Saturday, October 19, 2019

RACE REVIEW:MARATHON #24-CHICAGO

If you find happiness
Hold onto it, hold onto it
'Cause most of us are bad at it
Got aching ribs from faking it
And even if it dissolves
It's still better than nothing at all
So if you find happiness
Hold onto it, yeah
~ 'Happiness', Wingtip

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11th
Last year when I signed up for the Chicago marathon, Jeff and I decided to make it a family weekend since Rosie & Grace had never been before.  Thus, last Friday, October 11th, all four of us got up at the crack of dawn for our flight to the Windy City.  Despite the hour, the girls were super fired up primarily because they were missing school but also because they LOVE to fly (unlimited Sprite anyone?) and they love a good family vacation.  I mean, who doesn't?  We breezed through security and bee-lined it over to Starbucks as I wasn't able to speak until I was fully caffeinated.  Thankfully, everyone in my family gets it and Jeff is pretty much the same way.  For the record, the girls prefer Dunkin'.  I don't know what Grace drinks, but it's loaded with chocolate so it probably has a similar effect on her as my latte does on me.  Whatever does the trick.


After we landed, we got in a cab and made our way to the apartment we'd rented through Airbnb which was in the Old Town district.  It was pouring rain...like...buckets.  Not good for running.  It was also about 70 degrees and humid which was super weird and, again, very bad for racing.  I remember thinking as I looked out the window, thanks be to whoever is up there that the race isn't today.  We dropped off our stuff and Jeff and I went back out to get another coffee as the one we'd had at 5am was wearing off and we had a long day ahead of us.  We all did some unpacking and organizing and once we were pretty settled in, we called an Uber and headed back out again, this time to the expo so I could pick up my bib and race packet.


Having gone to the Boston expo with me back in April and having had an absolute blast (samples and free stuff FTW) the girls were more excited than I was when we pulled up.  Once we were inside, we picked a meeting spot and broke up as they like to do their own thing and do it on their own time.  Jeff came with me to grab my number and shirt and then we took a cruise around the floor, stopping at the booths that caught our eye like Feetures, Picky Bars and Biofreeze (one can never have enough Biofreeze).   


I made a point to find the NUUN booth so I could say hi to Mason French, our team leader and thank him for all that he does for us.  He has got to be one of the most upbeat, positive people I have ever met.  It's insanely refreshing to be around him.


I picked up a couple more "unneeded but kind of needed at the moment because I was excited" things and then met up with Jeff and the girls.  All of us were pretty hangry so we left the expo and headed to a restaurant to get some burgers and fries.  Sufficiently stuffed and in need of more activity before plopping down on the couch, we walked over to the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower as one can't be in Chicago and not go to the top of the the 3rd tallest building in the world.  


Unfortunately, the visibility wasn't great due to the storm that had come through.  So we could only see about 5 to 10 miles out instead of the usual 50.  It was still ridiculously spooky to be out in this small glass box on top of the city so the effect was not lost on us.  Of course, Rosie felt the need to do a handstand, not at all weird for her but it definitely got some looks from the people around us.  We're used to it.  And, personally, I though it was pretty badass.


Done with our touristy stuff for the day, we took an Uber back to our apartment for some chill time before dinner.  Jeff and I were pretty wiped as we'd gotten up at 5am to start this adventure.  The girls, however, were a bit punch drunk, likely over tired and unable to stop laughing and jumping around like wild animals.  Our two moods weren't meshing so well together in our small set up.  Around 7, we went back out to meet up with our friends the Eberhards, who Jeff and I went to Colgate with, for dinner.  They have kids our girls' ages but theirs had other plans so Rosie and Grace ordered sugary drinks and continued to laugh at each other through dinner.  Better than fighting with each other, right?  We stuffed ourselves with pizza and pasta and then walked down the street for some ice cream from Jeni's, quite possibly the best ice cream I've ever had in my life. No joke.  Finally, we rolled ourselves home and hit the hay.  Well, Jeff and I did.  Who knows what the girls did.  Probably a couple more hours of Tik Tok before they eventually passed out.  

