My best run ever

Running-related Facebook pages and magazines will prompt you: “what was your best run ever?” What a question! How can you sift through years and years of runs and choose the very “best” one? What does “best” mean, anyway? Can we choose a best race, a best distance run, and a best workout? A best run in fall, winter, spring, and summer? Alone and with a group? Before and after an injury? So many different, relative “best” runs! While a few runs have stood out to me as contenders for my “best” run of all time, I did not have one true “best” run until June 3, 2012. Since I did not have a blog back then, I will share the run with you now. 🙂

SPOILER ALERT! A DOUBLE RAINBOW IS INVOLVED!!!!! (Does that make you want to keep reading? Good.)

Fireworks on the last night of Reunions: view from the baseball field.

To preface the run recap, let me set the scene. I had just moved from Ewing to Princeton three days prior. It is important to note that these three days were spent a.) working, and b.) at Reunions. If you are unfamiliar with Reunions…just Google it. It is runner-up to the Indy 500 as the country’s largest beer order. I got my ticket’s worth, and spent three late nights having a great time with new friends.

Reunions: party tent city.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I ran Thursday and Friday and took Saturday off…I anticipated a nice long run on Sunday after the craziness. A sort of cleanse, if you will. I got back home on Sunday morning at…around 5:30am, which was the first time I have ever stayed up that late besides all-nighters writing papers! It was quite eerie. I slept until noon and started the day. Ominous clouds and an impromptu thunderstorm cut some of my plans short. It promptly got sunny again. Confusing. I went to a yoga class at 3:00, because it was now too hot and humid to start my long run. I would do it after, risking some fatigue but oh well. Right after yoga, the storm started again. What. 

I checked the current sunset time and realized around 6:45 that I did not have much time to spare if I wanted to get in eight miles (that was my longest post-ITB injury at the time). So, with thunder rumbling in the distance and the temperature having dropped to around 65, I set off. With every crack of thunder and swaying tree branch overhead, I picked up the pace. I went all the way down to the towpath until I questioned whether or not running beside still water in a thunderstorm was a good idea. Because I couldn’t remember storm safety rules at the moment, I veered toward campus after a short (scared) stint on a nearby trail. The tents from Reunions were mostly still up, some were in the process of being deconstructed. I passed by the 5th year tent, where just two nights before we had tried to seek shelter from the growing sinkhole (exaggeration, but not by much) on the “grass” caused by the downpour. We had done quite some damage to the ground!

I looped around to Jadwin Gym and the track. The rain had subsided, but the air was still damp and chilly. The storm clearly could return any second. As I rounded the bush and brick-lined corner of the far side of the track, what awaited me was pure amazement. Right in front of me was the thickest, boldest rainbow I had ever seen. It seemed to come right from the ground, as if it were planted on the adjacent street. To the left was an identical beam, following the first all the way past its curve. (Double rainbows: not just on Youtube, friends.) I picked up the pace as I ran to it. I was smiling and I was all alone. I looked around frantically for someone in the parking lot to beg for a picture, but there was no one. I was practically in a trance, chasing this rainbow, probably going at it at 7:20 pace at this point. I didn’t even feel my body, running just felt like being, right then. I ran down a road away from the rainbow, and kept turning around to smile at it. I passed a guy when running up a hill shortly after, and I wanted to shout, “Did you see the rainbow? Isn’t it amazing?!” I was definitely still smiling, because I think he smiled back. The rainbow was contagious. When I saw it, the words: “Princeton after the storm” popped into my head. It made so much sense. I had never seen anything that meant so much symbolically to me as that double rainbow.

You see, for the past six months, I did not have the best feelings about Princeton. This place was haunted with memories and I could hardly handle them. I had wanted to get out, go anywhere but here or home – I thought about moving to Boston, or to Colorado, or to Pennsylvania. Because this was Princeton, and I didn’t think I could stand it another year. I had serious doubts about if it was possible for me to stay here and start fresh. That weekend, however, I had taken the first steps to doing exactly that: I met a whole new group of friends, and I had spent that weekend, a particular weekend I had been worried about for the aforementioned reasons, with them, being myself and having a great time. I had moved and left behind the memories of senior year and my old house (and my mother’s steam carpet cleaner…but that’s another part of the weekend I won’t get into…). This run turned out to be more than just a detox after the crazy weekend of partying, working, and little sleep. This was Princeton After the Storm. It really was the start of something new, and for the first time in months, I was happy to be here and excited to see what was next.

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I have been on a mission since that day to find photographs others took of the rainbow(s) while I was running…photo credit: friend of a friend.

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Another one.