(run photo's posted)
The U.S. Postal Service has a well known motto for their carriers — "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” It’s an inspirational statement that was adopted by the U.S.P.S. in the late 1800’s. I’m not certain that today’s carriers still identify with their hearty predecessors but, if they do — the 26.2 with Donna marathon training group has a lot of folks who would do the mail service proud.
I was 100% positive the Saturday morning marathon distance training run would be cancelled. The weather was horrible at 4:30 a.m. as I prepared for my 40 minute drive to the Baldwin Rail Trail. It had rained (poured) throughout the early morning and temperatures were dropping. However, determining to follow thru with the most important training run on our schedule was a matter of routine for me. On the interstate my 4 Runner hydroplaned along rain soaked pavement as the windshield wipers struggled to permit a reasonable view of the traffic 30 feet ahead.
I imagined a rain-drenched individual standing at the entrance to the Rail Trail telling the runners “We’re sorry, the marathon is postponed, go back home to your comfortable beds.” At least my effort would be seen (and noted) and my commitment to the training would remain intact. My announcement when I returned to a sleepy home — “At least I tried.”
My heart sunk when I saw the spattering of cars and people preparing to run in the dark, cold morning rain. What?!! "Do these people know it could rain for the next 2 hours?" "Do they know that the temps are in the high 40’s — not to mention wind chill!"
Running in rain soaked clothes (and shoes) for 4.5 hours is punishment deserving of wayward Marines who fail their leaders, NOT ME! There were at least sixty runners out on the trail. Several groups actually arrived at 5:00 a.m. to start their runs.
Our entire “Fasties” group was in attendance — Chris, Phil, Tim, Brad, Jonathan, Loretta, Joe, Garrett, Stephanie, Sky, Nancy and yours truly. Very impressive (or insane).
Starting our long run in rotten conditions with a pessimistic sense of worsening weather was difficult for me. If the group hadn’t been so upbeat I would never have gone.
Ready for some good news?
The rain stopped at mile four and did not return! The sky remained overcast but, the cold grey morning was extraordinarily refreshing. We stripped off the rain protection and extra layers. By mile six, joking and stories enveloped the group.
Phil did a masterful job keeping us on pace and attentive to walk breaks. Mile eight soon became mile ten and then twelve, thirteen and quickly 13.1. Half way home!
Fortunate for Chris he turned at mile thirteen and beat the train crossing. The quarter-mile long train would come to a complete halt as we jogged up to the crossing arm. The Fasties were stuck at a train crossing and not going anywhere fast. Impatient to stand in place, a few runners wanted go around or under the train. Better sense prevailed and the train finally cleared after ten minutes.
Everyone appeared strong and upbeat during the final eight miles. Stephanie was getting ready to complete her first marathon distance and her energy was being felt by everyone.
Two weeks earlier she had a very difficult (and I guess disappointing) 23 mile run with the group. She was nervous all week leading up to the marathon distance. Getting her to slow down was nearly impossible. She was Fired UP and feeling strong!
The pace and stop breaks were pushed in the final four miles. With two miles left Phil announced that everyone should finish their own run.
Jonathan, Brad, Garrett and Joe started to separate from the group. I was going to let Stephanie’s energy pull me in. Tim and Phil followed close behind. What a Finish!
I stayed to celebrate for a short time but, as I reflect back on the morning, it really was a lesson in dichotomy. Thankfully my early morning pessimism was changed through faith, effort and a little luck. I appreciate my running partners and applaud everyone that completed their morning marathon. Way to go!
P.S. The Mud Boggin’ title is a reference to the Rail Trails' rain-soaked grass/mud lot where a few of our vehicles got stuck.