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12th
As usual, I was up early the next morning.  After a quick cup of coffee I took off for a three mile shakeout.  The temperature outside was...wait for it...THIRTY SEVEN degrees.  I mean, it's not crazy cold, but given that it had been 70 the day before it was definitely a bit of a shock to the system.  Despite the chill, it felt good to be outside and the air was crisp as opposed to humid which was a nice change as well.  I was cold for the first five minutes or so but after that I was good to go.  The run felt great.  My legs were firing and I was itching to go faster which I didn't but obviously took as a good sign.  I just did a quick out and back and finished at Cocoa + Co., a sweet little coffee shop right by our apartment.  Yes, I planned it.  


As I walked back to our place, I started to get cold again and had the realization that I would likely be freezing at the start of the race the next morning given what I had planned on wearing and the current temp.  Oh well.  Our plan for the morning was to do the popular Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise that all of our friends had recommended.  We made our way back into the city yet again, got a third (or fourth, who knows) coffee and lined up for the cruise.  It was turning into a really beautiful day but it was not getting much warmer and sitting on the top deck of the boat with the wind blowing was a challenge.  We did our best, the girls caving and going inside before Jeff and I, but it was totally worth it as the city's architecture is so unique and learning about it was such a treat.


An hour and a half later and all of us were sufficiently frozen to the core and ready for some food.  We cabbed over to Lincoln Park to meet up with my friend Matt Jordan and his family for some pizza at Homeslice.  In hindsight, this was probably not the best decision for me, but I wasn't thinking wisely at the time as my hunger outweighed my ability to use my brain.  Matt has two little ones, ages 3 and 6, and Jeff and I laughed quietly as we remembered the days when high chairs were needed but the kids didn't want them and parents got reprimanded for bring the wrong set of legos.  It was so nice to catch up with Matt, who I went to high school with and hadn't seen since pre-kids.  I have to give his wife, Liz, a shoutout for her patience as she dealt with all of the toddler logistics and also to his kiddos who held it together beautifully considering how long we were there.  After pizza we walked down the street for cupcakes because...well, cupcakes.  Again, maybe not the best choice for me.  But, everyone was doing it.


A few hours later we hugged, said our goodbyes and rolled ourselves back home.  Lots of rolling over the weekend.  We only had about thirty minutes before we had to turn it around and go back out again as we had tickets to The Second City at 4:00.  Yes, we squeezed a lot in.  But, I have to say, live comedy the night before a marathon was a pretty perfect distraction.  And we all loved it.  I'll admit it was totally inappropriate for our girls, but we'd known what were getting into so it wasn't that big of a shock.  Well, it was for them, not for us.  Really, really funny.  We walked home around 7:00 and I made some pasta and got my stuff ready for the next morning.


My high school XC team had given me cards with notes and inspirational quotes which I read through multiple times before I went to bed.  So nice of them.  I was glazing the pages of a book by 8:00 and had my lights out by 9 as I had to be over at the start by 6:30 the next morning.  I'm sure Rosie and Grace were up for a good 3 or 4 more hours after me.  Whether they would be up in time to see me race was anybody's guess.  


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13th  
Race day.  Finally.  I was up before my alarm at 4:45, sipping coffee and eating breakfast as I got myself ready to go.  I felt calm; ready.  This was my 24th marathon.  I'd had a great training block.  I felt really strong.  I was confident in a way I hadn't been in the past.  I was excited.  But not particularly nervous.  It was a nice change.  I embraced it.  I took a cab down to Grant Park and found the American Development tent which I had the privilege of getting to use since I'd applied and been accepted into the program.  It was amazing as the tent was heated and we had plenty of room to spread out our stuff and stretch as well as our own set of bathrooms.  I went out for a very quick shakeout run and it was right around here when my stomach started to feel a little off.  I chalked it up to pre-race nerves and tried not to think about it.  Around 6:45 we were told to make our way over to the start which was at 7:30.  So, yes, a ton of time standing in the cold.  But, Matt had given me a throw away blanket to use and for that I will be forever in his debt.  People were standing around in their tanks and briefs and I was the weirdo wrapped up in a brown dog blanket.  I didn't care one bit.  To my good fortune, I found two gals from my Oiselle team, Maeluen & Jessica, who were trying to run around the same pace as me and we agreed to work together for as long as we could.  This was a huge mental boost for me and I was very happy to have found some wing-women.  We all took some last minute strides out and then it was go time. 


