I’m Ruuuuuning in the Raaaaaaiiiin!!!!!

Average_Jbob overlooks Santa Clarita, CA.

Sometimes you just have to embrace the suck.

If you couldn’t tell by the name of my blog, I consider myself to be a very Average runner.  But just because I don’t consider myself to be Elite doesn’t mean that I don’t want to push myself and see just what I can accomplish.  I’m fairly new to running long distance as I’ve only been serious about my training for the past 2 years (2017, 2018).  In that time I’ve gotten comfortable with the 13.1 miles that make up a Half-Marathon and figured it was time to stretch things a bit.  So now I’m only 49 days away from my very first FULL Marathon, and what used to seem like PLENTY of time to train has quickly begun to look like the rapidly falling sands in an hourglass.  The starting line is quickly approaching and I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed!

When I signed up around September last year I decided NOT to use a pre-made training plan since I’d been running on my own and found what works for me.  I didn’t care for any of the plans I found since they seemed to be geared toward people who were new to running.

So I came up with my OWN plan!

I mapped out a series of long runs that gradually got longer over the course of time until 3 weeks out from the race where I planned on doing a full 26.2 mile run before beginning my taper-off period.  2 weekends out I would cut my distance in half to 13.1, and then roughly in half again 1 weekend out with a 7 mile run.  It looked like a great plan, and in fact I still believe it to have been a great plan!  However, when reality set in with my work getting busy and keeping me from a few of my long runs, and then a calve injury side-lining my running ANY distance for about 2-3 weeks, I decided I had to change my plan!  Now, with less than 2 months to go I’m simply trying to get comfortable at the 20 mile distance, hoping to be able to tack on the additional 10K on race day!

I’d only done 2 runs at a 20 mile distance so far and this weekend I was scheduled for my 3rd, but wouldn’t you know it, the weather in SoCal turned into one of the largest rain storms we’ve seen in quite awhile!  With time running out to train I just couldn’t afford to miss out on any more training opportunities, so I checked out the hourly forecast and saw that at 2pm the weather changed from 100% rain to 90% rain, then dropped to around 50% from 3 until about 7pm when it went back up.  I knew I needed just over a 4 hour window, so after wrestling with thoughts of just skipping yet another weekend run, I finally geared up and headed out at 3:30pm when there was a break in the weather.

I was initially worried that I could slip and injure myself if I ran on wet pavement.

I used to run exclusively in Nike Free RN Distance shoes that are VERY slick on the bottom.  They are great shoes in dry weather, but HORRIBLE if someone spits on the ground in front of you!  Recently, however, I’d picked up a pair of Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13’s and they have EXCELLENT traction.  I wore them to the grocery store earlier in the day to check how they gripped the wet parking lot and decided I could run in them safely.

Dressed in my Reebok cold-gear compression top and bottoms, I struck out, telling myself that I would go for a few miles and then turn back if I felt I was flirting with a possible injury.  I’m happy to say that I DID NOT turn back and also DID NOT injure myself, but I DID finish my 3rd 20 mile run, and I’m REALLY glad that I did!  It was cold out, but my Reebok cold-gear kept me warm.  The Tailwind that I’d mixed with the water in my hydration-pack kept me fueled so I never felt hungry or in need of a GU pack, and my Vomero 13’s never once slipped on the ground.

I mentally resolved that it was GOING to rain on me, but I was GOING to get my miles in any way.

What would I do if it rained on race day?  I would have to run.  Why not get that experience in during my training?  If I let bad weather stop me from training, then I felt I would be simply training myself to let bad weather stop me on race day.  Besides, I’ve got enough Spartan Races under my belt to be a little hardened against poor conditions.

I started to feel a light mist around mile 5 when I turned into Newhall Ranch Park, heading for the Paseo bike / running trail, and by 5.5 miles the downpour had started in earnest!  Right then and there I knew I had a decision to make.  I could decide to be miserable, take cover and call back home for someone to come pick me up. . .or I could decide to smile and embrace the suck.  I decided to smile.  In fact, I couldn’t help myself!  Living in SoCal it’s not often that I even get the chance to run in the rain, so I might as well take advantage of it and use it as an opportunity to get comfortable in discomfort!  As I exited one of the Paseo trails and followed the road for a short distance to the head of the next one I couldn’t help but grin ear-to-ear as I saw people in passing cars turn their heads to look at the lunatic out running in the rain!

8 miles into my run the rain let up and I slowed down for a short walk break.  Deciding to look behind me for some reason I was stunned by the sight of an enormous rainbow arching across the valley!  If I had stayed inside my comfort zone and not gone for my run I would have missed it!  That sight alone made my entire run in the rain completely worth it!  After taking a quick photo I continued running.  About a mile down the path I came to a section of trail that had SO MANY CROWS lining both sides of the path that I couldn’t help but think I was about to be in a scene from The Birds.  As I approached them they would fly off, so I had about a quarter of a mile where there were more crows than I could count squawking, eyeing me, and flying low to the ground in front of me.

By my turn-around point at mile 10 the sun was starting to dip under the horizon.  I was out on the Paseo and knew that I should have brought my headlamp since there aren’t any lights on the trail.  However, I was glad to find out that with the ground being as wet as it was, the little light that there was bounced off the ground like a reflector board and it didn’t get as dark as it otherwise could have.  I could still see the trail and a little ways off into the brush around me.

At mile 15 the rain came back with a vengeance.

I was just re-entering Newhall Ranch Park and ducked into the bathroom.  Again, I was tempted to call home for a ride, but the desire to finish my 20 mile run thankfully won out and I re-emerged shortly to continue my adventure in the rain.  Those final 5 miles were fairly wet, and once again I noted many sideways glances from passing motorists.  My smile wasn’t quite as big now, but it was still there.  My feet were beginning to let me know they’d been running for hours and I found myself telling them to shut-up.  Deciding to be a bit more positive, I found myself saying out loud, “Good job body, you’re doing good.  Keep going.”  Strange as it may seem, by vocalizing that I felt like my pains subsided a bit and the will to continue to move forward was stronger.  I started to announce “Walk break!” when I needed to slow down for a bit, and “Walk break is over!” when I needed to start running again.  Sounds crazy, I know, but no one else was out and it kept me mentally engaged.

I covered the 20 miles in just over 4 hours and 20 minutes in cold temperatures and rain, and I felt great for having done it.  I could have stayed at home and been dry and comfortable, but I would have missed out on an awesome rainbow, the sight of TONS of crows, the exhilaration that running in the rain brought me, and the amazing sense of accomplishment I got out of simply knowing that I had successfully embraced the suck and flourished.

With only 49 days left until the L.A. Marathon, I cannot afford to pass on any opportunity to train.  I’ve only ever run 20 miles in one go and I fully expect those final 6.2 to suck, but I also fully expect to embrace them with all I’ve got and to somehow find that finish line.

Average Jbob

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