Friday, November 30, 2012

Lament of an Injured Runner

The below poem was written by one of my high school cross country runners who was out in the beginning of our season due to an injury.  Being told not to run when it's all you want to do is truly one of the hardest things to hear.  So many of us have been there.  This is her story but as I read it, I thought back to all of the many injuries I've dealt with and how hard I fought to get through them.  Those of us who share this same passion and drive to run will likely do whatever it takes to get back on the road.  Just as Sonia did.  Here it is in her own words.

Lament of an Injured Runner
by Sonia Rowley

A dream-like trance, raw thoughts, my real self
Coaxed from the depths by the rhythm of my Nikes pounding pavement
The musical beat of breath.
As each mile passes, I push myself
A little farther.

Then - ouch.
Something’s gone wrong.
I try to ignore. Forget. Run it off.
But the pain persists.

First a phone call.
An appointment. Another.
“You’d better lay off for a few weeks.”
An eternity.
My breath catches in my throat.

From freedom to blue elastic bands
Like shackles around my ankles.
One, two, three, four... repeat
With closed eyes, I remember what I’m working toward -
My sport. My passion.

From fresh air to man-made machines.
Or the tedium of a pool.
I force myself into the water with the reluctance of a cat.
“I will stay strong,” I say.
Motivated. Passionate.

Weeks pass. Then months.
Self-restraint wears thin.
A feeling of betrayal sets in.
Why does my body fail me?
Hope is only a flicker,
replaced by an all-consuming impatience.
Always looking forward...

To feel the ground passing swiftly beneath my feet.
A memory?
A sweet breeze filling my gasping lungs.
A dream?
Sweaty, pain-free miles behind me.
A goal.
I will do whatever it takes.

Listen to this:
Odessa - Caribou Odessa - Swim (Bonus Track Version)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Game On

I love holidays, but bouncing back from a break is always a little tough; particularly for the wee ones.  Case in point, this morning when I woke up my five year old, she immediately started crying - I know, big shocker.  She claimed that over Thanksgiving I had told her she no longer had to go to school - ever.  I'm not sure how she dreamed up this one, but I am sure I didn't tell her that.  I'm not gonna lie, after having a few relaxing days without a set plan to follow it was kind of tough to get myself back in the game, too.  Today I specifically thought of Operation.  Remember this one?  The players act as a doctor who needs a steady hand and a lot of patience to remove all the various items from the body of the sick (and goofy) man on the table.  I had very little of either of those things this morning.  My girls, on the other hand, kept reminding me of the loud buzzer in the game that makes the players jump and cringe each time they do something wrong.  Super fun.  On our way to school, I realized I wasn't the least bit motivated for the two hour run that I had on my schedule for the day.  As we cruised along, I was thinking of possible ways to increase my enthusiasm for said run such as new music or a new route; admittedly zoning out.  I finally snapped to when I heard my seven year old say, "MOM, DID YOU PACK ME PLEASE TURN ON THE MUSIC FOR LUNCH?"  I started to respond in typical mom fashion with something like, "excuse me, Rosie, there's no need to use that tone...."  But, she stopped me mid-sentence and explained that she had asked me to turn on the radio "like 10 times" and since I hadn't heard her she threw in the 'lunch' part to get my attention.  Fair enough.  And, pretty clever.  Rosie - one.  Mom - zero.  Game on.

Listen to this:
Hide and Seek - Blondfire Hide and Seek - Where the Kids Are - EP

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Racing on Martha's Vineyard: A Top 10 List

Today I ran the 8th Annual 5K for KJ.  This was a new one for me.  I was happy to find it for several reasons.  First, I overslept for the Oak Bluffs Thanksgiving Day 5K Road Race that I typically run, so I completely missed the boat on that one.  Second, it took place on the MV high school's cross country course which was beautiful and, I thought, a very pleasant change from being on the road.  And finally, it was for a great cause as all proceeds went to the Kevin Johnson Cross Country Scholarship Fund.  Races on Martha's Vineyard are quite a different experience than most.  If you happen to be on the island at any time, I highly recommend you find one and jump in.  You won't be disappointed.  Here are some of the many reasons why:

Top 10 Reasons to Run a Race on Martha's Vineyard

1. In the off-season these races are relatively small and parking is a piece of cake.  In the summer, it can be a bit trickier but even if you have to park far from the start you'll still be pretty close.  Almost everything on MV is within 'walking' distance.

