Running in this heat and humidity just kicks my ass. I should’ve known better than to venture out mid-morning in the blazing sun. And yet, I needed the physical release and distance after having written extensively this week.
The writers of the thirties and forties used to find inspiration in a bottle. When I need to figure out how to fix a story, I sometimes find clarity while exercising. Such was not the case today. I’m lucky I finished four miles.
Was reminded of a column I recently wrote in Quill magazine about extreme journalists. One of the women I interviewed said:
”In many cases, the writer on an expedition has a harder job than the expedition members themselves. Not only does the writer have to participate, but he or she also has to take notes and viscerally experience each and every detail.”
I was thinking about that comment while I was running and so I tried to experience my run viscerally.
My route is fairly consistent primarily because it affords me the opportunity to run without having to think about where I’m going. My mind can wander to other things. Though it’s a beautiful route, down Lake Road along the southern shore of Lake Erie and amid gorgeous homes, I tend not to really notice things.
Perhaps I should pay closer attention. I did so this morning and was rewarded. While enjoying my first sips of coffee at 5:45 a.m. and taking Riley out for her morning constitution, I saw a hummingbird buzzing around my newly blossomed poppies.
As I rounded the corner from Bradley onto Lake Road, I found myself swimming in a sea of cotton tufts floating around from the cottonwood trees. The yard on the corner has so many piles it looks as if it snowed on their lawn only.
I’m feeling pretty good, but I can feel the heat on my face as I head east toward Huntington Beach. Once I pass Bassett Road I make the decision as to whether I’ll run three, four, five or six miles. At this point, the heat isn’t getting to me too bad, so I’ll shoot for a respectable four.
As soon as I pass my three-mile turnaround, I realize that this may have been a mistake. But I take comfort in the rhythm of my breathing — step, step, breathe; step, step, breathe.
A good portion of the stretch to Huntington Beach is shaded by enormous oak trees, which are a welcome respite from the glaring hot sun. The beach has that summer organic smell of dead fish rising up the cliffs. Doesn’t seem to keep people from swimming in it though.
The sun is behind me as I head west toward home, but I feel its intensity on my back. Ahead are huge stretches of uncovered sidewalk and I concentrate on my breathing to keep me from thinking about the heat — step, step, breathe; step, step, breathe.
Honeysuckles, I smell honeysuckles, so sickeningly sweet they are making me a tad nauseous. Of course, the orange juice I had for breakfast is also not helping. Step, step, breathe.
As I approach the giant white home that was once owned by George Steinbrenner, I know I’m only a mile and a half from home. Huge stretches of sun again before I find the comfort of trees near Breezewood Drive. Too bad there is no breeze to speak of.
There’s a bit of cool air hovering around the sandstone retaining wall of the century home near Bradley and Lake. And then I round the turn and head past a heavily wooded yard, making it abundantly clear why they call it the “rain” forest.
On my final turn toward home I’m getting that light-headed feeling of having gone too far in this heat. But I turn up the pace and make a run for the picket fence on my corner. It’s good conditioning for the heat of the Firecracker Five in a few weeks.
Think I’ll get some lunch and then come back to the previously unsolved writing problem.