Sunday, September 29, 2013

Me, two horny moose and eight miles

It's rutting season, and you know what that means? All over the city male moose are pumped up on mating hormones.

And I mean pumped.

They want to find a female, and they want to find one NOW.

I didn't think I'd have to worry while running on the paved Coastal Trail. Yeah, it weaves through wooded areas but it's paved, people. It's not what comes to mind when I think of prime moose make-out areas.

Boy, was I wrong.

Shhhh! Don't tell anyone but this small stretch of paved trail is a bona fide lover's lane for moose.

At exactly 4.14 miles of my 8-miler today (I know, because I ample time to look at my watch while perched up in a tree), I looked up to find cow moose running straight at right at me.

It happened that fast. One moment I was chilling to "Super Freak" and the next I was veering off through the brush with a very excited moose inches behind.
She was running fast, and she had the most intense and panicked look on her face. I hid behind a scrawny alder tree and she turned away. I waited a moment, got back on the trail.

A few seconds later a very excited bull moose charged straight at me. I veered off behind the very same tree but he kept coming. He was riled up, too, and snorting, and I scampered up a wimpy tree and held tight.

Hey, Mr. Moose, are you the one that charged me? I hope you found your female and that you showed her a good time with your very big and very fine rack.

This isn't me in a tree hiding from a horny moose but it is me in a tree so I thought I'd stick it in. This is from our Portland trip and it was 85 degrees and there were no moose around, no wildlife at all, which was sad.

Once the moose realized that while I was female, I certainly wasn't a moose, it lurched off, headed back to the trail and hightailed after its beloved. I waited until it was out of sight an limped back to trail. My legs shook from fright and the next mile was my slowest of the day, even though it was mostly downhill. 

Rutting moose are nothing to joke about. They are crazed, literally. They are looking for action. They can't think straight.

A bull moose was shot and killed during a middle school cross country meet out at Kincaid Park a few days ago. Here's a link for the article, from my alma mater, the Anchorage Daily News: Aggressive moose shot near middle school race at Kincaid Park.

And an interesting tidbit about moose I found on the National Park Website: Ninety-eight percent of cows observed over a 12-year period mated once a year, with only one bull. In contrast, bulls may mate with up to 25 cows each year if they can fight off challengers.

Sounds as if it's still a man's world among moose, too, eh? But enough moose talk; let's get back to running.

My 8-miler went well and I stayed within my slowish post-injury pace. My foot felt strong, though my legs were sore from swimming. On the way back the wind picked up and leaves blew over my face and I felt as if I were somewhere magical, in a movie or running across the pages of a magazine.

Then I came home and cleaned up dog puke. Beebs hurt her leg and I've been keeping it bandaged, so that she won't lick it and make it worse, and she ate the bandages while I was out running. The minute I walked in the door, she threw them all back up again. It was an awful mess.

Please Beebs, don't eat your bandages, okay?

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another great, though short, run

I'm in the second week of post-injury running and so far, so good. My foot is holding up, though it aches slightly the first mile or so. Maybe I need to stretch out my arch first?

Here's how it's gone down the past couple of days:

Saturday: Swimming: 92 lengths of the pool (I think that's about 2,500 yards or 1.5 miles)

Sunday: Gym: 40 minutes elliptical, 30 minutes weights

Monday:  Running: Four miles with MM. Started slow but picked it up to a decent pace.

Tuesday:  Swimming: 68 lengths (just over 1 mile)

I'm hitting okay times. Nothing like I had been running before the injury but I'll take it. Mostly, it feels good to simply run, to allow my body to move in that familiar and well-loved motion.

Hello, 8s. I've missed you so. (Okay, it's the high 8s, but I'll take it.)

The bummer is that I have to stay off trails for a couple of weeks, to lessen the chance of twisting/ re-injuring my foot. I'm running on pavement, which is NOT my favorite thing. I so miss the trails. I know a lot of runners love pavement but it's not my thing. The only way I can tolerate it is by blasting tunes in my ears (Hello, trashy 80s music. My favorite this week? "Tainted Love," by Soft Cell. I know, I know--trashy).

Oh, trails, I miss you so!

Have a great day, everyone.

P.S. Any views or recommendations on a good but inexpensive foam roller? Thanks!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Too fast, too soon, and I'm in the newspaper

Well, I ran my 6-miler too fast the other day (um, almost race pace. Couldn't help it; it felt so good to move), and decided to take today off and swim instead. I'm starting to love swimming more and more, especially since I've been lifting weights and my puny arms can now put a little heft in my strokes.

Other news: It snowed today. I'd post a picture but I've been inside all day trying to finish up a writing assignment. Seems I overwrote a bit. Like, 500 words. Oops! Sorry about that, dear editor. Please allow me to chop and hack my piece to death until I get it down to word count, okay?

Also, I was in the newspaper today. An essay about running, aptly titled "Running," won two awards and was selected for publication in this year's "Best American Sports Writing." The majority of the entries are from very established writers hailing from big cities and big publication. And then there's me, a woman who can't walk in high heels or pronounce six-syllable words. I might not be sophisticated but I can run, damn it. Or I used to be able to run. And someday soon will run again.