2. If you are waiting in line for the bathroom and the race is about to begin, there is no need to panic as the race director will usually wait for everyone.  Having all their runners is more important than starting right on time.

3. You can safely leave your keys in your car during the race and be confident that it will be there when you're done.  In truth, I often see the keys dangling in ignitions as I walk through the parking lot.  This is not the least bit strange.

4. If it is cold, as it was today, you can huddle up with the people next to you even if they are complete strangers.  On the island, this is totally normal.

5. If you have that competitive edge there is a good chance you can win your age group.  The truly elite runners don't make their way over to the island that often, especially in the off-season.

6. If you do happen to win, you're prize will likely be from a local business.  If it happens to be something from a restaurant, even better.  Today's prize, for example, was a box of goodies from Chilmark Chocolates; hands down the best I've ever eaten.

7.  As you are waiting for the race to start, you can turn to anyone standing near you and they genuinely want to meet you and chat about what "brings you to the island."

8. Regardless of what town the race is being held in, the scenery is guaranteed to be beautiful.

9. If you forget something, i.e. money, and you need it in order to register, the race volunteers will either lend it to you or trust that you'll drop it off or put it in the mail later that day.  If the race is a bigger one, and the people working the race can't help you, the guy next to you in line will probably will.

10. When the race is over, you can find your family in about 30 seconds.  This sounds minor, but it's SO nice.  Especially when you have kids that are itching to get going.

And, most importantly, after that you can head to Mocha Mott's for a ridiculously sinful but well-earned, specialty coffee.  Meet you there!

Listen to this:
Global Concepts - Robert DeLong  Global Concepts (Radio Edit) - Global Concepts - EP

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Thanks & Listen

The past couple weeks have been nuts and I am so looking forward to a much-needed break with my family.  For the next few days, in addition to being thankful, I plan to do a whole lot of very little.  There will be no crazy morning school routines to deal with, no board meetings, no cross country practices; just eating, sleeping and chilling out.  Yes, I'll get some running in, but it will be on my own time not when I have to squeeze it in.  I am pumped!  On that note, I will leave you with some of the music that I am digging right now.  Take the time to explore it all over the holiday if you so desire.  There is no rhyme or reason to this list.  It's got a little bit of everything.  Just sit back, relax, give thanks and listen.  Cheers.

1. Aimee Mann - Charmer  Charmer - Aimee Mann
2. The Helio Sequence - Negotiations  Negotiations (Bonus Track Version) - The Helio Sequence
3. Sea Wolf - Old World Romance  Old World Romance - Sea Wolf
4. White Arrows - Dry Land Is Not a Myth  Dry Land Is Not a Myth - White Arrows
5. Crystal Fighters - Star of Love Star of Love - Crystal Fighters
6. Cat Power - Sun  Sun - Cat Power

1. Fitzpleasure - Alt-J  Fitzpleasure - An Awesome Wave
2. Inhaler - Foals  Inhaler - Holy Fire
3. Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) - Unknown Mortal Orchestra  Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) - Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) / Waves of Confidence - Single
4. Default - Atoms for Peace  Atoms for Peace - The Eraser
5. Blessed - Tom Hangs & Shermanology  Blessed (Avicii Edit) - Blessed
6. Closer - Tegan & Sara  Closer - Closer - Single

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LISTEN TO THIS: LHS XC State Meet Playlist

