Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NEW

"Let's make a memory that we won't forget."
~ WE ARE TWIN, 'Come Alive'


Plus....New age (40).  New goals.  New fears.  New drive.  New discoveries.  New hurdles.  New places.  New outlook.  New mistakes.  New races.  New music.  It's gonna be a big year.  I can feel it from my head down to my (new) shoes.  Here's to the NEW.  Both mine and yours.  LET'S ROLL.

Listen to this:
Come Alive - WE ARE TWIN  

Friday, December 26, 2014

SOUNDTRACK OF 2014

Thank you
For listening again
Or for the first time
Or for the last time
We share this moment
And I am greatful for this
~ AWOLNATION, 'People'

Every year I hear myself saying I can't BELIEVE another year has gone by and this one is no different.  Not to sound cliché, but time flies.  It just does.  For me, 2014 was pretty incredible.  It was also happy, sad, good, bad, strange, awesome, hilarious and so much more.  Here's a peak at some of the highlights from my year, together with the music that has inspired me along the way.  It's been a wild and crazy ride.  Thanks for sharing it with me.  Here's to another incredible year; for all of us.  Rock on and HAPPY 2015!

RWM: 2014

JANUARY
ALBUM: Wildewoman - Lucius

FEBRUARY
LORD HURON @ the Royale Boston
w/ KH & MEF
ALBUM: Chiaroscuro - I Break Horses
SONG: Tourists - Bright Moments

MARCH
OISELLE TEAM MEETUP
Virginia Beach, VA
ALBUM: Voices - Phantogram
SONG: Coattails - Broods

APRIL
w/ the Oiselle Team & Friends
ALBUM: Sweet Dissaray - Dan Kroll
SONG: Water Fountain  - Tune-Yards

MAY
DAVID WAX MUSEUM @ the Royale in Boston
w/ David Wax & Suz Slezak
ALBUM: Distraction - Bear Hands
SONG: Move - Pacific Air

JUNE
LHS STATE MEET w/ the D-Squad
ALBUM: I Never Learn - Lykke Li 
SONG: Start Again  - Bishop Allen

JULY
SUMMER
Holderness, NH
ALBUM: So Long, See You Tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club
SONG: Play It Right  - Sylvan Esso

AUGUST
OISELLE BIRD CAMP
Bend, OR
ALBUM: Strange Desire - Bleachers
SONG: The House - Air Traffic Controller

SEPTEMBER
NH Reach the Beach Relay w/ NH State Parks Team
Franconia, NH -> Hampton Beach, NH
ALBUM: Lights Out - Bishop Allen
SONG: Beggin' for Thread - Banks

OCTOBER
Albany, NY
ALBUM: You Haunt Me - Sir Sly
SONG: L.A.F. - Broods

NOVEMBER
D1 Champs
Wrenthem, MA
ALBUM: Listen - The Kooks
SONG: Level - Far East Movement

DECEMBER
w/ Jess C. (my birdsista) after the Jingle Ball 5K
Winchester, MA
ALBUM: Too Bright - Perfume Genius
SONG: Dead Air - CHVRCHES

And listen to this:
Electric Love - BØRNS  (I can't wait to hear more from this band in 2015)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

NEW YEAR. NEW RULES.

"My greatest accomplishment is my next one."
~ Dave McGillavry


Friday morning I was working on my final post of 2014.  I was planning to highlight a few of the bigger events that have taken place throughout year along with the music that has inspired me along the way.  About halfway through writing it, I took a break so I could head over to my girls' school.  The great Dave McGillavry, most known for his role as race director for the Boston Marathon, was talking to the students and I didn't want to miss it.  When I arrived, Dave was in the process of telling them about his start in sports as a kid.  "When I was young, I loved sports of all kinds and I really 
wanted to be a professional athlete" he told them "but I learned pretty early on that this wasn't going to happen.  At least, not in the way I thought it would."  He went on to explain that, compared to most of his classmates, he was pretty small and relatively short and that because of this, he was always picked last for the team.  Not that this stopped him from trying.  As he grew up, he went out for everything .... basketball, baseball, you name it, but he rarely made the team.  So, instead of giving up, he found another outlet.  No coach, he decided, was going to tell him what he couldn’t do.  It was his game.  And he was making his own rules.  In high school, he became a runner.  And from there, he never looked back.  He ran the Boston Marathon for the first time at age 17.  He didn't make it to the finish line that year because his body didn't hold out.  He called his grandfather later in the evening to tell him what happened.  In so many words he let him know that, sadly, he had failed.  His grandfather's response?  "You didn’t fail, Dave.  You learned.  Next time you’ll be more prepared.  You only fail if you don’t try."  Wow, I thought.  This is some powerful stuff.  I might need to sit down.  He then went on to tell the kids about some of his greatest accomplishments.  He has run across the country four times to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, he ran the Boston marathon blindfolded to raise awareness and funds for Carroll Center for the Blind, he ran from Florida to Boston with his good friend who cruised alongside him in his wheelchair, again, to raise funds for the Jimmy Fund.  On his 13th birthday, he ran his age in miles.  He has done it every year since, running 60 miles last month to celebrate his 60th birthday.  Bottom line, if there is something he wants to do, Dave's going to find a way to make it happen.  After competing in the Boston Marathon many times, he eventually took on the job of directing it.
Dave’s goal in life, he told us, is to help other people feel good about themselves, to achieve their best and be proud of what they’ve done.  Seriously??  Who is this guy?  But that’s the cool thing.  Way back when, Dave was just a kid from Medford with big dreams, just like the kids sitting there listening to him.  Look what happens, I thought, when you set goals and then dedicate yourself to achieving them.  I was so thrilled that my own girls were in the audience soaking this up.  But wait, here's the best part.  At the end of the talk, Dave said he would take a few questions.  So, this kid raises his hand wildly and Dave nods to him.  He’s a 4th grader, in my daughter’s class.  “I’d like to make a statement,” he said.  “Um, ok."  Dave chuckled.  "I’ve never gotten that before.  Go for it.”  So he started in, “In the summer, I go to sports camp.  I am the last one picked for the team every time.  But, I still try and still do my best because that’s all I can do."  You could've heard a pin drop.  “Good for you!  Let’s give this kid a hand.”  We all clapped (some of us might have cried).  Dave pointed at him and smiled, "You and me are gonna go for a run together one day.  You're great!"  The kid beamed.  It was a pretty incredible moment for all of us.


