Sunday, July 23, 2006

A long run, and a cool hawk

What a gorgeous morning. It was sunny and 65 degrees when I went out for my run. I did a long 11 miler again today, running the trail all the way through Minnetonka Mills and darn near into Deephaven.

I felt really good and ran at a comfortable but steady pace. The run only took me about 1 hour and 35 minutes, which puts me at a sub 2 hour pace for a half marathon, something I hope to accomplish at Des Moines in October. I am feeling good about my training and believe that I am on my way towards achieving that goal!

I saw very few people, but a lot of great wildlife. I can’t possibly describe to you how many cottontail rabbits there were. They are the cutest little things, and it appears they are on the verge of overtaking the squirrel population. There were lots of birds, too. Many, many cardinals, ducks, and great blue herons. And there was one other really interesting sighting.

A little more than two miles into my run, a section of the trail parallels a frontage road. I started to notice a huge debris field of feathers on the shoulder of the road. It looked like a pigeon had exploded.

A few seconds later, I saw what caused the carnage. It was a Cooper’s hawk. He was sitting on top of the pigeon. Obviously, I had just missed witnessing the assault, which must have been spectacular given the amount of feathers that were scattered about.

Now, you will have to understand this is terribly exciting for me because I have only seen a handful of Cooper's hawks before, and now I was about to get my closest look ever. I stopped running just so I could look at him. I was no more than 20 feet from him. The hawk turned to look at me, but he didn’t move. No way he was going to leave this succulent pigeon! This Cooper’s was an adult male. He had all the markings that you see in the bird books, with the dark cap, the reddish barring on the chest, and even the evil red eyes. An awesome specimen! I gawked for perhaps 30 seconds or so, and then I continued on my way, leaving him to finish his breakfast.

I have a lot on my plate today. I have to finish making my refrigerator pickles (it is a two day, two-step process!), and I am going to make a venison ragu with rigatoni for tonight. In addition, the British Open and Tour de France are going on right now, and NASCAR is later this afternoon. A great day for sports!

Until next time,

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