Saturday, September 21, 2013

Runnin' in the Alabama Rain

When I was a kid, Jim Croce's music often filtered out from my mom's study as she worked, and his gentle lament about youthful love, "Alabama Rain," led me to envision that rain as a gentle, misty kind of precipitation... something you could stroll through with a loved one and whisper sweet nothings.
Having experienced some Alabama rain over the weekend, I can say I now have a renewed appreciation for Alabama athletes: if you've gotta run through this on a regular basis, you're tough kids!

So, how did I end up in Alabama in the first place? Well, as a proud member of the staff at Colorado State University, Colorado's land-grant university in Fort Collins, I was fortunate enough to travel with our football team, the CSU Rams, who played against the University of Alabama's #1-ranked Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. But before the kickoff, and before the tailgating, and before the pep rallies, I needed a run!

As I left my hotel in downtown Birmingham, it was sprinkling a bit. No problem! That just cut the heat and made the run more pleasant. But then he sprinkling became a steady drizzle...and then a steady shower...and then a heavy downpour.
Birmingham's lovely downtown, with tree-lined streets.

The train uses this overpass; pedestrian & car traffic go underneath.

At several points, the rain poured down in a way I have only witnessed in Costa Rica: long ropes of rain that made it hard to keep my eyes open. I had to stop along the run to wring out my shirt and my shorts, as my shorts didn't have a drawstring at the waist and were on the verge of causing an unpleasant "wardrobe malfunction," threatening to slide down my hips. Incredible.
Birmingham's Storyteller Fountain, a landmark since 1991.

Water sluiced down onto the sidewalk in impromptu waterfalls as the rainfall became more and more heavy.

I ran through Birmingham's downtown, up the big ridge where Vulcan watches over the city, and discovered a great bike path, known as the "Vulcan Trail." This path winds through the trees, and offers great views of Birmingham.
Birmingham's Vulcan statue, the world's largest cast-iron statue, has watched over Birmingham residents since 1939.

Great views of the city of Birmingham along the Vulcan Trail.

Close to downtown Birmingham, on the Vulcan Trail you can feel like you're miles away.

This little turtle was the only other creature I met as I ran in the rain.

As my run drew to a close and I neared the hotel, I quickly ducked behind a pillar to wring out my shirt one last time; this was necessary because I was worried I'd leave a big puddle in the nice hotel lobby during the 30 seconds it might take for my elevator to arrive.

The run was SO much fun, but I will say that after running in the Birmingham rain, I have a new appreciation for Alabama runners who train in these conditions on a regular basis. I guess they never buy running shorts without first verifying that they've got cinch-able drawstrings!

Thanks for the hospitality, Alabama, and see you on the trail!

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