On Saturday, the Lexington High School girl's cross country team will be running one of the hardest courses in the state of MA.  The race is located at Northfield mountain in the beautiful but hilly town of Gill (see left).  The course is a grueling 3.1 mile loop up and down a mountain.  No joke.  It is literally a full-blown mountain.  The girls will be fighting for their place in the state.  Their time is not a factor.  It's all guts.  Nothing more.  And they are ready.  These girls listen to music at home, on the bus, with each other, getting ready, on their warm up; basically whenever they need inspiration to push themselves beyond their limits.  Like so many of us, they too are driven by songs and/or lyrics that will help get them in the mindset to "go".  So, what do high school girls listen to when they are getting pumped up to run one of the biggest races of their year?  Here's what they told me in their own words.  The best part - this has to be one of the most eclectic playlists out there.  Different strokes for different runners.   If it works, it works.  Rock on, girls!

From Hayley
Raise Hell - Brandi Carlile  Raise Hell - Bear Creek 
It gets me really pumped up for a race, not to mention the fact that it's a good song in general. It also has an awesome running beat to have stuck in your head if that happens. 

From Virginia

Dog Days Are Over - Florence + the Machine  Dog Days Are Over - Lungs
For me this song is about keeping your mind focused and not dwelling on the past (in this case past races or workouts, things that may not have gone as planned), and moving forward. Taking your motivation and determination, and leaving all other distractions behind is very important during a race. Although the message could be perceived as kind of dark, the tune (which is pretty catchy), and the meaning are things that I find inspiring.

From Eleanor (& Paige)
Remember the Name (pre-race) - Fort Minor  Remember the Name (Non-PA Version) - The Rising Tied (Deluxe Version)
It' a pumpy song and gets me thinking about why I run and what it takes to be a runner (not really because of the song itself but bc of the chorus...10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure, 50% pain, 100% reason to remember the name) and Paige always plays it before before big meets so I like to think of it as a tradition. 
Set Fire to the Rain - Adele (sings it in her head during the race)  Set Fire to the Rain - 21
Because of the last line " let it burn" which i think  is a good way to think of going up hills. That is also my go-to song for singing. 

From Grace
For you - Keith Urban  For You - Act of Valor
It is inspiring because it is about someone who is sacrificing his life for people he loves. The music behind the lyrics builds up the story. If someone can sacrifice so much for something they love despite so much fear, they can do anything. It makes me want to work hard to deserve everything that I have and can possibly achieve.

From Steph  
Home - Philip Philips  
Home (Tribute to Philip Phillips) - Home (Tribute to Philip Phillips) - Single
I heard this song on the radio last week and I've listened to it a good 20 times since then.   I like it because even though it doesn't really have an explicit meaning it makes me think of the team and how  when the team works together we can do anything. We're a team and we succeed together, on the course, and at practice. And, when the song says home I always think of how the team is like a home/family.  It reminds me that the team should know everyone supports them and that we shouldn't be afraid of trying to achieve new feats.

From Emma
Tonight is the Night - Outasight  Tonight Is the Night - Tonight Is the Night - Single

This song is such a good-feeling pump up song.  I tend to attach memories to songs, so when I listen to this song, I am reminded of hot weather and sand and the ocean!

Radioactive -  Imagine Dragons  Radioactive - Night Visions

About 40 seconds in, Radioactive has the best beat drop.  This song is so intense and focuses me for an upcoming race.  Listening to it centers my thoughts and helps me to not get distracted.

Fly - Nicki Minaj  Fly - Pink Friday (Deluxe Version)

Grace showed us all this song.  It is pretty inspirational, but most importantly, it reminds me of my freshman cross country season and the short-lived obsession that we all had with Nicki Minaj. :)

From Olivia
Anything by Bob Marley i.e.
Buffalo Soldier  Buffalo Soldier - Bob Marley & The Wailers: Gold
Bad Boys  Bad Boys - Burn the House Down
Great for warm-up, cool-down, and pump-up.
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor  Eye of the Tiger - Eye of the Tiger (Remastered)
Of course!
Gonna Fly Now (from Rocky) - Rocky Orchestra  Gonna Fly Now - The Rocky Story
Another given.

