My first memory is sensory. Up until the age of three, my family lived in the Pacific Northwest on Whidbey Island, in the middle of the Puget Sound. I didn’t know that, back then.
I remember standing outside in the front yard of my house. Everything was green; the leaves, grass, pine trees, and bushes. And everything was wet. Mist was all around, and my face and arms were wet. The cool air had a scent that was different from my bathwater. There was an outside smell that was bigger than my yard, bigger than the grass and bushes around me. I loved the smell of a wetness so big it could surround all the houses and everything I saw. I was completely happy, thrilled with the smell of rain going into my nose and expanding into my body. I wanted it to never end, to always smell like that.
Tuesday’s run started and ended in the mist. It had been raining all night but miraculously stopped at 6:30 AM, just as I was lacing up my shoes. All that was left was mist, gentle water hanging in the air.
I left all technology at home and ran unencumbered. The training schedule said I was to do 8 miles with 10x 100’s pick-ups. I decided to do my favorite loop in Louisville, as a favorite loop combined with favorite smells is a total winner.
Heading up the street, I splashed in a few puddles on the sidewalk and was psyched there were no worms hanging out in the water. I hate murdering worms.
The streets were deserted. I crossed over onto the bike path and followed it to the top of the Mesa, approximately 250 feet of elevation gain. I did a few pick-ups on the hills, just to shake things out and push my heart rate, feeling like a punky teenager prancing around with new-found freedom.
My rain jacket had to go. I quickly tied it around my waist and set off on the deserted Mesa. Davidson Mesa is a great 3-mile loop on the hill bordering Louisville and Boulder. To the east lies Louisville, nestled in a snug little valley. To the west is Boulder, sprawling in the long, narrow corridor that butts up against the Flatirons. The clouds were low, the fine mist was dazzling, and I kept running. The wide dirt track was wet enough to muffle the sound of my footsteps, but not soggy enough to pull at my shoes. Perfect.
I easily navigated the single-track trail that veered to the right of the main section, and jumped rocks while the late-summer vegetation brushed against my ankles. No pick-ups in this section; this was pure technical challenge and didn’t require additional speed.
After half a mile the single-track dumped me back onto the main trail. I picked up speed and slowly counted 1…2… 3… until I got to 15, then slowed to a regular pace. I have no idea how long it should really take me to run 100 meters, so I ballparked. I’m like that.
And so it went. Images of me cutting through mist like I was a cartoon character bursting through a paper wall filled my over-excited brain. I had a big stupid grin on my face that didn’t wash off for the entire run, and I kept interjecting fast bursts of speed into the run. As usual, I got faster the longer I ran, so by the time I came off the Mesa and started on the two mile descent to my house, I was running with 90% speed, faster than 5K race pace. I did two pick-ups in mile 7, then slowed a little.
I ran for another 30 seconds and realized that my little heart desired only one thing in the entire world, and that was to run as fast as my mortal body would carry me down that hill. There was already a good head of steam going, so I opened up the legs and let it all go until I was spent. I ran like this for a good five blocks, feeling the groin muscles stretch and retract while my feet slapped the pavement. The smell of fresh, fine mist was still giving me an olfactory high. I wished that my long run could have been that morning, as there is nothing like running in a perfect Colorado mist in late August. It’s a gift of the Gods, and believe me when I say that the gift was recognized, received, and thoroughly appreciated. I LOVE the rain!!!