Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trying to become one with Nature

Well, as any of you who have talked with me know. I have a fear of mountain lions. Not just a little fear either. A paranoid, debilitating, frustrating fear that makes running by myself on trails an anxious experience.

On Monday I decided to check out some trails in Tilden park that I had explored with a friend the day before. I wanted to do 6 or so miles, and was really looking forward to enjoying the great trails and views that I knew I was sure to find. However, after about a mile and a half, I starting psyching myself out. I was on singletrack, but felt a little too scared so backtracked and got onto the firetrail just below (as if being on a firetrail would keep me safer? I don't know). After I had gone out two miles, I reached this great look out spot with a few benches and a table that provided an amazing view of the bay, san francisco, and north bay. I decided to try to enjoy being alone in nature, so sat down and took everything in. It was so beautiful, watching birds hovering in the sky, the clouds moving across the vista. I was hoping that just sitting and enjoying being there would help me feel better about being out there alone. After about 15 or so minutes, some dark clouds were starting to move in, and the temperature was dropping, so I decided to head back. Of course, the paranoid thoughts started up again. "What was that sound?" "It would be really bad if something happened while I was all alone" "Is there something moving over there?" All in all, I was glad to reach the car, but was a few miles short of my plan.

So I headed back out on another trail that looked promising, all the while trying to convince myself that if I got attacked, at least I'd die doing something that I loved. Of course, the little voice inside kept responding with, "but I don't want to die!" After going out for 1/2 a mile and hitting a steep downhill that I didn't want to climb back up, I turned around.

Now my run was up to 5 miles. I got in my car and started down the hill, but after much internal debate pulled over at a firetrail entrance and decided to try to get in one more mile.

I did .25 miles and then turned around, utterly convinced that there were mountain lions out there. (note: I'm fairly certain that there weren't, as it was the middle of the day)

Having done 5.5 now, And thoroughly frustrated with myself, I decided to just head down to my normal firetrail that always has a good 10-20 people on it, and finish up. I did a little more than a mile there, and was finally able to bring my total up to a respectable 6.6 miles

Tonight I ran w/ transports, and, since I'm slow, ended up doing a lot of the run myself. I couldn't help but have my paranoid thoughts again, though, since there were other runner not too far ahead, I felt a little better. I reasoned that, if attacked, at least someone would probably hear me and might be able to help save me. Ended up just doing 5 because I was afraid of being too slow if I tried to do the whole 7. Oh well...I'll just go longer tomorrow!

Arg....I've really got to get over this! It's keeping my runs from being the relaxing experiences that they deserve to be.

At least I'm still able to enjoy the views, in spite of my paranoid internal dialogue :)

And there have been some great ones over the last few days!


Meg said...

Sounds really beautiful out there and lots of great trails to run on. I'd like to go runnin' out there sometime. You make it sound absolutely wonderful.

Jessica Deline said...

Wow. In bloglines that pictures showed up HUGE and it freaked me out. I've seen a mountain lion while out trail running so it was sort of like a bad flash back ;) though the one I saw was at night from 50 yards away. The other "possible" encounter I was running with others and I didn't see it but it was either a bobcat or mountain lion that ran right across the trail in front of us! In both cases at least it was running AWAY from us (or ignoring us or staying away).

mtnrunR said...

Don't worry about the mountain lions. if one is stalking you, you won't even know it. and by the time they attack it is too late. even rarely do humans even have a chance to put up a fight because it is all over. the cats are just too good of a hunter.

not trying to scare you but really, they are stealth in their pursuit. their bite is highly leathal. they are just efficient hunters.

so, really if one wants you for dinner it's going to happen and there is not a darn thing you can do.

cat attacks are very rare. very few deaths are even recorded. it just doesn't happen all that often.

they tend to stay away from us so really you shouldn't worry. the only real reason they attack is we have invaded their space. they are just doing what is natural and that is to survive.

in all of us and canada their are only about 5 attacks a year. so really quite rare.

you are doing the right thing by going out with groups. that is a huge deterent. even if you fall behind a bit, the group already made a bunch of noice and would have scared off the cat most likely.

don't worry. have fun on the trail.

Addy said...

meg- you know you're welcome any time :) If you ever come out here, you'd definitely have a place to stay and a tour guide!

jessica- scary about your encouter! Sorry the picture showed up so big! It is reassuring,at least, to hear about people seeing these animals and being okay. A mountain lion was actually seen on the trail I ran this past weekend by some of my running group about a year ago. It seems like generally they don't like hanging around people much

Tom- Thanks for the reassuarance ;) Yeah, I know that if it happens, it happens, and its so rare that its really a waste to worry. I guess, though, if they're so stealth, I really shouldn't freak out when I hear something in the bushes, because chances are, they won't make that much noise ;). I've actually done a ton of research on the subject (and # of attacks around) so I know the data and how rare it would be. I've just got to take that to heart :)