Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE & EPIC GIVEAWAY

🎶 It's the hap-happiest season of all 🎶


Well, it's December.  Mid-December, actually.  Man, that was fast.  Do I say that often?  It's easily one of my favorite times of the year.  Regardless of what, when or how you celebrate during the holiday season, it's typically a time of giving and receiving for most of us.  Love?  Yes.  Good tidings, comfort and cheer?  Of course.  But also, gifts.  As I do each year, I have gone out and done the research so that all you have to do is read through this post and then pick your favorites either to give or to put on your own wish list.  These products are ideal for runners or athletes of any kind.  That said, they will also appeal to the chocolate lover who listens to music and drinks coffee but has never run a day in his or her life.  Seriously, there is something on here for everyone.  Give any one of these items to family or friends and earn 'best gift giver' status instantly.  You're welcome.  Happy shopping.  And MERRY EVERYTHING!

RWM 2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE


Jaybird Sport #poweryourpassion

Jaybird's X4 Wireless Sport headphones are the perfect gift for anyone who leads an active lifestyle and takes their music on the go.  Impeccable sound and quality.  Custom fit.  Fully weatherproof.  And 8 hours of battery life.  I really can't say enough good things about these headphones.  Worth every penny.  
Retail price $129.99 on jaybirdsport.com.


Oiselle #headupwingsout

Oiselle's Festive Mile One Pullover meets everyone's needs for winter.  Run in it.  Sit by the fire in it.  Layer it on top for running or underneath for extra warmth at your kid's hockey game.  Made with 100% merino and one of the few fabrics that is soft, warm and lightweight.  In one word....delicious.  Retail price $98 on Oiselle.com.

Books by Kara Goucher & Deena Kastor

'Let Your Mind Run' by Deena Kastor & 'Strong' by Kara Goucher  Who doesn't love a good book to curl up with during the holiday break?  Both of the books above were total game changers for me both in terms of my running and in my life in general.  These women are two of the most inspirational in their sport.  Yes, they are both Olympic athletes and professional runners but their stories and the lessons within them can be truly applied to all areas of life, for both runners and non-runners alike.  Increasing mental strength and gaining confidence to be the best version of myself?  Please and thank you.  
Retail price for Kara Goucher's "Strong' $13.36 in Paperback & Retail price for Deena Kastor's 'Let Your Mind Run' $17.79 in Hard cover, both on Amazon.com.

Zensah #withoutlimitz

I am a huge fan of the Zensah Mini-crew for winter.  Their cupcake pattern is my current favorite.  I won't tell you how many pairs I have.  But I will tell you that I have lots of pairs in many different colors and patterns to choose from, several of them in the food category.  The design alone is reason enough to want these socks.  Then add to it the fact that they are graduated compression, anti-blister, have seamless toes, and are made with moisture-wicking and anti-odor fabric and we're done here.  You're ankles will thank you and your friends will think you're really cool.  Done and done.  Retail price $19.99 on Zensah.com.

Runangel #runloud

This device has changed my life.  No joke.  I do a lot of solo running and I'm often out in some remote areas on my long runs.  Wearing the RUNANGEL bracelet gives me peace of mind.  Hopefully, I never need to use it.  But if I do, it sets off an ear-piercing alarm and sends a signal to my husband with my location.  Runners, hikers, bikers, kids who walk home alone, I really can't think of anyone who couldn't benefit from having one of these bracelets.  
Retail price $90.00 on runangel.com 
*Note: Use code TRAX15 at checkout to save 15% off get an additional free strap

Stacks espresso

Rich, creamy, delicious coffee crafted by Stacks Espresso bar which is owned by my dear friend and Oiselle teammate Erin Wrightson.  Enough said.  Retail price $14.99 on stacksespresso.com

STOCKING STUFFERS


NUUN IMMUNITY - a quick, easy and tasty way to supercharge your immune system. Perfect for winter training and survival in general.
HONEYSTINGER - a chocolate cracker n' nut butter explosion of awesome in your mouth.  So good it's ridiculous.  
KOALA CLIP - the hands free solution to running with your phone.  Works very well with the wireless Jaybirds, I might add.
CLEMENTINES - the healthy snack that also happens to perfectly fill out the hole of the stocking.

