Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BOSTON MARATHON:PART 2

Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream
~ Tom Petty

On Monday, April 17th, we woke up to a beautiful and, to our dismay, very warm day.  As usual I was up early, around 6:00am, but Joyce and I wouldn't be starting to run until 11:15, so I tried to pack enough food and hydration to last all morning.  Oh, and I threw in the sunscreen as well.  If you read my previous post, you know that the days leading up to this one were full of activities and insanely hectic for me.  But thankfully, I'd had a chance to reset on Sunday afternoon, followed by a really solid night's sleep, so I was ready and eager to get to Hopkinton and get things going on Monday morning.  For those of you reading this blog for the first time, a little back story here.  In 2016, I ran the marathon as a member of Team With A Vision (TWAV), an organization that raises funds and awareness to support individuals living in MA who are living with vision loss.  I had the great fortune of guiding Joyce Cron, a mom, athlete and superwoman who has big goals and absolutely no limits.  We successfully crossed the line in 4 hours and 30 minutes (read that story here) and once the dust settled, we agreed to put our heads together to determine whether we would do it again in 2017.  We stayed in touch through the summer and fall and then in January we decided it was time to get serious about our plan.  Not surprisingly, Joyce wanted to run Boston again, but she had two big obstacles that she was worried about.  First, she had wicked plantar fasciitis in her right foot, which had been plaguing her for weeks, and second, her vision had deteriorated a bit so she was no longer capable of training on her own at all, something she'd been able to do the year before.  She did not, however, see these as a reason to bail all together and was determined to figure out solutions for both so she could get to the starting line, which clearly, she did. (read that story here)  Come April, her injury was at bay and she'd gotten all of her key training runs in so she was ready to rock.  Which brings us back to marathon Monday.

Calm before the storm 

The one thing I noticed as I sat outside and caffeinated at 6:00am was the light breeze which happened to be on the cooler side.  This was definitely going to be our best friend for the day.  My friend and teammate, Kirsten, was also guiding for TWAV and her husband had offered to drive us out to Hopkinton so they came by to scoop me up around 8:30.  We made it to the State park without incident around 9:00am, said our goodbyes and then hopped on the shuttle that would take us over to the Hopkinton Vision Center where we'd be meeting up with the rest of our team and hanging out for the morning.  Given the typical chaos of this day along with the weeks leading up to it, it's almost ridiculous how easy this process was for us.

Andrea Croak...smiling, of course

This woman, the amazing Andrea Croak, has everything to do with this.  She is the mastermind behind our team, the chief organizer, main question answerer, key problem solver and holder of all TWAV knowledge. She also happens to be one the calmest people I know, a key trait given that the rest of us on the team are often borderline freaking out come race day, and she's always smiling.  I can not say enough good things about this gal.  So much of our TWAV marathon experience banks on her and all that she does for us and she has got it so dialed in that we never have to worry.  Not surprisingly, she was the first person who greeted us when we arrived at the Vision Center.  She let me know that Joyce had already arrived, that there were bags for our gear over in the corner and that hot coffee was already brewed and available for us up in the kitchen.  See?  Amazing.  I made my way in to find Joyce and put my stuff down.  As I did this, I happened to notice that Scott Jurek was hanging out in the parking lot with his wife and baby and a group of our runners.  I tried to act cool, but was totally starstruck because...well...because it was SCOTT JUREK, one of the greatest runners of all time.  Later I learned that Scott's mom had MS and at the end of her life she had some vision loss so he has always been a big TWAV supporter and was out with us for the day simply to cheer us on and thank us for all we do.  How cool is that?  I wanted to grab Joyce and tell her he was out there as I knew she'd read about him and would be as excited to meet him as I was.

w/ Joyce and Scott Jurek

Scott has got to be one the warmest, friendliest and most humble guy I've ever met.  He applauded Joyce for all she does despite her vision loss and wished us well on our Boston journey.  After our conversation, Joyce and I went back inside to grab some food and chill out for a while as we had a few hours before we'd be leaving.  If Joyce was nervous, I couldn't tell.  She was calm and cool as a cucumber as we ate pretzels, drank water and chatted about stuff both running related and non.  Around 10:45 we headed back outside with our other guide, Bob, who would be running the first half with us, did some final stretching and took some photos before heading over to the start.

#TEAM CRON

As it was last year, the crowds in the beginning were tricky for us to navigate.  Bob and I wove our way down the street with Joyce, working to keep her from bumping into people or obstacles like the corral gates.  We found our section and planted ourselves in a shady spot to wait until we our wave took off.  Bob has run a ton of marathons so he told us stories of past races which was a welcome distraction.  Finally, at 11:15, they sent us on our way and we crossed the start as Tom Petty sang Runnin Down a Dream'.  Just...amazing.  

