Tuesday, February 2, 2021

FLOAT ON

"And we'll all float on, alright
Already, we'll all float on, alright
Don't worry, even if things end up a bit
Too heavy, we'll all float on, alright"
~ Modest Mouse, 'Float On'

In a normal year, winter training is tough.  Getting out in the morning and battling the cold and dark are not my favorite. But when there is a spring race on the horizon, there is that tiny light at the end of the tunnel which is usually just enough to keep me somewhat motivated.  Then there's winter training during a pandemic.  Equally as dark and cold but with no tiny light.  And that about sums it up.  Last year, as a way to stay focused and challenged, I set a few new and different goals that I knew I could safely pursue given the Covid situation including a 50K, a 50 miler and an eight hour run challenge, all virtual, of course.  

w/ Anoush

It was next level crazy as far as training went and given the lack of in-person races available I welcomed the opportunity to test out the world of ultra running.  I would even venture to say I had fun with it.  Most of the time.  I did learn that my 45 year old body can handle some seriously high mileage which I was pretty surprised and excited about.  Could be good.  Could be very bad.  Depends what day you ask me.  Having completed my last big ultra in mid-December, I rolled into the holiday season feeling, at least as far as running goes, physically and mentally fulfilled and ready for a much needed break.  At the same time, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell I was going to focus on come 2021 as I knew things would not be changing much during the first half of the year and that I still had no races on the calendar for the foreseeable future.  I wasn't panicking, mind you.  But, I know myself.  I thrive on routine.  I like to have something to work towards.  The more difficult the better.  And I don't really do "down time". 

w/ McKenna

So, I dug around and found a few new run challenges that I could sink my teeth into come January hoping that they would keep me relatively eager to train through the darkest days of winter.  If you have done any digging yourself, you know that there is no shortage of virtual running and/or general movement challenges out there right now.  Some are pretty basic.  Like the BITR Winter Grit Challenge and the Picky Bars 30 for 30 team challenge which were specifically designed to help those of us who need something "exciting" to get through the month of January.  I signed up for both.  In the former, I dove in head first and chose the UNHINGED option (run over 300 miles for the month), and in the latter I just agreed to move physically in some way for thirty minutes every single day of Jan.  I also went ahead and signed up for the Cannonball Run Challenge which is a bit more involved.  I have one year (September 2020 through August 2021) to run from Manhattan to California which is 2,966 miles.  Pro-runner Mike Wardian dreamed this one up as way to promote mental and physical health during Covid and to raise awareness and funds for the Run With Rivs campaign, an effort that I have been following and trying to support regularly through my training.  So, this was kind of a no brainer for me.  In case you're curious, I am currently 1,428.83 miles into my virtual trek which puts me in Nebraska.  

w/ Grace

I won't lie and tell you I haven't gotten a little burnt out now and then.  I have.  I mentioned this to my coach last week.  In so many words I told him I was feeling mentally and physically taxed.  And for what?  I've been putting in max effort from a mileage standpoint, filling the proverbial well, if you will.  But when it was all said and done, there would be no reason to tap it.  Which kind of bummed me out.  Then I gave it a little more thought - this whole virtual challenge thing and why I'm doing it.  I have zero social life right now.  Not that I was an every day rager pre-Covid.  But still.  I have very little going on beyond the boundaries of my house.  Except for running.  And here's the thing.  I have a lot of friends who run.  And most of them are up for joining me for any number of miles on any given day.  I love my husband and kids but a lack of social interaction outside of the family, at least for me, can be tough.  I'm an extrovert.  I need that additional connection.  Thankfully, I can still connect with some friends safely while also doing what I love.  And that has been awesome.  Like "worth going for a second run in the afternoon because I get to meet up with a friend and have an adult conversation" awesome.  Long runs, short runs, good runs and bad ones.  These are my people and they are always there for me.  And maybe, subconsciously, when I signed up for all of these challenges, I did it for this more than anything else.

w/ Pauline

The bottom line is this.  I love to run and I need it now more than ever to get through my day to day life.  What I miss most about racing is being with the running community, supporting my peers and more often than not, working together to reach big goals.  I still have those goals.  I just don't have the races.  As my coach recently put it, when you're out at sea, just because you can't see land doesn't mean it isn't there.  So, yes, I'm a bit adrift. We all are in our own way.  But, at least I'm floating along with some really cool people who love to do what I do.  I'll happily take that for now.  

