Does Running Gear Come in Blaze Orange?

November 22, 2008

I had a good run on a new mountain trail today.  I did about 8 miles on a challenging route, and came away with only a few scratches and a minor rolled ankle.  Oh, and I didn’t get shot.

I was well into the run when I first thought about the possibility of hunters sharing the woods with me.  I had been focused on making it to the top of Wolfpit Mountain, trying to avoid tripping or spraining an ankle on the roots and rocks that were lurking underneath a thick covering of fallen leaves. But, once I got to the top and was running along the relatively level ridgeline, I was able to turn my attention to things other than the patch of trail where I was going to place my next couple of steps. Things like the tree stand just off the trail. I stopped in my tracks and stared at it, and remembered a friend telling me that his son had gotten his first deer last weekend. Yikes. I might not be alone in the woods after all.

I started off again, reasoning that my crunching through the fallen leaves was making enough noise to alert any hunters that I was a runner and not a deer. I took some comfort in that, until I flushed out a big doe that bounded away through the woods, crashing through the underbrush and fallen leaves. She made even more noise than I did. So much for that theory.

About an hour in, the ridgeline trail started to drift off to the other side of the mountain. I didn’t want to take it too far, as any downhill on the way out would mean uphill on the way back. It was a nice stretch of trail, though, so I followed it for a few minutes. Then, I heard a rifle shot. It sounded like it was a good distance away, but that was little consolation, given the range of a deer rifle. I turned around. Another shot echoed through the trees. Adrenaline helped me pick up the pace, so I didn’t even notice the uphill. My goal was to put the mountain between me and the hunter.

I crested the top, and felt better once I made it to the other side of the ridgeline. I was running a good pace, and before I knew it I was headed back down the mountain. I was still enjoying the run, but was feeling more than a little dumb about running a remote mountain trail during the second week of hunting season. Then, as if I needed any confirmation, my eyes locked with those of a camoflauge-wearing, rifle toting, deer hunter about 30 yards away. I stopped dead in my tracks. I should have called out, I suppose, but instead I slowly raised my hand and waved, looking for a response that he saw me and realized that I didn’t have antlers. He waved back, looking none too pleased, and we walked toward each other.

“Sorry about all the noise,” I said. No response.

“Are there any more of you out here?” “One down there,” he said, motioning down the mountain, “and another on the other side of the ridge.”

“Um, yeah, I heard him.” I guess the rifle shots had been closer than I thought. “Well, I’m sorry for making such a ruckus. Good luck today.”

“Yeah,” he said with a smirk, and I continued back down the trail. It wasn’t long before I met up with his buddy, who was slowly walking up the trail, cradling his rifle. He stared at me, looking a bit incredulous, and said “You ought not to be out here runnin’ where people are huntin’.”

Resisting the temptation to suggest that maybe he ought not to be out huntin’ where people are runnin’, I nodded. He was the one with the rifle, after all. I apologized for the noise, and set off again. A bit later I came upon their camoflauged ATV, and a bit later still some houses came into view. Realizing that I was finally out of the hunting zone, I’d say that I was able to breathe easily at this point, but I was spent, so breathing easily was out of the question.

A good run, but a little more excitement than I had bargained for.

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I’ve Created a Monster

November 17, 2008

Once upon a time, about a year ago, I encouraged, nagged, and cajoled a friend of mine into signing up for the Charlottesville 10-Miler.  It was initially an uphill battle, but when I started questioning his manhood, the deal was done.  

Although he had played football in college and was a much more talented natural athlete than I, his goals at the outset were modest.  It wasn’t long, though, before his competitive and goal-oriented nature took over.  His initial quest to simply “finish the race” quickly morphed into “finish the race without walking”, and before long it was “run a sub-10 minute mile pace”, then “break a 9 minute mile pace”.

He was gunning for me, and I knew it.

When race day came, he took off like a 6’4″ rabbit.  I was a bit concerned – while I wanted to beat him as badly as he wanted to beat me, I wanted him to have a good experience, and at the pace he was running, I thought he was headed for trouble.  He held on, though, and I wasn’t able to catch up with him, and pass him, until around mile 9.  He has been living, and re-living, that moment for the past year, determined not to let it happen again.

Did I mention he was gunning for me?

I ran a PR last year, and I beat him by less than 40 seconds.  I’m going to have to take at least another 5 minutes off to beat him again. 

Remind me to keep my mouth shut next time.


Palin Part II

November 16, 2008

One of my favorite Latin legalisms is “res ipsa loquitur” – “the thing speaks for itself”.  This phrase is appropriate in situations where no further detail or explanation is necessary; the proof of the matter is self-evident.  As we got to see more and more of Sarah Palin after my initial post on her, in which I had reserved judgment, I’ve been tempted to just say “res ipsa” and move on.

But, I can’t let this Dick Cavett column go by without passing it along.  Enjoy.


Rude Awakening

November 9, 2008

I’ve decided that my next race will be the Holiday Lake 50K++ in February.

After I finished Holiday Lake last year, I had lofty goals for increasing both speed and distance, and had some success for another couple of races. Within a few months, however, my 44 year old knees rebelled and that was that.

Fingers crossed and knock on wood, all of my (now nearly 45 year old) pieces and parts seem to be working OK at this point, so I’m giving it another shot.  I went for my first long(ish) trail run yesterday morning.  It was a rude awakening.  I have a lot of work to do between now and mid-February.

Starting tomorrow morning….