TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Countryside Run

The thermometer read 20f degrees when I stepped outside this morning just as the sun began to cast its glow into dark skies.  I wrapped myself up pretty good (except for my legs), packed a breakfast of dried fruit and nuts, strapped on the water and headed out the door for a run.  Oh ya, I was wearing my road shoes too, for I wanted to venture off the ranch and into the countryside.

Actually, I planned on a ranch loop first thing, but with all those coyotes barking away, like they were running through the fields having a grand ole’ time, I decided to do a quick run on only well-defined ranch trails before hitting the road. 

The small stock pond was about half frozen over.  The wind blew cold.  My face took it pretty well because I brought a scarf to wrap and close everything off but my eyes, if need be.  My legs were the really cold parts.  But after about a quarter mile, I really didn’t mind the cold legs.

Bundled up for my countryside run

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That’s not snow on the ground, it’s iceCIMG8302

A quick shot before I ran off the ranchCIMG8297

And so I continued my run along the lonely county roads of Erath County, Texas.  I waved at my mother and father-in-law as they drove in from town for their morning newspaper.  I hoped that I didn’t worry them running out on the road so early in the morning.  I came upon very few cars for the first several miles.  And every driver that I saw, waved, just like they were my in-laws.  I waved back. 

I ran simply taking it all in, snacking here and there on my breakfast.  I stayed in the now, I kept the past and present out of mind.  Good thing.  A fox crossed my path so quickly, I barely knew what to think of her graceful movement.  Her tail was long and fluffy, darker than her brown body.  She resembled a wild cat, but in no way carried itself in that sleek cat-like manner, not to mention her torso was much too low to the ground.  I knew she was no domesticated dog for sure, too delicate and as I mentioned above, graceful.

Cattle out to graze saw me as I ran those endless county roads and they began running – in the same direction I ran.  I had to laugh at that sight, me running along the road with fifty or so cattle running along on the other side of a fence.  I never saw another runner though.  That’s of course, not to say there weren’t people running this morning in Erath County.  The county is so immense and sparse at the same time, the chances of coming across another runner outside of town are just too slim.

Lonely county road of Erath County

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Cattle ready to dart at the sight of me

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I was surprised how thirsty I grew running in such cold weather.  I was surprised also that the water in my drinking tube was frozen (I quickly felt for the water in my pack, relieved that it was not frozen and worked on the tube until I finally got it flowing.)

Apprehensive over running past the junkyard that I ran by 2 years ago, I was greatly relieved that no junkyard dog roamed the premises threatening to take a chunk out of me.  I still carried that pepper spray, you can be sure.  And then, some time past the junkyard, I heard a little jingle, jingle, jingle.  I took an anxious look behind me to see a gorgeous brown Pointer running seemingly happily right along with me.  She was a beauty with those big brown floppy ears.  And just like that, she was off as I ran onward, curious to see where this county road lead.

I ran past orchards, a dairy farm, hay farms, ranches and farm houses.  I saw the Texan star displayed proudly, along with the American flag and signs that read, “Pray for America.”  And then at the bend in the road, I came upon another farm with a quaint white house and detached garage with a giant Texan star on top.  The unfenced yard had with no less than five big barking dogs who promptly ran off the property, crossed the road and charged right at me with vicious barks and teeth snarling. 

“Okay, okay,” I told myself.  “Remain calm.  Don’t do anything different.  Don’t race ahead.  Don’t stop.  Don’t even let your heart speed up.”  I smiled and said, “Good Girl!  Good Boy!”  and kept on running my same pace.  They left me in about a minute.  But that was a minute way, way too long.  I told myself that this would definitely not be an out-and-back run today.  Somehow, I needed to make this run a loop; I did not want to face those dogs again.

Soon after that, I hit a farm road.  Farm roads are much busier and faster than county roads out here.  They have lines painted down the middle to separate two lanes.  And they have nice big easements along them to run in.  I ran in this easement, against traffic, as an occasional car raced by at sixty plus miles a hour.  So determined to not meet those mean doggies again, I kept running along the icy grass easement.  My feet felt cold, while I hoped to eventually hit the main farm road that lead to the county road that the ranch is on, making this run a loop.

At the two hour mark and not seeing any sign of the farm road I needed, I turned back.  My feet were wet.  The wind blew strong and cold.  And worse yet, I had to pass those dang dogs again.  Perhaps they just needed to smell me the first time I ran past.  I hoped I wouldn’t be a stranger to them this time around.

Well, I was a stranger to them this time around.  They charged me again.  The biggest, pit-bull looking dog came up on me fast and furious, the others close behind.  I really thought the attack was on.  I desperately didn’t want to pepper spray them, so I continued my “Good Dog!” bit and ran on, smiling like a fool.  Then finally the owner of the house, a little white-haired lady stepped out the front door and called her dogs back to her.  They promptly left my side and surrounded the woman on her porch.  I waved to the lady, said good morning.  I almost wanted to apologize for disturbing her!!  If I was back home in The O.C., I would have been extremely angry at the owner for letting such scary dogs roam fenceless.  But this ain’t the city Sister!  This is the country, where there’s sometimes a mile between houses and coyotes roam the fields in enormous packs. 

The remainder of my countryside run was uneventful, though beautiful.  My Pointer friend even joined me again for a short portion (she was a doll!)  Uneventful, I say, except for the fact that a strong cold wind blew hard against me and my feet were by then sopping wet from melted ice.  It was lovely still, though I did cut my run short about 5 miles.

Returning “home” on my countryside run (county road below)

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Miles logged:  15.15

+1,079 feet

My Activities stephenville, tx 12-27-2010

2 comments:

  1. Love the run report. I was scared of the dogs even from this end of my computer! Must have been tough to run by them a second time.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your visit in Texas!

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  2. Thanks Trail Jogger. Dogs aren't something I have to deal with in my parts. But I still love Texas! ps. it was very, very tough to run past the dogs the second time : ( Overall though, I had a great time running in Texas (eventough I didn't get to "hit" the trails) Happy New Year!

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