…But Ne’er a Drop to Drink

19 Aug

For some reason, today seems to be following an aquaphilic pattern…

I went out to the trail with the rest of the UT cross country team and the first thing I knew is that it was going to be wet. Very. Very. Wet. The grass didn’t so much glisten with the dew of dawn as much as it was inundated with the flood of Noah. Giant puddles filled spaces where Earth naturally belonged, water dripped from the trees with the annoying predictability off a leaking faucet. I looked around and knew that I sure as hell wasn’t in Kansas anymore…but I could’ve definetely ridden a hurricane into the everglades.

Stretch out. Do a few plyometric drills. Stretch out some more. All the while I used the dripping of the trees as a metronome. Three drips for a stretch, two for a plyometric move, only one to set me on the path to early morning insanity.

My teammate Tori (at least I think that’s how you spell his name. Hell if I actually know. I’ve only been here for roughly 48 hours) mentioned something about a pond that could’ve sheltered a megaladon. He has a way of summing something up in a facile manner:

“Shit. Trail’s going to be wet.”

But unlike this morning, there wouldn’t be any to drink. I don’t care how thirsty I am, I would rather guzzle the tap water back at home than drink from one of those puddles. So I guess I’ll rescind my statement about it being the worst water ever. *Note. There is now a new qualifier. Worst Drinking Water Ever. 

The run got underway. Surprisingly, it was pretty dry. I mean, as dry as it gets in Florida. We’re talking about a state that you could probably drown in if the humidity approached the right density. But other than that, yeah, it was the Floridian equivalent to the Mojave desert.

It left me confused. How could this be? Was this water just a mass hallucination? Maybe the downhill location of the start made it worse than it really was? Of the two, the latter is the most probable. But I wouldn’t put it passed a few guys to slip something into the Gatorade (Kidding!…Kidding…sure….kidding……) 

We continued a slight ascent until we reached the wooded area. My expectation was for the humidity to just erupt, but it didn’t. It was a marginal increase, but the overall saturation wasn’t unbearable. We continued onward for about two miles.

And nothing happened. Still dry.

A mile after that though, that’s when muck hit the fans. Or at the least, the bottom of our trainers. But the spatter was still horrendous. Halfway through the run, we all looked like we had just murdered a mud-walker. I don’t know if mud-walkers are actual creatures- if not I’m inventing it. I still have no idea how some of the stuff got to where it did. I mean some things are meant to be non-intruded in the span of a man’s life…

My inner ear. Perverts. Get your minds out of the gutter. Seriously though, I need a physicist who’s an expert in scatter-theory to explain how this glop could fly into the depths of my ear canal. If it hit the external acoustic meatus (big, outside flappy thing that we commonly call the “ear”) I would understand. No. This went straight into the ear!

We sullied through the mud and through the standing water. In theory, the mud should dirty us, the water should clean us. Endless repeat. Except the mud dirtied us, the water merely spread it, and it repeated over the course of thousands of steps. Man, reality’s a bitch. But we trudged through because we’re distance runners. You may also have heard of us called something different: total badasses. We accept either moniker. 

Eventually, we approached a boardwalk. 

“Finally!” I thought. “Some relief for my aching quads!” 

For those who haven’t had the pleasant experience of moving through water, it becomes unpleasant because of your shoes and socks. Like all absorbent matter, it has a saturation point. The mass of the liquid combines with that of the fabric and presto! Through simple adhesion, you now feel like you’re carrying Gabriel Igleasias’ fluff. 

“Solid land” I thought fervently. “Solid land! Solid-“

Slip! I had to recover my balance, barely stumbling into a guide rail. I had completely forgotten what happens when you mix wet wood and soaked, worn down running shoes. Congratulations! You’ve taken up ice-skating!

If I had the will and a few moments to spare, I could’ve slid along without lifting my feet. Would it have been impracticle? Of course? Would it have been totally bitchin’ as I completed a triple sow-cow? Oh yeah.

And now we were halfway.

On the way back, I knew we had to face the same kind of condition as before. I might enjoy a challenge, but on long runs the weight of an extra ounce alone causes a lot of wear and tear. Bill Bowerman once theorized that an extra ounce on a shoe equated to 55 extra POUNDS of lifting power over the course of a mile. I was going 13 and there was a hell of a lot more than an ounce in my shoes. 

I was stuck in a dilemma. But then, as it oddly does, physics came to my rescue.

A man who wasn’t associated with my team was running right in front of me, sloshing through water without regard for how wet he got. It appeared that, magically, he was all out of fucks to give. His stride was heavy, his cadence was quick, he struck the ground with his heel, transporting a force equivalent to four times his body weight into the water covered earth. I knew that if I followed close enough behind him, matched his stride length and rhythm perfectly, I could harness the forces he used and Fucking run on water! That’s right! I could achieve running Jesus!

Ok. So maybe I wouldn’t be running on water exactly, but that’s the point. I could seriously save some energy and effort if I exploited the natural tendencies of water while utilizing the force of the gentleman in front of me. 

Water in incompressible. Now to make sure you read that right, I will first explain that it is not incomprehensible. Phonetically somewhat similar; however their denotations are completely different. We comprehend and understand water just fine. It’s because of this knowledge that I understood that it is incompressible. Meaning, it can’t be compressed. Due to the molecular structure of water, you can’t compress it down like you could with a cornmeal water mixture. When that happens, you can compress that and, if done quickly, it’ll become a temporary solid! Neat, huh?


Due to this attribute, water is merely displaced when you try to stand on it. I.e, it is moved out of the spot that you’re standing in. Now, let’s say something the size of a foot tries to move on water; and this foot-shaped item (that may or not be an actual foot), is coming down with a tremendous force (maybe, 4 times a certain front runner’s body-weight). What would you think happens? 

Water freaking explodes up and out. In fact, these homophones will adequately explain the process:

splash, woosh, gurgle, shit-bro-that-got-in-my-mouth!

Now water will return to that location within a split second, it’s just the nature of the downhill slope. But for that fraction of a second, just after impact, there’s nothing there but dry ground. So for a good half-mile, I followed this man’s every footstep through the water, moving close to him so as to get that slight relief from the flood. 

Perhaps a little too close because he took off after that. I think that having someone mirror your steps for a half-mile, shadowing you closer than your actual shadow, might be a bit unnerving for some. But still. My shoes were a bit drier and my sole (soul) a bit lighter. 

After the run was over, I thought I was done with this new-found nemesis that is undrinkable Tampa water. But no…it resurected into a form I couldn’t possibly resist…

Watermelon! Hey, I never said inedible Tampa water.

And might I say, it was delicious. After it’s all been said and done, I think it’s better to be acquainted with the filtered liquid to my right. It’s better than just having water…water everywhere-

But ne’er a drop to drink!


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