— Sir Thomas More
Squishy running shoes, made so by the sudden release of Mother Nature’s ample bounty (rain), recently squeezed much of the delight from my midafternoon, stress-relieving jog.
Yet fault can’t be attributed to the abrupt cloudburst, to the wise meteorologists who predicted its 30 percent chance nor to late-day humidity. The blame was mine to bear and mine alone. I was supposed to be running that morning before work — at about 4:15 a.m. in order to be in the office by 6:30 — but it didn’t happen.
It was Monday and Monday mornings aren’t conducive to pre-dawn runs. Monday mornings aren’t conducive to much of anything for that matter.
It’s that simple. It could be written somewhere. Might even be an unspoken law among runners who have run longer than Nike has built shoes to hold their feet.
Over the years, dating back to the mid-1980s, I have jogged ... not very well mind you, but mine is a noble effort. It’s a good cardio workout, slows the weight gain and gives my feet something to do. So I run ... almost daily; at least, that’s the intent. And intent is nine-tenths of the runner’s law.
It’s exactly what I was doing on this Monday afternoon when I knocked off work a little early to make up for what I was supposed to have done early that morning. He who procrastinates sometimes feels the sting of reality. I did on this day. The sting was an hourlong deluge that likely drowned every toad in town. The reality was I got wet. Really wet.
Today we’ll close out this account that started two weeks ago. We’ll call it Part 3. You’d think the message could have been told in Part 1. Go figure.
Daring the raindrops to get bigger, I remained on the Oak Grove Huff and Puff Freedom Trail without fear of the debacle that lay ahead.
Gambling that I could outstep the earliest, largest and most lethal raindrops with the runner’s patented dodge and weave maneuver, I held steady to my course.
Rolling the dice that I could complete the needed mileage before the ominous clouds could unleash their fury, I plowed forward.
It was a bad decision.
Yet in the runner’s world, decisions are not bad. They are just ill-timed.
Mine was ill-timed. And bad.
Circling the Huff and Puff oval several times as the teaser drops fell, my once-booming confidence began its slow wilt. The skies still weren’t dark like night, but distant thunder echoed a message to those who would listen — something along the lines of, “Get inside, you stupid dummy.”
Good words. Sound advice ... for those who would take it.
Obviously, I did not.
The rain fell more heavily, yet still not enough to halt this one-man parade. True, puddles were forming along uneven stretches in the asphalt and the rhythmic pound of my black Nikes on pavement became more of a splash across shallow streams making their way across the track. What little hair blanketed my scalp now hung in wet strings. My tank top clung to my torso and my running shorts offered new meaning to the term hip-huggers.
Rounding the trail’s end that bordered the popular playground, I reminisced to Grandmother Norton’s occasional tantrum from the back door decades ago, “Ricky ... boy, get inside this house outta that rain! Your mama’s gonna whup us both, especially if you come down with the ‘numonia!”
She was probably correct. But in those days, boys just did what boys did. Kind of like today. Old boys just do what old boys do. Yet, it was finally time for this old boy to seek shelter.
Dancing across the muddied playground, I cowered under a pedestrian bridge that was part of a brightly-colored piece of equipment that anchored slides, ladders and other pleasantries for the young at heart, free of spirit and tiny of frame. I was none of these. I was just wet.
Then the real rain came. It was then I realized playground bridges leaked — quite badly.
Little waterfalls poured through the cracks of the narrow trestle that were intended for little feet, not for canopy. My head was the target. No matter where I stood, how I leaned nor how often I wished for a better decision, the rainwater found me.
It streamed down my back.
It doused my face.
It drooled down both legs.
It pooled at my feet. Each of them.
And it was cold. Not until then had I realized rain in mid-May was cold.
Soaked and shivering, it was with a sigh I emerged from beneath the bridge — into a monsoon of Noah standards — and ran full speed, while dodging new parking lot ponds, to my car.
These little inconveniences happen to those who run.
Rain comes. Rain goes.
It isn’t a matter of how wet we get. It’s all about our lessons learned.
Mine were few ... because two weeks later it happened again.
Same track. Same day of the week. Same squishy shoes.
Life is good.