w/ the Lex Run Club

Listen to this:
Things Changed - The Sunshine State

Friday, January 22, 2021

RWR:MEET DIANE NUKURI, PRO ATHLETE FOR ASICS

"I am always happy while listening to music."
~ Diane Nukuri


Today I am so excited to introduce you to Diane Nukuri, a pro runner for Asics. Originally from Burundi, Diane competed in her first Olympics at age 15.  Let's just pause for a second and let that soak in.  My own girls are 13 and 16 and it's really hard for me to imagine sending them off to compete on a world stage at this point in their lives.  So, yeah, it kind of blows me away that she ran for her country at that age.  She started running to and from her school when she was very young.  At 14, someone suggested that she enter a 5,000m race.  She admittedly didn't know much about racing but saw it as a way to travel and try something new.  Little did she know how far her running would actually take her.  After competing in the 2000 Olympics for Burundi, she fled to Canada seeking asylum from the civil war that was unfolding in her country.  She lived with relatives, attended school, learned English and started running competitively, eventually landing at the University of Iowa for both for her studies and to compete.  She ran the marathon in the 2012 Olympics where she set her second Burundian National Record, besting her own previous time with a 2:30:13.  She has since broken that record yet again, running a 2:27:50 in London in 2015.  In fact, in addition to competing in three Olympic games, her third in 2016, Nukuri is currently the Burundian record-holder in the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, half marathon and the marathon.  I won't go into detail on her stats but you can see them all here if you want the nitty gritty.  Diane became a U.S. citizen in 2017 and is now eligible to compete internationally for the United States.  Her story is an incredible one.  If you have time, I highly recommend listening to her on the I'll Have Another podcast where tells a lot of it in great detail.  When I reached out to Diane to ask if she was a music fan she responded right away telling me, yes she does love music, but that at the moment she was really into African music.  Even better, I told her, as I'd love to share some of her favorite African music with the RWM readers.  To my good fortune she agreed to do this interview and I can't thank her enough for taking the time out of her busy schedule to give us her running and music story.  So, without further ado, let's meet Diane, a runner who rocks.


RWR:MEET DIANE NUKURI

Name:Diane Nukuri
Where you're from:originally from Burundi
Age:36
Occupation:Professional Athlete for Asics
Where you reside now:Flagstaff, Arizona


ON RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running?
I love how I feel after running. Whether I have a good or a bad run I always feel productive. I feel free and grateful to be alive while I still do what I love the most.

What do you love most about music? 
It can change my mood in one second and I am always happy while listening to music. I listen to music while I cook, clean, shower, run etc.


DIANE'S FAVORITES:
Band (current, all time or both): Boys2Men
Album (current, all time or both): 'Falling Into You' by Celine Dion
Race venue: New York City, close second Cape Cod, Falmouth
Music venue: Flagstaff Orpheum Theater
Race distance: Half Marathon
Show you've seen live: Jorge Ben Juor and other artists performing at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Ice cream flavor: German Chocolate Ice Cream



THIS OR THAT?
Sweet or salty? Salty
Live or recorded? Live
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Summer or winter? Summer






MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could?
Celine Dion
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? Whitney Houston
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Rihanna (she seems sweet and fun)
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Diamond Platnumz (Tanzanian recording artist) or Beyoncé (I love her energy)

Diamond Platinumz feat. Koffi Olomide 

LAST ONE:
Today, I feel like (fill in the blank):
Strong. I just did a hilly easy 13 miles with Lindsay Flanagan at Beaver Creek, Sedona but could use a nap.


Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both?
1. Waah! by Diamond Platnumz feat. Koffee Olomide
2. Jeje by Diamond Platnumz
3. Black Is King by Beyoncé
4. Made For Now by Janet Jackson feat. Daddy Yankee
5. Beautiful by Meddy feat. Sat-B


Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
1. Poupette by King James (Rwandese artist)
2. My Love Is Your love by Whitney Houston
3. S’il suffisait d’aimer by Celine Dion
4. In Case You Didn’t Know by Brett Young
5. Baby by JoeBoy




Listen to this:
Waah! - Diamond Platnumz feat. Koffee Olomide

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 YEAR IN REVIEW


Dear RWM Readers,
As I went through and rounded up some of my more memorable moments from 2020, I couldn't help but appreciate the fact that some great stuff happened despite the overall shittiness of the year.  And then of course, there was all of the new music that came out.  Which, to our good fortune, is pretty much always a sure thing.  At the start of the year, I got to watch my daughter compete with her high school gymnastics team for the first time.  This was a totally new experience for her and I loved watching her grow as an athlete as she tackled some new challenges in the sport.  In February, I was lucky enough to get down to Atlanta to watch the Olympic marathon trials and hang with my Oiselle teammates before the world shut down due to Covid.  That was pretty amazing.  Then?  Well, school went remote for my girls, LHS spring track was canceled and I, if I'm being honest, I didn't have a hell of a lot else going on.  So, I started running.  Or, I should say, running more.  Like, a lot more.  First, I decided to try a 50K.  For fun.  And when that went well I figured I might as well go ahead with a 50 miler.  I did this one to raise funds for Team With a Vision, an organization that does so much to support those who are visually impaired; a group of individuals who's lives have become significantly more challenging due to the virus and all of the associated restrictions.  After that, my girls and I coasted through the summer, Rosie working and doing gymnastics and Grace, much to her dismay, not really doing much of anything.  I think her exact words at the end of the summer were, "Mom, if you ask me to go on another freaking hike with you I will literally lose my mind."  LOTS of mom and Grace time.  Clearly.  Once September rolled around the girls got back into a rhythm with school and sports and while everything was different they embraced whatever was offered to them as a welcome change from the summer doldrums.  Thankfully, I got to coach the Lex girls for a modified fall XC season and even though it was incredibly challenging and less than ideal from a logistics standpoint, we made it work and it was one hundred percent worth it.  In November, we enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving with just the four of us for the first time in years and then Rosie turned 16, got her learner's permit and started driving.  So many emotions there.  Finally, I closed out the year with a crazy eight hour run challenge in some really tough weather; perhaps one of my most difficult races to date.  As far as next year goes?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I gotta believe there is a light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel for all of us.  For now, all I can do is hug my kids, send virtual love to the rest of my family and friends and hope for the best.  If you can believe it (I can't), this RWM blog has been going steady for ten years now.  I have found that sharing these stories, both my own and those of others, keeps me sane and somewhat grounded.  This year, especially.  So, I can't thank you enough for following along in whatever way that you do.  Here's to new beginnings and brighter days in 2021.  Happy New Year to all of you!

Rock on, 


RUNNING WITH MUSIC 2020

Watched Rosie compete for her high school gymnastics team
JANUARY ALBUM:ELBOW-GIANTS OF ALL SIZES
JANUARY SONG:HIGH - FITNESS

Went to the 2020 Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta
FEBRUARY SONG:GREY - TWO FEET
FEBRUARY ALBUM:THIN MIND - WOLF PARADE

Started quarantine & Rosie started running w/ me for the first time ever
MARCH SONG:RUN - EMIKA
MARCH ALBUM:NO ONE ELSE CAN WEAR YOUR CROWN - OH WONDER

APRIL SONG:THE END - MISTERWIVES
ALBUM:HEALER - GROUPLOVE

Ran the Sugar Badger Virtual 50 Miler (for TeamWithAVision)
MAY SONG:NOW I'M IN IT - HAIM
MAY ALBUM:ANGEL MINERS & THE LIGHTENING RAIDERS - AWOLNATION

Got the hell out of Dodge with my girls (to the in-laws)
JUNE SONG:OKAY? - THE ROYAL FOUNDRY
JUNE ALBUM:WARNINGS - I BREAK HORSES

Ran many miles for the #RunWithRivs campaign
JULY SONG:BIG LOVE - LOUIS THE CHILD
JULY ALBUM:WOMEN IN MUSIC PTIII - HAIM

Spent some (more) quality time w/ the family up on the North Shore
AUGUST SONG:BEG - JIM OUMA
AUGUST ALBUM: RECOVER - THE NAKED & FAMOUS

Began our modified & very bizarre fall XC season at LHS
SEPTEMBER SONG:MY POWER - CHIKA
SEPTEMBER ALBUM:IMPLODING THE MIRAGE

Raced the Mine Falls 50K in NH
OCTOBER SONG:NOTE TO SELF - JIM-E STACK
OCTOBER ALBUM:FREE LOVE - SYLVAN ESSO

Rosie turned 16 and got her learner's permit. What??
NOVEMBER SONG:AIR I BREATH - SOPHIE BLAIR
NOVEMBER ALBUM:DREAMLAND - GLASS ANIMALS

