So when is long-distance running exactly like football? Well, never, except when the weather is terrible.
I’ve just started running road races this past September, most of them with my daughter. It’s been a brutal winter, yet a scheduled race is almost never postponed because of the weather. Let it be freezing, raining, snowing, hailing, sleeting … whatever. Still, there will be hundreds of people of all ages who appear, ready to run, the elements be damned. Now, if that isn’t just like football, what is?
It started on Thanksgiving weekend at the Turkey Burn-Off Five Miler, where there was ice to run over. Then it continued in mid-December in Rockville at an 8k race when there was even more snow and ice to avoid … except that one couldn’t avoid it at all, except by running in the street and subjecting oneself to the risk of dismemberment by car. Then, cold and ice continued to flummox me at the New Year’s Day 5k. It warmed up a bit in mid-January for a four-mile race in Silver Spring, when we only had to dodge the incessant rain. That was actually one of my best races. (I will skip the five-mile race in Olney when the only problem was cold.) Then the cold continued for the 12k at Lake Burke on March 2 (one could see parts of the lake frozen), except my daughter tells me it got nice near the end. Sure, but how many big puddles did I have to run through first and how many times did I need to run on slippery mud to avoid those puddles? That was 82 minutes of bliss, I must say.
The corkers, however, were this past weekend. I ran Sunday morning’s 10k at Seneca Lake State Park entirely in the rain — and at my speed, that’s spending almost an hour and ten minutes in the rain, not counting all the time before the race — and with a strong, biting wind in my face for half the race. However, that was nothing like the ten-mile race my daughter ran yesterday afternoon in Frederick, with rain, snow, and hail, the temperature dropping to 34 degrees, the wind picking up in ferocity.
Yes, the runners I encounter seem to thrive with adversity. They’re going to run regardless, and the worse the weather is, the worse all the running conditions are, it seems the happier are the contestants. I just have to bend my mind towards that.