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Friday, March 16, 2012

Running Thunder Review

With tired legs and general training fatigue I pensively watched the weather reports rolling in. Severe thunderstorms were to roll through around 5pm... my run to begin just after. Earlier in the day I had taken in a portion of a radio program with Tom Ashbrook which set the sound scene perfectly for this type of day.

As I tied my laces I heard the first rumbles and exited the car to look up and see a swirling cauldron of threatening dark clouds. They seemed to be suggesting warning as large bolts of electricity zapped across the sky and rumbles rolled across ridges.

Getting Started
Photo Courtesy Watauga Cty. Road Conditions FB
Ceremoniously I pressed 'start' on my Timex and saw the  storm racing westward across the sky... and in my intended direction toward the Greenway. I moved out conservatively and watched carefully to ensure I was staying to the periphery of this storm. It was a beautiful system from a distance with deep darkness and highlights of silver clouds. The clouds had the appearance of metallic permanence and were literally awesome!

Holding Pattern
Reaching the Greenway I came to the blustery energy of the edge of the storm. Debris was being elevated directly upward from its resting place and swirled across the sky at impossible speeds! At times I thought I witnessed robins being carried away instantaneously while plucking afternoon worms.

Rather than continuing into this scene I made a hard right and ran a spur along the storms edge. Large plops of rain began pelting sporadically and the smell of warmed asphalt being cooled filled the air.

Eventually completing a 10 minute loop I found myself again in the storm. Running upward on a ridge  lightning assaulted the ridge to the west. With only the river between these two high points I felt as if the bolt was within reach- or I was within its reach. But, I pinned my bets on the idea that I was flanking behind the worst of the energy as I darted my way under the power line section just above the Kennedy Trail. Ironically, I moved across a grassy outcropping hoping to sneak around the true threat of deadly force.

Rain Forest
Back in the protection of the forest, the rain began falling steadily on inert fallen leaves. The wind was calm now and the air's danger had dissipated. Birds sang under the rhythm of dropping rain. A symphony of infinite drips, spring bird song and the subtle sound of trail under foot became my entire reality. Running an easy effort my breath fell into this soundscape as distant rumbles of thunder continued to fill the lower levels of the scene.

All this followed two days of 'heated' runs (in the 70's here in March is HOT). The relief of running within such cool rain gave me a slight chill. Balanced perfectly with the coziness of aerobic exertion this run became a homecoming to a season. A true sign of spring is the first thunderstorm run of a year.

Happy Running!

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