THE RACE
Miles 1-5
Joyce's plan was to run a 10-10:15 pace and it was my job to hold us there as she doesn't wear a watch.  By the time we took off it was already in the 70s so we decided we would get water at every stop to avoid dehydration issues.  Our plan was to have Bob get the water and bring it over to us rather than try to fight the crowds at the tables ourselves.  We did this last year and it worked well so we figured we just stick with it.  Our first few miles were relatively smooth.  We were right on target for pacing and Bob and I wove through the people and got vocal when we needed to pass them.  At mile 5, Bob ducked in to get us water and, as we had been doing, Joyce and I kept going.  After a few minutes, Bob hadn't come back, so I managed to get water for both of us and we plowed on assuming Bob would find us eventually.  I continued to look behind me to see if I could spot him but it was a bit of a distraction to do both this and to focus on Joyce.  After 10 minutes or so I told Joyce that we were on our own for the time being and that we'd be able to make it work between the two of us which she seemed good with.  It was right about here that I was thanking the stars above that this wasn't my first time guiding!!!

at Mile 6 w/ Joyce (and officially on our own)

Miles 5-12
Okay, so Bob was totally out of the picture and we'd decided that it was not likely that he was going to find us so we forged on and didn't stress about it.  It's worth noting here that the BAA gives every TWAV runner one registered guide.  The rest of us who guide have qualified for Boston and are basically donating our numbers to TWAV so that the athletes can have at least two to three guides with them at all times.  So, case in point here as to why this needs to happen.  Joyce and I laughed a bit as we wondered out loud what she would have done if she'd only had Bob to run with and lost him.  She claims that she would have just linked arms with someone else around her and hoped for the best which I'm pretty sure would have worked though I hate to think of her having to deal with that at all.  From this point on we made a new system for the water stops.  I'd bring us right over to the volunteer and Joyce would hold her hand out for the cup directly.  After doing it a few times, we found it worked well so this is how it went for the next few miles.  The heat was taking it's toll on us and we were both having to drink 2-3 cups of water per stop.  But, we made it to the transition area without incident and scooped up our second guide, Tony, who would be running the remainder of the race with us.

@ the half with Tony & Joyce

Miles 12-21
Getting into Wellesley is always a blast no matter what condition you're in and for Joyce it's even more intense because the volume rises ten-fold.  She smiled as she heard the crowds going wild and we both laughed as I read all the various "Kiss Me" signs out loud to her.  The next section to get through was the hills and they were really, really tough.  Tony and I talked Joyce through each one, letting her know when we could see the top and telling her how well she was doing.  She was struggling but she was also fighting like nobody's business.  Toward the end of this section we heard her son shout out so we turned back so she could give him a hug and they could take a quick photo.  That was a HUGE boost for her and put a new skip in her step for the next few miles.  The timing could not have been more perfect.

Joyce, smiling just after seeing her son

Miles 22-26.2
Finally we were in the home stretch.  Joyce was insanely tired and she'd slowed down but she was still okay.  We heard a group shouting "TEAM CRON" over and over and realized it was her husband and daughter.  They had riled up the crowd around them and everyone was yelling it which was awesome because I'm not sure we would have found them otherwise.  Again, we circled back so that Joyce could give both of them hugs and kisses.  It was another massive boost to her spirits and exactly what we all needed to get us through this final stretch.

FINAL PUSH

The crowds through the last 10K of the marathon are insane.  People are 10 deep and all of them are cheering at the top of their lungs.  Tony and I did our best to get people to yell even louder, pointing at Joyce and lifting our arms up so they knew to raise the volume for this amazing woman.  When we turned onto Boylston, I turned to her and said "Do you hear that, Joyce? That's for YOU! They're cheering for you. We did it. YOU DID IT."  She wasn't smiling as she was laser focused on getting to the finish line.  I, however, was smiling from ear to ear and couldn't stop.

THE FINISH
Official time:4:35
Place:5th Visually Impaired Female

We heard the announcer call out Joyce's name as she stepped over the line and then immediately turned to each other and hugged.  We both cried a little, too.  We'd done it.  Again.  And though she didn't PR, she was damn close in some really tough conditions.  Though Joyce was totally wiped, she was in great spirits and she, too, was now smiling ear to ear.  All three of us were floating as we made our way to the family meeting area.  And, of course, despite the fact that it was hot as hell for the entire race, it was now windy and cold.  Only in New England.  We hugged again and then said our goodbyes as we were all freezing and ready to put our feet up.  The next day I got an email from Joyce.  It was long and made me cry (again) but some of it is worth sharing. 

Dear Rebecca,
What a marathon journey!  I am thinking back to the challenges of training.  Would my foot injury cause me grief?  Could I get enough training totally depending on others to run with me?  How much time do I rest a piercing pain after a long run and keep with my training schedule?  And then the flu during tapering!

 Joyce had some serious hurdles to get over in order to make this dream a reality.  But it was never a question of 'if' for her, just 'how'.  How could she stay healthy, get the help she needed and get to Hopkinton?  And damned if she wasn't going to figure out.

I am just so excited to finish Boston and qualify to run it again. Next year's Boston?  To do this, I need to be able to get enough training in and this is very, very difficult as I now depend on a team of runners all the time.  (Thankfully) One of (the main) TWAV goals is awareness so that I and other low vision runners can run, not just races but training runs.  A team is so much fun with having company on runs, sharing run stories and developing a team strategy.  I hope to be back and I would love to run with you.

To which I responded

 Joyce, if you want to run Boston next year, I'm in.  For now, put your feet up and enjoy your hard-earned break.  When you're ready to get going again, I'll be ready, too.  

