Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

video

We've had rain for the last week! It should clear up tomorrow. Either that or Noah is surely somewhere on the horizon. . .

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fickle Fear

I'm happy to report that my knee is much better this week. I haven't had any pain on our last two hikes, which is a huge improvement from where I was just a few days ago. While I'm still avoiding major hills, keeping things short, and still make a conscious effort at walking downstairs, I feel like I'm finally healing. Thanks for everybody's good wishes and for your concern. While finances won't allow for a PT right now, I trust myself to listen to my body, knowing what's too much, when medical attention isn't optional, etc. Right now, I feel good about my progress and know that I'm just dealing with a stickler injury that's going to take time to heal.

With Kona getting less trail time, a change in
her behavior has become more pronounced. "Outside," use to be one of Kona's favorite words. It was in fact the only word that could wake her from her slumber. The yard was a sanctuary where she chased squirrels, helped garden, basked in the sun. In short, it was one place where she was not fearful, where she seemed like a normal dog.

For about a month now, Kona has been afraid of the yard. Or, probably more accurately stated, she becomes afraid when she's in the yard. So much so that she jumps up and down at the fence, trying to escape. While different neighborhood noises have always had the potential to spook Kona, she's never had this kind of reaction. Ever. It's truly been a night and day change. Kona's fears have manifested differently and to different degrees before, but I've never experienced such a drastic change in her before. I'm at a loss.

And I'm feeling heartbroken. The best way I can describe it is imagine one of your favorite activities you share with your dog. Now imagine your dog being terrified of her old favorite thing. With Kona, having so few "safe" places and things makes this sting all the more.

While this has been going on for awhile, It's been more in my face now because I don't have "outside time" to help get Kona's energy out.

*I'm trying to piece together what's happened. Kona's not afraid of the yard itself, but by noises she's hearing in the neighborhood. I first noticed Kona's panicked reaction at the end of August when new neighbors moved in three houses away. They have two young kids, and Kona would go into full flight mode when she heard them while we were outside. But, she only acted scared when she heard the kids. (While kids have always had the ability to really scare Kona, this particular reaction is far worse than anything I've seen before while she's in the yard).

*School started back in the middle of September. The elementary school is at a distance where I can hear muffled kid noises if I'm outside during lunchtime (and really stop to listen).

*During the first week of November, our nextdoor neighbor went back to work and a nanny started coming over to take care of her three month old son. (Kona only ever showed curiosity about the newborn, never fear, but she did seem concerned that a new adult was around when the nanny arrived).

*The bad, generalized yard fear seemed to start (or notch up several degrees) one morning in early November. I stood at the gate to the yard with a cup of tea in my hands when Kona turned briskly around and ran back to the back door. She looked at me with the expression she gives me when I've "done something wrong." I thought I might have spilled some of my hot tea on her. (Still not sure if I did).

Soooo...my best guess is that her fear started with the new neighbors, then with the added school sounds and the changes happening next door her fear went from specific (new neighbor kid sounds) to generalized (nearly any sound). It's so bad now that she actually paces the yard, seeming to anticipate something scary. She can't relax while she's outside.

I've been trying to keep upbeat, with my bum knee already making me feel bummy, so haven't written about this new fear change. But it's been dragging me down lately as I have no clue how to help Kona. She's so instantly over-the-top freaked when she hears something that I don't think any kind of counter-conditioning or other go-to fearful protocols will do any good.

Please send some courage to my Kona Dog.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ping Pong

Brrrrr! It's feeling like Winter out here. I had to document our below average temperatures, as our days for caps and gloves are few and far between. (Now all of you with real Winters, I give you permission to chuckle). Look! Frozen grass!
With the rise of the new season came the resurrection of Kona's 30 foot leash. How she transforms with room to romp and explore! Our recent outings have gone like this:

The morning sits quiet, the sun hovering on the horizon.
Out from the slope of the canyon springs a Kona Dog.
With a flying leap, she lands on top of a rock wall.
She then makes a joint-cringing jump off the wall, springs back across the trail and back down the canyon (then repeat). Who needs coffee at sunrise? Just plug into the four legged ping pong ball!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Taste of Winter

