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By NJOKI CHEGE

About a month ago I was having one of my spirited runs through the thickets and pathways of Karura forest.

The rains had just began and the ground beneath my sneakers was moist but firm. The air was rich with aromas emanating from the indigenous trees that formed a thick canopy above me. It was quiet and peaceful, save for the grunts and groans from fellow runners.

Occasionally, my run was interrupted by a sporadic squirrel crossing my path. As my pace increased and breathing fastened, my face was covered in a thin, glowing film of sweat whose salty taste peeked through my upper lip.

The runners’ high was quietly sneaking in, my feet got lighter with every step, and the familiar feeling of the intensity and invincibility of the runners’ high was possessing my body.

My concentration was deep. My eyes trained on the terrain. My mind was in the “nothing” zone, my hands gently clasped in a fist in front of my chest as my body moved to the rhythms of the thunderous voice of TD Jakes whose podcast sermon I had earlier downloaded.

HEAVENS OPENED

And then the heavens opened.

I pulled out my earphones and stashed them in my jacket’s pocket and looked above with my mouth agape. But the sun had been shining barely two minutes ago!

I looked back and considered going back to the parking lot until it hit me that I had run for about five kilometres. Going back would have meant running five kilometres in the rain. And so began the run back to the parking lot.

I was alone in the running track, bearing the heavy raindrops that caused my sportswear to cling onto my body like slime to a slug.

It was getting darker, the journey seemed longer than I had imagined and the rains were coming down harder. For a moment, I thought I had taken the wrong turn. A running route that I had mastered for years suddenly seemed strange and forlorn.

Even though my muscles were threatening to crumble, I kept going anyway, the wind blowing against my face and my feet sliding dangerously on the muddy path as my shoes grew heavier with the mud.

TOUGHEN UP

I must have been running for about two kilometres when a profoundly poignant thought dawned on me. Life, is like the desperate run in the rainy wild. The terrain is unforgiving and the rains are unrelenting but to survive, we have to toughen up against the slippery ground that threatens to swallow us at the slightest misstep.

We are, like I was, tempted to stand under a tree and wait out the rains but the thought that rains may stay throughout the night jolts you into renewed energy to keep going.

Perhaps I was being emotional or irrational. Or perhaps the heavens were teaching me a lesson.

For a moment, I forgot about the rains, steadied my feet and began to enjoy running against the pelting rain. It occurred to me that although things may get messy and difficult sometimes, we’re really meant to enjoy the process, to savour the delight of the process.

I must admit that the moment I saw the barrier that marked the parking lot, I had an overwhelming urge to cry in relief. As soon as I reached the parking lot, the rain suddenly stopped and it was all quiet again.

DRENCHED TO THE BONE

I was drenched to the bone and shivering furiously, the thought of looming pneumonia or serious cold torturing me. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head asking me what on earth I was doing in the forest, alone on a rainy evening.

I am happy to report that I neither caught the cold nor contracted pneumonia, but that experience taught me a deep lesson that I thought I should take a break from all the bashing we have engaged in in the past and share it with my esteemed readers.

Life, like a rainy, lonely, dark and “foresty” terrain is only conquered by those who are brave enough to run in the rain.

Have a brave week!