Friday, September 18, 2020

#RUN

We're on a night run
No telling who we're running from
In a world of secrets and demons and people hiding from the sun
Sending my message to everyone losing control
Better not stop 'til I get home
~ Night Running, Cage the Elephant & Beck


Not much has changed since my last post.  Still running a shit ton of miles.  Still not racing.  Still walking my dogs about seven times a day.  Still drinking more coffee than I should.  Still going to bed at 9:00pm.  And, if I'm being honest, I have to fight to make it that late.  I am a real winner, aren't I?  School did start this week but my girls are only in the building for two days a week.  Who knows how long that will last.  That said, I am beyond grateful that they now have something to do that doesn't involve me or the use of my vehicle.  And Grace is finally playing soccer again after six months off the field.  No heading, throw-ins, corner kicks or human contact of any kind and a mask has to be worn for the entire game.  But, hey, they're out there.  And she's just happy to have some social interaction with her teammates.  So what if they can't really hear each other.  Next week, my high school XC season kicks off.  There are about a thousand rules and the kids have to run with masks on.  Which is still one hundred percent worth it as far as I'm concerned.  Fingers crossed we can make it work.  So, yea.  Things are about the same with the addition of modified school and sports.  It's worth noting that I am currently registered for two ultras, one in October and one in December.  Whether or not they actually happen is still to be determined.  But I might as well train for them.  And it's fun to dream.  Ultimately what it comes down to is this.  My family is healthy.  We have what we need.  Fall is coming.  Life is weird and challenging and there's no end in site.  But we're doing okay.  And that's gotta be enough for right now.  No surprise that running continues to be my saving grace.  It's keeping me sane and healthy and relatively happy.  I get as excited about hitting the road as I do about my first cup of coffee.  Now that is saying something.  Seriously, I am running to live and living to run right now.  Below you'll find a playlist that I put together this summer.  All the songs have RUN in their title.  Now, I'm a big music fan and I love a good Bruce Springsteen song, but 'Born To Run' is not on this list because the classics just aren't cutting it for me lately.  These are a bit out there.  Hopefully there are a few new ones on here that you dig.  And maybe they'll get you fired up to run or cut a rug.  Regardless, they'll have to hold you over until my next post.  Which may or may not be a race review.  We shall see.  Rock on, my friends.

Listen to this:

#RUN

Friday, August 21, 2020

THE POWER OF PERSUASION

"Somewhere on the journey we all bound to get tired
When life get lower, we get higher
The roads all open, the views get wider
Live long, head strong, shoulders, lighter"
My Power by Chika


So, I met this guy.  He's a runner.  An ultra runner, actually.  His name is Brian.  The two of us were both running long on the Cape Cod Rail Trail a few weeks ago and we started chatting.  We threw out some of the typical runner questions like Are you training for something specific? and What's your preferred race distance?  Brian was training for the Ghost Train 100 miler which was originally happening in October but got canceled.  And I had planned to run Boston, first in the spring and then in the fall when it got moved but that, too, ended up getting canceled all together.  As it turns out, Brian has done quite a few ultras and is hoping to do the Massive 100 this fall.  Fingers crossed.  I mentioned that I'd started dabbling in the longer distances since Covid as I'm trying to mix things up and keep myself motivated by trying something new.  As of now, I told him, I'm hoping to run the Hamsterwheel Ultra in November and I'm shooting for the 12 hour race.  Again, fingers crossed.  I think.  Well lucky for me Brian was chock full of information on all things ultra like how to find local races (which I need because I'm not going to fly to a race any time soon), pacing strategies, preferred gear and fuel (I have never carried water on long runs before this summer. Note the new vest in the top photo), specific race suggestions for the newer ultra runner to start with and so much more.  We cruised along together for about four miles, exchanged info so I could reach out with more questions and said our goodbyes as we went our separate ways.  I mean I don't necessarily believe in the whole "it was meant to be" thing, but given where I am and what I'm trying to do as far as running goes I couldn't have gotten much luckier to have found this guy.  Two weeks later, Brian reached out to let me know he was headed back down to the Cape and to see if I wanted to join him for a long run.  Here's how our conversation played out:
Brian: We're coming down to the Cape this weekend.  I'll be doing long runs on Saturday and Sunday (he does back to back 20s) on the rail trail if you're interested.
Me:I'm actually doing the Falmouth Road Race, a virtual 7 miler.  I'm aiming for 6:30s.  You're welcome to join in if you want some speed work for a change.
Brian:Ha. I think I might die if I try that.  I was thinking 20+ around 8 minute pace.  I'm considering running the rail trail from start to finish.  I think it's 26ish.  I might register it for an FKT (Fastest Known Time).  I don't think anyone has done it yet.
Me:Bummer.  It would have been so nice to have some company for a long run.  But, I have to squeeze this in.  I mean, I paid for it so, you know.  
Brian:OR you could do your fast 7 on Saturday and then do 26 on Sunday.
Me:I knew that was coming.
Brian:Glad you're in....What time do you want to start on Sunday?
Me:Wow. You're good.  Okay.  I need to think about it.
In a matter of minutes I went from, No, I can't run long with you on Sunday because I'm racing on Saturday and will need to recover the next day to I guess there's no reason I can't do both so I might as well check in with my coach and see what he thinksWhich I did.  Obviously.  And we both agreed that given my new foray into the ultra world and the fact that I've been doing a shit ton of mileage these last couple months I could probably handle both the race and the long run.  He told me not to go all out on the 7 miler, maybe 95%, so I had a little in the tank for the next day. And then he reminded me that I'd be pretty wrecked for a few days after this double whammy.  And then, as you probably guessed, he gave me the green light to go for it.  And that's all she wrote.  


