Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wondering if I should rethink this

When you are a runner living in a new place, one of the major adjustments you often need to make is to the weather. You need to learn the weather patterns and what they mean, what the implications for you and your running are. Like, what are the implications of 3 straight days of rain? How will beautiful sunshine and no clouds impact my running? After youve lived through an entire cycle or year, then you generally have an idea what to expect and can adjust your training plan to accommodate the weather, to the extent that you want or need to be accommodating (there is, after all, always the tough it out, never say die approach :-)).

I am right in the midst of this phase. Not only because Ive just moved to a new place on the planet that I have no familiarity with, but also because it is the changing of the seasons now. So far what I can tell is that we are moving from the time when it rains every couple of days for a few hours, generally at a convenient time (middle of the night, end of the day), to the time when I can rain virtually the whole day and night long for several days in a row.

Of course, I know I dont melt in the rain and, given the heat and the humidity, a nice rainshower during a run can be a blessing. But the rain all day and night for several days has implications which I discovered last Saturday morning when, with great enthusiasm, I headed out for my long run (which isnt even that long at only 8 miles, but I’m building back up). The best part of the long runs is that the first two miles are hilly, including one killer hill (400m up, 100m slightly up, 400m sharply up) and have some awful mucky mud stretches, but after I run through the river, it is flat, flat, flat with only a few awful mucky mud spots. Or thats how it was the last few times I’ve run out that far.

This time, ha! I crossed the river and was bitching to myself because someone had driven the tractor through there and really messed up the road after the river for a bit. Then I’m zooming along feeling pretty good when I look up and holy cow! the road was now a river, no make that a swamp. The whole thing! I stopped and surveyed the situation. The left side seemed somewhat higher ground than the right, so I attempted to go around the swamp that way, but waist-high plants made that impossible. So I thought, what the heck, lets just go through it. I ran in, trying to stay on the higher ground, so I could actually run. This worked for about 200m, then I was up to my calves in water, then my thighs. I turned the corner, saw the bridge and realized that the river must have overflowed its banks. It seemed just as wet on the other side of the bridge, but I insisted on getting to the bridge to see if there was some way through. When I got there and took a look at the water on the other side, blech. Not only was there more water on this side, but around the bridge, where Id first have to enter it, it was mucky and dirty.

What to do? I decided to turn back. When I got out of the swamp, I wondered if the tide was low enough that I could run on the beach, but I couldnt see any paths that led through the jungle to the beach. Now, in addition to being wet, my shoes were filled with little stones which was quite uncomfortable. I got back to the river and decided I had to stop and clean out my shoes, and as it turned out, my socks. In my head I was busily calculating if there was a way to still get in my 8 miles without going round and round the same track and I figured if I went to the end of Jejevo and then the path they call Jejevo back way, Id be pretty close. With a plan and stone free socks and shoes, I was feeling much better, although the sun was coming up bright and shiny (and hot!).

I walked up the second part of Killer Hill and the really steep part after Kubalota, but I was feeling okay. Went on the Buala village path, since that avoids the hill on the main road near my house, and was starting to feel drained. I stopped at the Provincial Guest House and got some water from their tank thank you! After Jejevo and Jejevo back way, I walked up the hill by the rope shop, but then managed to get all the way home and hit my 8 miles.

What a bummer, though. I wonder if that swamp is now permanent or if it drains away quickly? I hate the idea of being cut off from the one flat long distance available to me.

Weather. Like it or love it, it has implications.

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