Runners can only be trapped indoors for so long before we get cagey and need to move, and I am no exception. So when a week of rough weather is forecast, between storms, I head out. I need a hat because I blink in the rain. I need a braid, because otherwise my ponytail turns into an impossible dreadlocked snarl that no measure of conditioner and patience can absolve. I need a sandwich bag to carry my phone, in case my children call or the weather emergency alerts blare. I select my oldest, rattiest shoes because I know they will get ruined. I wear black so nothing turns see through.
One morning after a particularly ugly storm, there was a blissful breather of clear weather. I headed down to the trail where I usually run and was awestruck by the wreckage. Limbs and leaves looked like they had been passed through a blender, scattered like forest salad across the path. Floods cut deep ruts into the earth, the worst sections they cordoned off with orange cones. Felled trees blocked the trail, some with trunks two feet in diameter. Runners and walkers stopped to take photos, to climb over trees or limbo beneath them. People shook their heads in wonder; dogs seemed ill at ease. It felt so good to move that I could barely contain myself. My race legs from the previous weekend felt new and ready to play. Eleven kilometres passed like four, which is the gift of training for long distances. After running 48K, everything feels easy breezy.
A good hard run makes the later hours of the day – quarantined by yet another storm – seem peaceful and cozy. A run is the surest, shortest path to quell restlessness. My daughter Grace, tired of watching Netflix and mindless snacking, decided we had to make a break for it. I was dubious with the occasional thunder, but she was dressed and said she was going with or without me, so I suited up. Just as we left the garage, the skies opened (even wider) and the rain was like standing in a waterfall. She was so happy, screaming and plowing through puddles, sending dirty water flying at me. In my fear and frustration, I had almost forgotten how fun the rain is when you are a kid.
I stopped picking around puddles and starting bombing them. We were soaked, filthy, howling laughing and looking rather like lunatics, the only people outside, maybe in the entire town. Suddenly there was a huge thunder crack, followed by a flash of lightening off in the distance. Silly mom turned into mama bear and we raced home at top speed, it took all I had just to stay on her thirteen year old wheels.
She hugged me in the garage, breathless and smiling.
“That was awesome, mum!” I had to agree.
Perhaps the most essential thing to remember about training for life’s storms is the importance of remembering our joy. It is often the first thing we surrender and ultimately it is the one thing we can’t afford to lose.