Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SUMMER'S HERE: A TOP 10 LIST

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy"
~ Ella Fitzgerald



Well, it's almost July and we are officially knee deep in summer.  Finally.  The days are long, the nights are longer and the pace has slowed way the hell down.  It's such a welcome change after the non-stop chaos of the school year and my family is soaking up every minute of it.  As I headed out this morning for a run, naked, mind you (no, no...I wore clothes, I just didn't wear a watch), I was thinking of all the subtle ways that summer creeps in and makes its presence known.  Just last night my 8 yr old was telling me she couldn't sleep because of all the sand in her bed.  For the record, she was dead out about 3 minutes later.  There is something incredibly easy about all of it.  We're still going non-stop, but the flow is different and the stress level is almost nil.  It's awesome.  It always shocks me how quickly it flies by.  But, I suppose that's means we're doing something right.  Here's to summer.  Long may it last.

TOP 10 SIGNS THAT SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY HERE

1. I have no idea what day and/or time it is on a regular basis.  And I could care less.
2. Bedtime gets a little bit later each night.  For all of us.

Sunset in Katama, MA

3. I can't get a brush through my kids' hair.

This is actually a good day.

4. There is sand in everything...clothes, shoes, hair, sheets...all of it.

Grit City

5. Tan lines are in full effect.  Especially the farmer.  (I know, super cute.)

Imagine what these are going to look like in August?

6.  Ice cream is consumed at least once and often twice a day.

These were SMALLS!

7. The bottom of Rosie's feet are black 24/7.

Shower or no shower...
doesn't matter.

8. Everything we own smells like sunscreen.
9.  Our primary mode of transportation is now a bicycle.

Pick a bike.  Any bike.

10.  Just about every time I look at my kids they are smiling.  I love that.

SUMMER SMILES

Listen to this:
Let the Night Fall - Dragonette   

Thursday, June 25, 2015

MORNING RUN

Either you run the day or the day runs you.
~ Jim Rohn

w/ Clover, headed home.

It's Tuesday morning.  My lids pop open at 5:00am.  I have no reason to get up this early and consider rolling over to snooze a bit longer.  My dog, Clover, however, is considering breakfast and continuously licks my face until I get out of bed.  The house is silent as my girls, their cousin and my parents are all still sound asleep.  I rarely head out to run before my kids are up, so I decide to take advantage of the situation and hit the road before anyone needs me.  After slugging down a cup of coffee, I throw on my shoes and make my way over to the door.  I look up to see Clover giving me a look that translates into something like, you're taking me, too, right?  I don't usually take her running during the summer because of the heat, but at 5:45am the sun has just barely risen and the air is still relatively cool, so I opt to bring her along.   Yes, I am a sucker.  When we step outside it's so quiet you can hear a pin drop.  It's eery and incredibly peaceful.  We set off down the bike path at an easy clip.  On the average morning, I have already had 2 cups of coffee, made lunch for my kids, searched for a missing shoe and dropped them off at school or camp or wherever else they need go before I head out for a run.  By the time I leave, I am usually chomping at the bit.  But, for this run, I'm just barely awake and my legs are heavy, confused even; so my first mile is very, very, slow and steady...or, sort of steady.  In the second mile, we both shift into cruise control.  Aside from the occasional mad dash for a squirrel or bird, Clover runs at my pace and in a pretty straight line right next to me which is awesome.  More than once I look down at her and I swear she's smiling.  Maybe?  I get it.  I'm smiling, too.  One dead skunk, 2 bathroom stops (her, not me), 2 rabbits, 3 sets of sprinklers, 13 songs,  6 miles and about 50 minutes later, we're home.  We amble slowly up the driveway; breathing, panting, sweaty, happy.  I take my time as I know what's ahead of me the minute I open that door...
~ Mom, we're hungry.
~ Mom, I can't find my leotard.
~ Mom, you forgot to buy us water bottles for camp.
~ Mom, can you get me more duck tape today?
~ Mom, can we go?
And now the day begins.  But, those first 2 hours?  Those were mine.  So, I'm good.  We're good.  We've got this.  Let's roll.

