When I was a kid, Jim Croce's music often filtered out from my mom's study as she worked. 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.
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.
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.
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!