Wednesday, December 1, 2021

2021 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE & GIVEAWAY

"There's room for everyone on the Nice List."
~ Buddy the Elf

I started this blog back in 2011.  My girls were five and seven years old at the time.  This alone totally blows my mind but I won't go down that road today.  I looked back to see if I could find what they had on their wish lists that year but I guess I didn't write it down or save it; something my mother-in-law always tells me to do and now I know why.  I vaguely remember Grace, my youngest, asking for a ladybug and a rainbow, the real thing in both cases.  That was a tricky year.  In 2014, I crafted my first RWM Holiday Gift Guide and that is also when I started making a note of what the girls' were asking for.  If I'm being honest, I would often incorporate their choices into this annual post as it usually made for great content.  Yes, I'm shameless.  Some of the more interesting items through the years included a spy kit, a magic eight ball (damn, those things are timeless), a reaching stick (yes, the one from the top shelf of CVS), a book of fairy spells (but, a real one with real spells that really work), a magicians outfit and set of tricks; the girls were quite crafty and creative back then.  This year they are fourteen and seventeen years old.  Grace wants to dye her hair and Rosie wants clothes and shoes.  And obviously I'm supposed to know what specific clothes and shoes she wants.  Anyone out there with teenage daughters, feel free to chime in here.  I do love the holiday season, though.  I say it every year, but it's hard not to get a little giddy when December rolls around and people seem to take a deep dive into the holiday spirit of their choice.  Even with all the stress and chaos of the season I find that happiness and good moods prevail.  Who doesn't love that?  So, gift giving.  Whether you're on the hunt for family and friends or making your own list, below is a group of items that I think are worth a second look.  Because, in my humble opinion, they're awesome.  And I've tested, and in most cases own, all of them so you can trust me on this.  As I do every year, I tried to mix it up and add something for everyone.  Hopefully I have succeeded and there is something below that catches your eye.  They are all great gifts but I confess that I do truly love everything on this list so I am a bit biased.  Check them out for yourself.  Then take a second to enter the 7th Annual RWM WINTER GIVEAWAY both here and over at RWM on Instagram.  And, most importantly, have yourself a merry little whatever it is you celebrate! 

********* RWM HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE *********


Retail Price:$169.99 
*Use this link & save 20%

Doesn't matter where you live, if you run cold, physically or literally, you need this Ororo heated vest.  I'll come right out and say that I wear it year round.  Okay, maybe not in the summer, but still.  Whether you're running, skiing, standing outside watching a soccer tournament for multiple hours or coaching in the pouring rain; with this baby on you feel like you can handle it all.  I have the vest myself.  I also have a jacket.  Because Franconia, NH in January.  If you know, you know.  They have all kinds of items including the vest as well as gloves, socks, scarves and more.  Get toasty and stay toasty, my friends.

Retail Price:$75

In the dead of winter, this rabbit top is gonna make you smile.  It's warm, it's comfortable and the print is just so damn cool.  Wear it with jeans when you're out and about or under a vest for running on the colder days.  Fair warning, though, once it's on, you likely won't be taking it off.  I guess that's not such a bad thing.  It's the perfect blend of polyester with a bit of spandex so it breathes and moves with you. Look rad, feel rad.   

Retail Price:$45

My dear friend Kristina is the genius behind the Koala Clip, the pouch made for your phone (any phone) that clips onto your sports bra so you can run hands free.  It's truly a piece of genius and has been a total game changer for me.  The above box of love contains one Koala Clip and is then filled with extra goodies; all of which are a surprise for the recipient but think tea, coffee, dark chocolate and hydration essentials.  Don't feel guilty if you place an order and the recipient happens to be you.   You deserve it.


Retail Price:$290
*use code RUNNINGREB to save 50%

I've been using FRÉ Skincare products for several years now.  The line is designed specifically for women who sweat and/or live their lives on the go.  They have several different sets available but The Mighty Nine covers all the bases from sunscreen to moisturizer to facial cleanser along with anything else that might be needed to keep the skin healthy and fresh 24/7.  Buy the set for the one you love or break the set up into stocking stuffers for all your active friends. 