After the talk I headed over to introduce myself.  I told him I'd run the marathon four times and that last year I'd shaken his hand when I crossed the line.  I asked if he remembered me.  Just kidding.  I didn't do that.  But, I did thank him for all the incredible work he's done and that he continues to do.  I wanted to give him a hug.  But, I didn't do that either.  I just felt so damn good, so inspired, so ready to go be the best I could be.  After a couple minutes, I snapped back into reality and decided on a asking for a picture instead of the hug.  Seriously, though, what a gift this was.  Such perfect timing as I reflect on this past year and prepare to embark on a new one.  I may still throw up that final post I was working on before I met Dave.  But, then again, maybe I'll just wrap things up by sharing a few of his key messages:
~ We are all good enough.  And we all belong.  
~ There are no mistakes only learning experiences. You only fail if you don't try.
~ Never settle.  If you accomplish your goal, set a new one.
Here's to a new year, some new goals, and, perhaps even a new way of approaching life.  See you on the flip side!

Listen to this:
Glow - IYES  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE & GIVEAWAY


I love giving gifts.  I have a very hard time keeping them a secret, particularly if I'm excited about them, which is almost always.  When I was a kid, my dad used to take advantage of this weakness, easily dragging out Christmas and birthday surprises that were coming his way weeks before they were to be given.  The way I see it, by finding the perfect gift, you're re-establishing the bond that you feel with the recipient just in thinking about them and how much you know they'll like it.  I love that.  Needless to say, I get almost giddy at Christmas time.  Sure, the hustle and bustle can get a bit overwhelming.  This year, for some reason, my own kids are having a hard time figuring out what to ask for.  A spy kit?  Really, Grace??  But, the way I see it, the hunt is half the fun.  If you have finished all of your shopping, you're good.  Really good.  But if not, perhaps I can help.  I may not be able to remember to move the 'Elf on the Shelf' every night, but I do know a good gift when I see one.  Check out the fantastic products listed below; all of them tried and true.  You'll note that there is running and music theme.  What can I say?  My guess is, if you're reading this blog, then, like me, you're into one or both of them.  And if not, you probably know someone who is.  So take a look.  And then pass it on.  And, most importantly, scroll down to enter the RWM holiday giveaway.  Maybe you'll get to cross a gift off your list or, better yet, to treat yourself.  Merry everything!

RWM 2014 GIFT GUIDE


RUNNERBOX - By far the best gift for the runner in your life, particularly if you have no idea what to get them.  The folks at RUNNERBOX handpick a bunch of new and cool running related products, pack them all up in a shoebox and send them off for you to try at your leisure.  You can get/give it as a one time treat or, even better, as a subscription for the duration of your choice.  Total awesomeness.  Prices range from $24.95 for a single box to $19.95 for a bi-monthly subscription.  Use code RWMRB13 at checkout for 10% off all web store items including subscriptions.
 *note: make sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway and snag one for yourself!


FEETURES! - Hands down the best running socks on the market.  Tons of styles (no show, ultra-light, heavy cushion, compression), fun colors, and beyond comfortable.  These babies have cradled my feet through 5 marathons, blister free.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  A perfect stocking stuffer or gift for your Secret Santa!  Prices range from $10.99 to about $20, depending on size and type.


YURBUDS - Whether you run with music or just listen on the fly, Yurbuds headphones will rock your world.  The sound is brilliant and sharp, the fit is snug but comfortable and the quality is impeccable.  They offer a ton of different styles and sizes, which I love because I have child-sized ears and I hate when my earbuds fall out.  Today I'm highlighting these LEAP WIRELESS for women first, because they are amazing and second because Yurbuds have sent me a pair to giveaway.  Run and rock fast and chord-free with these gems, the best of their kind.  Retail value for Leap Wireless headphones is $99.99.  
** Enter to win a pair for yourself or your music obssessed friend below.  



