Friday, September 27, 2013

Only in a Runner's World

"Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too." 
~ Richard O'Brien

Yesterday I drove to Arlington so I could do my workout on the bike path instead of the road.  I had a whopper tempo run to tackle and I didn't want to have to deal with street crossings, cars and curbs.  As I was finishing my run, the parking official was marking my car's tire with chalk.  As he saw me coming, he stopped and waited by my car.  Hmmm, I thought.  Had I been there too long?  When I got to the car he asked me if I was all right.  I was dog tired and it very well may have looked like something was wrong.  But, still.  I told him I had just finished a run and that I was fine.  "How far did you go" he asked?  Despite my exhaustion and my strong desire to get in my car and drive to Starbucks, I could tell this guy wanted to chat and it was pretty clear that he was a runner.  So, I gave him the low down. "I did 10 miles with 8 at goal marathon pace."  "Wow. Nice work" he said.  Then he went to lift up the bottom of his pants with his chalk stick.  Ummm.  Wait a sec.  What the hell is going on here???  Alas, he revealed a pair of orange CEP compression socks like the ones I was wearing.  "I noticed you have the same socks" he said.  I never run without them.  He held out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Brian."  Because I was thrown for a loop and I didn't really have a choice, I shook his hand and said, "Nice to meet you, Brian, I'm Rebecca."  He let me know that he worked part time at Marathon Sports, a local running store, that he was also training for a marathon, and that the bike path that I had just run on was less than ideal for a tempo run because of its slight incline over several miles.  Yes, I nodded, I had just taken on that slight incline and it pretty much stunk.  We both laughed.  I told him that I was training for the Hartford Marathon, which I would be running in less than 3 weeks. "That's a great one," he said (of course he'd done it) and then proceeded to give me some tips.  We also talked about our Saucony's - I was wearing the Rides, he was in the Guides - and the differences between the two.  Finally, he chuckled as he told me that his wife thought he would have given up running years ago but that he can't seem to shake the habit.  I smiled.  "I get it" I said.  At this point, we wrapped things up.  "Well, Rebecca, you couldn't have asked for a better day for a run.  At least you got that."  "I could not agree more," I said.  And off he went, continuing to mark the tires as he strolled down the street.  Only in a runner's world is this situation both normal and acceptable.  And only in a runner's world is the camaraderie so solid that it's not the least bit odd to stop a runner on the sidewalk to admire their socks or to let them know they'd done a good job on their workout - or in this case, both.  The world is a crazy place.  The running world is even crazier.  But, if you're in it, you have to appreciate it.  There is truly nothing like it.

Listen to this:
Crazy - Au Revoir Simone  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Explanation


A recent conversation with my 6 year old before bed:

Me: Grace, I'm racing tomorrow morning.  When you wake up, I won't be here, but dad will.  So if you need anything you'll be all set.
Grace: Mom, why do you ALWAYS race?
Me: I don't ALWAYS race.  I didn't race yesterday.  I didn't race on Monday.  In fact, I probably only race about once every month or two.  
Grace: But, why do you always run?
Me: Because I like the way it makes me feel.  It's good for me.  Why? Does it bum you out when I run?
Grace: I just think you should be spending that time with us. 
---> aaaand cue the guilt
Me: I spend a lot of time with you guys. I love hanging out with you.  But, I need to do my own thing, too.  It's good for all of us.  

Blank stare 

Me: Why do you sleep with your blanket every night?
Grace: My blanket is the most important thing in the world to me. 
---> slightly concerned about this, but it enforces my point, so I leave it.
Me: Right. Well, aside from you, Rosie and Daddy, running is one of the most important things in the world to me.  You need your blanket.  I need running.  
Grace: Mom?
Me: Yes, Grace? 
Grace: What would you do if you didn't run?
Me: I have no idea.  That's really hard for me to imagine.
Grace: If I didn't have my blanket, I would be sad all the time.
Me: I totally get it.  Good thing we have what we need, right?

