Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Rural Life, Running Edition

Last week I started running up the Hill of Death and screeched to a halt. Oh no! Were those...Yes, yes, they were. About fifteen range bulls sauntered through the pasture and across the road, because there was no fence.

I paused to assess the situation. Could I sprint up the hill before they charged? As I watched a red and white bull glared balefully in my direction. Um, no. I ran somewhere else.

When I happen into the Big City, people are running along the concrete waterfront, swathed in earphones. It's pretty, but feels competitive and routine. Compare that to some of the obstacles I face in my running life:

1. A bear at mile 1 of my 20 mile run (This run quickly became 19 miles).

2. A wolf in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road. I ran past, hoping for the best.

3. A mountain lion, concealed in the brush as we ran by (telemetry doesn't lie).

4. A near collision with a horse and buggy, driven by an inexpert driver.

5. Barbed wire fences to crawl under, avalanche chutes to tiptoe across, downed trees to hurdle. Guys on huge tractors. Huge tumbleweeds. River crossings. Hunters with guns.

6. Alligators (in my Florida days).

So it's no surprise that when I find a real trail I am overcome with joy. On the way back from the Big City yesterday we stopped in a tiny town that for some reason has an amazing network of mountain bike trails. On private land, but open to the public! Nobody was out there, so I felt free to run the trails without fear of being crushed under a wheel.

I had forgotten how great it was to run without looking at your feet for rocks, or nervously into the bushes for wildlife, or dodging pack trains. Lately I've been a little disenchanted with running because it's just sort of...hard where I live. Which is fine for character building but sometimes you just want the easy. I ran along happily. This is why I run, I thought.


CURSES. Whatever I do this picture won't flip. Oh well. Tilt your head sideways. These are the trails I ran on.

These trails are too far away for a casual outing, so I probably won't be back. Running where I live means I'll never pay for a "Tough Mudder" type race, since I can do that stuff for free. Barbed wire crawl? Check. Mud pit? Check. Uncontrolled fire? Check. It also means that I rarely see any other runners, so I can run at my own pace without the awkward passing thing, and there's always a small element of adventure in each run. I guess I'll take it. Though I will dream as I run of the perfect redwood-tree-shaded, pine-needle-carpeted trail.

Do you have obstacles where you run? Have you ever had to turn around because of one?




13 comments:

  1. Remember the weird man hiding behind a log in the woods?

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  2. We were climbing (not running) a hill in Mexico when a bull (not fenced) started down the hill toward us. Yelling "párate" (go away) didn't seem to faze him, nor did "amscray" (remember your pig Latin). So "vámonos" (let's get the heck outta here) seemed like this best plan. The victorious toro watched us go.

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    1. Oh good thing you knew Spanish!!!

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    2. But I guess we didn't know bull (take that however you want)!

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  3. Near DC, I turned around on a run because there was a homeless guy passed out on the trail. I felt bad though about not checking if he was OK, so I went back and got my roommate to come back with me, and by the time we returned he was gone. I do not miss having to run in urban parks.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Let's try this again. I have run in DC too and always felt a little sketch in some of those parks. Especially Rock Creek, which is quite beautiful but you just wonder who might be lurking in the bushes.

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  4. Your tales make my dodging traffic runs in suburbia seem mighty tame!

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    1. Traffic can be scarier than any of the above!

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  5. I was running up a trail in the Porcupine Mts. Wilderness State Park some years ago....when I got near Shining Cloud Falls, I "almost" stumbled across a small black bear rooting in a stump. Since the noise of the falls covered all other noises, we simultaneously wuffed and shrieked and ran in opposite directions! Would much rather run by a bear than in traffic, but took a while as I ran BACK down the trail to stop hyperventilating!

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  6. That would have been funny to observe.

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    1. Well, a SOMEONE giggling by the trail might have freaked me out more, especially if hidden from sight. This was up the trail from the Little Carp River cabin. Beautiful spot

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