I bundled up in fleece pants, down jacket and fuzzy gloves. Sure, I'm a cold-blooded Southern Californian but with temperatures in the 30's, I felt justified. Koan and I headed to Kona's favorite trail. The trailhead was empty of cars, a rarity after sunrise. I wondered if the threatening clouds kept our fellow hikers inside.
The weekend brought another Fall rain and the first dusting of snow on our lower peaks. I can't remember so much green this early in the season. In fact, I remember several years when the foothills never changed from their Summer brown hue.
The high peaks to our North held onto their snow cover. While the closer ridgelines sit at lower elevations and rarely get snow, the clouds provided a special winter cloak.
Heading up the trail with trekking poles to support my knee, Kona nearly spun with energy. We explored every flat nook and cranny we could find. I can only walk down a certain downgrade, which significantly limits where and how far we can hike. Taking advantage of the extra exploring helps Kona use up more energy plus, she loves exploring.
Despite having to hobble some, Kona kept a smile on my face. She was a genuine spazz. Her energy level exploded to the point of losing her self control. She seized my moment of slow reaction time to pounce another dog. Fortunately, Kona's pounce victim was a forgiving lab. I knew the lab wasn't too bothered, as she stuck close by, despite being off leash. While the lab turned away from Kona to sniff the ground, Kona looked at her from the corner of her eye. I saw the gleam in her eye grow, followed by a goofy grin. Thankfully, Kona's second pounce turned into a playbow.
As we headed toward the car, Kona still had a bounce and a half in her step. I knew I hadn't done much to wear her out. Some of you asked what's going on with my leg. I suppose without an MRI, I can't be certain but I'm pretty sure I have a wickedly inflamed and unhappy IT band. IT band syndrome is a common overuse injury and I'm sure some of you know the debilitating pain. I delt with IT band problems a year ago but I'm concerned about the level of pain I have. While IT band syndrome pain usually subsides when you stop running, I have pain while I walk and even if I sit or sleep "wrong." Unlike some running aches that I can push through, I can't even imagine running at this point.

I'm really trying to keep my chin up but boy oh boy, I have a hard time being around myself when I haven't had a good workout. I know the coming weeks will be a balance of trying to heal and getting Kona the exercise she desperately needs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

While the Human's Resting

A message from Kona Dog:

While my human's leg doesn't work, I'm helping with her rehab. I prep the ace bandages (please excuse my Koney-hairs that flew in front of the camera),
fend off wild animals (you may not think this has anything to do with rehab but you could imagine how hard it would be to focus on getting better when you have to worry about leopards. Don't worry, I took care of the lobster and crab too),

and even deliver her socks with new ventilation holes. I thought I was doing good work but she keeps saying something about me having too many energies.

I hope her leg gets better. I don't know if I'm cut out for this rehab job.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Burning Some Energy

Kona has been bursting at the seams with energy. She hasn't gotten out for a real run in over two weeks now. Add in my pre-race taper, when we spent less time on the trails, and you get a steaming fuse. Unfortunately, I did a real number on my body by making a couple big marathon training mistakes, one being running very few miles on the road. I'm doing what I can to speed up my recovery, but I'm worried that it may be weeks before we run again or even go for a proper hike.

To try and give Kona a good workout, we packed up on Monday and drove to the beach.

This was Kona's third beach visit and she enjoyed it as much as her previous trips. True to Kona form, she was a nervous wreck getting out of the car and down to the water, but once there, she relaxed quickly.

Kona doesn't pay much attention to birds at home but they're the most exciting thing in the world at the beach. She tore up and down the sand, in desperate pursuit, always coming up empty handed.
I picked the quiet corner of the shoreline to let Kona run on her long line. Despite being midday during the work week, other beach goers walked by our spot continuously. I signaled Kona away from the water to create space between us and the potentially scary strangers.
Kona became nervous a few times when families or groups of people walked by but she never had a problem recovering. (The birds help tremendously).
The return to the car turned Kona into a runaway freight train. She was more nervous than she's been in a long time. To my surprise, she did eat all the treats I gave her after she jumped into her crate.

Instead of fighting afternoon traffic, I decided to take Kona to a friend's apartment to wait out rush hour. I also thought it would be a good challenge, without a lot of pressure, for Kona. Nobody was home and the building was quiet. Unfortunately, Kona did not take the new environment well. I packed fun toys, treats, a kong with canned dog food, a bone and her coveted stuffed lobster. Nothing helped calm or distract her. While in her crate, she kept a close eye on me. Any movement from me brought her to her feet, eyes huge, worried about me leaving.

After an hour and a half with Kona becoming progressively more nervous, I decided it was better to deal with traffic than to keep Kona so stressed. On the way out, she pulled on her leash like death itself was after us. The trip reminded me just how much Kona cannot handle people environments. I felt sad and frustrated. I don't like being reminded how challenging fearful dogs can be and how way out of the ballpark Kona's fears are.

