Recently I ran in a drenching rain that soaked me. I pushed myself through the downpour knowing that, unlike many other weather-induced, physical circumstances, once I was soaked, I was soaked. Wet is wet. As long as I kept moving, I wouldn’t get cold and it would be fine.
It didn’t matter that my clothes, head-to-toe, were completely saturated. The fact that my tank top and skort clung to me didn’t bother me. The loop I was taking that night was 5 miles, my go to distance, and I felt strong, not sexy. I was running alone and for myself, not for anyone who might be witnessing my endorphin-fueled elation.
As I rounded a corner, I was struck by a memory from another rain sodden day a long time ago. I was maybe 14 years old and had walked the two miles from my house to town in a light and misting rain, loving every minute of it. It was a pretty walk, mostly downhill, with lots of trees and a gorge with a stream flowing through it. It was beautiful and, even as a young teenager, I appreciated it.
After getting into town, I stopped at the Seven-11 to pick something up and the manager approached me. He looked me up and down and with a smile that made me uncomfortable, and told me I “looked good wet.” I remember being puzzled. What the heck did that mean? What would make someone say that?
All these years later and I still think of that day and how I felt. My joy in being outside and the internal warmth I had gained from my efforts disappeared as soon as he spoke to me. I felt cold and exposed in a way that was new and embarrassing. Four words from this grown man’s mouth completely changed my experience that day and continue to echo in my head after nearly 40 years.
On this particular night, decades later, I just ran faster.