During brilliant fall weather in the college October cross country season, I used to joke with teammates by saying, “We won’t have weather like this till April 10!”
Winters back then tended to be dark, cold and unrelenting. After November’s dank resignation, the months of December, January and February frequently offered bitter cold with only an occasional thaw.
That made training outside a tough enterprise. The roads were often snowy. The sun went down at 4:30. We’d head out at twilight and run 8-10 mile loops outside Decorah, Iowa. As we headed out of town, the stars would turn bright in the sky or the low clouds of winter would seem to seal cold air into the purple-hewed landscape around us. We’d run together in packs of 20 guys and loop back to campus under the orange glow of streetlights. For ninety days during those cold winters, this would be our routine.
The month of March did not ofter much better conditions. Northeast Iowa sits on the edge of the Great Plains where winds from the cold reaches of Canada arrive unimpeded. Typically it was a rare day in March when temperatures topped fifty degrees. On those occasions, we’d leave our sweats in our lockers and head out in shorts to train. Then we’d come back to campus with flesh chilled from the wind and go hooting and hollering around the track in hopes that real spring would arrive soon.
So the prospect of April 10th was a long wait over all those winter miles. The date was mostly symbolic, as I recall. One could not count on early April for warm weather any more than month of March. We once arrived at Augustana College in Rock Island for a track meet, and one of their runners wryly informed me that the steeplechase pit had still been frozen over with ice that very morning. The first time jumping through that water was a rude shock. That was the week of April 10th.
But tomorrow is April 10th, and it looks like temps are indeed moderating. Here in Illinois the weather is predicted to moderate big time by the end of the week. We are expecting temperatures in the low 70s by Friday.
Signs of spring
That will send the chorus frogs behind our house into an absolute breeding frenzy. And I’d normally put on my running or cycling shorts and let the bare legs out when the weather changes. But I’ll be in recuperative mode from the meniscus tear surgery scheduled on Thursday.
So I’ll probably take a chair out back of the house on Friday, park it in the sun and prop up my foot while the pain medications do their work. That will be the program for a couple days, along with some gentle walking.
Good old April 10. I’ve experienced sixty of them in my lifetime, and I try not to take any of them for granted. The date still stands as my past perfect weather prediction each spring. A glimmer of hope in an otherwise cold world.
Here’s hoping you feel it too.