On the drive home, I reminded myself that we did have fun,
but we might just stick to the beach next time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NYC Marathon: Part 2

The first few miles flew by quickly. I tried to master passing other runners without expending too much energy. As I zigged around people, hopped over sweaters and plowed over water cups, I suddenly felt like my trail running would serve as an advantage. Only in a swarm of 45,000 runners does road running become so technical.

Unfortunately, by mile 5, I knew that all my trail time might become a curse. My feet started to hurt. So did my ankles. But with the force of runners pushing me from behind and the line of spectators becoming thinker along the sidelines, there was only energy to move forward. I ate my first energy gel and took a deep breath.

Around the same time I noticed the twinges in my feet and ankles, Mother Nature payed me a surprise visit. Yup, marvelous timing. While I came prepared, finding a place to take care of business in the middle of the largest running races in the world, with port-o-potties only every few miles, became quite the task. So while I no longer thought about my feet, I did think about how I could only last for so long in my free and flimsy running shorts. Without a bathroom in sight, I made a dash down the ramp of an apartment building and hoped nobody would come out of the front door.

Back on the road, I found my rhythm again. I ended up using a few different people and groups to help me keep my pace. I picked out two tall men wearing bright orange shirts as my first targets. They ran with a steady gait, so I decided to keep them in sight. As they paced ahead of me a few yards, another man kept popping up at my side. He also looked strong, so I should have been happy that I kept running into him, except that he was wearing this beeping machine to keep him on pace.

BEEP beep beep. BEEP beep beep. BEEP beep beep.

And I couldn't lose him. Just when I thought I might pull my hair out from all the beeping, we hit another hill. We were just about at the halfway marker and I lost it. All at once, everything hurt. My feet, ankles, quads. They were shot. I started to shuffle and got dropped by the beeping man. I was glad that the hill wasn't long, but got really nervous when I reached the crest and descended the other side and things didn't get easier. That's when I ran into the worse spectator sign of the day. A man stood on the corner, with a sign over five feet tall. In bold letters it read,

GO RUNNERS. YOU'RE HALFWAY THERE!

Halfway there? My body just fell apart and I'm only halfway there?

The only thing I could do was to keep running. I started focusing all my energy on my stride. Just keep turning it over AC. Don't worry about the finish, take care of this mile. Each water station became a mental checkpoint. Alright, you did it. Now turn it over until the next station.

That's how it went until I hit the bridge leaving Queens. The bridge was long and steep. With spectators prohibited on the bridges, the cheering and music faded into footsteps and breathing. I was truly shuffling and hurting. A man ran up behind me, moving way too fast for how badly I felt. He read the back of my shirt that said, "Run like and animal," and shouted at me,

"Run like an animal!"

I tried my best to smile, through I was dumbfounded by his energy.

"Come on," he continued. "What kind of animal are you?"

A dying one, was all that came to mind, but I only managed another smile.

"You're a cheetah. Common. Run like a cheetah."

And with that, he was gone and I was left to shuffle. As we hit the highest point on the climb and the bridge began to even out, I could hear the crowd in the distance. A huge line of spectators waited at the end of the bridge, cheering with more energy than a double shot espresso. From a distance, it sounded like I put my ear to a seashell, the whoosh of noise like the sea, becoming more pronounced with each step.

After an eternity, I rounded the corner off the bridge and the cheering erupted all around. I hugged the inside of the road in order to take fewer steps around the corner and to stay away from the spectators. I was in no mood to be cheered.

And that's when I was reminded of a couple things. First, when I'm really not feeling well, I don't like being cheered up. "You're looking good!" Well no, actually, I'm not. I just wanted to suffer alone, not with a crowd yelling at me, which brings me to my second reminder. I'm really sensitive to loud noise. So much so that before I bought a new vacuum, I had to wear earplugs to clean the floors because the roar of the old machine made me shudder. Suddenly, the famous NYC Marathon spectators were really bothering me. I felt a bit guilty, a bit Grinch-like. But really, are air horns necessary?

When I came to the 18 mile marker, I was being dropped right and left by other runners. My stomach turned over and I worried that I'd soon have nausea added to my bag of ick. I took deep breaths to settle my insides. Around mile 19, I heard the best shout-out from the sidelines.

"Yay Fatties! Go Fatties!"