It's hard for me to put into words how much I love, respect and admiration I have for this woman.  But, after reading this, I'm guessing you get the gist.  Once again, I got so much out of this experience and regardless of whether we run again, I will be forever grateful.  Though, I'm pretty sure we'll see you back on Boylston Street in 2018.  Stay tuned....

Listen to this:
Runnin' Down A Dream by Tom Petty

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BOSTON MARATHON:PART 1

The weekend of the Boston Marathon has always been an epic one for me and this one was no different.  Much like the last few years, I had a lot going on, including about 10 different team meetups and two races, but somehow I managed to squeeze it all in without losing it. Okay, I might have lost it a tad by Sunday, but thankfully for me and those around me it wasn't a complete unraveling.  On Friday morning, I zipped into the city to get a quick run in with Cheyne, a friend of mine who works at Skechers.  It was a beautiful day and I was psyched to get a little time in Boston before the chaos ensued.  I'm not going to lie and tell you I wasn't a little starstruck to see Deena Kastor running with friends as I made my way over to the Sheraton.  She's one of my biggest run-heroes, so that was super cool.  I met Cheyne in the hotel lobby and we took off toward the river.  Runners were out in full force, many of them getting their final miles in in preparation for Monday.  The buzz in the air was electric and my nerves, which had been at bay until this point, started to kick in.  My own level of excitement ramped up significantly with each mile.  Holy crap, I thought, it's marathon weekend.  It's all happening now.  Cheyne and I got about six miles in and then he had to head over to the expo so we said our goodbyes and I made my way back to Winchester.  Later that afternoon, I pulled out my gear for the both the 5K, which I'd be racing on Saturday and the marathon, which I'd be running as a guide for Team With A Vision and with Joyce Cron for the second year in a row.


Around 5:30pm, my friend and fellow RW Loopster, Brad Angle (aka Bangle) rolled in from CA.  He would also be running the marathon so he was staying with us for the weekend.  I had stayed at Brad's house in 2016 for the LA marathon so I was happy to repay the favor.  We caught up over dinner and then turned in pretty early, me because I was racing the next day and, well, because I always do, Brad because he was wiped out from traveling and needed to recharge.  I'm not sure if it was nerves, excitement or both but Saturday morning I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:00am.  I rolled out of bed, made some coffee and sat outside for a bit as it was another gorgeous day.  The BAA5K would be starting at 9:30am, so our plan was to take off at 7:30 sharp.  Why so early, you ask?  Last year I did not leave enough time and forgot my bib which resulted in a disastrous race start so I was not going to be making this mistake again.  Brad opted to come with me as he wanted to watch the race, meet up with friends and hang in Boston and we also picked up Kirsten, my teammate and partner in crime, who would also be running.  We made it into the city easily, parked in a garage and headed over to the Boston Common to stretch and chill for a while.

#TEAMBACON

Around 8:30, Kirsten and I left for our warmup.  By the time we got back, the crowd had quadrupled and the temp felt like it has increased by at least 10 degrees.  The whole scene was kind of nuts.  We shed all of our layers and checked our bags at the gear tent.  Each year there are about 10,000 runners who do this race so we made our way over to the start pretty early in order to find a good spot and do some final stretching.  Kirsten was recovering from walking pneumonia so her plan was just to relax and enjoy the scene.  I, on the other hand, was eager to bust a move and see what I could do and despite the fact that I'm in the middle of training for a May marathon, my coach told me to go for it and see what the marathon legs have in them.  So we said our goodbyes and made our way to our separate pace corrals.  

THE RACE
As you may know from past race reviews, I loathe the 5K simply because I'm not built for speed and thus the pain of sprinting 3.1 miles is borderline unbearable.  But, I do them anyway because they're great workouts for marathon training and it's always good to get outside of my comfort zone once in a while.  This particular course is super fast as it's simply down and back on the streets of Boston with one minor dip under a bridge and then back up.  The downside, however, is that with a crowd this big, it's tough to find a groove during the first mile with all the darting and dodging that has to be done.  Because of that you never really know what to expect but if things go well, a PR is definitely in the cards.  The gun went off and the elites were on their way but the rest of us slowly shuffled to the start as we were packed like sardines on Charles Street and would remain so until we crossed the line and spread out onto Boylston Street.

THE START

I immediately carved a spot out for myself on the left side of the road and tried to settle in as best I could.  My goal was to run somewhere between a 6:00-6:15 pace so I worked to get there and tried not to stress about all the people I was bumping into and knocking elbows with.  I crossed the first mile in 6:05, so right on target.  I was nervous as I could already feel the pain in my chest from working so hard but I told myself to chill out, that it was only 2 more miles and that I could suck it up for 2 miles if I ran 20+ on a regular basis.  I continued on, checking my watch once in a while and watching as the elite runners came at us in the other direction.  I laughed a little as I thought about the speed at which they were running.  Totally mind blowing.  Mile two was a 6:03.  I was pumped.  But also really, really hurting and a little panicked because I had another mile to go in this state.  

