Ok, you might be wondering what's up with the title, well it's all about attitude. You know, is the glass half or half empty kind of attitude. What's that got to with deer flies, well, I was kind of getting irritated on Sunday with deer flies. For those that don't get to experience deer flies, here is a picture of the Deer fly (chrysops callidus) thanks to Wikipedia.
They are the only thing that can make my trail runs miserable especially in my favorite place to run, the eastern section of Lebanon Hills. I can tolerate poor weather, occasional animals and even mosquitoes but deer flies are the worst, they torment me regardless of how fast or slow I run.
On Sunday when I went for a mid distance run, suffice to say it was a Deer fly event, they followed me for the entire 13 miles. I wasn't too pleased, they bit my legs, neck and head. I was swatting and squashing flies the entire run. They are fast and darn persistent in their attacks. After I got home, I was reading some emails in the ultra email group and one of the guys started a thread about deer flies. He posted a link to his blog about his deer fly experience that had me amused, his name is Jamie and his blog is called "Maine Runner", take a look and enjoy it. Also in the email thread, there were many other suggestions, someone suggested something called a deer fly patch that attaches to your hat, the premise is that the flies will stick to it, it's kind of goofy looking and it may not be pleasant to remove but a handful of runners said the patches worked. Might be worth a try.
Well, today I went out expecting to run my 7 mile loop, it is one of my favorite loops and it goes right through the heart of deer fly territory. I told myself that they weren't going to get to me, I was going to zone out to some podcasts, soak in the heat, charge the hills and enjoy the shade of my favorite running loop. Almost immediately, a couple things didn't work out as expected, first, I realized I had forgotten my watch, no problem I had my Ipod with my Nike+ to track my time. So off I went around Jensen lake, and after about a quarter mile of running, my ipod died. The battery was dead, I must have left it on somehow as it has never died before and that includes both my 50k's. Ok, don't sweat, you are running your favorite loop, the time isn't critical, it's just going to be an easy 7 anyway. Then almost right after I started running again, I heard some sounds of machinery, I figured they were clearing out the trees that had blown down in the storm. Wrong, they were laying some kind of drainage pipe with a huge backhoe. Favorite loop closed. Anticipated run ruined. Ok, go to plan B, alternate route, so I looped back the other way and was thinking how I was dreading those d@!! deer flies and about then one went in my mouth, quickly I spat it out, (note to self, remember in deer fly territory keep the mouth tightly closed). Ok, not a good start on plan B, I proceeded to swat a couple more, squashed one against my hat and then swallowed one whole, I said to myself enough already, should I just give it up?
I decided not today, I wasn't going to give up on this run, instead, I started doing deer fly sprints. When they bugged me a bit, I would sprint ahead 100 yards or so. They chased, I slowed down, they attacked, I sprinted and I thought to myself, this could be my new conditioning drill. Deer fly accelerations, I can use these little buggers to get my speed back. Another thought occurred as I was doing my accelerations, deer flies might be nutritious, a source of carbs and proteins, maybe I should just incorporate them into my long runs as fuel. Yah, that was a disgusting thought. I played with them for a couple miles and decided that since I didn't have my watch I may as well just enjoy the park and explore some different trails, I decided to loop back to the middle section of the park and see how the deer flies where there. Normally on the western section they aren't too bad but I wasn't sure about the middle section.
So I headed over to it and took the outer horse trail loop, I like to run it occasionally, mostly cuz it has a couple of hills and it's different, the middle section only has a few miles of trails so it can get boring if you run it too often. As I headed up a hill. I thought to myself about how I should work on my hill training and this hill was a decent one, about an 1/8 mile long, it was steeper at the bottom and gradually leveled off. I decided to do some hill repeats, I thought about Julie Berg doing them for 6 hours at Hyland, I decided to go for 15 minutes, hey you gotta start somewhere. I usually go up hills well but am not good coming down so I figured I would work on my downhills. Of course I went charging up the hill until I got to the turnaround point and tried to run down hard but I was breathing too hard from the ascent to do anything else hard. I meandered back down and thought to myself, maybe that's my problem with hills, I charge up, get to the top and am too spent to charge down. So I walked back up the hill, got to the turnaround and tried to accelerate down. It worked better than the first one, repeated the process, I was getting faster each time down. Decided to quit after 5, only because I wanted to make sure that my tendinitis in my knees doesn't rebel and it was kind of hot and, and, ok, I don't have another excuse.
So the deer flies and a few other things helped me take an easy 7 mile run that was turning into a disaster and turn it into a decent run. I got in 3 easy miles, 2 miles of accelerations, one mile of hill repeats and then another easy mile to cool down. Not quite to plan but maybe I have found a workout that I will keep for the remainder of the deer fly season and maybe I should just always look for the opportunity when things don't go quite to plan................