Listen to this:
Scare Me - New Beat Fund  

Monday, September 23, 2013

REVIEW: ROCK RUN ROLL

I run with music.  I have two iPods and I often carry both on the road.  I have playlists beyond playlists.  All that said, I am always on the lookout for other ways to spice up a workout or long run.  I've experimented with BPM using the TrailMix App - awesome.  I've listened to a book via mp3 (aka "book on tape") - not as awesome, but still better than silence.  I've tried LOTS of things and yet none have truly excited or motivated me like my own music does. Enter Rock Run Roll.  This company recently reached out and asked me to check out their audio workouts.  I was instantly intrigued.  The various training sessions are designed by a team of coaches who collaborated with the Rock Run Roll deejay to create workouts that are tailored specifically to your ability level - beginner to expert and everything in between.  Whether your goal is to start running, to improve your performance or simply to kill the boredom of the treadmill, Rock Run Roll has you covered.  Each workout has a personal coach who guides you through the program with the ultimate goal being to give you a solid, effective workout while keeping things fun and interesting.  The workouts have different themes such as Africa Run, where you'll find yourself running through the plains alongside zebras with a Masai guide giving you personal motivation or The Space Run workout where you'll be blasting off into the netherlands of space for your workout.  Tell me you haven't always wanted to do this?  Okay, it's more likely, you haven't thought about doing it because it's not really an option to run in the desert or on the moon.  It is now - in a way.


Seriously, this is something totally different and I highly recommend that you go check it out.  If your interest is piqued, go ahead and download the free demo (no credit card required) .   Next time you lace up, why not take yourself on a running adventure.  Rock, Run & Roll!

Listen to this:
Generals - The Mynabirds  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Raining Music


Over the past few weeks new music has been pouring in.  Literally.  From all directions.  I am beside myself.  It's almost more than I can handle.  Almost.  Every day it's as if I am opening a little gift that I don't really deserve but will happily accept.  Naturally, I want to share all of them with you.  It's Friday, you've earned it.  Sink your teeth into these over the week-end.  Run with them.  Dance to them.  Put your feet up and chill with them.  Let me know what you think.  Rock on.

Listen to these:

SUNRISE - MajorLOVE


HEARTS LIKE OURS - The Naked & Famous


TAKE YOURS, I'LL TAKE MINE - Matthew Mole


SHE AIN'T SPEAKIN' NOW - of Montreal

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Advice


Recently, I posted the below story onto my personal Facebook page...

A conversation with my 8 year old last night before bed:
Me: Rosie, did you get your reading done?
Rosie: Well, I didn't really feel like reading.
Me: Kiddo, now that you're in 3rd grade, you may need to step it up a bit and take things a little more seriously. That doesn't mean you can't have fun. You just might need to work a little harder. Okay?
Rosie: Okay, mom. (gets very serious here) Mom?
Me: Yes, Rosie?
Rosie: Can you put my hair up tomorrow before school in a style that we've never done before?


Some might wonder why I would put this up there.  There are a couple reasons.  First, in this type of situation, which I have often with my daughter, I have to appreciate the humor or I will stress myself out to no end.  Second, I like to share these moments as I know there are a lot of parents out there who find themselves in a similar boat on a regular basis.  And finally, because I find myself having similar conversations with my high school athletes, my friends or even myself ALL THE TIME.  Case in point:

A conversation with my high school cross country runner last week:
Me: I want you to stop running.  I can tell your struggling.  There is not point in pushing it.
Runner: But, I want to finish the workout.
Me: I understand.  But, you're body is telling you to stop.  With these workouts it's quality, not quantity. You got 2 good sets in.  A third set at a slower pace is not going to make a difference.  Let's call it a day.
Runner: I don't feel like I did enough, though.
Me: Please trust me.  You're fine.  Go cool down.
Runner: Okay.  (long, quiet pause here) Coach?
Me: Yes?
Runner: I think I should do one more set.  

Kids, athletes, adults, we are all the same.  We listen.  We process.  And then we think or do what we want, which in some cases is not at all related to the advice we've been given.  And somehow, we manage - most of the time.  And if not, well, that's okay, too.  Because that advice has sunk in, if only a little, and it's waiting to be tapped when the time is right.  In the mean time, we can appreciate the humor in all of it and that's a good thing, too.

Listen to this:
RIPTIDE - Vance Joy

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lord Huron & Alt-J

On Friday night I had the pleasure of seeing both Lord Huron and Alt-J at the Fleet Boston Pavilion in Boston.  I dragged my music wing(wo)man down from VT to go with me because a) she loves music, b) she's great company and c) it doesn't feel quite as dorky to be a mom rocking out at a show when there are two of us.  Okay, maybe it is, but there is strength in numbers.  My husband purchased the tickets for us and as we were parking we realized that they had VIP stamped on them.  We had no idea what that meant but we figured it had to be good.  We headed into the pavilion and were told that our tickets gave us access to the VIP tent which had it's own restaurant and bar, a lounge and it's own set of bathrooms (very handy mid-show).  As the hostess put on our bracelets we asked her if she'd mind shooting a photo of us in front of the VIP sign because...well, because we had to.  She totally got it.  The bartender was not afraid to make fun of us as he watched from afar.  We didn't care.

CJZ & I proving that we were, in fact, VERY important.
Shortly after we arrived, Lord Huron came on.  We ran, literally, to our seats.  Lord Huron is an american indie folk band with a slightly alternative twist.  As they began to play, I was instantly drawn into the beautiful, heartbreaking tale that is Lonesome Dreams (their debut album).  We sat back and listened as they told us their story.  With each song we found ourselves nodding, responding, even... Yes.  We hear you.  Tell us more.  She left you?  NO.  Go GET her.  Hurry.  We floated along with them on this short but incredible journey.  I find that their music stirs up emotions in me that I didn't even know were brewing.  Hearing it live just brings them out even more.   They have this uncanny ability to gently grip their audience into a hold that feels firm but not too tight.  And then, when the time is right, they open up a little more and expose themselves just enough to make us feel like we are an integral part the story; if only for a moment.  I've not had an experience like this at a show in quite some time.  It was truly amazing.  

Lord Huron deep in their groove.
After a short break, Alt-J came on and brought things to a whole new level.  We braced ourselves as they took us in a totally different direction.  We were briefly distracted by the gentleman next to us who felt as though it was a perfectly normal to take his shirt off and wildly undulate within the first 5 minutes.  Thankfully, the band roped us in with their eerie, mesmerizing sound and "no-shirt" guy was quickly forgotten.  Alt-J is an indie-rock group with an auditory effect that compares to no other, primarily due to singer Joe Newman's strange and sensual voice.  What makes this band so good is their rhythm; the ups and downs, the vibrations, the pauses, the way each of them works off of the other and then waits patiently to come back in.  Drummer Thom Green works to tie it all together in a way that helps the listener make sense of it, if only a little.  Each song left me speechless and the whole show was kind of an out-of-body experience.  It was a gift and I am forever indebted.

Thom Green of Alt-J taking us there.
Music can be so incredibly powerful.  And once a while, it moves me like almost nothing else can.  Last night was one of those times.  I am insanely lucky that something so simple and accessible can do this for me.  With each show that I see, each album that I listen to, each new band that I discover, I have a greater appreciation for music and all that it gives me.  I love that.

LISTEN TO THESE:

Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
She Lit A Fire  
Time To Run  
The Man Who Lives Forever  

Something Good  
Matilda  
Dissolve Me  

Friday, September 13, 2013

JANJI: Fall Line Review (& Glow Mac Winner)


Back in February, I reviewed a running apparel company called Janji based here in the Boston area. (click here for original post)  As mentioned, the company's mission is to provide clean water and food to those who need it most by giving a portion of the proceeds from their sales directly to organizations who fund projects related to these specific causes.  Originally, I reached out to the owners, Mike & Dave, because I was in awe of what they were doing and I wanted to spread the word.  I loved how they were integrating this concept of giving with the running community in a way that made perfect sense and was easy to support.  Janji recently reached out again requesting that I take a peak at their new fall line and give another shout out about it to my readers, which I am thrilled to do.  Clearly, I love this company and all that they stand for.  I also love their clothes.  There are several pieces in this new collection that I am fired up about, but there are 3 in particular that I think are worth mentioning:

1.Women's Capris


Purchase these capris and you will be giving one year of drinking water to a person in Tanzania.  You will also look incredibly cool and unique as I have never seen a pair of tights with this funky diamond pattern before.  It's a win-win.


2. JANJI Logo Long Sleeve


I am particularly drawn to this gem because the proceeds from the purchase of this shirt will give 8 meals to a family in need in the Greater Boston area, which is where I have lived for the past 12 years.  I am also drawn to it because it's bright yellow, which is great to have for running in the am or pm when the sun isn't out and because of it's built-in sleeves which are really nice to have in the cooler weather.


3.Women's Kenya Elephant Short Sleeve


The elephant shirt is part of their new Kenya collection.  Purchase this shirt and you will be giving 1 growing season's worth of water to a Kenyan family.  That is fantastic.  And so is the elephant design.  How can you not love this shirt?

All in all, there are several pieces in this new collection that are worth checking out, many of them specifically designed with the upcoming fall weather in mind and all of them designed for those in need.  Take a minute to peruse the site when you get a moment.  If you like what you see, consider making a purchase and join us as we wear Janji and run for another.  


Janji has generously offered a 10% discount on any item plus free shipping to RWM readers.  Simply use the code RunMusic at checkout and the discount will apply.


Listen to this:

Winter Is Coming - Radical Face  


AND

Congratulations to Jodi, the winner of the GLOW MAC T-Shirt from Oiselle.  Her response:

JodiSeptember 9, 2013 at 8:47 AM
Celebrating my fourth year as race director, Genre's Run for Cancer Kids 5K. My 10yr old daughter is running, and we raise money to help kids with cancer and support their families.


She was chosen via random.org, but how cool that the one person picked is someone who gives through running, much like those who run with Janji!  I love that.  Thanks to all of you for entering.  And thanks to Oiselle for making such a cool product and letting me share it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BELIEVE


On Saturday, my high school cross country team had their first meet of the season.  As we warmed up, the atmosphere around us was buzzing.  Excitement, intensity, moderate craziness - all of it and more was flowing throughout our group and among the other teams.  I was not surprised.  Heavy emotion is always expected, particularly for a first race.  And, to some degree, it's a good thing.  But, right before the race, as my girls were waiting on the line, I saw some furrowed brows and looks of worry; even panic.  Not good.  In so many words, here's what I told the girls:

All the work you have done for the past 3 weeks has made you ready for this moment.  You could not be more prepared.  Right now, there is nothing more you can do to run a successful race but to focus on running well and giving it your all.  Every second you spend worrying or doubting yourself, you are wasting precious energy that you should be saving for your race.  Take a breath, rest your shoulders, shake your hands out.  Don't let the negative thoughts creep in.  Save that mental space and fill it with positive energy.  Believe in your training and trust yourself.  You are right where you are supposed to be.

I'm not sure how much it helped, but it had to be said.  And I believed every word of it.  Running is so mental.  Yes, it's physical, too.  But the physical stuff is much easier to control.  The mind game that we so often play in running can be really brutal. And if we don't play it right, it can so easily take us down.  As a relatively competitive runner, it is a constant battle for me.  Like the girls on my team, I have felt ALL of those same emotions, the good and the bad, before my own races many, many times.  I hope the fact that I could relate to how they felt added some impact to my words of advice and encouragement.  And, at the same time, as I spoke these words, I quietly reminded myself that I need to to take my own advice next time I am on the line.

Listen to this:
You Do You - Bear in Heaven   

& DON'T FORGET:
Enter the "GLOWING GIVEAWAY" for a chance to win a glow in the dark OISELLE tee.  Ends Friday 9/13.  Let's glow!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A CELEBRATION (& A 'GLOWING' GIVEAWAY)

"Oh...sometimes I get a good feeling, yeah I get a feeling that I've never, never had before."
~ Flo Rida

When I woke up today I had this overwhelming urge to celebrate.  I was kind of giddy.  Over nothing in particular.  This doesn't happen very often so when it does, I tend to fully embrace it and to go a little nuts.  What exactly does this mean, you ask?  It means, I'm feeling really damn good and I want to spread the love.  Here are my top five reasons that I am celebrating today:  

1. IT'S FRIDAY.  A reason in and of itself to celebrate. (Is it bad that I am already this exited about Friday on the first week of school?  Maybe.)
2. Sleigh Bells just released their new single and it's so good I want to high-five myself every time I listen to it.  Their new album is right behind it, set to be released in October.  Sweet sauce!
2. Fall running is HERE - when I woke up this morning it was 57 degrees and the air was bone dry.  Goodbye heat and humidity.  See you next summer.  I won't miss you.  But thank you for making me stronger and helping me justify my need for more summer running clothes.
3. This September marks the 3rd birthday of RUNNINGWITHMUSIC.  I'm pretty excited about this as I never thought I'd keep the ball rolling for this long.  I continue to get as much joy from it as I did the day I was inspired to start it.  I love that.
4. School is officially in session.  Full day starts TODAY!  I did a little jig when I woke my girls up this morning.  They were embarrassed.  I didn't care.
5. Why not?

May you all have a day where you feel like celebrating anything and everything for no reason at all.  It's odd, but it's awesome.

RWM 'LET'S CELEBRATE' GIVEAWAY



To celebrate all of these things, I am giving away this sweet, one-of-a-kind GLOW IN THE DARK tee from Oiselle.  Seriously, what will they think of next? The Glow Mac Scoop is perfect for your morning or evening run or walk.  Just expose it to the light for a couple minutes and - bam - you're glowing.  I want you to have this shirt.  I wish I could give one to everyone.  But I only have one.  To snag it, comment below.  Tell us what you're celebrating right now.  It can be as big as a 40th birthday or completing a marathon or as small as the fact that your kids tried a new food - and they liked it.  (small for some, huge for me)  Don't feel like sharing?  Totally fine.  Just tell us you want this awesome shirt and leave it at that.  Oh, and I am feeling so good that I have a few other running-related treats to throw in this celebration package.  But, I'm gonna surprise the winner with those just to keep it interesting.
Fine print: the winner will be pick via random.org on Friday, September 13th.  Sorry, US residents only.

Listen to this:
Bitter Rivals* - Sleigh Bells  

*Wait and listen when you can turn the volume up really loud on this one.  Brace yourself...it's that good.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

READY

“We'll never be ready. So I guess that means we're as ready as we'll ever be.” 
~ Neal Shusterman

On Sunday, my running partner, KH, and I ran another 20+ miler.  Thankfully, we both happened to be on Cape Cod for Labor Day week-end, so we could suffer through it together.  Forgive me for talking incessantly about the long runs lately, but at the moment, I feel like they are ALL I DO.  Ok, not really, but sort of.  There is a light at the end of this tunnel.  Our marathon is in October.  We just have to get through this month and we're home free with our training.  As most of you know, the month before a marathon is always the hardest, both physically and mentally.  As the mileage creeps up, the exhaustion level creeps up with it.  And with each run, when the legs feel tired or the body wants to quit, the doubt seeps in, too.  Can I do this?  Do I want to do this?  Why do I do this?  Can I do this?  It happens every time and every time we manage to get through the training and, eventually, through the race itself.  And, oddly, we tend to come out on the other end wanting to do another one.  It's a bit warped when you think about it.  So, back to our run.  Sunday, 8:00am.  It had rained all night so the humidity was a solid 100%.  The temp was in the 80s.  And the hills were aplenty and unavoidable. Awesome.  Unlike our last long run, where we chatted and caught up for the first few miles, in this case we were already silent and shuffling by mile 7.  Doubt, for both this particular run, and the marathon itself, seeped in early.  And it weighed as much as the humidity.  Very heavy.  We managed to make it over to her house for our second water stop which was somewhere around mile 12.  It was touch and go for the next 4 miles.  We took a detour and stopped again for water.  At this point, we had 5 miles to go.  It was daunting.  But we had already run 16 so the worst was behind us.  I asked if she was ready?  "Ready for what?" she replied.  "To quit? Yes."  We both laughed.  So, trying to put a positive spin on things, I said, "How about...ready to be done."  "Okay. Yes." she said again.  From there, we kept going...

Ready to not have to do this run tomorrow? (confession: we had almost bailed before we started that morning)  Yes.
Ready to almost be done training for this marathon?  Check.
Ready to not have to think about marathon training over the Christmas holidays? YES!!!
 --->Kirsten is going to Costa Rica with her family and running would be very difficult.  On top of that, we both find it hard to fit in training during the holiday weeks in general with the kids home and family around.
Ready for an iced coffee?  Yep.
Ready for a burger and a cold beer?  No, I can't think about that yet. (I told her I'd think about it for her)
Ready to jump in the water.  Affirmative.
Ready to not feel like this again for a while?  ha ha ha ha

Bottom line, when you're training for a marathon, you have to be ready for the good, the bad and everything in between.  It's part of the whole package.  And, ultimately, its what gets you to the starting line.  That, a little humor and a boat-load of luck.  So, are we ready?  Yes.  As ready as we'll ever be.

Listen to this:
Burn - Ellie Goulding  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New & Big

Running on the Battle Road Trail in Lexington, MA (last fall)

Well folks, fall is officially....really close.  The end of summer is always a little bittersweet.  I never want it to end and, at the same time, I'm kind of ready for it to end.  I find that the start of a new season tends to be exciting, in it's own way.  September, in particular, is a big month.  Big for my girls because school starts, big for my high school cross country team because the season is officially underway, and big for me because I am dealing with both of those things.  On top of that, I typically run a big (meaning, long) race in October which makes September a monster month for training.  Got to keep things interesting, right?  I am happy to report that I successfully completed everything on my August  "to-do" list and I thoroughly enjoyed each item.  In the end, having to make sure that I accomplished these simple but important goals was so satisfying that I went ahead and created a new list for myself for September.  Here's what I've got:

- Clean my car because there is sand, Pirate's Booty, and rubbers bands from the Rainbow Loom in every nook and cranny.
- Fix my record player and listen to old records (I've been saying this for a while, so I'm not holding my breath on this one).
- Read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (a recommendation from a friend & fellow coach)
- Run several 20+ mile runs. (oh, BOY!)
- Play soccer with my girls on the weekends.
- Turn off the A/C and open all the windows.
- Go apple picking with both my family & my high school cross country team.
- Go see live music with my music wingman, CJZ. (huge smile on my face.  huge.)
 ----> Lord Huron & Alt-J @ the BofA Pavilion in Boston
- And, as always, listen to good music whenever possible.

Here's my September picks.  Happy fall.

SONG:
The Wire - HAIM  


ALBUM:



Carrier - The Dodos