An inner athlete's manifesto.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Runner's Perspective--Thank You, NYC 2013

After Sandy and Boston, I’d say that most New Yorkers running the NYC Marathon on Sunday were, like me, a little unsure of what to expect on Marathon Day. After re-watching one of my favorite documentaries, Run for Your Life a few days before the race, I wondered if the Marathon would return to what Fred Lebow and the original Road Runners had intended the event to be—a great day for spectators and runners alike, but also one that brought New Yorkers together and showcased the tough spirit it takes to make it in this city. My biggest fear was that the crowds would not be as thick as they had in prior years, that people would dismiss the race as flippantly as a Knicks game before Lin-mania, or before the Brooklyn Nets came onto the scene.

Thank you, New York, for proving me wrong.

As Sunday came closer, I felt excitement seeping in from people surrounding me, almost as though they were slapping me in the face with enthusiasm: “You’re running the Marathon!?! When do you start? What’s your number? What are you wearing? Where should I watch you? How can I track you?” It was almost hard for me to process at first. They were more elated than I was feeling; their eagerness to propel me through 26.2 miles with affirmation after such a tough year made me feel like a humbled rock star coming out of retirement to play one hit in front of adoring fans before going back to a normal life on a Monday. It was inspiring.

When we sludged off the Verrazono in frozen droves, we saw them—the spectators. Thin at first, but steadily growing as my Green line joined with Blue and Yellow, there they were: the little kids bundled up in jackets waiting for high-fives, the beer signs, the occasional, oversized balloon, and the yelling and cheering—just like it was when I ran NYC in 2010 for the first time. Around mile 9, tears came to my eyes as we passed a church right by St. James Street in Brooklyn—a huge choir was singing outside on the church steps. A rooftop party in Williamsburg blasted Bon Jovi, a high school band played Gonna Fly Now from Rocky.

I crossed the Pulaski into my home-boro, Queens, and again was pleasantly surprised. The small stretch between Brooklyn and the Queensboro Bridge had tame crowds in prior years. Not this year. Queens was out in full force for that small stretch of miles 13 and 14. After seeing two of my friends, I proudly crossed Ed Koch’s bridge with a little extra oomph and gave a quick, mental nod to Simon and Garfunkel (this is how your mind works after a few hours of running—random references are key to avoiding pain and boredom). A group of girls next to my buddy and I started singing “I Think We’re Alone Now” to get up and over the bridge, and other boisterous runners started to cheer themselves/us for morale, their shouts echoed across the lower level as we passed Roosevelt Island.

But the real test for me was the Bronx. After crumbling to NYC’s most-northern boro in 2010 and barely hobbling over the finish line, I knew this was where mentally and physically, I would start to break down. My friend put on her headphones at this point, and it was like going through the gauntlet,  each runner for one’s self, just about two miles of purgatory when your body decides if you must give up and walk, or if you can keep jogging in a slight running form for the rest of the race. As one sign put it, the Bronx is “the WALL.”

I only made it thanks to a group of street rappers a little after mile 20, asking me to “Put [my] hands up!” I pumped my arm in the air as I ran past them, probably with no rhythm what-so-ever, but I needed that little pump. At that point, I knew I was going to make it. I thought, “Angie, you got this.”

NYC—we got this.

Angie Knudson is a staff writer and personal trainer for NYC's The L Trainer She finally took off her warm, orange poncho and plans on making goulash for dinner tonight. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Tip--How to Turn October into "Goal-tober"

Because setting kickass goals is what I excel at, people.

Today marks the one month and three day countdown to the ING NYC Marathon, and for me, that means starting a month of sobriety so that I can run the race at my optimum performance. I'm okay with it--I actually think pumpkin beer tastes like battery acid with cinnamon. I'll hold out for the porters and stouts come November.

You don't have to promise yourself a "Sobe-tober", as I am doing, but October is actually a terrific month to do something to pave way for the holiday season. Here's why:

1. October can be a short month. It's okay to end whatever goal you pick on Halloween--in fact, I encourage it. If you start your goal tomorrow, you will still have 29 days of being awesome, and that is awesome enough.

2. Because it is impossible to set healthy goals in November and December...why not make October your golden month? This way, whatever happens from Thanksgiving through New Years is fair game because you were a little more strict with yourself  this month.

