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LJI:1 I need the struggle to feel alive
I am a runner.  I am not very fast, but I can keep going.  I sign up for races periodically so I have external goals to meet, and because there’s something amazing and wonderful about a community of folks all getting together much too early on a weekend morning to do a mildly crazy thing.

This past Sunday was the Berkeley half-marathon.  It’s a lovely race with strong community support and a challenging but pretty course, though I really chose it because I had run the first three years of the race and wanted to keep my streak alive.  The weather for Sunday said there was a 50% chance of rain, but looking at the forecast carefully the worst of the storm was supposed to hit on Saturday and then taper off.

Sunday morning was cool and cloudy, perfect running weather.  There was a hint of sun breaking through the clouds and I was hoping it wouldn’t get too hot before I could finish.  Turns out, that wasn’t a problem.

It started sprinkling just as I finished mile two.  It was lovely, even refreshing, just a little damp in the air to keep everyone from overheating.  Then it started to get wetter.  Around mile seven it was definitely raining.  By mile nine it was a downpour.  It didn’t help that in the ninth mile we were on a flat trail with the Bay on one side of us and the highway on the other.  With no buildings to act as windbreaks or offer protection it felt a little like what I imagine clothes feel being inside a washing machine.

Coming off the trail I could see folks in front of me running to the far right to get around something, as I approached I saw that a massive puddle had formed.  I thought about it for a bit and then splashed straight through.  My feet and shoes weren’t going to get any wetter.

The rest of the race was about finding a way mentally to be okay with being soaking wet.  I aimed for my inner five-year-old who wanted to jump in every puddle ever and to the best of my ability let her take over.  I took off my gloves – by then they were holding water against my skin instead of keeping me dry or warm – and wrung them out.  I skipped the last water stop thinking I could just suck on my shirt if I needed a drink.  And I passed a surprising number of people.  Damp is doable for almost every runner, but drenched is really hard.  I wasn’t passing folks because I was faster than they were.  I was passing them because they were spending energy fighting the now inevitable wet while I was chanting the mantra “wetter is faster”.

I turned the final corner and could see the finish line three blocks away.  I kicked with everything I had left and crossed the finish line in a good time.  I could hear the announcer over the loudspeakers saying, “Anyone can run in clear weather.  But only the strong can run in the rain.”

In the finish area runners were getting their medals and bananas, their water and space blankets, the usual post-race food and swag.  Everyone was smiling and laughing and chatting with strangers.  The extra effort of wet made this community of runners closer than ever.  Now we have a story to tell.  ‘Were you at Berkeley in 2016?  Oh, the rain…’

***Here come LJ Idol again, this is my entry for week one.  Other takes on the topic can be found here, and I'll post something when voting opens up.  For the curious I finished the 13.1 miles in 2:20:20 - a time I am super happy with for this race.***

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I had the lyrics to Cake's -The Distance- running (haha I'm so corny) through my head while reading this! It's giving me a homey feeling reading your work again.

I liked everything about this. Hugs and peace~~~D

I don't know that song I think I'll have to look for it. Thanks for the kind words, hugs to you too.

Nicely done! :) Yay for a new season!

Thanks lady. Here we go, right?

I love this. Your persistence and positive attitude are inspiring. :)

I can imagine this story coming up again and again at future Berkeley half marathons.

Thank you. It took a lot of runs in the rain to figure out how to deal with it. In the start area next year everyone will be talking about the rain of 2016, absolutely.

I love that you dug down for your inner 5 year old!

After trial and error over the years it is the best way to deal with rain I've found. Thanks!

This is actually quite entertaining. I always enjoy your running stories, but that one makes me particularly proud of you. Congratulations! :)

I'm always a little nervous about running stories since its not such a universal experience I'm glad you liked this one.

Congrats!! Impressive accomplishment : ).

Thank you. I'm happy with the race and the telling.

Amazing, very impressive running in the rain like that. thank you for sharing your experience.

Thanks for the kind words. There's a point when you can get no wetter, and hopefully that's when you find a kind of release.

I am always in awe of marathon runners and I secretly wish I should do it once in a lifetime. So, this was an amazing read. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me!

Aw thanks. I acknowledge that running isn't for everyone, but also think everyone should try it! In the back of the pack where I am there's an amazing community.

I love this take on the prompt! Very inspirational, and way to dig down and find what you needed to get you through. I love the camaraderie too among the runners. So cool!

Thank you. Honestly I couldn't figure out what to write for this prompt and the race was still taking up most of my brain and then I realized I could combine them - serendipity is awesome. And yes, those of us who stand no chance of winning a race tend to form and reform groups along the way for support.

I will never be a runner but I can appreciate the difference embracing the elements rather than fighting them makes.

Yup that's it exactly, don't fight a thing you can't beat.

What a terrific story, and a terrific idea-- channeling the inner 5-year-old! My sister's mantra (which works very well for the women in our family) is, "You'll never overheat in the rain." Though over that kind of distance, I would worry about blisters from wet shoes and socks.

I'm in running hiatus now (plantar fasciitis has returned), and with the cold weather on us it's really starting to eat at me. This is my prime running season! So, please run for both of us. :)

Oooh I like your sister's mantra too. I did end up with blisters on each of my pinky toes though luckily they were small. My feet stayed relatively dry until mile 9 so it wasn't too bad.

Boo to the plantar fasciitis, I dealt with a round of that at the beginning of the year and it's frustrating. I loved winter running in CA, and am still figuring out CO but I'll bring you with me in spirit.

This is great! And I am really, really going to try to take the lesson of your experience to heart.

"I wasn’t passing folks because I was faster than they were. I was passing them because they were spending energy fighting the now inevitable wet while I was chanting the mantra “wetter is faster”."

Good read!

Thank you for the kind words.

Directing energy where it's useful isn't always an obvious thing, but it helps.

That's really impressive. I'm amazed you were able to push yourself through all that wetness.

I've just recently started trying to get into a fitness routine. Managed to do 3.2 miles in an hour, which is far better than I though I'd be able to do.

Maybe one day I'll work myself up to a marathon. I really want to try the Insane Inflatable 5K. It looks like so much fun.

3.2 miles is awesome however long it takes. Really the starting is the hardest part, and you're already past that.

I don't know that race but the name alone makes me want to run it - silliness mixed in with running is the way to go.

Ah, running the rains. I kind of miss that. Vut ever since my surgeries )on my back) I was told I could no longer run. But I miss it...like you just don't even.


Oh yeah. I fell a few years ago and broke some bones in my hand and wasn't allowed to run. The same day the orthopedist okayed it I went a few miles - I get it. I hope you've found something else that moves you (heh) like running does.

Very amusing and wonderful. I spent my first days in Berkeley back in September, when it was perfectly warm, sunny and dry! Looks like a great setting for a half-marathon!

Thank you. Dry would have been nice but not the warm, so I think I'll keep the day we got. But yes, it's a lovely place to go for a run.

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