I had 11 miles on the docket today. I went back and forth hemming and hawing about what/where to run it. It gets a bit monotonous running the same blocks around my house, even with all the amazing houses, blah blah blah. However, the closest “trail” (if you can call a paved asphalt path through the woods that) is still a 15 minute drive away. I hate losing that time in travel. I briefly considered running Waterfall Glen, but I have a race there Saturday so figured I’d save the novelty (and bugs) for then. I decided to do Salt Creek Trail, the aforementioned asphalt trail, which begins across the street from Brookfield Zoo and traverses west for a ways (if you haven’t run it, it’s a little weird because the parking lot is just northwest of the zoo entrance. Then you have to run over this little spur across a field and up the parking lot towards the retirement center to the trailhead).
I’m glad I did! For one, it started sprinkling steadily (can it steadily sprinkle?) about mile 5 without much break. The tree coverage helped a good bit. I also got to see some nature, which in suburbia can mean chipmunks (which I saw lots of), blue jays (saw one!), a nesting gaggle of geese, the requisite deer (quite scrawny-looking, shouldn’t this be the height of eating season for them?), and some other things I don’t usually happen upon. Since it wasn’t a pace-specific run, I took my time to stop and take photos–although not too long since I was leery of getting bitten.
First up is this funny little fly. I had stopped to stretch my hamstrings for a minute, and when I bent down, I noticed this spectacularly colored insect, which had a spider sitting on it (I shooed the spider away for the picture, ha). I actually thought at first that it might be a fishing lure because it was so bright and unusual, but I think it might have been a real bug. I did not poke it further to investigate, though I’m pretty sure it was dead. Still, aren’t those wing colors gorgeous? See what you could miss if you don’t stop and look around every now and then? Feel free to comment if you know what kind of bug/fly it is. It’s obviously not a regular housefly. The next thing I noticed was an area of knee-high green plants which seemed to sport just one or two bright yellow leaves. I was curious to see if it was the actual leaves that were yellow or some kind of flower. It really did seem like there was only one yellow spot per square foot area of greenery so it didn’t strike me as something flowers do. When I stopped, I realized it was actually a flower, and an orchid-looking one at that. The picture is horrible, I know, but the bottom petal is quite a bit bigger than the top, and curves over like orchid flowers are apt to. I’m sure my mother-in-law Jane knows what it is (and should comment so all of you can find out too!). By the way, I am anticipating a new phone to arrive in the mail tomorrow so hopefully my pictures will improve (although a mosquito was trying to land on me while I was taking this, which also impacted its quality. I’m pretty sure the iPhone 6 will not have mosquito repellant built in.).
I do get the chance to see various cranes/herons flying overhead when I run Salt Creek, but this is the first time I got a decent-ish look at one on the ground. There’s been a ton of rain lately (June was the rainiest, coolest month on record and July’s not looking very different), so there were lots of boggy/marshy areas like this. I’ve heard alot of ducks quacking in the distance, but this is the first time I’ve seen a heron in the water. It was lovely, although I wasn’t quick enough to actually snap a shot if it when it had its wings open. So gorgeous. Again, sorry for the low photo quality, but I had to zoom in a ton to get the crane to show up in the shot. The greenery in this is pretty amazing. With all the rain, the sun hasn’t had a chance to burn off any of the algae.
Finally, the last exciting shot (also blurry, sigh) was some wild strawberries I spotted alongside the path. As I was running along, I noticed a string of bright red blobs on the ground. Curious because they were such a bright red, I stopped. I was delighted to see that they were wild strawberries. I was not trusting enough of my plant-identification skills, though, to actually taste test one. I half-wish I had. I bet they were delicious! Oh well, perhaps the previously mentioned scrawny deer will find them.
And here is the obligatory runner-blogger selfie shot. Because I am vain, I decided I needed to try and get a little bit of color on my face (since I usually wear a hat) and ran in just a headband. It’s generally not a good look as my hair is all over the place and it accentuates my bowling-ball-like facial bone structure. I also wore a cotton (cotton!!) tank top to try and work on getting rid of my ridiculous runner tan lines from my various tech tanks and sports bras. Considering how cloudy it was, I’m not sure it did anything except make me nasty sweaty.