Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rediscovering me

I was the only one out there this morning. It felt like I owned the streets. I felt like some crazy old fool. But maybe that's just what I am - too crazy about it to keep running, foolish though it may seem, in the heavy downpour and occasionally gusty wind.

It wasn't raining when I took off. There was not a hint of rain in the wind. The sky was another matter, though. It was still dark when I went out so I really had no way of knowing. And though the rainy season was already here, a downpour was farthest from my mind. I was thinking of nothing but my run, all fifteen kilometers of it. I mapped out the route in my mind, calculated the distance, looked forward to a gratifyingly exhausting run, and took off.

Four-and-a-half kilometers and three uphills later, it came. I encountered it first as a slight drizzle as I was nearing the end of a slight climb. I'll just run through it, it will stop in a bit, I told myself. It didn't. Even before I hit the next kilometer marker, the rain had gotten stronger. I was already into the approach of the fourth uphill by then.

Everyone else ahead of me had taken shelter. I passed a building with some young people huddled together. The two waiting sheds I passed next as I crested the climb were also filled with people.

I went downhill as the rain continued to pour, heavier now than it was before. The clatter of a loose iron roofing sheet as the wind blew was very audible in a not so far distance. The gust brought a slight chill to my rain-and-sweat-soaked body. Please don't give me a storm, Lord, I prayed.

I decided there was no way I can do my 15K in this downpour. At the kilometer marker just a little past the two hospitals next to each other on the route, I turned back. Going back up the incline, I felt my shoes and socks getting soaked by the flow of rainwater down the paved road. As I passed a waiting shed, I heard a young girl call out: "Sir, it's already raining."  Yes, it is, for some time now, I answered in my mind.

Passing a group of men further ahead, I heard chuckles. I couldn't blame them if they thought I was crazy. No one does this, not here at least, running like this in short shorts and singlet in the pouring rain while everyone else was taking shelter and the only ones on the road where those in cars or public utility vehicles.

 As I approached the ascent to the flyover less than a kilometer into the end of my run, I got this thought, this realization that there is this other person that I am - a stubborn old dog crazy enough to brave a downpour for the simple love of the run.  All doubts caused by days of oversleeping, missing out on runs, and low mileage disappeared as I rediscovered that me. I picked up the pace on the downhill and finished my run, 5 kilometers shorter than I intended but nonetheless just as gratifying,  in the pouring rain.