3.  Here's hoping that whatever healthy thing you choose to do can carry into as much of the holiday season as possible. October can set you up for success by helping you build healthy habits that even if you only continue for a few days into November, a few days here and there is better than nothing.

4. Literally speaking, October is a great month for assonance and alliteration, which makes goal setting easier. Why not have a "Veg-tober", a "Fit-tober", a "Bike-tober" get the idea. Any word with a hard "c" or "k" sound, a hard consonant sound, or any "o" sound just fits nicely into the place of "oct". You cannot do this with all months as smoothly as October, and you definitely can't do it with, say, March. (No-Meat-March is really the only good one).

Now that you have the reasons why to have your own Goal-tober, here's a few strategies for picking a goal that is doable and reasonable:

1. Pick something small. Even if your goal is to have Meatless Monday every Monday in October (which you can STILL do!), there is no goal too small. Small goals=reachable goals. Reachable goals lead to greater confidence.

2. Pick something that is not a pain in the ass to do. If you cannot get up early if your life depended on it and your building was on fire, then setting a goal of making a 6:30am spin class two days a week is not going to work. But you could research and find a class or two that you could make two nights a week.

3. Try to ADD something, as opposed to taking away. In today's society, we want more, more, more. Since that message is being drilled into our skulls constantly through social media, advertising, etc., word your goal with this in mind, and word it carefully. For example, instead of telling myself "no booze", I am telling myself that I want more tea, more water, more tart cherry juice, and more room for ice cream.

4. Remember the real benefits of your goal, rather than the struggle. If your goal is to find twenty minutes a day in your busy schedule to work out, and you're finding it to be a big hassle, take a step back and think of why you're really doing this for yourself. Remember that twenty minutes is going to help you sleep better at night so you don't waste time tossing and turning in the sack It will also relieve stress, which will help you make clearer decisions. It will also boost your metabolism, your confidence, etc. Fitting in 20 minutes a day, no matter how jam packed your day is, also makes you better at (drum roll)...time management! Yeehaw!

Good luck with your own "Goal-tobers", everyone, and below are just a few sample goals for the month.

Sample Goals:
Meatless Mondays
Stretch before bed every day (google 5 min stretch routines)
Add-in a healthy snack in place of 3pm coffee (almonds, yogurt, fruit, etc.)
A small, "Monday-Friday" goal (so you can have the weekend "off")
Four weeks, four different small goals (more veggies one week, more fruits next week, more activity third week, more sleep fourth week)
Cook something at home at least three nights a week
Pack a lunch three times a week
Switch up your normal exercise routine once a week
Invite a buddy to try something new--like rock climbing--once a week (use those groupons!)
Ten pushups every day
One minute of planking every day
Jumping jacks during commercials when watching your favorite sitcom
One night no TV and swapped with the gym/yoga/or boardgames (mental fitness is important, too!)
Dance while getting ready every day
Find a way to eat kale\
Eat seasonal veggies twice a week (squash, mushrooms, etc.)
Cook something with quinea once a week and use the leftovers as a snack
Drink a gallon of water each day
Walk on your lunchbreak
Swap one starbucks trip for a quick power walk
Get off your ass and volunteer! (mental fitness)
Swap your bagel for oatmeal
Eat breakfast
Find a healthier late night snack
Swap your potato chips for popcorn

etc,etc, etc.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Weekend Running Tips: How to Set Yourself Up for Success When All You Want to do is Brunch

Tomorrow will be Friday, and whether or not you have an office job, the weekends can actually be a busy time for most of us. For those in the suburbs, there are backyard projects to complete and leaves to be raked. For us city folk, there are brunches to attend and apartment cleaning to catch up on. For me, I have to work a few different jobs, brunch, clean my room, AND get a run in. It's a tough life, I know. Here are a few tips to stay on top of your game this weekend and also have a nice time:

1. Run on Friday: You might actually have to get up early to make this happen, but get a morning run out of the way on Friday will make you feel less guilty about extra calories you may consume at Happy Hour.

2. Pick a Weekend Day: Whether you choose Saturday or Sunday, make ONE of those days an "off" running day, and the other an "on" running day. Set yourself up for success by making a realistic goal for the weekend--run or workout one day and rest the other. It can't get any easier than that.