THE RACE:
Boston is huge.  Chicago is bigger.  And you can feel it when you're standing there.  45,000 runners.  It's kind of insane.  I'd been told that the GPS signal was inaccurate in the city due to all the tall buildings so my plan was use my stopwatch and just check my splits at the mile markers.  I wasn't thrilled about this plan, but there wasn't a better option if I wanted an accurate read on how I was doing.  Maeluen, Jessica and I took off together and hit the first mile spot on, right around 6:45.  The pace felt good.  Not too hard.  I was able to talk to the girls comfortably and able to get fluids no problem.  We cruised like this for a while, hitting goal pace without any issues.  All three of us in rhythm together.  Things were looking good.  Until they weren't.  Around mile 8, my stomach started to give me issues and I felt like I needed to use the bathroom.  I tried not to think about it.  No dice.  It was going to be a problem.  I then tried not to panic.  I needed to deal but, I really didn't want to leave my crew.  At mile 12, I told Jessica that I was going to try and speed up a bit and find a bathroom in hopes of using it quickly and then finding them again.  It was a long shot, I knew.  But, things had been going so well with them up until that point that I didn't want to lose out on working with them for the rest of the race if at all possible.


I ducked in, dealt as quickly as I could and hopped back out.  I have no idea how much time it took me but it was easily a minute or so.  The whole process was really unsettling and my flow, both mental and physical, was definitely rocked because of it.  I was rushing back through the crowd trying to find Jessica and Maeluen while also stressing about the time I'd lost and the fact that I was now running faster than goal pace to catch up to them.  Oh, side note, Pablo (in the photo above) and I were probably about the only two people in the entire field who weren't wearing the Nike 4%s.  I'm kidding, obviously, but you would not have believed how many people had them on.  We were definitely in the minority wearing a different brand.  It's crazy how much of an impact these shoes have had on our sport lately.  Ok, back on track.  Thankfully, I was able to link back up with my teammates which was a big relief and I was able to relax a bit and settle back in.  They both gave me a fist bump which I so needed.  We continued on together, now back on goal pace, averaging around 6:45.  Miles 13 through 17 went by relatively quickly without any major issues.  That said, I did start to worry a little at this point because my stomach was so off that I was afraid to eat my gels.  Who knows what happened.  Maybe it was the veggie pizza I had eaten the day before.  Maybe it was that I'd had too many meals out over the past couple days and my stomach didn't like all the changes in my diet.  Or maybe it was random.  Though, I kind of doubt this.  I was making an effort to sip Gatorade at every drink station but I knew it wasn't the same amount of calories that the gels provide and I was anticipating a zap in energy due to the lack of fuel. I worked hard to put it out of my mind, but you know how that goes.  Around mile 18, we saw the Oiselle Cowbell Corner, which just about the best thing ever.  


Our bird teammates were cheering their brains out and I got a huge surge in energy because of it.  I'm pretty sure all three of us did.  Around mile 20, I realized that Maeluen and I were on our own, Jessica having pulled back a bit.  I asked if she knew whether we were still on pace as my ability to check my splits post-bathroom was not the best.  She thought we were but wasn't 100% sure.  Oh well, I remember thinking, it was now going to be a fight for me to the finish.  I could feel my energy waning.  I was trying so hard to push through and stay on pace but it wasn't happening and I knew it.  In past races, when I've gotten to this point, I've stopped and walked, defeated and often a little out of it.  But, that was not happening.  I was still sharp, just not operating at full speed.  I told myself to relax.  To focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  At mile 22 I saw my friend Courtney and was able to give her a smile, which I knew was a good thing. I didn't feel great and my wheels were wobbly but they weren't falling off.  I was determined to keep it together and I was doing ok.


My pace was now notably slower but I forged ahead.  People were passing me.  It was tough but, at the same time, I was tough.  I was absolutely still in the fight.  And I was close enough to the finish to know that it wasn't going to be a throw away.  Thankfully, I could process that for those last few miles.  And then, there it was.  The finish line.  I crossed it without much fanfare in 3:02:28.  