Retail Price:$34

We all need warm hats for winter, both for every day wear and for working out.  These TrailHeads hats were designed for both.  The winter trucker hat (left) and the Trailblazer Hat (right) are made from soft, thermal fabric, have ear flaps that come down when needed and, best part, are ponytail compatible.  Run in it and then wear it straight to the coffee shop afterwards.  Keep your melon warm and look chic doing it.  Done and done.

Retail Price:$82.95

AWESOME.  STRONG.  AMAZING.  CRUSHING IT.  They are called Note To Self and they are positive affirmation socks.  And I don't believe you if you tell me you don't have someone in your life that needs these on their feet.  There are a ton of sets available but this is my personal favorite.  They are a cotton/poly/nylon/spandex blend.  Translation - total comfort.  This set includes 5 pairs and a keepsake box. 

 ************* STOCKING STUFFERS ************




BEADS BY SHARONCustom beaded jewelry. The bracelets are my favorite. I never take them, off even when I run.  Add a personal mantra for the oft-needed mid-race motivation.

POCKET LATTES: I mean, do I really have to explain this one?

HU CHOCOLATE BARSOrganic, vegan, all natural & most importantly, delicious.  And dark chocolate is good for you.  We all know this.

COLD CASE GEAR THERMAL PHONE CASEWaterproof, drop proof, cold proof;  basically life proof. Winter is coming. Be prepared.

❄️❄️❄️❄️ RWM WINTER GIVEAWAY ❄️❄️❄️❄️



1 Ororo Heated Vest
1 runinrabbit Sisterhood Pullover - size small
1 Rooftree Health Massage Gun
2 $35 Gift Cards from Koala Clip
1 I AM Set from FRÉ
2 Winter Hats from Trailheads
1 Joyful & Amazing Set of Notes to Self Socks
2 1lb bags of Landgrove Coffee
2 customied bracelets from Beading by Sharon
2 Phone Cases from Cold Case Gear
2 HU Chocolate Bars

I could not be more excited about this year's RWM Winter Giveaway.  There are two ways to enter.  First, you can comment below.  Tell me the one person you'd share all these goodies with and why.  Feel free to comment as many times as you have friends.  Because sharing is caring.  Please make sure to provide a way to contact you in the comments (ie. an email or social media handle).  Second, you can head over to RWM on Instagram and enter there.  There, all you'll need to do is tag a friend for sharing and then follow all of the companies that have contributed.  This absolutely insane prize package is valued at over $800 and has something for everyone.  It includes all of the items listed above.  And maybe a couple bonus items not pictured here.  Huge thanks to all of the fabulous companies that donated these items.  Winners will be picked on December 10th.  US Residents only. Good luck!

Listen to this:

Thursday, October 14, 2021

RACE REVIEW:BOSTON MARATHON 2021



"You can be proud of yourself, and want more out of yourself at the same time."
~ Bri Wenke


It was, yet again, another epic Boston Marathon weekend and I will do my best to sum it all up in this post but I can't promise this won't be a long one.  Saddle up.  Here we go.  On Friday, my dear friend Jackie flew up from Virginia for a long overdue visit.  Originally, she had planned to run the marathon but Covid hit and life changed and goals shifted and by the time she needed to buckle down she decided she just didn't want to dive in to another marathon training cycle.  That said, she didn't want to miss out on the festivities and I really wanted to see her so she came up anyway.  Lucky me.  We drove into the city around noon so we could pick up our bibs and shirts and take a stroll through the expo to see what was what.  It was a gorgeous day, the city was hoppin' and we took some time to soak up all things Boston as we walked down to the Hynes Convention Center.  


We couldn't help but stop for some photos around the finish area.  First taking a few selfies and then handing my phone over to a stranger who took pity on us as we tried (and failed) to set the phone up for a timed shot on the street.  Had to be done.  She understood.  She was doing it, too.

The expo scene was relatively tame compared to years past.  We showed proof of vaccination and registration and got in to get our race packets easily.  Kudos to the BAA as everything was incredibly well organized and spaced out.  Honestly, it hadn't really hit me that this race was finally here until the moment when I had my number in hand.  That was the first time I realized that, after multiple cancelations, Boston was actually happening.  That shit was getting real and I was going to do this thing.  It was a pretty powerful moment and I took a beat to let it soak in. 


