What an amazing Saturday long run!
The day begins early as always with a gentle beeping and the clock radio announcing:
Fuzzily rising, I stumble as quietly as possibly through the house, a task made easier by the fact that I’ve learned over the years to lay out my gear the night before. Quick breakfast, poke the contacts into my eyes, brush those teeth, and I’m out the door.
My long runs always start with the headlamp off as I navigate the streets near my house. It’s only a quick five minutes to the trailhead. But before I get there, I come across a cat sitting in a puddle of shadow in the middle of the street. She does not move a millimeter as I run closer and closer and closer. I crouch down and say “good morning.” Kitty is not impressed. I run on.
At the trailhead, I flick on my headlamp and just a few yards down the trail, I see two pairs of glowing “lights” aimed at me from a small ridge above the trail. Two more house cats. They are similarly unimpressed by this strange human. I’m beginning to think they are planning something big. I make a mental note to check in with my own pets to see if I need to be worried. Then I run on into the predawn darkness. My headlamp is a puddle of light on the rocks, roots, and dirt at my feet.
Thirty minutes later, I see another pair of eyes reflecting my artificial light back at me. I slow down, take a long look.
I’ve never seen a fox on this part of the trail before and this guy seems as interested in me as I am him. He bounds away, comes back, and then hops up on a tree stump to get a better look at this crazy human. By the time I have my phone out to snap a couple pics, he’s lost interest and all I get is a grainy, bigfoot-like smudge.
But how amazing! I run on with a renewed sense of purpose as the excitement is channeling directly into energy, my legs are churning, my arms are pumping.
Over the next hour, I am dive-bombed by bats. One, two, three, four! They are feasting on the moths that seem to be attracted to my headlamp. I apologize to the moths and throw a quick “you’re welcome” to the bats.
Not too much farther along, I hit my first tough climb of the morning and halfway up I find another pair of eyes. Based on the height, I’m thinking deer. Then, as my headlamp begins to reveal the outline of the animal, I realize it is standing on a fallen tree. Let’s see: pointy ears, whiskers, thick back legs, almost no tail. Bobcat! My first true, confirmed sight of a bobcat in all my wanderings. I have had a few “I think it was a bobcat” moments. This one was 100%.
Man! Can this run get any sweeter?
Two hours later, the sun is up, I’ve traded the headlamp for a hat and sunglasses. I’ve made the turn for home. A rustling noise just off the trail in a thin stand of trees captures my attention. Is that a…? Yep, coyote!
I’ve never seen such an amazing variety of critters on a single run before AND I haven’t even mentioned the dozen or so bunnies that hopped across the trail, the birds that were everywhere, and the owls that hooted at me just before dawn.
Was it the warm morning? Was it luck? Chance?
I don’t know, but I will be contemplating my good fortune for a long time to come.
Run on, sisters and brothers.