Gimme shelter, win a reflective vest

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.

Submit a venue and maybe win a relfective running vest!

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.

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