I traversed the country during October in search of elk and warmth.
About a year ago, long time running friend and avid hunter, John Ausherman, invited me to join him on a Colorado elk hunt. John and I have run with and against each other since the early '80s, and I count him among my dearest friends.
Ten years ago I began deer hunting on John's land in southern Pennsylvania, and I have enjoyed the activity ever since.
Early in October, we did, indeed successfully hunt elk in the Northwestern corner of Colorado, and while we were there, we turned in some lung-burning, gorgeous workouts.
In Steamboat Springs we ran along the Yampa River Trail on a magnificent 70-degree day. Over this past weekend, skiers flocked to Steamboat. On our second day in the resort town we followed a well-groomed mountain trail past aspens exploding in their fall colors.
The breathing wasn't easy at a little over 6,000 feet above sea level, and it wasn't going to get much better.
Our hunting camp was located high in the mountains north of Craig, Colorado, at around 7,400 feet.
After mornings of climbing steep inclines and dodging sagebrush with our guide, New Zealander, Ian Lowe, we attempted to log some afternoon miles. The pace was slow and the breathing was labored, as we sometimes climbed above 8000 feet.
We ran for a week in the Colorado Rockies, and after a 28-hour drive in a car filled with freezers packed with elk meat, I spent four days at home in Pennsylvania before my wife and I boarded a plane to Myrtle Beach.
The contrast could not have been more dramatic. From hilly mountain trails a mile and a half above sea level, to table-flat beaches and roads slightly below sea level.
One thing, however, that did not change was dry, pleasant running. Now, unlike Colorado, the South Carolina coast is rarely dry, often featuring soupy humidity. But, at the end of October, it was simply perfect, with pleasant, dry conditions.
My goal during my traveling October was simply to "maintain," and not allow my fitness level to drop. Instead, I was able to turn in quality workouts amid beautiful, contrasting scenery.
In my new book, "Personal Best," www.muldowneyrunning.com, I observe how fortunate we are that, as runners we are like artists with an endless canvas on which to paint our masterpiece each and every day we run.
I was fortunate enough to expand my canvas in October.
Paint your own running masterpiece with each run.