Fast forward two weeks.  It's 6:30am and I'm getting myself both mentally and physically ready to bust out a 7 mile race.  On my own.  Yes, I absolutely could have just run 7 miles easy, submitted it and called it a day, but what would have been the fun in that?  Honestly, I'm a big believer in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and as much as I dislike the shorter race distances I know they are good for me to do every once in a while.  I considered pinning on my race bib but last time I did that I got a lot of baffled stares from those who were out and about and in hindsight it probably does look a little weird to have a number on when you're running solo.  It was about 70 degrees outside and a little humid so I made a note that my pace would probably not be as fast as I'd planned, though I was still going to give it a shot.  After a warmup, I was ready to rock.  I pumped up the tunes, got my game face on and took off.  First mile was a 6:30. Right on the nose.  Boom.  Mile two?  6:40.  Yikes.  Get it together, Rebecca.  Mile three was a 6:32.  Back on track.  Ok, I can do this.  Mile four was 6:35.  Good.  I'm still in.  Stay focused.  Mile five 6:49.  Oops.  Or don't stay focused?  Clearly not.  I don't know what happened but let's just say I was in la la land for that fifth mile.  Thoughts like, why am I doing this? and maybe I should just stop at five and oh look, there's a coffee shop started entering my mind and it pretty much went downhill from there.  The wheels didn't completely fall off but I never really managed to get myself back together or closer to my original goal pace.  I managed to run both the sixth and seventh miles right around 6:50 giving me an overall average of 6:42 for the full seven miles.  After which I concluded that I am never running another virtual race on my own as I just don't have the mindset to push hard when I'm not surrounded by other runners and pulsing with my typical race nerves.  Lesson learned.


Might as well go run a marathon the next day.  For fun.  Right?  The plan was for me to drive to the finish of our route and for Brian and his wife, Sayra, to meet me there so she could drive us up to the start.  Yes, she is a saint.  My alarm went off at 5:45 so I could make myself a cup of coffee and wake up a bit before hitting the road at 6:15.  


As I laced up I found myself, once again, wondering what the hell I was doing.  Don't think.  Just go.  That was the mantra for the day.  Note the Falmouth Road Race coffee mug in the photo.  I earned that puppy! And then I was off.  To meet up with a stranger and run a marathon.  I do realize how this sounds.  Not that I cared.  Sarah and Brian scooped me up at 6:45 and we made our way up to Wellfleet where we'd be starting this adventure.  Again, Sayra got up with her husband at the crack of dawn to drive him thirty minutes South to pick up a random woman and drive them an hour North so they could run for four plus hours.  I mean, if she doesn't get the medal for coolest wife ever, I don't know who does.  Okay, so we hopped out and took a quick photo.



I won't give you the play by play as that will take too long.  We got incredibly lucky with the weather as it was cloudy when we started and lightly drizzling as we finished.  We cruised comfortably at about an 8 minute pace.  We took one wrong turn and had to back track about a half mile.  And as we finished we realized that I parked my car a couple miles further than the official trail end which made those last miles a bit painful.  But we did it.  


We ended up running about 28 miles give or take a few point somethings.  We were totally drenched by the end.  And my legs were pretty angry with me.  But, hell, you only live once.  I dropped Brian off at home and drove myself back to my in-laws house. And I quietly thanked the running gods that it was raining which would make it easier for me to be somewhat lazy at home with my family without feeling too guilty.  The rest of that day is a bit of a blur.  I was dealing with a new level of exhaustion.  And it made me a little worried about my new goals as I couldn't help but wonder how I'd be able to push myself harder than I just had.  But, I suppose that's the point.  It's not supposed to be easy.  My coach tells me this all the time.  He also reminds me that we have to scratch what's itching.  The marathon isn't really doing it for me anymore.  I'm eager to wade out into uncharted waters and see what I'm capable of.  This weekend just gave me a little taste of what's to come. I'm pretty sure I like it.  Actually, I might have to get back to you on that after I've had a seat at the table for a while.  More on that soon.  Stay tuned. 
 

