Illinois is not well known for being a trail running state, so when an actual semi -wilderness trail is found, we must rejoice and run the dang thang! On a beautiful day, my cousin Brian and his college daughter Erika headed out to the Farmdale Rez for a jaunt through the woods in a natural wooded area with streams, pine stands (rare in IL), steep ravines, and the usual trail obstacles of roots and rocks. Not bad for IL and with it being April, we only got wet with sweat, not drenched as we would be in mid summer. And, bonus, too early for ticks, mosquitoes, and poison ivy.
Engrained Brewing in Springfield Illinois is making excellent beer. With a new brewery on the south side of town, outside seating, huge dining room, 24 beer taps, plenty of sports on the ‘telly,’ it has the high energy of why we go to brewpubs. Friendly staff and a nice menu complete the place. The kitchen is trying to be as fresh and local as they can with their menu. The beers in the pic are the German Lager, the Blackberry Lager, The Irish Red and the Black Lager – my favorite of the sampler. The other photo is a sunrise in Ghost Ranch New Mexico – threw that in for visual stimulus as I am sitting next to an insanely loud family, several older sisters and their kids, all of drinking age and enjoying themselves. Distracted by them, I could not find the photo in my library that was intended for this post. But, such is part of the mix of humans at good brewpubs.
My run this morning, to earn these beers was a two mile warm up with darkening skies to the west as a thunderstorm complex was moving into the area. I checked weather conditions: 72 degrees and 94 percent humidity. Grabbed a running towel as I would be wiping my face and head. Took all of a mile to start that process as the temples get tapped like a Vermont maple tree, and then the forehead as I run out to my old high school to take a few laps and do speedwork on the track ( if it could be called such:). I enjoyed turning a few faster laps as thunder began to rumble and large thunderheads to the south were french vanilla on the lower parts to ivory colored cauliflower heads on top. A gray misty air made it a wonderful scene at 7:30 in the morning. Had the track to myself. A flash of pink light followed six seconds later by thunder, told me it was time to get the hell off the track and head home. I did. I was soaked from the inside out in the crazy humid air of late summer… Yep, earned a few good beers!
This is a good sign to find. On a hot August morning while out for a run, I found this sign out in the Illinois countryside. As I melted my way through the slightly overcast day, the temperature was comfortable but the humidity levels were not. I ran past the usual suspects, the Black Angus cattle munching happily in the pastures, no longer afraid or even all that leery of me as I pass by their fences. They look up and wonder what the hell I am doing. Other sounds are crickets in the ditches, a slight breeze blowing through the corn, a call or two of hawks, crows and a bobwhite quail. Sweat pours out my temples as I trot along and the rest of me is soaked. Squish, squish, squish goes my left shoe with each foot fall as the dew point is so high that the grass on the side of the road is soaked and as I am running against on coming traffic, my left foot is in the wet grass while my right foot is in the gravel. I receive waves from people driving by in pickups and cars, some of whom I know, many I do not. Not as exciting as a mountain trail but I am out doing what I love no matter the conditions. I put in 9 sweaty miles but with the overcast skies and lower temperatures, I survive. When I got home I checked the temp and humidity levels. 71 degrees and 91 percent humidity. A fruit smoothie was in the refrigerator waiting for me after I replaced about 32 ounces of water. But, there is a beer in my future later today… Hmmm.