Running in the rain, life, and turtles

I often like to draw parallels between runs and life. Fortunately for everyone involved, I’m not doing that today, because I’d really be stretching the metaphor. I wanted to write about a number of things, and the common thread among all of them is that I wanted to write about them today. Also, if you want to see some poor photography and shaking camerawork, you have come to the right place.

Dammit, Meniscus

I’ve been affected with what seems to be a meniscus injury since late April. After my training peaked in January for the Mountain Mist 50k, I was feeling pretty burnt out, and I slacked off over the next few months. That started to show in April when I was doing the Grand Viduta Stage Race, involving three consecutive race days. My knee was bothering me going into the weekend, and I jammed it and fell (going down Rest Shelter, a very rocky and technical descent, so a terrible place to fall) on day 3, which exacerbated it a lot, and I’ve wondered if that resulted in a partial tear.

I spent about four weeks doing physical therapy, which has helped, and while it continues to improve, it’s been a slow process. I have not been getting the weekly mileage that I’d like, and I’ve also been avoiding most inclines and declines. This week I finally started to change that by getting down off the plateau at Monte Sano and incorporating some trails with more rollers, although I’m still avoiding any hard descents.

Life

This has been a really rewarding year for me. I’ve gotten to have some amazing experiences with some fantastic people and break out of some ruts, and I’m extremely grateful for those opportunities and the personal growth that has come with it. June has actually been hard on me, but there have personal growth lessons in that as well. I’ve relied on my friends and my running shoes a lot in the last month.

I’ve had some pretty funny experiences lately too. Just last week I had a homeless lady tell me I was cute. I appreciated the compliment, because I’m rarely on the receiving end of that sort of thing, and I also appreciated her directness, because that’s not easy. I admit that it made me immediately wonder, however, if this was the universe’s way of telling me I needed to trim my beard.

 

Running in the Rain: The Best Kind of Therapy

I’d already planned to hit the trails after work today, which turned out to be good timing since I was having the kind of afternoon that needs to be dealt with by running it off. We’d had light to medium rain all day, and I love to run in the rain. I headed over to Monte Sano State Park after work, texted my best friend what my intended route was and when to expect to hear from me, and set off.

Thursday Wildlife

I’ve been doing a lot of my runs in the evening lately, which means I’ve gotten to see a lot of wildlife. That’s included plenty of deer, and last week I almost kicked an armadillo because I came up on it so fast (and thought it was a rock until the last second).

Today’s run did not disappoint, and it started out with this denizen of South Plateau trail:

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This guy. (click for a high-res photo, because somebody I know is surely going to try to identify the species)

I’m not ashamed to admit I did an impressive dance move to avoid stepping on him or her. It took the freeze-and-don’t-be-noticed approach, which made it easy to snap a picture. It was probably 12-16″, so not too big yet. I’m no snake-identification expert, so I’m not even going to put down my guess at what kind it is. I gave it plenty of respect regardless. I encountered a guy with his dog headed the opposite way just a couple tenths of a mile down the trail, so I gave him a heads-up just in case the snake was still hanging around.

My Possessed Headphone Jack

In the presence of any sort of moisture (humidity and sweat are enough, but obviously I had more than that today), my current phone behaves very badly while playing music. It tries to run the volume up and down, and it likes to activate the voice search. This lets the nice people at Google hear me swearing at my phone, I imagine. Today I actually figured out the problem is the headphone jack in particular. I know there are mic/headphone options that include some volume and mute controls, so I’m guessing it’s just misinterpreting some voltage fluctuations from my vanilla headphones that definitely don’t have those controls.

Once I figured that out, I decided I’d just let my music play from the speaker on the phone since I had the mountain almost to myself.

The Obstacle is the Path

There was a tree down on Chestnut Trail… and I mean a lot of tree, and all over the trail. The trail is doing something of an S-turn at that point, so once I worked my way around the branches at one blockage, the trunk was across a different section.

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This seemed like an artsy shot at the time. Not pictured: the other 98% of the tree all over the place.

One of the Zen mantras I like the most is “the obstacle is the path.” This seemed like as good a time to apply it as any. You can either fight against what’s blocking you, or you can accept that sometimes the path is not what you expected or planned, and you bend. In this case, I just bushwhacked around the tree, but you take my point.

Turtles All the Way Down

I feel pretty sure I had not had any sort of direct run-in with a turtle for years before this year, and there have been a lot this year to make up for it. I encountered one out on the trail a few weeks back, helped another one across the Indian Creek Greenway, and relocated one in my yard (I have never seen a turtle in my yard in the 7 years I’ve been living here) when I was mowing grass. Today I came across not just one but two:

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Small, but totally curious about what’s going on.
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A little bit camera-shy.

So I get it, Universe. I’m turtle-touched, and I’m putting off turtle energy. I don’t believe in magical thinking, but I’m enjoying the idea anyway.

Ascendance

Perhaps the most important reason I run is to have experiences in places and times that few other people could have, and today was one of those. I was climbing through the mist on Logan Point trail on my way up to Stone Cuts while Lindsey Stirling’s Ascendance echoed off the trees, and I think you have to learn not to take moments like that for granted. The endocannabinoids probably weren’t hurting the process by then either.

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Raining and foggy and everything I love on a run. Yes, I know that’s neither Logan Point nor Stone Cuts trail. Work with me here.

Oh Deer

If you thought I was above terrible puns, then you don’t know me at all, and I don’t know how you found this blog.

Despite having my music playing out loud, I apparently managed to surprise some deer while I was climbing Cold Springs. Now, the turtles… I can give them a pass, because I don’t imagine they were going to hear me and get out of the way very quickly. I don’t know what excuse these deer were using, but they let me get surprisingly close.

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(click for video) A curious deer near the top of Cold Springs with some spring tornado damage in the background.
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(click for video) This gal just hung out next to the trail. The list of times to have a scared animal bolt your direction is short to begin with, but while hiking up wet, flat rocks seemed especially bad, so I coached her a little bit.

Recovery

Although my knee didn’t love everything about today’s run, it did pretty well, and I’m encouraged. A good workout also deserves a good recovery, so I got acquainted with a Paramecium over at Straight to Ale on the way home.

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A little over 8 miles of the best kind of therapy around (and thanks to Lorelai for showing me Relive!).

Here’s hoping for many more adventures, two healthy knees, and more turtles in the second half of 2017!

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