3. Stay hydrated: Between Friday night's Happy Hour and Sunday Brunch, what you drink will definitely affect your performance. Pick one day to let loose if you must, and take it easy the rest of the weekend. If you are going to consume alcohol, make sure you are also drinking water, and try to swap a sugary drink (smoothies, soda, lattes, etc.) for plain h2O.

4a. Don't try to run hungover and 4b. plan accordingly:  I have sad news, but if your head hurts, and you are sweating beer or Jameson, you are too hungover to workout...right now. Drink some water, eat some toast, go back to bed, and try again in a couple of hours. Although it may seem like a good idea to try to sweat out toxins on the treadmill, you are only going to dehydrate yourself further and put yourself more at risk for injury. Wait it out, or try again tomorrow.

5. Get plenty of rest: Thankfully, the weekend allows some of us the luxury of sleeping in. Use this chance to catch up on much needed rest. If you are planning on a weekend race, go to bed early and use the time as some much needed "you-time". Cook yourself a nice dinner, read a book in bed, watch a crappy tv show, write a letter to your grandma, etc. Do something nice and quiet.

6. Skip a run and try a new activity: Take a walk with a friend through the neighborhood after brunch, try a new yoga class, or go rock climbing at a new gym. There are so many things you can do that are active--change up your routine so you don't get bored of hitting the pavement all the time.

7. What I like to call the Golden Rule of Weekends--set realistic goals for yourself--socially, mentally, and physically: You do not have to go to every single wedding, party, bbq, concert, artshow, etc., and you do not have to run every race. Slow down and take care of yourself. Yes, you can sleep when you're dead, but one night of staying home or missing one event never killed anyone. Use your weekend to recharge so that you can actually take Monday by the horns and be a badass.

Happy Running,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Tip--Don't Worry About Sucking

Last week, we explored why the hell we do things we don't actually enjoy doing. This week, we're going to acknowledge that not everything is going to come easy, especially when you are new at something. You might actually suck at it.

Imagine what your life would be like if you quit everything that you sucked at the first few times you did it. Remember the first time you tied your shoes, rode a bike, or copied a sentence off the chalkboard in first grade? You probably fell off the bike a million times, knotted your shoes into a complex puzzle, and your penmanship was probably terrible (for the record, my penmanship is still terrible). Learning to exercise is very much like learning a new language with your body--like proper grammar, there is proper form, but it also takes practice and commitment just like anything else.  Chances are, just like everything else in life, when you start something, you will suck.

So, you suck? Now what?

Acknowledging you suck at something is the first step to building strength and getting better. How else are you supposed to know what you need to focus on? Knowing your weaknesses is key; this knowledge gives you a base--a startline for how to set realistic goals that can propel you to success. When I first started running, I sucked. I could barely run a mile without wanting to vomit everywhere afterwards. So my first goal was really just to run a mile without wanting to puke afterwards.

What if I don't achieve even my small, humble goal(s)?

So what? Exercise is not all about achievement. You will not always be able to achieve all of your workout or fitness goals, and the sooner you accept that fact, the happier you'll be with your workouts. In fact, in a given week, I might achieve one (yes, ONE) fitness-related goal for the week. Shit happens. You might want to run outside three days a week, but out of those three days, it might be raining so hard you can't even see. You might promise to do it the next day, and wake up with a million pressing emails from your boss. You might just feel lazy and prefer watching Bravo all day. Bam--you missed your goal for the week. There's no use crying over a missed goal (though I am guilty of doing this). It takes a lot of willpower to move on and try for next week/tomorrow, or whatever, but move on. If you don't move on from failure, then you will never learn from it, and you'll never succeed. Remember that. Identify things that hold you back and do your best to control the ones you are capable of controlling (example: rain=you can't control, Real Housewives addiction=controllable).
Don't let your suckiness stop you. Use it as ammo. Use it as what it is--knowledge to make you better.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yes, Sometimes I Hate Running