MILE 3

The above photo (taken by Brad) pretty much sums it all up.  I was on the pain train.  Big time.  The 3rd mile is on the actual marathon course, so that's pretty inspiring and as you head toward the final push the crowds increase tenfold so whatever doubt I was feeling was overshadowed by the fans who were pulling me along at this point.  I turned the corner for the final .1 and saw all of my Oiselle teammates, which was a huge boost.  You can't put a price on that kind of support.  I had stopped looking at my watch for this last stretch so I didn't know where I stood.  Based on how I felt, I figured I'd dropped my pace, but I didn't want to  know.  I just threw down all I had for the final push to the finish.  I kind of fumbled with my watch before I stopped it, but it said 19:08, so I was pleased.  It wasn't a PR, (sub 19:05) but it was pretty damn close and given that I'd logged two 80 mile weeks before this race, I was happy to take it.


I made my way over to the green to meet up with friends from the both the Loop and Oiselle.  Actually, I bee-lined it straight straight to coffee truck that was parked on the green (yes, coffee truck) which was offering up free vanilla iced coffee....what???  Over the next hour or so, tons of friends and teammates rolled in and we all caught up or, in some cases, met for the first time, and traded race and life stories.  This is the part of racing that I truly love the most.  Makes the pain all worthwhile in the end.

Top photo: w/ RW Loopsters Brad and Erin
Bottom photos: Left w/ Nicole and right w/ Pamela, both Oiselle birds

Group Photo #1

Group photo #2
(I told you there were a lot of us)

I am so blessed to have such an amazing run-family, if you will.  People from several groups, of all ages and from all walks of the earth who share my passion for running among other things.  It's undeniably one of the main reasons I continue to compete at this point in my life.  I get excited to connect with these folks whenever it's possible.  I get strength from it in so many ways.  It's just....well, it's hard to put it into words, but hopefully you get a sense of what I mean.  After goodbyes and a cool down, Kirsten and I made our way over to the expo to grab our bibs for the marathon.  She, too, would be running as a guide for Team With A Vision, so we had the same agenda.  After waiting in line for about an hour we finally got our race packets and then cruised through the expo to pick up some goodies and say hi to friends at a few different booths.  We didn't last long as our exhaustion was kicking in big time.  Around 3:00pm we finally headed home for some rest and a shower.  About 17 minutes of rest, actually, as I turned around at 4:00 and headed back into the city to work at the Skechers booth for a couple hours.  Oh well, life's short, I can rest when I'm old.  Quick side note here, in the short time that I was home I got a text from my friend Tim who asked if I was happy that I'd run a 19:02 or sad that I hadn't broken 19 minutes, something I've been trying to do for a while now.  I laughed as I'd had no idea that I'd been that close and while it was a bit of a bummer to have been 2 seconds off....could I have eeked it out if I'd just looked at my watch???... I was thrilled with both the final time and my place, 3rd Master (40+).  The news gave me an unexpected boost of energy, so that was nice, too.  Around 6:00pm I met up with friends, teammates and my sister-in-law, Locky, who was in town from NYC to run the marathon, at B. Good for dinner.  I was running on fumes at this point so after a quick bite, some more stories and laughs and, of course, yet another team photo, I took off with Locky who was staying with me for the night.

B. Good Team Dinner

I haven't hit the pillow that hard in a really long time.  Rack-out city.  I needed a full 8 hours to re-plenish and re-energize in time to do it all over again this next day.  Fortunately, I remembered to get up at 4:30am to make sure and get the Easter baskets taken care of before my kiddos woke up.  That would have been really bad.  My girls get up early so by the time the baskets were found and opened and our neighborhood egg hunt was underway I was off to the city again for a team shakeout run and breakfast meetup. Another big group of us met at the Thinking Cup, got an easy run in together and then grabbed some coffee and hung out for a bit.  It was easily 75 degrees outside by 11:00am, which was a bit daunting for those of us who would be running the next day.  But we just soaked up the sun and each other for the time being and tried not to think about it.

Sunday shakeout and coffee 
w/ Oiselle teammates & friends

If you're wondering why I made an effort to go to every single one of these events it's because being from the Boston area, I'm the one who organized them and I needed/wanted to be the point person at each one.  Not that I minded, I love hanging with this crew and that I get to see a variety of gals from all over the country at these big, local events.  It's a warm, loving, welcoming group so it's always a pleasure to motivate for them.  A couple hours after this meetup I headed back home to prep for a poster-making session.  We had over 150 women running the marathon from Oiselle and wanted to have signs for the cowbell corner that would be happening the next day.  I'm not artistic, so I made a sign with all 152 names on it.  I was pretty proud of that.  

Posters ready
w/ Lesko, Cecil, Feather & Clover

We crafted, ate, talked, ate more and finally finished around 5:00pm.  And that was it from my end.  The next day I'd be running the marathon so I was officially off duty.  I put my feet up, grabbed my book and chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.  I was in bed before 9:00 in preparation for game day.  I tried to calm my nerves and rest my bones but it wasn't easy as the craziness of the past few days was still stirring in me.  I also couldn't believe that I'd be running the marathon with Joyce in a matter of hours.  Holy. Moly.  I willed the sleep to come and eventually, finally, thankfully.... I was out.  

To be continued....

Listen to this:
Alright Now by Cash + David

Friday, April 14, 2017

BOSTON:RACE READY

"Boston is the cream of the crop of the marathon world. It has such history that you feel such honor just being a part of it."
~ Summer Sanders


One weekend, two races and a whole lot of awesomeness.  See you on Boylston Street.....twice.

