In my previous running life — in my 20s, in the ‘80s — I found myself on two occasions in New Orleans, covering conventions. On both visits it rained, and even though I’m a wimp when it comes to running in wet weather — soggy shoes, chaffing in especially sensitive places, I wear glasses, shall I go on? — I was able to put in my usual five miles thanks to a word of wisdom passed along by a hotel valet:
The Louisiana Superdome, it turned out, had a generous eave rimming its 13 acres. It could be deluge outside yet under the eave it was dry. The valet told me one lap was roughly a half mile, which was either a slight overestimate or I ran especially well at sea level (I lived in Denver at the time).
I was reminded of the Superdome yesterday morning as I stood under the massive west-facing eave of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina headquarters in Chapel Hill. (Disclosure: This blog is sponsored by BCBSNC.) Outside, a steady rain fell; under the eave, it was dry. Earlier that morning I’d been bummed by the fact I was scheduled for an interval workout and it looked like I’d be doing it in the rain (see wet weather wimp reference above). Bummed to the point that I began imagining all sorts of aches and ailments to excuse me from a run, especially so close to Saturday’s race.
“Checking out the building?” Leslie asked asked as I checked out the building. Leslie, an employee, turned out to be something of a historian on the building: It opened in 1973, it’s a rhomboid, there are four stories above and a basement … .”
“Any idea how far it is from end to end?” I asked.
She thought for a second. “It’s 500-and-something feet.”
500-and-something, I thought. That’s 1,000-and-something counting both sides, probably another 30 or so on each end, making a lap maybe a quarter mile? Four laps to a mile, about the same as a high school track. The perfect running venue for a rainy day. And that got me to thinking … .
There must be other sheltered spots in the region suitable for a rainy day run. One immediately came to mind: A stretch of trail at Lake Johnson popular with local runners doing speed work. Local high school cross-country teams use it, local running clubs as well. It’s 1,000 meters long, the surface is foot-friendly, it’s wide (16 feet, perhaps), the tread is even (no tree roots) and it’s flat. Alas, that was all I could think of.
Certainly, though, you know of more. Got a favorite spot to run dry when the weather runs wet? Send me the details — location, type of run it will accommodate (short intervals/long intervals/climbs/distance), best times to run (and not to run), any extenuating circumstances (e.g., it’s on private property and guard dogs are involved) — and we’ll compile a list, so the next time Zeus threatens to ruin your run, you’ll have options for escaping his wet wrath.
As added incentive, our friends at The Athlete’s Foot in Cameron Village will throw in a door prize: a reflective vest, the perfect running accessory as Daylight Savings Time comes to a close (which it does this Sunday). You have until Nov. 14 to submit your wet weather running venues; the door prize winner will be selected at random from submittees.
I’ll run the resulting list on Nov. 15.