I wasn't out of breath.  I hadn't been able to give an all out sprint because I simply hadn't had enough fuel in the tank.  So, I was just kind of okay if not a little unsteady.  I felt instant relief.  And then a little sad.  But also happy.  It was a weird combination of emotions.  Things hadn't gone the way I'd hoped.  And yet, I'd managed to run goal pace all the way through the 35K.  I was able to recognize that as I walked to get my medal and blanket.  Maybe it's because I'm older.  Maybe it's because I've done so many races.  But, for the first time, probably ever, I was able to see both the good and the bad as I started to process how things had played out without being completely devastated that the day hadn't gone my way.  A photographer asked to take my photo.  I am sure that in the past, had I run a bad race, I would have told him no thanks.  But I stopped and smiled.  Because I was oddly okay.  I'd run a brave, bold gutsy race and all things considered it had gone pretty damn well.  


I called Jeff and we made a plan to meet up.  They weren't able to come through security with their bags so I gathered my things, gave hugs to Jessica and Maeluen and wove my way out of the park.  Man, was it nice to see my family post-race; exactly what I needed at the moment.  They never travel with me to these things so having them there to wrap me up was such an incredible bonus.  


They told me good job and congratulations.  They could have cared less about whether I ran my goal time or not.  I love that.  Yes, it mattered to me.  But, in the grand scheme, it's really not that big a deal.  Jeff and the girls were proud of me.  I felt the love.  That was what was important.  I know had all things gone the way I planned, given how my training had gone, I had a PR race in me.  And sometimes, when the stars align, that happens.  But, more often than not, it doesn't pan out that way.  And that, my friends is the nature of the beast.  If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  There is always an unknown that we can't plan for despite all of our efforts to practice every single thing.  That unknown is kind of the magic of the race itself.  Sometimes we can work with and overcome it. Sometimes we can't.  But if we love what we're doing, and over the years I have realized that I truly do, than we keep trying until we hopefully find that magic again.  I'm 100% sure that it's going to happen a few more times before I hang up my shoes.  I have no idea when.  And time is not on my side given that I am 44.  But, I'm going to do my damndest to stick with it for as long as I can because I'm not ready to let that feeling go.  It's just too good.  Oh, and yes, I'll be bringing my own food to my next adventure.  All these years later, I'm still learning.  Thanks for letting me share marathon #24 with you.  Up next?  I have no idea.  Stay tuned.  

Listen to this:
Happiness - Wingtip

Sunday, September 29, 2019

RACE REVIEW:HALF BY-THE-SEA

Last Sunday I went up to Manchester-by-the-Sea with Jeff and my good friend and coaching partner at LHS, Steve McKenna.  Both Jeff and Steve have been ramping up their miles over the past few months and were ready and psyched to race.  And Steve, who used to run competitively in college, has joined me for quite a bit of my Chicago marathon training so he was curious to see what he could do for 13.1, a distance he'd never raced before.  I was really fired up to have a couple wingmen for a change.  Before I start my breakdown, I have to throw in a humble brag for my Lex ladies who absolutely crushed it at the Highland Park Invitational the day before the race.


We ran three different teams (Freshman, Varsity A and Varsity B) and all three of them took the win.  It was totally unexpected and such a thrill for us.  It also happened to be about 85 degrees out and I ran around like a banshee from 9am until we left around two in the afternoon.  Both of these factors would have a significant impact on my race the next day, not that I cared or event thought about it at the time.  This group of ladies is so tight and works together so beautifully.  They are such a joy to coach.  Okay, sorry, just had to throw that in there.  Not really sorry, though.  By the time I got back to the house I was toast.  I did nothing but chill for the rest of the afternoon as I wanted to try and recover as much as possible before the next day.  As usual, I woke up stupidly early on Sunday.  I made coffee and went outside for a porch session with Clover.  Our new dog, Enzo, prefers to stay in bed a little longer than his sister.  


