The last time I had fun in the rain, really all-out soaking-wet uninhibited fun, I was 10 years old. We lived in a bungalow in Singapore, which is a fancy word for "house". I was in 4th grade then, but already almost too old to do silly stuff like go outside in the rain and get soaked, intentionally. Even stranger, I remember convincing my brother, 4 years older than I, to join me. It might well have been the last time we played together as brothers, before it became a no-no for a couple of boys trying to act "cool".
Funny how I still remember the day well, more than 30 years ago. It was a heavy rain, but normal for the tropics. The rain gutters under the roofline would break off at the corners, and dump the water onto the driveway below. We'd wrestle to pin each other below these downspouts, where the water came down hard enough to hurt the top of your head. When that was done, we'd make paper boats and race them in the small drain that circled the house before it emptied into the storm drain outside. It was, a perfect rainy day.
Now the last time I had fun in the rain, really all-out soaking-wet uninhibited fun, was an hour and a half ago! Yesterday, I wrote about the run I planned to do today, and I did just that and more. Started out this evening here in Ybor City, past the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Harbor, past a bunch of bars where people were getting loaded up with food and drink, past the St. Pete Times Forum where other people were streaming in for the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning season home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. I always enjoy running in this kind of crowd, because it makes you pick up your step and try not to look too much like the slacker runner I probably am! Plus with everyone else walking and only you running, it makes you feel totally fast! Anyway, I made it out onto Bayshore Boulevard and all the way, as hoped, to Hyde Park. Only thing is, it wasn't as far as I thought, maybe 3.5 - 4 miles.
On the way back, the storm rolled in. A few sprinkles to start for about 10 mins, and then it really came pouring down! It was a firm rain that came straight down like a full shower, no wind, slightly cool. What little sunset was left quickly disappeared and night rolled in. I ran by a long line of cars that had slowed to a crawl trying to get to the game, and thoroughly enjoyed myself thinking how for once I was really glad to be outside and wet instead of inside and dry like them! I was running shirtless in the rain, by the light of the street lamps and car headlights, and I felt completely free.
As I approached the Forum, there was a few brave souls trying their luck under umbrellas, but most people were waiting it out in storefronts and huddled together in whatever shelter they could find. And here came I, running down the wide open sidewalk, oblivious to the rain, and soaked to the skin. While everyone else was trying to stay dry, I was running away from trees and shelter, not trying very hard at all to avoid puddles that sometimes came up over my ankles, and occasionally doing my best Vanderlei Lima airplane impersonation running with arms outstretched to get as much rain contact as possible! I can't imagine how many people were thinking "this guy's nuts!"
When I made it back to Ybor City, I was a little short of my 9-mile target, and still having a good time, so for good measure I took one last lap down the main drag and back. This street is lined with bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, clubs, cigar houses, pool halls ... generally a good time place. Most people were inside, but a fair number of proprietors, employees, and customers were standing around outside watching the rain, and nothing else because nothing else was happening - until I rolled along that is. I got more than a few good laughs and cheers from them as I ran by, and it was the least painful and most enjoyable last mile I ever ran. I felt 10 years young again.