Mid August means the end of summer and central Florida running for me. It's about time to return to campus and get down to business: fast road running and studying hard. I have a few things on my to-do list this week, including mile repeats, catching up with my high school coach, and, of course, my final summer trail run at J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park.
Yesterday was my scheduled Starkey run, and I did run there, but it wasn't a real farewell run. The good news is that I wasn't killed by lightning and was able to return today.
When I set out this morning, I was enthralled with the color. (This happens a lot...) The sunrise was rose-colored and warm, surprisingly similar to the flashes of lightning yesterday. Not twenty-four hours ago, the humidity hung in the air, taunting me. That should have been my sign, but I know that if I am going to run at all during the summer months, I will have to run in a few thunderstorms. I needed 6 miles, so I felt I had to at least try.
By the looks of the dark cloud blanketing the sky in the west, it was going to rain and rain a lot, but I had no idea how brutal it would turn out to be. I was able to catch a glimpse of the sunrise, golden and brilliant, before darkness retook the morning. Before I could even really get into the run, rain fell and the wind picked up. The drops were cold and large, stinging my face and shoulders. I turned around about a mile and a half out, looked up at the storm over top of me, and started retracing my steps. Fast. Or as fast as someone who had done her first speed workout in a year just the day before could run.
The rumbling overhead grew increasing loud as the power of the lightning strikes increased. The sky would grow warm and pink for an instant and then return to black. Sandy trails that were dry minutes before already held enough water to drown my shoes. Splashing along, the lightning strikes continued, thunder booming more and more frequently.
Today, that same rose color was peaceful and welcoming, a good warm memory to hold me over until November. This land is where I fell in love with running and old Florida. Leaving it, even for a few months, isn't easy. The paths may change, but the land will always be here when I return.
Here are a few pictures from throughout the summer: