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Standing in the Rain

January 24, 2011

My new running hero?

My latest love is Netflix on demand. Problem is, I usually have no time to demand it. But at 7:30 on Friday night, I pulled out my trusty laptop and loaded up Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. I wouldn’t classify me as a JR fan, but I am fascinated by her: not just the plastic surgery, but the relentless pursuit of the spotlight and her career that has had, as this trailer shows, some crazy ups and downs. Love her or hate her, you have to admire her: she’s 75 and still works as hard as ever.

Not surprisingly, the documentary is full of memorable lines, but the one line that stays in my head is actually from her agent, as he talked about her career. “Joan stands in the rain until lightning strikes,” he says, “She’ll stand in the rain for days and days because she knows that lightning can strike. It’s happened to her more than once already, and so she’ll stand in the rain forever.” [Little paraphrasing there, fyi.]

I remembered that line almost 48 hours later, on a 10-miler this morning. This may be a surprise to some of you, but running doesn’t come easy to me. I don’t have to fight for every step, but no step feels effortless. And 10 miles doesn’t ever come easy to me. But especially not this morning, after eating enchiladas, drinking two beers and managing one wet-the-bed incident with Thing Two last night.

Still, I was over the moon that two friends met me at the trail for an out-and-back. By the time my Garmin tinkled for mile 3, I still wasn’t convinced I could go 10. Whitney, one friend, had already turned around to head back. Katherine, another, stayed with me until mile 4. Music-less, I decided it would be better to turn around and run with her for four more miles, then tack on two at the end. Twenty more minutes by myself: how hard could that be?

Friggin’ hard, it turns out. At mile 6.7, my legs let my head know they weren’t going to willingly go two more miles if they saw even the shadow of my minivan. So, with a mile left to the barn with remote sliding doors, I said goodbye to Katherine, and did a small loop that I fantasized was 2 miles, even though I knew it was more like 1.

As soon as Katherine, naturally much faster than I am, left my side, I felt like I had suddenly turned on the emergency brake and was still trying to drive. I could not even come within 30 seconds of our former pace. (And this, my friends, is why my Garmin often stays in the barn these days too.) The path was mostly flat, the wind was negligible, I had just GU’ed up. And still: just dragging.

So I decided to selectively ignore my Garmin, and shift my mindset. You are standing in the rain right now, Dimity. You’re doing the work. You have to do the work for lightning to strike. You have to stand in the rain. And so I let it virtually pour on me as I passed 7.5 miles, and 8.2. I did my best to keep my feet light and just accept that the sky was falling on me. I hit the path back to the car around 9.2, and as much as I wanted to pull out my umbrella, I kept trudging along. I splashed in the puddles in a ritzy neighborhood, willing myself from stone-covered mailbox to stone-covered mailbox, and channeled Joan, who never turns down a show or opportunity. She stands in the rain, and so can I.

I turned for home at 9.8, and the Garmin rolled over to 10.0 just as I came even with the Odyssey bumper. Did not go one step more than required.

So now: this lightning bit. What does a lightning strike look like to a mother runner? To a select few, it could be a race win or, to a few more, an age-group win. But to the majority of us, myself included, it’s less obvious. It’s a race where you have an unexpected kick at the end. It’s running the whole way for the first time. It’s seeing double digits on your Garmin for the first time. It’s feeling that I’ve-got-this pride when you realize you really have got this. It’s doing 800’s at the track by yourself–and finishing the whole workout strong. It’s seeing a new, lower number on the clock. It’s the thought that hits you at 6 p.m.: I was up 12 hours ago and ran 5 miles. How cool is that? It’s trusting the process enough to believe that if you weather more storms than Al Roker has predicted in his lifetime, the journey will be worth every mile.

After some food and a shower, I said a little thank to to Joan. Knowing she’d want her wisdom to spread far and wide, I want to pay it forward. The next time you’re on a run and every fiber of your body is flipping you off, stand in the rain a little longer than you think you can.

Because even though I can’t predict when lightning will strike, I do know this: it won’t hit anybody who doesn’t regularly get wet.

43 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 4:10 am

    I really enjoyed reading this. I’m coming out of a really painful week. I just started working with a running coach for the first time ever b/c I really want to get serious about my running. I was not prepared for just how sore I would be after my first experience w/ doing 6x400m sprints and then Cross training harder then ever before just two days later. I actually walked down my steps backwards the other morning because me legs hurt so badly! But – the pain was where I wanted to be. I understand that w/out the pain there truly is no gain – not for my muscles anyway! and with the pain I also know that I am tapping into uncharted territory for my body – another positive! Thank You RLAM, your site has motivated me to start my own blog and to hire this trainer. It has helped me realize that it is never too late to get out there and RUN!

