Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Windy Wild Run

I awoke for the second time of the day to find that snow had started to cover over the couple of feet from the storm the weekend before and the wind was blowing so hard that the snow seemed to be blowing in from snow guns rather than falling from the sky. In other words, a perfect time to go for a run.
Earlier in the morning I had risen in order to drive my wife and kids to the airport so they could fly down to Florida to see my mother in law and her husband. That was really early, so I didn’t even bother to let Wild out of his crate when I got home, and headed straight to bed for a couple extra hours of sleep. Now it was light enough to get up and start to prepare for a good run.
I had taken him for a couple runs a little longer than he had been doing and so I decided that I would take him for my long run of the week. Now my long run of the week wasn’t anything like it was during my real training period, so I knew whatever I did for mileage it wasn’t going to be anything that Wild wouldn’t be able to handle at now his tender age of seven months.
A good cup of tea was in order before I headed out the door. This gave me sometime to think if I really wanted to run in this weather as gusts were not whistling but screeching past the windows. One good look at my little husky made me realize that this was just the kind of weather that he would absolutely love and so I picked out some of my best windproof gear while pumping a little caffeine into my system.
I hadn’t worn my Nathan pack since my fifty miler in October but I broke it out not to carry water or treats but ice grips. I decided to head out the door and follow the road to some nearby trails rather than drive to any other trails. Wild started to take our normal left hand turn for our runs but when I turned right he seemed a little excited to be doing something a little different. We made our way past all the shops and in a few minutes were entering the cemetery where a trailhead exists for a very surprising trail network.
Here I put on my ice grips while Wild waited patiently. The wind was drifting the snow as there were plenty of patches of visible slightly dirty glaciated snow then spots of fresh white crystals. We got to the woods and after but just a minute of still holding onto Wild’s leash I decided to let go. Let go instead of stopping to unhook and although I’m sure this leash will get damaged by dragging on the ground, I’ve always found it easier to pick up a leash when a dog runs away rather than trying to put one back on.
Wild moved ahead of me but was looking back at me and I was feeling really good about his behavior. I had his treats in my pockets and in my hands all ready to praise anything he does properly. And then of course he darts off the trail into the woods. I move ahead of him and give him a moment to catch up. Which he doesn’t. I call to him. He keeps his nose in the snow. I decide to gather him up and notice near the tracks that his furiously sniffing at there are drops of blood in the snow. I quickly look at him but there doesn’t seem to be anything noticeably wrong with him. I spot some unidentifiable tracks leading further into the woods with more spots of blood near them. I manage to grab the leash and with much vigor lead him back to the trail wondering what is was that left the blood spots. It had to be pretty fresh or I’m sure the snow of the last couple hours would have covered it more. But this was one mystery that I wasn’t going to attempt to solve and would leave that to Scooby-Do and his friends.
Wild was plenty happy to be running with me again and so after we turned at an intersection I let go of the leash again. I was pleased that I was able to run on these trails which were well packed down in only a weeks time. They certainly weren’t packed down enough to go anywhere near race pace but that’s not where I wanted to be anywhere.
Down a hill that put Wild a little farther ahead of me and then soon up a very steep hill that I like to call Brick Hill due to efforts by whomever helps maintain these trails that puts bricks on the trail to help stop erosion. Wild does well to follow the trail as it is packed almost smooth but then he spots something that no dog can resist. A squirrel! He darts after it and I call for him to come back, but no, not even his most favorite treat will keep him from having one of his first off leash chases. Of course the dumb squirrel doesn’t just climb the first available tree to get away from his pursuer. Fortunately, it isn’t too far but I still have to posthole through some snow to get to Wild who is now looking up and wondering if the rodent is ever going to come down.
After I coral my buddy we head up Brick Hill together and it isn’t too much farther before I decide to release the leash again. We move well together through the woods and I look at my watch for one of the first times, not for me but to make sure I really don’t push it on my friend.
After we cross over a small bridge rather than break through some ice covered by snow, we, well really, I need to make some route decisions. The trail I usually take up a hill has not been broken, one leading to my left is broken but means a longer run but the trail on my right is broken and means a slightly shorter run. I decide to take that knowing that my running partner after all is only seven months old and no matter which route I choose that this will be the longest run of his life.
Wild listens well when I tell him my decision on which way to go. He always almost seems to be more excited to change his direction and follow me when I go a different way than he thought. After a while more on the trail we come to a spot that I know is close to a couple houses. About a week and a half earlier I had been out here by myself and surprised to discover a sign on the trail. It was at the end of an old logging road where a turn to the right will have someone follow the trail but going straight for another fifty yards will put you into someone’s backyard. The trail appears that one should just go straight ahead and I always felt like it was a little known secret to turn right and experience a hidden trail. Now here was a homemade sign pointing to go right and stating that dogs should be leashed and kept off the homeowner’s property. I was aware of this new sign and request before I got close to it so I made sure I had a hold of Wild’s leash. I totally wanted to respect this landowner’s request for he or she may just be the one who maintains some of these trails, besides it was just the right thing to do.
It wasn’t too long before I released Wild again and we enjoyed running close to each other. He did get a little ahead when we came around to the intersection at the top of Brick Hill and although he started to dart down he did slow himself down once he found out that gravity can be a real bitch sometimes. I caught back up but then he decided to show off when we became to climb another hill. I knew we had less than a mile left before home, and I was feeling good about his condition as he was now really darting ahead of me but I just kept a slow steady pace not wanting to over excite him by making it seem like a game of chase.
At the next intersection Wild decided to follow our previous tracks by turning left when I wanted to go the other way. I could spot him although he was farther away from me than usual. I called to him and could see him react to my voice. I didn’t want to keep calling over and over again, so I ran on a little and soon saw him trying to take a shortcut through the deep snow rather than follow the trail back to me. Once he finally got back to me there was lots of praise and some treats.
Free leash again until we got near the cemetery then I grabbed hold again. The drifts that I noticed earlier were still drifting as my tracks from less than a half hour before where now non existent. The ice grips came off just before the road but I just held onto them versus putting taking the time in the driving wind to put them in my pack. The woods had blocked much of the wind but the snow had still managed to cling to most of my front side including my full beard.
The road wasn’t too clear and I started to second guess my decision to take them off especially when I saw one of Freeport’s finest spin his wheels trying to get up a hill. Less than half a mile later we are home and I’m giving Wild more praise and more treats in our driveway.
Certainly not my longest run ever at just over four miles but it still felt like an awesome little adventure by taking on some challenging weather and doing it with a little husky that hopefully be ready someday for some bigger miles.