Great Balls of Fire!

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Run, Training
Tags: , ,
  • (Tempo) Run (click to see stats)
  • 9.03k (46:14)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 153bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 164 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:07/km
  • Best Pace = 5:02 /km
  • Calories = 861
  • Temp = 28º
  • SOTD: ‘Thunderstruck’  by AC/DC (No, I’m not kidding)

The original intent was to use the business trip for the alternate purpose of doing some bonus impromptu heat and humidity training.  It’s a simple pleasure to go jogging in new areas while away on business, however, this really needed to be about work (the running I mean, who gives a shit about the office); no Sunday strolls this time around.  You know, to get a better sense of what running in hot bath water feels like (remember those ‘Do Differntly’s?).  Instead, I ended up running for my very life.

In Lafayette, Louisiana the temperatures have been averaging about 28°C, or 82.4°F.  But it’s not the temperature, per se – Lord knows I have experienced worse – but rather the humidity.  In Lafayette, currently, it’s been fluctuating anywhere between 81 – 85%.  Again, I have experienced worse…but not lately.

I arrived a little late into the afternoon at the Lafayette Regional Airport and the plan was to head straight into the office for a quick visit, zip to the hotel and then immediately head out for the first of my scheduled runs. I had been mindful throughout the morning to hydrate and I felt adequately fed and energized despite passing on most of the common trappings of airline food options.  I had previously picked out a spot alongside the ‘Bayou Queue de Tortue’ (which, as I learned much later, loosely translates as “Queue the Torture”) down Garber Roadand was soon on my way.

Here’s where the story begins to unfold.

The first part, namely, the warm-up part, was pretty fun.  As it turns out, my chosen route probably wasn’t the best idea as roadways in Louisiana tend to be pretty narrow (there are not many Hummer’s in Lafayette) and, therefore, drivers are not accustomed to seeing random joggers on the side of the road as was made abundantly clear by the bewildered expressions on the faces of passing motorists.  Many times, they forgot (or refused, I’m not sure which) to swerve or give me any birth at all threatening to run me over if I wasn’t careful.

Welcome to the Bayou!

There were nice pretty parts too like this random barn thing.  You can almost hear the banjos picking on some porch somewhere.  But I remember well how that turned out for poor Ned Beatty so I stopped only momentarily to snap this quick pic before pressing on.  Notice how nice and light the sky is in the background.

At about the 24 minute mark of the run the sky suddenly became much more concerning and not in the ‘Dark clouds began to form on the distant horizon’ kind of concerning but more, like, ‘Holy shit!  Who turned out the lights?’  Seriously, I have run directly into some pretty sudden and mean looking thunderstorms before, but this angry beast totally came out of nowhere.  I hadn’t taken into account how quickly storms can roll in off the Gulf Coast.  So much for training in the heat as it looked like I was now about to deal with an entirely different form of ‘mental toughness’ training.

Uh oh.

Clearly I was going to get wet which, you know, it’s always all that bad – and it wasn’t.  The first part of the rain storm was pretty enjoyable actually.  The torrential downfall was warm and refreshing in a purifying kind of way after nearly a days worth of airplanes and airports.  I was soaked in seconds and I didn’t care.  It was glorious.

But then the rain got decidedly harder, like, monsoon hard, and it even started to sting a little.  Furthermore, the water began to pool in the middle of the slightly concave road surface forcing me to run through a growing river of rainwater – ankle deep – even at the shoulder of the road.  I have NEVER seen rain like that before.  I wondered if the good Lord had finally had enough of us annoying human beings, or maybe me specifically, and had decided to send forth the flood waters once again.  Unfortunately, the novelty of what was happening made me also forget about the exposed iPod attached to my arm and it totally crapped out on me (its fine now, thank you) but still I plodded on.

Sometimes I’m just too stubborn.

After about the 35 minute mark it was practically impossible to even think about doing anything resembling speed work as it would inevitably have been like trying to sprint through a filled baby pool.  Likewise, the novelty of running through a Southern-style thunderstorm while dodging gawking motorists was beginning to wear off.  And just as I was beginning to think of packing it in early and head back the lighting began to light up the sky just ahead of me along with deafening cracks of thunder that would wake the dead.