It was a gorgeous, crisp, cool morning.  I cried a little inside knowing that the temperature, which was in the fifties at the time, was going to get up to the eighties as it had the day before and that our race wasn't starting until 10:00am so we'd be finishing in that sweet heat.  Whatever.  My Chicago training has gone really, really well.  I've logged more miles than ever this time around.  I've hit most of my workouts.  I've stayed relatively injury-free aside from a pesky plantar fascia.  I've been super lucky.  I also feel stronger than I have at the end of past buildups, so I was expecting to run well on race day, and to possibly cross the line with a new PR.  My coach agreed that both a strong race and a PR were in the cards if things went well.  Once I learned how hot it was going to be, I knew the PR goal would be more challenging to achieve, though I still thought I had it in me and wasn't throwing it out the window quite yet.  I did come up with a B and C goal just so I didn't totally set up myself up for disappointment.  Steve came over around 8am and all three of us headed up to Manchester together.  It was a smooth and mellow trek and we parked easily and grabbed our numbers without any issues.  Jeff doesn't warmup and Steve was only doing a short one, so I took off on my own for a couple miles.  I was feeling heavy and tired and, naturally, this made me nervous but I tried ignore it and remind myself that I often feel this way and still manage to power through a hard workout.  


When I got back, I found Jeff stretching in the shade.  The heat was now in full force.  We knew it would be, but it was still a bummer to know we'd be battling it.  We made our way over to the line, Steve and I jumping in the front and Jeff settling in a little further back, wished each other good luck, and got ready to go.


THE RACE:
My race plan was to run right around 6:30/mile pace for the majority of it and then to pick it up at the end with whatever I had left in the tank.  I'd done a couple workouts in this pace range in the weeks leading up to it, so I felt confident that this was manageable.  Steve was along for the ride, hoping to work with me and follow the same strategy so he didn't go out too fast and bonk at the end.  He's more of a mid-distance kid and he's wicked fast on the track so starting out guns blazing was both likely to happen and not going to end well for him.  We hit our first mile right on pace in 6:32.  At mile 2, though, we'd slid back to 6:40.  My GPS was off so my pace was now inaccurate and Steve, having a good old fashioned timer going, called out our split.  I told myself not to panic, just to pick it up and find my groove again.  Steve, however, went right ahead and panicked and threw down a 5:55 for his 3rd mile.  Obviously, I did not go with him.  And that was it for our team strategy.  I was now on my own and he was flying solo ahead of me.  After his third mile, he reigned it back in, so I was able to keep him in sight for the next few miles, which was really helpful.  My watch was all over the place and I had no one with me, so I felt that if I could just hold on and keep him in sight I'd be okay.  I was taking water at every stop, sipping and then pouring the rest over my head.  The course was beautiful, some of it on a dirt path along the water with gorgeous views.  Once I'd settled in to what I thought was a decent pace, I was able to look around and enjoy myself.  There were long stretches with no one in sight, so when I did see people, particularly the young girls who were watching, I made an effort to wave or high-five to get an extra jolt of energy.  The course looped around and we ran back along the same stretch with the runners who were behind us now coming towards us on their way to the turn.  I saw Jeff and gave him a high five which I really needed because I could feel myself fading a little about 8 miles in.  I truly had no idea what pace I was running because my distance was off by 3/4 of a mile and my average pace was off because of that.  Around mile 10, Steve was no longer in site and I got passed by a couple guys who were smooth sailing to the finish.  One of them tried to get me to stay with him, pointing to the ground next to him and waving me along.  Yes, I thought, I do want to follow you.  But my legs are having their own party and neither of us are invited. It was good that he was there as I was now trying to keep the gap between the two of us as small as possible until the finish.  Finally, I made it to mile 11 and I was able to pick it up knowing that I was almost done.  I came around the bend and up the hill to finish in 1:27 and change.  


I did not hit my A (PR), B (1:25/26) or C (run hard and have fun) goal.  I mean, yes, I'd run hard and parts of it were fun, but the for majority of it, I'd felt sluggish and off and I did not have the drive that I had expected, so I was really bummed.  I found Steve, who'd crushed it with a 1:23, and sat down.  Nothing hurt.  I was just so, so tired.  Really psyched for him, though.  He was already talking marathon.  That was fast.  But I wasn't surprised at all.


