As a change from our usual Feature Article format, we've included a short collection of funny running stories that have either been submitted by newsletter readers or Bennett has experienced himself.
Coyotes Don't Mess With Me
By Diane Gratrix
Last fall, I was training for my first half-marathon (Scotiabank 2010). I had gotten up early one Saturday morning for my long run. The weather was perfect for running; the air was still a bit crisp, the sun was out but still low. I live in the country and I really enjoy the quiet solitude (did I mention I am the mom of 3 children, who were all under the age of 7?). This was running bliss.
I was on a country road, and it was fairly forested in this area, but had a farm up ahead. In the distance I saw an animal. At first I thought it was a dog. Then I saw there were two. I soon realized it was two coyotes! I didn't know what to do; I was only about 4 kms into my run and really didn't want to turn around.
So I did what any rational woman would do, running on an isolated road, early in the morning, with 2 coyotes ahead. I kept running, heart pounding, and was yelling at the top of my lungs a strange war cry! I have no idea how I decided to yell like that, but the coyotes never followed me so it worked. I certainly ran a pretty good pace for the following two kilometres!
Why an Extra Rinse Cycle is a Good Idea
When I run with others, I do them and myself a favour by wearing clean freshly washed running clothes. I recall one particularly hot, humid Sunday morning run with several of my runner friends. We started out under an overcast sky. Dark rain clouds soon formed overhead. At the 8K mark, it started to rain steadily. After running in the heat and humidity, the rain felt refreshing and we continued our run, chatting away.
Soon afterward, several of my friends started to point and laugh at me. “What's going on?” I asked. They continued to point at me and soon everyone was laughing.
I looked down at my shorts and quickly discovered the source of their amusement. Soap suds were bubbling out of all sides. I was frothing at the shorts. Nothing I could do but mumble something about too much detergent and join in the laughter.
Since that day, I always put my running clothes through an extra rinse cycle.
Gear Malfunctions; You Can Laugh…Later!
By Sandie Orlando
Winner of the Funniest Running Story contest and the Women's Garmin Forerunner 110
Running gear malfunctions are fortunately not life threatening, so they usually fall into the category of embarrassing or frustrating -- both of which you can laugh about later.
My first experience was many years ago as a newbie runner, just discovering the exhilarating world of ‘technical fabrics'. For inspiration I had purchased a beautiful light blue pair of running shorts and a tank top -- both in lovely, soft- but early versions of technical fabric. The notion of wicking away sweat may have been the intention, but it didn't work out that way. Upon returning to the gym from my July morning run, I spent some time doing my stretch routine before heading into the weight room for some strength work. I noticed a few people smiling as they passed by, but I took that to mean they were happy to see me. Boy, were they!!
I sat down on a bench with free weights in each hand, posed for a set of reps, and took a look in the mirror. The sweat pattern on my ‘sexy' new blue outfit had formed perfect wet circles around my nipples, and another decidedly unflattering, vertical crotch line. I was aghast -- and got the heck out of there fast. That outfit was donated to a friend who never breaks a sweat and I took to spitting on running clothes in the change room to check out the sweat embarrassment factor before buying anything else!
As I grew savvier about running gear, I added a watch with lots of buttons to track my time and splits, but didn't really learn how to use it and didn't really understand what splits were anyway. Every time I reached for my water bottle, it turned the timer on and off. One intended two hour training run turned into three hours because I didn't realize what was happening with my watch, and just kept on running. There is something to be said for watching how high the sun climbs in the sky.
Later, I was introduced to the world of GPS technology and learned a little more about splits and the purpose of using a watch in training. But even the best laid training plans can be foiled by gear malfunctions. My longest training run before going to Boston was supposed to be 34km with very a specific pace and a pace band to track splits -- all worked out by my ‘coach' who was infinitely more technical. It was all working out fine, aside from the weather, which started out as a light drizzle and developed into a torrential downpour. Doing laps through the rivers that had formed on the roads around the cemetery seemed like a reasonable way to just clock the distance without over-shooting so I could just focus on pace. But the relentless driving rain ended up getting past the waterproof seal and caused the GPS to start going in reverse!! In those conditions, nobody needs to run an extra three kilometres, and it takes a long time to realize what's happening when everything from your socks to your brain cells are sloshing!!
All you can do is laugh about it ….later!
Have Nurse, Will Travel
By Teresa Daoust
I'm sure most runners are aware of how travelling, changes in what you eat and drink and being out of normal routine has an effect on your bowels. On one particular occasion, this made travelling in numbers a tad uncomfortable even though the 11 of us, who had rented a van and were making the long trek from northern Ontario to the 2007 Chicago Marathon, were all very good friends -- more like family.
One of the runners was experiencing difficulty in this regard and many times throughout the trip had vocalized his inability to have a bowel movement and the resulting discomfort. One of our travel companions, who was a nurse, offered him a suppository. By this point he was in anguish and was willing to try anything to remedy his situation.
Much to the amusement of his travel companions, he had never seen one before and therefore did not know how to use the foil covered, bullet-like object that was handed to him and innocently questioned how he was expected to swallow it. If that wasn't humorous enough, the look on his face was priceless when the nurse explained that the suppository was not to be taken orally but rectally and that since she was accustomed to giving them to her patients she was willing to assist him in this matter. Well everyone in the van erupted with laughter to the point that I don't know how our driver managed to keep the vehicle on the road.
To this day we still chuckle about the incident. Suffice it to say, no topic is off bounds with our running family.
Bird Food Anyone?
This story is more weird than funny. In 1984, while living in Calgary, I got up at the crack of dawn for an early morning run on some trails through a heavily wooded area south of the Glenmore Reservoir. Running in the fresh, still, cool air was exhilarating. I quickly found myself in a running groove, motoring along the gently rolling trails.
Suddenly, I heard what sounded like a bed sheet being shaken out. I looked up to see a large owl flapping its wings in the tree above me. Its wingspan seemed enormous, at least 5 feet in length. The bird then stared at me. But instead of turning its head 90 degrees to the left, it turned its head 270 degrees to the right. The owl was clearly sizing me up as a potential breakfast! I stared back. This was a standoff.
Attempting to make myself look larger and scarier, I started jumping up and down, waving my arms and yelling. My strategy was effective. After a few minutes (which seemed like an eternity), the bird flew away. Relieved, I continued on my run.
I like to think that the owl made a wise decision and decided not to mess with this runner-- or maybe it just got bored with my arm-flapping dance.
© 2012 Savvy Runner Inc.
Bennett Cohen and Gail Gould are the Founders and Presidents of the International Association of Women Runners. For access to resources to help you reach your goals for running and racing, visit www.IAWR-Connect.com..