There. I said it.
I'm a personal trainer in NYC, a running tour guide, marathoner, etc., and yes--sometimes I think the unthinkable when I'm out on the streets, pounding the pavement: "Why am I doing this? This effing sucks."
Masochists, we runners are, with our toenails falling off and chaffing happening everywhere (yes, everywhere).
After reviewing all the "bad" thoughts I've been having this summer about running, not running, trying to run after taking time off from a bum ankle and totally sucking, a conversation with my friend got me thinking. She asked me, "Why doesn't anyone talk about the struggle?" She meant the struggle to stay active or "fit", whatever that means to you and your relationship with society's view of the word (which is a little messed up right now, to be honest).
She's right, though. Why not talk about the struggle? When we say "struggle", it implies that we won't give up. It implies a certain stubbornness, and a fight that we go into knowing that we won't give in easily, not like a cleanse you go on for a day or two, seeing the light at the end of a tunnel (or a bathroom toilet). Running, weightloss, fatloss, whatever your goal is, staying active--period--is a struggle.
I want to explore that reality in the next few months, as I train my way to the NYC Marathon in November. Not every training run is going to go as planned, and I will be lucky if I finish, in my opinion. So stay tuned for this blog's future (which has been sporadic, I admit), and look for not only posts highlighting tips, workouts, and pats-on-the-back, but posts that also hopefully provide a little empathy for the fellow man and woman, no matter what figurative wall you're trying to pole vault over in your own life.
To the Mattresses!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Post for Joy

I know I bitch about the N Train more times than most people; although, I truly believe we all share the same thoughts about commuting. Here, we find solidarity. Since the beginning of the year—no, actually, since Sandy, I’ve been feeling like quite the mixed bag of feelings:

I am a spoiled, “effing” brat. The week before Sandy, I remember being really unhappy for choosing to buy a certain “healthy” cereal, one that tasted like rabbit food. I was going to post a status update about it in search of solidarity for others who have tried eating healthy cereal, only to find that some of it tasted like chalkboard and woodchips. This particular “flavor”, (not brand), just happened to suck. Then, Sandy happened. People’s lives and homes were destroyed, kids were swept away, and I am sure kitties drowned (you all know how I love cats), and here I was…perfectly safe, Pineapple the Cat purring on my tummy, unhappy with my cereal purchase. Total asshole.

The same thing again happened with the Boston Marathon. I ran a marathon in February to make up for not running the NYC Marathon in November (coincidentally due to Sandy). This marathon in Central Park was one of the most mentally challenging things I’ve done in my life. I am grateful that I had good friends to come out and support me—some even ran with me—and without them, I would not have been able to finish (Dana Krashin, Ashley Balevander, Chris Szabo). It was the only race I have ran where I was in tears. By Mile 13, I wanted to call my best friend here in the city, also a runner, (and forever, Nichole), and by Mile 15, I wanted to call my mom. That’s how shitty I felt, and I was used to running 20+ mile days. After finishing that marathon, I felt grateful for the support of my friends.

Then I went up to Boston to see my friend finish. Proudly jealous, I camped out at the finish line to see the elite women—my idol, Kara Goucher, was racing, and I could NOT miss her. I remember admiring the wheelchair racers whirring past us at Mile 26. I remember thinking how remarkable they were, and how grateful I was I had two legs to run on. I had always silently thanked my mom for good stems, and I wondered if I would have the will to race like that if something ever happened to them. I felt humbled.

We left the finish area and meandered around for a few hours, planning on meeting up with our Boston Marathoning friend (Dana Krashin) before she finished. Then shit hit the fan. People lost their fucking legs, for pete’s sake, but—people lost their sons. Their daughters. Their joy.

Last week, my mom didn’t text me for about a week, and this is really rare for her. I thought, “what the eff is going on?!? She’s mad at me”. (There is nothing worse than having your mother mad at you, FYI). I finally texted her, and it turns out she got a new phone. Also, a favorite aunt died last week—one who was always cheery and loved by everyone in the family. I felt down, and weird, and I had to make an effort to appreciate not only the things around me, but also the things I could not see—memories, moments, aspirations…you get it.

Today, again I felt like an asshole, walking around Roosevelt Island when people’s legs were being strewn about Broadway in my home-hood Astoria, taking the tram with so much smugness against the N Train.
All I have to say now is, thank God—I have legs to walk around on, but, more importantly—THANK GOD—I have fucking hope and joy in my life. Thank God maybe 90% of the time, I am the only one who thinks I’m an asshole.

Love you, Friends and Family.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Get Your Sexy Beast On--What a Runner Can Do When Achy Knees Strike Again!

(May also be for non-runners who just wants to move more. :)).

