Saturday, April 20, 2013

One step at a time

My achilles tendonitis is responding extremely well to treatment. I was able to jog for 30 minutes twice last week and each time my tendon held up well. It held up better than my calf muscle which, new to the idea of running again after such a long lay-off, stretched itself too far and I suffered a small tear. Back on the treatment table I was now dealing with two injuries rather than one. My aim for the weekend was one long walk followed by another strenuous walk with a little jogging. On Saturday I did 7.5 miles around South Mesa. Last Sunday I toured Flagstaff Mountain from the Arapaho Road in Boulder via Panorama Point.

I have been schooled well in the art of "warming up" and it was needed this morning. I had two dogs with me - Otto and Olivia - and it was zero at the trailhead. I was wearing my lightweight Goretex for protection against the wind and I was really pleased to have this high up.
Settler's Park from Viewpoint Trail

It's a muddy switchback trail leaving Arapaho and we quickly gained altitude. Even though it was freezing, the sun was warming the ground and thick, wet patches of mud made the going sticky and unpleasant. Both dogs became filthy in no time and we had to skirt the worst sections with care. There were some great views across to Settler's park in the early morning sunshine. There were no signs of fresh tracks and we had the trail to ourselves.

After exactly one mile and 500 feet of ascent we reached the road junction at Panorama Point. This afford nice views over town, but we didn't stop. The wind was in our faces and we struck up the hillside over the road and joined the trail coming up from Gregory Canyon. We passed by our first walkers and had fun keeping ahead of a group of cyclists as their longer detours around the hairpins and switchbacks enabled us to get ahead of them with our more direct route, before they left us behind when the angle of the road eased off above the half-way house.
Fresh snow on Green Mountain

Just before we reached the road that leads to the Flagstaff amphitheater we encountered a herd of grazing deer. Livvy was the first to see them, ears alert long before I could see them. There were about 20 of these elegant creatures and they slowly moved off into the trees to our north. Once on the summit we headed for the loop around the mountain to Realization Point. This is a pleasant walk with great views of this high mountains. However, today there were low clouds and heavy snow falling above 10,000 feet so the only sight we had was of fresh snow on Sugarloaf Mountain.
NCAR below and Denver 30 miles away

I am becoming increasingly frustrated with dog owners who allow their dogs off leash but fail to keep them under control. Boulder is famous for its "green tag' permits. These allow owners who can demonstrate control of their dogs to allow them off leash on designated trails. It sounds good in practice, but "control" means different things to different people. I have written before about my running ratio - I come back from a run and declare "that was 3:1", meaning 3 great dog encounters to one bad one. A good dog encounter is when we meet an off-leash dog in perfect control. A bad encounter is the opposite - the dog is off-leash, runs towards us and fails to respond to the owner. In other words, it is out of control. These encounters make me angry...not with the dog but with the owner.
Deer near summit

Descending from Flagstaff summit we had a bad dog encounter. In truth the dog was a lovely doberman-lab cross, about a year old. The woman who owned it was a runner leaving Realization Point with the dog off leash. Of course, it completely ignored her shrieks (yes, she shrieked many times) and headed straight for my two dogs. Borzoi don't like being approached by strange dogs and Otto was becoming agitated. By shouting at the dog i was able to scare it away and keep it at distance, but it was unpleasant and unnecessary. The woman, for goodness sake, had a leash in her hand. She clearly needed to use it and I pointed this out. "But my dog has a green tag" she said. This is a like a driver showing their drivers' license as a defense against the charge of drunk driving. "Yes, it has a green tag," I replied, "but it clearly isn't under control." I ran off with my dogs and the young dog kept following. This looked like fun, so I kept running and the dog kept following. A mile later, with the owner screaming and exasperated, I stopped. "Do you think you have good control of your dog now?" I asked. Having been taken completely off route and almost lost her dog, maybe next time she'll keep it on a leash.
Snow covered Sugarloaf

In stark contrast, as we descended back down the main trail I saw a young woman running with her dog off leash, but glued to her heel. We stepped to one side of the trail to give her right of way. Her dog was perfect. It never moved an inch from her heel and was under perfect control. Within 10 minutes we had seen the best and the worst of dog ownership in Boulder. The range of experience couldn't have been more extreme. The great pity is that local legislators in Boulder are likely to impose even more trail restrictions on dogs. That would be a pity as there are already too many trails where dogs have been banned. You have to ask whether the first woman realizes that her behavior is what causes this, and that is why I get annoyed with some dog owners.

Back to my injury. Descending from Flagstaff I was able to stretch out a little and jog for a few miles...just gentle steps at a slow pace. There was no point trying to do anything stupid and, anyway, I had two dogs to contend with. I did feel a slight tightening in my calf at one point and immediately slowed to a walk, but it soon eased and I was able to resume jogging again.

We had no more surprises on the way back to the car, except on the final section just after we had passed through the gate on the residential road leading down to Arapaho. Livvy became alert to someone approaching behind. Sure enough I caught sight of the young woman with the impeccable dog. As she passed though the gate she leashed her dog (not that it was needed) and she jogged passed down to her car. It is interesting that the owners of impeccably behaved dogs do the right things, even when they aren't necessary. This was a 2:1 day. I wish I could experience a zero.

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