About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed a few 100 milers and many other ultramarathon trail races and marathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Running With the Big Dogs

The morning is cool and crisp; perfect for running our usual trail in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains beside the Cimarron neighborhood of El Paso. Suddenly, my dog Lucy takes off after some critter. Probably a jack rabbit. My other two, Sierra and Taz follow in Lucy’s wake quickly bounding up a hill towards the top of a mesa. In the distance I notice five dogs, but wait a minute, I only have three. Where did the others come from? Coyotes; this could be disastrous!
Lucy
Sierra (above) and Taz (below)
I’ve read about packs of coyotes who work as a team to hunt prey. One or two will lure an unsuspecting animal closer to the pack and then the rest will surround it, preventing it from escaping to safety. Soon I’m closer to the action and can see that one coyote is behind and downhill from my dogs and another is in front and uphill from them. The wily canines are closing in yipping and barking while mine return an equal amount of rhetoric. Taz, the smallest dog, sounds like he is about to go all Tasmanian devil on them.


We’ve encountered coyotes on several other occasions while running at the BR Ranch and have even had them follow us for quite a while before giving up and returning to their territory. What is the intention of these coyotes this morning? Luring us into a trap?

These coyotes followed us last summer
Notice his tucked tail
My dogs love nothing more than running off leash out here in the desert where they can sniff, chase and be dogs. Lucy especially will whine and follow me around at home until I finally succumb and don my running shoes. When we reach the trailhead, chaos erupts inside the car and it’s all I can do to control three dogs. Once on the trail, Lucy is all business and is totally focused on the task at hand which is running. If I stop to smell the flowers or take a picture, she is like, “WHY AREN’T WE RUNNING!” She is part whippet after all which were bred for speed, power, and balance; and according to the American Kennel Club, purebreds are capable of speeds of up to 35 mph. 

On our way to the trailhead
Unfortunately, coyotes can run 40 mph for short distances which means my dogs are no match for these wild canines. Coyotes are highly successful animals and can be found in almost all of North and Central America. They are omnivores who will hunt small prey as well as large animals like deer. In addition, they will eat just about anything; frogs, snakes, bugs, fruit, carrion and pets (yes, pets). They love melons, as farmers will often complain about coyotes stealing their watermelons. Since dogs are related to coyotes they also will eat watermelon. If you doubt me, give your dog the white part of the rind the next time you are cutting up a watermelon.

Give me some of that sweet watermelon!
Because coyotes aren’t picky eaters, they have flourished in the United States and have begun encroaching upon neighborhoods and have even taken up residency in urban areas. They bark, yip and howl to communicate with their kind and as a warning for intruders to stay away. Another interesting fact is that coyotes will breed with dogs creating a coy-dog. Somehow I don’t believe these coyotes want to breed with my dogs this morning.  


As the dogs interact with their wild ancestors, I yell and make as much noise as I can to scare them off. Nevertheless, I’m still able to get close enough to see that one coyote has his tail tucked under his body as far as it will go which In dogs means nervousness. Coyotes, on the other hand, sometimes run with their tails tucked, but it can also mean they are afraid. Today I think they are bluffing and their bark is worse than their bite so I continue to run towards them flailing my arms wildly above my head.


Things could probably be much worse if the dogs were out here on their own. Would the coyotes be as scared if a human wasn’t with the bunch? Taz is quite small, but the feistiest one of all and relentlessly barks and lunges toward the coyotes. I’ve even seen him do it to a javelina (collared peccary). He has no idea that he is about to become a tasty snack. 

Sunrise in the Franklins

I run up the trail as the coyotes come down the embankment towards me. I pick up a rock and throw it in their direction and they finally turn and run away. The best thing we can do for these beautiful animals is make them afraid of humans so they will stay wild and keep to the mountains and deserts instead of our cities. 

On a water cache mission

I make it to the top of the hill as the coyotes carry on their yipping and barking from a distance. The dogs don’t seem too bothered by the experience and Lucy is completely focused on running now. Just another running adventure in the Desert Southwest. After all, if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. 

All tired out from running with the big dogs
See you on the trail.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fall Running

Snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, bomb-cyclone, polar-vortex. Where I grew up on the East Coast we only had the occasional nor’easter that would dump a bunch of snow on us and then move on to wreak havoc on our northern neighbors. In a few days it would warm to 70 degrees and all of it would be gone in a flash. 


American Coot

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Javelina Jundred

I wait nervously at the Javelina Jeadquarters as this 30 hour jalloween party gets under way. I line up with 500 other runners and try to get the butterflies in my stomach to settle down. Lots of people are dressed in their best jalloween attire, but I was too focused on my task at hand this week to think about putting together a costume. Instead I wear my Team Red, White and Blue eagle in support of our veterans.

Hope I don't end up like this guy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The All Night Training Run

Seriously? Who runs all night long? Well, I do when I’m training for a one hundred miler especially when heat is an issue. Last month I pulled several all nighters for the mental training needed to prepare me for what’s coming next week, the Javalina Jundred in Phoenix, AZ. 

Persuading someone to join you on a 12 hour training run at night is nearly impossible so you must be prepared to go it alone. Running all night really isn’t that bad unless of course you are afraid of the dark, can’t stand to be alone or...um...have an  aversion to zombies. In reality a zombie’s stare is much worse than their bite so don’t fear. Staying up all night can be fun too. Remember those days as a teen when you tried to stay awake all night with your friends?




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Snakes!

Two snake encounters within five minutes of each other! That sums up my run in the Franklin Mountains. My running buddy spotted the first one in the middle of the trail and stopped in time for us to admire his black and white banded tail and rattle. We were about to turn around soon anyway so decided to head back the way we came so as not to have to guess where he was on the return trip.

The first one

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two States Run

Hundreds of bats flutter above me as I run under a bridge that crosses the Rio Grande. I stop for a closer look and am amazed by the sound of thousands of fluttering wings. Suddenly I hear a screech and see an owl take flight. She continuously flies overhead while making an eerie call like fingernails down a chalkboard. I was once struck on the head by an owl protecting her nest. Although it is hard to see in the dark, I suspect this raptor is a barn owl because of it’s pale color and incessant screeching. 

Blurry bats
I’ve only been running for an hour having left my house at 3:30am because I plan to run to the next state; New Mexico. This 40 mile training run will take me from West El Paso, TX to Old Mesilla (Las Cruces) and should take a whopping 9-10 hours because of the August heat and humidity.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

St. Sebastian River Preserve


Ah, sunny Florida in August. This is the life. Nothing like relaxin’ on the beach where your only worry is a blown out flip-flop and maybe a lost shaker of salt. Indian River County is on the East Coast about half way down the state where there is an abundance of lush vegetation, tropical birds, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles that bury their eggs on the pristine beaches. Sounds like a tropical paradise until you try to run in the sweltering heat. The humidity is off the scale and you will be soaking wet if you make it to the end of your run.



Sandhill Cranes wander the neighborhoods