We've all experienced discomfort running. There have been days where I have gone out for a run, only to return to my home after a mile or less humbled with a shattered ego due to pain, soreness, achiness, cramping, bad weather; there really is no end to a list of runner's grievances. Really--I should NOT feel bad about one or two lousy runs, and neither should you. We are human, and these things happen. This is why I have compiled a list of ways to "get your workout on" if you cannot, for any reason, run. Some note strategies for mental hurdles and others give specific activity examples. So, here you go!

1. Get creative, and accept it. This is probably the most important point I will make in this blog. As a runner, you need to start allowing yourself to think of other activities as fulfilling cardio. We all know running is terrific, and for us, nothing may bring us as much joy. BUT, if for any reason we are down and out, we need to accept and embrace ANY form of cardio that gets our heart rate up and maintains cardiovascular fitness so that when we get back in the saddle, we feel strong. Having made that point...

2. Cleaning. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing vigorously, and going up and down the stairs with laundry are all ways I fit my cardio in on days that I cannot run (like days where I think "Okay, I can either wear the same shirt for the fifth week in a row and go on a run, or I can do my laundry"). Is this effective? Absolutely! To make any of these activities more challenging, do a set of push-ups between chores, and turn it into a circuit workout.

3. Common Cardio Drills: think like a bootcamp instructor and do 30 seconds of side shuffles, jumping jacks (or half-jacks with just one side of body than the other for really fragile knees), galloping, etc. Sneak in three 30 seconds of any activity during commercial breaks while watching Real Housewives, and you have yourself a nice, little workout.

3b. You might want to think about introducing some strength training into your fitness regimen, especially if you plan to run again so you can come back like Rocky.

4. Build up those quads, glutes, and hammies! Protect your knees and take a proactive stance towards running again and forever. Do any/all of these moves unweighted for 15-20 times or for 20-30 seconds, and trust me, you will feel the burn. Squats, forward and reverse lunges, and split squats are amazing, and also give you a nice tush.

5. Use your couch. Seriously. Sit on the edge of your couch, stand up, sit down, and before you let your butt touch the couch, stand up again. Repeat.

6a. Again with your couch (or a park bench, or a bed): get yourself in plank position with your hands on the edge of the couch--try to maintain alignment--wrists stay under your shoulders, shoulders do not hike up past your wrists. Neck is long and lean, not crunched. Hips, knees, and ankles are aligned (hips are not swagging or hiking up. You'll have to use your core--I know, I know--to keep those hips aligned and your back from spooning up or down. Squeeze those abs.

6b. From this nice plank, position, you might ask, what can you do for cardio? The following: jumping jacks, legs only (LOVE this one), mountain climbers (lower impact on knees than on the floor, because you are at an incline), toe taps--keep legs straight, point your toe, and tap it on the ground. Switch toes (try this out first and see how many times you can tap on toe, then work up from there).

7. Yes, swimming, biking, elliptical, etc. Swimming is GREAT for runners, in theory, who have access to a pool and who don't mind all the prep and post swim rigamarole (swim cap, shower before pool, shower after pool--this can be daunting if you're a runner who's used to just throwing on sneakers and going). I do love spinning. My only hang-up with the elliptical is that you really have to watch your back on that machine--the momentum can cause people to sway their backs into an unhealthy position for their lumbar spine, and that is no bueno. If you must use the elliptical, I recommend foregoing the handles and just pumping with your hands naturally--don't let those arm handles drive your spine.

Last, but not least...

8. Shakin' it. Looking back to my college days, I sometimes wonder how I stayed in moderately decent shape with my poor diet and only running a tiny bit. Then I remember the hours of cardio I got in from dancing at the Limelight. Oh, right. That was a lot of cardio, at least two hours every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Obviously, there is no way you can get me to go out and dance like that again in my old age, but, I do dance if I can't get my run in. I make a point to dance while waiting for the water to warm up in the shower, while waiting for the curling iron to heat up, while picking out clothes--I just throw on some Ludacris and shake it. I probably only spend about ten to fifteen minutes dancing this way, but you know what? I feel amazing afterwards. I feel silly, sure, but in a good way. Most importantly, I feel confident that I could still be a sexy beast on the dance floor at the Limelight if I wanted to. This confidence trumps any feeling of self-pity I had for not going on a run. And that is what you must do, young grasshopper, find an enjoyable activity you can do when you cannot run, one that makes you feel like a rockstar.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Get Through Each Mile of Your First Half Marathon

You asked, so here it is--13 tricks to mentally get through your first half, tested by yours truly.