Listen to this:
Feathers & Wax - Vicktor Taiwò  

Monday, June 22, 2015

MEET NICK:PRO RUNNER & CREATOR of RUNGUM

“Make every year better than the one before.” 
~ Nick Symmonds

Well, I just got back from a whirlwind 4 day vacation with my husband and my brain is fried.  Rather than attempt to cobble together a post that may or may not make sense, I am more than happy to let someone else take the stage.  In my opinion, this guy is pretty incredible, so I definitely want to give him front and center.  Today I'm super pumped to introduce you to professional track athlete and two time US Olympian, Nick Symmonds.  As many of you may know, Nick is a crazy fast middle distance runner with a list of accomplishments that's longer than my marathon playlist (331 songs or 20 hrs 56 minutes of music).  He's currently ranked first in the USA and 6th in the world in the 800m and he's the third fastest American ever to run this distance.  Fun fact, Nick is quicker than 99.9% of the population.  His personal bests are mind-blowing (see below) and yet he still has is eye on the prize...or prizes...as I'm sure there are many more to come.

Nick's Personal Records
400m: 47.45
800m: 1:42.95
1500m: 3:36.06
Mile: 3:56.7

Nick also happens to be a biochemist (no joke) and recently started the company Run Gum.  Run Gum is a performance enhancing energy gum created with the elite athlete in mind but safe and effective for anyone who is on the go and needs a boost.  I, myself, have a hard time digesting more than one GU-like product during a marathon and recently made the switch to Run Gum as an alternative for the latter part of my race.  For me, it's been a game changer.  Thanks for that, Nick.  From a music standpoint, Nick's taste is all over the map; his favorites ranging from 2Chainz to the Doobie Brothers.  How he finds the time to own and run a business AND be one of the fastest people in the world is beyond me.  Lucky for us, he somehow managed to find time to answer these questions.  So, let's meet Nick, a RUNNERWHOROCKS.


RWR:NICK SYMMONDS

Name: Nick Symmonds
Where you're from: Boise, Idaho
Where you reside now: Seattle, Washington
Age: 31
Occupation: Professional Athlete, Business Owner
Blog/website: nicksymmonds.com, getrungum.com


RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running? Guilty free eating.
What do you love most about music? It makes a good experience even better.

NICK'S FAVORITES:
Band (current, all time or both): Doobie Brothers
Album (current, all time or both): Get Rich or Die Trying, 50Cent
Race venue: Hayward Field
Music venue: Red Rocks
Race distance: 800 meters
Show you've seen live: Santana
Ice cream flavor: Vanilla Malt




THIS OR THAT:
Sweet or salty? Salty
Live or recorded? Recorded
Coffee or tea? Run Gum
Summer or winter? Summer





2 Chainz
MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? 2 Chainz

Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? The Beatles

Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Jay-Z (I want Beyonce there, too)

Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? 50Cent

LAST ONE: (complete the sentence)
Today, I feel like…I need some Run Gum!


Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both?
I only run to 2Chainz.

Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
Had 2Chainz playing all morning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

RACE REVIEW:WALKWAY MARATHON

"You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream..."
~ C.S. Lewis


Last Friday, the day before I would be tackling the Walkway Marathon in Poughkeepsie, NY, I gave my coach a ring around 8:30am.  Mainly, I wanted to talk strategy; particularly since the weather was looking pretty brutal for Saturday.  Our conversation went something like this:

