Rambling Roads: Spring 2022

by George A. Hancock

April, our fourth month, begins on a Friday. We are now 90 some days into our new year. We have entered 2022’s second quarter. Our year is moving along at a constant pace. Hopefully, you are enjoying the experience.

April is a green month. Our running routes steadily show life. Green vegetation is perhaps the most noticeable sign. The warmer temperatures, especially the warmer nights, help with this spring growth. The abundant spring rains also assist in this growth endeavor. 

I’m a fortunate road runner. I reside in a suburban-to-rural region. Tree-line ridges dot my landscape. Some neighbors call them mountains but their elevation does not warrant that distinction. Yet, these ridges are fascinating road sights during April’s thirty days. 

April’s early days has those ridges nearly bare. A few green buds are visible. However, by April’s last day the color green has quickly taken over. The trees are sprouting their leafy foliage. The roadside vegetation is green and growing nicely. This road runner can no longer see deep into those woods. The green growth is creating a natural shield.

April also creates some pleasant spring smells. Of course, those bothered by pollen are not pleased with this natural turn. Spring’s smells, pollen, and growth are often a curse for those afflicted with various allergies. I’m lucky. I run on enjoying this natural moment.

Now, there is one spring smell that earns a woo comment. Manure is often spread across many farm fields. This is a unique and often odorous experience. The weak in nose should perhaps find an alternate running route. Some find this spring odor nauseating. City folk miss this annual experience unless they move their run to the local countryside.

The one spring smell we all share is the greening vegetation. Local lawns and roadside vegetation green nicely over April’s thirty days. This new growth has a fresh smell. Excluding those allergy-prone individuals, once the neighbors begin the seasonal grass-cutting chores many welcome this aroma. Fresh-cut grass has a unique odor that lasts for some time.

Of course, roadside and trail runners must remain weather-aware during the greening spring season. Mother Nature’s weather patterns can change in a heartbeat. Sunny pleasant weather can give way to strong turbulent thunderstorms in just a few miles. Rapid water runoff is a possibility in low-lying areas. Runners should be cognizant of the places where water pools or tends to flood. That phrase “turn around don’t drown” aptly applies to pedestrian outdoor enthusiasts too.

Running along a narrow trail prone to flash flooding during severe spring weather events could prove deadly. Also, low-lying roads or deep underpass locations are areas one should avoid during heavy rains.

I’ve run into deep water after a severe thunderstorm. I ran thousands of miles on this particular road without issue. However, on this dark warm morning the rains were fierce. I got caught in the thunderstorm, luckily without issue. This particular spot was about 500 to 600 yards from home. The streetlights near here are not the best. And, this time frame was before my current practice of running with a handheld light. I never saw the water. The deep water was the same color as the macadam road. I was knee deep before realizing water covered this road surface.

This spot was a few feet from a deep open ditch that acts like a stream carrying water to the nearby Little Paint Creek. The intense water runoff overflowed the ditch banks flooding the road. Lucky for me this flooded spot was only about six yards long.

I slowly continued on until I cleared the water. The potential issues here are many. The water was dirty flowing from everywhere. The water easily could have undermined the road and hid sharp debris. Plus, a stronger current could have swept me somewhere not nice. These days my road light illuminates these obstacles.

Running weather-aware across the four seasons is wise. Severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes occur with deadly expensive consequences.  A weather-aware runner lives to run another day.

April does offer pleasant running days. These delicious spring days are perfect for distance running. The warm sun rays beam down highlighting our natural world. We cleared winter’s season and are moving into days filled with delightful running forays.

It’s okay to smile on your run. You’re a winter graduate and moving on. Enjoy! Run well, run smart!

Dot McMahon (left), one of the smart, professional runners who didn’t toss her jacket. Just in front of Dot is Joanna Thompson (no jacket). This was the Boston Marathon in 2018. Brutal weather conditions!!
Cold, nearly freezing torrential rain with a strong head wind. Does it get any worse than this? Would you have run in this weather if it wasn’t the Boston Marathon?

Categories: Features

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