The run against wind, finding motivation

by keeprunningstrong

Staring at the sky, dark grey clouds hovered above. In the distance, rain poured onto far-off cities. My first thought was to hurry and finish my routine run for the day.

One of the nuances with outdoor running is the uncontrollable weather, and today the forecast called for rain.

Yet the three and a quarter mile run down the Santa Ana River turned into a race against my old time and against the elements – a great way to take advantage of an opportunity.

My personal best time on this route was 23.33 minutes, and today the howling wind showed no mercy. So, in order to beat my old time, the ultimate plan was to gain momentum and run harder than normal with the wind, and to run as best as I can against.

Starting off the run, I headed down wind, pacing in the upper six-minute mile range. My tempo felt great, and my energy level was upbeat.

Beside me, down a rocky slope, the river’s current was choppier than normal. Geese floated south down stream, opposite the direction I was running, struggling to stay stagnant.

And my running pace wasn’t letting up.

But as the speaker from my IPod touch warned of the ensuing halfway point, I planted my pivot foot to head back … up-wind.

Nature was unforgiving. If I were to spread my arms like a bird, the air would’ve carried me backwards. The look of my hair mimicked Einstein, sticking up, straight back. And, with the cold wind pounding against my face, nasal mucus poured from my nose.

My eyes watered and my pace weakened. But I pumped my arms, trying to find motivation.

Beating my old time was going to be tough.

Whenever I struggle on a run, I like to take my mind to another place. And on a day like this, I was going to need some help. So today I thought about a race in junior high school. Yes … junior high, more than 15 years ago. I hold competitive grudges for a long time.

When I attended the school, Lorbeer Junior High held an annual Turkey Trot before the Thanksgiving break. I was supposed to win that race. After months of preparation, nobody was going to beat me. I lost the race by about 10 seconds; in fact I came in third. I felt miserable on that day.

Yet I conjured the feeling of that day for motivation on today’s run. I needed to finish strong.

Arriving at my destination, my breathing was rapid. The neighbors stared at me, wondering about my problem. I paced back and forth in hopes to celebrate a new record time.

But one glance at the clock, displayed on my Nike + IPod application, showed me otherwise.

I fell short of my best time by 10 seconds. The sweat dripping down my cheek, my shirt stuck against my shivering skin – I couldn’t compete against the wind. Nature won today. But on the bright side, thanks for holding off on the rain.