This is my last week of mileage before I start my taper. Since I’m trying to do my training and run two 5Ks this weekend I thought it would be good to get my long run of 11 miles done on Thursday so I could have Friday to rest before the races.
I was able to take off work and I decided to take advantage of running in our company park. It’s gated with a security guard at the entrance, a nice bike path that wraps around most of the park, and well stocked bathrooms. I was in heaven!
Most of the park’s facilities won’t open until Memorial weekend, which means other than runners (no others this morning) the park is vacant. I was quickly into a zone having one of the best runs I’ve ever had so far. I was very much in a meditative state with no major thought in my head other than the enjoyment of the run.
As I came around the loop I see an animal coming towards me at an angle. My brain was pretty much turned off and had to snap back into the moment with a “WTF? Oh a fox!”. Except this fox is trotting TOWARDS me. Next thought “Pepper Spray!” and I touched my right jacket pocket as to reach for it. I don’t have it with me, I’m in a secured park for F sake! Plus normally it’s in my hand so I’m not sure why, but my mind said to check my pocket. I slow my pace because this fox is coming at me and is looking at me so I’m not exactly sure what to make of this. I was expecting it to be frightened and run away. Instead it crosses my path very close to me, stops, and turns around like I’m going to go where you are going. And then starts trotting towards me! My exact response was “F!!!” and I took OFF!! Luckily my car wasn’t far away and I just ran towards it scared to look back, worried I was about to get bitten on the leg or something. I get to the car and turn to see that the fox had stopped following me but was sitting still watching me. I contemplated my options and what was the deal with this fox. It trotted around the path I was just on and was not scared whatsoever. I figured I can’t even stay at the park now because even if I stay on the other side of the park, that is where it came from. I look at my Garmin and in the blur of everything had hit stop right on 5.75 miles. There was no way I could hang here for 5.25 more miles. So I jumped in my car and headed home to finish my run. And to leave the park I had to actually drive by this fox. Yeah, it wasn’t even scared and didn’t move as I went by.
So I don’t know what the deal is with this fox. Was it a mother fox with babies near? Is it used to the park and people and slightly domesticated? Does it have rabies? There are golf courses near this park and my husband and our friends have seen foxes, but they always describe them as not interested in people, just running by from a distance. This one was within an arms reach of me.
Apparently runners and others have been attacked by foxes and they can become un-shy and aggressive when they get rabies. So I’m glad I left. Plus even if nothing happened my running mojo would have been lost had I stayed there because I would have been stressed out and had no pepper spray to at least feel somewhat protected.
Lesson learned: bring pepper spray, it’s not heavy or anything, just bring it. And maybe I’ll wait for the park to officially open so it’s busier which will hopefully scare foxes from hanging out.
So I hurried home and the last part of my run went really well even with the winds and hills (vs the flat park I was at). The winds are much stronger by my house because the wind comes right off flat farmland for miles with nothing to break it. Finishing my run at home made that more apparent.
I feel very strong and ready to run this half. I came into the house actually feeling really good. I did use my foam roller and an ice bath just as a preventative measure.
So I’m done with all of my long runs for this training. Looking at my full marathon training 11 miles is probably going to feel short. That will be kinda strange!
Update: Our friend has a sister that is in the administrative department of the park. He told her my fox story and apparently this fox is known at the park and actually has a den there. He has been around the park for a few years and actually sits with the fishermen at the pond and they feed him. I’m relieved to know that I may not have come across a rabid fox, but I will keep my pepper spray in my pocket next time for an emergency.