon Running (3.4 miles)

When I say that last Wednesday I went running in the rain, the image it brings to mind doesn’t do the run justice. “Today I went running in a monsoon” does the experience a bit more justice. When I left my school, it was raining steadily, but after about a mile the water was coming down so hard I couldn’t see more than 15 feet in any direction.

I actually love running in the rain, as long as its not a freezing cold winter rain. Spring and summer rains can be very refreshing, as long as you don’t mind getting soaked to the skin (and you have dry clothes to change into at the end of your run). Walking in the rain is pretty miserable, since your clothes clings to you and unless its really warm you get cold and clammy, but when you run you stay warm, no matter how wet you get. In fact, I’d been looking forward to running to meet M near Columbia University for Angelica’s 3 month checkup all day, and the rain was actually part of the appeal.

I had my waterproof jacket and Gortex pants, but it didn’t really matter, as both were soaked through in minutes. I also have a waterproof cover for my bag, and it, on the other-hand, worked perfectly; I had my notebook and Catcher in the Rye for lesson planning, my wallet, and a change of clothes for after I arrived, and were perfectly dry when I was done running.

I have to admit to being an imperfect Buddhist, as my ego does like it when I manage to stun my coworkers with my running plans. Running to and from Brooklyn always works, but heading out into the pouring rain also appears to be an impressive feat. “Your not going running in . . . that?” they asked, as they looked at my shoes and light jacket and lack of any umbrella. Yes, I would assure them, I was going out running in “that,” and I was looking forward to it. Although I like impressing them, the rest of my response is honest: I’m just doing what I love, and it makes me feel good. No one would be impressed if I was heading home to catch a baseball game on TV, or to the bar to get a beer. I tell them that running is my happy hour: I’m just lucky mine also makes me healthier and helps me maintain my weight. Running in the rain is no different. I wasn’t going for a run in the rain out of a sense of devotion or obligation, but because I thought it would be a blast.
And it was. From the start, the rain was pretty heavy, and I tried my best to hurd le the largest puddles. Soon however, my feet were wet despite my best efforts, so I gave up. The rain increased in intensity: first a steady rain, then an intense downpour, then finally a full-blown deluge. My coat and pants gave up blocking water and plastered to my skin, and intersections began to pool into small lakes as we reached flash-flooding conditions. By the time I was in central Harlem, the rain was pounding down like hail and I was plunging into puddles that went up past my ankles. A few times I couldn’t see more than a dozen yards in front of me, and just had to bend my head into the wind and water and laugh – I lifted my head up to the dark sky above me and laughed, raised my hands over my head and shouted aloud, a bit of Lear’s madness, perhaps, but my laughter was filled with joy, reveling in the pure wildness of nature.

*****

I’ll leave you with a little gem of Buddhist wisdom that occurred to me as I ran: the trick to running in the rain is to get soaked to the skin as quickly as possible. Once every inch of you is wet, you no longer worry about the puddles or the rain. If you are already wet, the rain is no longer something to be avoided . . .

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About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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