I learned last Thursday that there is nothing more glorious than running in the rain.
I’m not a cross country star. Not even close. I have a nice spot, about 20th on the C-team, where I can run with my friends and still push myself on hill days. I’ve skipped practices. I’ve cut courses on days where I’m having a “Slack Attack.” I’ve dropped curse words that would get me kicked off staff if I published them while attempting to run up the 75th Street hill on a muggy fall day.
But I love the awful, painful sport that cross country is. I love running. And I’m absolutely insane to say so, but I love running in the rain.
I’ll be honest about this: when it started raining last Thursday afternoon, I jumped up in the air and pumped my fist, absolutely positive that practice would be cancelled. After all, who would have us run through sheets of rain in 60 degree weather?
Coach Tricia. That’s who.
Twenty minutes after my celebration in the halls, I was huddled with my team. Leaned against a blue locker. Shivering. Staring at the coaches in half-hearted disbelief as they explained our four-mile route to us.
I walked out the doors with my running buddies, Chase and Rachel, growling complaints, yet was surprised at how nice the rain felt. It was cool, a relief after the past weeks of humid heat. A pack of boys ran by us, yelling and whooping and jumping on each others’ backs, and for some reason, their energy spread to the rest of the team.
We started running and, after a mile, I realized I was truly enjoying the run. Our pace was a little faster than normal. The water poured across my face, down my shoulders and my arms, soaking my shirt and pants. My hair stuck to my face and hung in my eyes. My skin was cold, goosebumps coating my body. And I felt alive.
The run was invigorating. I didn’t lose my breath like normal. I kept up and laughed and didn’t stop running the entire time. I didn’t feel the need to stop. I didn’t feel the need to use my inhaler again. I didn’t feel the need to hurl expletives at hills or coaches or the sport in general. I raced down the hill to the yellow gate of the junior lot with a grin on my face.
Perhaps it’s my love of fluff, but I feel kind of intense working out in the rain. Perhaps it’s the fact that I feel cheesy and epic, like a Nike commercial, when I stop and drop my hands on my knees and narrow my eyes intensely to peer through the rain into the distance. But I love rain. I love arriving at home, changing into dry clothes and curling up with a mug of tea.
I’ve always prayed for rain during cross country season, since it’s a surefire way to get a meet or practice cancelled. Now I’ll be praying for rain to come, just so that I can have another chance at a truly perfect run.