This weekend was my furthest run in this round of training and I chose a hell of a path to cut my teeth on.
I’m lucky enough that my city has a surprising variety when it comes to trails to do long distance runs on (despite what anyone might tell you), and rather than run on lovely and flat walkways on beaches or tree shaded parks I chose to go into the mountains, where there’s little to no cover and run 7 miles up hills, down hills, up some more hills and then back down. All in all I wasn’t in a hurry and didn’t break any personal records, logging the 7 miles in nearly an hour and a half.
There’s also mountain lions, but I’ll tell that story at the end of this.
I wasn’t looking to get anything out of this run, performance-wise. For the most part I just wanted to see if I could make myself do a thing for an hour or so without giving up. And guess what? I did it!
Sure, I stopped multiple times. Sure, I walked up a hill for a moment or two. But that doesn’t matter. The last marathon I ran was a while ago and the number 1 rule I came to know and love was to not give up and just KEEP MOVING. So that’s what this was more about, just keep moving in the 90+ degree sun bathed afternoon.
I wish I could say that I was so tired I came home and immediately fell asleep, but instead I was somewhere between exhausted and buzzing with energy. I had too much energy to take a nap but was too worn down and tired to do anything productive. A few beers later I think I got 15 minutes of honest rest.
If you remember from last week breakfast was my downfall then, but this week I got that mostly handled. I still had some reflux during my run but that was my own damn fault. The night before we went to a bar for a birthday and tied a few on, but all in all I’d say the smoothie approach is definitely the best. I blended some orange, pear, banana, and almond milk with ice to give it a chill. The drink went down pretty easy and there was a big enough gap between breakfast, driving to the canyon, and actually running that I was good to go once I reached the trail head. Try it out. Four stroke gang.
Not A Mountain Lion
One day some time ago I was running along this same trail and, like everywhere in the Fall, the sun set early. At first it seems magical. The wind shooting off of the hills cools the airs creating a layer of dew and fog as you try and keep your pace in the dark while avoiding the ankle killing rocks and tiny cracks in the ground from the last rainfall. Sometime along that run I ran under some enormous power lines and not only could I hear the buzz and crackle as the steal cables bent and waved in the wind, but also feel the electricity literally touching my skin and causing my hairs to stand up on end. By the time I had 2 miles left in this run it had gone completely dark, with the only light being the moon and the city below me sprawling for miles and miles until the next mountain rage.
Trying to stay focused my mind couldn’t help but wander and that led to noticing the giant piles of shit on the trail.
“Oh my god,” I thought. “That’s mountain lion shit and they’re going to eat me and I’m going to die wearing gym clothes,” which is a serious fear of mine.
I started whistling because I thought I heard somewhere on some Discovery show that they hate noise, which didn’t make sense because why would they be scared of someone whistling like they’re having a lovely day. Then I started talking to myself and kicking rocks around to at least not scare anything that could be sleeping in the bushes along my run. I felt like such an idiot be scared but I was because fucking mountain lions. Finally I got to the trail head where even the moon barely lit the way back to my car.
It wasn’t over though. There in the middle of my path was a giant new pile of shit. Damn it!
There’s a few times in my life where I’ve come to grips with my own mortality. One that comes to mind was on a plane hitting turbulence over Chicago so bad we got diverted to Indianapolis, the Indianapolis of the mid-west. This was definitely one of those moments. I was tired from a 15-mile run and couldn’t even be bothered to run away if a big cat wanted me, so I stretched out the acid, took a deep breath and relaxed.
That’s when the thought finally occurred to me, this trail has a ton of horses on it that ranchers ride to stretch their legs. This had been horse shit the entire time! I was relieved that 1) I wasn’t going to get eaten today and 2) that I wasn’t going to be embarrassed by dressing in athletic garb but unable to run away from a thing.
Another thought did occur right after that brief splendor…
What asshole isn’t picking up after their horse?