From Sonia
Eye On It - Toby Mac  Eye On It - Eye On It
This song is my absolute favorite pump-up song. Everything about it is pre-race perfect; intense, electronic, energy-boosting background music coupled with race-related lyrics that allude to my personal beliefs as a Christian. “’Cause I can feel the wind at my back. Chest is pumpin’ like a heart attack. Feet are movin’ and my mind is locked. Pressin’ on with everything I got... I feel the deeper call in me, all else is fadin’ in the past, so let me run in the race that I know is built to last.” Before a race, these lyrics get me excited to press on with “everything I got” for the Lexington cross country team and for God.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Strength In Numbers

Pre-race team bonding.
These girls are freakin' close!
As many of you know, this fall I have had the good fortune of coaching the Lexington High School girls cross country team; an incredible group of 56 ladies.  At the moment, the main season has come to an end and only ten of them are continuing to compete.  On Saturday,  we went to Wrenthem to race in the MA State Divisional meet.  This was big time.  There were thousands of runners from all over the Eastern Mass and multiple races being held for both men and women.  I tried very hard to remain calm, cool and collected as I took in the chaos of this event.  All morning right up until the start of the race, the other coaches and I continuously stressed the importance of coming in together as a tight pack.  I won't get into the details of how to score a cross country meet, but, basically, teams are more likely to do well if they finish together as a group and then as close to the front as possible.  Many people think of running as individual sport.  So many of us who run, myself included, get out there each day to zone out, take a mental break, listen to music; whatever.  In cross country, having a solo mindset is simply not an option.  While their individual times were important, it was their actual places and how close they were to each other that was going to help them snag a top spot at the finish.  In the end, we did not have any runners in first, second, third or even 10th place.  Our first runner came in 15th.  And then the rest of them cruised in right after her which helped us edge out all the other teams but one for a second place finish overall and a guaranteed entry to the State meet next week.  Done and done!
The proof is in the pudding (or places)!

These girls, all 56 of them, come out to practice every day and push themselves so hard to be better.  They work to improve their race times, always striving for that personal best.  But it is their strength as a team that sets them apart.  And this will undoubtedly benefit all of them as they head to their next meet, to their next season and throughout the rest of their lives.  Go Lex!

Strength in Numbers
Listen to this:
You're Too Cool - The Zolas (from Tic Toc Tic)   You're Too Cool - Tic Toc Tic

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kids Will Run. And Run. And Run.

How 'bout them boots?
My kids are 5 and 7 and they run a lot.  They don't actually go running, but they are always running school; both on the playground and in gym, throughout the neighborhood, throughout the get the point.  As a parent, I'm glad they run (unless it's 9:00 at night and I'm trying to get them to bed).  Kids need to be active.  It's part of life at that age.  Much to my chagrin, when my girls head off to school they are typically wearing Bear Paws, sandals, or in Grace's case, cowboy boots from Target. As an avid runner, it kills me to think of my daughters playing soccer or lacrosse in boots of any kind.  I can almost feel their ankles turning in from afar.  Kid's feet need as much support from their shoes as grown ups, perhaps even more.  They are just as prone to injuries as we are and if they run track or cross country at a young age, they are at an even higher risk.  Do they need a fancy pair of Nike Frees at age 5?  Probably not.  But there are a ton of good running shoe options out there for kids who are on the move.

Here in Winchester, we are fortunate to have
Kids Footstop, a store that sells various brands of running shoes for toddlers and kids through about middle school age.  I got my older daughter a really good pair of Sauconys, a brand that I know and love, without breaking the bank.  They also carry Asics, Puma and Reeboks, so there are plenty of choices.  For those of you who are in or near Winchester and have young kids, I highly recommend checking out this local mecca for athletic footwear.  As a friend of RWM, starting tomorrow they are giving out a FREE Crocs T-shirt (see above) with every purchase while supplies last.  Just mention RUNNINGWITHMUSIC at the register and they'll grab you a shirt.  For those of you who aren't local, no worries.  Add a comment below about anything related to kids and/or running and you'll be entered to win one of these shirts from RWM directly.  Kids are on gonna run.  Let's support the habit!