We walked through the expo and quickly learned that there was not much to it.  Like at all.  I mean, there was a big Sam Adam's Bar set up in the middle but I had no plans to indulge in a cold one two days before the race.  I guess some people do that.  To each his or her own. There were maybe ten booths set up in total, compared to the usual 100+, and we didn't have much interest in any of them so we circled through and then headed out to grab some lunch and head back to the car.  We randomly stopped in at the Boston Public Library Cafe, mainly because it was on the way and we were starving.  But it ended up being a lovely spot to grab lunch.  We enjoyed sandwiches and then Jackie treated me to a maple pancake latte which was easily one of the best things I've ever tasted.


Sufficiently full and equally tired we finally ambled back to the parking garage and zipped back home for some much needed down time.  Other than cross country practice over in Lexington, I had a pretty mellow afternoon.  I got back home around 6:00 and sat and chilled with Jackie as we waited for our friend Erin to roll into town.  Erin, aka Chicken, was also coming in for a visit and to watch the race.  I haven't seen her since February of 2020 and have been in desperate need for a dose of her awesomeness so, needless to say, I was beyond thrilled that she was coming to hang with us.  She landed and got to my house on the later side; basically in time for some pizza and a quick catch up session after which all of us turned in because it was 9:30 which, as we all know, is wicked late.


Saturday morning we got going around 8:00am.  Our plan was to meet up with some friends for a shakeout run and then coffee in Boston.  Jackie was going to start a little early as she needed to get a long run in so we got to our planned meeting spot and she took off while Chicken and I waited for the rest of our group to arrive.  I had one thing and one thing only on my mind and it wasn't running so as soon as everyone got there we set off for an easy three miles then we grabbed our stuff and walked over to Tatte for coffee and food.  Okay, yes, I might have ran.  No, I did.  I ran.  And it was worth it because they make a damn good mocha.  We sat and sipped and caught up with everyone for a while as we waited for Jackie to finish her run and then we said our goodbyes and broke around 11:00.  


We'd parked in a garage under the Time Out Market which is this really cool indoor/outdoor plaza, if you will, with lots of fun restaurants and shops.  Chicken had seen a winter beanie that she wanted at REI earlier that morning so we stopped in and let her convince us that we all needed said beanie.  Which we obviously purchased.  I also grabbed a puzzle for Jeff and Jackie picked up some donuts.  Gotta love the one stop shopping.  We had absolutely nothing on our agenda for the rest of the afternoon.  Once we got back home we basically ate, drank, napped and lounged in various places in my house which was just about all I had the mental capacity for so it was perfect. 


Jeff cooked us a great dinner and we, once again, turned in early.  And then it was Sunday.  But, for the love of Pete, it wasn't even race day yet.  This has got to be the longest weekend of all times.  The Monday marathon is brutal for this reason.  By Sunday I'd had enough resting and was done waiting.  I was ready to get the show on the road.  It was a real tough day to get through.  Chicken and Jackie made plans with friends and family.  I did stupid crap like laundry, walk the dogs, eat, read, clean, probably placed a panic Amazon order, who knows.  I was a little loco at this point; just trying to keep myself distracted.  We did watch the Red Sox beat the Rays.  Easily the highlight of my day.  Beyond that, it was just a painful waiting game until I finally got my race gear together, crawled into bed around 8:00pm and prayed for sleep.


RACE DAY:
I got up at 4:45am so I could have coffee and breakfast while also leaving myself plenty of time to digest it all before the race which was starting, for me, at 9:25.  If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that it doesn't matter what time my dog hears footprints.  If someone is up there is likely a meal involved.  And even if there isn't, it's definitely worth checking to make sure.  So, yes, Clover joined me for breakfast at the crack of dawn and then promptly went back to bed until the rest of the house got up.  I'm not gonna lie, it was nice to have her company, both for the distraction and to settle the nerves a bit.


Around 6:30 I woke Grace up and had her braid my hair.  I made sure she was up for this the night before as she is never up that early by choice.  Lucky for me she was game and had no problem setting me up with the perfect race day braid.  I was very grateful.  She went straight back to bed and later told me she had no recollection of the entire experience.  At 7:00, Jeff drove me into Boston so I could get on the bus out to Hopkinton.  I usually just have him drive me straight out but decided if there was any year to follow BAA protocol, it was this one.  Jeff left me on Charles street at 7:15 and I walked over to get in line for my bus.  After which I immediately learned that bag check was back out of the bus area and all the way over on the other side of the Common.  That was a bummer.  My nice 30 minute cushion was no longer so cushiony.  As I walked to my assigned bag drop area I ran into my friend John Levitt, host of the For the Long Run Podcast, who had a similar bib number so we made the trek together and then joined up to get in line for the bus.  Again.  