Listen to this:
My Power (from Project Power) by Chika

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

ALWAYS RUNNING

"There's something deeply human about a relationship with anything that can offer you the greatest joy in your life and also the greatest sorrow or pain.  Running grounds me toward that more viscerally perhaps than anything else.  It's a reason why I keep doing it."
~ Devin Kelly


I have logged 1,041 miles since March.  A lot  of them slow.  Some of them painful.  And most of them alone.  And I have loved every, single one of them.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  No joke.  Back in February I was sidelined with acute plantar fasciitis and a marrow edema in my left heel.  I had been planning to line up for Boston no matter how my foot was feeling.  Then Boston and every other spring race was canceled.  So, I took a full two weeks off and then slowly and gingerly eased myself back onto the road.  I was going to PT twice a week right up until the virus hit which was helping a ton. Between the time off in February, the PT and the lack of hard training sessions, my foot began to cooperate with me again.  Praise be.  Those first couple months, when we were staying inside for the majority of each day, were painfully long and mentally straining.  I know they were for most people and I'm guessing my situation was significantly more manageable than many others.  But still.  My girls were going to school virtually, my husband was working from home and I was no longer coaching because the high school track season was obviously canceled.  It was a lot of intense family time with not a lot of outlets.  One can only do so many puzzles before you start to lose your shit.  Running was my saving grace.  I'm sure it was for a lot of us.  Hell, even my 15 year old daughter started running and she admittedly hates it but just needed something to break up her day.  Seriously, though, I have never looked forward to lacing up and getting out the door more than I did during that stretch of time.  Ever.  In my life.  Every run was a gift and I wasn't taking any of them for granted.  It didn't matter how tired I was.  Or if my foot ached.  I didn't care.  I was going.  Usually, I got home and my mind was clear, my body was reenergized and I was ready to tackle anything.  Well, almost anything.  I couldn't help with Grace's algebra or Rosie's bio.  How quickly we forget.  In late May the country began to reopen a bit.  Not that it changed much.  But still, I ran.  I ran with my daughter.  I ran on trails. I did a virtual 50K.  I did a virtual 50 miler.  I just wanted to run, to be out there moving, and I had the time to do it.  In June I got on the phone with my coach to map out a training plan for summer and fall.  We knew racing for the rest of 2020 was likely not happening.  But I wanted to train.  I was ready to start working hard.  And I wanted something to work towards.  Understanding we are in a "wait and see" pattern with events for the rest of this year, we landed on the following goal: get fit, stay healthy and train for longer distances with the hope that I can line up for a 50 miler (or dare I say longer??) in 2021.  Maybe even a few?  I love the marathon.  But after twenty five of them and some solid time to marinate in my thoughts as far as running goes I've come to realize that I'm ready to try something different.  To scratch a new itch, as my coach likes to put it.  To chase new goals and face new challenges.  To go bigger.  Which brings me to now.  I'm running more miles.  Trying different workouts.  Taking less days off.  And still, I am loving it.  Every single mile.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  No joke.  Same story.  New chapter.  Always running.

Listen to this:
Big Love - Louis the Child (feat. Earthgang)

Friday, May 29, 2020

ASK YOURSELF

"The way I approach running, it's totally a joyous pursuit for me-which doesn't mean that every day is happy, but I do it because I love it and I feel good when I run, and the racing is just a fraction of it."
~ Katie Arnold

Boston, 2011

Well, it's official.  For the first time since 1897, the Boston Marathon will not be happening due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Originally, the BAA moved the race from it's traditional start date in April to September 14th.  And those of us who were set to run this spring reset our training plans and crossed our fingers and toes.  But as the months have gone by it has become clear that hosting an event of this size, even in September, is simply too risky.  In the words of Mayor Marty Walsh, "There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity", which, as we all know, is exactly what we shouldn't be doing.  Ok, so now what?  This leaves thousands of us in run-limbo, if you will.  With no races on the calendar to train for and no way to even guess when things will be "normal" enough for us to line up again it begs the question, what am I really running for?  The guys over at the Six Minute Mile recently referred to a great piece by DyeStat in which they have us give some thought to the following questions:

~ What am I actually trying to get out of my life as a runner?
~ How do I measure myself in this sport without numbers on a clock?
~ Is there a way for me to better myself without an actual race?
~ What am I grateful for as a runner?

I won't lie and say I'm not sad or frustrated that Boston, or all major races for that matter, have been canceled.  Marathon training is one of the things in my life that I truly love.  But what I've realized over the past few months is that it's the simple act of running in general that I am most passionate about.  And now, having not pinned on a bib since 2019 and or been training for anything in particular, I have learned that I don't need the race to find the joy in it.  Personally, running has been the only constant for me over these past three months.  It has kept me relatively sane and pretty grounded during a time when these feelings are often hard to come by.  So, what am I grateful for as a runner?  Today, it's just the simple fact that I can do it.  I can't answer all of the questions above at this particular moment.  So my goal is to take the next month or so to give it a shot.  A little self exploration never hurts, right?  I'm 45 years old.  I've been running for a long time.  For lots of different reasons.  Over the past couple of years it was mainly to push my limits.  Right now it's to cope.  But life will change again and running will serve a different purpose; perhaps a new one.  I guess it's time for me to figure out what I'd like that to be.

Listen to this:
The Optimist - Evie Irie