That Couldn’t Have Been Lightning… It’s January!

When my alarm went off at 6:15  Saturday morning, I was in such a deep sleep that I didn’t hear it for a couple of minutes.  The snuggly-warm draw of my bed was almost too much for me, but I had people to meet and miles to run so after hitting the snooze alarm twice, I peeled myself out of bed… just as I heard raindrops hitting our bedroom skylights.  A quick look at Doppler radar showed some rain in the area, but passing through in front of the big line of rain that was heading our way later that morning, and for the rest of the day.  Since I’m always ready for a Saturday morning party on the trail, I got Bill up and by the time we got dressed, the rain had stopped.

We drove in the fog and arrived at our meeting place just as the clock struck 7:30 and it started drizzling.  After waiting about ten minutes for any late comers (none came), Bill and I decided we were the only ones crazy enough to run in this kind of weather so we took off and just like that, the rain stopped.  About a mile into our run we met Cruiser Amanda heading back toward us with her Moms Run This Town friends.  After a quick hug and teasing her about two-timing on the Cruisers, we continued on our run just as it started raining again.  Hatless (yep, I’d forgotten to grab my new “Run Happy” hat), I ran looking down so the rain wouldn’t get in my eyes.  Suddenly Bill shouted, “What was that?”  I asked him what he’d seen and just as he told me it looked like lightning, we heard a big BOOM of thunder.  We turned around in our tracks and headed toward our car in a hurry!

Huge power lines run along the W&OD Trail.  We’ve heard them sizzle often when there’s a light rain hitting them, but we weren’t sure if being under them would increase or decrease our chances of getting hit by lightning; that is, would they act as a lightning rod, or would we just be collateral damage.  We decided the best way to stay safe was to get to our car, and fast!


By the time we ran sprinted the two miles back to the parking lot, we hadn’t seen any more lightning or heard any thunder so we continued on with our run.  It rained off and on for the rest of our run, but during one of the breaks we stopped to snap a quick picture to document our “Lightning Run.”


I’ve mentioned before that the W&OD Trail is really two parallel trails.  One is asphalt and the other is gravel/cinder and it’s called the horse trail.  We decided to switch to the horse trail for a little while when we ran across some icy patches that hadn’t melted from the previous storm.  I love the way the horse trail feels on my legs, but it only takes a nanosecond for me to get little pieces of cinder in my shoes and that drives me nuts, so I rarely run on it.


Cinder packed section of the horse trail

The down side of running on the horse trial was the low spots where the rain was creating little muddy ponds just waiting to get our relatively new trail shoes dirty.

BillRunning MuddyTrail

And just in case you didn’t catch the water splashing…

We finished our rainy ten-mile run and returned home thrilled that we were able to get it finished before the heavy downpours.  Later in the afternoon I snapped this picture of the creek in our back yard just as it was starting to overflow it’s banks; and then I rested…


  • Questions:
  • Have you ever gotten caught in an electrical storm? ~ twice
  • Do you prefer to run on asphalt or gravel?
  • Did you get a lot of rain this past weekend?
Happy Running! ~ Deb


  1. January 13, 2014    

    We got soooo much rain this weekend, it was coming in sideways at times! After trying my first beach/trail race yesterday, I definitely prefer the road. So much harder running, even if it was more beautiful!

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 13, 2014    

      Did you run on the beach? Hoping to pop over and check out your recap soon.

  2. January 13, 2014    

    We live near power lines and every time we walk or run by/under them you can always hear the “sizzle” of electricity that is running through them. I don’t like to spend too much time by them, that noise cant be safe to be around for too long….That trial sounds very similar to the one by my house, one paved/asphalt path and one dirt/horse trail path, but your trail is much much more scenic. I would love to run along your trail. I love to see the rain. Over where I live we have had no rain in months and currently on Red Flag Warning now because there are high winds (not uncommon for this area) and very dry conditions which has the recipe for fires starting. You would think I would be used to the high winds by now but still they are annoying to have to drive in.

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 13, 2014    

      I know, right? It can’t be healthy running under those things. On a positive note, it might recharge our iPhones, Garmins, etc. as we run by! HaHa!

  3. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama
    January 13, 2014    

    I’d take gravel and mud over asphalt any day! The Creeper Trail in Abingdon is a rails-to-trails path, and even though the rocks-in-your-shoes is annoying, I love the softer surface!

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 13, 2014    

      I ran the Virginia Creeper Marathon on that trail about six years ago!

