After yesterday’s early run in advancing heat, I accepted that I was not up for completing the last half-mile to reach ten miles… and that taunted me on the Garmin. The 4.85 miles of running out to Waubonsee Community College on the Virgil Gilman Trail from the Fox Valley Park District water park was 85% shady. On the return trip, the sun rose far enough in the sky to turn the trail into a glaring strip of heat.
My mile splits dipped into the mid-8:00 pace during the middle of the run, but the further the sun rose in the sky, the more I felt its heat upon me. That was alright. I wasn’t trying to set any land speed records. Just some base-building.
Back in the car I slipped a shirt under my butt to keep the car seat from getting soaked with sweat. I was headed straight to 7-Eleven to tank up on lemonade once the run was done. But during the run I’d hoped the buildings on the Waubonsee campus would be open so that I could slip inside for a drink of water. No such luck.
The doors were locked tight, so I came up with another scheme. There was a church a mile back along the trail that was now open on Sunday mornings following the worst of the pandemic. It is a mostly Latino congregation so I practiced Spanish phrases in my head in the event I needed to explain my sweaty visage coming through the back door of the church.
“El bano, por favor,” I practiced saying a couple times. “Para agua.”
Yes, I know most people carry water with them on long runs these days. I’m still a bit Old School in those habits. The adventure of finding water when you really need it is still part of that mentality. Makes you tougher.
The bathrooms at the church, a former Boy Scout lodge if I recall correctly, were right inside the door. I nodded to the fellow I met when coming in the side door, who said, “Can I help you?”
“Just here for water,” I said, pointing to the bathroom. At the sink I turned the faucet on full blast and stuck my face into the stream of cold water to suck down as many fluids as I could. By the time I stood up, my stomach was full and gurgling and felt bloated as I started running again after the break. “That should get me back,” I thought to myself.
The sun kept my pace honest on the return trip. The fifth and sixth miles were in the 8:40 range. Then I started to slow as the sun on the hot trail took its toll. Plus I had to climb those two arched bridges over the major roads.
Back at the water park where my car was parked beside the trail, there were lines of people queued up waiting to get in for a day of swimming. The lifeguards were busy getting the gates open in their classic outfits of white shirts and red shorts. Those muscled boys and lean girls with smiles on their faces heralded the start of summer.
These June days are precious that way. Every one of the first twenty-one days of the month are a precursor to “true summer.” Yet the heat we’ve been feeling here in Illinois tells a different story. Thanks to that heat, we had our first real rainstorm yesterday, a much-needed gully-washer arriving on scudding clouds and winds furious enough to strip leaves from the trees. By late afternoon, it was warm all over again.
Yet this morning broke breezy and cool, a false fall you might say. A few yellow cottonwood leaves blown down during the storm were strewn about the green lawns next to the path where I walk the dog. It seems too early to see yellow leaves, yet there they were. They looked out of place on the rich green grass, yet they are reminders not to take these any of these June days for granted. The full berth of summer is yet to arrive, but the inevitable truth of fall peeks at us from every angle until it catches up with us in September, when summer claws to hang on until the 21st of that month. By then it is too late to appreciate what you’ve gained or lost. False fall turns into reality.