Runners tend to fall into one of two camps: cold runners and hot runners. Hot runners LOVE to run in the heat and humidity. They revel in a sweat-sodden t-shirt and short shorts. I didn’t believe such people could exist until I met some, for I am a cold runner. I love running in the winter, in the snow, sucking air through a neoprene face mask because it’s zero out. I love running in the sleet and wintry mix. I will stay off the roads only in the middle of an actual bad storm when I will certainly be run over by a plow guy.
In the summer, on the other hand, I become a plodder, putting in miles out of obligation and habit most of the time. On the worst, most humid days, it feels like I’ve been accosted by a team of sadists who stop me on the road yelling, “Hey! You! Put on this suit of wet sponges! Ok, now we’re going to paint you with this super concentrated salt paste. Now, now, don’t cheat; keep your eyes open– corneas too! Now we’ll just spray you with this horsefly attractant and…there! All set. Have a great run!”
By July the air is heavy and sodden, and the smells so thick you can chew them. Silage and manure at the dairy farm; something small and dead rotting by the road; something larger and dead rotting out of sight in the bushes. These olfactory landmarks become as familiar as the visual ones, substituting for them in some cases, as the winter-time vistas are closed down and narrowed by the lush summer growth. The hedges and grasses sizzle and teem with insect life, and even the road kill is reanimated as the sexton beetles come to bury it.
I won’t ever be a summer runner, I don’t bet, but I have come to appreciate moving at my moderate pace among all the living things in their desperate, headlong dash through this short northern season before the frost comes down on them again.