The “man versus nature” rivalry is one of the most apparent struggles of a human life.
We see it in movies and literature. We are subjected to it when a storm rolls in and oppressed by it during extreme temperature swings. It brings about a perspective that dwarfs our physical selves, given the unpredictability and magnitude of what nature really is.
No matter to Mother Nature though. The will of people always finds a way to come out on top in the struggle. If it didn’t, well, we would have died off as a species a long time ago. In the comforts of our modern lives, it may seem practical to always find shelter from the storm. Where would the story be in that though? How can we possibly advance ourselves if we constantly bend to the will of the weather?
For the runner, weather usually takes a back seat in the decision of “to run or not to run.” This mentality is part of the reason why the running community is so strong and unique. For those who are lucky enough to have succumbed to the madness which drives our bodies out that door, no matter the conditions or temperature, comes tranquility, joy and companionship.
This is evident on any given Sunday for a local running group. The OGRES (Old Guys Running Every Sunday) meet weekly, at 7 a.m, no exceptions. This last weekend I found myself embedded with the OGRES for a nice run under a steady downpour from above. The route was a mix of road and muddy trails, with casual conversation throughout. We stopped at a few premeditated points to regroup.
Stopping isn’t something I typically do during a run given the physics Newton’s first law, but these were strategic stops expertly and thoughtfully crafted so each runner in the group could run their own route and speed and still finish as one. The route itself was a perfect one because it offered a variety package of difficulty and distance, both of which can be adjusted by the amazing landscape we are blessed with here in La Porte.
The trails of Soldier’s Park are like the large intestine of a human being. The twisting and turning make it difficult to judge just how many miles of trail are available out there. This helps add to a sense of adventure once you step foot into the woods. Once on the trails, the only decisions that really need to be made involve forks in the path. If you go left, you face certain obstacles. If you go right, you face others. Difficulty is subjective once your fully in stride anyway.
Being in full stride takes a little warming up. It begins as an effort to move forward towards an end. Next comes a slow build to a comfortable pace. Finally comes the decision to push a limit or two. Once you have made the decision on just how far or fast you will go, you find a stride that exists just outside of our comfort zone. Here is where you grow.
For the OGRES, a decision was made years ago: 7 a.m. on Sunday, no matter what. This decision has become a principle, and the performance of these “old guys” prove the value of human will. Just look at any local race these guys show up to. If there is an OGRE present, you can be rest assured of two things. One, you will be inspired by the little influence nature has over will and determination. Or, if you’re like me, you will be humbled two years in a row when someone in their 60s and 70s finishes just ahead.
So pay no attention to the weather man begging you to stay inside. (OK, lightning, excessive heat and hypothermic cold are safety exceptions). If it rains, you get wet. If it’s cold, you won’t overheat. If it’s hot, you can sweat off the weight from a weekend of overindulging. The rivalry between man and nature requires wins and losses, or it wouldn’t be a rivalry. So the next time it rains, and you are faced with the decision of “to run or not to run,” I hope you go out there and steal a 'W' from mother nature!