#BAA5K
#BOSTONMARATHON
#TeamWithAVision
#TEAMCRON
#26.2
#BOSTONSTRONG

Listen to this:
Brave by Freedom Fry

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

GUEST POST:POSE METHOD on FORM

Despite the fact that I'm 42 years old and that I've been running since I was about 10, I am always ready and willing to learn more and thus always on the hunt for new and/or updated running-related info.  So, when the folks from Pose Method reached out and suggested a post about common running form errors and ways to correct them I was all ears.  Fortunately for me, their timing was perfect as it fell right in line with the start of our high school spring track season.  In coaching, I'm constantly reminding my athletes to watch and, if necessary, to alter their form in hopes of helping them become more efficient and ultimately faster on the track.  I'm sure this info will help me with my own form, I know it will help my runners with theirs and I'm guessing it might help you, too.  Big thanks to Ben Reid, Dr. Romanov and the folks at Pose Method for keeping all of us informed.  Read on.

THE THREE MOST COMMON RUNNING ERRORS

Running is an activity enjoyed by millions across the globe. But did you know that nearly 85% of recreational runners are injured every single year?! Can you think of any other sport or activity where that level of injury occurrence would be acceptable? Running injuries are a systemic problem that many acknowledge but few can seem to conquer.

In my work, I have found three common mistakes, which I call deviations, that runners often commit that lead to injuries. But first we need to clear a few philosophical hurdles so you understand my basis for categorizing something as an error or deviation.

For starters, we all have to agree on the leading fact at hand; runners suffer pain and injuries at a high rate. That is a conclusion I’ve found in the research and I welcome you to find the same conclusion yourself. Now, if a runner gets injured, we can likely assume that they must be committing some kind of error. Our bodies are designed to perform the task of movement, and it is completely reasonable to expect that we can move without suffering an injury. Finally, if you recognize that there must be the existence of an error or something being done wrong, then that means there must be a way of doing that is right.

To summarize: Injuries occur because of an error, which is a deviation from the correct execution. If there is a correct way to run, it will be based on identifying things that ALL RUNNERS do that is the same. This is where the Pose Method comes into play. First, take a minute to watch this quick video.

Now that you have a brief overview of our standard model for running, you can easily identify errors, which I call deviations from the standard. In other words, when you watch a runner, anything extra outside of Pose-Fall-Pull are unnecessary additions to your gait that will likely result in pain or injury. Here are the three most common errors along with a drill you can use to address the issue.

1 - OVERSTRIDING


Error: Overstriding is the most common error committed by runners. It is when a runner is exhibiting an excessive range of motion with their lower body. I like to call this Running with the Legs. You can identify it by the leg reaching far out in front and lagging far behind the body on every step. Many times, this error generates from poor coaching cues that paint the wrong picture. Have you ever heard a coach say “open up your stride”? The truth is, your leg movement is a consequence of the speed you are running, not the other way around, so you do not need to put any extra effort into it.


Correction: To address this error, you want to work on improving your pulling action. Running with resistance bands are a framing exercise that will help you pull your foot up under the hip. To do this drill, strap resistance bands around each ankle and have a partner stand behind you with the bands pulled tightly. Begin to run in place for about 10 seconds. Then, fall-forward and run for about 10 seconds, then stop, unstrap the bands, and continue running for 10-15 seconds.

2 – BENDING AT THE WAIST


Error: As it is titled, many runners bend forward at the waist when running. This can happen for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, this can be a fatigue issue. When you are on the trail, and you begin to wear down, your gait pattern will deteriorate. Bending at the waist will be one of the first places your body breaks down. Additionally, bending forward happens as a counterbalance to the legs reaching out in front.


Correction: Once you can identify this error in your own running, you will no doubt be able to recognize it happening during a run. Without stopping, simply reach behind your body and clasp your hands, straightening your arms. Run with your hands clasped for about 10-12 steps, then release your hands and continue running, while focusing on keeping your upright body position.

3 – Landing Ahead of the Body


Error: First off, let me be clear, all three of these errors are related and one can easily contribute to another. You will rarely see an error in complete isolation. Landing ahead of the body is when, from the side perspective, your foot strike happens beyond your general center of mass. It does not matter if you are on the heel or any other part of the foot; if you are ahead of the body, then you are committing an error. Primarily, your legs will be out in front because you are late pulling your trail foot up off the ground.


Correction: The main focus for addressing this error is to change your perception during that moment of changing support from one foot to the next. Instead of seeking the ground with your airborne foot, you want to pay attention to when the support foot is no longer engaged with your body weight so you can pull it. To begin, stand with on foot pulled up under your hip. This position is called the Running Pose. Begin to fall-forward, holding this body position as long as possible, then pull up your foot on the ground, allowing the airborne foot to fall and land into the next Running Pose. Focus on pulling your foot up, your airborne foot will fall without any help or guidance from you. The runner’s responsibility is pulling the foot up, the other foot landing happens as a byproduct. Do this for several reps and then slowly transition into a run. 

If you want more help with improving your running form, including more unique drills and exercises, sign-up for the Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running program here.


