Friday, February 20, 2009

Dang Stuck Gate!

Last January I screwed up my knee for several weeks trying to jump over a chain between two posts in a parking lot while on vacation in Mexico.  I blogged the mishap largely to try to prevent myself from making the mistake again.

In addition, in last May's Ohlone Wilderness 50k, I had trouble opening at least one gate, a demonstration of my brains and dexterity for which I've been cajoled.

So today, on my 5+ hour run to the 680 corridor via the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Ramage Peak Trail, I had another minor mishap related to gates.  I figure it's worth a brief post-- the effort of writing his will hopefully minimize the chance I'll repeat this in the future.

The gate in question is the background past the horses.  (The above photo was taken on a short family hike more than a year ago.)  During the years I've run this route, the latch has grown increasingly harder to slide open, so eventually I gave up trying to and would just climb over the gate.  But in recent months, in retrospect I figure because of the colder weather, it got unstuck and I could open and close it easily.  Today, it was already pretty warm by the time I reached it 45 minutes into the run, so it was tight.

Knowing I could get it open, I forced the latch out, slamming the back of my right hand  into a rusty metal clip, opening a small flap of skin.  Well, nothing to abort my planned long run on a beautiful sunny weekday off work.  It kept dripping blood.  A few times I licked the blood (not directly over the wound), figuring eventually it would clot and dry.

Then I noticed I dinged and scratched the screen of my Garmin Forerunner 305, which I had just bought as a replacement for the one I had stolen last October.

Well that doubly sucks, I thought, but it appeared (or I hope) that it would still be water resistant and still work.  So, nothing to cry over.  Battle scars that would last.

The run was great, although I didn't have time to do an extra loop in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness , since my ride back after my point-to-point run was my wife returning from work.

One of these days I will bring my camera, blog the run and show you how gorgeous this route is. Due to the remote location and logistics, relatively few people run or hike it, so it feels like my secret private course.

Here's the link for the Garmin Motion Based / Google map of today's run.

Here's how my hand looked with the dried trail of blood despite the licks, as well as the ding and scratch on my Garmin Forerunner 305.

Here's the laceration after showering and washing it out. It kept oozing slowly, so I figured it would benefit with some closure.  (Medically speaking, almost all sutures are optional.) Had I possessed the materials to numb and suture it I might have tried sewing it up, but had some leftover tissue adhesive and needed to pick up my kids from their preschool and daycare.


I guess I could show you a lot of juicier better stuff from my job, but too much hassle overcoming the confidentiality issues.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rainbow Run

Coincidentally in honor of Rajeev Patel, the Poetic Runner, whose birthday was today, a little poem about my run this afternoon:

I trusted the sun,
on my post-morning-nap run. 

Cold rain betrayed! 
but guess I got laid

by-- whoa! 
a beautiful full rainbow.


I got up after sleeping all morning after working my last of three overnight shifts in the ED. The sun was out, between balmy clouds. Hell with the forecast-- it looked like the rain had yielded a sunny afternoon. After my kids soon went down for their nap, I decided to hit more of the mud from the rain we've finally had this month.

Heading out to some nearby trails, I somehow decide that today was the long overdue day I would ignore a particular sign, and cross the gate. As if beckoning me, I found it ajar.

The rain clouds I saw to the west over the Bay during my first ascent were already moving in. I hesitated-- maybe I should just do my usual legal loop in case it started really pouring hard. Perhaps the elation of finishing my overnight shifts made me more daring. Once on the trail, I began to remember my first and last run on this trail, half a decade prior, shortly after moving back to the Bay Area.

If the trail were named the San Leandro to Fremont Trail (it's not-- I'm intentionally trying not to be too specific), I had made the mistake my first time on it of actually thinking the trail continued uninterrupted from San Leandro to Fremont. My memory of the trail was fleeting and incomplete, as if it were a half forgotten dream, and the rekindled excitement of running into the unknown drew me forward even as the sky grew dark and the wind picked up-- which wouldn't have bothered me so much had I donned more than one layer and some gloves.   Through sloppy mud I climbed out of a creek trough, then up onto a ridge, pushing to pace if only to keep warm.

Five years earlier I had encountered a herd of cattle heading out on the trail, who, being cattle, didn't think to move to the side, but kept retreating along it. I was thus forced to keep chasing them, the herd's size increasing like a snowball down a hill, while a few alpha heifers (or were they dehorned bulls?), occasionally turned around to moo angrily at me, a possible threat to their calves. Two and a half miles past the forbidden gate, the trail dead-ended in an impassable fence.  I was forced to turn around.  
The irate cattle, all hovering around, took this as a sign of capitulation on my part, and they finally figured out that because there were up to a hundred of them and only one of me, they could win.  They started coming after me I guess to teach me a lesson.  Or trample me to death. Thoughts of a news story about skinny Asian ER doc's trampled body found on an off-limits trail flashed before me.  As they continued their angry pursuit.  I was actually forced to veer off trail to escape their onslaught.

So, five years later, I felt compelled to make it again to that fence and barbed and locked gate.  Espcially since no cows were out today.  But the rain and wind were picking up.  I turtle-retracted my hands into my sleeves in an effort to warm them up.

Almost to the ridge, I saw the fence. But after making the finally ascent before reaching it, a flash of color caught my eye-- as a hole for the sun popped from the other side, the shimmering of a rainbow apppeared in the verdant canyon to the left below.  I stopped to stare, and could trace both ends-- a full rainbow.

I realized that this beat most of the rainbows I'd seen in my life.  Not to mention the added drama of inclement weather and unfamiliar surroundings, and that I was above this one looking down ...  (I looked on Google images for a rainbow photo to use here, but they all fell way short of what I enjoyed.)

At the gate, I found it had changed. No barbed wire-- instead an easily opened latch to the trail continuing beyond.  Inviting me further.  However, an hour from home, more chilly rain coming, and my kids waking up soon anyways, I decided to save the new trail for another day.

On the way back I saw the rainbow above to the right, but it was less complete, had faded and lacked the dramatic backdrop.  I had to climb up to that forbidden ridge underdressed in a cold rain to enjoy its full splendor and....get laid.