I was wearing a shirt with the Team Fatty logo, the team I was running with to raise money for LIVESTRONG. For those unfamiliar with Fatty's story, his blog started as cycling posts and weight loss stories, woven with Fatty-style humor. After his late wife's breast cancer returned, he continued to blog about cycling but also also shared his wife and family's struggle as they waded through Susan's diagnosis and then her passing in 2009.

A result of Fatty's vulnerability is a readership who equally hates cancer, loves bicycles (with the occasional runner mixed in) and is ready to jump at the opportunity to support any of it's members. I got to experience that support at mile 19.

"Yay Fatties!"

I looked over my shoulder to see a lineup of Fat Cyclist sweatshirts, with flailing arms in them, cheering for me. I didn't know any of their names, but it was like seeing a mob of friends. I suddenly felt special. Maybe I was doing well. Maybe I was looking strong. I stood a little taller, threw my arms in the air, and for the first time in miles, had a smile involuntarily take over my face. I was recharged. At least for a few yards.

I was quickly knocked out of my happy place when I rounded a corner to three young kids, maybe nine years old. They all stood with their hands extended, offering high fives. I edged their way, my arm extended, when one of them yelled, "Only seven more miles to go!" With each step making a statement on my body, nothing sounded further away than seven miles.

For the first time in the race, I ran into another Fatty member. She asked me how I was doing.

"Terrible!" I replied (though it was really more like, "Teeeeerible!!!")

"What hurts?" she hollered.

"Eeeeverything!!!"

I started relying on my arms to propel me forward, swinging them hard to compensate for my dud legs. When I finally lifted my head enough to see the cheering crowd, I spotted the perfect pick-me-up sign:

CHAFE NOW. BRAG FOREVER

That one was followed by:

DON'T WORRY, BEER MISSES YOU TOO

And my favorite one of all:

YOU STILL HAVE A REALLY LONG WAY TO GO!

Now that's more like it. The cheerleading wasn't helping much, but my sense of humor was still intact--a good sign.

The mile markers seemed further and further apart but I finally made it into the last turn of Central Park. I could see the mile 26 sign. I pulled all my strength into my legs and cursed whoever thought is was a good idea to have a marathon finish on an uphill. 300 yards, 200 yards, 100 yards. I threw my hands in the air. I made it.

I never felt so happy about being able to walk. I made my way to the medal area where I picked out a volunteer who wasn't just handing out medals, but placing them around finisher's necks. I took a medal from her because that seemed fitting. As I passed more medal volunteers, one woman grabbed my forearm with both hands, looked me in the eye and said, "congratulations." I never felt so grateful for the recognition of a stranger.

Filing out of Central Park took over an hour. By the time I picked up my extra clothes, fatigue swamped my body. I pulled off to the side with other runners to put on my warms layers. I held my bag in my hands and surveyed the floor, wondering if I would be able to bend over to open my bag if I put it on the ground. A German man standing next to me seemed to read by bewilderment. He grabbed my bag out of my hands and held it open for me as I pulled out my pants and jacket.

On the way to the subway, three different people stopped me to congratulate me. I felt the satisfaction of complete fatigue; body, mind and emotion; setting into me. After what felt like an eternity and a half, I made it to the subway.

As I stepped off the train at 42nd, the buzz of Manhattan swirled around. Coats and scarves flew by toward evening destinations. Walking in the opposite direction, I spotted a man wrapped in the silver space blanket they gave us at the finish line. He appeared to be from Europe, perhaps where subways are places to move and greeting reserved for friends. We caught each other's eyes through the buzz of commuters and travelers. He lifted his head and flashed a small smile. His clenched hand moved from under his blanket, and he gave a fist pump in the air. I pulled my hand from under my silver blanket and threw my fist in the air--our gesture of solidarity.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NYC Marathon: Part 1

I packed my sleeping kit carefully: Fleece blanket, doughnut pillow, silk eye mask, ear plugs. I booked a red eye to New York on Friday, knowing well that the night before the night before the marathon would be my most important night to rest. Pre-race jitters would keep Saturday's sleep unsettled, so I needed a good rest two days out. The only problem? I don't sleep on planes.

With the best preparation in place (including soft pants and borrowing one of Kona's L-Theanine capsules), I touched down at JFK at 5:30 AM with four tossing and turning eye-shut hours behind me.

I surfaced from the subway in Manhattan with my head spinning with fatigue. The morning didn't offer much rest. I met fellow Fatties at Niketown and sped walked to the convention center to pick up my race materials. Through heavy eyes I tried to process all the sights. Skyscrapers sat next to old world cathedrals. Men and women in scarves and black coats line the sidewalks as a mass of florescent-clad runners took over the streets for an organized 5k.
By the afternoon, I battled to focus on my subway map. I met two friends on the north side of Central Park. They waved energetically to catch my attention, helping to jolt me awake. We spent the afternoon site seeing until my eyes couldn't handle more. After dinner with the Fatties, I crashed.

