Over the course of my running life there were times when I wondered "Why am I out here?"
I have run in deep, wet snow that was falling sideways, sticking to the sides of buildings; pouring, cold rain that made steam rise from my head; hard, windy, cold that froze the sweat in the hair on the back of my head.
But the worst were the hot days. Not just hot, but hauwt! People say the devil once traveled through the South and that's the word he used to describe our July and August days.
On one such day, I was struggling up a particularly nasty hill that, for some reason, hated me as much as I hated it. I swear that hill used to puff itself up right before I got to the top so that I would have to run ten yards further up before starting down.
Sweat was rolling off of me and into my eyes. My hair was drenched; my shirt, pants and socks were soaked through and the heat rose off the road in waves. The hill beat me down. I stopped running and began to walk.
Walking is strange. Things slow down and I began to notice things I had never noticed, like the large oak tree in the middle of a field planted with beans. I stepped off the road and walked across the field and into the shade of the oak.
As I sat down, I immediately felt the relief of cool breeze blowing under the tree. I looked across the field of row after row of beans. The quiet sounds of the wind, the rustling of leaves and the birds were all I heard. I was filled with a sense of peace and rest and energy.
After a few minutes, I walked to the road and ran up the hill.
Sometimes you just have to find the shade.