Happy Spring!

Today is the first day of spring.  Here in the Sacramento area, we awoke to spring showers.  I’m hoping that we get some nice sunshine in the next few days to dry out the trails.  I have a trail race on Sunday and I don’t own a pair of trail running shoes (yet).  I’d rather not slip and slide all over the place.

Spring can mean several things to people.  For me, I think of spring as a time with lots of sunshine and pretty blossoms.  I think many people will agree that spring also means MORE outdoor time since the days get longer.  It also means that it’s time to start racing for the 2013 season……yippee!

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Out on the trails, I love seeing the green grass on the hills and the plants coming awake after a cold winter.  But lately, there has been one plant I’ve been avoiding…….the dreaded poison oak.  For some, poison oak is just another plant.  For many, like me, it’s a plant to stay clear of whenever possible.  I am extremely allergic to it.  Not only do I get a rash, but it blisters and itches, keeping me up at night.  It makes me miserable.

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During yesterday’s run, I felt like the trail was leading me through a sea of poison oak.  It was everywhere! Since I am out and around the dreaded PO so much, I thought it was time to learn what it looked like, how to avoid coming in contact with it and what to do if I do touch it.

First, I need to recognize it.  I have decided that any sticks that grow straight out of the ground are poison oak.  However, it can also be a vine.   If I can avoid these two types of plants, it will help my chances of staying PO free.

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I’m pretty sure these are poison oak bushes (pic from 2 weeks ago)

Also, the saying, “Leaves of 3, let it be,” can help me identify it.  Bushes with 3 shiny leaves are sure to be poison oak.  As the season progresses, the color of the leaves can change, making it look similar to a blackberry bush.  There is 1 big difference……..blackberry bushes have thorns, poison oak bushes do not.

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“Leaves of 3, let it be”

Once I could recognize it, I began to see it everywhere.  Maybe it was better when I didn’t realize how much there was around here.

Second, stay on the trails.  I know that it can be hard to share the trail (especially single track trails) with on coming users, but I won’t step off the trail into a bush before looking (sorry).

Third, when I’m out and among poison oak, I shower and wash my clothes as soon as I return home.  I ask that my husband and son also do this after mountain biking and before they sit on the couch.  I don’t want the oil on the furniture or anywhere in the house.  And, of course I follow the same rule!

If you have come in contact with poison oak, you should wash with cold water and soap or cold water and a product called Tecnu (Tecnu also makes a preventative cream).  This will help wash away the oils.

This year I have been lucky (knock on wood).  I have logged over 40 trail runs and I have managed to stay clear of that dreaded PO.  I will cross my fingers that I continue to stay far from it.  Here are some other tips and products for treatment:

http://walking.about.com/od/safety/tp/poisonivy.htm

More info on how to prevent getting poison oak:

http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Getting-Poison-Ivy-or-Poison-Oak

Do you know of any tricks or tips to add?  Please comment.

I hope we all avoid poison oak and continue to enjoy the trails!  Happy Spring and Happy Running.

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