I run the Paradise Valley trail once a week. It's close to home and has a little bit of everything. A main trail that is semi flat for speed work, technical loops with those half buried rocks and roots, plenty of hills and a section that has lots of over growth so I can practice my hurdles and bushwacking skills.
Part of the fun of trail running, is wondering what the rustle of brush will bring into your path. I have seen mice, racoons, squirrels, rabbits, snakes and once a deer that ran just ahead of me for almost half a mile. Wild life is expected out there. It's their home I'm running through.
During a recent adventure, I was heading back to the parking lot when I felt something above my head. I looked up and saw large, sharp claws hovering just over me. I repressed a scream, put my hand over my head and picked up the pace. Into my line of sight flew a snowy white owl, her wing span as wide as the single track before me. I watched her fly upward and turn around, swooping down again, exactly toward me, claws extended. I ducked down instinctively and as she flew upward again, I headed for the cover of the trees. She landed on a branch to my right. So much for tree cover. Maybe it was my over active imagination, but I thought I could feel her staring me down, which surprised me as I tend to consider owls cute and fluffy liked Hedwig (see Harry Potter). I started to wonder if I looked like food to her or if I was perceived as an intruder violating her space. Neither made me feel like slowing down. I kept running with my hand over my head, looking frantically up and then from side to side. If there had been a web cam, I'm sure that recording would have gone viral. After what seemed like a very long time, I crossed paths with fellow runners on the trail. Yay, other humans. I wanted to warn them, but in my breathless state all I could say was "good to see you" in a relieved exhale. I'm sure they chalked up that weirdness to runner's high.