OISELLE - I can honestly say that I love pretty much everything Oiselle makes.  But, I am loving this Livin' It jacket the most right now.  When you put it on you feel like you're wrapped in a blanket.  So, it's like you're walking around in a blanket, and yet you look totally normal.  Booyah! Dress it up or dress it down, anything goes.  Perfect for winter as you can wear it solo or throw a jacket on top.  Fleece rules.  Retail value for this bad boy is $96 and worth every penny!


NUUN - Another perfect Stocking stuffer.  Throw a tube of NUUN in for every member of the family....er...I mean, let Santa know to do it.  Tasty, healthy, natural and portable.  Done and done.  Retail value for this hydration miracle is somewhere in the $20 range depending on the flavors you choose and the amount you purchase (more for less).  There are 12 drink tabs per tube.  Shop now and get free shipping on your order over $50.


BOSE - The BOSE SoundLink Bluetooth speaker has got to be the coolest little music delivery vehicle out there right now.  Portable and wireless with BOSE quality sound and up to 8 hours of rechargeable battery life.  Just...wow.  I've purchased 2 for friends and have it on my own list as well. Retail value for this small but mighty beast is $129.95.  Bose is currently offering free shipping on their site.



STARBUCKS - COFFEE.  Enough said.

RWM HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY

RUNNERBOX & YURBUDS are helping me spread the holiday cheer this week.  ENTER BELOW through Rafflecopter.  Huge thanks to RUNNERBOX and YURBUDS for sharing the love.  GOOD LUCK!!





PRIZE 1: RUNNERBOX Fitbook Box - a box full of running related treats including a RUNNERBOX Fitbook, a journal for tracking all of your 2015 goals.  Retail value for this box of joy is $34.99

PRIZE 2: YURBUDS LEAP Wireless headphones for women - Set your workout free with these chord-free music enhancers.  6+ hours of music or call time, visual and audio battery alerts and easy audio control all in a neat little portable package.  Rock on.  Retail value for the LEAP wireless system is $99.99.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Listen to this:
No One Is Lost - Stars  

Friday, December 12, 2014

ANY DECEMBER MORNING


A typical December morning in the Trachsel household:

5:53AM
Grace - Mom, how many more days until Christmas?
Me - One less than yesterday, Grace.
Grace - How many was that?
Me - You tell me.  It was the 9th yesterday.  Today's the 10th.  Christmas in on the 25th.
Grace - Okay, so 15 days, right?
Me - Right Grace.

6:47AM 
Grace - Mom, the 'Elf on the shelf' didn't move.
Me -  (dammit, forgot to move the Elf) Maybe he's tricking you, Grace.
Grace - Why would he do that?
Me - I don't know.  Maybe he's stuck.
Rosie - Elves fly, mom.
Me - Well, then, maybe he's just tired.
---> Who invited this Elf thing again???!!!  Clearly NOT a parent.
Grace - Mom, is the Elf real?
Me - What do you believe, Grace?
Grace - Well, if he's real he would have moved.
Me - (no response)
Rosie - Is Santa real or do you just wrap the presents and put them under the tree.
Me - Come on, Rosie.  What would be the fun in that?
Grace - Does the Elf know Santa?
Me - Probably Grace.  Now, go get ready for school

7:22AM
Grace - (after having opened the advent calendar) Mom, Can I eat my Hershey's Kiss?
Me - No, Grace, it's 7:30 in the morning.
Grace - Can I eat it after breakfast?
Me - No Grace.
Grace - After school then?
Me - Maybe

7:48 AM
Me - (yelling up the stairs) Girls, let's hustle.  We have to leave in 10 minutes.
----> 8 minutes later
Me - GIRLS???!!!  What are you doing up there?
Rosie - We're working on the costumes for our skit.
Me - What skit?
Rosie - Our Christmas skit.  The one we're doing with Katharine, Elizabeth & Will (their cousins).
Me - You have plenty of time for that.  They're not coming for another week and half.
Grace - Mom, can you help me make reindeer antlers?
Me - Yes.  No.  Girls, we have to do this later.  We've got to get to school.
Grace - We have school today?
Me - Of course you do.
Grace - But it's Christmas.
Me - IN 10 DAYS!!!!!

EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  In our house, December is by far the longest and craziest month of the year.  Thank goodness for running.  And coffee.  Ho Ho Ho!


