Wednesday, January 10, 2018
I am a runner. I train year round. Whenever possible, I run on the sidewalk. You may not believe this, but I prefer it. It's safer for me when I'm running and it's safer for you when you're driving. During the winter, for obvious reasons, the sidewalks are not always available to us. When they are covered in ice or packed snow they are border-line death traps (think sprained ankle). After a big storm, such as the Bomb Cycle that just hit us last week here in MA, some of them get buried completely (see below photo) and will not likely be dug out for weeks....months?? Who knows.
Thus, for this relatively brief-ish window of the year, we runners are forced out on the road. Now, some of you are probably thinking to yourself, why don't they just go inside during the winter? And it's a fair question. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a treadmill. But those of us who can get to a gym along with the lucky ducks who have their own machine, are, in fact, probably running inside when it's necessary. Personally, I loathe the treadmill. One of the big reasons I run is to be outside, so being stuck on a hamster wheel for multiple days in a row is physical and mental torture. That said, I'll do it. Last week alone I was inside for 4 out of my 6 runs. As a marathoner, though, I have at least one day a week, sometimes more, when I am running for over 2 hours straight and that is where I have to draw the line. I just can't run on a treadmill for 20 miles. Well, I should rephrase; I can but I won't. So, one day a week, I really need to share the road with you. Keep in mind, I am a driver, too. I do understand both sides of this situation. Is it a pain? Yes. Is it annoying? It can be. Ultimately, it sucks for both drivers and runners alike. That said, I still have to ask, both for those of us who run year round and especially for the winter warriors who want...or even need...to be outside in the winter, that you throw us a bone once in a while as we're all in this together. It's not like I'm asking to run with you while you're going 70mph down I-95. I live in the suburbs where the average speed is 30mph. I don't think it's that big a deal to you to either move over a half a foot or even to slow down if there is a car on the other side of the road as I am running by. If anything, it will delay your trip 10 seconds tops. In return for this courtesy, I promise to give you this:
~ I will wear reflective gear and bright clothing so you can easily see me as I am running toward you.
~ Much to her dismay, I will not run with my dog when the conditions are bad in order to further minimize my surface area.
~ I will stay as close to the my side of the road as possible and pull into driveways when there is space.
~ I will jump up and run on the sidewalk if and when it's ever available to me.
~ I will avoid the main roads as much as I can and seek out the routes in smaller neighborhoods where the traffic is lighter.
~ I will run inside once in a while; especially when the conditions are particularly dangerous for cars and thus runners, too.
If I do all this, dear driver, will you consider letting me run on the road without fearing for my life or making me feel like I am an idiot and have completely ruined your day? Please? It's just until the weather gets better. Two months tops. For those of you who see me out there and voluntarily move over or slow down without giving me a dirty look or yelling at me, THANK YOU. It never goes unnoticed and it is greatly appreciated. Some of you (fellow runners or just really nice people in general) even smile and wave to let me know that all is well. You guys are the best. For those of you who just can't deal and won't change your tune despite this letter, well, I'm sorry. This is the way it's going to be for a little while. If it makes you feel better to honk or give me the finger, fire away. Just know that I hate it as much as you do. And come spring, perhaps we can be friends again?
Listen to this:
Panic Drills - Sleigh Bells
Thursday, January 4, 2018
"Life isn't about searching endlessly to find what's missing; it's about learning to live with the missing parts."