Lowell: Hey Rebecca.  How are you feeling?
Me: Well, it's 72 degrees outside and ridiculously humid.  So, there's that.
Lowell: Yeah.  I know.  I just checked the forecast for Poughkeepsie.  It's not ideal.
Me: Well, I suppose it was wishful thinking to race in June and get decent weather.  But, I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around it.  How do you think I should approach this?
Lowell: I hate to say it, but a PR is not something you should be shooting for in this situation.  I think you should just focus on running a good race and go for place.  I never tell any of my athletes to bank faster miles in the beginning of a marathon because it's just too risky.  But, I think you're going to have to do that tomorrow.  Try and get out at a solid pace while the temp is (somewhat) lower and you have some shade.  You'll have to dial back when it heats up, but you will at least have a solid base to fall back on.
Me: Okay, so pace-wise, start off around 7:10-7:20, hold that for a while and then let it rip at the end?
Lowell: That pace sounds good.  Realistically, though, it's very unlikely that you'll have much more to tap into for that last 10K.  The heat takes a serious toll.  You're just going to need to try and dig in and hold on for those last few miles.
Me:  Oh.  So, just run hard and steady until I can't run hard and steady anymore?
Lowell: Yea, pretty much.  You're really fit.  And you've got the strength.  But, the weather is out of your hands.  You're just going to have to work with what you've got.  We knew this might be the case with a June marathon.  It is what it is.  Have fun.  And go for it.
Me: Right.  Yeah.  Ok, thanks.  
So, my strategy was set.  Do what I could with what I had and hope for the best.  No problem.

SONG:AWESOME
TEMP:NOT AWESOME
The rest of the morning was a combination of stressing, shuttling my kids around and packing.  Around 2:00pm, I hit the road for NY.  Unlike most of my destination races, this was a solo mission.  It was just me, my music and all the other drivers on the MA Pike.  Turns out, a lot of people decided to cut out early and head West for the weekend.  Shocker.  What should have been a 3 hour and 15 minute drive ended up being about 4 hours and 30 minutes.  Thank the Lord for Spotify.  I did have one minor heart attack about 2 hours into my ride when I looked at my dash and saw that the temperature was 91 degrees.  That seriously freaked me out.  When I arrived in Poughkeepsie, it had just rained and steam was rising up off the streets as I parked my car.  It wasn't good and there was nothing I could do about it.  Deep breaths.  I headed into the expo to grab my number and check things out.  For a relatively small race, I was surprised to see that it was a pretty sizable event.

The Mid-Hudson Civic Center

I quickly grabbed my number and shirt and then strolled through the rest of the expo to see what was what.  There were the typical booths that you see at most expos (ie. running stores, clothing vendors, and sports drinks).  And there were several vendors from the local businesses giving out samples of tasty treats that most runners would not dare try the night before a marathon.  Not for lack of desire.

Strawberry Shortcake?  I think not.

Around 7:00, I headed over to the Hampton Inn, where I would be staying for the evening.  After providing my ID and a credit card, I asked the next most important question...what time did they start serving coffee in the morning.  Her answer?  "We serve coffee 24/7, ma'am."  Brilliant.  Things were looking up.  Shortly after I got to my room and got settled, a thunderstorm rolled in and the sky opened up.  Cats, dogs, fish, you name it.  It was all coming down.  All I could think about was what it meant for the next morning.  So many possibilities.  None of them great.

THE STORM
I decided to pass on going back out for dinner (the hotel didn't have a restaurant) and ate a bagel, a banana and a orange instead.  I'd been carb loading for the past few days so I wasn't that hungry anyway.  I turned out my light around 9:30.  Not surprisingly, sleep didn't come. I tossed and turned and tossed some more.  My nerves were in high gear and the storm had just heightened my restlessness.  I fell asleep with visions of heat and humidity dancing in my head.  Finally morning came.  I headed downstairs, grabbed a cup of coffee and stepped outside.  Maybe the storm had cleared things out.

COFFEE CUP W/ MUSTACHE: AWESOME
WEATHER:
 NOT AWESOME

Or maybe not.  At 6:00am the temp was already in the 70s with 90% humidity to boot.  It was almost laughable.  Almost.  I went back up to my room, packed up and then checked out.  The race was taking place about 10 minutes down the road at Marist College.  I parked my car and headed over to the start area.  I didn't even think about the fact that the very long path I was walking down to get to the boat house, where everything was happening, would be the same path I would be running up for the beginning of the race.  Good thing I wasn't thinking.  I did have the pleasure of meeting Tiffany, a Oiselle flockster, in line at the port-o-potty and enjoyed getting to know her while we waited.  Both of us run for Oiselle and follow each other on social media, so it was nice to put a face to a name.  After that, I checked my bag, did some stretching/dancing, grabbed some water and waited for the the start.  Things were running a little late, which was not ideal given the weather, but we eventually got going a little before 8:00.  As I mentioned, the first mile was uphill which was a pretty serious mental and physical battle.  But, once I got onto the path, I was able to settle down and reset.  For the next few miles I cruised along at a 7:15 pace.  I fell into step with a young gentlemen who was running the half at the same pace.  In the photo below, he's behind purple tank guy, who, for the record, smiled like that for the entire 26.2 miles.  We ran together until mile 6, which was the turnaround point for the half marathoners.  Funny sidebar, I'd had a conversation at the start with the girl behind me about whether or not she should quickly squat in the woods to avoid the lines at the port-o-pottys.  Her friend said not to do it.  I said the opposite.  Not sure what she decided but she did end up coming in 3rd overall in the half which was pretty badass.

