This morning started with perfect running weather -- mid-50's forecast for most of the day, cloudy, light wind, and no rain. The big dog and I hadn't been for a run all week so we suited up and headed out. Then we turned around and came back because I forgot the pepper spray, but eventually we were on the road.
My usual plan is to head south out of town and keep going in a straight line until I realize that coming back is going to take even longer because I'll be tired. Turning around at the emus will be roughly 10k. Turning around at the bridge leads to a run of about nine miles. The only problem with going straight out and straight back is that it gets a little boring going the same route every time. I've dealt with that in the past by just planning on going a little farther every time, but nine miles is about my limit right now.
However, with nine miles to play with, I should be able to do a loop around some of the fields on the county roads which are set up on a N-S, E-W grid. They aren't spaced very evenly, but most of them aren't too much more than a mile apart, so a loop would add somewhere around four miles or maybe a little less.
With that in mind I turned left when we passed the emus and we ran along a whole new road (new fields of green stuff that I couldn't identify!) then took another left at the next road. Now we were headed north again so we'd passed the halfway point which was good because my legs were starting to get really tired.
This county road had absolutely no traffic. There wasn't any shoulder, but not one car passed us and I thought I'd found the perfect route. Then after about a mile I saw this:
Oops. Turns out the county roads aren't as much of a grid as I thought they were. Or they are a grid with a few missing pieces. The thing is, though, that I could see the cross traffic in the distance and I wasn't wearing my glasses so it couldn't be too far off. Instead of turning around and retracing our steps I decided to go off-roading on the edge of the field until I came to the next road where we would go west and be back on track.
We jumped across an irrigation ditch and started our life of crime (trespassing). Running on uneven soft dirt turned out to be a good way to turn an ankle, so after a few minutes I decided to walk. Naturally this was when the yellow crop-dusting plane flew over, but I think it was headed further out because it didn't dump a bunch of chemicals on us. We finally made it to the other road which turned out to have no shoulder, a fair amount of traffic, and rough asphalt. I kept having to stop running and move over with the big dog onto the sloping side of the ditch to let traffic go by.
We weren't even halfway down the road when suddenly the big dog stopped. I looked back and he's shaking and doing a "the road is lava and I don't want to put my feet on it" imitation. I fully expected to find thorns or bloody pads when I looked at his feet, but I saw nothing. I got him back across the irrigation ditch into the fields so I could figure out what was going on. He wasn't overheated. He didn't want to lie down and rest. We were six miles into the run, but he's in better shape than I am and has been training with me the entire time, so muscle pain shouldn't have been a factor but you never know.
While I was trying to figure out who I could call to come pick us up he started walking on the dirt in the right direction. We walked the three miles back and he didn't act lame or otherwise painful the entire time.
So... I don't know. If he doesn't seem sore tomorrow I guess I'll chalk it up to something on that road that bothered him. He had trouble stepping on certain textures when we first started agility, so maybe it was that. Or maybe the traffic freaked him out.
In any case that route gets a hard no in the future.