Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mountain Legs

Today was our first mountain run. Sure, we've run our local peaks and steep neighborhood trails, but we've never run at high elevation. I stepped out of the car, breathing in the fresh air. I knew it would warm up soon, so reveled in the dim morning light.
I followed the creek's rhythm to relax into an even stride.
My lungs relaxed, but my legs struggled on the scree trails. Kona kept me moving as she tugged on my line. I let her hunt chipmunks to her heart's desire. The stalking breaks gave me time to rest.
As we ran higher, the sun dipped into the canyon.
Just as I began to curse my malfunctioning legs, the trail became steeper and my stride became stronger. I thought I had gained a second wind, but then noticed the trail. The loose scree and rocks turned to hardpack. What a difference the trail made!
While nothing slows Kona down, she was willing to stop at our saddle. We had reached our destination! Kona looked down the canyon and I smiled in satisfaction.
The sun was bright, but the saddle funneled wind between canyons. I put on my vest as I ate my Cliff Bar and handed Kona treats (in between her sight-seeing).
Kona did amazing during our break. She drank water, took treats and didn't whine. She deserved a reward. . .A game of Find the Lizard before we headed home.

Our descent started well, but as we got closer to the parking lot, the trail became busier. A stone's throw away from the trailhead, we ran into a trail crew (6 burly men, carrying shovels and pushing a wheelbarrow) and Kona gave me her first "Oh hell no!" reaction in a long time. Unfortunately, the sides of the trail were too steep for me to navigate and give Kona more space around the scary crew. She was finally able to balance her own way across the steep slope while I stayed on the trail.

I never like to finish a run on a stressful note, but I think we had enough good moments to make up for it. There's got to be some behavior modification rule that goes something like that. . .

12 comments:

Life with 5 dogs said...

Looks like you both had a Great Run also a early run! My dogs love to hunt Chipmunks and could do it all day if I let them!

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam said...

Maybe I should learn about this behavior mod rule - I'm always freaking out when a walk or hike ends badly! But, you're right, I think the reality is that a good hike or run or whathaveyou is totally worth it, even if you do have to endure some scariness at the end.

Priscilla said...

I think it's wonderful how you run and take pictures!! Thanks for the wonderful views in California :) Hope all goes well with raising money for your marathon!

Sara said...

You know, I write individual education plans for a living....goals typically read something like this (or at least they used to before NYS changed all the rules on us):


Kona will have fun on run 80% of the time.

I'd say goal accomplished!

Great photos! Love the water shots, and love how they chopped the downed tree so you don't have to climb over it.

Kathy said...

Wow, what a way to start the day...just looks so beautiful and so peaceful ...

Dawn said...

I would have enjoyed training with Kona in the olden days when I trained for marathons! She's such a good companion/training partner!

She handled the scary guys just fine, in her own way, and that says a lot for how far she's come.

KB said...

I agree with your behavior modification rule!!! I used to always try to end on a good note, even when I was pushing K over her stress threshold in my effort to end happy. I've learned, just through my own experiences with K, to just leave it behind and she'll probably forget about it. If I try to make it end well, it seems more likely that she'll be scared next time.

It looked like a beautiful run! Trail running looks like such a blast to me. My husband and R do high mountain runs 2-3X per week in the summer, lucky guys. If only I could run!

Kona is "oh so very lucky" to have you as her human!

Dawn said...

Hey - I was driving home from the library this afternoon and this guy was walking two dogs down my street, one of which looked (to me anyway) JUST like Kona! So much so that I said out loud - hey! There's Kona! And my husband looked at me like I'm nuts because he doesn't know any Kona. He'd think I was even more nuts if he knew where the real Kona actually lives! LOL

AC said...

Dawn,
Too funny! I notice that any prick-ear, red dog will catch my attention these days. I told Kona that you saw her somewhere else and wagged her tail at me--guess she doesn't think you're crazy!

Barb said...

Hi AC, What a scree-laden and steep run - I almost got winded just following you and Kona! I'm catching up with you after a few days spent in the city. I had to smile at Kona trying to find the Lizard - see - that class really did teach her to use her nose!

Bobby said...

Well done and great photos, the run was worth it for those views.
Kona thought so.