Saturday, April 2, 2011

Against the wind

The weather forecast for the next four days is wind, wind, and more wind. The weathermen around here are much more accurate than the ones that I only ever half-listened to in Pennsylvania because they were rarely right. If the Georgian weathermen say it is going to rain, it rains. If they say it is going to snow, it does. They said that it would be windy today -- let me tell you that it was! The wind was so strong this evening, a gust yanked the kitchen windows open, flung them against the house, and broke one. Tea and I scrambled around, reaching through the bars to pull the windows shut again, latching them securely, then gingerly replacing the larger pieces of glass to block most of the wind from swirling through the kitchen.

Running on windy days is tough. That is, when heading into the wind. But a tailwind is great.

My favorite ten-mile race is Philadelphia's Broad Street Run. The energy of the runners in that race and the spectators cheering everyone on makes it one of the most enjoyable races that I've run. I have run it five times, and each time was a great experience. The year that I ran my Broad Street personal best (86:24) was one of the windiest days that spring. There was a constant tailwind that fluctuated from 15-mph to gusts of 40-mph. At some points in the race, all I had to do was lift my feet, and the wind carried me forward. Almost everyone I know who ran that day set a personal best time.

Running into the wind is another story.

Like today. I wanted to do a 90-minute run, but the minute I stepped out onto the road, I knew that there was no way I was going to battle that wind for 90 minutes. (I ended up running for 60 minutes -- that was all I could take.) It was so strong, at some points I didn't move forward. My legs were moving. My arms were moving. But it was like I was stuck on an invisible treadmill there in the middle of the dusty road. Then my body found a weakness in the oncoming wall of air and, slicing through it like a knife, I freed myself and finally started moving forward again. Sudden gusts kicked up Dirt Devils that swirled down the road toward me. I turned my back to them just before they hit me to keep the majority of the dust and dirt out of my face. Bent into the oncoming rush of air, I worked my way down the road, over the bridge, past the spring, and up the hill toward Zugdidi. When I turned around to head back to the house, it was like I had stepped into a new day. Making that wide semi-circle in the road transported me from one time to another -- suddenly there was no wind whistling in my ears. My eyes immediately stopped watering. There was no grit being blown into my face and mouth. The absence of noise was almost deafening. The ease with which I ran back to the house added to the surreal feeling that it was a different day from when I set out. Then a blast of dirt and dust hit my back, and I knew that I was still running in Saturday's space and time.

As I ran with the tailwind, I started thinking about the stark contrast between the two -- headwind and tailwind. What a drastic difference between moving in one direction or the other. All I had to do was turn around to feel the difficulty or ease of moving. Of course, I prefer the easy way -- who doesn't?

Isn't that so much like life?

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