4AM came quickly. My hostel was already abuzz with other runners as we downed our cereal and bagels. I caught my 5:30 bus to Staten Island to begin the 5 hour wait before my 10:40 start time. I realized there was a perk to arriving so early--tent space. The waiting area had two giant tents that sheltered runners from the morning wind. I took my space by the door. As more runners arrived, the tent quickly filled up, heating the indoor space up several degrees and warding off the shivers.

I found myself sitting shoulder to shoulder to a man from Strasbourg, France. I lived in Strasbourg during college. The next couple hours paced along in a mix of French and English, covering mostly important running topics--port-o-potties, shoes, toilette paper.

Before I knew it, we were lined up at the start. Frank Sinatra blared from overhead speakers.

Start spreading the news
I'm leaving today
I wanna be a part of it

New York, New York


The mass of runners inched forward.

These vagabond shoes
They're longing to stray

Right through the very heart of it

New York, New York


I adjusted the energy gels I strapped to my wrist and pulled my cap down on my head. I could see the bridge ahead of us, rising up and away from Staten Island.

I want to wake up in the city
That doesn't sleep

And find I'm king of the hill

Top of the heap

For the first time since I arrived, nervous energy rushed from my head to my toes. All the training, all the fundraising, the e-mails, the ice packs, the planning. This was it.

My little town blues
They're melting away

I'm gonna make a brand new start of it

New York, New York


I double checked my shoelaces. The gun fired and the crowd of runners moved more quickly. I wiggled my numb toes and stretched my stride. We were running now. The paces flew by too fast and as I looked up, I crossed the starting line.

If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere

It's up to you

New York, New York!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ouchy!

I made it to the finish line! There will be a two day race report to come but I wanted to let everyone know that I'm alive. Thanks for all the comments of encouragement and for all the new friends who dropped by to wish me luck. I dug into all your cheers and kind words when I hit mile 16 and needed to stop cursing the world.

I'm home with two thrashed legs and an unhappy knee. The worse ouch of the weekend came yesterday evening after getting off the plane. My mouth exploded with pain and I rushed in for an emergency root canal this afternoon (thus the delayed race write-up). I'm hoping to finally get a normal night's sleep tonight. Kona Dog is bursting with energy and could use a well recovered human.

More to come. . .

Friday, November 5, 2010

And I'm Off!

My bag is (almost) packed as I get ready to hit the airport in just a few hours. It's been a long time since I've flown or gone to a new city by myself. While I'm pretty comfortable with a new adventure, the travel anxieties have kicked in.

I've tried to prep for today over the course of a couple days to avoid last minute panic and to try and keep things as normal as possible for Kona. Some of you asked what Kona will be up to while I'm in New York. (Our friend Mayzie even invited Kona over for a beer. Mayzie has a thing for beer). Lucky for Kona, she'll get to stay at home with my parents. My parents adore her and she loves them, so it works out well.

Dogs make you think twice about travel. You have to find pet friendly places to stay or find a place to board while you're away. Traveling becomes more precarious with a fearful dog like Kona. Boarding her is not an option. Up until a few months ago, I wouldn't have trusted her with a pet sitter coming to the house. I now feel like there are a couple people who could come to the house in a real emergency to take care of Kona. That feels huge! All the same, I'm so grateful to have my parents to help out.

Thankfully, Kona doesn't have any separation anxiety. I've had to be away for work on a number of occasions, so I'm getting better about not having separation anxiety.

Now I'm off to buy ear plugs, an eye mask and a watch battery.

I'll be back on Monday with a weekend report. Kona will be well rested and ready for more trail adventures!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maaaaaaaaah!!

That's my nervous cry. It's less than three days before I'm on a plane, headed to New York. Maaaaaah!! Less than five days before I'm at the start line of the New York City Marathon!

And here's my final plea for donations! I'm oh, so close to my $3500 fundraising goal. As I've mentioned before, I've *promised* to raise this money for LIVESTRONG. The LIVESTRONG brigade will soon be after me, stealing me Triplets of Belleville mafia style, hooking me up to some stationary running contraption to power a video game. (Great movie, BTW, if you need a good evening diversion. Strange, French, cycling humor. Good fun). Anyway, I'm hoping there's someone out there that's thought about donating but hasn't gotten around to it. Please, don't delay. Head over to my fundraising page here. No donation is too small and every dollar helps fund the cancer snubbing services that LIVESTRONG brings to cancer patients around the globe.