It was now 7:45am and the lines for all fifteen or so buses were super long which was a little nerve wracking.  John and I picked one and moved slowly to the front of the line only to be told the bus was full and we'd have to wait for the next one.  Well, all righty.  No choice in the matter so we waited.  A few minutes later another round of buses pulled through and we hopped on and settled into the front seat.  Again, really nice to have a buddy for this process as the situation is stressful enough by yourself.  Even nicer that John could actually talk to me.  Not that I'm knocking Clover but you get it.  It was an uneventful ride out to the start and we got off the bus around 9:00 which left us time to walk the half mile to the line.  All in, between the bag drop and the bus drop, we probably walked about 2 miles which was less than ideal but whatever.  John and I had a good laugh over it and laughing pre-race is nice.  Right around 9:20 we said goodbye and good luck and then I ditched my clothes, put my music in and walked to the start.  


THE RACE:
MILES 1-9
This was my ninth time running Boston so there was nothing new as far as what to expect from the course.  My goal was to break three hours.  Why?  Because it's an incredibly tough challenge that I know is within reach.  Because I ran a 2:59 back in 2018 when I was 43 so why not see if I could do it again at 46?  And, if I'm being totally honest, just because it seemed like a fun, badass goal.  My plan was to try and run the first half at 6:40-6:45 pace.  Then to tackle the hills, which would inevitably slow me down.  And then to use whatever I had left for the last six miles.  This training cycle I'd gone and run the course twice.  I knew the hill section really well.  I was ready.  So, off I went.  No, literally.  There was no official start.  They just told us to go ahead and cross the line whenever we were good to go.  It was very bizarre.  But that was that.  I stepped on the timing mat, started my watch and hoped for the best.  I knew Chicken and Jackie were going to be around mile 9 so I settled in and focused on getting there if only just to have something to look forward to.  These first few miles flew by.  I've done about 50 workouts at this goal pace so my body locked in, no problem.  I worked to stay relaxed and find a rhythm as I made my way toward Natick.  I saw Jackie and Chicken right away and cruised over for a high five which I nailed with Chicken and missed with Jackie so I gave her a thumbs up as I kept going.  


MILES 9-16
I was still in cruise control for this section but my legs started to feel off.  Heavy and tired.  My pace wasn't dropping.  But my legs were making it clear that they were having to work harder than usual to hold on and they weren't happy about it.  I tried to ignore them.  That was really difficult.  I saw Jackie and Chicken again at the half and gave them a worried look while pointing to my quads.  Chicken shook her head "no" and pumped her hands up and down; basically telling me to settle down and keep grinding.  It was exactly what I needed.  I reset and got back on pace, still holding on to a 2:58 finish time. 


MILES 17-21
And then I got to the hills.  As I said, I knew what to expect.  But turns out my legs kind of forgot.  As I climbed the first and longest hill they were like, dude....WTF?  I was like...yea, we practiced this.  Remember?  Just power up and finish.  Like we said.  And they were like... HELL NO, WOMAN.  They were toast.  Feeling heavier and heavier with each step, each muscle screaming at me to pump the breaks and walk.  Well, I've done too many marathons to know that, at least for me, walking is a death sentence.  So I forged ahead.  My pace was now steadily in the 7s...7:22, 7:20, 7:16, 7:32 and then 7:56 for Heartbreak hill.  Effffff.  I mean, clearly my goal time was out the window.  But now I was just willing my legs to move and they weren't cooperating.  I did see a ton of friends and several of my LHS athletes throughout this section which was HUGE.  I made every effort to point, wave and smile, hoping a positive attitude my trick my legs into thinking they were having fun.  That didn't work so well.  