Steve and I got a quick...or, not so quick actually, cool down mile in and then found Jeff who'd also done really well despite the heat.  Something must have clicked for Jeff, too because he was already talking about signing up for his next one before we got in the car to head home.  I love that. We stuck around for the awards because Steve and I had both taken second overall for men and women and they were giving out some sweet swag including Bombas socks and COFFEE FLAVORED energy squares.  What??!!  Sadly, the socks were too big for me, so Steve and I swapped my socks for his coffee squares as he doesn't do coffee.  All good.  More coffee for me.  


As we were waiting for the awards I texted my coach and we hashed it out.
Me:1:27. Not what I wanted.
Lowell: Too hot.
Me: Think that was it?
Lowell: Timing a race right now in Concord and it is toasty.
Me: Ok, I'll go with that. But I really thought I had more in my legs.
.... then a few hours later, after I'd had time to process the race a little more I texted again....
Me: Thinking more. Ran around in the heat yesterday for hours. Probably impacted me more than I realized.  Also logged 90 miles last week. So, between that and the the temp today, a PR was probably not realistic.  All that said, do you think my marathon goal is still within reach.  Yes, I'm overanalyzing. Can't help it.
Lowell: That is a bunch of things working against you today.  Your marathon goal is absolutely still within reach.
Me: Okay, I'm done. Thanks.
Lowell: If you were content easily you wouldn't be successful and you wouldn't be doing what you're doing.
Me: That's true.  Thanks again.
I can't lie. Even after this conversation and some words of encouragement from Steve and Jeff I was still disappointed.  I'm always telling my high school athletes that every race has a purpose.  That every race makes them stronger regardless of the outcome.  And if it doesn't happen to go the way they wanted, that they have to accept it and move on.  Because dwelling on it doesn't do anyone any good.  So, I'm working hard to practice what I preach and tell myself the same thing.  I put in a good effort with this half.  It was solid work.  Miles in the bank.  It's over.  Time to reset and focus on the big kahuna.  Chicago or bust.  

Listen to this:
It's Gettin' Hectic - Brand New Heavies

Monday, September 16, 2019

WEIRD & COOL


So, I ended up running a total of 1,037.5 miles between June and August.  I ran from home, from my parents' rental on Martha's Vineyard, from my in-laws house on the Cape (where I spent the majority of my summer), from a couple different spots in NH and probably a few other places that I can't remember at the moment.  Basically, I was on the road a lot.  I listened to audio books, podcasts and, of course, to music.  I did all types of workouts....tempo, track, long runs, recovery and doubles every week.  The majority of my miles, however, were just easy cruisers that I was adding to the bank in preparation for Chicago which is next month.  On the slower runs, particularly my second run of the day when I was often shuffling and perhaps a bit less enthusiastic about being out there, I wasn't afraid to stop and smell the proverbial roses if I wanted or needed a break and if something strange or cool caught my eye mid-route.  I won't lie.  I was easily distracted during many of those runs.  And my level of distraction had a direct correlation to my level of exhaustion.  Think of the tired, young toddler that sees a butterfly and wants to follow it.  That was me.  And yet, when I look back on all these funky things, I'm able to string together the narrative of my summer training, which in and of itself is pretty cool.  It's kind of an odd post, I'll admit.  But, I did have fun putting it together and thinking back on the moments when I happened to stumble on these items or, as in the last case, people.  You never know what will stop you in you tracks, right?  Here's a few that did.

WEIRD AND/OR COOL THINGS I SAW WHILE RUNNING OVER THE SUMMER


This peacock was the first odd thing I saw while I was running.  I assumed it was a kids' toy and that it had fallen out of a stroller or bag.  But, when I picked it up, it was pretty heavy and clearly very ornate.  I put it up on a rock wall in hopes that it would be easily found by it's owner, who, I'm guessing was missing it very much. 


I have no idea what this red, sparkly ball is.  I just remember that I spotted it as I was running on July 4th.  I also remember being very tired and thinking, hmmm, maybe I could put this in my hair and wear it for the fireworks.  Again, very tired.  As I got closer, I realized it was bigger and heavier than I'd expected so it probably wouldn't work as a hair accessory.  Which was a total bummer as it would have looked awesome.


