|Mark Duncan & Pete Grassow|
Last night I was washed away.
A text message from my friend Mark initiated the episode: “Pick you up at 5:15 to run the time trial”. This is a weekly meeting of our running club where we either run a fast 4km or 8km over a measured (and timed) route. It is intended to keep us sharp, and to improve our speed. Usually it is my reminder of how the passing of the years has slowed my legs, so I did not go often in 2012. But this is a new year, and time for new resolutions. Mark and I have committed ourselves to being at the weekly time trial for 2013.
Yesterday saw a gradual building of an enormous thunderstorm, and by mid-afternoon lightning and thunder swirled over Pietermaritzburg. When the text popped into my in-box I had hoped it would say something like – “Let us skip this afternoon” but instead he added “Be prepared to get wet”. Mark is a hard core runner! Because I was not about to be outdone by him, I waited dutifully at my gate at 5:15 ... in the rain. We drove to the run with mark cheerfully reassuring me that the rain was stopping.
Six of us arrived to run. A few more arrived, declaring that they were not running – one of whom is the top female runner in the club. She said that the thunder was returning, and Mark scoffed at her comment: “It has stopped raining” was his confident assertion. We set off at a blistering pace (in my opinion), and within minutes it began raining. At the 1km mark the rain got harder, and one of the (many) runners ahead of me turned back home. I gritted my teeth and kept going: Mark was ahead of me, and I was not going to be out done by him. By 2km thunder was cracking overhead, and rain was running down the road in rivers. The 3km point saw me drenched to the bone, and splashing through the water that ran off the pavement. A car stopped to offer me a lift – and behold it was Mark! He had taken a short cut back to start to get his car and told me to get in.
Smugly I waved him on, telling him that I was a better man than he, and would not be frightened by a little bit of water. As he drove off I immediately regretted my hasty words as lightning cracked nearby, and the rain came pounding down. “Foolish prideful idiot”! But instead of leaving me to suffer the consequences of my pride, Mark proved to be a good friend, and stopped further down the road where I gratefully accepted a lift. As things turned out, everyone had abandoned the run and found shelter.
Oh – the “blistering pace” turned out to be a very pedestrian 5:30 minutes per km!