Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ponderings on A Rainy 20 (plus) Miler

-by Patrick Alcasid

Last Saturday, while tens of thousands were preparing for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, I had my last long run before my taper, in preparation for the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon, which, at the time of this writing, is two short weeks away.  (wow!).

My plan had scheduled me for a 23 mile run last weekend.  But, there was one little uncontrollable detail about that Saturday --

It was raining. 
and wet.
and cold.
and it would not let up.

I have run in the rain before, I remember one of my first runs ever was a 2 miler along the Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk, back when I was doing the Couch to 5K program. Back then I wore my mickey mouse anorak poncho jacket, gym shorts, and tennis shoes, and run-walking along out in the rain I felt "DEDICATED."  Flash forward three years later and I'm wearing a Nike Storm Fit hooded rain running jacket, running cap, dry fit shirt and shorts, Nike elite socks, and Hoka Conquest shoes, and ready to embark on a 4 hour long run in the soaking rain and I felt "CRAZY."

It was wet.  I hate the wet.  It was cold.  I hate the cold.  I was considering doing it all in the gym, but I sucked it up, told myself it would good for the experience and the training, and headed down to the Manasquan Reservoir and did a cold and wet (soaking to the underwear wet) 21 miler.

Along the way, I did have some observations about running in the rain.
In no particular order:

1. You WILL get wet -- so get over it.


Well, duh, it's raining, of course you're going to get wet.  No, I mean you are going to get soaked.  I don't know why I was in such denial about getting wet.  I read the tips about not overdressing (so you don't have too many soaking heavy clothes), and using dry fit wicking material for clothes.  Well, yeah, I did all that, but I didn't realize how wet I would be:

SOAKED.  hair soaked.  skin soaked.  underwear and socks soaked.  Yes even with my Nike Storm Fit jacket.

Now, it was a moderate rain, but continuous.  But even with a light rain, if you're out there for hours, prepare to feel like you jumped into a lake.   Interestingly, my Hoka Conquests boast some "water drainage system" or something or other in the sole to help with puddles and wet conditions.  ooohhhhkayyy ... but no.  I tried to avoid some puddles (don't do that by the way, it's no use), but within the first mile I was "squish squish" squishing with every step.  I HATE that.  But I got over it, and marched on, for the sake of training.   By the end I was actually embracing the puddles.

credit samwinebaum

2. You might slow down --  and that's ok.

The rain, the ducking down to get the water out of my eyes, the constantly adjusting my wet earbuds or hood ties, the wet ground, the futility of  trying to avoid puddle -- all slowed down my pace.  And that's ok.  After all, this was a long run that I was to do at conversational pace.  I tried to run "by feel," but it just felt wet.  So onward I went, and overall felt great afterwards, probably thanks to the slow easy pace.  Gave me a chance to think of this blog post anyway.

3. It will strengthen you mentally.

The hardest part of running is just getting out the door.

Running in the rain is no exception.  As the raindrops were beating down on my windshield on the drive down to the reservoir, I though seriously about turning around and just going to the gym, or going home. BUT NO.  But I forced myself to drive there, step out of the car, and run.

The Manasquan Reservoir is a 5.1 mile loop, after each loop I would go to my car, sit inside for a bit of shelter, and food, and drink.  Every time I did that I was tempted to drive away.  BUT NO, I forced myself to get out again and again to run.

On my final loop, more than once I thought about just turning around and getting into the car to go home.  "15 miles was enough, I can do another 5 or so later in the gym."  BUT NO, I forced myself to keep going. 

I'm hoping these mental challenges will make future ones easier, like when I'm at the half way point of the Philadelphia Marathon, where the half marathoners split off and finish, and where you start the out and back ... where you see the faster runners coming home, and you still have a long way to go.  
What doesn't kill you make you stronger.  (yes that's a Kelly Clarkson reference. :) )

4. You're not the only crazy one!

There were plenty of dry-fit, rain jacketed-hooded runners splashing around the loop and trails on that rainy day. Most, if not all, gave a wave a knowing smile.  Camaraderie means no judgments, because we're all crazy.

5. I hate the outdoors -- except when I'm running outside.

I'm not the camping type.  I'm not the fishing and hunting type.  I'll take a nice, sleek, luxury plush hotel over a tent.  I hate the rain, I hate having to run from the car to the door of the mall if it's raining.  But after running outside in the rain, I fooled my brain into enjoying it.  Kinda.  No really, I'm glad I did it.

6. Wet trails are a nice soft surface.

As many of you might know, I enduring multiple running-related injuries including stress fractures, due what we now found out was severe osteoporosis.  My impact-averse bones actually enjoy trails, and the mud just made it softer.  Again, the soft surface plus a slower pace made me feel quite comfortable at the end of the run.

7. Band Aid Waterproof Tough Strips are friggin awesome.

Without going into gory details, a few days before this long run my dermatologist took a skin biopsy from the bottom of the foot (perfect site while training for a marathon!).  Doctor said I could run on it if it wasn't draining, but it was sore and it felt weird.  Well, I put some Polysporin on it, slapped a band aid waterproof tough strip on it, and reinforced it was nexcare first aid tape (probably didn't need that).  At the end of the 21 mile run, after peeling my soaked clothes off, the square of skin that the bandaid was on (and the wound) was THE cleanest thing on my body.  no dirt, no mud, no scratches.  and the wound looked great.

8. Beer never tasted so good.

A couple of weeks before this run I deprived myself of a Troegs Perpetual IPA that my brother in law had.  I only had a sip because it was the night before I ran the 2014 Hershey Half Marathon (see my post!).  But finishing the wettest (and one of the coldest) runs I've ever done, getting home, and getting everything off me, doing a ice-cold recovery soak, then shower, and change into sweats, I got to enjoy a surprise gift from my brother in law:

Ahhh .... now this is one of my favorite beers.  Deeeelicious.

So there you have it.  My observations from running in the rain.  I can't believe I stayed out that long.  21.3 wet miles in 4 something hours.  I still hate the wet.  I still hate the cold.  But I'm so glad I did this run, and did this outside.  Would I do a run this long outside in a downpour again?  Ask me later. I'm in my taper now.  Don't want to think about "embracing" this again:

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