I went out on a long run last Sunday with the idea that I was going to go 17 miles. I’m building up for this 50k at the beginning of April, and I want to get as many 20 milers under my feet before then. I thought this sounded reasonable, but apparently, the entire natural world disagreed.
So I packed up my shit and went down the road to the trails near my house.
Maybe like 3 days before, I procured a new pair of trail shoes. Some Salomon Sense Rides. They’re orange and blue. Fucking slick as all get out.
I was excited because I’d never had a pair of honest to god trail shoes before. I had slogged through mud in some Hoka Napalis (road version) which were fine, but on my last 15 miler, the narrowness had really put some gnarly blisters on the outside of my toes. Besides, I was slipping all up on those rocks and roots.
My oldest boy, a sage 9-year-old, said “dad, don’t do a long run in new shoes,” but I’m a dense old dumbass, unaware of my aging body. I mean, why ever would a frail old man struggle with running 17 miles in new shoes?
I Begin the Run
Everything’s going great. I was having a fucking blast. Then, mile 10 arrived. I was listening to 10 junk miles, chilling, laughing at these funny people make fun of other’s sufferings. Then it came.
I knew it at once. My old friend, the IT band. It had come to fuck me. Luckily, I was as FAR FROM MY CAR AS POSSIBLE at this moment. But whatever. I power through because crying alone on a dirt trail seemed beneath me?
The Porcupine Cometh
So I’m walking back. Note that I’m walking. Maybe I’m jogging a little. But real little. I’m about 11 miles in, 2 miles from my car on the loop that goes around the park. Each moment, I’m increasingly excited about getting to my car and ending this death march.
So I turn the corner, and there’s this thing in the middle of the trail. I figure it’s a dog. Sometimes people have their dogs off leash and they run ahead. No big deal.
But this animal is right in the middle of the trail, and it’s doing this weird dance. It’s like pawing or marching in place while methodically spinning in a circle. I inch up trying to look at it without drawing its attention. I even pull out my iPhone to see how good the zoom is on this fucker, trying to get a feel for what this devil dog thing is doing.
So I finally get close enough, and it’s a mother fucking porcupine! Things got pines. Weaponized animal. Probably more dangerous than a bear or mountain lion.
Anyway, I’m far enough away that I that this pronged beast doesn’t see me, but I’m stepping out into an open fire road. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with dogs and like, and I realize it’s either turn around undetected or bring the full force of my 150 lb frame down on this sucker.
Add to that my hurt knee, and the other way around is like 4 extra miles. I figure me and this rodent of usual size are gonna have to squabble.
I got a pocket knife and a micro container of pepper spray, so maybe I’m at an advantage? Emerging from the trail shadows, I release a guttural war cry to indicate my presence to the unholy beast, expressing my status as apex predatory.
It ignores me.
I throw a rock. Nothing.
I speculate the porcupine is either rabid or demonic and pass on the scrap. I turn my pathetic and broken ass around and march home, bested by the comic relief in a Pixar movie.
Feeling like Shit
A million years later I get to the car, go home. I compress up with my compression socks. Ice up my knee. Get angry.
Does this happen to you? A lot of times after a long run I’m kind of in a terrible mood. Apparently it’s a thing? Feral animals and ITBS aside, I just kind of get in a shitty mood? Probably because running is kind of terrible? Who knows.
We go to a Super Bowl party later, but I’m in a shitty mood cause that happens after a long run, So I just binge on cookies and beer.
On to next week with hopes of recovery.