Listen to this:
This Song by RAC feat. Rostam


NOTE: The information provided in this article is from the research and practice of Dr. Nicholas Romanov, PhD. More information about Dr. Romanov and the Pose Method can be found at posemethod.com.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

MY TRIBE

Find your tribe.  Love them hard.  
~ unknown 


It's 9:00am on April 1st.  And it's snowing.  The kids make their way quietly, slowly into the field house.  They're in high school, so they're tired.  Always tired.  Today, a lot of them woke up, looked out the window and thought (hoped) they'd be able to sleep in.  Not a chance.  As far as the coaches are concerned, it's just another day and we need to train.  End of story.  The warm up begins and both teams, boys and girls, (about 150 athletes all together) start to show signs of life.  A little chatting here, a little laughter there as reality begins to set in.  Okay.  We're here.  This is what we signed up for.  We're doing this.  In the 20 minutes or so that we've been warming up, the weather has gotten worse.  The snow is coming down harder and the wind has picked up.  I confer with my fellow coaches as to whether it's safe enough to take my distance crew out for a run.  Weather aside, the streets are bad and the visibility is worse.  We decide it's okay if we stick together and run in the quieter neighborhoods.  If it's too much, we'll bail all together.  The warm up is done and the girls scatter to their various training groups.  Our distance squad huddles together.  Here's the deal I say.  It's clearly nasty out.  But there is not enough room in this field house for all of us to run.  So, you have two choices.  You can come out with me and give it a go.  Or you can head to the training room and hop on a machine.  It's totally up to you and I'm not the least bit upset if you opt to stay in.  The girls nod and start walking toward the door.  I say nothing as I start to shed some layers and prepare to go out.  The girls say nothing as they decide what to do.  It takes about 30 seconds.  Then they all grab jackets, hats, gloves, anything else worth throwing on and get ready to go out with me.  ALL of them.  Girls I ask you sure about this?  Yes, they all nod.  We're good.  Let's roll.


Runners are a unique breed.  Young, old, fast, slow, none of it matters.  When push comes to shove, we're all part of this one big, crazy family.  The desire...the need...to run; it always makes sense to us.  I am the coach in this particular scenario.  But, even still, these are my people, my tribe.  We build each other up.  And we are stronger together.  The road is ours and we're more than happy to take it.  No matter what.

Listen to this:
Run For the Money by Salt Cathedral

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BACK TO BOSTON

"I cannot explain it; but when difficulties arise, I am not perplexed or doubtful.  I know how to meet them."
~ Anne Sullivan Macy


Last year I ran the Boston Marathon as a member of Team With A Vision.  I had the good fortune of guiding for Joyce Cron a mom, runner and all around amazing woman.  We successfully crossed the line in four hours and thirty minutes which, given the complexity of racing without sight along the with the challenge of running a marathon in general, is pretty mind-blowing.  Once the dust settled, I told Joyce that I would be honored to run for her the following year if she was going to go for it again.  At the time she laughed and said she just wanted to get home, get a cold drink and do some gardening.  But, I got the sense that she was thinking about it, even if she wasn't ready to say it out loud.  We kept in touch throughout the summer and fall, always asking about each other's families, upcoming vacations and other life stuff but without really bringing up the marathon.  I was operating under the assumption that she was going to run Boston again based simply on a hunch, but I wasn't saying anything as the ball was obviously in her court for this one.  And then, finally, in January she was ready to talk about it.

Jan 26th
Hi Rebecca,
How is your running season going?  I thought I would touch base.  Training has been a different challenge for me this year.  First, that darn plantar fasciitis.  I tried resting it, cortisone injections and PT.  It's still there.  Secondly, I am having troubles running on my own - seeing road versus grass or curb.  It was already in January and I hadn't gotten any runs in.

In distress, my friend contacted other running friends who suggested that I put together a calendar of runs.  They check the calendar and guide when they were available.  I was so touched.  So far, this has been going very well.

Joyce has been struggling with plantar fasciitis (PF) as long as I've known her.  Clearly, she doesn't let it stop her and does whatever she can to work around it so she can continue to train.  But, the second issue, her vision deteriorating, was a bigger one.  Joyce was able to run a one mile loop around her house on her own for her 2016 training.  So, while she did run with guides for a lot of her mileage, she wasn't totally dependent on them.  Counting on friends and teammates for every single run was definitely going to throw a wrench in her training plan and I knew it would be a big obstacle for her to get around.  I wrote her back and let her know first, that I was sorry it had gotten so difficult to manage her running.  Second, I told her as far a guiding went, I was 100% in, so she didn't have to worry about that piece of the puzzle and that if it didn't work out, that was okay, too.  And finally, I let her know that I'd do what I could to help from my end to help her out, just to say the word.  She thanked me and let me know she'd be in touch.  About a month and half later I sent her a note asking her how things were going.

March 6th
Hey Rebecca,
It's was all going so well and this weekend's 17 miler fell apart.  At 15 miles, my heel started piercing me.  I tried changing my gait but ended up stopping.  I stretched a bit then managed to run the last two miles at an easy pace. 

