Call me crazy but I was in heaven Tuesday as I hit the streets for a jog as the temperatures were working their way past the 90 degree mark before peaking at 96 degrees
I used to fight this time of year when the daytime breezes retreat and the air becomes still to effectively mask the Altamont Hills that just a few days ago popped out on the horizon after a light washing from the passing clouds. Yes it is warm and getting hotter.
Some prefer an early morning jog this time of year in the morning coolness just as the sun starts it’s journey westward from its nocturnal hiding place behind John Muir’s beloved Range of Light. I can vouch for the reasons why it is a great time to jog or go for a walk. There are still traces of nighttime coolness whipped up by Delta breezes that fade away at morning light. Nature’s thermostat is starting to crank up as birds start jamming with more intensity accented by the scent of flowers that opened up to capture nighttime moisture before going into lockdown mode in a fight to conserve what water is running through leaves and stems as the sun starts another day of relentless pounding.
Jogs at dawn are a luxury I can ill afford as it would require me cutting my sleep back to three hours a night.
So for years I grumbled about the prospect of late morning or early afternoon summer jogs. And because of that they were miserable affairs at times.
For anyone who knows me, not jogging on any day is not an option.
Perhaps a decade or so ago I finally got smart. Instead of fighting the heat, I decided to embrace it.
It is amazing how you look at something can make what was once a big drag turn into an exhilarating experience on a daily basis.
I’ve always make sure I am well hydrated and ready for exercising in the heat. And on the days I go for just a 3.5 mile jog and the temperature is at 95 degrees or above I will take a small squeeze bottle of water with me. I have never used it but having danced perilously close to the first stage of heat stroke after a bicycle crash 35 years ago in the hills outside of Paradise on a 105-degree day caused me to also lose three bottles of water to leave me without a drop 12 miles from the closet source, I like having my bets covered just in case.
It also helps that heat also helps reduce muscle pains and aches. Granted you also sweat. In my case I sweat a lot more. Most people I know who jog in the heat sweat. I get soaked.
If my body is good at anything it is the natural processing of cooling me down.
In the winter — unless I’m insane enough to cover my arms — I start sweating a bit maybe half way into a jog. Add a so-called “breathable” running windbreaker or a hoodie and I’m drenched by the quarter mark and facing serious concerns about hypothermia if I had to remove the windbreaker or hoodie before I got home.
On Tuesday, the drops of sweat started forming just blocks from my home. By the time I passed Woodward Park, my sweat glands were reviving up for monsoon mode.
Depending upon air direction and whether you are by a sound wall, passing under a brief stretch of tree shade or pounding either asphalt or concrete there can be brief, semi-unpleasant stretches where your body heat spikes and it becomes a tad stifling as you breathe.
But then it happens. Your body responds and your sweat starts flowing like Yosemite Creek taking off from a granite lip at 2,225 feet above the ground. And while the creek’s water slams into the Yosemite Valley floor far below bouncing upward in a cooling spray, your sweat splashes into the concrete in a manner that it occasionally will tickle your ankles.
The most redeeming value of sweating like the proverbial horse as you jog is that the motion of air you create when it hits your sweat soaked skin creates a cooling effect that the likes of Day & Night, Rheem, Trane, and Carrier are hopelessly inept at replicating.
It’s ironic in a way. The odds are those passing me in two-ton vehicles sealed against outside air with their air conditioning blasting probably think I’m nuts or at least miserable. But the truth be told the cooling chill that wind movement creates against your neck, arms, legs and face when they are coated with sweat is much sweeter and pleasant than the sterile cool air blasting out of a car’s vent. It doesn’t help that the air forced out a car’s vent comes with the heavy snorting of a machine that’s behind lowering the temperature. While I’m being cooled by my sweat I can still hear the pleasant chirping of birds.
All good things must come to an end, but that won’t happen until long after I return to my driveway and stretch for a moment beneath the shade of a tree.
One of the most decadent things I do this time of year is to sit outside after a run in the shade of a California pepper tree, lean forward with my arms braced against my legs and simply sweat.
I’ve got a routine going. On days when it doesn’t quite reach 100 degrees I’ll sit there watching sweat drops fall and create puddles on the concrete. Usually when I’ve counted 120 drips, three minutes will have passed and I’m ready to get started with the nest of the day. But when the mercury surpasses the century mark, I know I’ve reached the three-minute mark of resting when the drip count hits 200.
And while I’m clearing my mind with a mindless count of sweat drops may body cools to the point that within two minutes I actually feel a slight chill.
It sounds crazy but a small shiver created by sweat cooling down your skin is a decadent feeling.
I’ve only topped the sensation once when I was hiking in mid-July approaching a snow covered pass at 10,000 feet in the Sierra west of Bishop on an 86-degree day. I took a break on snowless granite outcropping where minutes later as the sun beat down relentlessly a slight breeze skirted the snow for a sensation that felt somewhat like a whole body version of an Icee brain freeze.
Neither central air— nor a Peppermint Patty for that matter — can hold a candle to that sensation.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.