My run started out innocuously enough. I drove the 1.5 miles through the little golf course village and across the highway so that I could use my car as a shoe and water station if need be. I’m a bit behind where I’d like to be for half-marathons in October, but between the altitude switch and a strong desire to remain uninjured, have so far managed to talk myself into keeping the pace slow and steady. I started downhill toward the town of Jackson, and by the half-way point on my timer had looped back to the car. There were no other runners on the path anywhere near me, but I was passed in both directions by multiple bicycles. I briefly evaluated my feet to see if I wanted to grab my Zems out of the car, but they were holding up just fine and I knew from an earlier bike ride that I could count on smooth surfaces for the remainder of the run.
A few minutes into the second half of the run, I passed my last bicyclist of the day who called out a cheerful “hey, barefooter!” as he breezed by in the opposite direction. Having run further continuously than I’d managed on my previous long run at altitude and with the weather cooling down plesantly, I was starting to feel like I was falling into a nice, paced, groove. There was a slight uphill rise to the trail, but nothing horribly noticeable and I was beginning to hope I could fall into a zone for the final 30 minutes.
This peaceful moment, gazing forward to the majestic beauty of the Tetons, feeling like there were wings on my feet despite my measured pace, enjoying the wash of light from the setting sun to my left, was naturally when my nose began to bleed.
Now, even when I live at a steady elevation, I have a proclivity for nosebleeds and in the past year of sudden elevation changes, I’ve noticed that they tend to cause even more bloody noses. So I’m not particularly startled or distressed when it happens, although I am frequently exasperated. I also hate allowing normal occurrences to interfere with my training plans. Since the blood wasn’t painful or dangerous, I simply continued on.
You recall that the weather was cooling down? A large part of this was due to the light headwind that I was running into. So as the blood splashed across my face and I periodically wiped it with one hand – half off and half around my face – the wind caught every drop it could and spread them across the shoulders of my shirt, splattered my legs with a few lucky shots, and caught my watch and iPod screen with a few dashes as well.
So picture this, then. I’m running in the middle of a huge stretch of nothing, just me and the highway splitting the sagebrush in one direction from the sagebrush in the other. I’m barefoot, panting with effort, and my hands and face are covered in a wild smearing of blood. I worried about how it might look to the cars passing on the highway, so I did try to look as carefree and casual as possible. This may have only contributed to an overall impression of insanity. I’m not sure.
The nosebleed stopped before too long, but not before my face paint was truly impressive, coating my nose on both sides and continuing in a fairly solid mask down across my mouth to right under my chin. Just as I made it back to my car, a couple did pull off the highway to ask me if I was okay, but they were the only close contact I had when my appearance was at its most frightening. With the help of my water bottle and the edges of my shirt, I washed most of the blood off and thought that I looked considerably better.
Then I made it back to employee housing and grabbed a towel and soap to finish off the final nooks and crannies. When I stepped into the main living area – home to the kitchen, television, and sofas, there was a moment of shocked silence as the three guys in conversation observed me. They recovered enough to ask me if I was alright and as I reassured them and slipped into the bathroom, I overheard “looks like she’s been in a fight with a wild animal.”
So I want to reassure everyone who might be worried that I’m not spending enough time getting to know my new housemates. Sure, I avoid talking to them most of the time and tend to be quiet and brief even when I do, but it’s not the quantity of interaction – it’s the quality. And I think I gave them some quality impressions today.