So what happened?  Maybe it was because it was a lot of miles.  Maybe it was because the route I ran was down and up non-stop, the entire 17 miles.  Or maybe it was because I ran 4 consecutive days including 9 miles the day before.  One runner noted it started hurting right on the downhill.  On a positive note, the energy and pace went well.

What I love about Joyce is how insanely upbeat she is.  Despite an incredibly painful and frustrating situation, she was still able to find and focus on the positive side of it.  I know this is a huge reason she is able to keep at it day in and day out; because she's able to see the good in every situation.  Okay, so at this point I knew her vision would not be the issue that would keep her from toeing the line in Boston this year.  But, this PF issue sounded bad.  And, having dealt with it many times on my end, I know that it can get to the point where you simply can't run through it anymore.  Not that I said this in my reply.  I just gave her all the tips I'd used for myself when I was getting through it and told her to keep me posted.  A couple weeks later she reached out and asked me if I would join her for a run.  She needed to get 14 miles in and had a friend guiding her for 7 of them so wanted to know if I could takeover for the second half.  I was more than happy to help out and we made plans to meet up on Monday morning.  I hadn't seen Joyce since the fall of the previous year so I was looking forward to spending some time with her in person.  Our run was fantastic.  We chatted the entire time, fully catching each other up on our lives, both running and non-running, enjoying the cool but sunny weather.  We also talked about her PF issue a bit.  It was still bothering her, but hadn't been as bad since her last long run, and she was doing everything on her end (icing, stretching, compression) to keep it at bay.  We said our goodbyes and as I pulled away from her house I knew there was no longer anything that would keep Joyce from running Boston.  This made me smile.  When I got home, I had an email from her in my inbox.

March 20th
Hi Guys,
Today was an excellent run.  7 miles at 9:46 pace and 7.5 miles at a 9:50 pace.  I was exhausted at the end however very happy.  Thanks all for your time and effort!  ~ Joyce

And this...well, this made me smile for the rest of the day.  I was so pumped that everything was unfolding in Joyce's favor.  All her own doing, of course.  Nothing stops this woman.  Literally.  I knew she was tackling her last long run the following week so I checked in after that to see how it went.

March 27
Awesome - good energy, no injuries, just a great, great run.  Now taper time and keep as is.  It's going to be a great marathon and my plan is to PR that course!  And you?

My run was stellar, I plan to PR, and how are you doing?  This is Joyce in a nutshell.  Upbeat, driven and totally selfless.  I am so lucky to know this woman let alone to get to run with her.  We'll see you in Boston in less than 3 weeks.  Stay tuned.

Listen to this:

Crowd Goes Wild by Bien

Saturday, March 25, 2017

RWM DAILY SONGS:2017

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."
~ Plato

*Scroll down to view and listen to this playlist w/ Spotify

These are the songs linked to each individual blog post.  I dig them.  I think you will, too.  If you missed them, you can check them out now.  If you like them, share them.  I will continue to keep the list updated here throughout the year and the playlist updated on Spotify (see below).  Enjoy and rock on.

Turning the Screw - Generationals

Feel It Still - Portugal. The Man

HOT THOUGHTS - SPOON  MARCH SONG

THE TOURIST - CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH  MARCH ALBUM

Machine - Misterwives

STC (Interval Training) - Cash+David

On My Way - Tiesto

Rockabye - Clean Bandit

TWISTED - MISSIO  FEBRUARY SONG

TAIL OF LIONS - ALEX CLARE  FEBRUARY ALBUM

Fireproof - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Team - Krewella

KINGDOM - NAATIONS  JANUARY SONG

EVERY NOW & THEN - JAGWAR MA JANUARY ALBUM


RWM DAILY SONGS 2016

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

RACE REVIEW:NEW BEDFORD 13.1



"I think at the end of the day, what you really have to do, is you have to look fear in the face and you just have to smile.  Even if you can't see it. "

This past Sunday morning I tackled the New Bedford Half Marathon for the fourth year in a row.  I have a love-hate relationship with this race.  I like it because it's easy to get to, it's incredibly well run and it falls perfectly in between the start and finish of a spring marathon training cycle.  I'm not a fan because it's a challenging course and several miles are along a beach peninsula so its always windy.  All that said, I tend to come back each year and run it because I can test my fitness compared to the year before as well as get a sense for where I am in my current training.  This year our winter season in New England has been incredibly bizarre.  We had a mild-ish February and we are now in full-blown winter mode at the end of March.  Single digit temps, wind, snow storms, all of it.  The Saturday before the race the forecast was calling for snow and had the Cape Cod area on "gale watch."  No joke.  At the end of the day, the race director sent us a note claiming the following:

To Be Clear, the 2017 New Bedford Half Marathon WILL BE RUN on Sunday, March 19th at 11:00 am. We have had hours of rain here today and the race course, although slushy is clear. The pending snow this weekend, will not be enough to cancel the event, please dress accordingly. 

Okay, so a good time was now totally off the table.  Fine.  I could deal with that.  But running in wind and snow sounded a bit daunting and, call me a wuss, but I was worried about getting sick if I slogged through that for over an hour so I emailed my coach and asked him what he thought I should do.  For the record, I would normally just suck it up and race.  But, in addition to my May marathon, I've got the Boston marathon coming up with Joyce and TeamWithAVision and our high school spring track season just started and I just don't have time to get sick right now.  Lowell told me to play it by ear and make the call the morning of the race.  He agreed it was not worth risking it with all my other stuff going on.  So, that was the plan.  I conferred with Kirsten, my bud and running partner, who would be heading down with me and we decided to just see what unfolded.


