Thursday, August 16, 2018

REST DAY. SORT OF.

Rest day agenda
In terms of my marathon training, Sundays are my usual "rest day".  No running, no strides, no core, no dynamics.  Nothing.  In peak training, like now when my mileage is in the 70s and 80s consistently, it is far and away my favorite day of the week.  Along with coffee, it is the proverbial carrot that dangles in front of me as I power through all the miles Monday through Saturday.  Last week, in particular, was a tough one, again in regards to training.  Monday I fought through a brutal marathon pace workout.  It was ugly and took a lot out of me.  The rest of the week I just ran lots and lots of miles.  When Saturday rolled around and I'd finished my last run of the week I was like a kid in a candy store.
Saturday. Final run done. Initiate rest mode.
Smiling and giddy.  Let the laziness begin.  Sunday morning, I slept late.  Because it was my rest day.  Then I sat on my ass, ate a big breakfast and drank four cups of coffee.  Still resting.  After that, I took my dog for a nice long walk, something I frequently do on this day of rest.  A bit of mellow activity, even on rest days, does a body good.  Then I read for a few hours, books and magazines and such.  So restful.  I ate a nice big lunch.  Very relaxing.  I might have napped a bit.  That one's a no brainer.  And then swam with my kids for a bit.  Not super restful but fun.  Finally, around 2:00, we all went out for ice cream, something we often do in the summer, especially on the weekends.  And, of course, I indulged because my only agenda for the remainder of the afternoon was to rest.   It was right around here when I learned that my in-laws were taking my girls to see a movie and then for pizza afterwords.  That would be three full hours totally to myself.  The wheels immediately started spinning.  The next day I needed to run 21 miles, which would also take me about three hours.  But, first I had to drop my girls off at camp.  And that wouldn't be happening until 8:45am, which might as well be lunch time for me.  As you may already know, last week I had a little drama at drop off which delayed me from starting my run.  I wasn't expecting it to happen again this week because the older sister was now around but we all know anything is possible.  On top of that, both of the girls were on a waitlist to be moved from the day camp program to the sleep away program, which is what they were hoping for.  So, there was also a chance that I was going to have to drive suitcases back over to camp if one or both of them came off the list.  Do you see what I'm getting at here?  Yes, Sunday was my rest day and, up until that point, I'd milked it for all it's worth.  And no, it was not quite over yet.  There was more rest to be had.  But, the next morning could go in many different directions and I had little to no control over what might unfold.  So, yes, all signs were pointing to lacing up and hitting the road despite the fact that it was 4:00 in the afternoon.  On my rest day.  I wasn't 100% sold on the idea so I laid out the pros and cons.

Pros:
~ 3 uninterrupted hours to myself and thus a relatively stress free long run.
~ A hassle-free camp drop-off. Or, if not, no long run lingering while I dealt.
~ Wide open schedule for Monday w/ plenty of time to rest.
~ Good practice to run on tired (very tired) legs

Cons:
~ I was still tired from the past week of training.
~ I was not really in the mindset to run 21 miles.
~ I just ate ice cream.  And lots of other things that were not easy to digest.
~ It was still really hot out.
~ I was incredibly unmotivated.

Let's just see what happens.
Go or don't go.  What to do?  Finally, I decided I would just give it a shot.  I told myself that I would drive to the bike path and shuffle through a couple miles.  I would just see how my legs responded for a bit but still give myself the out if I wasn't feeling it.  Somewhere in the back of my head the decision to get it done was made.  I pretended to debate but the bottom line was this: I was going to bang out this 21 miler.  At 4:00.  On Sunday.  Which was also my rest day.  As I laced up I couldn't help but feel like I was borderline nuts.  But all things considered, I knew it was the right call.  And despite my lack of motivation, I also knew I would be really happy that I'd gotten it done come Monday morning.  So, off I went.  As predicted, I got past the three mile mark and just kept going.  It took me two hours and fifty eight minutes.  It was getting dark as I finished.  And I was toast.  But I was done.  We do weird things sometimes.  But sometimes the weird things are the most logical at that particular moment.  I suppose, when you really think about it, marathon training is anything but logical.  And, thankfully, there will always be time to rest.  At some point.

DONE.

