Thursday, September 26, 2013

The prairie knows

I went back to Rockton, Ill., last weekend, and among the many pleasures of going home is the chance to run old routes that have become unfamiliar after months away.

The Sugar River forest preserves were on my radar, but after traversing the Midwest, my motivation to hop back in the car was fairly low. Our neighbors' prairie path, which they've graciously invited us to use, was far more tempting.

Turns out it was probably best that this urbanite didn't hit the true trails. Nature seemed to sense that a softie was there, ready to be taunted.

If these scratches look insignificant, it's because I took the photo Wednesday, a few days after my Sunday run.
My recent run at Raccoon River Park had reminded me of how lovely it is to run among trees; my runs around West Des Moines' ponds had me trained to dodge animal droppings.

But all this time in the city made me forget how much ducking and weaving one must do in the real wilderness, where prickly plants line narrow walkways.

A little blood did bubble up, and after the stinging stopped, the itching started — the outdoors used to occasionally give me little patches of irritation back in northern Illinois, something I'd nearly forgotten about until the bumps popped up again Sunday.

That's OK. Clearly I survived. I didn't abandon the run, either. I'll just think of it as a warning or preview for the next trail run I do ... especially if that one is the Sycamore 8.

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