Monday, June 11, 2007

Running Sc-sc-scared!

So, aside from seeing a BEAR on my Sunday morning run, it was a really pleasant weekend for getting back in the yoga swing and then being outdoors. After ending my Friday workday huddling in our back hallways tornado shelter with my co-workers, I was ready to enjoy a springy couple of days. And so I did.

But taking a few steps back, I have to mention that my early-morning yoga has really taken off and appears to be paying off as well. I’ve noticed that—aside from the much-heralded benefits of stretches, meditation and poses—getting up in the morning to do yoga is much more satisfying than waking up to drag myself to work.

Not only do I wake up easier, but I sleep better and feel more relaxed, yet more energetic, throughout the day. Plus, my sinking, bad posture doesn’t hit me until later in the day when I’m ready to go for a run or swim anyway.

Yogi TeaWhat’s more is that I got my hands on a kick-butt tea at Trader Joe’s: Yogi Tea. Apparently it’s not uncommon; it’s new to me. But it’s a really tasty organic tea with lemongrass, green tea, licorice root, jasmine green, alfalfa leaf, burdock root, Irish moss and other healthy stuff. It’s invigorating yet relaxing. Just the scent kicks your breathing into ujjai pranayama.

And that’s how I’ve been waking up and settling down since last Thursday. Sigh.

But on Saturday afternoon, I hopped up (after a nap) and went for a 14-mile bike ride with Neil from Stow to Main Street Cupcakes, where we rewarded ourselves with vanilla sundae cupcake for me (that’s fudge-filled vanilla cake topped with chocolate ganache and buttercream frosting) and two classic chocolate cuppies for Neil.

Get yourself some cupcakes already! I’ve never felt more motivated to go for another 14-mile bike ride in my life! Wonder what I’m doing next weekend?

It was a great ride: pretty uphilly, particularly on the way back, with a mix of trail, road and gravel. It was rough in spots (Like the gradual one-mile incline out of Hudson that we didn’t notice on our way in, and a gargantuan mountain of a hill right as we made it into Stow. I think one of us proclaims that we hate the other one at least once each time we take that big hill!), but the perfect afternoon made it an easy ride despite the terrain.

We’re really inching forward with cycling progress, and I think I’m right on the verge of being ready to bike it to work. How awesome would that be? But I’m still wheel-stupid and have figure out how to put my tires on correctly so my brakes don’t press against my tire when I hit a certain speed.

A couple weeks ago Landon asked if I have quick-release wheels… and I believe I do. The dirtiest part for putting my bike back together is getting the chain back on the rear wheel. I’m almost positive I’m doing it all wrong (I know I shouldn’t have assumed that Neil was listening better than I was when the guy at Eddy’s showed me how to do it; it was, after all, my bike), so if anyone has any secrets of bike-wheel-putting-on, I would really appreciate it. I even get a little anxious flying down big hills, wondering my tires are ready to pop off at any moment. It’s a good thing I wear a helmet.

Maybe I just need practice and should stop being afraid of the big, bad wheel. It would be nice to take my bike places without my wheel fear. And it might be easier to ride without that wheel-popping-off thing weighing on my mind.

But for now I’ll have that bear-coming-after-me fear weighing on my running shoes. This week I took my Saturday-morning long run on Sunday morning. There was a 50K bike race trolling the Summit Metroparks trails on Sunday, so the typically desolate paths were pleasantly populated.

I’m bored with the same old streets I’ve been running for the past several months, and was, for once, not looking forward to running this weekend… until I saw the trails as a possibility.

I started an even-paced jog down a path, which was fairly peopled with cyclists, walkers and joggers when Neil and I rode it a couple weekends ago. But 2-3 miles down the trail, all of the racers turned off onto a road and I was suddenly by myself. I was certain that someone had to be around on other parts of the trail… but no-oh!

So, I tried pushing out of my head recent news stories (and the scoop about the lady on very nearby OH-303 getting bitten by a coyote a couple months ago) and staying focused on my running until I hit a more populated area. Or at least something I could recognize! Finally, I ran up a steep, steep hill and hit a fork in the road that I knew led back to a residential neighborhood a mile down the path in one direction and downtown Peninsula in the other.

I saw a flippin' bear and it looked just like this...But as I turned around at the top of the hill, wondering which direction to choose, I saw a big old furry animal sloping down the hill. I stopped for a minute to figure out what it was. And I recognized that shape, that fur, that gait—it was a BEAR!

No joke: the bear was totally headed in the opposite direction, but I took off running (the path toward the mile-away residential hood) faster than these stubby little legs have ever moved. And according to my iPod, it was my first ever sub-6-minute mile!

When I reached the neighborhood, I didn’t stop running, but I slowed way down (obviously!) to the 8:41/mile pace I maintained for most of the run. I cut through the streets and hit a main street that led me through Hudson, around Stow and onto a path that had people on it and only much, much smaller animals on it. And much to my surprise, I was able to finish my run pretty comfortably after running for what I considered to be my life.

The only downside is that while I ran 12.07 miles, I had greater distance to go. As I was jogging down the path toward my car (I could see it glinting in the sun a mile away), my knee felt a little tweaky.

Before (in my previous life as a runner… three weeks ago) I would have kept running through the pain and ignored the very signs that tell me something is wrong. Instead I stopped. I walked for a bit and tried to pick it up again, but my knee didn’t feel right. So, I walked the remaining mile. I hydrated and rested for the day, and tried to stay off the knee for a while. And today I feel much better.


Jim said...

((But it’s a really tasty organic tea with....burdock root....))
... And guaranteed to stick to your ribs, gullet, esophogus, gums, T-shirt, socks, pants, and pets!

Scary stuff with the bruin - but it DID give you great workout! (I wouldn't recommend it to viewers at home, though)

miss petite america said...

that tea sounds fabulous! does it go well with cupcakes?

Neil said...

I swear to god, if you see another bear you're either running with me or a baseball bat.

Just remember - I don't have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you.

IronGambit said...

Yes, no problem! Looks like fun huh? :)

DaisyDuc said...

I think I would have been a running too if I saw that bear!

I would say I would be pretty motivated for a bike ride with those cupcakes as a reward!!!

JenC said...

I didn't even know we had bear around here. I always run on remote trails by myself. Oops! Glad he was running the other way!

I will probably have another bike flat changing practice soon. If you can make it, I can help you with the quick release stuff. Bike guys probably know better though.

B Bop said...

Hello there G! I've been following your blog since I saw you over on Charlie's page. I spend quite a bit of time in the woods and have yet to see a bear, even in bear country. I catch the bike and hike near Hudson Drive often and take it north to cuyahoga county or east to portage county on my bike. I think this is where you saw this beast, near the fork in the trail. I just saw this on
pretty crazy...i've seen coyote's, especially in the winter, but never a bear. If chasing, they would be tough to outrun on a bicycle....they don't like to be poked in the eye.