Listen to this:
Peach - The Broods

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

THE UGLY

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” 
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

It was Monday at 8:30am and I'd planned to be well into my workout by this point.  So much for my plan.  My daughter, Grace, and I had taken off around 7:00 for camp drop-off.  It was her third week at this camp, which she loves.  Stupidly, I'd figured that we'd be checking in, dropping bags and high-fiving as we said our goodbyes since the process was now old-hat for both of us.  Pipe dreams, really.  As she unpacked her bags, Grace surveyed the scene and slowly realized that none of the other campers in her cabin looked familiar.  And unlike the last time she was here, she didn't have her sister to lean on because Rosie was off doing something else.  So, she immediately went into panic mode.  Then the tears came quickly afterwords.  Back into the car we went.  She was saying things like, I can't do this, and it's going to be awful, and how can I stay here for 5 days with NO FRIENDS?!!,  and so on and so forth.  I did my best to remain calm and tried to assure her that she'd likely have new friends within the next two hours and that there was no doubt in my mind that she was going to have a blast.  I told her that she'd just have to get over this uncomfortable hump and then she'd be good to go.  She didn't buy it.  Not that she was expecting me to tell her that she could bag camp and come home with me.  Thankfully, she and I both knew that wasn't happening.  Instead, she just drew out the process of saying goodbye along with the added drama for a solid hour.  By the time I left, she'd calmed down and gone with her counselor to make bracelets.  She was fine.  I was a mess.  I was annoyed, frustrated and sad for her all at the same time.  Between that and the heat and humidity, which were now at full force, it was a perfect set up for a the 10 mile marathon pace workout that I had to tackle.


Or not.  I drove over to the park where I was starting as I tried to chill out and switch gears.  I'd been hoping to treat this workout like a dress rehearsal for my upcoming half in September.  Here's what I said to myself...out loud.

Okay, Rebecca.  This is the deal.  Your September half doesn't start until 10am and it could very easily be as hot as this.  And let's be honest.  Anything could happen on race morning that might throw you off your game.  You could oversleep, you might get lost on your way out, another kid meltdown, who knows.  Bottom line, your current scenario - arriving on the later side to a race in a stressful state - while not ideal, is a pretty realistic one, so let's just suck it up and get going.   

They happen a lot, these solo conversations.  Perhaps you do it as well.  If so, you get it.  If not, well, yes, it's pretty strange.  But, we do what we do.  I changed into my shoes, drank some water and took off for my warmup.  The path I was on had some solid shade, which was a bonus.  I still felt like I was swimming in the humidity, but at least it I didn't have the sun beating down on me directly.  I got back to my car, drank some more water, did a couple strides and lined up on the path as if I was racing.  Game on.  Here's how it went:

Mile 1: 6:45 - It was a solid first mile. I felt good from head to toe.  My body was awake, my mind was now focused and I was feeling ready to take things on.  I hit my target perfectly.
Mile 2: 7:00 - At some point during mile 2, my mind decided it was not so sure about the situation.  I can't do this I said as I stepped off the path. And then DAMMIT.  I had two options.  I could bail and do the workout the next day on a treadmill.  Or I could fight it out and see how far I could get while also adjusting for the heat.  Come on, Trax.  You CAN do this.  Let's go.  Obviously I chose the latter.  I cleared my watch and started again.
Mile 3: 6:33 I needed to adjust my pace but I also wanted to run by feel instead of using my watch which I felt was adding too much stress.  At the end of mile 3, I stopped again.  This is crazy.  I'm done.  I felt like this mile had been too off pace and it simply wasn't worth it to keep going.  But then I checked my watch and saw that I'd actually gone too fast.  (Note:You can safely assume that all my talking from this point forward was out loud and to myself).  Good grief.  You've got to get it together here.  You are stronger than you think.  And there is no way you'd quit at this point if you were actually racing.  You have 7 miles to go.  Do what you can given the situation.  Stop thinking so much and just go.
Miles 4-6  6:48, 6:57, 7:15  Off I went again.  I was just trying to manage now and do what I could.  I was too far in to quit.  I turned around at 5.5 miles so I'd finish where I'd began.  I started to overheat in the 6th mile and felt a little dizzy so I pulled back on pace significantly.  I'd need to do the same thing if I was racing I thought to myself.  Let's ease off now and see if you can pick back up at the end.  
Mile 7: 6:50  I was now back on track.  So a lesson learned there.  Take a little break when you need it.  Remember, this is a practice.  It's good to try this stuff.
Mile 8:  6:47  Still on track but starting to suffer from the heat again.  I knew there was a water fountain up ahead and willed myself to get there with the promise of a stop as my carrot.  The fountain was at 8.8 miles.  I took off my visor and drenched it.  I splashed my face.  And then I drank. And drank some more.  The tourists on the path around me must have thought I was nuts.  Whatever.  Now I had 1.2 miles to go.  I was cooled off and fully hydrated.  Let's get this shit DONE. (yep, out loud)
Mile 9:  7:12  Way off pace but I hadn't stopped my watch for the water so I wasn't surprised.  It was survival mode now to the finish.
Mile 10:  6:39  I gave it everything I had for this mile and by some miracle, I slipped in right under goal pace.  Praise be.
Overall Average: 6:52



