I do enjoy how certain sensations can immediately transport you through time.
My mother used to talk about the taste of chocolate oranges; you know, those milk chocolate balls wrapped in orange foil that have a very distinctive taste. She told me that when she ate one of those, it reminded her viscerally about her childhood. Now they have the same effect on me. They make me remember Mom.
Taste, however, is not the strongest sense tied to memory. That honor belongs to scent. For whatever reason, the smell of something often stirs very specific recollections in our brains, and when it happens, it's amazing how quickly your brain departs.
For me, it happened this morning on the return half of an out-and-back seven-miler. A man was watering the 30 square feet of yard in front of his store, desperate, I'm sure, to save at least one blade of grass from this incredible drought. Wondering whether this guy had heard about the city's request for citizens to conserve water, my real concern was whether or not to signal to the man to spray me as I ran by. The sun was beginning to climb, and despite trying not to push the pace, I was starting to feel its effects.
The man did not look up, so I was spared the decision on getting hosed, but something else happened instead. As I ran past, I caught the distinct smell of water on hot pavement, and I flashed back some 15-20 years to when my sister used to organize summer outings for the kids in the neighborhood. In addition to scavenger hunts, kickball, and crafts, we always ended with a massive water fight at our house on Rosedale, which consisted of countless water balloons, squirt guns, and two hoses (one at each base). Evidently, when I smell water on hot asphalt, this is where my brain goes.
Then, I just started to wander aimlessly through all of the running-based things my sister used to make us do. We were constantly "training for the junior Olympics" by running up and down the sidewalks out in front of our house, or circling our huge back yard like a track. And by "we," I mean myself and the other small kids while my sister acted as coach. She even promised we'd get track suits. I'm still waiting for mine. When we couldn't be out in the yard, we'd just play Red Light/Green Light on the porch, and I'm still not sure how we never broke the railing on the side (or our faces) when we dove for it.
I guess when I think about it, I've been a runner for much longer than I realized. And I wouldn't have even thought of it if that nice man had not been flouting water conservation requests.
At this point in my train of thought, I popped back into the present and realized that I only had about a mile left to run. Though I was beginning to tire, I was glad to have enjoyed a few miles without thinking anything about pace or pain or how much time was left. I was just running for the joy of it, thinking back to when I had loved it most.
I might be on to something there.
79 Degrees / Dawn
52 Minutes, 36 Seconds