wrunning, wrun, wrunning, wran, v. to go swiftly outdoors in rainy climes; as in, any running during the months of October through July in the Pacific Northwest.
Sorting through my winter running gear, my running side kick, our dog, only moves his eyes from their place resting on the floor, as I fold and re-fold fleece and long sleeves, as if to say it’s already been too long since we’ve been running. He gets up, saunters to the window and, nose to nose with the glass, sighs discontentedly at the rain and probably, definitely, our latency indoors.
There are leaves to slosh through! There are puddles to dodge, and ebony stained afternoons that need a touch of fluorescence, by way of my windbreaker. There are trails to break through in a tunnel of misty wattage beneath the shrouded stars! He reminds me through his disgruntled ‘harumph‘ as he lays down again.
After 10 years calling this place my home, I still find it hard to accept that always, behind that infinite grey above, behind that, there is somehow blue sky. I try to think of this as we prep for our cold, soggy run and I search the skies for any hint of that elusive color. I don layer upon layer, ear warmers, gloves and on and on, as the dog paces, willing me I’m sure to hurry up already. He knows. At the first sight of athletic wear, his tail begins flailing uncontrollably. He stalks me as I put in my contacts and panting, pursues me to the furthest reaches of the closet in search of the hats hidden at the back. Determined, expectant, he will not leave my side until his leash is on and we head out the door.
Our breath hangs in ethereal clouds and melts into the fog swirling up from the damp sidewalk. My lungs, reminded of the cold, make breathing ragged at first, in slight protest to this temperature. Stiff-limbed and sniffly seem to be the order of our runs, but in them still there is promise that is almost tangible. Promise of victorious treks through the patterns of the rain, watching sheets of it pour of the brim of my hat. Promise of snowy slopes in the mountains, ready again for heart-stopping descents and adrenaline filled turns. Promise of soaked shoes but soaring spirits, despite the dark. Promise of a hot shower and tea with honey. Promise to remain unbroken through the nuance of the elements.
Not surprisingly, I’m once again I’m considering a gym membership. I’m optimistic now that I can stick it out, but there may come long dark February weeks when my will will be tested. Where just once, I’ll wish I could jog without soggy shoes, or the constant vigilance of comically deep puddles, upheaved sidewalks (especially treacherous for yours truly, who manages to trip while standing still), and all the other obstacles that appear out of the dark. Will I use it? Will it make me weak? What if I just can bear the thought of a treadmill?
What I do know is that I won’t ever abandon my al fresco winter runs entirely for anything. Not even this.
That promise, despite some elements of the miserable, its uniquely ours. And there is something precious in it, shared with those out there on the roads, defiant in the face of nature. It’s a promise and a misery that helps us be mindful of the little, beautiful things, and all the tiny delicacies of life in the elements, if only for a moment.
Those doggy rain jackets aren’t looking like too bad an idea at this point, either.