A Bird in Bird-in-Hand

I didn’t do it on purpose — as I had no idea I’d (finally!) be selected for the team when I registered — but it was oh-so-very fitting that I made my Oiselle Volèe Team debut at the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon this past Saturday.

For those unfamiliar with Oiselle (translation: “bird” in French), it’s a completely awesome women’s running apparel company that’s all about girl/woman power, flying (a.k.a running), and being true to your amazing, bad@s* self. The company’s founder, Sally Bergesen, is one of my role models. She’s an entrepreneur (me, too!), runner (me, too!), and serious marketing/branding genius (I’m working on it!). Think She-Ra in running shoes! The Oiselle Volèe and Haute Volèe (pros) Teams are a group of extraordinary women that not only represent the brand, but also believe running is a life philosophy, not just a sport. Knowing all that, you can get an idea of why I was super psyched — as in I screamed when I got the announcement — to be selected for this team (after two years of trying!), and why BIH was the perfect place to make my debut as a bird.

This was my second appearance at the BIH half, which is a beautiful (and very hilly!) course in Amish Country, Pennsylvania. In 2012, I set a new PR (that lasted until Eugene), so I was excited to get back out there and give this course another go.

Once again, this race did not disappoint.

I kicked off the morning with a strawberry Pop-Tart (Reminder: Must order more Picky Bars!!!), and a starting line meet-up with fellow bird/Oiselle teammate/Lancaster native, Victoria and her friend Kyle. It was a lot of fun to hangout with such cool ladies and definitely got me pumped for the race.

IMG_2813

If that wasn’t enough, I got to do my warm-up with hot air balloons floating around above me. (How freakin’ cool is that?!)

IMG_2829

The weather was pretty much perfect for running – sunny and 50 degrees. So perfect that I had to throw my Oiselle arm warmers at my always-so-supportive husband/race photog extraordinaire at the three-mile mark.

IMG_2836

As the miles flew by, there were equal parts human and farm animal spectators cheering my fellow runners and I up and over the hills.

IMG_2859

 

IMG_2876

 

IMG_2871

Inspired by the animal cheerleaders, I did my own animal impression…of a bird, of course.

IMG_2846

I was feeling pretty good at mile 10, so I decided to kick things up a notch, or as my husband said, “drop the hammer.” This resulted in negative splits for the final 5k – a killer feat for someone with a bad habit of going out too fast and dying at the end of a race.

IMG_2893

I finished the race two minutes faster than the previous year, and clocked my second fastest half time ever! With my full marathon (hey, Akron!) in three weeks, I was definitely happy with this performance.

photo (7)

And this was the reward for my 13.1-mile adventure. It gives new meaning to the term “hardware.” Seriously. I almost toppled over when they handed it to me.

photo (9)

All in all, it was a great day to make my debut as a bird and fly through Bird-in-Hand! I definitely see you again next year, BIH Half!

A Magic Morning

As I opened the door to leave for my run this morning, I was blasted with a surprise: cool air. Not the kind that you get when you wake up early on a summer morning to avoid the heat, but the kind that reminds you that the leaves will be falling soon enough.

As I waited for my Garmin to catch a satellite, I noticed two men dressed in all white doing what I’m guessing was tai chi. They were standing on the bridge over the pond behind my house. I watched them in awe for a minute – their every move perfectly synchronized.

Two miles in, I ran into a pack of bunnies. Yes, it literally was a pack of about half a dozen. Some were in the street. I’ve learned a thing or two about bunnies since we rescued (King) Patches from the shelter a couple years ago, so I knew how to approach them to get them to move away from the dangerous street. I realize this sounds a little like wrangling cattle, which I don’t imagine to be all that different.

Everything about the run was a little odd…a little off, especially for an August morning. But there was a beautiful strangeness to all of it.

It’s mornings like this that remind me why I love running. It’s random, unpredictable, and occasionally magic.

Why Did the Turtle Cross the Trail?

My first run on the C&O Canal trail was awesome. I felt as if I’d been transported down South as I ran past the marshes and rows of wispy, willowy trees. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to run the trail. It’s less than a half hour from my house, and the scenery alone makes it worth the drive. Add in the amazing solitude and the fact that it’s mostly shaded from the sun, and it’s just about as perfect a trail as a runner could ask for. Well, that is except for one thing…the turtles.

Don’t get me wrong, I like turtles. Carrying a shell on your back at all times seems like a lot of hard work, so I admire the turtles’ toughness. It’s this admiration, and the fact that I don’t believe in injuring harmless creatures, that I have a problem when one almost gets squashed under my foot. I make a point not to intentionally squash anything when I run — even creepy crawler bugs. I’ve had run-ins with a lot of ants, worms, and even lizards (when I lived in Florida), but this was the first time I almost ran over a turtle.

It was practically impossible to see him camped out in the middle of the trail. He blended in with the dirt, rocks, and gravel quite nicely. My shoe was inches from kicking the poor thing when I finally saw the faint orange streaks on its shell and realized it was not a rock. I managed to dodge the little guy just as he tucked his head into his shell. Given that he didn’t have enough time to get his legs in, I suspect he hadn’t seen me either.

I felt guilty for scaring him…and for almost crushing him under my Nikes. (After all, I was his neighborhood, not mine.) So guilty that I spent the rest of my run on the look out for other turtles crossing the trail. Fortunately, I didn’t have anymore close encounters of the shelled kind. I may wait until winter to run the C&O Canal again, though. I just don’t think I can handle having turtle-slaughter on my conscious.