Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Elk

Last weekend I spent a few days in Banff, AB (Canada) while attending a work conference.  Banff is a resort area nestled in the mountains about an hour west of Calgary.  Since I am "training" for a trail "race" at the end of October, I thought it prudent to get a longish run/jog in on the trails around my hotel. 

Shockingly, I actually woke up at the intended time of 6 am.  I had a hike planned for later in the morning, so wanted to make sure I got up early enough to get the run in, shower, and eat breakfast.  Unfortunately, the sun is not up at 6 am in Banff in early October.  As I watched Canadian Sportscenter, eh, I learned that the sun is barely up even at 7 am in Banff in early October.  Anyway, I made my way outside for my run in shorts and a baselayer.  I should have brought tights and a thermal.  Luckily, I am one of the hottest individuals on the planet (temperature wise).

As I got this big trail run underway I realized two things, the second of which led to the title of this post.

First, I think I might actually enjoy running, and maybe even begin to refer to myself as a runner, if I lived in the mountains and had access to interesting running/hiking trails right outside my backdoor. The 4 miles I had originally intended to run turned into 6.  I never run farther than I plan to. Trail running is easier on the shins/knees, and running through the forest with picturesque views of the mountains in every opening makes the whole running thing more tolerable than usual. Instead I live in a new subdivision in central IL, so I will continue to refer to myself (loosely) as a cyclist or, better yet, a fat cyclist (but not THE fat cyclist).

Second, elk are large, intimidating animals.  Especially bulls who are protecting their harem while they are out getting breakfast.  Most especially when you stumble within 30 meters (that is about 100 feet, but since I was in Canada my brain automatically switched to the metric system just like when you cell phone grabs the time from the network when you cross into a new time zone) of them after rounding a corner on a trail run while not paying attention.  Elk are also fast. Especially when they move toward you menacingly. See below for a dramatization of what I was facing. 

Now, I have been closer to an elk. In fact, I have been so close to a large bull as to actually touch it. Of course, this elk happened to not have a body attached to its neck, being rather dead and mounted on the wall in my grandparents' house and all.

This was different.

So I took a 10 minute break from my run.  And hid behind a tree until the elk had eaten their fill and moved on.  Of course I did not have a camera.  Not even my crappy blackberry camera, as I had told myself that real trail runners wouldn't carry a cell phone with them on a rugged wilderness run (but my Garmin Forerunner was totally fine). Then again, real trail runners probably don't worry about having an "accident" while cowering behind a tree and hoping the large animal on the trail in front of them will lose interest and move on.

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