Thursday, May 19, 2011

Runs with Coyotes

Let me start by saying that I rather loath exercise for exercise's sake, alone. Which doesn't mean I'm a sedentary slug, but I don't like anything enough on TV to be able to stomach spending regular time with a treadmill or elliptical trainer while watching it (and I can't seem to read while working out). I will happily bike in the 95F Florida heat towing 100 lbs worth of children and trailer, but that isn't exercise, that's transportation and reducing my carbon footprint.

I have also never taken to running. In high school, sprints and hurdles were my thing - never distance - and I like to attribute it to an undiagnosed pulmonic stenosis rather than just being out of shape and lacking stamina. (Who am I kidding; there's a reason so many surgeons are marathon runners...and a reason that I passed out while retracting during so many surgeries). I'd like to be svelt and fit as much as the next girl, but running around when you're not trying to get anywhere, inhaling car exhaust and feeding mosquitoes, just doesn't hold enough appeal to get me out the door. Starving myself - ok, counting calories - seemed a much easier way to fit into my clothes.

On the beach for a month, though, for a whole month, and not just any beach, but two miles of flat, barren, windswept expanse, was enough to lure me into my arch-supporting shoes for an hour run (walk-run?) every day in hopes that I'll build up enough stamina to actually enjoy the running part, while I'm reveling in the wind and waves and loneliness. It's been stormy since we got here; wet, cold, I've encountered no on else during these runs on the beach.

I've managed to keep it up for 5 days so far, a combination of fortuitous timing and dogged persistence. The timing: I've had visitors at the cottage, who I lure here with cute kids and good food, and who have watched said kids while I get in a daily run. And the persistence: on days without visitors, I've gone out at night when dad is home doing the bedtime routine. And I've learned a few things:

Don't run in the dark at high tide. Even with a headlamp, you can't see clearly enough to avoid trampling dune grass and tripping over kelp.

Don't run in the dark during a rainstorm. Even with a headlamp, you can't see far enough to be able to find your way back to the right house.

Don't run in the dark when the foghorn is blowing. The boats can't see where they're going, and neither can you.

Don't run in the dark at high tide during a rainstorm when the foghorn is blowing. Enough said. Yes, I did manage to find my way home before daybreak.

So I've given up running in the dark, and am back to my daytime schedule. With another visitor today, oh happy circumstance, I got my jog in at 3pm. The winds have changed, it wasn't raining for once, and it was actually warm enough for a tshirt (while running, at least); it was going to be the perfect day.

Then while I was running, a large coyote came out of the dunes and loped along with me for a few strides before quickly outstripping me and running down the beach, stopping and looking back once before he finally blended in with the sand and grass. He looked like he was having a good time; maybe he was after a fat seagull, or maybe he was just happy to stretch his legs after a morning of den duty with the cubs.

I was too amazed to be frightened, but then I came home and read up on the news reports of women getting chased by coyotes who can be aggressive while they have cubs in their dens... And now I am in a tiny bit of a quandary. Because those very visitors who enable all this running are coming with Kane's donuts and visits to Nichol's candy house and the North End for cannoli - not to mention the butter-and-cream-soaked meals of lobster and mussel and clam that I've been preparing for them.

So what is a girl to do?

8am update: I ran. With the foghorn blowing in a mist so enshrouding I couldn't have seen the coyote, even if he was there running with me.

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