Okay, so in addition to the legit TURTLE XING sign, someone took it up on themselves to add their own version right next to it.  At first I thought this was strange.  But as I got closer and saw the many flattened shells near the signs, I understood that one likely wasn't enough and whoever added the other sign wanted drivers to give these little creatures more time to get across the road.  That made me smile.


This was on the rail trail in Harwich, MA.  I thought it was such a cool chalk drawing.  There were tons of them including the one at the top that says NEVER GIVE UP which I took to heart many, many times as I slogged along this path over the summer.


Honestly, this kind of looks like a medieval toilet.  PEPPERMINT SPRING is carved along the top, so I'm guessing it does not, in fact, have anything to do with the bathroom.  But still, you see what I mean, right?  


Okay, this has to be one of the weirdest for a couple reasons.  First, why does someone have this stencil of Inigo Montoya and what made them want to paint it on a Yield sign along a bike path?  Second, on the same day that I saw this my friend, Beth Baker, tweeted this:


Now, I don't know if the stamp on the sign is actually Inigo Montoya but it was the first person that came to mind when I ran by it.  So, it was super weird to then get back and see Beth's Tweet because both the actor and the movie, The Princess Bride, were fresh on my mind.  Such a good flick.


This is just a super cool, funky rainbow colored house that I ran by in Lincoln, NH.  In addition to the house beeping painted in all the colors, there were things like life-sized fake pigs and birds in the yard, also multi-colored.  I wish I could have gotten a better shot but I didn't want them to think I was a total creep taking photos of their house.


Last and definitely the best of all summer was bumping into my friend Rebecca T-W on the Rail Trail in July.  That alone doesn't seem that weird.  But it was weird.  Because one year ago to the day I'd been doing a workout at Harwich High School and was cooling down on the bike path.  Rebecca lives on the Cape and I rarely see her so, naturally I was thrilled when I saw her biking towards me.  We stopped and chatted for a while and then said our goodbyes.  Remember, that was July of 2018.  This shot above was on the same exact day, one year later.  I had just finished my workout and - BOOM - there she was.  What?!?!  We were kind of speechless and giggly for minute before we got ourselves together.  We talked again and then agreed to meet up in 2020 at the same spot on the same day.  Kidding.  We didn't.  But, something tells me we will.

Listen to this:
Hallelujah - Oh Wonder

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

OISELLE BIGBIRD CAMP 2019

“Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is wasted time
Look inside your heart, I'll look inside mine”
~ Steve Winwood, Higher Love

I used to feel a little weird telling people I was going to an all women's running camp.  Because maybe it seems a little odd to pay a lot of money and travel really far to, well, to run and do all things running related.  But, if you've been to camp before, any camp, you know there is so much more to it than that.  In general, camp is a place where people - kids, athletes, and yes, even adults - go to surround themselves with other people who share a similar passion with the main goal being to have fun doing it for a short and intense period of time.  Maybe it's soccer.  Maybe it's music.  Maybe it's robotics.  Who knows.  There seems to be a camp for everyone these days.  Which is awesome.  When you go to camp, and I'll speak for myself here, but I'd imagine it's pretty similar for everyone, you have drop your ego at the door.  Maybe your inhibitions, too.  If not right away, most likely pretty soon afterwards.  If you want to do it right, which in my case I do because of all the time and effort I've spent to make it work with my own and my kids' schedules, then you dive in wholeheartedly.  The way I see it, you really have to get as much out of it as you can.  You learn, you grow, you think, you don't think, you laugh, you cry, you check in, you check out, you let go and, assuming you've signed up for the right camp, you do what you love every day with the people who love doing it, too.  In this case, running.  I've been on the Oiselle team since 2012.  This was my 6th time going to Birdcamp.  They've all been amazing experiences for me.  And they truly have gotten better each year, but not only because of the camps themselves but because of the relationships I have formed with my teammates over the years; bonds that are strengthened every time I reconnect with these women and which, if I'm being honest, are really like nothing else I've had before in my life.  So, yes, over 300 women gathered together to run, talk about running and all things running related, eat, play, sleep and then do it all over again for four days straight may sound crazy to some.  To me?  It's total bliss.  A gift to myself.  Something I look forward to year after year because when it's over I am a changed and better person for having gone.  Still not sure?  I'm going to do my best to tell you how things played out with the photos below.  There were a lot of "you had to be there" moments in here.  But I think you'll get the gist.  And who knows, perhaps it will make you want to find your own camp or, at the very least, make sure your kids are having this much fun at the camps they are attending in the summer.  Because, if they're not, something might be wrong as this is undoubtedly how it should be for all of us.

