Friday, April 16, 2010

The Morning Run

The weather in southern Indiana has been exceptionally warm and breezy of late. We've already experienced many consecutive days in the upper 70's and we've even enjoyed a few mid-80's highs. Couple that warm air with abnormally abundant spring sunshine and you have an irresistible invitation to be outdoors at all hours - especially during the cool and calm mornings.

Memories of the recent seemingly endless string of subfreezing pre-sunrise morning runs are still fresh in my mind. You know . . . multiple shirts or a jacket, gloves, a hat, black ice, frosty nostrils, third sock :), crunchy snow, amid a merciless and constant headwind. I really don't mind those frigid runs, but I eventually come to dread them and to loathe them as I fantasize about spring. Those fantasies are now reality.

Just yesterday morning I laced up my shoes and strode up the road with the sun behind my back, just above the horizon, and barely peaking between the tiny leaflets that unfolded just three days earlier. Fist-size finches chirped from limbs and lawns while those damned noisy crows hopped about seemingly cursing me as they hopped along the ground.

A light and cool breeze brought a interesting mixture of aromas to me. Within a few hundred meters I had passed beyond the newly cut grass and budding flowers along my short street. I entered the USI campus via the Barn Rd (old name) and ran under the nearly completed water tower and its odors - oil and diesel fuel from generators. I continued gently down a steep hill, choosing to run next to the asphalt in the dew coated grass. The scents and sounds of the surrounding damp forest and the trickling creek perked me up and allowed me to admit that I was lucky to be a runner - a morning runner.

The course I chose was my favorite short/easy loop through the campus woodlands. I startled squirrels and deer as I ran on single track trails, gravel pathways, and old farm roads. It seemed odd that not one fisherman sat beside the beautiful 4-acre man-made lake under which the old trail had meandered through a long-gone rugged landscape. A flock of mallard geese pecked quietly on the dam on the other side of the water. Several box turtles lined a fallen tree near the water's edge.

This was my first trip through the woods in weeks. I injured my left calf by stepping on a branch hidden among the leaves three weeks ago while running on the Canal Loop in Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. For twelve days I healed and stuck to therapy while I longed to be in those budding woods. Sure, I had doubled my cycling during that period of time, but no amount of cycling, road or trail, can replace a peaceful solo morning woodlands run.

So, Thursday's long overdue morning run was a much appreciated and therapeutic experience. It lifted my spirits for the rest of the day. I look forward to many more of those runs as I prepare for my summer adventures.

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