It was another blazing hot day here in West Michigan and the day after my 14 hour adventure at Yankee Springs. I felt pretty good at work considering we rode pretty hard in heat and sand the night before. I had plans to run after work at Aman Park with JB and Dave. Aman Park is one of my favorite places to run in all seasons. The park is relatively close to my house and it’s on my way home from work. If you run the entire perimeter of the park it’s around 3.5 miles but if you include the inner loops add another 3 miles. One of the best features of the trail system is the river that meanders throughout the entire park with 3 or 4 river crossings over the course of running one loop. There may be times when I’ll go weeks or even a month or two without running at Aman but I always look forward to the experience when i do.
When we left work at just past 5 I was feeling a little tired and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel out on the trails, nevertheless I was still excited to get out running. JB and Dave arrived at the park 5 minutes before I did so by time I got there they were out of their cars and ready to go.
I turned off the radio as I entered the park to enjoy the quiet natural beauty of the woods. As I was driving along the paved road to the parking area I noticed a young woman run out from the trail and onto the pavement. I assumed that she was finishing her run and heading back to her car, but soon realized it was only her first loop. I’m not sure but I would bet that she was a college student and by the looks of her form and speed, on the women’s cross-country team. Watching her run in front of me was like watching the effortless beauty of a gazelle running across a grassy plain. In several ways it was a beautiful sight. It inspired me to get started and that tired feeling was replaced with this fire to get running.
I parked just down from JB and Dave, we conversed for a few minutes and we were off running. We all started out together but soon we parted ways with JB sticking to the main trail and Dave and I taking the narrower single track along the river.
One of best parts of running in a park or woods that has a series of loops in the trail system is that you can create a slightly different course each time you run on them. I have a good friend from Stevensville, who I’ve run with for years, who always wanted me to run front. I asked him once if he wanted to take the lead and he said “no, Joe you’re like an artist with a blank canvass, you paint the course as you go and it’s always a masterpiece when you’re done”. I took that as a compliment and always think of that when i’m running the trails. Since I hadn’t thought of what route we were going to run, this would be a day I’d paint a 4 miler.
Most days it takes me a mile or so to get warmed up and into a rhythm but today I felt really good from the start. It was one of those rare days (at least lately) that I felt like I could run forever. I attribute a good run to hydrating early on and eating the right foods but It may have been the thought of cooling off in the river at the finish. Whatever the reason I was having a great run. Dave was running behind me and holding a good steady pace, I assumed he was feeling the same.
Cooling off in a river after running 4 miles on a 95 F day can be compared great s.., well you can imagine. I was getting excited thinking of that first plunge when we started getting close to the finish. The river is spring fed and even on the hottest days it’s most refreshing. We didn’t want to jump right in without JB so we headed up to the parking area to get him.
We had good timing when we got up to the parking area JB was just finishing up. We all headed down to the river. It’s been weeks since our last rain so the river is fairly shallow at around 6 to 8 inches in most places. JB decided to stay on the bridge as gatekeeper while Dave and I waded into the cool water. We found the deepest spot that we could and slowly sat down with a long gasp. That first plunge is the hardest but once you’re in there’s nothing better. The cold plunge is the best thing for the muscles and joints and even more it’s one of life’s simple pleasures that is truly priceless. We sat and looked at each other and said “it doesn’t get any better than this”. Not bad for our daily dose of adventure, what was your adventure today?