Today was my 1st ever encounter with a bear while out on a trail run. I actually never encountered a bear in anyway or any where else either, but considering I do love trail running, I knew it was a possibility. But when I am actually out there trail running or even on my way to go trail running, the ‘possibility’ of a bear encounter is far from my mind. I don’t think about it. To me, before what happened today, the word ‘possibility’ and bear encounter, did not seem all that probable. I know what the word possible means, but I really did not take it as serious as I do now. I am so very happy when I am out on the trail, running, in nature, surrounded by its beauty, that I am not thinking of much else except how very thankful I am and lucky I feel to be able to do it and be there.
Today I was scared out of my mind at the beginning of my run, I did not even get a chance to run yet. I had just started walking in the direction that I planned on running, to get a little warm up after the drive there. I felt fabulous and blessed to be able to be there, on the trail, early in the morning, surrounded by the beauty of nature. I had absolutely no idea what was to happen next. It hit be like a ton of bricks this very strong feeling. All of a sudden, a severe gut feeling came all over my entire body of the worst fear I’d ever felt in my life! It was indescribable, except to say that I have never felt anything like it before, even though there have been plenty of times I have been scared silly in my life, nothing like this. The sudden, severe gut feeling I got of immediate danger was then followed by the scariest, most dreadful noise I’d ever heard a few seconds later. I heard the growl of a bear, it was not loud, but it was serious, and it felt very close to me. Since it was not quite daylight yet, could have had something to do with me not having seen anything. To tell you the truth, that bear could have been right next to me and I would not have known! I could feel it in my bones that it was very close to me once I got that gut feeling of immediate danger. I thank God for my life today and every day, but especially today. I put my absolute trust and faith in the Lord always and I believe with all my heart in Him. But today I felt it so much stronger than ever before. It is a feeling that I know that I know that I know that if it was not for God warning me as He did, I surely would have died.
I remember a time that I was really scared, but it was thrilling at the same time. Today was not like that at all. Today was just downright chilling scary, no thrills involved. Even though I never saw anything, that severe sudden gut feeling of immediate severe danger, then followed by the growling of the bear letting me know exactly what the danger was, it was definitely the most scared I have ever been in my life. But I will also tell you that the feeling did not last too long, thank God. I felt that once I got the feeling, listened to it, and started to walk away in the other direction, I felt God’s loving arms protecting me back towards safety. I could still feel the uneasy feeling from the severe gut feeling, but it quickly subsided to more of a feeling that I knew I went through something very scary but that it had passed and only remnants of the feeling remained. I could feel it still going through my body, but I believe it was the after effects of the intense gut feeling I had, not a continued fear. I think it is likely similar to lactic acid build up from running that sometimes happens and then its release, you can feel it leaving.
Now back to that really scary although thrilling time in my life I referred to above. Although there have been many over the course of now almost 50 years of living, a lifetime worth of adventures, more than some, not as many as others, I choose this particular memory to share here with you in regards to what happened today for comparison. This time was back in the summer of 2011, before my 5 surgeries in 6 days in August. It was a warm July night, but perfect for a beautiful country bike ride with friends on rolling hills and beautiful scenery as if in a dream. I just got my very 1st road bike, for use in my triathlons and training only a few weeks earlier. I was still getting used to it. I had never rode a bike like that at all. It is much lighter, prescise and it had clip in pedals. The clip in pedals were one more thing to think about it, while both riding and stopping. I had to train my brain to remember all this new stuff all at once, but I loved it. It was fun. It was really fun. I wasn’t afraid, but I also had a bit of naitivity helping in that area which is sometimes for the better. Anyway, I absolutely loved my new bike and couldn’t wait to learn more about riding in a group and all the signals they use and everything about group riding. A friend of mine suggested I join them on a hilly 25 mile bike ride through the countryside with his group of friends, all ‘A Group’ people. That means that they are fast, very fast, and I was learning, so fun for me in all sorts of ways. It was great to be so many who knew so much and were willing to teach me. It was great to push myself more than I ever would have on my own. It was great for so many reasons. Here comes the scary but thrilling part. We started going down this very steep, very long and windy, seemingly never ending hill. I was going so very fast trying to keep up with everyone so I wouldn’t lose them. I didn’t know the area and didn’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere. I knew they would wait for me when they eventually found out but by then, would I have gone on a different route difficult for them to find me and nighttime was on its way, being an evening ride. Well, my gut told me that I should just go with it, go with the fast speed. My gut told me not to brake. That if I braked it might make me loose control of my bike and fall. I kept up warp speed, what felt like warp speed to me for what seemed like an endless hill going down and very curvy. But now comes the scary part, I know you probably thought I already mentioned the scary part, I did not. The scary part happened when as I was traveling at warp speed down a steep winding hill, then it happened, a medium size animal, moving slowly decided to cross the road and I had no choose but to brake a little. Sure enough my gut not to brake for fear of losing control of my bike happened. Thank God some how I stayed upright although I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. I know a few of the people in the group told me later that night at the end of the ride, they thought for sure I would crash. They saw what happened with the animal crossing the road exactly at the time I got to that part of the road. It was an absolute miracle I did not crash. I thank God for my life for that day, for every day, for all the many times He has protected me and helped me through my entire life. Be thankful always to feel fit forever. #feelfitforever