1. Break the race into three parts. At an expo once, this was one of the best pieces of advice I received from  professional runner Michelle Frey. She advised to focus on miles 1-4 as a warm-up, 5-10 to set and maintain your pace, and the last 5k (10-13.1) to really kick some ass (she didn't use those terms, but this is what you must do). 

2. Don't panic. The beginning of a half is always exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. There are so many people, and you really are just trying to find your niche. Enjoy the crowd around you and feed off other people's energy. 

3.  If you do have music, think of 13 people in your life who've inspired you and make a playlist with a song that reminds you of them for each mile. Remember as much as you can about each person during their particular mile--memories you have with this person, what their favorite color is, etc. You can do this without an ipod as well, if you know enough songs in your head to sing to yourself. 

4. Use a mile in the beginning of the race to completely allow yourself to eavesdrop on other runners' conversations with each other. You can learn a lot about other people's boyfriends and jobs, and if someone's chatter annoys you, use it as ammo to run past them and discover something else about your competitors.

5. Dedicate one mile to reciting every Shakespeare quote you can remember. "Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible."--William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

6.  Strike up a conversation with another runner schlepping along at a similar pace. Don't be shy. Everyone's actually pretty friendly when there's sweat dripping off them and they know you smell just as terrible as they do.

7.  Dedicate one mile entirely to thinking about your form. Are you running tall? Are your shoulders back? Is your breath even? Do your feet feel heavy or light? Think about each part of your body and how it feels in relation to your running (do this sooner rather than later on in the race). 

8. Completely zone out during miles 6-10. Seriously, do anything you can to keep pace but don't think too much about how far you're running, especially if you don't have any music to distract you. Think about the news, your dog, upcoming projects--just don't start subtracting miles in your head.

9. Think about the meal you're going to reward yourself with. A cheesy pizza, a burger, an omelet, a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. Yum. That is worth running for.

10. Focus on your environment. Is this a new course? A familiar course? How's the crowd? What do the trees look like? Do you see any birds? Imagine what the course would be like without a race going on.

11. Find your running mantra. Short, repeatable phrases have helped me finish a grueling mile, urged me through the finish line, and increased my confidence. Here's a few I use (repeat each twice in your head to see what I mean): Run tall, run strong, run tall, run strong. Fast fast, feet feet, go little, quick feet. When it's all about Angie, I become a world-class, athlete. Effortlessness. Effortlessness. Light and quick, light and quick. Easy strikes, easy strikes. You get the idea.

12. Think of the theme song from Rocky. Seriously, you need to download this song today and listen to it six times so the melody is embedded into your brain. And then, you need to watch the original Rocky when he starts training and picture him kicking ass as you kick some asphalt. If you can't watch Rocky, this Youtube video will have the same effect:

13. Think of how awesome you are. List every single good quality about yourself in your head. Positive reinforcement is the most important thing you can do for yourself in any race, but especially long distance. Your body will follow your mind's lead, so it is crucial to think good thoughts and remember what a badass you are. You are a badass. You're a half-marathoner.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today on My Morning Run

After only a quarter of a mile, I heard it--breathing.
I knew it was a man's breathing, and his steps sounder a bit heavier than mine, but had the same, fierce clip to them. I sensed him closing in on me, so I did what any girl would do; I sped up.
He adjusted his pace accordingly. His footfalls matched mine strike by strike, and I thought, I am NOT going to let some jerk smoke me and steal my lone, stretch of sidewalk by this mundane and grey power plant, so I sped up again. I was running faster than my lazy legs had wanted to when I began the morning--groggy, grouchy, and sloth-like. In a rush, I only had a small glass of milk before setting out. I didn't plan on being gone for very long or challenging myself. Now I wished I had more energy to prevent this stranger, this impromptu competitor from beating me on my own, safe course.
I rounded the corner of the power plant and crossed onto the bike trail along the water. I expected to catch a side glimpse of my heavy-breathing opponent and saw nothing. I pressed on for the same pace for about another tenth of a mile just to be certain, and then I raced up the steps into Astoria Park and looked back down at the bike path, seeing only an old man walking a shitsu.
Good, I thought. I win.