MILES 21-26.2
So, I'm deep in the pain cave now just holding on for dear life.  I know I can finish.  I also know it's going to suck.  I'd stopped looking at my watch by now as my goal time was out the window.  I had no idea what pace I was running.  I didn't care.  I just wanted to be done.  Looking back now, I somehow managed to keep all but one of my final miles in the 7 minute range which if you'd told me I was doing at the time I would have spit my gatorade in your face.  Honestly, I felt like I was crawling.  But the body does what it knows and I've done a shit ton of miles at a really hard pace for the past few months so it was able to tap into that even while I felt like garbage.  It's kind of a minor miracle, really.  I shuffled along, counting out the seconds in my head in an attempt to make the miles go by.  And finally, PRAISE BE, I was turning onto Boylston street which is just totally surreal no matter what state you're in. You can see the finish.  The crowds are going wild.  Runners are freaking out in all sorts of ways.  It's beautiful chaos and such a privilege to be a part of.  


I haven't been this happy to be done with a marathon in quite some time.  I gave everything I had left to get myself to the finish and crossed the line in three hours, eight minutes and twenty seconds.  It is a time I can now say I'm incredibly satisfied with given how things played out.  I hobbled through the finish chute and texted Jeff who was going to meet me back in the Commons with Rosie and Grace.  I was in a big fat daze, happy, sad, in pain, shocked, confused; all the feels, I had them.  I found my family by the ice cream truck, where we always meet post-Boston and sadly was unable to enjoy a cone as my body was like...don't you dare even try.  That made me sad.  Soft serve is my favorite.  Rosie snapped a photo of me smiling, which I guess I was able to do although I don't really remember this moment.  Then they picked me up and we made our way to the parking garage.  Easily one of the toughest walks ever.  


So, yea, I was bummed.  I know I have another sub-3 in me.  But despite all my training, my legs had their own agenda on Monday.  And ultimately they called the shots.  And, yea, I'm also I'm proud.  Of the work.  Of the fight.  And of the finish.  And finally, yes, I do want more out of myself.  And I'm good with that.  Because isn't wanting more kind of what it's all about?  Most importantly, though, I'm grateful.  To my family, my friends, my teammates, my coach, to everyone who supported me on this journey.  Because it is definitely not a one woman show.  You literally can't go it alone.  Well,  I can't.  And then, of course, to my body, which somehow manages to keep plugging along in spite of all that I ask it to do.  Which is a lot.  But we're not quite done yet.  Sorry.  Not sorry.  More on that later.  Boston, I love ya!  Don't ever change.  

Listen to this:
Run Run by Shenseea

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

RWR:MEET LORELEI-RUNNER & MUSICIAN

"Music is also so versatile and it’s everywhere.  Everyone loves music.  Some more than others, but everyone can connect to it in some way or another even if you don’t really understand it, which I think is very powerful." 
~ Lorelei Marcell


I always love a good RWR profile but I am really fired up about this one, in particular.  She is the beautiful, talented, athletic, all around awesome gal, Lorelei Marcell.  And if you don't know her name yet, my guess is you soon will.  I met her when she joined my XC team as a Freshman at Lexington High School.  I won't tell you about the time she, along with her sister and two best friends, overslept and missed the bus to a very important invitational, but if you see her ask her about it.  It's a good one.  And, no, I will never let them live that one down.  Okay, seriously, though.  She was a hard-working, driven, feisty athlete both on the trail and as a member of the mid-distance crew on the track.  What's incredible is that at the same time she was grinding it out as a runner, she was working equally hard as a musician, something I didn't learn about until her later years on the team.  Which honestly speaks volumes about her as she was already well into building her music career while I was coaching her and not only did she say almost nothing about it but she never let that aspect of her life interfere with her commitment to the XC and track teams.  Given how much she was juggling and how she was able to give one hundred percent to all of it, let's just say I could not be more impressed.  As far as the music piece of her life, here's a bit more in her own words:

"I got into music at a super early age.  It’s always been something I was drawn to in so many aspects.  It started with a love for singing, but it’s turned into so much more, such as performing, writing, music theory, playing, etc. When I was about 13.... I began writing music with Shannon McAuthor, a songwriter based in Nashville, and this is where my love for songwriting began.  I’ve only been growing since but I am so thankful I had such a grounding start to my journey."

She recently moved out to California to focus solely on her music career.  And she is currently on a fall tour as the opening act for Indie Pop band, Transviolet.  Just....really??  She's freaking doing it.  Making it happen.  I am so thrilled for her.  And so excited to follow along as she builds what I am sure will be an insanely successful career as a musician.  Without further ado, let's meet Lorelei Marcell, a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.


