Mud and two kinds of trails

In New England, they like to say they have five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter and mud.

I know what they mean. This is definitely mud season — the few weeks between the end of winter and the true beginning of spring, when everything is damp and gooey and splashy.

Normally, that’s just fine with me. It takes more than a little mud to slow me down. Mud is nature’s way of saying “hello, beautiful sun; goodbye, mountains of black, crusty snow.” 

And that’s exactly what’s happening outside. We haven’t had a snowstorm in at least a week, maybe 10 days. And the snow is shining brightly, pushing the air temperature up to 44 degrees.

I went out to the towpath at lunchtime, eager to run five miles on a soft surface. But after running for less than two minutes, I was amazed at just how soft this surface was.

My shoes didn’t go “thump, thump, thump” or even “splash, splash, splash.”

It was more like “squish, squoosh, thwuph, thwuph, thwuph.”

I looked down and saw huge gobs of tan mud hanging from each shoe. It looked as if I had just run through a freshly poured concrete sidewalk.

I stopped and thought about this for a minute. Should I embrace the mud and push forward? Or should I use my noggin and look for a better place to run — by which I mean a place that didn’t go “squish, squoosh, thwuph, thwuph, thwuph”?

I thought for a good, long time (two seconds) and turned around and trotted back to the sidewalk.

Then I did the next-best thing: I ran on another kind of trail. A paved trail.

Mind you, this is Indiana, and we throw the word “trail” around very loosely. If you can ride your bike or it, or roller-blade, or push a baby stroller,  it could be a “trail.” As long as you’re not allowed to drive your car down it, it qualifies as a trail, and people will flock to it by the thousands and marvel that such a thing exists.

Even worse than that is a “greenway.” Indianapolis is proud of its “greenway” system, which is a fancy word to decribe a stretch of land that used to be green, and now has an asphalt strip running down the middle. They can’t just leave it alone, with a dirt hiking trail. You must back up the paving trucks and the steam rollers and the tar trucks, and spend lots of money installing miles of pavement, complete with stripes. Then it’s a “trail.”

So this is where I ended up doing my lunchtime run: on the White River Trail, part of the Indy Greenways.

It looked like a road. It felt like a road. But according to the signs, it was a trail. Or a greenway.

What a funny, bizarre world we live in. Sometimes words just lose all their meaning, don’t they?

But, hey, no one was forcing me to run on this road, er, trail. I was doing it because my own trail was under two inches of mud.

Anyway, I ran for about 20 minutes, from the Naval Armory on 30th Street to the old Bush Stadium on 16th Street.

Then I turned around and ran back. On the way back to my car, I passed the towpath again, and saw my old footsteps in the mud, now with small puddles of water in them.

It’s mud season, all right.

I sure can’t wait for spring.

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2 Responses to “Mud and two kinds of trails”

  1. that is downright gross! I am sure your wife wants an outdoor shower installed!

  2. Oh the joys of running in mud! We’ve had our share out here, and we still may get more by the time our 50K rolls around. My friend Pam has PTSD about mud now!!

    Ya they call those paved things out here bike “trails” – NOT!

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