Friday, May 21, 2010

Falling Up

It takes talent to fall while running uphill, at three miles per hour. I've got talent.

Kona and I headed to the Peak this morning. It's been far too long since we've gone for a run with a sustained climb. I have a race on the calendar for the end of the summer, so it was time to get out for a challenge.

My legs let me know that they have been underutilized on our relaxed, neighborhood trails. Thankfully, I didn't have that "my shoes are caked in mud" feeling. My quads, lungs and heart all felt strong. The problem: my hip flexors. More on that later.

Kona found plenty to sniff, right out of the car. I'm always glad when she doesn't seem too on guard when we first arrive at a trailhead. I think she even had some extra spunk. We've cycled the same two trail systems the last couple weeks, so we were on fresh territory.

All started well, but about a mile and a half in, it happened. A rock grabbed my shoe. There's no other way to explain it. While most of me felt strong, my hip flexors just weren't pulling their weight (or my weight). The problem with that? I couldn't lift my feet very high off the ground. The problem with that? My shoes stayed low enough to fall prey to rocks.

Normally, I knock a rock with my toes, stumble and stay upright. But when a rock grabs your shoe, it's impossible to stay on your feet. So I fell. In slow motion. Like a domino. Literally. In domino fashion, I fell straight down and landed on my side. Everything hit the ground at the same time. I didn't know that was possible.

Poor Kona tried to run away, but only got as far as the end of her line. After I hadn't moved for a few seconds, she slowly took steps in my direction. My sweet, but oh-so-not-a-service-dog, pup gave me the ultimate, "What's up with you?" expression. I smiled and slowly got up. No blood, just dusty.

When we reached the top, I was surprised to see that a dense marine layer had edged its way north as we were running. Downtown sat blanketed in fog. On a clear day, our view from the peak can look like this: (Sorry. This is my attempt to add pictures to my posts while my camera remains in Never Never Repair Land.)

At the top of our peak, we made our way to the best rest spot. Something under a sycamore tree caught my attention. It was the huge rear end of a buck. Soon, a doe came into view. Uh-oh. This could be chaos with Kona. I decided to walk on by. Kona didn't notice them. The deer pair stood frozen, only 15 feet away from us. It was neat to see just how nose oriented Kona is. Only a few feet further up the trail and Kona picked up their tracks. Her nose became frantic.

When she finally spotted the deer, she froze. I asked her to sit. I'm learning that Kona has a great sit stay, but it is conditional. The prey can't move. So we had a good three minute face off with the doe. She actually seemed curious about us and took a couple steps in our direction. Kona stood up, but sat back down when I asked her to.

All was well until the doe turned around to leave. Kona reared. The doe ran. Kona charged. I want to train Kona as though she will be off leash, but she will never be an off leash dog. I can hold rotisserie chicken in front of her nose, and she won't be deterred from deer, not even their tracks. Sigh.

Our return to the car was less eventful. Kona coped with the scary stretch on the street pretty well. When I got home, I hopped into the shower to rinse off the trail that I brought home with me. I noticed a red, golf ball-sized welt on my forearm and thought it strange since I didn't remember getting bit by a mosquito.

It wasn't a bug bite. It was a rock bite. I took home a trophy from my uphill fall.


Barb said...

Of course - you fell prey to the Rock Pigmy. They wait silently for just the right moment to grab at a shoe or even a ski. Then, they transform into any old ordinary rock so when you look, you think you "just tripped". Sometimes, if you listen carefully when you limp away, you can hear them chuckle...

It sounds as though you are seeing wildlife that helps in Kona's training. She does seem to be gaining confidence.

Sara said...


I had to laugh when you described your runs the past few weeks as "relaxed". Love your idea of relaxation. No beach chair for you!

Seems as though your transitions from car to trail and reverse are getting a bit better. That is great.

My two loony dogs charge & bark their heads off whenever they see deer. Always ruins my moment.

Kathy said...

Oh my goodness, what an eventful hike!!!! I fell the other day with Lizzie doing agility but my bait bag spilled so Lizzie thought we should do it again even though I had tripped over her, LOL. Funny how when you fall it feels like everything is in slow motion!!! Glad you are ok.

Dawn said...

What a run! Hoping you are feeling better this evening, but bet you're starting to get a bit sore from the fall! Poor Kona...not a service dog for sure, but at least she didn't drag you on your face a few feet further up the mountain!

Stella said...

Yeee-ouch! That fall sounded very hurty! Both you and Kona had some excitement on this run!

I have some questions I would like to ask you about any experience you have had with L-theanine which both you and Sam mentioned sometime back. Will you contact me at ?

Jo, and Stella