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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RWR:MEET SASHA, PRO-RUNNER, ENGINEER & KID AT HEART


So, next week it's officially spring.  But not really.  Sorry, I'm annoyed.  Can't help it.  I can, however, give you a RUNNERSWHOROCK interview with one of the coolest cats I know.  Pretty fair trade as far as I'm concerned.  Seriously, I'm really fired up to introduce you to the great Sasha Gollish.  Sasha's a semi-professional middle distance runner who can rip through a 1500m on the track in 4 minutes and 7 seconds and a half marathon on the road  in 71 minutes.  What??!!  (check out all her race results here).  Her goal?  To become one of Canada's greatest distance runners of all time.  And today, at the young age of 35, she's well on her way to accomplishing this goal.  Honestly, you need to know this gal.  She's a Skechers Performance athlete, which is how I originally connected with her.  She also runs on Oiselle's elite team, which is another outlet that brought us together.  We got to know each other well this fall through social media, reaching out with support and cheers before races, offering running advice during challenging situations, Sasha often providing the voice of reason for me, and giving each other post-race shout outs after performances that warranted them (she had quite a few of these).  Then, to my good fortune, her racing schedule brought us even closer together when she had a track meet here in Boston and called to see if she could stay at my humble abode for the days leading up to the event.  Ummm, yes please.  My girls were beyond giddy that a professional runner would be staying at their house.  I was equally giddy.  Ok, maybe a little bit more.  She happened to arrive the day before we got pummeled by one of the biggest snowstorms of the season.

Post-blizzard high-five

We spent a LOT of quality time together given that we were basically stuck inside for 24 hours.  Although we did get out just enough to take some quality photos together.  Yes, she's a bit dorky just like yours truly.  She's also kind, witty and great with kids (she witnessed more than one meltdown while she was with us) and we had a freaking blast together.  I'm so honored to call this woman my teammate, my friend, and my sister-in-sport.  My advice to you?  Keep an eye on this one.  She's creating quite a stir in the running world and she's just getting started.  For now, let's meet Sasha, a runner who rocks.

RWR:SASHA GOLLISH

Name: Sasha Gollish
Where you're from: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Where you reside now: Toronto, though currently poolside in Tucson, AZ
Age: 35 going 20
Occupation: semi-pro athlete, phd student, engineer
Blog/website: www.sashagollish.com


2016 Canadian Cross Country Championships

RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running? 
The freedom it brings you no matter where you go.
What do you love most about music? 
The memories it invokes.

SASHA'S FAVORITES:
Band (current, all time or both):
Today - Florence & The Machine 
All time - Dave Matthews Band
Album (current, all time or both):
Today - too much good stuff to pick just one
All time - Crash by Dave Matthews Band
Race venue: Pan Am Stadium, Toronto (I ran my first ever track race there and won my first international medal there)
Music venue: Molson Amphitheater
Race distance: 1500m
Show you've seen live: Janet Jackson (true story! Velvet Rope tour, circa ~1999?)
Ice cream flavor: Toasted Marshmallow



THIS OR THAT
Sweet or salty? Sweet
Live or recorded? Live
Coffee or tea? Coffee, duh!
Summer or winter? BOTH! Can’t pick one, both have so much fun associated with them. Though summer for outdoor concerts; you would freeze up in Canada at a winter outdoor show!



MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? Metric
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together)
would you go see tonight if you could? The Beatles
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Broken Social Scene
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? LTJ Bukem


Broken Social Scene

LAST ONE:
Today, I feel like....(complete the sentence) A unicorn!




Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? 
Come On Feet - Quasimoto
Dirty Paws - Of Monsters and Men
The Best of What’s around - DMB
Safe and Sound - Capital Cities
Ahead by a Century - Tragically Hip



Last 5 Songs you listened to today? 
The wifi is so bad you cannot
actually stream by the pool. 
But DJ Mark Farina’s pod cast 
channel is usually on while working.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SPRING FEVER

"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!'"
~ Robyn Williams


March is such a promising month here in New England.  The first few warmish days creep in (photo above was from 3/1) and the snows begins to clear out.  And despite the fact that we will continue to have a few crappy stretches of winter weather, (case in point, it was a balmy 10 degrees on 3/4) the light is truly at the end of the tunnel.  And it is shining bright.  Literally.  Daylight savings is right around the corner which means we will no longer be coming home from work in the dark and feeling like it's bedtime at 7:30pm. YES.  The kids in our hood start to play outside more and all the adults slowly come out of the hidey holes that we've been burrowed in all winter.  Signs of life are everywhere and this has a positive impact on everyone's mood whether they realize it or not.  Here's what I'm most excited about for spring.  What's on your list?

SPRING IS COMINGTOP 10 SIGNS 

1. Daylight savings.  Lighter later.  Enough said.
2. Boston Marathon.  Not just the race itself but the whole weekend is just so epic.  I'm giddy just thinking about it.
3. Spring track at LHS.  So much fun to get over to the track and start coaching again.
4. Less clothing.  I know my legs are pale but damn does it feel good to run in shorts!
5. Red Sox Baseball.  I'm a huge fan.  And while I shed a tear or two when Big Poppy retired last year, the current team has some solid potential for 2017.
6. Spring marathon season.  In addition to my own, many of my friends and teammates will be running spring marathons.  Always gets me even more fired up about running.  If that's even possible.
7. Spring flowers.  Not just the flowers, which are gorgeous, but the smells, the sounds, all of it.  You can just feel spring getting ready to burst through.
8. New music.  A lot of bands release new albums right around March/April.  Milky Chance, Sylvan Esso and Spoon are a few that I'm psyched to dive into.
9. Spring skiing.  There is nothing better then skiing with the sun on your face and with feeling in your fingers and toes.
10. Spring break.  My girls head down to Florida to visit my parents and my husband and I get a little staycation.  Added bonus...might even get some spring cleaning done, too.  I know.  Super fun.

Listen to this:
Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man