Never a dull moment.

First things first, photos of the stroller are finally up!! Big thanks to Jeffrey Hains!

I had quite the eventful run this morning. When I checked the weather to see what I should wear, there was a tornado warning issued for the city of Richmond. I thought, “hmm, this should be interesting” and headed out the door in shorts and a tank top — 75 degrees at 7:30!! Running across Nickel Bridge, I was greeted by every spider in the city of Richmond, weaving their webs along the railings, confused by the warm weather. On the south side of the bridge, I ducked down onto Buttermilk Trail, where things got really interesting. It was just like stumbling into a jungle, fog floating in and around the bends in the trail, and branches strewn across the rocks everywhere. I had been asleep by 9 pm the night before, and apparently I had missed quite a rainstorm.

Buttermilk Trail winds, dips, and climbs along the woods just below Riverside Drive, and has a lot of steep embankments, rocky passages, bridges, and streams. It’s one of my favorite places to run, anywhere. This morning, everything was slick. I was side-stepping fallen branches, hopping over roots, and slowly crouch-walking down the slick rocks. It was exciting, but a bit tedious here and there. I must have turned my ankles 5 or 6 times, but luckily nothing serious. Just some loud cursing at myself.

I was in one relatively flat stretch, absent of any big rocks, cruising along, when I nearly stepped on a bright orange turtle, resting square in the middle of the path. I stopped and stared at it for a bit til I finally hopped over it and continued on my way. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the only reptile I’d run into.

I hate to admit it, but besides wanting to trail on pavement, another big reason that I cut way way back on trail running this summer was because I was afraid of running into a Copperhead snake, Richmond’s lovely poisonous snake that loves to hang around in the trails by the river. The summer before last, I nearly stepped on one laying flat across a trail out by Pony Pastures – as I flew over it in fright, I realized it was dead, but I was still scared out of my mind. And at that point I didn’t even realize it was a poisonous snake. I would find that out a few miles down the trail, when I ran into an ambulance blocking my way across to Belle Isle. They explained they were on their way to help someone who had just gotten bit by a Copperhead on a trail nearby. I described the snake I had just seen, which matched the description of a Copperhead, and which, they told me, was poisonous and bites easily. So I obviously felt great. Then, this past summer, I again nearly stepped on one laid out in the middle of the trail, also dead. I took it as a nice warning that I was flirting with danger, and decided to skip on the trails for a while.

So, this morning, October 27th, 4 days away from November, what do I come across on the Buttermilk Trail? A LIVE Copperhead. How close do I come? Close enough to scream like a big sissy. I backed away slowly, slowly, until I was running away from the snake, back in the direction I came. A half-mile later I climbed through a clearing in the trail out onto Riverside Drive. I finished up my run and went home, only to later complete my afternoon run minutes before another crazy storm front moved through the area, with gusts of wind up to 42 mph. Crazy day indeed.

PS: for everyone who agrees too readily that I am a big wimp: “A Copperhead snake bite needs medical attention, is extremely painful, and may cause extensive scarring and loss of use. Many people are bitten while trying to kill or handle the snake. Don’t take chances — avoid these snakes.” (
It might not kill me, but I’m not sure it will make me stronger either.


Author: zoegoesrunning

Hello! I'm a runner, a writer, and have run across the United States and the Tour de France course. Most recently, I'm blogging about my adventures in an MFA program that will bring me to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and my teaching plans for Argentina.

5 thoughts on “Never a dull moment.”

  1. Keep up the good workouts and watch out for those Copperheads. Out here keep your eyes out for the Rattlers.
    So, do you have any rough ideas yet on where we will meet as you cross Arizona?? When i’m chasing you down I have OnStar in the car so as long as I stay in the car you will be able to reach me. As soon as you have some distances figured out let me know. If it’s too far to get back to my house we can stay at a motel in the area. On the day you are to R & R i expect you to be in the Mesa area. It won’t be that long to go now!! WOW.
    Abrazos y Besos,
    Tio Beto

    1. Hi Al….thanks for being so nice to Zoë and offering to look out for her as she runs thru Arizona !

      I have asked Jina to get in touch with Donna Summers to see if the Blue Knights would meet up with Z at different spots in Joe’s Honor . What do you think ?

      Please come visit soon , the wine is delicious , the pizza is hot and saucy , the door’s always open and the lights always on .

      Best , Rick AKA : ( Big Daddy the Jog Blog Dog ! )

  2. ZoE,

    1. How tall is a “Copper Head Snake” at full extension?
    2. How high can you tuck you legs in a jump?

    Sorry, I may have been watching too many kung-fu movie lately..
    Either that or my idea of running/parkour/hiking/training will end badly 🙂
    Poisonous snakes don’t exist here, so that’s a strange obstacle.
    I only deal with falling off large muddy rocks onto bigger deadly rocks.
    Usually i am going far too fast to stop before i see a snake or turtle.
    I bank on the fact that most of the “trails” here are 100% safe-ish..
    Trail running here is more “mountains and mud” and less “deadly snakes.”
    Then again… it is hunting season and I can’t leave the main trails now 🙂
    Hope all is going well, you are an inspiration to us all. Say Hi to the family.


  3. I remember when you told me about that snake when you came back from your run last summer. And I hope there won’t be another Copperhead crossing your way!
    Love reading your articles!

  4. Dear Z…I remember this book I had as a young boy …it was all about snakes of every color , length , type , habitat and so on . I absolutely loved the book and was enthralled by all the beautiful colors and detailing of their hides , I gazed at every page over and over and over for years .

    Later on , after looking the book over I would go down to the Eastern Prom and catch Garter Snakes …the longer the better !! Though they are not poisonous , it was a thrill to hunt the hillside , cliffs and gullies for them . I was one of the best among my friends at finding them and getting them into a box to take home and spook Gram !!

    Today my affection for snakes is unchanged ! But do be safe , no matter where your runs bring you and know wherever you are my vibe and love are also with you !

    Big Love , Dad

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