I didn't hit goal pace.  But, all things considered I came in pretty damn close which was a total surprise.  It's been a long time since a workout has challenged me as much as this one did.  When it was done, my thoughts were all over the place.  On the one hand, I was really proud of myself for fighting it out, even if it was ugly.  On the other hand, I worried that I'd blown the workout given how broken up and off pace it had been.  In the end, though, I decided that battling the elements and working through the chaos was the right call.  The next day my coach sent me his thoughts on the workout:

Yesterday was a choppy, grinding effort but you got it done despite the heat and some distractions.  Workouts like that definitely toughen you up and remind you that you are capable of more than you realize.

Racing is unpredictable.  We can train our brains out but there is always going to be that one variable, sometimes more, that is totally out of our control.  Maybe I'm not faster after getting through this one.  But I am mentally stronger.  And perhaps I won't be quite as thrown by the unknowns next time I'm about to start a race because I can look back on this one and remember that I got through it.  I suppose it's all part of this crazy process.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

Listen to this:
Run the Road by Santigold

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

LIVE MUSIC FEVIEW:FITNESS

"Honestly, I don’t know if we’re even trying to spread any ‘message.’  We just hope that people enjoy what we think is cool, and to maybe inspire other musicians to make the music THEY want.."
~ Kenny Carkeet, from ALLACCESS

Carkeet (left) & Collins
Photo credit: ALLACCESS
Back when I started this blog I'd just discovered a band called AWOLNATION.  I saw them live, on my own, (a first for me), in a really small venue and the experience kind of blew my mind.  The drummer for the band was a guy named Kenny Carkeet, who I met briefly the second time I saw them play.  After the show, I made an effort to thank him and, yes, to have him sign a t-shirt for me, which he did willingly and for which some day my girls will thank me...maybe?  Fast forward to 2016.  I happened to see a post on Instagram about Carkeet's departure from AWOLNATION, so I reached out directly to see what he was up to.  Turns out, after an incredible run with AWOL (they're huge now), Carkeet decided to go out on his own with his friend Max Collins, formerly of EVE6, and together they formed the band FITNESS.  Why FITNESS? I asked.  Just tried to think of the worst marketable name he told me.  Well played.  I spent some time listening to the album and not surprisingly I liked what I heard.  A few weeks later I reached back out to see if they were touring and as luck would have it they were coming to Somerville in July.  Done and done.  I roped a few other gals in (Sunday night motivation can be minimal on my own) and bought the tickets.  Which brings us to last Sunday evening.  Oh my, what a night.  The band was on fire.  The company was amazing.  The venue was...um....interesting?  Here's how it all unfolded.

pre-dinner w/ Laura

Around 6pm I scooped Laura and Dina up in Winchester as we were planning to grab a bite in Somerville before the show.  Laura, who lives in Winchester with me, is often my wingman for these shows, bless her.  And Dina, an old and dear friend, was in town from CA for the weekend which was an unexpected bonus.  She's got the whole Cali/punk thing going for sure.  And for the record, yes, Dina is wearing a fanny pack.  Supposedly they're back in style.  Jury's out as far as I'm concerned.

Dina w/ fanny pack

We met up with Dina's friend, Amy, also from CA and in town visiting family, for dinner at the Five Horses Tavern.  Great restaurant, great service.  Although, oddly, they were out of seltzer water.  Fitness wasn't going to be playing until 8:45 so we enjoyed a leisurely meal and spent some time catching each other up on our lives.  As you may know, I don't get out a ton, so just the dinner part of this evening was a treat in and of itself.

OFF TO THE SHOW

Around 8:15 we finished up and headed over to the Once Ballroom, a venue so small that if you sneezed when you were walking by you wouldn't notice it.  Which we were more than happy about as a more intimate show is always preferred over a sold out stadium these days.  We walked in and showed our IDs, (he asked) and then made our way into the main event.  Okay, so this was different.  The space was more like a living room with a few tables and chairs and a small area in the middle, complete with lamp and oriental rug, where the bands played.  When we walked in, there were about 20 people already enjoying the first band.  And no one was saying a word.  Nothing.  We were laughing about something as we walked in and everyone immediately stared at us and gave us the stink eye.  So, we shut up pretty quickly so as not to annoy those around us.  That was a first for me at a live show.

