Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Running Adventure From Last Summer.


I don't get frightened too often. In the last 50 years of my life, I can only remember being really scared maybe a dozen times... I mean scared enough that you think it is surely the end of your world as you know it and actually can smell death knocking. Tonight would turn out to be one of those times.

I had planned on running track last night but I ended up working late. I figured I would make it up tonight. Well I didn't feel like running around that black circle for 2 hours and besides it looked like rain was coming. On my way home, I decided to run in the woods instead. I love running in the woods and a light rain doesn't affect you as much there. There is a place called Pineland that used to be a home for the Mental retarded and now it is a huge complex. Some rich lady bought it and refurbished it. Now they grow vegetables and process milk, beef, all types of stuff. It is pretty much a working community farm. Anyway there are trails all through the woods and I have run a bunch of cross-country races there. There are literally 20 miles of trails going in all different directions, so plenty of variety.

I decide my workout will be 60 second sprints. This helps develop speed and trains the body to run on lactate as a fuel. Usually lactate will build up in the muscles and cause cramps as you use the standard ATP fuel from oxygen. So the thing to do is sprint extremely hard for 1 minute then walk until the heart rate is below 120, then sprint 1 minute again. You do this as long as you can stand it. It helps build speed and trains the body to recover faster.

Well, I'm in my fifth or sixth sprint and I hear this strange noise.......Kind of a deep, hollow, raspy but loud noise. Suddenly I "feel" a presence. I stop, remove my head phones and freeze in my tracks. The woods seemed to vibrate as the raspy sound engulfs me again. This time much louder and surely much closer. A lump forms in my throat and I can't seem to force it back down.

It was a strong feeling, I knew something was there. Something was in the woods. I was sure of it, suddenly, it was totally quiet. no birds, no wind but just eerie silence, well except for my heartbeat which was trying to pound it's way right out of my body. I looked at my watch, wow it read 240 HR. That can't be right? My max is about 190. At 240 I would probably be dead...I look around, scanning the woods. all I see is shadows. My heartbeat is so loud now that it seems to be echoing through the woods like a dog whistle and chanting "here boy!"

I feel hunted. Something was watching me and I racked my brain to figure out what to do. I assume by the noise, it had to be really big, like a bear or moose. At that moment I heard rustling to the left of me. I turn quickly and stare into the trees. The normal calming essence of the woods has now turned to pure fear. I am struck by the image of the mean trees in The Wizard Of Oz. Their branches appear to be reaching toward me. It seems so dark now. Was it always this dark? Were the shadows always this scary?

My world was slipping from me as I vision some animal using me to progress his own life. No one knew I was here. How would they know where to look? My brain went into overdrive. I am sure it has it's eyes locked on me and I am so sweaty....To a wild animal that would be the smell of supper. I thought about how it made me feel when I could smell a big juicy steak cooking on the grill......hhmmn, Is that how a sweaty human smells to some hungry animal?

I find myself disappointed as my instincts are telling me wise procedures, no escape. I know I can't run, as I just stopped sprinting so my energy level was low. I vision in my mind trying to outrun a bear or moose...I don't think so, I'm just not that fast. I look around quickly. What could I hide behind? Again I am disappointed. I am a man, I should be looking for a weapon, instead I am thinking retreat....You dummy, my brain screams, you know wild animals can smell fear! My thoughts start wandering. So what smart thing pops into my head? I have merely minutes to live and I think about the donut I decided not to eat earlier. Dam, I wish I had eaten it now. It looked so good....deep chocolate all covered in white powder. I wish I had it now, plus it would make a good desert for the meal I was going to be. (Hey, can I help it if I like to please?)

You know it is funny, I always thought my life would flash before my eyes and I would contemplate my shortcomings. Instead I wish I ate that damn donut! Again that raspy noise penetrates the silence! I turn and look to the left...I see shadows moving.....I fully expect a huge stupid moose to come pounding out of the woods and stomp his hoofs through my body. I would be no match for a 1000 pound moose. They are a strange animal, instead of getting scared and running away, they get mad and run toward you. I guess they aren't too worried because of their size. It is not hard to vision the damage those large hoofs would do as they tenderized my body for a tasty supper.

Suddenly, I hear a loud rumbling and rapid pounding...bushes rustling......I can feel the earth rotating under my feet and the air becomes extremely heavy...I feel every breath...Long slow in...long slow out...why can't I catch my breath. why is it so loud....when would someone find my mangled body, crushed into the dirt of the trail and hardly recognizable? A galloping sound struck my ears and it was disappearing! It ran away! It was gone and the shadows faded.

I wipe the sweat out of my eyes....Now I am glad I didn't eat that donut. The threat is gone and so is the fear. Why was I so scared? This is crazy. Was it really almost the last second of my life? Was I over reacting? I finished my run, 3 more miles and when I came out of the woods, A guy was running in.....would I read about him in the morning? Should I warn him? I stop and turn just in time to see him disappear into the woods.

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