Coyote Encounter on Today's Long Run

I got home after a pretty late night of designing and working. (Hey, a girl’s gotta keep the lights on, you know?) At around 2am I finally stumbled into bed, but before that I figured that it was probably a good idea to just go ahead and get dressed in all of my running gear. That way, I could just get up and leave in the morning!

Even though I got up on time, I still managed to get to Griffith Park later than 8am. That officially makes me a bad team captain! I forgot to anticipate the 3/10ths mile walk to my car since I didn’t have a spot to park last night. After I got there, I stretched for about ten minutes while catching up with a few of the other teammates. It has been awhile since my last long run and I’ve been training very inconsistently, so I wanted to make sure to play it safe today.

I decided that I would aim for the target distance of 16 miles knowing that I probably wouldn’t be able to complete it. Then, about halfway, I just decided to go as far as I could for the day. Seemed like a healthier way to go about ramping up my mileage again.

Then, as I just started to pick up some steam, I was heading into the hills right behind Forest Lawn on the Burbank side of Griffith Park when I saw something a bit unexpected: a coyote. At first I thought it was an unleashed dog, but after it turned around, I could feel the blood draining out of my face. I’ve never come that close to a coyote before — there’d been a few of them up where my parents live, but I was always in my car — so this was a first. Even when I’ve gone hiking and camping I’ve never come that close.

I racked my brain and tried to remember. Was I supposed to get super loud? Was I supposed to withdraw quietly? Was I supposed to walk with my back to it or should I back away facing it? I immediately shut off my iPod and took out my earphones. I carefully turned around and walked calmly away, keeping my breath steady. (Most animals can sense fear, and the ones that are aggressive will definitely attack when they sense this!) I listened carefully for any rustling or motion but didn’t sense anything. I kept going for about 20 or so yards, and when I looked behind me, he was gone. When I felt like I was in a safety zone again, I ran as far as I could until I saw other runners, bikers, and riders.

It was a close encounter, but I definitely did the wrong thing. After doing some research online, the consensus is as follows:

  • Raise your arms or hold a jacket or backpack over your head to make yourself look bigger. (Nope, didn’t do that)
  • Make loud noises by yelling or by banging things together. (Hmm, didn’t do that either)
  • Back away slowly while facing the coyote if it doesn’t run away. Don’t turn your back or run away. (Major fail!)
  • Fight back if the coyote attacks you (Thank goodness it didn’t come to that)

Thank goodness the next run is at Lake Balboa, and the other runs will be on the LA River. No more trails for awhile. I’m spooked!

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