Please Don't Touch The Curtains
(yes, that means you)

We settled in to a small high top table and turned our attention to the the opening act, a super mellow female duo wearing matching pink wigs.  Again, the "crowd" was very focused and basically silent so we did our best to both listen and talk without disrupting the vibe.  Not easy.

Max Collins

Right at 8:45, Fitness took the stage.  Lead singer, Collins, came on and greeted us with Thank you for coming out early tonight.  Little did he know that it was fifteen minutes before bedtime for me.  Yep, I'm a winner.  The minute they started playing there was an immediate shift in the atmosphere as Collins has a very big presence as well as a very loud voice and he threw both right at us in full force.  His head was inches below the ceiling and as he jumped around I couldn't help but feel that he was on the verge of knocking himself out.  His energy was amazing and he poured it into his singing; his passion for each song almost tangible.  The band has a fresh, hard-angled sound; very intense but also digestible.


Carkeet plays guitar, keyboards and "basically everything else", Collins' words when he introduced us to his bandmate.  He is the melodic springboard, if you will.  Up until this point, I've only see him in his role as a drummer with AWOL.  So, it was really cool to watch him display his talent in a different way.  One of the main reasons he left AWOL is so he could do his own writing and producing without all the limitations that have been placed on him in the past.  You can tell he's thrilled about this new role and the direction they're going on the whole.  Sadly, we only got to hear about 5 or 6 songs before the next band took the stage.  No encores at the Once Ballroom.  But I heard enough in that hour to know that this band is at the start of something big and they are undoubtedly destined for acclaim, both critical and beyond.  Personally, I am really fired up to follow their journey.

post show w/ CARKEET

After their set, I made my way over to the merch table to re-introduce myself.  Fortunately, he remembered our conversation on Instagram and me as RWM so it didn't look too weird that I was standing there waiting to say "hi" and get a picture.  Or maybe it did and he's just a super nice guy.  Either way, I let him know that I'd loved what I'd heard and that I'm really looking forward to seeing them in a bigger venue where it doesn't look strange for me to talk to those around me, stand up or maybe even dance a bit.  We both laughed at that.  He told me they were really just getting their project underway, trying new things out and experimenting with the songs they picked and the show in general.  I could tell how excited it he is about the whole thing as we talked.  That was also really cool.


After the show, we took some time to explore the Once Ballroom a bit more.  I mean, this place was...I'm struggling to put it into words.  Apparently, according to Alex the bouncer, it used to be a mob hangout.  Not a shocker.  We spent some time in the back half of the room soaking it all in.  Pink walls, gold chairs, skull and feather headdress on the side table.  So much to take in.  We also discovered big piles of things like books and games....

Connect 4 anyone?

...and this thing which looks like a shrine of some sort.  Or maybe a torture device.  Hard to say.


I won't even get into what we saw in the basement.  Yes, Alex took us down there to check it out.  Very bizarre, all of it.  Don't ask why we went down there.  I have no idea.

Post-show with Alex, the bouncer

Getting out to see live music is not as easy as it used to be when I started this blog.  Life is busier, both for myself and for my kids, my training is more intense and, well, let's just say I'm not quite as motivated to get out on a week night as I used to be.  Tranlastion...I'm older.  But, that said, I'm still managing to find the time and hope I always do even if the shows are few and far between.  And a live experience, even a small and rather bizarre one like this, is always work the trek.  You just never know what you'll hear and see but you'll undoubtedly never forget it.

Listen to this:
Karate by Fitness

Monday, July 23, 2018

RWR:MEET DAVE AMES of 'AME FOR IT'

Today I am really excited to introduce you to my dear friend and fellow coach, Dave Ames.  Back in 2015 I joined the Skechers Performance team and at the time, Dave was our New England team manager.  He and his (now) wife, Gregoria, lived in Brookline, MA and through our running and coaching connections we became fast friends.  When we first met, Dave was knee-deep in marathon training and using the same coach as I was so we'd often meet up for long runs or workouts as well as various races throughout the year.  He was also doing some personal coaching for family and friends on the side but his main gig was working at Skechers.  Over the next few years, however, he started to take on more and more athletes and without really realizing it, his coaching business began to grow both rapidly and exponentially.  Finally, in 2017 he left Skechers to focus full time on his true passion which he now calls Ame For It Run Coaching.  'Ame For It' is a worldwide run coaching service in which Dave helps runners of all abilities achieve their goals and dreams from the 5K to marathon.  It's pretty clear that Dave also happens to be a running junky himself.  He maintains his love for the sport by continuing to race and train for the marathon.  This fall, he will be shifting his focus onto racing his first 50K and 50 Mile ultra distances in CA and TX, respectively.  Sadly for me, Dave and Gregoria left the Boston area and moved across the country t0 Long Beach, CA this past winter.  Which means no more training runs or general heckling from his end on a regular basis.  We do, obviously, stay in touch and I know we'll always maintain our strong connection through running and coaching.  Dave also happens to be a huge music fan, which in addition to telling you about Ame For It, was one of the main reasons I reached out to him for this series.  Okay, so enough from me.  Let's meet Dave, a super cool cat and a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.

