Running with Coyotes

I had a 4 am run this week…

I cursed the alarm and rolled out of bed, then staggered down the stairs into the bathroom where I stuff my contacts into my eyes.  

I look at my reflection.

I look haggard. 


All I want to do was crawl back into bed for another hour.

I pull on my running clothes and look in the mirror again, my hat pulled down over half of my face, the high collar of my running coat covering the other half. 

My face is no longer visible.

That looks better.

I start my run under the occasionally working lights of Caratunk, headlamp off but strapped around my head. I throw on my reflective vest as an afterthought.  

Heavy sigh. 

Mentally, I am still in my warm bed, snuggled under the covers. 

This is just hard.

I step out the door.

I start running south towards the darker end of town (where the lights generally do not work).  I shiver as I hear the haunting howl of a pack of coyotes.  I hear this all the time, but they seem closer than normal this time.  

I snap on my headlamp, the yellow light bouncing on the pavement somehow giving me a sense of comfort and safety amoungst the nearby pack. 

I think to myself, at least I am not a wounded deer.

I hit the turn around and head north, running past the coyotes again, this time they are further off. 

But it is still dark, it is still cold. 

I am still alone in this, my second journey to Ironman.

I shut off the headlamp as I get away from the coyotes and I notice that there is not a soul up in town yet. 

I am not only the only idiot out here running back and forth before the sun rises, I am the literally the only one in town who is awake.

Hope the coyotes don’t know that.

I actually had the thought “I can’t wait until it starts to get light in the morning so I don’t have to do this running in the dark crap anymore.”

That is when it dawned on me that for this entire season, I am going to be running in the dark. 

Because the sun doesn’t even get up at 3:45 am for  a 4 am run. 

I think that in another month I might get to see the sun rise as I finish my run, which is somehow encouraging, so I push on. 

The thought of a future sunrise gives me a pick up as I run by the coyotes for a second time.  They now sound more dispersed and further away, as if a party is almost over and guests are saying their last guoodbyes. 

By my 6th pass, the coyotes are gone, and lights start to turn on in the houses that I pass. 

Ahh. Signs of life.  It is 5am.

I finish the run, 6 miles run on a 1 mile road. 

I step inside and strip off my sweaty hat and jacket.  I am shivering again – this time from the chill of sweat.    

I head into the bathroom and turn on the light, and check my reflection. 

I don’t look haggard, or hidden…I look pretty happy.

About caratunkgirl

Short spunky girl from the tiny town of Caratunk, Maine. Active outdoor girl. I am a forester, whitewater raft guide, Ironman and 5x marathoner with Ultra dreams. Always ready for the next adventure with my dog Kineo by my side.
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16 Responses to Running with Coyotes

  1. Matt Smith says:

    That was so poetic! I’m glad you didn’t get eaten by the coyotes! Keep up the running! You’re doing great!

  2. Kevin says:

    Ok… you need to submit this to Triathlete magazine or Runner’s World. Seriously. This was a phenomenal post!

  3. “I notice that there is not a soul up in town yet.”

    This is rare in the metropolis of Caratunk? Variations could be “I notice that everyone is eating lunch” or “notice everyone is looking at that cute dog” or, you get the idea…

    It is ironman! What do you expect it to be?

  4. adena says:

    Loved this post! 4am? That is dedication!

  5. Jill says:

    You’re a beautiful writer! Keep being strong, girl! 🙂

  6. Christina says:

    Agreed – wonderfully written post. Only the dedicate (and crazy) folks are up at that ungodly hour.

  7. Jennie says:

    What Kevin said! 🙂

  8. Matt Oravec says:

    … yeah, the days of early morning workouts are LONG GONE In the Oravec household 🙂

    Way to kick some ass!

  9. Jamie says:

    Even more motivation to keep up good form!

    If you start shuffling along, they might think you are weak/sick and they’ll be able to pick you off easy.

    Nice work Mandy. Super impressed by your REALLY EARLY training sessions. Especially in the dark/cold.

  10. Black Knight says:

    Great post. That was an epic run: in the dark, in the cold and with the coyotes around …. but the humans are more dangerous.

  11. Christi says:

    This was a great post. Your dedication is inspirational!

  12. Colleen says:

    Wow, Mandy, this is an awesome post! Girl, you are awesome for getting your butt out of bed and making it happen. You’ll remember these runs as you pass me, drunk, cheering your butt to the finish. And you’ll smile. Because you’ll remember how tough you are! 🙂

  13. Isn’t that so true? We always look and feel more happy after a run than before it. Say what you will about anticipation.

    The biggest problem I have is that you woke up at 4 am and only wanted one more hour of sleep? Show some ambition there and go for 2 more hours of sleep. Come on.

  14. Anne-Marie says:

    You are so inspiring and hardcore! And brave. I get nervous if I’m outnumbered by deer in the park – I’d be totally freaked by the coyotes. It will all pay off at IMMT!!

  15. Coy Martinez says:

    It’s one of the hardest things for me to do, get up when everyone else is sleeping. Maybe it’s because we love blankets and a warm bed so much 🙂 but, for Ironman we push on!

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