Running is more than way of life for Alaska writer with essay featured in anthology

Suzanna Caldwell

Cinthia Ritchie descending the mountain during the 2011 Mt Marathon race in Seward. Loren Holmes photo
"Cinthia Ritchie is obsessed with running. She collects specialty running shirts like prizes and spends much of free time researching the latest in gear, from goos to shoes to water belts.

But for all her obsession, running is much more than that. It's like a form of prayer, a meditation, a source of strength, and even more importantly, joy.

Ritchie explores those themes in her essay “Running,” which will be included in this year's “Best American Sports Writing” anthology due out Oct. 8. The essay is one of a dozen from such prestigious publications as The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and The New Yorker."

Here's a link to the rest of The Alaska Dispatch story, "Running is more than way of life for Alaska writer with essay featured in anthology."
Interviewing Lisa Murkowski a few years ago, down in Seward, AK. Do you remember me, Lisa? Probably not. Probably I was just another news reporter you had to suck up to. But still, thank you for being so gracious, and for not crying.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Six big, fat and slow miles (and lovin' every minute)

Guess what I'm doing again?

Hello, Brooks! Did you miss me?

Yep, I started running this past weekend. I was excited, and I was scared, too, because I didn't know how my foot would hold up or how I would hold up, either. I hadn't run for eight weeks. I knew it wouldn't be easy.

It wasn't. My first run was three miles over the Coastal Trail, and every single step clunked. My form was off. My pacing was a mess. It wasn't pretty. And I was really, really slow. Believe it or not, it hurt almost the whole way. Even though I had been working out, swimming and even lifting weights, my running muscles had been sadly neglected.

But I ran three miles without stopping once. I cried when I strapped on my Garmin and I cried a good part of the run, too. I breathed hard and snot ran down my nose and I was a mess and still I rejoiced because it  was as if I were reconnecting with an essential part of myself, as if something in my body was saying, "Yes, yes, I remember this."

Slow, but who cares. Any run is a good run, especially after eight weeks.

I came home, iced my foot, and headed out the next day, this time for six very slow miles. The sun shone and the leaving were just beginning to turn and it was beautiful and crisp. I might have cried a little bit on this run, too.

See the snow covered mountains in the background? Yep, winter is coming.

And then yesterday I headed out again and everything fell in  place. My pace flowed. My legs felt strong and capable. I rocked the run, at least rocked it as well as one can expect to rock after a long absence. It. Was. Beautiful.

Today I'm not running, and I'm not running tomorrow, either. In fact, I probably won't run until Friday or Saturday. I have a rather, um, intense personality and I'm fighting like crazy to not do anything stupid like fire out a 10 or 12 mile run and re-injuring my foot.
Patience, they say, is a virtue. And so I shall be virtuous.

In the meantime, I've been writing like mad to get my second novel finished. And the apples on our tree have turned the most beautiful, vivid red and I'm aching to pick them and cook up some type of odd yet wonderful dessert. If anyone has any recipes for very small, very red apples, please feel free to share. Thanks! (Apple cinnamon rolls, Karen??)

Aren't they beautiful?

I'm also spending a lot of time with this guy:

Icelandic author Bergsveinn Birgisson (please don't ask me to pronounce his name, though I think it sounds quite lovely). I highly recommend "Reply to a Letter from Helga."

And I'm almost finished with Kevin Brennan's "Our Children Are Not Our Children," a collection of short shorts.

Anyone out there on Goodreads? If so, don't hesitate to friend me here: I'd love to connect about books and get your recommendations and reviews.

Cheers and happy running, hiking and reading.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Running The Dome, kind of

Yesterday I ran!

Not for far and not for long but I did manage to run most of the way down The Dome, a smallish (by Alaska standards) mountain on the outskirts of town.

It's been raining here in Alaska and I spent most of Labor Day weekend with my butt planted firmly at my desk, in a desperate attempt to finish my novel by mid-September (that goal is kind of like attempting to run a sub-three hour marathon: totally and absurdly impossible).

So last night when the clouds cleared and the sun miraculously peered down, we threw on our running clothes and headed up Campbell Airstrip Road. I can only sit so long. After that, I need to move (move!).

We had to leave The Beebs home, since she's too limpy for uphill climbs (poor Beebs; poor old, smelly, wonderful Beebs), which made me a bit weepy; I had never climbed The Dome without her.

Beebs on The Dome last year.

The beginning of the trail was muddy and overgrown so that the brush was as high as my shoulders, not too comforting in bear country but I had my trusty bell ring, ring, ringing as we climbed, climbed, climbed.

Bridge crossing (for some reason I always imagine falling, I guess to see how far my body would be swept)

We ran down, slowly; it was more of a jog but it was running nevertheless. I was so happy to feel my body move in familiar cadence again, and to jump over roots and rocks and slide in mud and get my feet wet, my legs dirty. What a joy! I cannot wait until I'm back to running full force.

I've become a bit hooked on downloading books on Amazon and I don't even have a Kindle, yet. I read them directly on my computer. There's a beauty to one-click ordering. I can read anything I want, whenever I want. Any book in the world, or at least the world according to Amazon which, since it bought out Goodreads, might soon be the world.

Reading: Right now I'm reading Our Children Are Not Our Children, a collection of short-shorts by Kevin Brennan, and Stranger in Town by Cheryl Bradshaw, which is a fast and light read thought many situations aren't exactly plausible.

Anyone reading anything stupendously good? If so, let me know, okay?

Cheers and happy running/hiking/reading.