Like most Ohioans, a large portion of winter is spent staring longingly out a window, dreaming of a world that doesn't try to kill us as soon as we walk outside - frost nipping at your heels like so many icy ankle dogs, roads that steer you to an early grave, or those icicles that are rumored to kill (much more deadly than BB guns).
Alas, as soon as the first rays of warm sun glint from the rooftops, we run wild into the outdoors, spinning in Julie Andrews-esque circles, singing songs of sweet freedom from the elements. And then, we once again end up in a world of pain.
Deceptively, behind the warm sun and green grass lie things like bugs - hundreds of them, rarin' to go and hungry for bitin' after a long winter. And all of that lovely mold and dirt, free from its snow cave and free to float right into your nose.
The ground is slick with defrosted mud and littered with layers of unfrozen crud just waiting to trip an unsuspecting nature lover, their legs atrophied from months spent watching Netflix.
Like many, I made a beeline to Mill Creek Park. The park is beautiful all year - if you make it out without killing yourself.
I crossed the emerging green grass of the Flats, noticing how un-squishy the ground was. Feeling brave, I broke into a skip, finally unafraid of being splashed by icy mud.
The route: Around the flats, along the river, up the hill, past the falls, over the covered bridge, past Lanterman's Mill, and back again. Around two miles round-trip. Very scenic, with cascading waterfalls and two unique bridges - you also pass the remnants of a hillside distillery, century-old millstones, and a stone ampitheater. Thankfully, the occasional bench.
With iPod queued and laces knotted, I set out for at the very least a hike, if not some running if I was feeling saucy.
I am not in the cult of running per se, to the point where you have matching shoe/sweat combos. Yet I enjoy bipedal transport, even if I know nothing about doing it correctly. Fellow Tribune columnist Patty Kimerer is a grade-A runner - feel free to offer me some tips, Patty!
Either way, a 5K coming up in a few months is enough reason to get into some kind of routine. The new track at YSU only blocks from my house is too nice not to use. I paid enough tuition, so at least a few inches of it is mine.
I stretched a bit, but as usual there were people being photographed at the Cinderella bridge, so to spare them the unpleasantness I kept it brief. Big mistake. Read my best-seller, "How Not to Run" - Chapter 1: Instead of stretching, just put your car in neutral and let it roll over your legs a few times.
Besides the inadequate warmup, I did not count on the swarms of bugs, just hanging out floating around at eye level. They really stick to your face when you have a good sweat going, boy howdy.
And don't let the dance hits of LCD Soundsystem distract you from snarling roots across the path, or your untied shoelaces, or that you dropped your car keys. At least the throbbing in your skinned knees goes to the music.
In the home stretch, you feel great, accomplished! About an hour later, your legs feel like hot rubber. You become Gumby.
Stretching. Yeah. Don't not do that. You can't just make like Forrest Gump, jump off the porch and go.
Make sure to bring a Kleenex for all of that mold and nature, so you don't have to blow your nose on your T-shirt.
Maybe Google Glass can be equipped with windshield wipers for bug splatter? Or alert you to loose laces and roving roots.
I will continue learning to run - those "Back to the Future" self-lacing shoes can't come soon enough. And a hoverboard in case I forget to stretch.
Do you like to run? Give me some tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.