The Wife Is Always Right
Today, I’m on the road again out to Great Falls. This is the second time this week, and I got to tell ya, its getting pretty tough for the family and wifey. Yet, we know duty calls; patient’s need to be cared for. So I packed my bags and off I went again across Montana. To relieve some of the stress, I figured I would get some nice scenery in and do my long run in Glacier National Park. To me, it seemed great: beautiful vistas, almost zero traffic, and a sunny day. To my wife, it seemed liked suicide, especially with the reports that the bears have been coming down low due to all the snow on the mountain tops. Nonsense I thought. They wouldn’t stray to the road with all the noise from cars and such. Right? So, after lunch, I set off for the park.
Today called for a 2:30 endurance run. This is a pretty slow run, designed mainly to get used to running for prolonged periods of time. My endurance pace is around 10:00-9:40. As I was planning on running far from the car, I donned a running belt with HEED, phone, and Huckleberry Hammer Gel.
Started off around 5:00. First three miles went pretty well, steady up hill. It was just as I imagined:
Had to really pee about mile five, and wouldn’t you know it, my Garmin GPS is pretty accurate….
After taking care of business, I continued on to Avalanche Creek. This was about 1:06 out from my car, and a sign I encountered made me think it was a good time to turn around:
So, I flipped back towards home at around 6.4 miles. Things were much faster now that I was going gradually down hill. I was cruising along, feeling great, when an oncoming car stopped in front of me. A dude stopped me and told me that there was a bear up ahead. I really wasn’t sure if this guy was being a nice fella or a complete asshole, so I thanked him and moved ahead cautiously. My fears were confirmed when another car stopped to tell me the same thing. So here I was, on foot, smelling like Huckleberry, the bear’s favorite berry, three miles from my car. Thank the Lord, one of the drivers offered to drive me past the bear. We drove up about 100 ft, and low and behold, there was Mr. Black Bear, about 20 feet from the road.
Of course, such a photo opportunity was too rare to miss. We stopped to take some photos with other tourists. After snapping the above, it dawned on me that if the bear had to choose between the gawkers and the dude running fast away, he would choose the non-moving target. So, off I went. I wasn’t trying to run faster, but its kind of funny how adrenaline does things. Notice my pace after mile 10?
For the rest of the run, I counted aloud to make sure that any animals in my path knew I was coming. Bears don’t like to be surprised. After I made it back to the Lake McDonald Lodge, I threw in a couple extraloops to finish up 15 miles. I’m happy to say that I felt great. Hardly any fatigue at all.
I have to admit, that my judgement today was not the best. I have done 4 rides out in Glacier, and 3 of those times I have encountered wild life, including one Grizzly. I had been planning on riding there this weekend starting at 6:00 a.m. I can tell you now that I am never riding/running early or alone in Glacier again. With some slight rearrangement, today could have been a very bad day. I had no bear spray. I was eating Huckleberry Gel. I had no cell phone service. Live and learn I suppose.
After all that, I had one smelly three hour car ride to Great Falls. My brilliant day ended with an appropriate dinner: