Monday, April 29, 2013

All In The Family: M.E.A. 5K Race Recap

RUNNING... (this one's a rambler)

As part of my regular running routine, I try to race about once a month.  I aim to get one marathon in each year and maybe a half, but the rest of the time I like to do smaller, local races which are usually 5Ks or 5 milers.  I rarely do these races on my own as I'm not a big fan of the solo mission.  Half the fun of racing for me is hanging out with my friends and/or family before or after the event.  But, this past week-end I had to fly solo due to a schedule conflict.  Originally, a group of us were going to race together on Sunday but after I signed up, I learned that my high school girls track team had a meet so I had to duck out.  Since I had planned to race, I was already in the game mentally, so last week I got online to find another one that I could run on Saturday instead.  Thank you coolrunning.  Saturday morning, I drove over to Malden to run the 1st Annual Malden Education Association 5K.  I picked up my number and then, because I was on my own, I threw my headphones on and ran a couple miles to warm up.  Then I just spent some time stretching and grooving out to my music; keeping to myself and soaking up the good vibes of the race.  The next thing I knew, a gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and asked me what pace I was planning to run.  He explained that he was shooting for a certain time and was trying to find someone to pair up with to hit his goal.  We continued to chat as we walked to the starting line.  I listened as he told me how he has just got into running and racing and was excited because he was steadily bringing his 5K time down.  As it turned out, we weren't going to be running the same pace, but before the race started we wished each other good luck and high-fived.  The walkers were heading off first and while we waited for them to start, the woman next to me told me she'd lost satellite on her Garmin and asked whether she should just roll with it rather than stress about her splits.  I suggested she might be better of in the end without it and we both laughed as we agreed that we depend on them too much.  We chatted for about five more minutes and then we, too, wished each other good luck.  After a totally unexpected "GO!" from the race director, who then jumped in to run with us, we were off.  It was a great race.  The pros - perfect weather, great camaraderie, & Dunkin Donuts coffee at the finish - heavily outweighed the cons - late start and a tough course with a steady incline for the entire first mile.  I was the first woman to cross the line in this small group of 130 runners.  The ladies cheering at the finish line, all total strangers, came over and gave me a hug or a hive five.  As I was hanging out and enjoying an orange, I noticed a gentleman walking in my direction having just finished.  He gave me a thumbs up.  "20:50" he said "not bad".  I nodded though I wasn't 100% sure he was talking to me.  He kept going,  "I felt pretty good, but I still think I can get my time down".  I looked around to make sure he was, in fact, talking to me.  He was.  "That's awesome" I said.  The next thing I know, Bob and I were having an in depth conversation about our running careers, the various marathons that we'd run, how we manage to fit it all in (in his case running and teaching special-ed and in my case running, coaching and being a mom) and what we had left on our bucket list (he wants to complete 10 marathons before his knees give out and I'd like to run a marathon in an exotic location and maybe a 50 miler).  About thirty minutes later we shook hands and wished each other good luck.  I stayed to grab my medal and to take a picture with the race director who was an unbelievably friendly guy that everyone clearly loved.  And then I headed home; solo again.  But that's the thing...even when you show up at these races on your own, you're not really alone.  Runners, in general, tend be one big happy family.  And, now more than ever, regardless of whether you are running or walking, young or old, fast or slow, spectator or volunteer, EVERYONE is a member.

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Alive - Empire of the Sun  Alive - Ice On the Dune  
-->"Loving every minute cause you make me feel so alive."

Friday, April 26, 2013

(Re)Motivated

RUNNING...

mo·ti·va·tion  

/ˌmōtəˈvāSHən/
1. the general desire or willingness of someone to do something

On Tuesday I wrote a letter to my dear friend, MOTIVATION.  In a nutshell, I let him know that I was missing his presence...big time.  I'm not totally nuts.  I do realize my motivation wasn't up in a cloud listening to my letter and waiting to respond.  But, maybe the running gods were listening.  Or maybe (and more likely) I just got lucky.  On Wednesday, the head coach of our high school track team emailed us to let us know that Olympic athletes Molly Huddle and Duane Solomon were going to be doing a photo shoot down at our track for Saucony, their team sponsor, and that we were welcome to come down to watch and meet them if we so desired.  WHAT?? As you would expect, I bee-lined it down to the track.  I had a feeling my buddy MOTIVATION might be down there hanging out as well.  Turns out, I was right.
Duane Solomon & Molly Huddle
Watching these two athletes run completely blew me away.  They are insanely strong, super svelte, ridiculously fast and....totally down to earth.  So freakin' cool.  They joined our team after the shoot to talk about running.  They discussed things like how and when they got started, what their typical day is like, and how they, yep, you guessed it, stay motivated.  I have never seen a group of 95 girls this excited and quiet at the same time.
LHS girls listening intently to what Duane & Molly
have to say about life as a pro runner.
After we chatted with them they signed photos and took pictures with our girls.  The buzz in the air was tangible and exactly what I needed.  I am a runner.  Not every day is easy.  Not every week is easy.  But I am easily motivated, or re-motivated in this case.  I am motivated by professional athletes who have such a true passion for their job.  I am motivated by my high school runners who love coming out to the track every single day, rain or shine, to work hard and get better.  And I motivated by the feeling I get when I am surrrounded by runners of all levels, all ages and all shapes and sizes each and every day because we all love this amazing sport.

Me & some of the distance squad with Molly (in the middle)

As it turns out, my buddy MOTIVATION never really left.  He just wanted me to remember how much I appreciate him.  

...AND MUSIC (always an instant motivator for me as well)

Listen to this:
Make It To Me - Manchester Orchestra & Grouplove 


NOTE:
“Make It To Me” is a collaboration between Manchester Orchestra & Grouplove. It will be available exclusively as a 12-inch single for Record Store Day, which will also include "Architect," a collaboration between Frightened Rabbit & Manchester Orchestra.
Record Store Day is Saturday, April 20th. For a list of participating indie stores, head to recordstoreday.com.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dear Motivation, (a letter to a friend)

RUNNING...

Dear MOTIVATION,
Where did you go? A few weeks ago we were hanging out together every day.  I thought we had something special.  What happened?? Okay, I did go to Florida for a week and yes, I took it pretty easy.  Perhaps you needed a break, too?  Totally fair.  You've been working hard.  But, I really need you back now.  Shifting gears after a vacation and trying to get back into a rhythm is tough.  The fact that you're not here with me is making it that much more difficult.  Yesterday I went up to the track to run some 400s in the rain.  My good friend DESIRE came with me.  We warmed up together and discussed the fact that we both wanted to be out there.  But then, when it was time to start the workout, DESIRE alone just wasn't enough to get me through it.  I really needed you, too.  It didn't help that the track; which is pretty run down, and has weeds growing through its cracks, was riddled with geese who were staring at me and seemed to be saying, "what the hell are you doing here?"  If you were there, MOTIVATION, we probably would have laughed together and forged ahead; letting them know that the track is for runners, not for birds.  But you weren't there.  So, we shared it, the geese and I, moving back and forth so as not to disturb each other as we plodded along.  It was kind of pathetic, actually.  My good buddy RELIEF was there for me when I finished.  So reliable, he is.  We ran home together, both feeling good about having gotten our work done.  But, without you, neither of us was very satisfied.  In the meantime, my old nemesis DREAD seems to be lurking around the corner.  He's not here yet, but he tends to creep in when the door is open, even if it's just a crack.  I do not like hanging out with him and I know you don't particularly care for him either.  So come on, MOTIVATION, let me buy you a coffee.  Lord knows we both could use one.  But then, your break is over, big guy.  Hopefully you're well rested because we've both got a lot to do.
Yours truly,
Rebecca

...AND MUSIC



Listen to this:
NOW - Matt & Kim  Now - Lightning

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Each Run

RUNNING...


Since Monday, April 15, I have been at a loss for words.  That morning, I was in Florida watching the marathon on my iPad feeling very far away but excited, nonetheless.  My girls were on a Disney Cruise with my parents.  My husband and I were getting ready to spend four days together sans kids for the first time in years and we were giddy.  And then the bombs went off and everything shifted.  First, I panicked.  Many of my close friends, some of the girls on my high school track team, and several of my fellow coaches were running or watching the marathon.  I spent hours trying to track each and every one of them down via phone, Facebook, email, etc.  "Where are you?"  "Are you okay?"  "Did you make it home?"  Fortunately, every single one of them made it out safely and unharmed.  Though, many of them were at the finish line watching or had just finished when the explosions went off and were in a state of total shock and disbelief when I spoke to them.  I couldn't begin to imagine.  Later in the day I was numb.  I was sad.  I was angry.  And, strangely, I really wanted to be back in Boston.  I wanted to see my friends, to hug them, to talk to them.  I wanted to hug my own children but they were on a boat in the Bahamas.  My only consolation in that was that they were far away from the events that had just unfolded.  My husband and I watched and listened to the news.  Non-stop.  In our hotel room.  At the hotel bar.  At restaurants.  On our phones, as we sat by the pool and tried to relax.  Tried.  And then four long and restless days later we scooped up our girls and flew back home to Boston.  I was so ready to get home and I was insanely nervous about the trip back.  Our flight home was on Friday night.  Watertown, Belmont and Cambridge, all next door to Winchester (our town) were on lock down as law enforcement tried to put an end to all the chaos.  We watched CNN on the plane for 2 and a half hours while our girls watched Nickelodeon.  Fortunately, we were able to get a ride and made it safely back to our house.  We put our girls to sleep and watched as the city celebrated outside on the streets.  They finally caught him.  It was over.  On Saturday we woke up and picked up where we left off.  My husband did lawn work.  My girls biked with their friends through the neighborhood.  I went running.  Back to normal.  But, not really.  Everything had changed in this one week.  Maybe not for my kids.  But for me; as a mother, as a runner, as a person in general.  Nothing will ever be the same.  I have never wanted to run the Boston Marathon more than I do at this moment in my life.  I will do whatever it takes to get to the starting line in 2014.  I want to experience all that is right and good about our city and this country again.  Do I want my girls (ages 6 and 8) to be there, too?  I want to say, "yes", but to be honest, I don't know.  I just don't know.  I have some time to think about it.  In the meantime, every time I head outside for a run, I will think of this event and all of those who suffered in any way on that horrible day.  Each run will be a reminder of what took place on that Monday in April.  Each run I will feel a little sad.  Each run I will feel a little grateful.  Each run I will feel.

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Feel Again - One Republic Feel Again - Native

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ode to Boston


One of my greatest memories as a runner is when I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon for the first time in 2009.  I was elated.  I was beyond exhausted.  I was insanely emotional.  I was totally out of it.  I wanted to find my husband and hug him.  I wanted to find my kids and throw them up into the air.  I wanted to dance.  I wanted to high five every stranger that I passed.  I wanted soft serve ice cream from the vendor on the corner of Boylston and Arlington.  I wanted to hug the vendor when he gave me my cone.  Today, 4 years and 5 marathons later, I can still conjure up that moment of total awesomeness when it felt as though all in the world was right and good.  All thanks to the Boston Marathon.  Nothing can take this memory away from me.  And nothing will ever change this event and all that it does for the great city of Boston.  Nothing.  See you in Hopkinton in 2014.


Listen to this:
A moment of silence.  My thoughts are quiet today.  My mind and heart are with all of those who are dealing with this senseless tragedy in any way.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

BOSTON MARATHON, 2013

RUNNING....

"The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can't dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon."
~ Fred Lebow

Best of luck to all of those who are living the dream and running the Boston Marathon tomorrow; truly one of the greatest races in the world!  May the stars align for all of you.

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Now - Paramore  Now - Paramore 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oiselle Arm Warmers: Want Some?

RUNNING... (or running gear)
On the Oiselle model
It was over 70 degrees yesterday in Boston.  I'm not gonna lie, it felt really good to be wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  That said, I know there are some people out there who are still battling with some unusually cold temps (very sorry about that).  Bottom line, I want to give a pair of these Oiselle arm warmers away ASAP; before it heats up across the country for all of us.  I'm not wild about doing giveaways so close together, but this one is time sensitive!  I am hoping the winner will get to enjoy them for a few solid weeks before he or she puts them away until fall. So, here's the low down...

In action: Albany Marathon*
*Notice the man behind me has them on, too.  

In case you missed it, here's a quick recap from Monday's post:

---> Oiselle arm warmers are by far the best running accessory that I own.  Every runner should own a pair of these babies.  I have worn them probably 5 out of every 7 days this spring including during yesterday's race and during my marathon in March. They solve SO many problems.  If it's chilly but you don't want 2 layers, you wear the arm warmers.  If it warms up, you roll them down.  If it gets windy and your hands get cold, as it did for me in both races, just slide them back down and put your thumbs in the thumbholes - this is the feature that sets them apart from all other arm warmers and makes them that much more amazing.    

I'm going keep it short and sweet today.  Want a pair of these arm warmers in navy? (see pic)  You know the drill.  To enter, comment below.  Tell me...what's your favorite running accessory and why?  What's the one thing you can't live without;  rain or shine, spring or fall? Or just tell me straight up....you simply can't live without these puppies.  I get it!

*Contest is for US and Canada residents only.  It will run thru April 15th - Marathon Monday (like this post, duration of this contest will also be short and sweet).  Winner will be chosen via random.org.  Many thanks to Oiselle for making such a kick-ass product! Good luck!

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Next Stop - Bleached  Next Stop - Ride Your Heart

Monday, April 8, 2013

Race Recap: 5 Miles & 5 Lessons

RUNNING...
CZ, MEF & I post race. Love these ladies!

Yesterday two of my girlfriends and I ran the Cambridge CityRun 5 Miler.  It started out as a clear, crisp day - really nice.  By the time the race was wrapping up it was grey, windy and significantly colder - not so nice.  The race itself was a good one.  Despite its size (800 runners and 800 walkers) it was incredibly well organized.  The course was pretty flat except for the final hill which I should have known was coming since we went down at the start.  I foolishly hoped we might be avoiding the uphill part all together.  Not so much.  It was my first race since the Albany, GA marathon that I ran in March and I was really pumped to be out there again.  As you can expect, I went out way to fast.  You'd think after 20+ years of running I'd have learned not to do this.  You'd think.  Overall, the race went well for me.  I was pleased with my time and place and felt like it was a solid start to my spring racing season.  As I always do in when I race, I learned a few valuable lessons.  In a bizarre way, this is one of the main reasons I keep going back for more.  That and knowing I typically get to have brunch with the ladies after the race!

THINGS I LEARNED FROM THE CAMBRIDGE CITYRUN 5 MILER

1. Perfect running weather is very rare.  In general, I like running in the spring and fall better than the winter and summer.  But, that said, I'll take 20 degrees and calm over 45 degrees with wind whipping in my face any day.  In running, it's almost as if each day it has its own weather system and aside from those 3 perfect days a year, we will always be braving the elements, whatever they may be.

2. A five mile race is a very tricky distance and, personally, not my favorite.  With a 5K, once I get through the first mile I'm basically done.  Thus, the pain in that last mile is a bit more manageable.  In a half marathon, when I hit mile five I tend to find my groove and zone out and then enjoy the ride for a bit.  With the five miler today, I hit mile 2 and and I was like, crap, I still have almost a 5K to go...and I'm tired.  Really tired.  So, moving forward, I'll be sticking with shorter or longer than 5 miles in my races.  Good to know.

3. I really like running with friends.  I love that we gabbed away on the drive over and did not even remotely focus on the fact that we were about to voluntarily torture ourselves for 30+ minutes.  I love that my friends know how important these races are to me and don't question my pre-race routine, which to some may seem a bit odd.  I love having friends around me at the start; even if we aren't talking it just feels good know they are there.  And I love knowing that the first thing I'm going to do when the race is over is track them down and head off to breakfast at which point we will pick up where we left off in the car on the way over.  Bottom line, it's just more fun to race with friends.

4. Oiselle arm warmers* are by far the best running accessory that I own.  Every runner should own a pair of these babies.  I have worn them probably 5 out of every 7 days this spring including during yesterday's race and during my marathon in March. They solve SO many problems.  If it's chilly but you don't want 2 layers, you wear the arm warmers.  If it warms up, you roll them down.  If it gets windy and your hands get cold, as it did for me in both races, just slide them back down and put your thumbs in the thumbholes (this is the feature that sets them apart from all other arm warmers and makes them that much more amazing).  After I crossed the line yesterday, a man came over to me and said, "I sure wish I'd had my warmers today.  Smart call."  Indeed it was, sir.  Thank you, Oiselle.
*Note: I love them so much I will be giving a pair away in the next few days.  So, stay tuned.

5. I love running and racing today more than I ever did in high school or in college - eh hmm - over 20 years ago.  I'm not saying I didn't enjoy running back then.  I did.  But today, appreciate it more.  I love the camaraderie of the running community. I love the personal challenge each workout and race presents to me.  And I love the mental release that goes along with all of it.  Back then I worried about how my performance would effect the overall place of my team.  Today, I stress about making sure I can get a coffee AND get to the race on time and then finding my family or friends afterwards.  Much less pressure today.  And much more fun!

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Sun Blows Up Today - The Flaming Lips  Sun Blows Up Today (Non-Album Bonus Track) - The Terror (Deluxe Version)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Recommended Dose (& New Balance Winner)

RUNNING...
Recommended daily fiber intake: 25 grams

Recommended daily running intake: 30 minutes 
(or whatever I can get)

My girls are home from school today because of 'staff development'.  I, personally, feel that our staff is great shape, but I don't have a say in the matter.  I love hanging out with my girls but these can be long days.  They don't go to the same school as their immediate neighbors so they have no buddies to pal around with.  That makes me the buddy.  It's fun for a while.  Than it's...um...not as fun.  We got an early start this morning and combined walking our dog, getting coffee (for me) and having some quality playground time; all in one fell swoop.  It was a solid outing.  Then, they asked if I could take them to the toy store so they could look around and potentially get something with the money they have been saving up.  Oh boy.  But I had nothing else planned, so off we went.  I tried to stay out of it as they looked around and sized up their options.  I did have to say "no" to florescent hair powder and lip gloss kits.  They ended up with a sticker machine and a manicure/pedicure kit.  Could have been worse.  At the moment, they are downstairs doing each other's nails.  I should be checking on the situation but I'm also feeling like it might be better for me not to see what's going on.

You should see her palms.  They are also red.
I have not been able to get out for a run yet today.  This might explain why I lost my credit card within the first 2 hours of the day (thank you Sven A. for finding it) and why I have been saying "yes" to things I normally wouldn't (ie. chocolate pound cake for breakfast).   Running, for me, is like fiber.  It keeps me 'regular', so to speak.  On days like today I am reminded why I need my daily dose.

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Evil Friends - Portugal. The Man  Evil Friends - Evil Friends


NEW BALANCE GIVEAWAY WINNER:
Congratulations to ROBIN A.  She will be sporting a new pair of New Balance Well2Go Flats.  Robin is a mom of two, a runner and a Pre-K teacher.  I'm guessing she'll get a lot of use out of these babies.  Huge thank you to the folks over at New Balance for donating these awesome shoes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pep Talk

RUNNING....

"We acquire the strength we have overcome."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are 95 girls on our high school track team.  65 of them jump, throw, sprint and/or hurdle.  The other 30 of them run distance.  These are the girls that I coach.  Yesterday we had our first outdoor league meet. The weather was rough.  It was about 35 degrees, which isn't too bad, but the wind was blowing like nobody's business and this made it feel about 20 degrees colder than it was.  Competing in conditions like this is tricky for any athlete.  The wind throws everything off.  Add to that the fact that these girls were sporting a singlet and shorts during their events and could barely feel their hands and feet and you've got a whole new degree of difficulty.  There are a handful of girls who compete in the 2 mile, which is 8 laps around the track.  It happens to be the second to last event of the meet with only the relays following it.  The meet started around 3:45.  The two milers patiently waited and cheered on their teammates until their race.  They were wrapped in blankets, wearing socks on their hands and basically using anything they could find that might keep them warm.  They waited for almost 3 hours.  Three.  Hours.  Three very long, cold, and tortuous hours.  A few minutes before they were set to race one of them came over and said, "Coach Trax, we need a pep talk."  I walked over to the group and noticed several things.  First, all of their lips were blue.  Second, they all looked worried.  And third, I don't think any of them truly believed they were about to take off their sweats and run for an extended period of time...primarily because one of them specifically said, "are we really going to do this?"  I've got to be honest, I was not totally prepared to give them what they needed at that moment but I did my best.  "Okay," I said.  "This is probably the worst possible weather you will get during your outdoor season.  So, it can only get better from here, right?"  Blank stares.  "All right, I know this sucks, but the other team has to deal with it, too, so you're not alone in this battle and the playing field is even."  Crickets.  "Girls, this is 14 short minutes of your lives, give or take. It's just a drop in the bucket. Done and done."  "Coach", one of them said, there is nothing "short" about this race.  She had me there.  "Here's the deal," I said, "this is undoubtedly going to be one of your hardest races ever.  You will be cold in the beginning.  The wind will make it worse.  You have to trust me when I tell you that these are the kind of races that make you a better runner.  You will be a stronger person, mentally and physically, when it is over.  And that makes it all worth it.  I'm not sure if this helped or even sunk in at all.  But the whole group completed the race successfully.  And, I'm betting, they will always remember that.  Go team!

...AND MUSIC


Listen to this:
Harder Before It Gets Easier - David Wax Museum
Download Harder Before It Gets Easier - Knock Knock Get Up



**CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE NEW BALANCE WELL2GO SHOE GIVEAWAY.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fool Yourself

RUNNING...

"Whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you're probably right." 
-Henry Ford 

Last Tuesday I had the distance girls on my high school team run sets of repeat 200s on the track.  They warmed up with an easy 10 minute jog and then slowly made their way back over to the track.  As they broke into groups and were getting ready to start I heard a voice mumble, "Ugh! I hate this workout."  No one was bubbling with excitement.  It's a hard workout.  It's not really meant to be fun.  But rather than tell this particular runner that it's good to challenge herself and that hard work will make her a better runner (because, let's be realistic, no high school student wants to hear this at the start of a speed workout-if ever) I just smiled and said, "no you don't.  You LOVE this workout."  I told her to keep saying it over and over until she believed it.  I knew this wasn't going to make the workout any easier physically.  But my hope was that if she tricked herself mentally, she could potentially get through the workout without carrying the heavy weight of dread that she was feeling, and maybe even enjoy it a little.  Maybe.  Running is hard.  A lot of runners love the challenge.  It's why they continue to do it day in and day out.  But, for some, it's a chore and there is little to no enjoyment in it.  I, personally, love pushing myself and I tend to take the work head on.  But, if I'm going to be totally honest here, there are certain workouts that I tend to dread (ie. hills or 20+ milers).  And on those days, I'll do whatever it takes to get through them...even if it means fooling myself.  "I do love hills, I do love hills, I do love hills," you'll hear me repeating, usually out loud, as I take them on and attempt to convince my mind and my body that this is true, if only for that day.  Can you fool yourself into believing that you can run a marathon when you haven't trained?  Sure.  Is this a good idea?  Probably not.  So, yes, you have to take this with a grain of salt.  But, next time you head out for your run, or to do whatever it is that you might be reluctant to face, why not fool yourself?  Believe you can, that you like doing it and that you truly want to do it.  See what happens.  You might be surprised.  Now, I'm off to see if I can use this strategy with my 8 year old.  Perhaps today she can make herself believe that she enjoys making her bed.  Or maybe I'm just fooling myself with this one...which might not be such a bad thing.

...AND MUSIC

Listen to this:
Diane Young - Vampire Weekend  Diane Young - Modern Vampires of the City *

*Note: expected release date of their new album 5/14. Yep, I'm excited.


**CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE NEW BALANCE WELL2GO SHOE GIVEAWAY.