You never know what you are going to run into when trail running. And it's usually not what you expect. Last week I logged 21 miles and encountered a rattle snake, a tarantula, a coyote, a deer, and a few rabbits. None of these really even startled me...well maybe the rattle snake because I didn't see him until I almost stepped on him. But so far, no real life-threatening encounters.
I've even been running in the mountains after dark. I wasn't really my intention but I'm going on longer runs now and if I leave too early, it's too hot. But then if I leave too late in the afternoon it turns dark on me. At least I brought a flash light with me the last time I went. The one advantage is the incredible views at the top of the mountain. My run from La Tuna Canyon brings me high up to the radio towers. From there you can see all of Burbank, downtown LA, Sunland, and Tujunga. Sunsets are gorgeous up there and the city lights are really cool looking.
But today I encountered the unexpected. A vicious dog. To me, dogs are actually more scary than coyotes. The coyote I encountered didn't have any interest in me. But the dog needs to prove something.
This particular dog lives in a house off the fire trail so he is pretty isolated. Normally he is behind the gate and I remember this dog as being the one dog I wouldn't want to come face to face with. He had always seemed to be the one that would go for the kill had he been let out. Well today his gate was open. He was running up to me barking incessantly. I didn't even have time to think about what to do. Some instinct told me to just validate him. So I started saying "good boy, good dog," in a very cheerful tone of voice without any sign of fear whatsoever. Actually I didn't even have time to be afraid. He didn't attack me. Hmmm. But I noticed that as he was barking at me, he had his eyes on my wrists. It's like he wanted me to reach for him so he could chomp on them. I got the message and kept my wrists up high, away from his mouth. He was drooling. He really wanted to bite me but he seemed confused. I kept really good eye contact with him and slowly started moving again, continuing to validate him with "good dog." Once I got around the corner, I spotted his owner who yelled to his dog. While he was distracted I quickly made my escape, sprinting away from the situation.
Luck was on my side again. I realized that I applied the principal of "happy thoughts" and that it worked--a successful action to remember.... And the best news of all was that I PR'd (personal record) on this particular run. It was only 4.1 miles, but I wanted to see how fast I could do it. Time was 42:06, 22 seconds faster than the last time I ran it. My longer runs are really helping speed up my shorter runs. And yes, 4.1 miles seems short to me now. Funny, I wouldn't have thought that a few months ago. Pretty soon 10 miles will seem short, then 15, then a marathon! I just have to keep finding longer trails. At least there are an abundance of them here in California.
However, my flight to Florida is on Sunday. I'll be there for 9 weeks. The only wildlife I'll have to worry about there are the careless drivers who aren't used to crazy runners like me running around town. When possible I'll hit the beach barefoot to avoid them....