RUNNERSWHOROCK:LORELEI MARCELL


Name: Lorelei Marcell
Where you're from: Lexington, MA
Where you reside now: Los Angeles - West Hollywood  
Age: 18 (about to be 19!)
Occupation: Musician/Artist  
Blog/website: loreleimarcell.com 

Post-XC meet in Lex

ON RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running?
Running.  Ah.  Besides my music and my art, it is one of the things I am most passionate about and one of the things I feel most connected to.  It makes me feel alive and it is always there for me (as cheesy as that sounds.)  It’s something you can do for 5 minutes or 3 hours, and it still leaves you feeling better than you did before.  It gives me a chance to connect with mind and my body and separate myself from life for a bit.  I find that I bond with runners in a similar way to how I bond with musicians.  We understand the struggles that follow, we understand the reward that follows, and lastly we can understand the beauty in watching yourself become better. 

What do you love most about music?
I love music for so many reasons.  It’s my friend, my partner, my annoying sister, you get the point.  But the most important thing about it is it’s always there in times of discomfort, or grief.  When I feel alone, it is the first thing I turn to ALWAYS.  Music is also so versatile, and it’s everywhere.  Everyone loves music.  Some more than others, but everyone can connect to it in some way or another even if you don’t really understand it, which I think is very powerful.  I also love music because no idea is a bad idea.  That’s something I’ve spent a long time learning as an artist!  I used to get so wrapped up in thinking I had to fit a mold, but that is far from the truth.  Overall, music makes me feel free and loved.  Both reasons why running and music are truly the perfect pair. 

LORELEI, LIVE

LORELEI'S FAVORITES:
Band (current, all time or both): 
All time: Hozier 
Current: Marc E. Bassy

Album (current, all time or both): 
All time: Case study 01 by Danile Caesar
Current: Deadpan Love by Cautious Clay 

Race venue: Probably Hayward Field. I’ve never run/been there, however after watching the Olympic track trials on tv I’m hooked. I have some friends who got to run there this past year as well, so that was super cool. 
Music venue: House of Blues, Boston. On the tour I’m currently on, however, probably the Constellation Room in Santa Ana.  But the House of Blues is my dream place to perform!  
Race distance: 5k
Show you've seen live: Hozier, Gary Clark Junior, Transviolet, Macklemore, Post Malone, Kelly Clarkson, Jacob Collier, Tod Rundgren
Ice cream flavor: Coco Joel from Rancatores!





THIS OR THAT?
Sweet or salty? Sweet!
Live or recorded? Live! All the way
Coffee or tea? Coffee 100% 
Summer or winter? Fall. (But if I had to chose, summer)

 






MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? Rex Orange County - Dying to see him live. 
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? The Beatles or the Mamas and the Papas 
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Hozier - I’d love to talk about how he writes and forms lyrics. 
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? The band Arizona.  I absolutely love their music for long runs! 

THE ARTIST, HOZIER

LAST ONE:
Today, I feel like…. (fill in the blank): I need another 10 hours of sleep!



Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both:
1. Same as - Marc E. Bassy, Mozzy
2. Freaking out - Arizona 
3. Drove you away - Fly by Midnight 
4. Door - Caroline Polachek 
5. Jeremiah - Brockhampton 

Last 5 Songs you listened to today:
1. Angel baby - Troye Sivan 
2. Decade of hits (Matt Nathanson) 
3. Simple times - Kacey Musgraves 
4. If this was a movie - Kacey Musgraves
5. Pamela - Live, TOTO