  4. Irene Irene
    January 13, 2014    

    I ran out in that rain on Saturday too. It was absolutely insane. My last 1/2 mile or so was in a torrential downpour, in January. Welp, better than snow I guess.

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 13, 2014    

      Even though it was raining on us pretty steadily at times, thankfully it wasn’t pouring.

  5. January 13, 2014    

    Great backyard! I loved it when you posted your winter photos, but with no snow it looks even cooler!
    That’s nice there are two trails. I’d definitely take the gravel trail, too. I can’t resist a softer surface.
    I distinctly remember one electrical storm I got caught in. It was in university when I worked part-time as a lifeguard. I would sometimes run to and from work. I worked until 10:30 and was about halfway home when I saw lightning strike a light pole in front of me. I ran super fast the rest of the way!

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 13, 2014    

      It’s amazing how speedy lightning can make you!

  6. January 13, 2014    

    Eek what a run! I just couldn’t bring myself out of bed 😛

    I’ve got to do 15 miles this weekend and that will be the most I’ve ever done so far!

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 13, 2014    

      See what a fun run you missed! 15 miles on Saturday… Woot woo!

  7. January 14, 2014    

    I saw the questions you posed, however I am more focused on the fact that you can sleep through and alarm 🙂 I wonder when I will ever get to sleep that well again 🙂 My little guys don’t allow it! Hahaha.

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 14, 2014    

      My alarm is set to a talk radio station and is turned very low, so at least I didn’t sleep through a piercing siren. I’m surprised that you’re not so exhausted with your little ones that you don’t sleep like a baby, too!

  8. January 14, 2014    

    Now your trail shoes look like hard core trail shoes, after running on the horse trail! We had that same weather, thunder, lightning, and all on Saturday. I was planning to long run Saturday, but then there was the Hank incident Friday night and then it was cold and rainy so I just didn’t go. We never saw a reprieve from the rain, though, just an increase in how hard it was coming down as the day went on. Thunder and lightning in January. Crazy!

    Lately I’ve been preferring gravel to asphalt. It’s been keeping my shins happy 🙂 When we ran on the W&OD trail over the holidays I stayed on the horse trail the whole time.

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 15, 2014    

      Yeah, I really should spend more time on the horse trail. I’ll have to convince the Cruisers to join me.

    January 16, 2014    

    Yikes! Thunder and lightning! That really is unexpected in January, I agree. I’m glad you two got to finish your run, though 🙂 That’s the most important thing, right?

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 16, 2014    

      I suppose being safe is really the most important thing… 😉

  10. Holly @ Run With Holly Holly @ Run With Holly
    January 26, 2014    

    When I ran the 50K in October, the rain started pouring down just 5 minutes before the start. By 5 minutes into the race, we had a full-on thunderstorm. Officially, this should have meant the race was ‘paused’, but as hundreds of us were already galloping through the woods in the dark, we just carried on. I love thunderstorms, so although it was a little scary, I was actually having a grand time. And the rain helped keep things cool for the next 5 hours! 😉

    • Deb Runs Deb Runs
      January 27, 2014    

      I remember you talking about that storm during your 50K. Rain storms on a hot and humid run are delightful… once the thunder and lightening have passed!

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Race PR’s (Personal Records)

5K - 22:57 (7:23 pace)
8K - 39:25 (7:55 pace)
10K - 47:05 (7:40 pace)
Ten Mile - 1:16:22 (7:38 pace)
20K - 1:45:30 (8:30 pace)
Half Marathon - 1:54:34 (8:45 pace)
Twenty Mile - 2:46:14 (8:18 pace)
Marathon - 3:29:04 (7:59 pace)
Ultramarathon - 10:50:30 (13:00 pace)

2016 Race Schedule

February 14 - Run Your Heart Out 5K
April 17 - Loudoun 8K or Half Marathon
April 29 & 30 - Ragnar Trail Richmond Ultra
May 22 - Chicago Spring Half Marathon
July 4 - Firecracker 5K
August 21 - Leesburg 20K
September 16 & 17 - Ragnar DC
November 24 - Thanksgiving Day 5K
December 11 - Frosty 5K

Favorite Races

1997 Marine Corps Marathon (3:44:56) - first marathon and first Boston qualifier

1997 JFK 50-Miler (10:50:30) - first and only ultra

1998 Boston Marathon (3:39:57) - first Boston

1999 Steamtown Marathon (3:29:04) - PR marathon

2010 North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon (5:32:38) - favorite trail marathon


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