Wednesday, January 31, 2007

You smell that??

There was an interesting discussion recently on a message board forum I frequent regarding heightened sense of smell for those who regularly exercise outdoors. Although nobody could produce scientific evidence of such a thing actually existing, it seemed the general consensus of the board members was that it is indeed a valid phenomenon.

I'd have to pitch my hat ... errr.... nose into that ring.

It didn't occur to me until I read the discussion, but I realized it is very rare I don't pick up some kind of smell when I run outdoors. Of course, it depends on the season as to what exactly my nose is picking up. In the summertime, the aroma of weeds and sagebrush is quite potent and I find myself thanking my lucky stars I don't suffer from allergies. The scent of springtime flowers invades my nostrils as well, especially that of lilacs. I'll never forget the first organized race I ran-- a local 5K-- and the overwhelming scent of lilacs as I passed a yard along the route at the top of a steep hill. For a few moments, I actually felt nauseous as the air I was desperately gasping to breathe was saturated with lilac. It passed quickly enough, but it was one of those few panicky moments I've had while running when I was certain public embarrassment was imminent.

Living in a small rural town, there's bound to be aromas of an even less appealing nature and I've had my share of running through many such nasal assaults. The only thing I can do is hold my breath until it passes, which then forces me to take a minute or two to recover my breathing rhythm... sometimes easier said than done.

But as many unpleasant scents as I've encountered, there's just as many I rather enjoy. One particular neighborhood in my area always, without fail, has the scent of vanilla wafting throughout the air. And though generally the scent of food isn't the most welcome aroma while running, I never mind catching a whiff of a pot of brewing coffee or a thick, juicy steak on the grill.

By far my favorite scent while running, however, is that of fabric softener dryer sheets in the laundry. For some reason, I only catch that scent in the wintertime and as soon as it hits my nose, I'm instantly taken to some remote tropical island ... or perhaps a glacier mountain spring. Happiness is in the air.

Or at least in my nose.


Daphna said...

I know what you mean about the flowers. A while ago I was complaining about the sweet smell of jasmin in the air. On the very next run the world got revenge on me. I got to run by a garbage truck and a truck pumping sewage. It was gross.

Chad said...

I love the smells, except the time I was biking upwind into a super strong downdraft from a sewer pipe.