********** THE RWM EPIC GIVEAWAY **********


Here it is, my friends.  This is my biggest and best giveaway in the history of RWM.  Several of the companies and individuals from the above gift guide have donated goodies as well as their time to this epic stash of loot that one of you lucky readers will win.  To enter, comment below.  Since the holidays are a time of giving and receiving, tell us who you will share this bundle with.  Because you're gonna share, right?  You can also jump over to RWM on Instagram and enter there.  Winner will be chose via random.org on 12/18.  Huge thanks to all of those who contributed to this package of love.  Good luck.  *US Residents only

Giveaway Includes:
A pair of Jaybird Sport X4 Wireless Headphones (Freedoms pictured here)
A signed copy of STRONG by Kara Goucher
A signed copy of Let Your Mind Run Deena Kastor
Oiselle Trucker Hat & Power On Mittens
4 Tubes of NUUN (2 Immunity & 2 Electrolytes) & Water bottle
$50 gift card for use on koalaclip.com
2 Lbs (Espresso & House blends) of coffee and a ceramic mug from Stacks Espresso
One pair of Zensah Cupcake mini-crew socks
Box of Honeystinger Dark Chocolate Cracker N' Nut Bars

Listen to this:
How You Feeling - Superfruit

Thursday, December 6, 2018

BE THE AVOCADO

"Mom, I left your daily note by your bed.  It didn't fit in your motivation box.  But I think you'll like it."
~ Grace, age 11


It's 8:15 am.  I've had coffee but my body doesn't seem to remember that I drank it.  Happens a lot lately.  I've got a tempo workout to tackle this morning; 10.5 miles total including a three mile warmup, four and a half miles at 6:35-6:40 pace and a three mile cool down.  It's a common one for me and yet I'm dreading it.  The temperature outside is in the twenties.  Sweet, sweet winter.  I decide to run inside.  If I'm being honest, and I might as well be since I'm sharing the inner demons today, I really want to go on the treadmill so I don't have to think about hitting pace.  I want to let the machine do it for me.  There, I said it.  Though, I really do hate doing workouts in the cold.  So, off to the gym I roll.  I park and walk slowly....shuffle, shuffle...to the front door of the Y.  I see my friend Pam.  She's running across the parking lot, clearly in a rush and maybe even excited to start her workout.  She does a double take as she sees me heading towards her.  "I'm kind of struggling",  I say.  "Not super motivated today."  She laughs.  I smile.  But I'm not laughing.  I'm wishing I could tap into her energy reserves because mine are depleted.  I don't tell her this.  No need to make things weird.  I throw my stuff in a locker and make sure I have everything I need.  Headphones, water bottles, phone, towel and two pairs of shoes. I'm a walking garage sale.  I grab a treadmill, set myself up and start my warmup.  My legs are heavy, but I knew they would be.  It's fine.  I set the pace slow and ease in.  After a few minutes, the running feels good, natural.  So, I relax and enjoy.  I finish the warmup and change my shoes because I want a something lighter for this work.  I start back up again at goal pace, the high end.  After one minute I stop.  It's not happening.  I change back into my trainers and decide to try one more time.  "Come on, Rebecca.  Be the avocado."  I smile.  Sweet Grace.  I increase the pace back up to 6:40 and try to find a groove.  To say it's hard doesn't even begin to describe it.  I can't get there.  I mean, I'm there, I'm doing it, but it's abnormally difficult.  How did I run 13.1 miles faster than this just three months ago, I wonder.  How am I going to run four and a half miles as this pace today?  I cover the screen with my towel and decide to do as much as I can without looking.  I know that this pace usually equals about 2 songs per mile, give or take.  I tell myself I am not allowed to check my mileage until I've heard six songs.  Instead, I stare out the window at the naked trees and the dead grass.  Sweet, sweet winter.  I sing, I dance, I air-box, (is that a thing?) I shake my hands out, I roll my arms in big circles.  Whatever I can do to move things along, I do it.  Six songs.  Finally.  I've run 3.3 miles.  I sigh with relief.  I'm hurting.  But I can power through 1.2 miles.  I know this.  Two more songs.  I tell myself not to look.  I look.  4.2 miles.  Sweet Lord above.  Make it end.  Finally I finish.  I slow to a walk.   I'm so happy to be done my sweat mixes with tears of joy.  Not really.  But maybe a little.  I putter on for another three miles.  It's a GD miracle that I was able to pull that off.  The struggle is so painfully real lately.  My head and my heart are not in it.  But there is beauty in the struggle.  I know this.  It's one of the reasons I started running in the first place.   It's a big part of what keeps me coming back.  Moving forward, I will take Grace's message to heart.  I will be strong on the outside.  And I will be loving on the inside.  Especially of myself.  Something I don't do often enough.  My heart....my pit, as some might say,....is so full.  Thank you, Grace.

