I had an asthma attack on this morning’s run. I never have asthma attacks unless I am pushing myself extremely hard physically and there is extraneous pressure that causes me to experience anxiety.
I ran up the back of my mountain this morning as I do several times a week. We’ve been blessed with beautiful winter temperatures this winter: no snow and it never freezes at night. Thus, I’ve been able to continue running up the mountain which, is often covered in deep snow by January.
But this morning there was a catch. It was pitch black at 6:30 am. No light at all on the back of the mountain except from the moon. Darkness in the morning doesn’t usually deter me as my dogs are very alert. Pablo (my Old Boston Bulldog) always spots wildlife before I do.
However, two things were on my mind this morning as I ran. Two disturbing thoughts that caused my heart rate to speed up and my stress hormones to be expressed into my blood stream.
There was a cougar spotted yesterday and this past weekend on UBC Okanagan campus. In spring and fall, cougars are often spotted in or near the city. There is a solid forest corridor that leads from the campus to the mountain I live and run on. Yes, my heart breaks for the cougar, who no doubt is starving from lack of habitat; yet, let its next meal not be me or any any human being for that matter.
Secondly, on Monday evening, someone unlawfully entered my home. My two youngest daughters, my dogs and I were home upstairs, having a quiet conversation when we heard someone open our front door and enter our home. We stopped and listened. We were expecting no one. The dogs ran to the gate at the top of the stairs and listened (they go ballistic barking excitedly whenever it’s someone they know). Tabs said, “Maybe it’s Mist.” I listened, perhaps she had arrived home early from ballet practice with her dad–maybe one of them felt ill?
But it was not either one of them. Who ever was in our home was silent. Tabs whispered to me, “should Pip and I go hide in the safe place?” (a prearranged place we decided upon, should any stranger ever enter the home while they were home alone) I told them to go and wait in a room with direct access to our balcony (one can jump to safety and run to the neighbors if needed). I let the dogs down the stairs and followed them. The front door was wide open and the dogs ran straight onto the front lawn. Who ever was in our home had bolted at the sound of the dogs and left the front door wide open in their hasty departure. I said in a very loud voice, “My dog is from fighting stock. He’ll shred your arteries. I will not be responsible if you bleed to death on my property.”
In retrospect I realize that the intruder had to be hiding at the side of the house because there is nothing to hide behind on our street and they could not have run away that fast.
Thus, as I wove my way up through the dark forest on my mountain this morning, it was thoughts of cougars silently stalking and creepy silent home invaders on my mind. Just when I needed mindfulness the most, I let it flow right out of my ears.
I started to push myself faster and faster up the mountain.
I wanted to reach the top and start for home as soon as possible, suddenly realizing that no one would ever hear my calls if I did run into trouble on the mountain. The stress I placed on my body caused my lungs to seize up and stick together–I could not get any air in. I pulled my inhaler from my bra and tried in vain to release my lungs and take in air. Just having my inhaler in my hand relaxed me a little and soon I could breath again and keep running for home.
I learned my lessons: cell phone comes with me next run, and never let mindfulness flow out my ears. Mindfulness would have helped; I’d have been alert but would not have had an asthma attack.