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IntoWetAir

Important safety tip: don't go out jogging immediately after reading a book about extreme mountaineering, especially something like Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. The images of people surviving (or in some cases dying) in terrifying conditions of hypothermia, hypoxia, and utter exhaustion are likely to shame you into going farther and faster than you planned to --- and will certainly put minor complaints into perspective. Unfortunately for me, I didn't follow that advice on 12 April 2004 when I set out on a brisk 8 mile jog through late-afternoon rainstorms ...

The weather is chill, the skies a dark gray overcast. I layer a long-sleeved water-repellant shell (tnx, MitP!) over a racing singlet (tnx, MCM!) and don a cap (tnx, HAT Run!) to keep my head warm; below the waist it's the usual skimpy shorts from the thrift store, padded socks, and jogging shoes. Thin cotton gloves accessorize the wardrobe, along with a wrist pouch to hold a few coins and an ID in case of emergency.

Today the Georgetown Branch Trail truly earns the name "Branch" --- not because of its status as an abandoned rail line but rather because it has become a veritable stream, with water cascading down slopes and pooling inches deep in any depression. A weeping willow tree cries on me, its limbs dangling like Portuguese Man-o-War tentacles that threaten as I weave through. My feet are soaked after I fail to avoid the first big puddles (~1.5 miles). I'm lucky at the major road crossings and experience only minor delays. After 4 miles and 42 minutes I get a drink at the trail fountain in Bethesda --- funny how good the water tastes there during a run! --- and turn around for the return trip.

That's when the rain pauses and the wind takes over. After relative comfort I'm suddenly cold. I cut back on the walk breaks and for mile 6 manage the fastest segment of the trip in 9:40 (the rest fall in the 10:14 - 11:00 zone). My clothes are all supersaturated; the outer shirt snaps and cracks in the breeze like a soggy canvas sail. Only two other runners, one cyclist, and a handful of raincoated or umbrella-protected walkers are braving the elements this evening.

I arrive home at ~7pm, 84 minutes after I set out. When I undress I discover a trickle-down bloodstain on the inner shirt from abrasion of, hmmm, one of a pair of objects that serve to break up the blankness of the male chest. I get that kind of scrape after many long wet runs. Pretty minor compared to what the 1996 Mount Everest expeditions suffered in a spring blizzard. I apply a bandage and put my wet clothes into the oven to dry from the pilot light overnight.

(see also RailTrailPolitics (24 Oct 2003), SlowRunSummaries (17 Feb 2004), HAT Run 2004 (2 Apr 2004), ManaBurn (24 Jul 2005), ... )


TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - Datetag20040420



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