  2. Annet permalink
    January 24, 2011 4:33 am

    This morning when I got back from my run, I was dripping and I don’t sweat that easily. I had left too late and the sun was too hot by the time I got home (sorry for those freezing at the moment!). I felt I had walked much more than the last time I did that route (even though I was back in the same amount of time) and it still feels so short compared to other RLAMers (2 miles). I asked my husband to remind me why I was doing this to myself – and he reminded me that I am slimming, getting fit and doing it to feel better. And yes, I felt better the whole day… after I showered! So yes, I just have to keep waiting for the lightning strike – because I can’t wait for it to happen (my lightning right now would be doing that 2 mile loop running the whole way – seems a dream right now!).
    I second the thanks for the awesome blog and fb group, so inspiring for a newbie.

  3. Samantha permalink
    January 24, 2011 5:22 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I oftentimes wonder if its just me that running doesn’t come easy to. I enjoy it and I always feel accomplished at the end, but it never comes easy. My husband and I can’t even run together because I typically run a pace of about 2 minutes a kilometer slower than him. I’ve been in a funk lately and need to get my groove back. It’s going to be tough, but I know I can do it.

  4. January 24, 2011 5:58 am

    my lightning strike came the weekend after the worst long run EVER. running doesn’t come easily to me, either, and pulling it together emotionally after a 10-mile debacle was one of the most challenging things i’ve had to do. especially since no one would have been angry with me for quitting except me. i found an experienced friend to help me turn my attitude around and make a plan, and despite panic attacks all week every time i even SAW my running shoes, the next weekend i brought it home at 11 miles even. i felt like i’d already won the half, much less run it at all.
    thanks for sharing this. it’s easy to think of you as some running supergoddess – and even though you are that, you’re also just like me…a mother runner.

  5. January 24, 2011 6:30 am

    Amen! I love this! We moms are made of some very tough, beautiful stuff…I’m looking at my taper week this week and feeling like…um, do I have to? haven’t I done all the work already? Of course, I’m going to finish what I started. When the going gets tough for me, I remind myself that running is a privilege for me – I’m healthy and strong and better use it before I lose it! And, after all, I do love it.

    Congrats, Dimity. 10 is huge. Especially with uncooperative body parts! Rock on!!!!

    • January 25, 2011 5:08 am

      Right on Mary! I love your positive outlook! Today I was doing hill repeats and was having such a hard time being positive – but you are so RIGHT! “We moms are made of some very tough, beautiful stuff!” Thank you for your positive post!

  6. Jenny permalink
    January 24, 2011 6:39 am

    Mary has a great point and I also think about the same thing… I run because I can and I want to and not because I “have” to. I am training for a marathon (my first ever) and I never say, “today I ‘have’ to run (X amount) of miles.” Instead I say, “today I am going to run (X amount) of miles.” Even though I know it will be tough I know I can always accomplish the distance that lies ahead of me. I am strong, capable, and willing. I know once I complete the distance, no matter how challenging it may be, I will feel amazing afterward. Besides, if it were easy, everyone would do it, right?

    I do not have a running buddy, but I read this site religiously to draw inspiration from each and every one of you… thank you for being my virtual training buddies! You are all amazing!

  7. Rita permalink
    January 24, 2011 7:00 am

    Awesome, thanks so much for this post. Great bit of encouragement to start the week, just what I needed. 🙂

  8. January 24, 2011 7:21 am

    I really enjoyed this story. Yesterday was my “long run” day and it was only 5 but at 3.31 I hit the wall. The battle began in my head but I got through it and finally found 5 miles. It was a struggle but I was glad I stuck it out.

  9. January 24, 2011 7:24 am

    Making a mental note for my run later.

  10. January 24, 2011 7:44 am

    Loved this, today.

  11. Kristyn G permalink
    January 24, 2011 7:57 am

    I needed this today. I bailed out on my run this morning because I didn’t want to get out of bed. So, this evening, I’m lacing up and hitting the pavement-no excuses. Thanks for the reminder that nothing happens without effort. I’ll be thinking about you and Joan during my first 5K this weekend. those 3.1 are still tough for me.

  12. January 24, 2011 8:11 am

    Standing in the rain. That’s awesome. We stand in the rain a lot in our parenting, spousal-ing, sibling-ing, friend-ing, too… don’t we? I will try to remember that idea. Reminds me of the song “Tomorrow’s another day, and I’m thirsty anyway, so bring on the rain.”

  13. January 24, 2011 8:22 am

    This one made me cry! Thank you.
    And well done on the 10 miles-10 miles is no joke!

