If you go for a run somewhere new, where you've never been before, say, on a mountain, where there's a big iron gate with a sign on it that says 'NO TRESPASSING' (and some other information about not being welcome), it's just probably a good idea to turn around, as I have recently discovered.
Today I went running in such a place and decided to ignore the sign, duck under the gate, and carry on up the dirt path, the wind blowing my hair, the pale sun shining on the flowers growing willy-nilly in the tall grass. I figured the undulating hills made for great training, and I was enjoying the view of the valley below until I noticed a big ugly brown cow just ahead, chewing its cud. And then another one on the path, and a few others farther ahead beside a clump of trees.
And then I noticed that one of the cows had long frickin' horns! and I freaked out because I know that bulls are not friendly and don't like people showing up all sweaty and panting, wearing shorts, running right through their herd, even if it is a Sunday afternoon. And so, with my heart in my throat, beating like a caged hummingbird, I avoided eye contact with the big horned beast and turned down a more narrow path into the woods, where I hoped I would be able to climb a small-limbed tree should the bull actually decide to charge me.
Without looking back, lest I trip and see my life flash before my eyes just before a horn pierced my back, I bolted over a little foot bridge across a creek and down the side of the hill until I came to a clearing and then a side street where I stopped to lean on the hood of a white Toyota Prius and almost lost my lunch.
There was no choice but to return the way I'd come. I had to idea where New Terrace Way was in relation to the street where I'm house-sitting this week. Realising how precious my life is to me, I vowed to start eating more leafy greens and never watch television again if only I could make it home alive. I ran on, this time more slowly, quietly, and with foreboding.
Creeping around the side of an elm, I saw the cows were in the same formation they'd been in when I passed by the first time. The bull was still there, looking around as if on guard for trespassers like me.
Bloody hell, he was massive. With a gleaming black coat, long thin horns, steely eyes, and a massive chest, his tail flicked in irritation at the flies and his udder swayed... whoa, nelly. His udder? WTF? Uh...
Was this perhaps one of those that have horns whether they be cow, steer, or bull? I guessed so. That, or some other breed of cattle I had been, until that moment, completely ignorant of. Or perhaps, like Chaz Bono, this particular bovine was in the middle of gender reassignment surgery and would still be angry because the hormonal fluctuations were still driving her/him to have massive mood swings (which would explain why he/she was standing alone, off to the side).
Either way, I was cautious as I went back again along the path, trying to look inconspicuous, and wondering whether or not to make soft lowing sounds as I ran.
Well, that was one of the more adventurous runs I've ever had. With exactly one week to go till race day I'm feeling like I just might break my record of 28:48 for a 5km, especially if I picture an angry cow with horns coming after me. Or Chaz Bono.