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Out for a run this afternoon.  Worked up a good healthy and honest sweat despite the cool temps.  Perfect XC weather.

The streets and roads are drenched in leaf cover.   The township hasn’t gotten to my neighborhood yet with the giant vacuum cleaner truck.  We’re supposed to rake the leaves to the curb and the Hoover on wheels takes it from there to the municipal compost dump.

As I was running this afternoon I was tempted to run through several piles of leaves but I’m pretty sure there were potholes and worse lurking beneath the surface.  I wisely ran around the piles.  This is not the time to twist an ankle or worse with 21 days to the Philadelphia Half.

I saw several neighbors and homeowners raking leaves the old fashioned way- with leaf rakes and making their kids do it.  I was dismayed to see, smell and hear a couple of gas lawnmowers being used as leaf movers.  The worst was the backpack mounted gas leaf blowers.  Smelly and noisy.  Why, when I was a kid…

In those days we burned the leaves in the street.  Yes, we actually did and while it was probably the worst way to get rid of leaves the smell of a smoldering leaf pile on an October afternoon is a quick one way ticket back to fourth grade when just about everyone’s Halloween costume consisted of being a ghost or a hobo.

The aroma of burning leaves is a very comforting smell and memory to folks of my generation.  If someone patented a candle with that fragrance I’m sure it would be a runaway hit.

Those were the days.  That was before Halloween somehow became a national holiday weekend brought to you by XYZ beer and was sanctioned by your local police department.  We went out trick or treating after school on Halloween and when the streetlights came on we were done.

The thing about running in autumn is that fall presents a small window for good running days and so we (I) have the fondest memories of running in warm sunlight and cool air tracking through leaves over leaf covered and rust colored roads and sidewalks.  And you are not fighting the heat.  For now the temperature is your friend.

This time of year in my Cross Country running life was also always when I was hitting my stride and rounding into my best shape.  I made a move from being somewhere in the mid pack to nosing my way into the top ten and flirting with being a top seven runner.

Flirting was about as close as I could get but how wonderful that I still after all these years recall how exciting it was and how alive it made me feel.

Running will do that do ya, especially on a warm October afternoon.

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