Saturday afternoon, 80+ degrees and sticky, I was fed up of planting the 100 ostrich ferns that I had had delivered, and decided to go for a run in the woods. Following the recent disappearance of the inch-worms, I felt I had only to contend with my wobbly legs and 5 million ticks, so I sprayed up (tick guard, made in Southampton, NY, all natural, no DEET), grabbed a bottle, strapped on a heart rate monitor, scribbled a note for Dennis, and left.
Running from our house onto the newly cut section of the Blue trail, I marvelled at the sudden blossoming of the laurel, house height overnight it seemed, and my pace was stable but slow. I ran 8-or so minute miles enjoying the dramatic changes of the landscape from last week..Where the inch worms had eaten a hole in the canopy, the laurel thrived, exploding into lacy doily-like flowers for a spell. Heading 'round into Dry Gulch, the fescue grasses were deep green, tall and thick, the trail headed downhill and I gathered speed. Picking my way along the sandy singletrack, dodging the baby-head rocks, I was relaxing into the longer strides, not paying too much heed until I heard a squawk and a flap as I almost landed heel-strike on a baby wild-turkey, Mammy flapping off into the brush to my right, while baby, unharmed, ran to my left, under the ferns and disappeared. It took all of about 20 feet for Ma to regain her wherewithal, before turning a 180 degree U-ie, and heading straight for me..
Then it was my turn to squawk, dropping to 5:30 or so for the next 200 metres as I barrelled down the trail. The first thought in my head was of an NPR show from last winter, when some journalist was reporting about how these previously non-aggressive (waist-high) birds were now attacking humans.. My second thought referred to the previous week's mountain bike ride, when I deliberately chased one of these beasts down a trail, just for giggles, to see how fast they could run.. Well, with my fancy schmancy Gary Fisher Rig and its 38 x 19 single speed gear, this turkey outran me.. and those muscley legs were foremost in my mind as I pegged it up a hill, dodging laurel branches, hopping over fallen logs..
I listened for flapping, expecting blood and guts any second, then slowed to a jog when nothing came. Panting, I checked my watch. HR 175.. Jen (my coach, my buddy) would be delighted. I wondered how long I could have kept that up for.
Shelter Island 10k race next weekend. I think it is a road race. I hope so. I don't think my poor heart could stand the excitement of a repeat.
Maybe I should start trail running with more equipment..
(Pistol practice at Maidstone Gun club range this winter..)