~ Micheal Finkel
On Tuesday morning, my family drove from Toronto to Boston in a rental car. Why? Because the day before we'd flown from Turks and Caicos to Toronto and then our connecting flight to Boston was canceled due to bad weather. Why not hop on a different flight that night, you ask? Great question. There were no flights out to Boston or to any nearby airports for at least two days. And, while I'm all for extending a family vacation, spending a few extra days in an airport hotel, eating chicken nuggets and sharing a bed with my kids for another 48 hours didn't sound too appealing. Plus, there was the whole school and work thing. Perhaps you're wondering why we flew through Toronto to get down to the Caribbean in the first place. Also a great question. Simply put, it saved us a lot of money to fly halfway across the country in the wrong direction and then back down instead of going straight down from Boston. Worth it? Financially...yes. Mentally...debatable. As we drove home from Toronto, I wrote a very long post about the experience we'd had the night before at the airport which included things like customs personnel laughing at us, two lost bags, one found bag, no available rental cars, second bag found an hour later, car finally rented, a long wait for the airport shuttle in sub-zero temps, dealing with over-tired kids and so on. It was a ridiculous comedy of errors and lasted a total of four and a half hours from when we got off the plane to when we finally made it to the hotel room. I then went on to share the other funny story from my trip. The one about how Air Canada lost my suitcase on the flight down and still hadn't located it by the time we were leaving for home. No joke. I spent a week down in the islands with one bathing suit (which I'd randomly thrown in my carry-on), one set of running clothes (which I'd worn on the plane), and a couple pairs of shorts, which I'd borrowed from my 13 year old. It wasn't ideal, but I made it work. I did call Air Canada every day hoping they'd found my bag only to hear them tell me they were so very sorry but they had absolutely no idea where it was. I won't lie and say I wasn't bummed that half of my wardrobe was potentially gone forever. But, that said, I was still managing to have an amazing time with my family in easily one of the most beautiful places on the earth. When I got home and regrouped I pulled up my original post to edit it and ended up scrapping it and starting over. I decided that I really didn't need to rehash it all and that you didn't need to hear it. Shit happens. We all go through crazy stuff every single day. And while it can be a pain in the ass, most of it is usually pretty manageable. I learned two valuable lessons after getting through this week; first, rather than focus on what I don't have, I need to work with what I've got. And second, sometimes less is more. No suitcase? No suitcase. No unpacking, no laundry, nothing to lose (beyond the suitcase itself), no valuables that can be stolen, no pre-dinner outfit crises, no choices to make at all, really. I just woke up every day, threw on the one running outfit that I had (not to worry, I did wash this daily), hit the road, came back, put on my one bathing suit and then went about my day. My girls were having a ball, the weather was gorgeous and we were all together. End of story. As I dive (er...cannonball) into this new year, which I'm sure will be full of surprises, I'll be trying hard to fall back on these lessons in every element of my life.
Listen to this:
Out Of My Head - Loud Forest
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Dear RWM Readers,
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for joining me on the crazy ride that was this year. My 10 year old recently asked me why I have a blog. Is it to make money? she asked. No, I explained, money has nothing to do with it. And then I kept going, though I'm pretty sure she lost interest at this point given that she started doing her homework....by choice. Seriously, though, I started it on a whim back in 2012 because I was feeling overly passionate about running and music at that point in my life and I wanted to talk about it with anyone who cared to listen. From there it has evolved into so much more. For me, it has become a central hub for questions of my own and a way to get advice from others of, a medium to process my experiences, a method of coping and working through tough times, a place to meet new people from all walks of the earth, and, ultimately, where I now like to start when I want to put down and then share my adventures in training, racing, coaching, motherhood and so much more. Often when I sit down to write, I feel as if I'm sitting down to tell you, the readers, the story in person. It has become a way for me to connect with readers without actually having them in my office, which I think is really damn cool. So, grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and join me today as I rehash some of the experiences from 2017 that made a significant impact on my life as well as the music that influenced me along the way. I'm guessing a few of you who are reading this were part of one if not many of them. Also, really cool. Here's to closing out the old and starting up the new. Hope you'll stick with me for the next round of whatever gets thrown my way. HAPPY NEW YEAR to all. See you on the flip side. I can't wait.