Saturday night I went ahead and got everything ready and tried to mentally prepare myself for the worst.  The above outfit was one of about five options.  Shorts, pants, singlet, long sleeve, short sleeve, three quarters; I threw them all in my bag.  I really did want to race, to test my fitness and do something different than my typical long run.  After checking the forecast about 41 times and hour, it looked like the snow was moving out but the wind would still be in full force.  Awesome.  Sunday morning, Kirsten scooped me up at 8:15 and we made our way to New Bedford.  This was happening.  Game on.  We cruised down without incident and parked on the street near the race start. As we got ourselves organized I heard Kirsten say, "Oh my God, Rebecca.  Look at the woman's hair."  Not because it was strange or cool looking, mind you.  But because it was literally standing up on end due to the wind.  I wish I had a photo for you but that would have been a little akward.  Basically, it looked something like this. (no idea who this woman is btw)


All we could do was laugh and hope (pray) that some of it would be at our backs during the race.  We headed over the the YMCA to grab our bib and shirts.  This race is a big one for a couple reasons.  First, it's part of the USATF-New England Grand Prix Series, second, there's cash prizes for several different categories and third, it's the perfect Boston tune-up.  The crew who manages it has it all down to a science and it's run like well-oiled machine.  Very impressive.  We got everything we needed and walked back to the car to ditch some layers and get ready for a quick warm up.  At 10:20 we hit the streets.  At first the wind was in our face and we got a taste of what we were about to run in.  It was bad.  But, then we turned the corner and it died down a bit.  The temp was about 37, so without the wind, it didn't feel awful.  Maybe this wouldn't be too terrible, we thought.  I think we both knew it would be brutal but why not practice positive thinking, right?  We ran over to the start to find a spot and take our traditional pre-race pic.  And then we were off.


THE RACE
Miles 1-3 (6:57, 6:49, 6:40)
The beginning of this race is a challenge.  Starting around mile 2 you're basically climbing and dipping.  Between miles 2-3 there are a couple smaller hills.  Then at 3 there's a massive climb about a quarter mile long followed by a mellow downhill on the other side.  The wind was in our face for the first couple miles, which wasn't too bad because the crowd was still pretty big.  But once we got out of town and began to climb the wind died down substanstially, which was a blessing for that stretch of hills.  Given the weather and the difficulty of this course, my coach advised me to aim for marathon pace give or take 5 seconds, which meant I needed to try and stay around 6:50.  For this first section I was right on track and feeling okay about things.


Miles 4-9 (6:46, 6:37, 6:39, 6:33, 6:39, 6:32)
I really found my groove during this section.  The wind wasn't a factor.  My legs felt strong.  And the miles were flying by.  I was actually getting pretty excited as I had dropped my pace down but I was responded well to it.  So, I went with it.  Mile 9 was my fastest and I knew had another gear in me.  Maybe, I thought, just maybe.  I was on track for a solid PR at this point and then I turned left.


Miles 10-13.1 (7:38, 7:05, 6:50, 6:57, 5:49)
The above photo pretty much sums up what happened next.  Mile 10 is along the water and the wind just smacked us head on.  As soon as I turned into it my pace instantly dropped by a minute.  There were times during this mile where I felt as though I was either not moving or moving backwards.  All I could do was bear down and fight.  I might have laughed a little, too.  It was like nothing I've ever run in.  And it never really let up.  As we wove our way into town I thought we'd catch a break and it did ebb a bit, but not much.  It was still coming from all angles and when you add the tired factor into it from the first 9 miles, well, let's just say it wasn't pretty.  There's one final, very long hill at the end of this race beginning around mile 11.6.  Usually I'm angry and annoyed as I fight my way up this one.  But, this year, I found myself enjoying it because the wind wasn't as bad as it had been for the past couple miles.  There's some perspective for you.  Once I made the final turn I had some extra pep in my tank because the wind was virtually gone and I knew I was finally done.  Official finish time 1:29:32. 


I couldn't be disappointed with this time given the battle that had just unfolded for me.  Could I have executed differently?  Maybe.  Perhaps I should have taken a bigger risk in the beginning and banked some faster miles.  It's impossible to know whether that would have made a difference, positive or negative for that matter.  What I do know is that for those first 9 miles, I felt like a stronger runner than I have in quite some time.  I went into that race hoping for the best but also knowing that it was not my goal race and that it was more important to keep my eyes on the prize.  Anything can happen on race day, but if my stars align in May, I now feel confident that the outcome might actually be different than it has for my last few marathons.  And I'm pretty fired up about that.  Until then, I will continue to work my ass off so that I know when I get to the line, I've done my part of the job.   Beyond that, it's out of my control.  And as my coach always reminds me, if we could control the variables, everyone would be doing it.  In the end, the challenges, the unknowns, if you will...that's really what it's all about.  Well, that and the post-race coffee with friends.  That's pretty awesome, too.


Listen to this:
Turning the Screw by Generationals