Much colder this morning. I knew it was coming, because of friends’ weather reports from the west and mid-west.
Now the cold is here too. Milder than expected, but here, still, yes really.
I was excited to run up Washington Mountain because I haven’t been there in maybe a week.
I worried a bit about wading through two stream crossings again in the sub-30F morning chill. That turned out to be the least of my problems.
The water was cold alright, but my feet did OK in the wool socks and they didn’t get particularly numb at any point.
Near the top of the hill, you crest a “sub-hill” and hit some flat. As I came over the top of this particular hump, I heard some rustling. Down to my right in the stream there was a black bear, either drinking or bathing! He clearly hadn’t heard me until just then, and I watched him move 200+ lbs gracefully, at speed, directly up a super-steep bank along the other side of the stream, fortunately in the opposite direction to me. So beautiful to see him move like that, but I was very glad it was away from me, because he was clearly a lot better uphill mountain runner than I am!
This is maybe the fourth or fifth time I’ve actually been close to a black bear on a trail. They’ve always gone in the opposite direction, and I know they are typically not interested in coming after humans. It is more usual for me to feel that there is a bear nearby but not to actually see it. In those cases, I try to avoid even looking for the bear directly, and just make more noise. This time, I had no idea the bear was there until I saw it. I guess I also surprised him. Of course, I had been at that moment practicing “butt-kick” drills – designed to get your feet quickly off the ground – which make my footsteps really quiet, especially on bare rock and sand.
Well, we scared each other because we got closer than either of us wanted, but it turned out OK.
Coming up to the top of the hill, I stepped on a small rock, right in the place where my neuroma is (between 2nd/3rd toes) and that really hurt! I had decided that I would make a call of whether to turn round after 6 or 7, or keep going for the full 9+ miles when I got to the top, and the pain from my toes was enough to make that decision early! Keeping the high butt-kick going, I ran down, starting fast.
About half-way down, I suddenly found myself on my back.
I remember the shuffle, toe-stub, drag, fall and “oh shit” moment. But lying on my back, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to get up. I was kind of pointed down the hill, head first, lying on a stretch of icy rock. This week has sucked in many ways. Emotional calls with people at work doing a task I don’t want to do, and which raises negative feelings for many, including myself. Dog keeping me awake at all hours, for many hours, due to her old-age pain and need to pee at inconvenient hours. Two nights ago, a really bad nights sleep. And last night, OK, 6 hours, with only one interruption to let the dog out, but still, not likely to make up for the previous terrible night’s sleep.
So I just wanted to lay there a minute, and it felt like, oh, I’m ready to give up. Is this what it’s like when you’re ready to die?
Quickly realizing, without thinking, this was a bad path, I got up like quick-style.
Yeah, really painful right hip and big bleeding booboo on the right shin.
For some reason, pain always feels worse when you haven’t slept enough, and when you’re cold.
So, I walked downhill. I decided I’d walk until either I got to the bottom, or the hip pain calmed down.
Fortunately it didn’t take long before my hip felt OK to get running again. I jogged very gently down the rest of the way. Smiling to myself that I had been practicing the very drill that should help me when I’m tired to not stub my toe into something and fall! Smiling to myself because I’m such an idiot to forget that even though I slept OK last night, I’m tired from the previous night’s bad sleep, and the many emotionally-draining meetings I’ve had this week, and the life stress dealing with a slowly-dying dog combined with my own light-sleeping metabolism.
Sometimes it just all adds up. The running is such a positive force in my life that I don’t for a minute think “oh you know, you should really not do that today even though you feel like it”! But sometimes it just. all. adds. up.
And here I am at the end of the morning’s story, and I haven’t written the question to which the answer sits in the workout title.
I was just wondering when I left home this morning whether the bears were hibernating yet. I got my answer.