Heading down a narrow switchback through the tall brown grass this evening meant suddenly and utterly commanding the attention of a beautiful blacktail buck. Oddly enough, my first wish was for a camera, and not for any other sort of point-and-shoot. Sport hunters may always confound me; I’m pretty much OK with that.
The meadow around the bend was so thick with fauns and doe that I gave up my run and crept along on tip-toe for a good half mile. Jogging back uphill along the park’s most out of the way paved road, I spotted another young six point buck, maybe ten feet out into the brush, who watched me warily as he grazed and guarded two smaller family members. It wasn’t until I’d been standing still and watching silently for a few good minutes that I noticed the two older males, big and gorgeous creatures, seated in the tall grass, absolutely still. None of us moved until another group of humans came up from behind me, making a racket. As the last of the deer turned tail, I bolted uphill too, along the road instead of following them into their copse. I’d been just fine with my previous pace of zero per, but the run had to end sometime.
On the other end of the scale, something clicked on a short downhill section about a mile later, and I found a new top speed at 13 mph (albeit unsustained, to say the least), but I did so while feeling stable and without stressing my knees. A common mantra in trail running is to go for “LSD” (because we’re all, apparently, easily amused hippies) – Long, Steady Distance – and I won’t claim to know of anything better when it comes to building up pure endurance, but even without interval drills and fartleks, there can be great joy in the extremes.
Trail running, at its best, is hardly all about the speed, but we do come out here for the trail, and we come out here to run, after all.