  14. January 24, 2011 8:24 am

    Loved this! Running doesn’t come easily to me either, but do love how it makes me feel and I love the challenge. Yesterday’s long run of 7 was definitely a standing in the rain moment for me – waiting for the lightening to strike when I finish my first half marathon 🙂

  15. carrie permalink
    January 24, 2011 8:49 am

    This was great Dimity! I’m feeling lousy about my trainging for my first half marathon in March. I ran a 9-miler yesterday — pretty well, but definitely painful in the last mile, and my psyche is still split between being pumped (I just ran 9 miles!!) to freaked out (I ran so slow that there’s no way I’m going to come within even 15 minutes of my 2-hour goal). You just gave me a new mantra!! I’ll be trying it out tomorrow!

  16. Danielle permalink
    January 24, 2011 9:09 am

    Thanks for sharing! Made me think back to my 1st ever 7 mile run. The lightning hit then and continues to strike every so often. I’m so appreciative of this RLAM community.

  17. January 24, 2011 10:13 am

    But I don’t want to get struck by lightning!!! I could die! 😉

    Just kidding. I get your meaning. I just thought it was funny, the use of the lightning strike analogy as something one would WANT.

  18. January 24, 2011 11:09 am

    Oh wow, this was moving. It brought tears to my eyes. I have been sidelined from running for about a month now, and I miss it so much. I can’t wait to heal, but healing doesn’t strike like lightning. It takes time and work.
    Great job Dimity.

  19. January 24, 2011 11:26 am

    What a great story! And I love that quote/paraphrase. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

  20. January 24, 2011 11:38 am

    Love this post! I definately needed to read something like this. I have been struggling with my runs lately. So much is going on in my life right now. But no more excuses. I have to do the work for the lightening strike. I WILL stand in the rain.

  21. January 24, 2011 11:45 am

    This was SO my run yesterday morning. While it wasn’t raining, it was about 20 with a wind chill in the mid-teens, maybe lower at time. This was my first sub freezing run. I bundled up and headed out. About 1/2 a mile into it I actually turned around for 10 feet because I was miserable! My brain told me it was too cold but my pride knew I would be regretting the fact later on if I went home. After missing a turn, running a different route because of this, stumbling and having my knee start hurting, besides other issues I finished a shorter than planned 6.33 where I probably walked more of the last mile than ran! While my time wasn’t the greatest (1:19) I did go out and do it, so that’s enough for me! I will definitely be out there again on Friday running my planned route this time!

  22. January 24, 2011 12:00 pm

    I continue to weather my own personal storm over here and think of Michael Franti as he says, “Here I am, just waiting for this storm to pass me by” because the only choice is to go through it to get to the other side. Great reminder today!

  23. January 24, 2011 12:23 pm

    I think for me my “standing in the rain” moment came in December when I ran a half marathon with temperature readings in the single digits and wind chills at zero. I hate to admit it, but up until that point I’ve always been a fair weather runner, running inside on the ‘mill if the temperature got below 40 degrees. But that morning as I was jumping up and down to stay warm at the starting line and fighting back the tears because I was so scared of failing, I realized that the only way to get warmer was to run the race, plough my way through it and then I’d be able to go to Starbucks for a hot cuppa Joe. I finished with my best time yet running a half, and came away with the feeling that I could do ANYthing now having survived that cold North wind!

  24. outsidepr permalink
    January 24, 2011 12:50 pm

    I know that feeling well. The internal debate, that can get rage-ious. But this was so inspiring (Dimity, not Joan), that I’m lacing up the shoes right now

  25. Lisa permalink
    January 24, 2011 1:06 pm

    I LOVED this! I feel like I have to fight for every run myself. I never feel like I am a natural born runner, but will never stop trying.

    I just had my lightening moment this past Saturday! Training for 2 halfs, an 11 mile run would be past my long run limit in the past. Saturday (now a few weeks into my full training) I did 11. It wasn’t easy, of course, but I just amazed myself after with thinking how 11 miles had come into perspective as “Oh, I need to go run 11 miles.” No freaking out the night before, no freaking out beforehand, just another day in my ‘running office.’

    Next lightening moment will be in 2 weeks when I do 14, farthest ever!!

  26. Nancy M permalink
    January 24, 2011 1:43 pm

    Oh this is one of the most spot- on essays you’ve ever written/I’ve ever read. Next time I’m struggling to eke out another mile, I’ll be thinking of you and Joan, letting it rain all over you. And me, too. Thanks!

  27. January 24, 2011 2:09 pm

    I recently saw this documentary and that part stuck out to me, as well. At the time I thought about it in the context of work, like Joan, and endless years of standing in the rain waiting for lightning to finally strike. I deeply admire her perseverance. Thanks for putting it in this context, all the hours of training when I could be doing… anything else… amount to standing in the rain. All my “lightning strikes” in sports followed long periods of standing in the rain, and it’s definitely those moments I keep chasing.