Listen to this:
That Did It - Sleigh Bells (feat. Tink)  
'

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A COMPLETE STOP


On Thanksgiving, I ran the Subaru distance classic down in FL.  I wasn't feeling great, but I did it anyway because the pros outweighed the cons, at least in my book.  After a couple days off, I picked back up with my regular training.  For a week, I did my standard workouts....6 miles on Monday, 9 on Tuesday, yoga on Wednesday, 7 miles of intervals on Thursday and 6 again on Friday to close out the cycle.  All of them went fine.  Not great.  But not terrible.  In the winter, I work up at Cannon Mountain in NH.  On Saturday, a little over week since the Thanksgiving race, I was riding up on a chairlift by myself feeling like I was floating in no-man's land.  It was time for a little reality check.  That next day I was supposed to be getting up at 5:30am to drive down to Boston so I could get back in time to race in the Winter Classic 5K and then have brunch with my Oiselle teammates.  Oh man.  Just thinking about doing this made me tired.  There was just no way.  I felt like I was running on fumes.  My breathing was labored and I wasn't even moving my body.  How the hell was I going to race the next day?  It was at this moment I realized I'd been idling for too long.  I wasn't falling behind and I wasn't getting better.  I was just sitting in neutral.  And, I also realized, I could keep idling for days and days or I could snap to and turn off my engine.  No one likes an idler.  I pulled out my phone and texted my running bud, Jess C., to let her know that I couldn't make it to the race.  In so many words, I let her know that my battery was low and that I need to recharge, which she totally understood.  I hate missing races, especially ones that I've already registered for and that I really enjoy doing each year.  I hate missing an opportunity to catch up with my teammates and celebrate post race.  But, I also hate doing all those things and feeling 'so-so'.  What's the point in that?  For several days, a lot of important and fun things have been happening and I've been half in and half out.  Not good for me.  Not good for anyone else.  I'm going on 3 days now in total shut down mode.  No running.  No physical activity of any kind.  Beyond my regular 'to-do's, I've done a lot of other things.  I've finished a book.  I've done some laundry.  I've helped my kids make a fort using all the sheets in our linen closet and a full roll of duct tape.  I've listened to a ton of new music on Spotify.  I've done a fair amount of online Christmas shopping.  Turns out you can get a lot of other stuff done when you're not sitting in physical limbo.  Go figure.  Sometimes you have to stop if you want to go.  I kind of knew this.  But, it's always good to good to get the reminder.  Onward.


Listen to this:
Under Stars - AURORA  

Friday, December 5, 2014

WINTER RUNNING: A TOP 10 LIST


This morning when I woke up it was 22℉.  By the time I hit the road it was a balmy 25℉.  Wheeeeeeewwwweee!  In the winter, 3 degrees warmer might as well be a different season all together.  Okay, so truth, winter running can be a bit rough, at least for me.  It gets cold, windy, icy, and then it gets colder, windier and icier and as the conditions worsen, my motivation tends to hibernate for the winter.  And every once in a while (eh hmm, last winter) it seems like it's never going to end.  EVER.  But, as I headed off today to grab my running partner for our easy 6 mile cruiser, I gave myself a talking to.  Quit your whining, Rebecca.  Let's start this winter off on a positive note, shall we?  Because, winter running can be awesome, too.  It's important to give credit where credit is due.  And winter has a lot to offer.  Sure it was cold this morning, but the air was crisp, the sun was shining, the roads were clear and I was getting to spend some quality time with my bud while getting my heart rate up at the same time.  That's a high score of 5 for winter running today.  And we're just getting started here.  It's only December 5th.  Here's my top 10 reasons why winter running is amazing.  I should note that Kirsten, my aforementioned running partner, added some solid input to this post.  So, thanks to her.  For that, and for braving the winter with me.  Because....well, we're gonna run.  Game on.


TOP 10 REASONS WHY WINTER RUNNING IS AWESOME

1.  Tons of people get out and run when the weather is good.  But, when it turns, there are only a few of us who keep going day in and day out.  And when I see a fellow runner on the road braving the elements along with me, I feel a special bond with them, a camaraderie if you will.  And that's really cool.
2.  Summer is loud.  It's hot, cars are everywhere, music is blasting, and tons people are outside.  Which is great.  But winter has a certain peacefulness to it.  I can head out for a run and be the only person on the road for hours.  It's calm and quiet.  Surreal, even.  I love that.
3. Running in the heat can be brutal.  I can strip off everything, down to my sports bra and still be hot as a skillet.  In winter, we have the option to bundle up in layers and take them off as needed.  But, rarely are we dealing with the heat.  That's nice.
4. The winter season, and more specifically the holidays, can be both hectic and stressful.  Getting out for a run, no matter what the weather, always helps relieve the tension.  Always.
5. I, personally, tend to indulge during the winter/holiday season.  I mean, it's supposed to be merry and bright, right?  Running helps keep those extra calories from creeping up on us come spring time.  Huge bonus.
6. Once in a while the weather can be so bad that's it's almost daring us to get out and fight.  Snow, sleet, wind, temps below zero, all of it is tough.  When I get back from a run and I've won that battle, I tend to feel pretty freakin' badass.
7.  Running helps me ward off the winter doldrums, otherwise known as the "I-can't-wait-for-winter-to-end" feeling that produces mild but manageable sluggishness and that overall blah feeling.  I hate that.
8. Oh, the music.  It sounds so good in the winter.  I can start listening before I open the door and my body temp will rise 10 degrees just from rocking out alone.  I often find myself dancing while I'm running in the winter.  I'm cool with that.  
9. There is nothing better than a post run hot shower in the winter time.  Nothing.
10. Wait, I take that back.  Post-run coffee might be better.  It's always well-earned and it tastes SO. DAMN. GOOD.  Mmmmm.  Coffee.