BIGBIRDCAMP 2019


Day one with my wingladies, Ashley, Erin (aka Chicken) and Jackie.  I've known these gals the longest, so I'm super close to them.  They're a big reason I keep making an effort to fly to far away places and run crazy long mileage "for the fun of it".  You'll see them a lot in my photos.  Can't help it.  I'm obsessed. 


This was the typical coffee lineup before our morning run.  Ok, truth. Three of these cups are mine.  Jackie doesn't drink coffee.  Courtney drinks tea.  And Chicken lives on Redbull.  Whatever gets you going, right?


First run of the weekend with Megan, Chicken & Jackie.  Easy 8.  So we weren't really complaining about the hills, which were huge and NEVER ENDING.  That happened the next day


Chilling on the green.  We did this a lot over the weekend.  It was a place to meet between activities, meet new people and reset in prep for whatever was next.  Our command central, if you will.  


Post run with the ladies.  Steph, wearing the glasses, was the ringleader of this circus.  She wins the "trooper of the year" award for dealing with us.  We owe her.  Big time.  


The MASS/RI Oiselle team lineup.  It was a small group of us this year.  We did our best to represent.     We crushed it.  


End of the day, hanging with Lesko and Sally, our lead birds.  The dream team.  Like, none of it would be possible without them.  Especially Sally, because she started the company.


Sunday morning, pre-long run with Collier Lawrence.  This is not us dreading the long run.  Nope.  I was super fired up for 23 miles.  We were sad because her sister, Mel, wasn't with us and we missed her.  But, she was off being a pro-runner, so, I guess she had a valid excuse.


This was Courtney warming up for the long run.  She likes to throw some dance moves down before she gets started.  Meg, behind her, looks like she's doing a slow dance with herself for a warmup.  I never got a chance to ask her about that method.


Here we were about 10 miles into the 23 miles that Jackie and I would finish.  Sally was "supposed" to do 13 and ended up doing 17.  So, we must have been fun company.  Or she just lost track of time.  I don't know, Jackie and I are pretty fun to hang out with, so I'd like to think it was the former.


From about mile 18 on, Jackie and I couldn't stop talking, thinking or dreaming about chocolate milk.  Jackie was only supposed to run 20 but she did all 23 with my so I wasn't alone.  She rocks.  And, she was REALLY thirsty when we finished.  So she just took it upon herself to walk right into the kitchen and ask for chocolate milk.  Later we learned that it was the camp director himself who made it for us.  Bless him.


Hanging out at the beach after our long run.  This picture says it all.  It was completely normal to see mermaids, flamingos and bananas throughout the weekend.  I'll leave it at that.


Later that day we went up the track to do a team relay.  Yes, we're holding drinks.  Because it was very hot.  Kendra, too my left, happens to be a pro-athlete for Oiselle.  She beat me but it was really close.  I mean, I could feel her tailwind.  So, you know, we basically were neck and neck.


Not for nothing, but this was our team, all of us over 40.  And we won.  Like, handily.  Just saying.


Chicken, Ashley and I in our Birdbeats tanks at the late night dance party.  That's right.  We cut a rug into the wee hours of the night.  It. Was. Awesome.  Oh, and the Birdbeats playlist is here.  Lots of gems on this one.



And finally, Chicken, Jackie and I on our way back to the cabin.  This was our last day.  The weekend went WAY too fast.  Happens every time.  It's so hard to digest it all and not feel like you're missing something or wanting more.  But, I've learned you just have to soak it up in the moment and let it spill over you all weekend.  Just feel all the feels.  It was super intense in all the right ways. Every year, I find that when I head back home, I'm sad but totally rejuvenated and changed for the better because of the time I've spent with these amazing women.  Until next time, my friends.  See you in the sky.  #headupwingsout

Listen to this
Higher Love - Kygo & Whitney Houston