Listen to this:*
Hello - Martin Solvieg & Dragonette   Hello - Hello - Single
*Kids choice today.  Not gonna lie, I love it, too.  Thanks Rosie & Grace

Monday, November 5, 2012

Play It Again

Original Books of CDs
(anyone want them?)
I have 7,719 songs in my iTunes library.  That's about 23 days worth of music.  Some of it was purchased for my girls; i.e. Dan Zanes (for Grace), Ke$ha (for Rosie) and the Rio soundtrack (for both).  Most of it, however, is mine.  I have spent years building my this collection.  Way back when iTunes launched, my husband and I spent a ridiculous number of hours downloading all of our CDs from high school and college onto our computer (see left).  I have hundreds of playlists.  I make playlists for my playlists.  Well, not really, but you get what I'm saying.  Today, I am admittedly obsessed with discovering new artists and bands and then sharing what I find.  On Saturday morning as I headed off to work, I plugged my iPod into my car without selecting anything specific.  I just pressed 'play'.  I never do this.  One song after the next I found myself thinking, "oooh, I haven't heard this one in a while."  I quickly realized that I have some unbelievable music on there that I rarely listen to.  With each new album that I purchase these days, the old ones tend to get pushed down the forgotten music ladder.  Such a shame.  So rather than move forward in my search, for the next few weeks, I'm going to look back.  I  might not do it all in 23 straight days, but I've got plenty of time.  Here's a taste of what I heard today.  Would I run with all of them?  Probably not.  But I do a lot of other things.  Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
1st iPod - approx 2 lbs
and about an inch thick

1. Brazen - Heartless Bastards  Brazen - All This Time
 - First heard this band at Austin City Limits a few years ago.  Lead singer has an amazing presence and her voice is raw but gripping.  Made a mental note to listen to the entire album again.
2. Redhead Girl - Air  Redhead Girl - Pocket Symphony
 - My live music wing(wo)man introduced me to 'Air' when my second daughter was born. The music is mellow but detailed and beautiful.
3. This Modern Love - Bloc Party  This Modern Love - Silent Alarm
- One of the songs on the Wedding Crashers soundtrack.  Have maybe heard it twice.  I'm diggin' it. Note made to dig deeper into Bloc Party's album and see what else they have to offer.
4. Penny Lane - The Beatles   Penny Lane - 1
 - A classic.  I can't imagine anyone staying in a bad mood after hearing this one.  It's on the Beatles 1 album along with so many other amazing gems.
5. Fitz and the Dizzy Spells - Andrew Bird  Fitz and the Dizzyspells - Noble Beast
- One of my favorite artists.  A "go-to" for any scenario.  His voice is sweet, his violin is sweeter and he is bizarrely good at whistling.  He's just so cool.
6. I Can't Get My Head Around It - Aimee Mann  I Can't Get My Head Around It - The Forgotten Arm
 - Her music is a bit solemn but her albums always tell such a good story and her voice is so unique.  
7. Shelter from the Storm - Bob Dylan  Shelter from the Storm - Blood On the Tracks
 - Don't really need to say much about this one.  Just sit back and listen.
8. B-Boy Bouillabaisse: A Year and a Day - Beastie Boys  B-Boy Bouillabaisse: A Year and a Day - Paul's Boutique (20th Anniversary Remastered Edition)
- This one made me want to go out and run.  It's a total funk fest.  Delicious.
9. Hot in Herre - Nelly  Hot in Herre - Nellyville
- At my request, my dear friend LS sent me all the music from her wedding.  8 CDs worth of treats.  She's a huge music fan and she compiled it all on her own.  She also loves to cut a rug and this one makes me think of her dancing back on her wedding day.  That was awesome.
10. No Speak No Slave - The Black Crowes  No Speak No Slave - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
- Arguably one of the best bands of my generation.  Such a good cut.  And there are SO many amazing albums by these guys.  I'm planning to spend the rest of the day with them.  Oh boy!