Foul fowl: Outrunning feathered foes

My favorite time to run is in the morning around sunrise. This is also nature’s favorite time of day, and I see all kinds of creatures when I’m out, both furry and feathered. And, while I tend to run towards the furry, I find myself more often than not running-no-sprinting away from the feathered.

Exhibit A – the iconic Canada Goose. This noble fowl’s natural habitat is lakes, marshes or ponds. But the geese have, over time, adapted to urban sprawl, and have no problem calling residential neighborhoods home. Most of the year these birds, while large, are relatively harmless. But come spring, they become unholy feathered beasts of rage.

Gazelle and Gazella running from angry geese There’s a pond on my running route, and in the spring I’m actually afraid to pass it. Because, as I turn the last bend towards it, I’m met by dozens of pairs of beady eyes, sizing me up. I slow down as I approach them, and tell them I’m not interested in them or their families. But this rarely works.

The attack starts with them marching towards me like a small army. Only they’re not just the army. They’re the navy and air force too. It’s the trifecta of warfare. If I can get past them while they’re still marching, I’m good. However, if I hear a  “HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS” (otherwise known as their call to arms), I know I’m screwed. These birds attack, and viciously so. This good Canadian knows that once I hear said “HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS” it’s time to sprint myself out of there.

Freedom Exhibit B – the majestic Bald Eagle. One morning, while running away from the geese, I noticed a shadow on a fence up ahead. I could just make out a pair yellow eyes watching me. As I approached, its body remained still while its head pivoted, following my movements. When, finally, I reached it, I stopped to take a look. pre breakfast With a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet, eagles are very large birds. And I, as stated in previous posts, am a very small human.

We stared at one another, in silent study, until it hit me. Eagles are the Hannibal Lecters of the bird world. And here I was, the subject of this one’s very own culinary study. His yellow eyes had been waiting for me to trip while running from the geese so he could try me (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating,.. suspend your disbelief and go with it). Naturally, I sprinted away.

Chianti Exhibit C – the most fearsome creature one can encounter at dawn. If the eagle is the Hannibal Lecter of the bird world, the Wild Turkey is Hannibal’s psychotic cousin. The danger with turkeys is that, while a goose will attack you to protect its honor and an eagle will attack you because it’s hungry, a turkey will attack you simply because it feels like it. And, contrary to popular belief, turkeys can fly.

One summer morning, I was out for a jog when, out of quite literally nowhere, I heard a terrible “SQUAAAWCK!” from behind a fence followed by a series of violent beating noises. Then, in the clumsiest attempt at levitation I’ll ever witness, a creature rose above me like a disabled phoenix. The bird managed to clear the fence, but subsequently lost altitude. I, now at a dead stop, suddenly realized Hannibal’s psycho cousin was on a deliberate collision course with my face.

Eat my pain Running away from a wild turkey was not my brightest moment. Were it not for my super-awesome-fast-sprinting, I surely would have fallen victim to this bully. But, somehow, I lived to tell the tale to you dear readers. And, as I ran away that dawn, something clicked. Psycho Cuz didn’t have an army of support, nor did he have grace or strategy but, man, he had passion.

I love running And I, hobbling home in solitude, couldn’t help but relate.

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Weebles wobble and so does a Fleck

Once upon a fail, I had the bright idea to start doing Pilates.

I convinced two friends to join me, and bought purple mat and a pair of yoga pants in preparation for my first class.

nice mat

We got to class a few minutes early and found our places on the floor. Soon after, the instructor came in, and immediately picked the newbies out in the crowd.

“No shoes in here,” the instructor said, looking right at me.

“Sorry!” I replied. Blushing, I removed my shoes and laid down, hoping I’d go unnoticed for the rest of the class.

The instructor moved to the front of the studio and explained that class would be 1 hour, and that we’d start by focusing on our breathing and relaxation.

i got this_1After that, we grunted and crunched and contracted and planked our way through a set of exercises I didn’t know existed.

“And now, I’d like to show you ‘The Seal,'” the instructor announced, about 50 minutes into the class. There was an audible ‘thunk’ as 20 bodies dropped their planks and looked over at the instructor. For those who don’t know, this is The Seal:

The instructor demonstrated the exercise twice and then we assumed the starting position.

I gulped nervously as I moved into the modified “V sit”.

“And… GO!” the instructor commanded. At once, the class obeyed.

I flung myself back on to my shoulders, and realized I was in trouble. I tapped my toes together and, instead of pulling myself back up to the V sit, flopped onto my left side.

what the_1

I tried it again.


I started to get frustrated. I looked over at my friends, trying to figure out what they knew and I didn’t.


I tried a third time, violently flinging myself back, hoping that momentum would be in my favor. Instead, I rolled beyond the V sit and on to my face.

don't poke the bear

Momentum, clearly, not on my side, I then flopped to my left.

By now, the instructor had noticed 3 girls at the back of the class, two of them laughing and effortlessly “sealing” while the other flopped on her side like a sick walrus.

“The trick is to exhale really hard on your way up,” she coaxed, kicking my shoes aside.

Frustrated, I assumed the V sit position, inhaled on my way down, tapped my toes together, and then “THHHHBBBTTT!”

I exhaled as quickly and strongly as I could, and managed to rock myself back up to the V sit.

almost success

I was so happy celebrating, I hardly noticed the slow left arc my body was making. By the time I felt it, it was too late and I flopped.


I was about to storm my barefoot self out of the class when, looking down, I realized the cause of my woes. It was my trusty old friend, the short leg.

With a minute left in class, I re-assumed the V sit position. This time my left hand gripped my left ankle, while my right hand gripped my right calf. I inhaled deeply, flung myself on my shoulders, tapped my toes together, and then “THHHHHBBBBTTT!”

I pulled myself up on to my bum.


My hips wobbled beneath me, but I managed to hold the position. When the class was over, I flopped (purposely) to recover.

“What did you think, guys? Same time next week?” My friend asked, rolling her mat.

“Sure!” The other replied, getting up with ease.

“Umm, guys?” I asked, still horizontal, and in an enormous amount of pain.


“Can someone help me with my shoes?”

so much hurting_2

It would be 5 days before I’d twist, bend, stretch, laugh, or tie my shoe laces without whimpering.

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Running my ale off

I had two choices:

1) Have a pint and watch Manchester City vs Sunderland

2) Run in a -20C windchill

running my ale off

Pass me a pint, the Chelsea game starts in 20 minutes and I have some warming up to do.

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