  28. January 24, 2011 2:32 pm

    LOVED this in spite of myself thinking…”oh, dear…Joan Rivers and running?”
    but by the time i got to this line by you, dimity, –“The next time you’re on a run and every fiber of your body is flipping you off, stand in the rain a little longer than you think you can.
    Because even though I can’t predict when lightning will strike, I do know this: it won’t hit anybody who doesn’t regularly get wet.”– I was like, “oh, yeah! Bring it!”
    thanks for the Monday inspo! 🙂

  29. January 24, 2011 4:14 pm

    Dimity, this is beautiful. The visual, the message–it transcends running. Love it.

  30. January 24, 2011 4:43 pm

    Loved this! It’s reassuring to read that other mothers go thru an obstacle course just to be able to”run in the rain”. I chose not to get up at 5:30 to do crosstraining this morning, but to do it with kids present in the afternoon. By the end of it, I wanted to line them all up on the couch and beg them not to move, talk, pee etc. And, they are 12, 10 and 2. They 12 yr old was “watching” the 2 yr old, while the 10 yr old did core exercises in a circuit with me. I’m thinking the voices complaining in my head tomorrow morning won’t be as loud when I go to get out to run at 5:30!

  31. January 24, 2011 6:04 pm

    Thank you. You flippin’ rock. It is cold here… wind chill in the below zeros, the paths are covered in ice, and when I say running inside on the “dreadmill”, I really mean it. Yuck. 🙂 But, I am putting on pounds if I don’t. I don’t like who I am when I don’t run… You remind me that I’m not getting wet. Tomorrow, I will. Thank you. 🙂

    • January 25, 2011 5:12 am

      Jennifer – I completely relate to your comment of not liking who you are when you don’t run. This is SO me! I find that I have such a lower stress threshold when I am not running. It’s weird how exhausting myself actually makes me a calmer happier version of my normally high strung self! ;o)

  32. January 24, 2011 6:28 pm

    I love this and needed this!


  33. January 24, 2011 6:36 pm

    This was great–perfect for my mindset this week (out of motivation to run because I’m daunted by the beginning of a new semester, which means a whole new batch of undergrads to shape into teaching artists…)

    Thanks, Dim. Thanks, thanks, thanks!!

  34. January 24, 2011 7:21 pm

    I stood in the rain today as a parent, wife and worker…and so I couldn’t take time to reply to all of your comments. But I so appreciate them all, and am glad we’ll all be hanging out, getting wet together. xo.

  35. Keiren permalink
    January 24, 2011 8:00 pm

    Wow, thanks for posting this. Running NEVER comes easy to me. Did my first, second and third sprint triathlons last spring and I will readily admit that the run is my most dreaded leg. I fight for every step. Managed a 5k on the treadmill yesterday and, after months of slacking off, was thrilled to accomplish that. I envy those who love to run and do so effortlessly. Will remember Joan’s words tomorrow when I lace up my sneakers again.

  36. Rebecca J. permalink
    January 24, 2011 8:26 pm

    So inspirational! I love it. A friend and I are getting ready for our first 10K. This morning I asked what she wanted to do (we’ve been doing 5). And she said let’s go for 6. And so we just kept plugging on and on. She inspired me with her high goal, and we worked it out together. Running is amazing! And sharing the running love with someone else is even better!

  37. January 25, 2011 6:16 am

    This post really made me think yesterday, and I kept it in mind as I took my first whole-time run as part of the C25K I’m doing. It was 20 minutes of running, and as I felt the burn through my legs, I kept thinking about that lightning. Thanks for putting this out there!

  38. Sarah permalink
    January 25, 2011 8:47 pm

    Loved this. Only wish I had read it earlier, before I made a first attempt at speed work at the track and failed at it. I was supposed to do 4x400m repeats, with total mileage being 3 miles including warm up, 4X400, and cool down. I only did 2×400 (and missed my target times on both 400s, first was too fast, second just barely too slow), but I still did the whole 3 miles. I guess that is something.

    Thanks for this post. It lessened the “I suck at running today” blues. 🙂

  39. January 26, 2011 8:43 am

    Dimity you’re a great writer. And you often make me tear up. Thanks for another great share and meeting us where we are. The less obvious, internal struggle. Run on Woman. Lightening has struck us all because of RLAM.

  40. Iliana permalink
    January 26, 2011 9:59 pm

    I will think of you and Joan next time I run in rain, snow or killer heat!

    Thanks for inspiring me!


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