Whatever The Weather

17 Apr

This morning I woke up, somewhat hungover after yesterday’s party at which Gerard and I were the guests of honour, looked out of the window, and said, “Oh crap.” April 17th, and it was snowing. We’re not talking about minor flurries here – we’re talking about copious quantities of the white stuff falling out of the sky and settling on the ground.

I had a problem with this for three reasons. First, my wedding is less than two weeks away, and that doesn’t give the weather much time to get its act together. Second, I really wanted to get in a decent run today and I didn’t relish the idea of running in the snow and the wind. And third, I’m just fed up with crappy weather. Anyone who knows me knows that I turn into a pathetic crybaby at the slightest sign of winter.

Nonetheless, I needed to go running. I have a half-marathon six weeks from now and my training lately has not been up to scratch. So I waited for a couple of hours to see if the weather would improve, and then I got dressed, laced up my shoes and braved the elements.

As I stood at the end of my driveway waiting for the satellites to find my training watch, I thought, Hey, this isn’t bad. The snow had stopped, the wind had died down to a tame breeze, and it wasn’t all that cold. It actually seemed like perfect conditions for a run.

I set off down the road at a moderate pace, and after about three minutes, it started to rain a little. I don’t really mind running in the rain, but this was not normal rain. Normal rain does not feel like icicles against your skin. The air temperature was fine, but the rain temperature was bizarrely cold. I kept going, though. I’ve run in worse conditions.

As I was running over the Rouge Valley bridge, though, the wind suddenly kicked up about ten notches, and it started to hail. The  hailstones were tiny, the size of the gravel you get for fish tanks, but it hurt. Believe me, those little hailstones flying at you with a hefty wind behind them can feel like tiny but very effective jackhammers against your face.

I came very close to turning around at that point, but I kept going. I knew that I would not feel good about myself if I gave up on my run after just a mile.

The hail continued for the next 2km or so. After that it gave way to snow. Not the cute little snowflakes that gently drift to the ground like you see in romantic comedies. These were big fat snowflakes that were flying to the ground like missiles. I felt like I was in Space Invaders. A snowflake flew into my eye at high speed. It hurt.

But still, I kept going.

At around the 6km mark, I suddenly realized that I was enjoying myself. The weather had righted itself without me really noticing it. There was no snow, no hail, no rain, and no wind. The sun was even peeking out from behind the clouds. I had a lovely time for the next 3km or so.

Right after I had completed 9km, a gust of wind came from nowhere and almost blew me away. If I’d had an umbrella I would have looked like Mary Poppins. This wind was unbelievable. It was blowing straight at me with such force that it actually took my breath away.

I still had 2km to go, which in the scheme of things is almost nothing, but when you’re running into wind that feels like a solid wall, it’s a long way. Those last two kilometres were really, really tough. I had to slow my pace because the wind was so strong and I’m not a Kenyan.

By the time my aching legs carried me back into my driveway, I was absolutely spent. My time for the 11km run was not great, but it was well within the range of what it should be. Most importantly, though, I had done it. After several weeks of poor training that had made me wonder whether I still had the right to call myself a real runner, I was once again the kind of runner I love to be.

The kind of runner who goes out and logs the miles, whatever the weather.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hanspama/4199315435/)

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