Kirsten & I, post-run today w/ Patty & Alyssa
(Look, Kirsten is glowing.  Must have been the run.)

Listen to this:
Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking to You - Tove Styrke  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

BALANCE


So our XC season officially ended the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Now, instead of heading off to work at 2:30 every day, I get to go grab my kids from school and hang with them for the afternoon.  Sure, it'a lot of carpooling, picking up, dropping off, rushing, coordinating, and sometimes stressing.  But, it's also a lot of chilling, laughing, watching, and just being together.  And after 4 months of dividing my time between my high school team and my family, being a full time mom for a little while is a welcome change.  I love coaching.  But, I tend to miss quite a few goings on at home during the season.  From soccer games, to a first ever round off backhandspring, to impromptu neighborhood dance parties...something is always happening and once in a while my girls are sad that I am not there for it, particularly Grace, who is younger and more attached to mom.  So, for the next three months, until the outdoor track season starts up again, I get to focus on them, which they are very happy about, especially Grace.  As I was thinking about this post yesterday, the girls were doing their homework at the kitchen table.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but for me, it was really nice to just be there, sitting with them and helping them out when they needed it.  Fortunately, their homework was manageable last night.  I might have been singing a different tune if this wasn't the case.  But, I digress.  After homework, Grace asked me to help her make an owl with the rainbow loom.  (oh Lordy).  Then, we headed off to indoor soccer, which they both play and I was really pumped to watch.  When we got home, we'll pulled out the Christmas decorations and went to town decorating the house.  Two weeks ago, I might have caught the tail end of this day if I was lucky.  Now, I get to be a part of all of it.  Would I want to do all of these things with them every day, all year round?  If I'm being totally honest here, probably not.  I love my girls more than anything in the world.  But, I truly believe that I am a better mom thanks to my job.  Shortly after Grace was born, I realized that I wanted, even needed something that was my own, an outlet, something beyond my family that I could sink my teeth into.  With coaching, I have exactly that.  I've found that being a coach to 70 high school girls helps me appreciate the simplicity of being a mom to just 2.  That said, if I'm having a tough parenting moment or, um, week, I tend to come home with a fresh perspective after chatting with my high school girls about it; either coming up with a creative way to deal with it or, more often than not, realizing that I was overreacting and needed to just relax.  Motherhood is so beautifully awesome.  It's rewarding, challenging, frustrating, stressful and really, really fun....most of the time.  In many ways, coaching is the same.  With both, every day is an adventure and I am always learning.  Not a day goes by where I don't think about how lucky I am to get to do what I do.  When March rolls around, and I've made it through the holidays, 2 winter breaks, multiple gymnastics meets, several class projects and two birthdays, I will undoubtedly be ready to coach again.  My kids might even be ready for me to get back to work by then, too.  In the meantime,  I'll settle into my mom role, embrace it for all that it is and hang in the balance.

Listen to this:
On the Fence - Milo Greene*  

* Note: Milo Greene's new album, 'Control', is set to be released in January.  Oh boy!

Friday, November 28, 2014

RACE REVIEW:SUBARU DISTANCE CLASSIC

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I've been battling a cold for a little over a week.  I've been doing my best to ignore it with the hope that it wouldn't really come to fruition.  Fortunately, it hasn't.   But, it hasn't gone away, either.  Basically, it has consisted of a cough, some sinus pressure, and an overall feeling of blah.  Earlier this fall, when my family decided to gather down in FL for Thanksgiving, I went ahead and signed up for a the Subaru Distance Classic, a half marathon that was being held about 15 minutes from my parents' house.  I was psyched to give the half a go after having run a marathon in October, hoping my legs might still be strong enough for another solid effort and perhaps even a PR on a flat Florida course.  When we got down here on Sunday, I was still struggling with my cold.  Under the advice of my coach, I took Monday off knowing the extra day of rest would help.  Each day I was getting a little better, but by Wednesday, the day before the race, I still wasn't 100%.  Argh.  What to do??  A few of my Oiselle teammates suggested that I run the race but just take it easy.  Just cruise and enjoy, they said.  Okay, yes.  I thought.  Maybe I'll do that.  Fellow coach, Mick Grant, told me definitely not to race at all.  "You are a coach?" he said "what would you advise?"  Fair point.  When I asked my own coach what he thought he responded, "as long as you don't have a fever, why not let her rip?".  All good thoughts and suggestions, but not much help in pushing me one way or another.  As of 9:00 Wednesday night, I still wasn't sure what to do.  It was just about then that I realized I hadn't brought any fuel for during the race and that I didn't have any pre-race food as my family pretty much eats nothing but bacon, eggs and sausage every morning when we are together.  Not that I don't love bacon.  But, pre-race, not so much.

