August 30 started an 18 day, 5 state, 9 flight, 13,000+ mile trip for me, the first 13 days being vacation, followed immediately by a 5 day business trip. Some of my running friends heard me go on ad nauseum about this trip as I have been giddy about the chance to run in Virginia, California, Texas, and Utah during this stretch. Wednesday, Sandra and I flew to DC, put the finishing touches on Saturday night’s party to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and had dinner with my parents on their back porch. Thursday morning I headed over to the trail that passes within a mile of my parents’ house, and followed the Difficult Run Stream Valley. There are some short crushed gravel sections, but it is mostly single-track, twisty, rooty, and frequently climbing and descending the hills along the valley. I started at first light, and picked my way carefully through the gloom. I was rewarded with some early morning sightings of deer, owls and even two red foxes (actually burnt orange with white tufts on their tails). The entire valley is shrouded in 100+ foot tall oaks and poplar trees, it is an emerald paradise, augmented with audio produced from a thousand songbirds. My thoughts wandered back over the events of the night before, and I was having a wonderful time until I got careless. I had just crested a steep hill at a decent clip, and the following downhill led to a sudden acceleration just before my toe clipped a rock and I went down headfirst. Straight into a giant pile of horse manure. I was carrying two handheld water bottles which I used to break my fall – right in the pile. One bottle burst open from the impact, and my water supply was cut in half. I was covered in horseshit – it was on my hands, arms, handhelds, shorts, legs, and even on my knee where a rock had cut it open in 3 places. I used my shirt to clean off my hands as best I could, but the rest just stayed. I am sure I looked quite the mess to the handful of hikers I passed after that. Every time I brought my remaining water bottle up for a drink, I got a fresh breath of manure. Fortunately, I sweat most of it off before I got back to the car. I didn’t cut the run short, and still explored some new side trails, including one that will need further investigation next time I run here. 13+ miles in 2:06 in my new, New Balance minimalist shoes. That is 8 miles longer than my previous runs in them, time will tell if that was too big of a jump up in mileage. The spill aside, my first run of vacation was a (smelly) success.