Oh shit.

Auntie Em?

At first, in an intimidating kind of way, the lighting was kind of mesmerizing.  And like an idiot I got caught up in the moment; I felt powerful and totally crazy all at the same time and, in a strange sado-masochistic kind of way, I was loving it.  But then it happened:


A white light flashed nearly blinding me; it was like when an unexpected car comes around a sharp corner at night with their high beams on.  At about the same instant I felt a sudden blow to my entire body like something had slammed into me.  Thinking about it now, it felt like someone had simply struck me in the chest with a shovel; sudden as it was.  A split-second later I witnessed a bolt of lightning disappear approximately 200-300m ahead of me.  A small patch of grass where it had connected with the ground just off the side of the road erupted into a small explosion of white sparks and little plumes of grey smoke that the rain quickly extinguished out again.

Ho-lee shit!  Now I was worried.  I had just run straight into Fuckedville; population 1.

If there were any thoughts about carrying on at that point they were washed away in the torrential rain along with my pride and I turned around and with my tail securely stowed away between my legs, I immediately got to the new task at hand of getting my scared ass out of there – fast!  The next 7 or so kilometers were a complete blur.  It wouldn’t surprise me if my arms were flapping with fright like a frightened little schoolgirl and I don’t care.  What had started out to be a heat training day had turned into a mad dash for the car.

And then the rains came…

And dash I did!  6.5k in less in 24 minutes is pretty freakin’ amazing for me as a matter of fact.  Now all I have to do is figure out how to simulate this same type of fear into my race day performance.  Perhaps I can coax someone to chase me on a bike with a cattle prod or live jumper cables or something?  But I digress.

It felt like I was being chased down the street.  Bolts of lightning continued to light flash and I’m sure there were other touchdowns elsewhere judging by the deafening crashes of thunder that literally rattled me while I sprinted along in blind terror; and so it went for another 10-15 minutes or so.  Then – just quickly as it had started – it started to pass.  The rain started to let up; the lightning moved up ahead of me giving me a magnificent view of Mother Nature at her bitchiest but I didn’t give a shit at that point. As I reached the car the storm had almost completed passed over and continued to work its way in a northwest direction towards the small town of New Iberia and – remember – all this within a few minutes!

I’m sure this was some sort of sign or other but, really, as to what it’s supposed to mean or represent, well, beats the shit out of me.  But what I do know now is that I will never take anything for granted again.  Every step from now on is a privilege and every new pedal stroke a gift.  Hell, I’ll even learn to appreciate my flip-turns more.  Oh, I also know now not to run into a near hurricane-strength thunderstorm in Southern Louisiana.  Duh!

Take that bitch!

So what does one do to celebrate his still being alive?  Why, how about dining on a ‘Louisiana Crawfish and Savory Alligator Cheesecake’ at Prejeans for dinner afterwards.  After all, nothing is quite as effective or as satisfying as eating something really high up on the predatory scale to restore faith in one’s bruised ego, or damaged ‘Manness’ if you will.  So what if it’s in cheesecake form?

  1. holy moley! You were so lucky not to be fried by that storm! I thought I had it close when I ran and a storm came up but there is absolutely no comparison. my god! however, was the food tasty? alligator cheesecake doesn’t sound appetizing to me, the cheesecake part does, just not the alligator part.

  2. Aquaman says:

    Best. Story. Ever.

  3. Jen says:

    What an amazing adventure. Glad you didn’t actually get struck by lightning. 🙂

    PS Yoga man… if you’re interested in training in humidity, try doing hot yoga. I tried it on Wednesday for the first time and it near killed me. I would love to read your blog after that experience. LOL

  4. Cathy – Alligator is the best chicken you will EVER try. Delicious.
    Aquaman – Don’t get any ideas.
    Jen – I have tried hot yoga already and had a, well, an ‘experience’ shall we say. You can read about it here:

  5. feelingroovywellness says:

    Love this story! I’ve never been in a storm that bad, but I definitely know how the threat of being struck by lightning can make one run really, really fast!

  6. Jan says:

    I was hardly breathing by the end of your “story“ Terry! Pics to complimeny it were excellent. Can`t wait to hear your Cancun stories. So glad you weren`t hurt!

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