Listen to this:
Dignity - Erin McCarley

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

RACE REVIEW:THANKSGIVING CLASSIC 13.1

Last week we flew down to Jacksonville to spend Thanksgiving with my parents and my sister and her family.  Having just run a marathon in October, I had no plans to do anything other than relax and enjoy myself over this break.  Sure, I was going to run, but the miles would be minimal and easy and just "for fun".  Oh, and prior to the trip I'd decided to sign up for a half marathon on Thanksgiving day, also "for fun".  Yes, it was a race, but it was mainly to get out of the house and do something active and somewhat strenuous before settling in with family and feasting for the rest of the day.  Okay, so now that I'm reading over this I realize I actually did have plans beyond relaxing and enjoying myself for this break.  Though, I suppose, as far as I'm concerned, mellow running and racing can slide into the category of "enjoying myself" these days.  At one point my husband and my younger daughter had thought about joining me and racing the 5K.  But, when I reminded them about the 7am start the day before the race, they both opted out.  Bummer for me but no surprise.


Wednesday was beautiful. We spent some time swimming, walking on the beach, reading, napping and just hanging around doing not much of anything for most of the day.  It was awesome.  The fact that the temps were in the single digits back in Boston was not lost on me.  Sorry.  Not sorry.  Wednesday night, my sister, her husband, Jeff and I we went out to dinner at the Palm Valley Fish Camp.  I ordered fish because, when in Rome....or Florida.  I enjoyed a glass of wine.  I had dessert.  Basically, I did everything I never do before a race.  Because, as my coach had reminded earlier in the week, I don't always have to live a monastic lifestyle and it's important to make the most of the times when I'm not in training simply because I can.


I won't lie and tell you I didn't consider bailing on the half all together while I was enjoying my coffee and dessert.  I did.  But, when I got home from dinner I laid my stuff out and set my alarm anyway.  I mean, who was I kidding?  I got a decent night's sleep and woke up 5:30 the next morning.  Oof, that came quick.  It was pitch black outside and it was a balmy 60 degrees, which I was thrilled about.  I hopped in my brother-in-law's car and made my way over to the race start.  For the record, he's not a runner.


I actually rolled in a bit later than usual, not at all on my usual pre-race game and not really sweating it.  I jogged over to the start to grab my number, this being my only window to get a warmup in.  I could not help but notice all the people wearing hats and gloves.  No joke.  Apparently 60s is pretty chilly for the locals.  I must have looked ridiculous in my shorts and tank.  I got my bib and shirt and ran back over to my car to ditch everything before making my way over to the line.  I'd spoken to my coach the day before the race and we'd landed on two goals; to run hard and to have fun.  He reminded me that I was still recovering from Baystate and that my body was not going to be super responsive because of that.  Basically, this was probably not going to be a PR day and I should not expect it.  It's always good to get this kind of reminder so I don't set myself up for disappointment.  Thus, I was going to just give it what I had and do my best to have a good time.