Listen to this:
Human Nature - Lorelei Marcell

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

RACE REVIEW:FALMOUTH ROAD RACE

"If you want to run fast. You gotta run fast."
~ Steve McKenna

Last Sunday I lined up (safely and wearing a mask) with about 6,000 runners for the 
49th Annual Falmouth Road Race.  It is a huge event; well known throughout the running community as one of the top races of the year for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, the amazing location, enthusiastic spectators and solid cash prizes for pro and masters athletes who place.  Clearly, they were not able to have an in-person event in 2020.  That said, I did sign up and run it virtually on my own which gave me a guaranteed entry into the 2021 race.  I've always had this one on my bucket list but have never been able to get in so I was super fired up that I would get to experience it live this summer.  It should be noted that the size of the field was paired down from it's usual 11,000+ and all the necessary Covid precautions were put in place to ensure a safe experience.  Having never done it before, I have nothing to compare it to but even with all the security measures in place, it did not disappoint.  My friend and running partner, Steve, has family down in Falmouth and has been racing it for the last 22 years with various members of his crew.  He has talked it up every summer since I've known him and when he found out that I'd managed to get in he promptly invited me to join in on the McKenna family festivities that take place throughout the weekend. Sign. Me. Up.  About a month before the race I received an email from the pro athlete manager who let me know that I'd been identified as one of the top ten Masters (age 40+) in the field and thus was invited to participate in the elite start so that I'd be in a position to earn the Masters’ prize awards.  Ummm okay??  Obviously I couldn't say no to this but at the same time it made things just a wee bit more intense.  Like, I started getting nervous on the spot and continued to be nervous daily right up until I lined up to take off.  That's a lot of time being nervous.  My coach told me to try and relax.  That "being seeded just makes it easier to run fast without fighting the masses."  So, I did my best to chill out.  And in the meantime I focused on the fact that I'm currently training for Boston and had a lot of other work to do.  And this helped.  A little.  This and having a lot of good friends who also told me to calm down because it was going to be fine.  And then, boom, it was August 14th and time to head down to Falmouth.  Giddy.  Up.  


I got to the expo around 1:00, grabbed my number and my commemorative mug, met up with Steve and geeked out a little bit with some Falmouth-themed photos.  How could I not?  He's a good friend, isn't he?  I spent some time meeting new people and chatting with friends from home who were also in town to race including the ever sweet and sassy Anoush who always looks good in pictures, damn her.


After the expo, Steve and I grabbed some lunch and then went over to the track at Falmouth High School to watch the high school and professional men's and women's mile races.  The temp was probably in the 80s but with the humidity it felt like we were standing in an oven.  The fact that these athletes could turn it on and race their brains out in this weather just totally blows my mind.  A couple hours later, having sweated through my entire outfit, we made our way back to Steve's aunt's house where we would be spending the night.  


My mantra for training these past few weeks has been GET GRITTY so I thought it only appropriate to sport my GRIT top for the race.  I set everything out and then sat my ass down and didn't move for a few hours as I was totally drained from the sun.  As I vegged out the rest of Steve's friends arrived in various groups and by the time I made it back downstairs to be social we had a full house consisting of Steve, his girlfriend Ashton, Frankie, Courtney, Cook, Lauren and Ashleigh (five of his friends from URI) and me.  Steve's parents cooked us dinner, bless them, and we all ate and relaxed before turning in for the evening around 9:30.  Well, okay, I turned in.  The rest of them, all significantly younger than me, stayed up until normal human bedtime.  No idea when that is.  


I woke up around 5:45 to an absolutely gorgeous morning.  The humidity had dropped substantially which was such a gift.  The above photo is the view from Steve's Aunt's backyard.  Stunning.  Mrs. McKenna and Ashton had gotten up earlier and made a Dunkin' run for those of us who were racing.  I mean, just....wow.  I really have no words.  Absolute rock stars.  Both of them.  The rest of the crew started waking up and coming out from all the various crevices of the house and then around 6:30 we all made our way outside to the lawn for the traditional pre-race photo.


After this we hopped on Steve's cousin's boat and headed over to Woods Hole where the race would be starting.  This was also such a treat first because it was ridiculously cool to arrive by boat but also because driving in by car would have been virtually impossible and we would have had to trek pretty far on foot to get to the start if we hadn't had this option.  So, cousin Max, too, is a total rock star.


Now it was around 6:45am and we walked over to the tent to drop bags and hang out until the race began.  There were quite a few professional athletes sitting under the tent and I tried hard to act cool and unphased which I'm one hundred percent sure I failed at.  Story of my life.  I left on my own to get a warmup in at 8:00 and then got back and made some last minute adjustments to my gear before walking over to the line around 8:40.  We got a motivational speech from the great Molly Seidel and a fantastic rendition of the National Anthem and then promptly at 8:50 the elite women were off.


