My training with Lions Valley Athletics fits in perfectly with my work schedule. We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00, which gives me enough time to stay after school to get some solid marking done or head home to make sure the boys’ homework is done.
In the summer, though, it’s a different story. I’m off work so I really prefer to run early, get it out of the way and have the rest of the day with the family. There are many days, though, when training with the club gives me something to look forward to – an opportunity to escape the nonsense and noise that 9 and 14 year old boys can bring into my life. Getting out with the club also makes sure that I am pushing myself more than I do when I’m on my own.
Tuesday afternoon, I found myself staring out the window, longing to run. It was warm and sunny, the rain had already passed through, and rush hour traffic hadn’t quite started. I almost got changed into my gear but, instead, sighed on the couch with a book in hand. “I need to run with the guys tonight,” I told myself. “I need the hill workout.” I knew which hill we were going to use too; I didn’t want it, but I knew it would be good for me.
Just after 6:00, three of us left the Rec Centre to meet our coach in the valley. Barely 10 minutes into our warm-up, the skies opened. Within minutes, we were in the middle of a deluge. Buckets of water were dumped on us, making it impossible to see where we were putting our feet. Our clothes were soaked through, and I felt the weight of the water start to pull down my running skirt. By the time we got to the bottom of the valley, we could hardly see our coach waiting for us in his car. He got out and took us under a dry shelter to tell us what the workout would be.
“Um, I’m okay not doing hills today. I’m happy to just keep running home.” My training partners, Darryl and David, agreed. Coach didn’t try to convince us otherwise; hills in that rain would have been a challenge and, possibly, dangerous. He left and the three of us continued to run.
Once we got into the trails, we headed into a new adventure. The rain was letting up but the rain and run-off from the hills left huge puddles, covering the entire width of the trail and longer than our height. We had no choice but to try to jump over them (and I write “try” as we often ended up landing in them) or run through them. Our feet were already soaked so it really didn’t matter which way we went. Once we got to higher ground, the sun was out and there were fewer, smaller puddles to navigate but, at that point, we were carrying a few extra pounds of water in each shoe; my legs were tired.
When the rain stopped, we felt our pace drop. The battle against Mother Nature was over; there was no more adrenaline to push us through our run. By the time we got back to the roads, the sun was out and the sidewalks were nearly dry. I tried to wring out some of the water clinging to my running skirt and we climbed one more long, gradual hill on the return back to the Rec Centre.
As I left the guys and turned down a side street, I started to hear it. “Squeak, squeak.” A lady walking ahead turned back to look. “Squeak, squeak.” My shoes! They were so wet that they were squeaking all the way home. As drenched as I was, there was very little dirt on me; it was well hidden in my clothes and the rain took care of any other dirt by washing it down and into my shoes. Thank goodness because I don’t think I would have been allowed in the house if I were still covered in it.
While getting caught in rain like that can be a nuisance, it is actually a lot of fun. The unexpected element brings a new kind of challenge and it gives us a break from the predictability of a planned run or a workout. Both physically and mentally, it was one of the toughest workouts we’ve ever done. And if I end up getting rained on in Chicago, because anything can happen in October, I know that I can handle it.