Late last week, I was looking to run somewhere new so I drove a little bit out of my way to a state recreation area where there were hiking and horse trails that I knew I could run on. Trail running – a great way to challenge yourself and mix up the scenery. This was gonna be good.
Great idea, only I realized as I was running that it had been raining for the past 4 or 5 days and the trail was muddy. Mostly passable, but in some places, mud puddles much bigger than I wanted them to be. I was on a 5.5K loop and while I had originally planned to run 2 loops, determined that I didn’t want to deal with the mud and I’d just finish the 1 and call it a day. Maybe even call it my “rest day.” Ha.
I honestly enjoy trail running. The hills, the mud. I like channeling my inner badass. It’s fun to be the “hardcore” girl who trail runs, right? Mud splatters on your calves. Maybe a smear on your cheek. Ain’t scared of nuthin.
But here’s the thing. I was all alone on this particular day – the parking lot was completely empty (it was threatening to rain). And honestly, sometimes that’s MORE disconcerting than if there are a few cars. Cause you
Just me and the mud. Ok. This was peaceful at first. Quiet. No watch, no tunes. Just me and the mud.
So I’m plodding along through the mud and I got to thinking : what if anything were to happen? Well, I had grabbed my cell phone at the last minute (I didn’t look, but I’m not really sure I had coverage). I guess if I were accosted, well, I could throw my phone at them (and hope my aim is better than usual). And run like hell. Those would be my options. Hmmm. Not great.
This all starts to make me feel just a wee bit unnerved. Looking over my shoulder more often. Stopping to listen. What was that in the bushes? A quail? Or another person?
(Now I want to take a minute and tell you that I do not really view myself as a scaredy cat as a general rule. Not really. But I do have an overactive imagination that I have to keep reined in. Once it starts running, it’s hard to reel it back to reality…)
Ok, so I’m jumpy. Alert. Paying attention to my surroundings. Still enjoying the run, but certainly with a heightened sense of awareness. Which is really always good when you’re running alone. I think I picked up the pace a smidge too. Get back to the car and back to safety faster.
I’m making pretty good time and getting fairly close to the end of the loop and watching the trail for roots, rocks and other things I could trip and fall over and all of the sudden, up ahead I hear something jump out of the bushes. Fast.
At this point I jumped out of my skin and, I’m not proud to say, but I might have emitted a startled kind of eeeek / ahhhhh / eeeeee. And I froze.
And just look what I saw straight in front of me:
Yes, I was practically face to face with a freakin’ moose.
Pretty cool. We stood there, staring at each other for a minute. And she did not move.
If you don’t know, moose can be cranky sorts. Most moose I’ve stumbled across over the years have run off in the other direction. This one stood her ground. On the trail. In between me and the shortest way to my car. Since she didn’t bolt, I assumed that there may be a baby moose close by and that was why she was standing her ground. Not wanting to be the next day’s headline “Stupid Runner Girl Gets Trampled by Momma Moose, Dies Alone in the Woods”, I decided that it was best if I gave her some space and went back the other direction. As I turned to go, she seemed satisfied to have won the stare down and that I was going to go away.
And so back I went. And you know, I made my 1:10 long run of the week. Without that moose, I was considering throwing in the towel and skipping the week’s longest run, settling for two 55 minute runs and a shorter 35 minute trail run (instead of the two 55 minute runs and the 1:10 run I was supposed to do). Maybe that look she gave me as I turned around and left her on the trail was one of satisfaction, knowing she had helped me finish a run I had no intention of finishing without her help.
You never know where you’re going to find accountability. Or motivation. Let’s just say, I certainly didn’t expect to find it in a moose!