THE RACE
MILES 1-3 (6:11, 6:14, 6:15)
As you can see from the above photo (where you actually can not see me) I was nestled in behind the majority of these women for obvious reasons, the main one being that they would be running miles in the five minute range and I would not.  But, still.  I felt pretty badass just being around them for those first twenty seconds or so.  By the time we got started the temp had risen substantially and the sun was shining at full steam.  Again, the humidity was nowhere near where it had been for the previous two days but it was still pretty damn hot which really was no big surprise.  Summer running at its finest.  Miles one through three on this course are rolling hills.  Nothing too brutal but challenging nonetheless.  In a big race like this it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of everything and start too fast but also dangerous as the hills are an added force to be reckoned with and flying up them can easily bite you in the ass at the end.  I'd decided, based on the advice of my coach, to put a goal time aside and just go for it as the heat and the difficulty of the course made pacing virtually impossible.  Thus, I tried to ride things out by feel and just focused on the women in front of and around me who looked like they were running at a similar effort.  I kept Steve's ever solid advice in the back of my mind as I worked. "If you want to run fast" he often tells me, "you gotta run fast."  I know.  Revolutionary.  I didn't know the above splits until after the race as I really didn't check my watch but this pace was right about where I've been for my workouts so my body went to what it could handle naturally which I was pleased about.


MILES 4 & 5 (6:18, 6:23)
In addition to throwing time out the window, I was also try my damndest to have fun.  This was not hard to do as the crowds on the streets were fantastic; holding out hoses for us to run under, handing out water and waving signs as we went by.  I'm smiling like this in almost every single one of my race photos so mission accomplished on the whole fun thing.  Miles four and five were along the water.  Beautiful.  But totally exposed.  And hot as blazes.  Like "I could feel my skin burning as I ran" hot.  Steve's family was out at mile 5 which was a much needed boost as I was starting to really feel the impact of the heat by then.  As you can see, I consciously pulled it back a little from an effort standpoint as I was worried that I wouldn't be able to hold on until the finish at the pace I'd been going for the first few miles.  My sweet friends Wendy and Ali were right around mile 6 which almost made me cry as I was really hurting by then and just so ridiculously happy to see them.  I high fived both of them and got myself ready for the final hill.   That's right, my friends.  They put a mountain in the middle of mile six which we had to climb before rolling down to the finish.


MILES 6 & 7 (6:21, 6:18))
Okay, so this is one race photo when I wasn't smiling.  For obvious reasons.  Mainly that I was dying.  This hill was no joke.  And as I climbed, I was getting passed left and right by the elite men's field which had taken off ten minutes behind us. I felt like I was the slow car driving in the left lane and there was nothing I could do about it other than move out of their way which was super awkward as I didn't know which side they'd be passing me on.  All the while, I knew the finish was right after this monster so I gave it everything I had as I powered up and over.   After what felt like an hour but was likely about 30 seconds, I was finally on the other side and flying down toward the finish.  And then, praise be, it was over.


Pain, joy, exhaustion, relief.  All of those feelings and more coursed through my body as I walked gingerly through the finish chute.  I immediately downed two bottles of water and still felt like I had sandpaper in my mouth.  I got to the tent and the volunteers were handing out cold towels.  OMG.  Nothing has ever felt better than this.  I grabbed my bag and sat with the towel on my head letting it drip cold water down my entire body.  I took my phone out and read a text from my coach: "Great job. You got second Masters.  No shame in finishing behind a Kenyan woman who crushed the entire field.  Really solid race."  Well, I'll be damned.  I was the second female master and came in behind (ehh hmm, far behind) the great Edna Kiplagat who, at age 41, won the whole freaking race.  I'll happily take that.  I hadn't known what to expect but I did know that I'd been putting in a lot of miles and had some really good workouts over the past few weeks so I was pleased to see all of this was paying off.  Honestly, I'd just set out to run hard and have fun and I'd accomplished both of these goals so I was more than thrilled.  It didn't hurt that I'd spent the last 24 hours with an amazing group of people who I am now pleased to call friends.  That said, I didn't go to URI as this entire crew did so they may have to vote on whether or not they will let me in.  All kidding aside, I'm 46, I'm still grinding and I'm still getting results.  I see no reason to stop any time soon.  Especially when I'm having such a blast doing it.  Up next?  Boston.  Stay tuned!


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