Here’s something that sounds, on its surface, epic and idiotic: I ran a half-marathon in a nor’easter on Saturday. Most of the race course was along the Atlantic Ocean, on Cape Cod, and much of the first half was pointed directly north and east. I got very wet. I also had an absolute blast.
Nor’easter is a big, scary, evocative word, especially (I think) to those not from the nor’east. Wikipedia calls it a “macro-scale extra-topical cyclone,” which frankly sounds even scarier (Googling weather terms is almost as bad as googling medical diagnoses). What it actually means is that there will be high winds coming from a north-easterly direction, and depending on a lot of things (temperature, location, pressure) there will also be some amount of and some kind of precipitation. The thing is that for those of us who have seen many a nor’easter, there is a lot of room for interpretation and a lot of room for error. Storms change their course at the last minute. Temperatures drop and suddenly bring snow instead of rain. Weather patterns make their landfall at times other than those predicted, and with a level of force that can be hard to accurately foresee. You say nor’easter, and some people will think “OMIGOD” and others will think, “hmm, I wonder what will happen.”
Everyone has their own threshold for the tolerance of uncertainty, and I am what one might charitably call a “planner” (or, less charitably, “hopelessly Type-A” or even “anal-retentive”). I was pleasantly surprised to learn, however, that I was totally comfortable going to bed on Friday night not knowing whether I would decide to race the next morning or not. Having lived most of my life in New England, I have experienced my fair share of hype that turned out to be nothing - fearful-looking radar maps that translated to a mere dusting, disappointing all the kids like me who had hoped for a week of snow days. I’ve also experienced (although far less often) the opposite: a storm supposedly barely worth getting out of bed for turned into a multiple-day shutdown of the metro area. All of this pre-conditioning enabled me to greet the news of our impending weather event in Cape Cod with a shrug and a little extra packing of rain gear. I know - I was surprised as anyone else at my complete lack of uncontrollable desire to control.
I’m not always right, but this time, I made the right call for me. The storm brought enough wind and rain to make the hashtag for the weekend #epicshit. Some people made the excellent decision to sit this race out. I looked out the window on race morning and got dressed. I did not know what would happen, and somehow, that was okay. I got out there, I ran, and I had more fun (yes, actual fun!) than I think I have ever had in a race. Sometimes, not knowing is the greatest gift.