Back on the trail, the sky also exploded with enthusiasm this morning.
The eruption of colors matched my energy well as Kona and I headed out for a jog.

Kona was just as lively, taking every opportunity and every inch of leash to dig,
sniff (notice there's nary a clear Kona picture),

climb,
descend.
I tried to slow the crazy pup just enough the take in the new day.

I'm off to look at a map of Manhattan. More race week updates in the next couple days!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back to the Peak

Today marked the return to our local peak. We abandoned this trail in late spring when the foxtails took over. The narrow single track with steep climbs and drop offs gave little room for Kona to avoid trouble with those barbed seeds.

This morning, I waited until dawn before arriving at the trailhead. I don't like to run alone with Kona in our forest before sun-up. I'm sure the big predators aren't any less active when we arrive at sunrise but having more light gives me peace of mind.
Because the trailhead sits on a street with through traffic, there's always more activity compared to our neighborhood trails. Subsequently, Kona has more trouble moving from the car to the trail. Unfortunately, the street was abuzz with pre-work activity and Kona was a freight train out of the car.

Right after getting off the street we ran into a pack of dogs. Two were still leashed and walking down a different trail and the other three were close to the entrance. I knew right away that the smallest of the off leash dogs was going to be trouble. Poor Kona was stressing and this little dog got all in her face, huffing and puffing. While the two big dogs were no trouble at all, this little guy would not let us move. He got snarly every time I tried to move around them. I gave their human a firm shout out, "Call your dogs."

She did, and not one of them looked up. While the human kept walking away, yelling for her dogs, the little dog kept at Kona. I finally tried body blocking him. When that didn't work, I gave him a strong poke-shove. Voila! He got the picture and moved away enough for us to get by. Yikes. While I don't condone using physical force on a dog. . .well, don't mess with my Kona.

Starting up the trail, I was both peeved and pissed. Why does someone bring a pack of dogs with no off leash skills and questionable social skills and let them run loose in an area with coyotes, mountain lions, deer, not to mention other dogs?

(Deep breath AC. Enjoy the sky.)

I stayed dissociated for awhile, flustered about the dog encounter. Before I knew it, we were at the mile marker. I was shocked how easy those first few minutes felt. At 2.5 miles, the run to the peak isn't especially long but it is all uphill and usually leaves me huffing and puffing. Not today! My legs felt strong and the climb (dare I say) felt easy. I felt a smidgen more confident about my marathon training.

Kona pulled out in front. She always seems nervous on this trail. I knew by her active nose that she wasn't that stressed but she did look all business. When I stopped to take pictures, Kona stood at full alert, sometimes looking worried about movement down canyon.
The ridge above us came closer and closer as we ran each switchback towards our peak. The forest just beyond the ridge was destroyed in last year's massive fire. Kona and I peaked into the burn area earlier in the year and it was truly a sight. Because the forest is so steep and rocky, the burn area will be closed indefinitely to keep hikers safe from landslides. I'm grateful that we still have trails to run.
We continued to make good time and made it to the peak at a record pace. As is tradition on this run, I let Kona pull me around the flat vista. Her nose worked double time, sounding like a vacuum.
Kona zig-zagged around the foundation of an old resort. While fires took the luxury destination years ago, remnants of the past still remain.
Before leaving, Kona stood at the edge of the old entrance steps, the city sprawled below her.
As winds kicked up, Kona stuck her nose in the air, edging too close for my comfort to the drop off just beyond her paw. It was time to get moving again.
As we started our descent, I was reminded how much I enjoyed our peak trail. Running downhill can be miserable, except when the terrain is just steep enough, just technical enough, just fast enough to feel like a rollercoaster! Once I convinced Kona to stay behind me, there was no braking. I turned up my proprioception to save my ankles and let gravity work.

I felt like I had springs in my shoes. We zigged around rocks and snapped around switchbacks. Kona's feet were fast at work behind me. Before I knew it, we passed the trailhead and headed toward the street.

Kona, the poor stressball, started hesitating. I kept running. I've yet to find anything to ease Kona's nerves when we approach streets, so I figured we might as well make it to the safety of the car sooner than later. As soon as I opened the car door, Kona made a flying leap into her crate. Safe!

So the beginning and end of our peak adventure weren't great but there was good stuff smooshed in the middle.