Spies in the Trees

admin | May 9, 2010 in Endurance,Running | Comments (5)

It’s not as if I’ve got time for a run; I don’t.  We’ve already had a full day getting ready for the night’s concert in Columbia, Missouri: gear prep, soundcheck, rehearsal, and general “work out the bugs” activities.  I’m pretty slammed.

But I’ve gotta get out.  I’ve gotta get somethin’. Finding an open window around supper, I shoot back to our dressing room and hurriedly grab my running gear out of my wardrobe case.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m in for.  I’ve been straight from the bus to the hotel back to the bus and into the arena, so I haven’t really paid attention to the geography or the weather.  I know it’s not raining – and I know it’s been cold – so I make a guess.

Tights.  Fine.  Short socks.  My ankles might get chilly, but I prefer them.  Gloves, check.  Garmin GPS, charged.  Shoes, a given. Black and white striped stocking cap.  Gotta keep the head warm –  and it’ll keep my hair out of my face if the wind is coming from the wrong direction.

I’ve got my camouflage UnderArmour long-sleeve in my bag. I’m not planning on sneaking up on anybody, but it has served me well on some hunting adventures, so that’ll do fine.

At the last minute, I grab my “All Access” laminates and stuff them in my fanny pouch.  I don’t know how I’m making my exit backstage, but I’ll need ‘em to get back in.  Granted, my people know me, but my people may not be at the back gate.

Suited up, I point towards the door.  “Are you going out for a run?” asks one of our crew guys.  Yeah, that was the plan.  “There’s some kind of trail right behind the buses.  I don’t know where it goes, but I saw it back there.  You might wanna try it.”

Cool.  There’s no time to explore options; I’m just grabbing a quick three, anyway.  Blow the guns out, make my way back, and clean up for the show.  Whatever the “trail” is, it’ll be just fine.

Out the back door and to the fence between the buses, I find what he’s talking about.  It seems like more of a service road than a trail, paved and running around the back of the arena.  No traffic.  I click “start” on my watch and start running.

The road heads downhill initially, twisting and turning its way down.  I’ve no idea where it’s headed, but I’m not going that far.  Then I see the sign posted along the road at a curve.

“Trail.”  Well, the sign says so, so I guess it’s true.  It’s a trail.

It’s paved for three-quarters of a mile before the pavement gives up to dirt.  Snow has accumulated in spots, up against the shoulder.  I’m not sure how long ago it snowed, but I’m well aware of the softening impact on my legs as I hit the dirt and leave the street.  Ahhhhh.

Before I’ve made it halfway, the pavement that went to dirt becomes mud and sludge.  Not interested.  I’m limited on how many pairs of running shoes I keep under the bus, so trashing a pair on a short run ain’t smart.  I’ll make up the difference on the other end.

I turn around and shoot back uphill.  Passing my starting point, I’ve still got a half-mile left.  Up and around the building, past the trees that run along the trail on what is my right-hand side…and I catch them spying on me through the branches.

Perhaps they’ve been watching me already, impressed by my athletic gait and sturdy carriage.  Maybe I’ve caught them by surprise, indiscernible in my camo clothing.  Not wanting to suffer by comparison, they choose not to lope alongside, but to instead casually observe from a distance.

A deer.  Two.  Three.  The longer I look, the more I discover.

As I catch their gaze, they attempt to stare me down.  Intimidation?  Not gonna work today, “deer.”  Besides, I’ve gotten my three miles for the day…and our opening act is already onstage.

I turn and head back down the trail, through the gate, and into the venue, feeling invigorated by my healthy little jaunt and confident that my cervine spectators are now heading out for a run of their own.

I grin; go get ‘em, guys.

5 Responses to “Spies in the Trees”

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  1. Comment by Kevin LeathersMay 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm  

    Nothing like stumbling on a new trail! Like finding a dollar on the ground.

  2. Comment by Karen — May 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm  

    I’m so impressed that you’re always able to find some time in your CRAZY schedule to get out there and pound the pavement (or dirt). Makes me realize that I’m just being lazy when I can only come up with “I have no time for a run.” And by the way, you’re one of the very few that can look cool while sporting a Fanny Pack (love ’em!.. they’re so underrated). Way to ROCK it!

  3. Comment by Cheryl — May 10, 2010 at 9:08 am  

    Glad to hear that you are finding time to get in the miles on the road. My most memorable runs are the ones when I have encountered some wildlife; owls, deer, stranded turtles, and the other day a goose off her nest of seven eggs looking at me like “don’t even think about it!” Even though you are running solo out there, you are never truly alone! Happy trails and safe travels!

  4. Comment by Christine — May 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm  

    Jeff, these are the best runs, the impromptu ones. You don’t know what lies ahead, but whatcha you do know is that you just need to RUN!

    Running in the quiet woods; along a paved trail, with nature surrounding me, birds chirping, squirrels scampering, and hopefully wind at my back, is just heaven to me. This is a time of great solace. Now, if I spot a deer, or two, that just puts icing on the cake!

    Just keep on running! (But please, if you do see a bear, you’d better high tail it back to the buses!)

  5. Comment by Carol — May 11, 2010 at 7:48 am  

    Jeff…You are such a great storyteller! I know you don’t have much spare time, but you should think about writing a book.

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