THE RACE:
The race director sent us off right on time at 7:00am.  As you know, Florida is pretty flat, so I knew it was going to be a relatively painless course, weaving mostly throughout the neighborhoods in the area.  I settled right into a pace that felt comfortable, turned up my music and zoned out.  Until mile 3 when I zoned back in.  On my big toe.  Which was throbbing.  Stupidly, I'd made a last minute switch to flats right before I'd headed to the line.  Really bad call.  My big toenail had suffered at Baystate and was now being pushed against my shoe with every step I took.  Oh my word, each time I lifted my foot I got a little shot of pain on the nail.  My first thought, thank goodness this wasn't a marathon.  At the very least, I knew I could grit it out for 10 more miles.  My pace was fine, hovering right around 6:45.  I tried to focus on my breathing and my rhythm, my music, the palm trees; anything other than my toe.  Since I was not at all stressed out during this race, I made an effort to thank the volunteers on the course and at the water stops.  I also tried to smile often as I've heard that helps trick your brain into thinking your having a good time, even when you're not because your toe hurts.  I wish I had a good story for you on this one, but really I just cruised through the miles, mildy suffering, but for the most part enjoying the scenery and the morning in general.  Miles 6,7 and 8 were pretty rough.  I could feel myself slowing down, and stepping on the outside of my right foot in order to adjust for my toe.  But, I was able to pick it back up for the last few miles simply because I was just eager to be done.


I finished in 1:28 and change which I was more than pleased with given how things had unfolded.  I should have eaten more carbs and less sugar the night before.  I should have stayed off my feet for a better portion of the day on Wednesday.  I should have hydrated better.  I should have gotten up earlier and given myself more time to warm up.  I should have cooled down.  Oh yeah, I didn't do that either because my toe hurt too much.  And for a different race, I would absolutey go back and do it differently.  For this one, I wouldn't change a thing.  I got exactly what I expected out of it.  And sometimes that's all we need.  In terms of running, that is.  As I said, for this trip, what I really needed was family time, good food and a lack of regimen.  And that, too, is exactly what I got.  

Hanging w/ Rosie & Grace

at Thanksgiving dinner w/ my sister and my dad

THE FAM

Listen to this:
We Got The World - Erin McCarley

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"DIFFERENT" TRAINING

"Fall in love with taking care of yourself.  Fall in love with becoming the best version of yourself but with patience, with compassion and respect to your own journey."
~ S. McNutt


The week after my last marathon I did no running or exercise of any kind.  After all of those weeks (months, years) of training, I'd earned the right to relax and unwind and I was really craving the time off the road.  It was wonderful.  The next week (yes, a week) I eased back in with some short and easy runs.  Not surprisingly, my legs were heavy and my overall energy level was pretty low.  But I was fine with it as I knew it would take a few days to shake the dust off.  The third week out I was still taking it slow but, in regards to my body, things were finally starting to click back into place which felt good.  This week I began to pick up my mileage a bit because I have a half on Thanksgiving which I am running "for fun" and I want to feel decent if possible.  But I was still not doing any workouts because I wasn't ready and I really didn't want or need them yet.  By the fourth week out, from a running standpoint and, if I'm being honest here, just in general, I was feeling off kilter both mentally and physically and I was having a hard time dealing with it.  So there it is.  Four weeks.  I kind of knew they were coming, the post-marathon blues, but I guess I'd hoped I'd be able to embrace the post-race high a little longer this time around since I'd finally hit my goal.  No dice.  Right after Baystate, my coach and I made a game plan for my next phase of training.  We decided to focus on getting faster in the half with the eventual goal of running a faster marathon.  This meant racing multiple halves in the spring of 2019 and then we landed on Chicago for the following fall.  This also meant for the first time in six years I would not be training for a spring marathon.  As you may know, I've been nose to the grindstone for the past three years, consistently running 70-80 mile weeks with minimal breaks between marathons.  And as tough as that has been it is what I've gotten used to.  In a sick way, I have learned to love it.  I'm now on my fifth week out from the marathon and not only do I miss it, but I feel a little lost and unsure of myself as a runner.  It sounds a little ridiculous when I say it out loud.  But, it is what it is.  A couple days ago, I reached out to my close friend and teammate, Sasha Gollish, a pro-runner up in Canada.  I had a feeling she would not only understand what I was going through but would probably have some words of wisdom or encouragement for me.  I was right.  On all of it.  She's been there.  Done that.  Talked about it.  Worked through it.  Helped others through it.  And was ready and willing to hash it out with me.  I'm just going to go ahead and share our conversation for a couple reasons.  First, you'll likely be able to pluck some pieces of her wisdom and use them for yourself.  Second, maybe you're dealing with something similar and will find strength in numbers.  And finally, because in laying it all out there, I'm facing it and working through it myself.  I won't lie and tell you that I'm a little embarrassed and that I debated posting this because of how frivolous the issue sounds.  But, I'm human.  And so are you.  And we all have our demons.  Better to step up and fight them rather than pretend they're not there.  Or, at the very least, invite them in for coffee and see what happens.

