My first run on the C&O Canal trail was awesome. I felt as if I’d been transported down South as I ran past the marshes and rows of wispy, willowy trees. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to run the trail. It’s less than a half hour from my house, and the scenery alone makes it worth the drive. Add in the amazing solitude and the fact that it’s mostly shaded from the sun, and it’s just about as perfect a trail as a runner could ask for. Well, that is except for one thing…the turtles.
Don’t get me wrong, I like turtles. Carrying a shell on your back at all times seems like a lot of hard work, so I admire the turtles’ toughness. It’s this admiration, and the fact that I don’t believe in injuring harmless creatures, that I have a problem when one almost gets squashed under my foot. I make a point not to intentionally squash anything when I run — even creepy crawler bugs. I’ve had run-ins with a lot of ants, worms, and even lizards (when I lived in Florida), but this was the first time I almost ran over a turtle.
It was practically impossible to see him camped out in the middle of the trail. He blended in with the dirt, rocks, and gravel quite nicely. My shoe was inches from kicking the poor thing when I finally saw the faint orange streaks on its shell and realized it was not a rock. I managed to dodge the little guy just as he tucked his head into his shell. Given that he didn’t have enough time to get his legs in, I suspect he hadn’t seen me either.
I felt guilty for scaring him…and for almost crushing him under my Nikes. (After all, I was his neighborhood, not mine.) So guilty that I spent the rest of my run on the look out for other turtles crossing the trail. Fortunately, I didn’t have anymore close encounters of the shelled kind. I may wait until winter to run the C&O Canal again, though. I just don’t think I can handle having turtle-slaughter on my conscious.