Trail Blazer

9 Mar

It was sunny, Abigail was in the stroller, Hank beside me. We walked around so Hank could sniff out the ultimate spot to do his business.

A truck drove slowly past and stopped about halfway down the jetty. A man got out and waded through the brush and grass that edges the road. After a few minutes he returned to his idling truck.

That’s a little strange. I thought.

We started to jog, approaching the truck that was still sitting in the middle of the road.

“M’am?” the man called from his window. Hank alert beside me. I could see his whole family in the truck.

“Yes?”

“Just saw a coyote walking over there. I managed to chase him back into the bushes, but thought you should be aware.”

“Oh. Thanks…”

I didn’t know what to do. Part of me selfishly wanted to log these miles, part of me was really freaking out.

“We’ll follow you out to make sure you are safe.”

I should have been thinking how this is the stuff Lifetime movies are made of, but instead I was worried about my bouncing behind.

We reached the main road and the truck and I parted ways. I got about a half mile in when I stopped and dialed Ryan.

“Ryan, will you come rescue me?” I said in what might have been a slightly high pitched, whiny voice.

“Yes. What’s wrong.” Laughter.

“This family just saw a coyote on the jetty and I just kept running, but I think I should have turned around.  And now I’m stuck and I have our baby and what if the coyote attacks us while we are running back and I have the baby and I’m just kind of scared. I don’t want to see a coyote…can we move?”

“Sarah.”

“Yes?”

“You have a 140 pound dog with you. Coyotes are like 40 pounds. I’m pretty sure that will put a damper on any coyote attack plans. Hank will just do what he does when he sees any other dog. And no, we aren’t moving.”

“You mean act crazy and dart across to say hello while the stroller almost tips over? Please just come and pick me up. I’ll just keep running around here. Then, you can park beside the van and leave your car. Then, get in the van and come pick all of us up and I’ll drop you back off at your car.”

“Wait, what?”

I explained my masterminded plan again while Ryan laughed and said, “I love you.” He was on his way.

Perfect. We started jogging again but I was irritated. Just last summer a cougar had been spotted near the bike path that I used to run. So, I pretty much stopped doing that for a very long time, renaming it cougar trail in my training log and putting a smiley face to mark my bravery when I actually did it. Now coyotes, too? It made me think about how great it would be to run free in suburbia without the fear of bright yellow park notice signs popping up on trail heads to let you know about the latest wild animal sighting.


I groaned a little at myself. Why did I worry so much? Why was I letting the chance of something ruin a favorite running place? But it wasn’t Oregon or the cougar or the coyote. I was getting in the way of my own happiness. I knew that if I didn’t face my fear right then, I would stew about it until it turned into something bigger than it was, like cougar trail.


I circled back and ran towards the jetty. Six tenths of a mile stood between me and conquering this fear. I saw two other runners, debated against screaming “There’s a coyote!” and played it cool. It was the longest six tenths of a mile I have ever run, but I did it.

I was still catching my breath and stretching when Ryan pulled up. He was in shock.

“Yeah, baby!” he said with a grin. “I’m proud of you.”

I didn’t need him to be, I was proud enough of myself, but it was nice.

Some people have this natural ease about things that really hold me back. I worry. A lot. It stands in my way. When other people say, “I won’t see a coyote or a cougar. I’m tough. I’m brave. The chances are slim.” I say, “That coyote is going to jump out any minute, rip my arm off, and take my baby.” Totally ridiculous, right?

No one wants to be the wet blanket. But for me this isn’t about anyone else. It’s about taking control, being positive, and being brave. And I think I’ve been hella brave if I really examine the last year and a half. I’ve come a long way.

My sister and cousin arrive tomorrow. When Emily was here last year I was a weepy mess. This year will be different because I’m a little different. I’m knocking out those beasts and marking my small victories with a trail of smileys. Cougar trail. Coyote trail. Life trail. Blazing my own trail. Of happiness.

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6 Responses to “Trail Blazer”

  1. Anita Smith March 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    I like the advice to “appear large” when encountering a cougar.

    • Sarah March 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

      Right. Maybe as effective as “stay calm.” Ha!

  2. Sue Moore March 10, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Love your stories about life, maturing, and being a mom!!! Great writer!

    • Sarah March 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      Thank you, Sue. That’s sweet.

  3. Kathy March 12, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    You go Girl.. God has equipt you for Life and you are running with His plan. Have fun with Emily and Laura!

  4. Sarah March 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    The weather is a little stormy, super windy and rainy today and now snow?! But we are having an awesome time!

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