Me: Question for you.  I feel heavy and off my game both mentally and physically.  Do you ever get this way after a long and/or brutal training cycle?

Sasha: I think that is the emotions playing with you.  You've been running so much your body comes to crave it.  So in attempt to get you out the door and running that much again it tricks you into feeling heavier and off.

Me: That makes sense.  I'm trying to allow myself to take the time to enjoy lower mileage and a low maintenance regimen but it's also hard for me after going at that level for so long.

Sasha: I know it's amazing what our minds do to us.  It was so hard for me, too. (post-Berlin marathon)  SO hard.  But I talked it out and try to manage my brain.

Me: I know this sounds nuts, but I feel guilty a lot in what I'm not doing.

Sasha: Oh, I know that feeling.  I find that when I write about it and talk it out, it goes away.  You're going through all the same emotions.  So next time you feel guilty just say, hey brain, we’re going back to training, just not yet.  It calmed down the voices in my head.

Me: Ya. I really need to try and relax. But I feel weird bc I do it to myself.  I train like a crazy person and have been doing it for so long to try and break the 3 hour barrier.  And now that's done. So when I'm out running easy and working so much less, it feels like I’m slacking, like I’m letting myself down.

Sasha: Ok, so these are the words that really are the root of your feelings, or at least I think so. 
SLACKING
1)  You’re not slacking. Actually taking the rest and doing the things you need to do takes courage and a lot of strength.  But because they are not the norm, both in our daily lives, and the societal norm of training we get tricked in to thinking rest is bad.
LETTING YOURSELF DOWN
2) Oh my gosh, this is the emotion I carried with me for 6 weeks post-Berlin. From food to training to life. I had to remind myself how important the down time was, the weight gain, the recovery.  I had to remind myself I’m not letting myself down.  This is the build up post-breakdown. So I flipped it.  I’m bringing myself up so I don’t let myself down when I go back to training.

Me: That’s such a great way to look at it.  In fighting the feelings, I am getting mentally stronger.  In not training, I am letting my body rebuild.  I think, honestly, that at my age I’m scared of losing my fitness.  I pound so hard.  I can’t believe my body hasn’t given out. So I know it’s good to take a break.  But I don’t like feeling “out of shape” which I know I'm not, but comparatively.  And I'm worried I won't get it back.

Sasha: I have called my recovery time training time. It’s worked wonders for my brain.  It’s just "different" training.  I find it useful to say, I’m out of sharpness not out of shape.

Me: Yes.  I love that.  And thank you. 

Here's my takeaway.  This recovery and downtime is all part of the process.  It's the "different" training.  And it's necessary.  I need to accept this challenge just like I would any other.  I also need to remember that there is a reason that I'm making these choices and that in the long run they are good for me and will help me reach my goals.  And finally, I need to work through the tricky stuff now because it's helping me gain the mental strength that I'm going to need as I head into this next chapter.  Oh, and one more thing.  Sasha?  She's the shit.

Listen to this:
Weight Lifting - Katie Herzig