It's 8 a.m. on a workday. I am sitting in my car, which I drove downtown. I am wearing all sorts of spandex. Rain is coming down on my windshield and sounds like a room full of fingers anxiously drumming a table during a meeting.
It looks dark out there. Dark and wet. If I go outside for my run, I realize, I will also be wet. Wet is bad. Wet equals uncomfortable. I forgot (or, let's be honest, didn't plan to bring) an extra pair of socks. If my socks get wet, I will be uncomfortable for the entire day at the office. That or I will be barefoot for my entire workday at the office, which I suppose could get cut short when I am fired for being ridiculous.
You and I both know the Herculean effort it takes to get out the door in the middle of the winter, when it's dark and below freezing outside.
Getting out in the rain is like that. I gaze disconsolately out the window at the dripping leaves, the puddled pavement. I think about how tasty the scones at Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop are, and how those scones are a mere block away from me right now. My original plan was to run and then get a scone. But I could just go get a scone.
Shame eventually gets me out of the car. I got ready to run in the morning, and the outfit I'm wearing is not a getting-a-scone outfit; it is designed for going outside. I can't see myself being in line for a scone while wearing this completely dry running ensemble, knowing I skipped the run for the terrible reason of being a wimp about getting some water on me.
In one quick motion, I hop out of the car, shut the door behind me and start trotting toward the Coastal Trail.
The hardest part is over.
Once I actually get going in the rain, a few things inevitably happen. First I remember my good friend Tyler, who has told me he loves running in the rain. When he said that, I thought he was crazy. I still think he's crazy. But I start thinking about him, wondering how crazy he really is. I think if you're going to do something, you might as well go for it -- and why not enjoy this run? Why not trick myself into loving running in the rain?
I also notice that my windshield is an enormous exaggerator of the rain's force. The droplets falling from the sky are not, in fact, water balloons. They are merely droplets. I picture me and thousands of my closest friends hanging out on a big cloud, lying down with our faces just dangling over the edge. We hold eyedroppers in each hand and watch as the drips land on a windshield, in a puddle or, best of all, on a runner or cyclist. This image makes me feel like the sky is playing a prank on me, which makes me laugh at myself. Laughing at myself is always a good thing. I keep running.
Then I realize I'm not actually all that wet. My feet are dry. My clothing is splotchy with rain, but because I have not worn cotton (pro tip: do not wear cotton) it's drying pretty fast. The cool drops actually feel nice on my face.
Rain makes the trail smell better -- fresher and fuller -- than normal. Trees appear more lush, almost Technicolor green. The Westchester Lagoon is freckled with raindrops, and the navy blue Chugach Mountains display the beautiful effect of downy clouds lining their middle and exposing sharp-looking peaks.
I remember Juneau, as I always try to when it's raining. Its residents get outside no matter what. I have been in Juneau when it's raining sideways and admired the runners, hikers, and baby-walkers who head to the Perseverance Trail and take to the hills no matter what it's doing outside. That said, I think Juneau is secretly a mostly sunny place that has carefully cultivated a rep about its rain to keep the masses away. Most of the times I've been there, I've heard, "Wow, it is so sunny today! Lucky you!" I haven't picked up on any winks or nods, but if I had a secret as good as that, I'd try to keep it too.
Feeling humble in the face of a (supposedly) rainy, but still outdoorsy community, I re-imagine what it might be like to enjoy my run in the rain.
Luckily I don't have to think about it for long, though, because I'm back at the car. I grab a warm layer and then walk the block toward the warm, cozy bakery for my much-deserved scone.
The trick to getting outside in the rain, it turns out, is just doing it. The rest comes easy.
Alli Harvey lives, works and plays in Anchorage.