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Out of the Mist

September 2, 2008

Set out Saturday morning for a ten-mile long run. There were flashes of lightning in distant clouds as I drove toward Running Sports, so I decided to do my bridge miles first–better to get the whole metal drawbridge-thing over with. Concentrated on my form as I “charged the hill,” thinking how puny that bridge is and how if I ever run The Bear I’m going to have to find some hills to do some real training on. Though my better half seems unconvinced, it’s one thing to run up a short bridge and then run down, and quite another to run up a mountain for five miles to a mile-high swinging bridge. Without the benefit of closed roads. It sounds like fun, but there’s a reason they call a five-mile race “the bear.”

I came up on the store just as the big pack of runners was leaving–the organized run starts at 6. Some runners had gathered early, I assumed because, like me, they’d seen the forecast, or had longer long runs planned. Even so, a pack of thirty or forty set out just in front of me. When we hit A1A we were in for an eerie sight. Even at 6, the road was very dark. With no lights allowed to keep from disorienting nesting sea turtles, and the sun hiding behind clouds we couldn’t quite make out, the only lights on the road were our bobbing blinky safety lights and the backlights from our GPS systems. As we spread out, it became even weirder.

I could see feet out of the mist, but little else. With sound dampened by the low-hanging fog, conversation didn’t carry well. Since I don’t run with music or a running partner, I usually hear ambient sounds, but this day it was quiet except for the rough surf beating up the beach. It was like a scene out of some post-apocalypse movie where the only ones who survived were the runners.

The lightning stayed in distant clouds until about mile 5. Then it suddenly flashed much closer, and I heard thunder for the first time. The last time this happened I didn’t worry much about it, just kept to my plan. This time I knew better. I had another mile to go before the turn for 10, but I made the turn early; I figured if the storm didn’t come, or was not as bad as I thought, then I could tack on the remaining miles closer to my car.

Alas, it was not to be. The rain started at about mile 6, and it was a driving, cold rain, the kind that makes the air temperature drop ten degrees in an instant. The rain was flying horizontally at me; I was drenched right away. My socks, down to my toes, were soaked through within a minute; avoiding puddles became immediately unimportant. I gave thanks again for my choice of running apparel: black Nike shorts, black running bra, gold Nike sleeveless top. They were, of course, also wet through, and left nothing to the imagination, but at least were not completely revealing.

So, no long run last week, either. But hey, that’s training in Florida.

I’m mildly proud or myself for making it through July and August running. I wasn’t sure I would. And I logged my highest-mileage months during the brutal Florida summer: 141.8 in June, 141.7 in July, 133 in August. Now I’ll sweat through September and call it a season.

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