Oh Hail No

Wednesday's hail was nearly this size, but not quite

Wednesday's hail was nearly this size, but not quite

The other evening, as I pulled into the parking lot of a local shopping center, the sky looked half-ominous.  Half the sky shone brightly with a beautiful summer sun.  The other half filled with black, forboding clouds.  So forboding that I half expected to see the  Stay-Puft Marshmallow man  step through and attack (30-somethings and older will instantly understand – the rest of you will have to click on the link).   

I stepped out of the car and removed my shirt, the humidity in the air so thick that I felt like I needed gills to breathe.  I watched the sky carefully.  I’m no meterologist but I closely watched the clouds in an attempt to determine if the storm was coming or going.  Coming, I’d better abandon plans to run outside on this partcular evening.  Going, I should enjoy a nice summer run.

I read the WeatherBug forecast on my Iphone which read something like ‘possibility of afternoon or evening thunderstorms’.  Brilliant.  Somebody actually gets paid to write this?

The clouds neither came nor went.  They maintained.  It was a fifty-fifty proposition.  Since my motto is ‘If in doubt, run’, I did.

It was very warm, I’m guessing mid-80’s, as I hit the University Research Trail but I ran comfortably since it was my easy day.  As I reached the little montessori school, I noticed the soccer coach was rounding up the kids and leaving the field.  The sky rapidly grew much darker and the temperature dropped rapidly.  The wind picked up noticably.  Leaves and debris bounced off me.  ‘Maybe it will hold off’ , I thought optimistically.

I made it to about the 3-mile turnaround point of my roughly 6-mile run when God, Mother Nature, Poseidon (pick your favorite deity here) unleashed fury upon me.  If I had been an ancient man, I would have immediately dropped to my knees and offered up some sacrifice.  Clearly, I had pissed somebody off.

First, sheets of rain pelted me, seemingly from every direction.  The dry path I had taken to this point suddenly turned into a creek.  Luckily, I had worn a hat which served to keep the rain out of my eyes enough to afford me just enough sight to be able to stay on the trail.

Then the hail came.   I’ve run in virtually every form of precipitation possible – rain, sleet, snow – but this was the first time I’d encountered hail.  I braced myself as tiny spheres, bigger than ball-bearings but smaller than  marbles, began pommeling me.  I was surprised that, while they did sting when striking my bare flesh, they didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I imagined they would.  Apparently, they consist of a lot of air and only a little ice – they were light.  But yeah, not something an intelligent person would  normally choose to run in.    

A runner that I often see on the trail approached me from the other direction.  As we passed, he said, ‘Boy!’, which in runnerease, roughly translates to, ‘Wow, can you believe that we got caught in this torrential downpour?’  I responded, ‘Yeah!’ which means  ‘No, I am absolutely shocked to find myself attempting to run in the middle of such an intense thunderstorm.’  Runners will understand this exchange.

Eventually, I made it back to my car.  The storm eased up significantly.  I took off my drenched shoes and shocks and threw them in the trunk.  Fortunately, I always bring a towel, normally to wipe perspiration, but on this day, it served to wipe the tears of God, or  Allah, or Zeus (again, insert your favorite).  Or maybe it was drool.  Hopefully, one of those two.

So I had wound up getting caught in a thunderstorm. Normally, one would think this to be a bad thing.  But it turned out to be quite exhilirating.    I had  a blast – several times I actually laughed out loud.  And while it’s not the smartest  thing to do – lightning cracked everywhere – I recommend that every runner do it at least once in your lifetime.  You’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have.

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