RUNNING WITH MUSIC 2017
ALBUM:EVERY NOW & THEN - JAGWAR MA
SONG:KINGDOM - NAATIONS
MY GIRLS CRUSHING IT
Grace (age 10) & Rosie (age 12)
ALBUM:TAIL OF LIONS - ALEX CLARE
SONG:TWISTED - MISSIO
ALBUM:THE TOURIST - CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH
SONG:HOT THOUGHTS - SPOON
ALBUM:PLURAL - ELECTRIC GUEST
SONG:START OVER - PINK FEATHERS
SUGARLOAF MARATHON (#17)
w/ Joan Benoit Samuelson
ALBUM:WHAT NOW - SYLVAN ESSO
SONG:WANT IT ALL - LAYUP
ALBUM:PERFUME GENIUS - NO SHAPE
SONG:HUG OF THUNDER - BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
ALBUM:ECHO PAPA-AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER
SONG:GIANTS - LIGHTS
ALBUM:DON'T YOU WORRY HONEY - SIR SLY
SONG:VALLEY BOY - WOLF PARADE
LHS XC begins
ALBUM:A BLACK MILE TO THE SURFACE - MANCHESTER ORCHESTR
SONG:HOT SPICE - PAPER SON & HALIMA
ALBUM:DO NOT REVENGE - DAN BLACK
SONG:UP ALL NIGHT - BECK
ALBUM:COLORS - BECK
SONG:LOOK AT YOUR HANDS - TUNE-YARDS
ALBUM:EVERY DAY IS CHRISTMAS-SIA
SONG:HERE COMES THE FEELING - UNTIL THE RIBBON BREAKS
DAILY SONGS 2017
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Team Bacon) tackled the Winter Classic 5K. Kirsten has done a ridiculous number of marathons over the past 12 months; 5 or maybe 6, I've lost count. I, myself, did four in 2017. So, basically neither of us has trained for or even thought of a doing a 5K, unless we were using it as a marathon workout, in a really long time. Thus, we were both heading into this with no expectations and only two goals...run hard and have fun. Well, as much as you can have when you are racing a 5K, which in my case is minimal. I'll just say right up front that it is incredibly freeing, both physically and mentally, to head into a race with absolutely zero pressure from a performance standpoint. It's been a while since I've raced for fun (again, fun being a relative term here) and it was a good reminder that I should be doing it more often. It was a beautiful, crisp, clear morning when I got up and despite the fact that it was pretty chilly, I still made my way out to the front porch for a cup of coffee and a moment of reflection with Clover, forever on squirrel patrol, by my side.
*** NOTE: WINNER OF THE RWM 2017 HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY is JESS MILIUS.
The race wasn't set to go off until 9:30am which, given that I tend to get up around 5:30, gave me a whole lot of time to stretch, roll and just chill out. Kirsten and I have done this race a few times and we tend to see everything from elite runners to jokesters dressed in reindeer costumes. I didn't have it in me to sport a pair of elf ears or an ugly sweater, but I did try to get in the holiday spirit with a red and green outfit. At one point I thought I might sport a race singlet but when I felt the temperature I quickly put the kibosh on that plan. I ended up going with red pants and a green shirt, which you'll see later on. Despite my lack of stress, I did try to get in the zone just a bit by laying out my gear out and playing some good tunes.
Around 8:00am, I scooped Kirsten up and we made our way over to Cambridge which, on Sunday morning, tends to be a quick and easy ride. Added bonus? It's also pretty easy to find a parking spot and we slid right in across from Flour, our post-race brunch spot with coffee and egg sandwiches already on the brain. Mmmm.....coffee. Sorry. Focus, Rebecca. We walked over to the race start, grabbed our bibs and shirts, dropped everything back in the car and headed out for a warm-up, which we definitely needed given the temp. We chatted strategy as we cruised along, agreeing that it made sense to start off easy, then to see what the legs had in them in the second mile and finally to go for it at the end. We share the same coach and he had reminded both of us that this would just be a rust buster and a good test for the legs but that we'd both be pretty wiped from marathon training and that was okay. It's hard to get on the line of a race and not set the bar too high, even when it's not your goal race, so we needed this reminder. After shedding some layers, we ran over to the start and tried to keep moving to stay warm as we waited. This race series is a popular one and the organizers are super dialed in, so without incident, they were ready to rock right on time at 9:30. Kirsten and I hugged, took our team pic and then we were off.
Given that my marathon pace tends to hover around 6:45, I felt that starting off at 6:20 pace was reasonable and aimed for that as I settled into the first mile. Well, I guess you don't really 'settle in' to a 5K, but you get my drift. A lot of fasties run this race and many of them flew by me. I worked hard to reign it in and told myself not to follow them. As a marathoner, I don't have a lot of speed in my legs and, as you can sense by now, the 5K is basically torture for me. I've been known to crash and burn by mile 2 often, so given that I was trying to "have fun" I really wanted to keep my cool if possible. I rolled through the first mile in 6:13, which was a bit fast, but my breathing was controlled and my body felt good so I didn't panic.
