Saturday, January 29, 2011

You can't make this stuff up

Today marks the single most bizarre running experience I've had in my two years of running. I'm sure we've all had strange things happen to us while running, but this is one for the books. If you have had something comparable to this happen to you, please share. I need to know I'm not alone.

First, the run! I had 12 miles on the agenda today, and since it's my last long run before I go on vacation, I knew it had to be a good one and I knew running with a friend would make it all the better. My wonderful friend and marathoner Shawna agreed to join me and we set out around noon to tackle 12 miles in Central Park. Even though it was in the chilly low 30s, after the first mile I actually said it felt so much warmer than last week! But really, anything would was frigid last week!

It was so great to have someone to talk to while I ran -- it gave us a chance to catch up and do something together that Shawna actually first introduced me to. She was the first person in college I remember going for runs, and she was the one who told me I really needed to run outdoors to get better. She ran the Chicago marathon in October and is in general a badass runner. Unfortunately, she's been suffering from an injury and had to stop after the first six miles (definitely a smart move! Better to stop when it hurts than keep going and risk further injuring it!).

After Shawna dropped off, I kept going. At 6.5 miles, the most bizarre thing that's ever happened to me while running occurred. I was running by The Boathouse and sort of noticed that there were a bunch of birds starting to fly. Assuming, as most people would, that they would avoid running into people (when have you ever seen a bird run into a person?!), I kept running.


A (rather large, from the sound and feel of it) bird FLEW STRAIGHT INTO MY HEAD AT FULL SPEED. Flew. Into my head. HIT ME ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD. As far as I know, that bird is now dead, because it FLEW INTO MY HEAD. Let me tell you, that thunk was LOUD. At that, I just started laughing. WTF?!?! What kind of bird flies directly into a person? Sure, I can understand getting sucked into a jet engine, but birds seem to be generally quite good at avoiding people, poles, even windows! Perhaps I was just running so fast that it didn't have time to avoid me...yes, that MUST be it.

I kept going and just started laughing and asking, "What the hell just happened?" I mean, what else can you do? My head hurt, like someone had thrown a rock at it, but when something like that happens, you just have to laugh. And of course, I was not alone by The Boathouse when this happened. First, a guy ran by me and asked if I was OK, expressing that that was truly a strange thing to have seen, and then a girl ran by saying pretty much the same thing. I said I was OK, that it hurt, and gave a general WTF face. I had 5.5 more miles to run though, so I kept going. I know a bird pooping on your head is good luck, but can a bird flying into your head be even better luck? Let's hope so.

Here's today's run from the Garmin:
  • Mile 1 - 9:45
  • Mile 2 - 9:29
  • Mile 3 - 9:39
  • Mile 4 - 9:32
  • Mile 5 - 9:38
  • Mile 6 - 9:23 (had a Gu at mile 6)
  • Mile 7 - 9:22
  • Mile 8 - 9:14
  • Mile 9 - 9:32
  • Mile 10 - 9:15
  • Mile 11 - 9:09
  • Mile 12 - 8:53
Clearly, the bird flying full speed into my head gave me some additional speed!

Every Friday I wonder which day I'll do my long run, and I'm always glad when I do it on a Saturday. Shawna and I had discussed running on Sunday, but I woke up today thinking it would be better to get it done on Saturday so I could focus on last-minute errand running on Sunday (I leave for China on Friday!). It was definitely the right choice -- I love feeling like I accomplished something so big and can relax and not worry about it for the rest of the weekend.

As I mentioned, I'm going on vacation on Friday, visiting my brother in China with stops in Thailand and Hong Kong with my family. I think the hotels in the cities should have gyms, but I definitely won't be able to stay on top of the marathon training schedule the whole time. I'm going to do my best to keep the balance -- run a few miles a few times a week if possible, bring along my resistance cords, and walk as much as possible! As my dad pointed out, now is probably the best possible time for me to take this vacation since I'm in great shape (best shape I've been in since I started working out! Woo!). I'll lose a little fitness, I'm sure (Beijing is not known for its smog-free sky!), but hopefully I'll be able to gain it back relatively easily when I return.

So now, I need to know a couple of things. First off, how do you stay fit while you're traveling? And second, can you top my bizarro bird story? Please share!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Aaand I'm back...again...

Hopefully for good!

I'm training for the Potomac River Run now. I'm four weeks in and so far, so good! I'm using Hal Higdon's Novice 2 training program and I'm enjoying it. I've edited it a bit to include speedwork and tempo runs, plus I'm running Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and a long run on a weekend day, doing Total Body Conditioning Tuesdays, and resting on Fridays. I'm going to try really, REALLY hard not to get injured this time...I want to bump up my strengthening workouts, which I think will help keep me from getting injured, and I've been sure to stretch a lot following all workouts. I want to try to get yoga into my schedule too, even if it's just on Exercise TV, a podcast, or the NYSC classes. And I want to make sure I'm always wearing the right shoes!

Yesterday was my long run (11 miles). I knew it was going to be cold this weekend, so I was really dreading my run when I checked and saw this:
FEELS LIKE 11!!!???

Then I remembered this race, when it was 18 degrees, and I knew I could do it if I tried. I figured it would be better to get it done with on Saturday rather than wait till Sunday (plus I had a friend's birthday brunch to attend!) so I headed out just before noon and was back by 2pm. It was sunny, and it was cold, but it was also a GREAT run:

  • Mile 1 - 10:16
  • Mile 2 - 9:39
  • Mile 3 - 9:28
  • Mile 4 - 9:41
  • Mile 5 - 9:31
  • Mile 6 - 9:38 (had a Powerade gel at 6 miles)
  • Mile 7 - 9:21
  • Mile 8 - 9:32
  • Mile 9 - 9:26
  • Mile 10 - 9:33
  • Mile 11 - 9:04

There had been a half-marathon in Central Park earlier in the day, so the roads in the park were totally clear. There were quite a few people out running, but the runners weren't the only ones working up a sweat -- I saw quite a few people sledding and even some cross country skiers!

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the gym today, but I did get to do some fun stuff like eat brunch and watch football. Could be worse :)

Three miles planned for tomorrow...according to, it'll be 3 degrees and feel like -7 when I head to the gym. The high for the day is 16! EEK! Is it spring yet?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Inspiration for the day

"...anything is possible and your limits might not be where you think that they are. I'm continually surprising myself by what I can achieve."
- British Ironwoman Chrissie Wellington 
Read the full article here.

I've recently been thinking about the need to push myself and the idea that I am probably able to run faster than I am allowing myself. I like feeling comfortable and like I can breathe, but every now and again it's helpful to get out of the comfort zone and really feel my lungs burn. I feel stronger when that happens, and I know that I can do it. The trick is to not get injured in the process...