At mile 6 w/ fast girl, pace guy and purple tank smiley guy.
Pace guy and I wished each other good luck at the turnaround and fast girl and I high-fived.  I felt a sharp pang of envy as I forged ahead and they headed back to their finish.  For the next 6 miles I was totally by myself.  This was kind of weird and I found it somewhat tricky to stay focused.  I leaned heavily on my music during this stretch and worked to keep my pace on tempo with the beat.  Finally, I reached my turnaround point at mile 12.  As I rounded the cone, I began to see my other fellow runners coming toward me.  Oh, how happy I was to see them.  We were all clapping and cheering for each other as we passed by.  And then someone let me know that I was the first woman on the course.  WHAT??!!  Between learning this info and being with runners again, I got really fired up and back in the zone.  I realized I had a shot at winning this thing and there was no reason not to go for it; weather be damned!  Around mile 15, the crowd started to thin out and I knew I would likely be solo for the next 10 miles or so which was going to be rough.   And then the WORST possible thing happened.  No, not a muscle cramp or gastrointestinal malfunction....way worse than that.  I had been pouring water on my head every 1.5 miles and by the 16th round I had successfully flooded my iPod.  My music stopped.  Total silence except for my very loud, labored breathing.  OMG.  I shouted many bad words and fought with it, on and off, for the next few miles.  I was trying to dry it off, pushing buttons, holding it at different angles, all to no effect.  My worst nightmare had come true.  All I could do was keep fighting.  For miles 21-23, we went over the Poughkeepsie-Highland  Railroad Bridge.  The wind was coming at us from all directions and between that and the loss of my music I was losing energy and could feel my legs getting heavier with each step.  I rounded the second cone to head back over the bridge again and toward the finish and it was here that I discovered I was still in the lead for women.  I didn't sit back and relax, but I did ease up a bit, knowing that I didn't have to grind it out quite so hard to make it across the line. And then, after those two river crossings, a tunnel cut through, a massive downhill and a small and very painful uphill, I could see the finish line.  A huge smile spread across my face as the race officials pulled out the ribbon for me to break through.  There are no words to describe this feeling.  It was beyond amazing.  Final time: 3:13:48.  Not a PR, but pretty close.  Not that it mattered.


Shortly after I crossed the line, I grabbed my bag and some chocolate milk and headed over to the tent to put my feet up.  I was floating....also in pain...but giddy.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could pull something like this off.  I was trying to just bask in the moment and not think about the fact that I had to get in my car and drive myself back to Boston.  I stayed for the awards ceremony and was given a very cool miniature version of the bridge we had crossed made by the SUNY New Paltz students with a 3D digital printer.  Easily one of the coolest awards I've received to date.


I grabbed some more snacks and slowly ambled over to my car.  I was eager to get home and celebrate with my family.  It was a long drive.  But I could have cared less.  I kept replaying the finish over and over in my head.  It had been an incredibly difficult and painful race.  On top of that, it had been a very long and mentally and physically trying training cycle.  And, in the end, it paid off.  All of it.

Lessons Learned:
1. Never pour water anywhere near your music listening device.
2. Never run a June marathon unless you absolutely have to or you live in Florida and are used to the heat and humidity.
3. Always set reasonable goals.  And then set some that are a bit loftier.  Because anything is possible.

Listen to this:
IN MY HEAD - Galantis