The beauty of this race is that the course is flat and fast. If you're going for a PR, this is the place to do it. Not that I had a personal best on the brain, but you know, I'm just saying. I was still feeling pretty solid at this point and decided to crank it up just a hair to see if my legs would respond. As you can see, I didn't push too much, just enough to reach the next group of runners and then I worked to settle back in and get my heart rate back down. Don't get me wrong, I was starting to feel the inevitable 5K pain. My breathing was getting louder and because it was cold out I started to feel it in my lungs. But, that said, I had less than 2 miles left and found myself saying, Come on, Rebecca. It's two freaking miles. Suck it up. I might have said it out loud.
Okay, so now I'm on the pain train. Everything hurt from head to toe. I was no longer looking at my watch as I didn't want to add that pressure in during this last mile. I just did my best to focus on the runners ahead of me. I thought for sure I was slowing down as it was taking so much effort to hold on. But then I saw the 3 mile marker and looked at my watch which said 18:18. HOLY SHITE. My 5K PR up until this point was 19:02 and I was sharp enough at that moment to realize that a new one, even if only by a second or two, was within reach. Pressure back on. I was hurting so bad but when I turned the corner and saw how little I had left to go, I just went into overdrive and let her rip. When I crossed and stopped my watch I knew I was close to 19 minutes flat but wasn't 100% sure and didn't want to get too excited until I saw official results. In the end, I got it, sliding in just under 19 minutes, but I went a long time before realizing this, so I'll keep telling my story.
Okay, so back to the pain train. Thankfully the ride was over but, man, was it rough. I stood and caught my breath for a few minutes; legs throbbing and lungs burning. I'm pretty sure I said that I would never do another 5K again unless I was forced. I say this a lot. I grabbed water and continued to walk it off. Very shortly thereafter, I saw both Kirsten along with several of my Oiselle teammates rolling in and ran over to congratulate them as I knew they'd rocked it. As usual, it was an instant love fest because runners in general are ridiculously supportive of each other. Add the team element and the positive energy is almost tangible. We chatted and hung out for a bit before breaking off for a cool down, agreeing to meet up again at Flour for our hard-earned breakfast.
Kirsten and I slowly made our way down the street, continuing to discuss our races and noting the fact that we really didn't want to be cooling down at all as our friends who were already enjoying their coffee. Fortunately, as I mentioned, we both have the same coach and with the whole accountability thing we couldn't, or I should say, didn't bail. Kudos to us. Finally, we got over to Flour and ordered coffee and breakfast, which, to be honest, was the main reason I went to this rodeo in the first place. I should note that I still didn't know my official time at this point. My watch had said 19:03 when I'd stopped it, but I knew I hadn't gotten it right on the nose at the finish. As we waited in line our race results were texted to us from Racewire. I looked. Then I looked again. I may have even looked a third time. Why? Because the results said 18:59 and I didn't believe it. I've been working to come in under 19 minutes for at least 5 years. I haven't been able to focus on it too much because of my marathon training. But I have been chipping away at it as I've been trying to get faster in the longer distances. So, every time I've lined up for the 5K, I've had that sub-19 on the brain. And there it was. After running 2 fall marathons and having done more mileage leading up to those races than ever before, at the ripe old age of 42, I ran my 5K PR. If there was a better way to close out this year from a running standpoint, I don't know what it is. I've made 5 attempts, 3 of them in this year alone, to break the 3 hour barrier in the marathon. Twice I've ran 3:00:XX. I mean, talk about madness. While my time for this race was only a 3 second PR, breaking that 19 minute barrier was still pretty exciting for me and good sign that, while I don't always feel it, I am getting a little faster. Icing on the cake, really; a cake that I'm still baking as I train for my next marathon. But, still, it's nice to have a taste of the sweet stuff ahead of time.
For the most part, I love running and racing. Some days are hard. Actually, most days are hard. But, we runners tend take pleasure in the challenge. It's a weird kind of high, but when things go right, it never fails to lift us up and ultimately keeps us going after it. The beauty, though, is that regardless of the outcome on race day, hanging with friends post-race...processing, unwinding, celebrating or maybe even forgetting....just being together; there's nothing better. That is a key part of the package and keeps me coming back for more. There is an individual component to running, but the community and the love and support that we get from and give to friends and teammates, it's priceless. We do what we love. For me, this is it.
Listen to this:
Live In The Moment - Portugal the Man
*** NOTE: WINNER OF THE RWM 2017 HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY is JESS MILIUS.