take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Morning ablutions 

I hadn't seen a poster advertising the offer.

"Free power shower with every run!" it would have claimed, boldly. The smallprint, however, would have said something more along the lines of: "Cold water only. Soap, shampoo, shower gel and towel not included."

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, as I headed out of the front gate for a 6 miler into what was then just a mild drizzle. Not content with covering me with a fine mist of rain, just sufficient to keep me cool during my exertions, after about 3 miles the weather decided that it wasn't nearly dramatic enough. It wanted to leave its mark on that Sunday morning, so that future generations of guttering would look back and say: "Ah yes, that was the day that it *really* rained..."

The expression "soaked to the skin" was no exaggeration. I'm surprised my mobile phone survived the onslaught, with only a layer of neoprene to protect it. You know you must already be absolutely drenched when a passing car, scudding through a huge roadside puddle and causing a tidal wave to engulf you, doesn't even merit a flinch let alone a swear word. "Am I bothered, though?" I mentally shrugged as it went by. My running shoes squelched at each step and I no longer took care to skirt the puddles, enjoying the sploshing sensation as a child in wellies and waterproofs would. My eyebrows, my facial "guttering", was unable to cope with the sheer volume of raindrops, causing me to blink rather more often than usual as the water combined with the saltiness of my skin, stinging my eyes.

The streets were deadly quiet aside from kagool-clad dog walkers who, on seeing me, would nod politely, tightening the toggles of their hoods just a little before digging their hands deeper into their pockets and hunching their shoulders, as if this offered them more protection from the elements.

There's something about running in torrential rain which I absolutely love. Because you know you'll soon be home in the warm and dry so it doesn't matter. Because your hair was already ruined by sweating all over it, so the rain won't make much difference. Because you are truly communing with that otherwise annoying stuff which makes this country so wonderfully green. Because you're sticking two triumphant, euphoric fingers up at nature and declaring: "Yes, you're raining. And yes, I'm running. And I'm not going to stop, so there!"

The incredible sound of it, the fresh, muddy smell which drifts upwards from the force of the raindrops, the feel of it on your skin - it brings an almost hysterical grin to my face (which, admittedly, could be interpreted as a grimace by an onlooker). And so, when the doorbell rang and Big opened it, he was greeted by a grinning, gleaming, dripping figure which turned out to be me. After leaving a puddle in the utility room whilst I divested myself of my sopping garments, I dried myself off, wrapped my hair into a turban-towel, snuggled into my dressing gown and settled down with crumpets and a cup of tea.

You treadmillers don't know what you're missing!

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