RWR:MEET DAVE AMES

Name: Dave Ames
Where you From: Central, NY
Where you reside now: Long Beach, Cali
Age: 36
Occupation: Owner & Founder of Ame For It Run Coaching
Website:  www.amefortiruncoaching.com

HARD AT WORK

ON RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running:  
Running is my “me” time.  Rarely do I run with others.  I enjoy training alone.  We live in a world full of expectations, social media infatuation (I am addicted, I’ll admit it) and trying to compare ourselves to others.  Running is my time to challenge and push myself.  No one is there to judge, compare or critique.  It’s just me and the roads, or preferably trails.  I’ve been in a lot of dark places in my life in my younger years.  I mean rock bottom, man.  Running saved my life.  It will always be my way to let go.  To feel alive.  There is no better “high.”

What do you love most about music:  
They say people who get the chills when listening to music have something special inside them.  I don’t know what it is, but I get that.  I connect really well.  Like now, I’m currently listening to a song called “Alone in the Dark” by Flaer Smin.  It’s lounge/chill music and written just beautifully.  It takes me places.  Music is a journey and when you listen to it, you can be anywhere you want to be inside your head, or in this world on the outside.  I’m a huge fan of Jazz.  It’s hands down the most complex form of music out there.  It speaks from the soul.

w/ some of his Ame For it Athletes

DAVE'S FAVORITES:
Band:  Pink Floyd, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Radiohead, The Doors.  There’s just too much.
Album:  Wildflowers by Tom Petty
Race Venue:  Utica Boilermaker 15K (Utica, NY) - - It’s where I learned to be a warrior.  I learned how to compete.
Music Venue:  Man, I’ve been a ton of places.  Honestly, I just saw Moby on Sunset Blvd, in West Hollywood at the Echo.  One of the best concerts I’ve seen in my life!  I was literally in front of him.  The place didn’t hold more than 200 people.  I’ve been going to shows since I was 14.  I gotta say, that place rocks.
Race Distance:  10 Miles.  A dying breed in the road running world now a days.  I want to tell you after I complete my first few ultra’s that I will love that, but I have a good feeling I’m gonna hop all aboard the pain train!
Show you’ve seen live:  The Beastie Boys (Madison Square Garden)
Ice Cream Flavor:  Strawberry (soft serve from Upstate NY only!)


THIS OR THAT?
Sweet or Salty:  Sweet
Live or Recorded:  Live.  No other way.
Coffee or Tea:  Trax is gonna hate me here, but I haven’t had a cup of Joe in over 4 years.  Tea.  
Summer or Winter:  I live in SoCal now.  It’s killer every day!  But nothing beats training in the snow.  I learned to get tough on the roads in the snow.  As the great Bill Bowerman once said, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”


MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could:  I just saw Nine Inch Nails in Vegas a few weeks ago with my wife.  It was one of the best shows I’ve been to in my life.  We are huge Nails fans.  We were just talking about our next show for them earlier!  I need more NIN in my life right now!
Which band or Artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight:  Can I have 2?  Jim Morrison and The Doors.  Layne Staley and Alice in Chains.
Which band or Artist would you like to have dinner with tonight:  Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode.  I absolutely idolize the man.
Which band or artist would you like playing along side you in your next race: New Order

NINE INCH NAILS

Today, I feel like….(fill in the blank):
I’m grateful.  I wake up each and everyday with the ability to do what I love to do.  Coach runners.  I hope that I can be the small change in someone’s life daily.


Top 5 Songs for Running:
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Runnin Down a Dream (call it tacky, it makes you step on the gas!)
Filter – Hey Man Nice Shot
Don Henley – The Boys of Summer
EMF – Unbelievable
Lo Fidelity Allstars – Battleflag


Last 5 songs you listened to today:
New Order – Age of Consent
Flaer Smin – Alone in the Dark
Morrissey – Everyday is like Sunday
The Cure – Friday I’m in Love
The Cult – She sells Sanctuary