Every. Single. Morning.
(Mom)

So, I headed over to the Publix and grabbed an assortment of gels and chews, none of which I'd ever tried before, a Gatorade and a very green banana.  And then I headed home to get to bed, still not sure what my plan was.  I laid in bed and weighed out my decision:

I wanted to race because:
~ I'd already signed up and paid.
~ I wanted the shirt.
~ I wanted to get out of the house and move on Thanksgiving knowing that the rest of the day would likely be pretty lazy.
~ I wanted to run a new race in a new state with new people.
~ I just really like to race.

I didn't want to race because:
~ I didn't feel well.
~ I knew my hopes of a fast race and/or a PR were no longer realistic.
~ I wasn't sure I could just relax and run for the fun of it.  That's hard for me.
~ I didn't want to set myself back any further from a health perspective.
~ The race was starting at 7:00am and I needed to pick up my number before that which meant I would need to get up at 5:30 to make it over there in time.  Wait, what?

I thought about it for a long time.  Hours, actually.  I literally could not fall asleep.  This troubled me.  Around 11:00, my cough kicked in.  Not awesome.  I popped a Halls, propped up my pillows, and laid there some more.  At some point, I nodded off.  I had my alarm set for 5:00am, but had no need for it as my lids popped open at 4:30 and I couldn't get back to sleep.  It was decision time.  Well, I thought, I still feel crappy, I'm now hearing a strange crackling noise out of my right ear every time I move my head, and I've gotten about 4 hours of solid shuteye.  But I'm up, I'm packed and ready to go.  So, why the hell not?!  Crazy?  Kind of.  Stupid?  Maybe.  Predictable?  Totally.  Come on, I'm a runner.  My husband heard me getting ready so he rolled out of bed and told me that he'd take me over to the start.  For the record, I did give him the out and he still opted to get up.  Yes, he rocks.  We headed over to the Gate, a huge and strangely awesome gas station that has about 24 flavors of coffee.  I realized, as we filled our very large styrofoam cups to the brim, that neither of had said a word to each other since we'd left the house.  Of course, once we got back in the car with our hot cups of joy, we started chatting away.  Coffee is truly amazing, isn't it?  He dropped me off to get my number and use the bathroom and then he headed over to a diner to grab some breakfast.  I stood in line with a towel wrapped around my legs because the sun wasn't up yet and it was still pretty cold out.  I'm not going to lie, I was pretty envious of Jeff, who was now sitting in a warm, cozy diner eating breakfast and drinking more coffee.  Finally, I headed over to the start and tried to get myself fired up.  For the first time in many, many races, I was having a hard time with this.  I wanted to get there mentally, to be in the moment, to feel the excitement that was spreading throughout the crowd, but I was having a really hard time.  It was then that I realized I had forgotten the GUs that I'd purchased the night before and thus had no fuel.  For the love of Pete.  I put my music on, turned up the volume and danced around while we waited.  I got a couple good stares from the people next to me.  Works every time.  After the gun blew I immediately felt like I had to pee and I couldn't hold it.  Dammit.  I ducked behind a bush and squatted in frustration as I watched the crowd roll by.  At this point, I gave myself a little pep talk.  I said something to effect of:
You have GOT to relax, Rebecca.  There is nothing more you can do.  You don't have your A-game today, and that's totally fine.  The sun is coming up and the temp is perfect.  You need to just get back in there and chill the eff out.
Then I re-joined the crowd, put my chin up and shifted into cruise control.  And I had a great time.  The course was beautiful, weaving me through neighborhoods in Jacksonville that I'd never been to before.  I loved that.  I wasn't able to pick up the pace at the end of the race, but I didn't die off either.  All things considered, I raced well.  With the bathroom break and my lack of fuel, I pulled off a 1:32.  This is a decent time for me.  Not my best.  But not too shabby.  After I crossed the line, I quickly found Jeff, happy to be done and more happy that I was headed home to spend the rest of the day with my family.  I had no regrets.  If could go back in time, would I make the same decision to race given how I felt?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But it didn't matter.  I truly believe that every race we run has a purpose.  Sometimes that purpose is crystal clear - a PR, a win, or just some quality time with friends - and other times, in fact, pretty often, it's not.  Yesterday, the purpose of my race became clear to me after the fact.  In this case, to remind me that I'm a runner, and I can dig deep to race when I'm feeling sub-par, but that I can't pull a miracle out of a hat and that's okay because it's usually still worth it.  And, perhaps, also to remind me that the rest of the day is more important than the race, anyway.


Listen to this:
Borderline - Tove Styrke  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WHY I RUN


Recently, a fellow runner asked a group of us why we run.  He's compiling the answers for a blog post and wanted our honest feedback.  I jumped right in, giving him my 'go-to' response of:

Running keeps me sane.  It is my therapy.  It makes me feel alive.  It makes me feel like a badass.  It makes me feel powerful.  I run because it makes me a better wife.  A better mom.  And a better friend.  I run because it makes me who I am.

And that pretty much sums it up.  But, at the same time, it's so much more than that.  I knew he didn't want me to go into detail with all of my other reasons for his post, but I did take a minute to think about it myself.  What I realized is that while the above statement holds true all the time, each individual run I go on really serves its own purpose on that particular day.  Case in point, today's run.  Let me break it down for you.  Wait, I have to give you some backstory, so bear with me.  Both my kids have just finished battling a nasty cold.  I thought I'd been able to avoid it as I was showing no signs of getting sick, but on their last semi-bad day, my body eventually broke down and succumbed to the germs.  Wishful thinking.  Last Thursday, still in denial that I was sick, I attempted a tempo run on the treadmill.  No dice.  I had to end it early.  I got a couple more short and very slow runs in after that but then I had to surrender to the cold.  My tank was officially empty.  On Sunday morning, we flew down to FL to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my parents and my extended family.  Fortunately, my kids were now back in good health.  Unfortunately, I was not.  But, the upside of being with family and, more specifically, having my nephews around is that my mom duties are relatively low key.  So, I've been able to take it pretty easy the past couple days, meaning no running and lots of rest.  Talk about giving thanks!


This morning, I headed out for my first legitimate run since last Tuesday.  My legs felt good but my breathing was a pretty labored.  Honestly, you probably could have heard me from a half a mile away.  Within about 3 minutes I was sweating profusely.  I ran my first mile in 9:13.  Ok, I thought, not bad.  Just keep moving.  At this point, Clean Bandit's song,  'I'd Rather Be', came on.  She sang about being 'a thousand miles from comfort', which I thought was funny because I was pretty far from comfort myself.  I tried to settle in and find a groove and, as if on cue, it started to pour.  Ha!  Bring it, I said out loud.  To myself.  At mile 2, I was feeling a hair better, but still moving pretty slowly and, now, completely soaked.  Maybe I got ahead of myself with this run, I thought.  But, I forged on.  Eerily, MIKA started singing 'Relax, take it easy', so I did just that.  I let go and embraced the rain.  Okay, Rebecca. You've got this now.  Let's roll.  And that's when Katy Perry's song 'Roar' came on. YES!!!  I sang along with her, I even threw in some dance moves, as I, too, had the eye of the tiger.  I was cruising now.  My pace didn't matter.  My breathing didn't matter.  I was just happy to be back on the road, rocking out and moving my legs again.  I ran 6 miles total.  I finished strong.  Not fast.  Just steady and smiling.  The rain was still coming down.  The sky was gray.  I was tired.  And still, I felt awesome.  So, why did I run today?

REASON #43: I run to be outside, listen to good music and remind my body how good it feels to move.

Listen to this:
Running With the Boys - LIGHTS* 

*This Soundcloud clip is live.  It's worth listening to both versions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WHY NOT?

"A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be."
~ Tom Landry


Back in 2007, when I started training for my first marathon I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I had never run longer than 12 miles, I'd never eaten or drank anything mid-run, and I was still wearing cotton tees and soccer shorts for workouts.  Somehow I'd missed the memo that explained how pretty much everything had changed since I'd run in college.  Upon completing my first marathon, I realized I had a (pardon my French) shitload to learn.  The single cup of coffee and half of a Pria Bar that I'd eaten the morning of the race lasted until about mile 16.  After that, I started hallucinating and hearing weird voices.  Lesson one, must eat more food on race day.  This spring, I'll be running my 11th marathon.  Holy crap!  Where did the time go??  Over the years, I've done a lot of research and tried several different training plans to both improve my performance and to make the whole experience from day one to race day more enjoyable or....um....doable.  With the knowledge I gained along with a boat load of training, I have been able to bring my marathon time down quite a bit.  Obviously, I'm thrilled about that.  But over these past few years, as I've ramped up both my effort and my mileage, I've started to feel the need for outside support, for tips beyond what the magazines offer and, to be totally honest, for some simple words of encouragement to help lift my spirits when the training gets rough.  Last year, I started working with a coach.  Up until that point, I had always figured that only elite runners had coaches.  I was a working mom and running was just something I did on the side.  Why would someone like me use a coach?  To which I now would answer, why not?

W/ THE LHS XC SQUAD

I coach both high school girls and grade school girls (ages 7-12).  Running, in particular, can be really hard.  Especially for the younger girls.  They don't say it, but I know these kids appreciate coming to practice and not having to think about what they are going to do.   They just want to go.  And having a coach enables them to do this.  I have also seen the impact a few words of encouragement can have.  It's powerful stuff.  So, why would I not give myself the same option if it was available to me?

W/ THE EDGEHILL RUNNING CLUB

After my 7th marathon, I started to poke around and see what my options were.  Turns out, there are tons of running coaches out there and they work with athletes of all ages and abilities.  So, I decided to go for it.  I chose to work with Lowell Ladd of 2L Coaching.  I liked the fact that he was an experienced and competitive runner but also a working dad with 2 kids.  My relationship with my coach is pretty basic.  I follow his training plan, I log my workouts so he can check them out, and once in a while I check in via email or phone if I have specific questions or concerns or for a pre or post race discussion.  It's the perfect system for me, given my schedule.  No, I'm not an elite athlete.  But, I take my running pretty seriously.  I find that I'm always in need of some help, both mentally and physically.  And my husband, bless him, can only do so much.  That's where Coach Ladd comes in.  Here are some key reasons I like working with him.  Along with my workouts, he provides:

~ encouragement
Way to rock the workout.  It would certainly seem that your body had a lot more in it than you realized.  Sometimes the mind helps and sometimes it gets in the way.

~ pre/post race support
After today’s miles, the hay is in the barn and all you have to do is go out and crank out 26.2 on Sunday.  Easy enough, right?  I am sure you will do great.  Just relax, get through the early miles with as little thought about it as possible, and buckle down the last 10K.  Good luck!

~ accountability
Have you done today’s tempo run yet? Just wondering how that goes/went.  I know you were chewed up early in the week, but hope that the day off Wednesday allowed your legs to spring back.

~ freak out management
I know you were not sure about getting in much running this week, but the two runs Tuesday and yesterday were a good way to make sure you won’t lose fitness this week.  I hope you are enjoying extra time with your girls.

~ reassurance
You really rolled a strong 15 today for having to do it in the hot weather.  It certainly seems like you are in a good groove with the marathon training especially for it being summer and far out from the race.  Let’s keep it rolling!

As a runner, I have changed a lot since I started working with Lowell.  I have a new appreciation for the sport and for my own body and what it can do.  I work hard because I can see the results every time I race, regardless of my place or time.  I want to push myself because I know someone other than myself is expecting me to.  I like that.  It works for me.  So, yeah, I have a coach.  Go team!

Listen to this:
Ride - TV on the Radio  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE 'OTHER' PLAYLIST


Every time I run a marathon, right around taper time, I try to stop listening to my music.  Wait, what? Ok, this is only partly true.  As you know, it's border-line torture for me to run any distance without music.  Do I lean too heavily on it?  Perhaps.  Do I care?  No, I do not.  So, no, I don't really stop listening all together.  But I do lay off my current favorites.  I call it my music starvation period.  It's pretty tough, but it's totally worth it as I know how good those babies are going to sound on race day.  Back in 2001, right after I got married, I was re-bitten by the running bug after having taken some time off post college.  Since then, I've run 10 marathons, 12 halves, and countless 5Ks.  I have playlists for all of them.  And while I am constantly creating new lists with each new race and (eh hmmm) year that goes by, I never delete the old ones.  Many of my favorite songs make it on every list from year to year.  However,  some of my 'go-to's from back then...well, they just don't get the juices flowing like they used to.  But, they're still great songs.  Enter the taper playlist.  This is a group of gems that I have compiled over the years that are not on any of my current running playlists.  They may have stopped getting the job done back then, but since I haven't heard them in a while, I find that they have a new kind of zestiness to them when I listen to them today.  And we all know zest is good during taper time.  I make a point to not listen to this one until I enter music starvation period, thereby keeping it fresh and fun and guaranteeing that it will be a much-needed distraction.  Yes, I am a bit of a musical mad scientist.  I didn't create the flow chart in the photo up top, but I might as well have as my own would be of a very similar nature.  Hey, at least I'm just obsessing about music.  It could be a lot worse.  I got such a kick out this group of songs during my last marathon taper that I decided it was worth sharing.  Remember, I started compiling these babies when I was a young lass of about 25 years.  So keep that in mind as scroll through the list.  Listen to them.  Share them.  Laugh at them.  Enjoy them.  Do what you will.  And if you find your own 'go-to' in there, well hot dog.   Enough talk.  Turn it up!

RUNNINGWITHMUSIC: TAPER ON

Black Tambourine - Beck
Break It Down Again - Tears for Fears
It's Love - Chris Knox
A Little Less Conversation (JXL Remix) - Elvis Presley
Jump (For My Love) - The Pointer Sisters
Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson
Let's Go Crazy - Prince
Optimistic - Radiohead
White Knuckles - OK GO
Teardrop - Massive Attack
Hung Up - Madonna
Too Fake - Hockey
Annie You Save Me - Graffiti6
Colorful - Rocco DeLuca & The Burden
Sweet Dogs - Trolle Siebenhaar
Spaceman - The Killers
Sometimes I Rhyme Slow - Nice and Smooth
Sweet Black Angel - The Rolling Stones
Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Great Defector - BellX1
Harold T. Wilkins - Fanfarlo
Take On Me - a-ha
Intergalactic - The Beastie Boys
Slow Dog - Belly
St. Petersburg - Brazilian Girls
Love You Madly - Cake
Let's Go - Eurythmics
Gangster Trippin' - Fatboy Slim
Love - G. Love
Better - Regina Spektor
(Nothing But) Flowers - Talking Heads
Elevation - U2
Block Rockin' Beats - Chemical Brothers
Parallel Universe - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Listen to this:
TAPER ON is available for your listening pleasure
below & on spotify.com  Rock on!