Fear and Running In Sandy Oregon, part 2

Health and Fitness, Life

So last week I told you about my fear of the local Mountain Lion and how I was able to overcome my fear. Either that or the mountain lion moved on and I didn’t have a reason to fear anymore. Well, there is a little more to the story.

Friday evening I was running on the trail and actually thinking about how relieved I am that the mountain lion is no longer there and I can run on my favorite trail again without worry. Not 10 minutes later after having that thought I actually saw it. Yep. I saw it.

I was about to enter a segment of the trail and up ahead of me was what, at first, I thought was a dog. I have a habit of always stopping when I see a dog that is off leash, since I have no idea what they will do, so I stopped. The animal stopped too and we both stared into each other’s eyes for several moments. As I stared at it I was trying to figure out what it was. I immediately figured out that it wasn’t a dog, though it was about the size of one. Incredibly, the first thought in my head was, “Is that a fox?!?”  I have no idea why I thought I was seeing a fox. I pretty quickly deduced it wasn’t a fox. I then realized that it was moving and acting like a cat, was it just a big cat? It was staring at me in that very intense way cats to and it was twitching it’s tail. But this was way bigger than any cat I had ever seen. It was as big as a mid-sized to large dog. Then It hit me, and I thought, “Oh shit. This is that cougar.” So I backed away and decided to run on the road for the rest of my run.

The funny thing about it was I was not afraid during this encounter at all.  I didn’t feel threatened by it at all. In fact, I felt kind of lucky to have had “a moment” with this very elusive creature. It’s rare to see a cougar in the wild and I feel very lucky to have seen one. That overwhelming fear that gripped me before is now gone, and it is a relief. I am not sure I am going to run on the trail for awhile, but it isn’t out of fear. Well, maybe a little out of fear. More out of respect. The cougar has decided that it likes living near my running trail and that is fine. I can be inconvenienced for awhile until it figures out this isn’t the best place to live.

Fear and running in Sandy, Oregon

Health and Fitness, Life

I’ve been working with fear for the past couple months.

At the end of August I saw a Facebook post in my neighboorhood watch group that a mountain lion cub was spotted sleeping in the middle of the path of a popular trail that winds through town. The cub was seen at around noon on a Friday. Well. We all know what it means when a baby is spotted. It means a mom isn’t far away. I recalled how that very morning I did my usual Friday Morning 4 mile run along that very trail, right around day break (when they are most active). I probably ran right past it.

I am very afraid of mountain lions.  And I have reason to fear. They actually attack humans. I recall at least two news stories when I lived in California where a runner and a bike rider were killed by mountain lions. So yeah. It’s a rational fear.

Yet It was bugging me because, while it is something could could possibly happen  I was really letting it get to me.  I wondered if it went from being rational to irrational. Yes, there have been attacks on humans, but what, really, were my chances of getting attacked?

I tried running on parts of the trail, but the fear of getting attacked was so great that I ruined the relaxing nature of the run. I had to finish it on the street. Each time I would go out I would try to talk myself into running on the trail, but when I got to the trail head and saw the sign I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Finally, one Friday,about three weeks later, I woke up and I wasn’t afraid anymore. I didn’t wake up with that dread of fear. I decided that this was the day I would run on the trail again. So I did. And it felt good. Oddly, all of the signs were taken down, so apparently the threat moved on.

It makes me wonder if that fear I was feeling was my gut telling me to avoid the trail. Maybe primal instinct was keeping me off the trail while the mountain lions (it turns out it was a mother and 2 cubs) made their home there. And then when they left, so did my fear.