'Raced' the Virtual Frosty Looper 8 Hour Challenge (48.75 miles)
DECEMBER SONG:SOLID GOLD - SHEPPARD
DECEMBER ALBUM:HARK! - ANDREW BIRD


2020 DAILY SONGS

Monday, December 21, 2020

RACE REVIEW:VIRTUAL FROSTY LOOPER

"Road shimmer
Wiggling the vision
Heat heat waves
I'm swimming in a mirror"
~ 'Heatwave', Glass Animals


On Saturday I took on the Frosty Looper - 8 Hour Challenge. This was the first time I've tackled an event of this kind and despite the fact that I trained for it by running a shit ton of miles, I really didn't know what to expect.  In a nutshell, I would be completing as many 3.75 mile laps as I could in an eight hour window.  Originally, the race was supposed to take place in New Jersey and when I signed up I thought, or more accurately, hoped that I'd be doing it in person.  As the race got closer and things were actually getting worse, as far as Covid goes, I realized that driving to NJ and staying in a hotel for a race would not work if I was going to see my family for the holidays.  I reached out to the race director and told him that I was sad to miss it but that it was no longer in the cards for me.  He let me know he understood and told me that I could still run it virtually and submit my results but that I would not be eligible for awards.  A bummer but totally fair.  Not that I was assuming I'd place, but it's always fun to have something to shoot for when you decide to take these things on.  Since I'd been training for this for months there was no question for me as to whether or not I'd be doing it, even if I had to do it on my own.  If anything, it was a test of my fitness and mental fortitude and I was "excited" to see what I could do.  Unfortunately, after Thanksgiving the Covid situation continued to get worse and just a few days before the event was set to take place, the state of NJ told the race director that he could not hold the race in person.  I'm guessing that he knew it was bound to get called, but it was still a blow after all the work his team had done to make this thing happen safely.  Thus, the 2020 Looper was officially postponed to 2021 and the 2020 race was now virtual, if you so desired.  The upside here being that I was now back in as an official entrant since all of us were doing it as a solo effort.  So, with just a few days to go until race day, I tried to get my head back in the game and to get myself fired up for this ridiculous virtual adventure.  And then, the Thursday before race day, we had a full blown blizzard here in the Boston area.  We got over a foot of snow and the temps dropped below freezing where they were predicted to stay for the foreseeable future.  Classic Murphy's law.  Sure, Rebecca, you can do a virtual race but we gotta make it legit by throwing you the worst possible weather and road conditions in the books.  Now, you can go for it!  Oh, and have fun out there!


As always, I laid out all my gear the night before the race.  My coach and I talked about throwing in things like extra shoes and socks since there would be snow on the ground and my feet would likely get wet.  I also threw in an entire change of clothes as it was going to be 10º at 7:30am when were allowed to start and closer to 30º at 3:30 when we were required to call it.  Basically, if I thought I might need it, I threw it in the pile.  I had driven a bunch of routes earlier in the day and picked the best possible option given the conditions.  There would be no sidewalks but one of the roads had a pretty solid lip that I could stay in for the way out and then on the way back I'd be on a quieter road and just hope that drivers would give me space.  The whole thing was now a bit daunting in a way I wasn't really prepared for, but I guess that's always bound to happen so I just tried to take it in stride while also laughing a bit about the craziness of it all.  


I continued laughing the next morning as I got up and checked the weather.  Note the "feels like" temp.  That's right.  2º.  Even my dogs didn't want to go outside.  And I didn't blame them.  Okay, so I had a brief moment with myself at this point when I questioned whether this was a bad idea.  Which it decidedly was.  But I was doing it anyway.  Obvs.


Clover didn't really understand what was going on and began nudging me as she thought I was dressed to take her out.  No buddy, I explained, it's not going to be me this morning.  I gotta go do a thing.  To which she responded with more nudging and some whining.  She's good at what she does.  I won't lie and tell you I didn't want to just grab a second cup and cuddle up with her in my bed.  I wanted that real bad.  I had to get out of the house pronto or I wouldn't be going.  


I grabbed my bin of crap and made my way out to my car.  We live on a significant hill and I was not willing to go up this beast every lap.  Thus, I would be parking down at the train station and running my loop from there, using the parking lot as my pit, if you will, for breaks and to grab fuel and whatever else I might need.  I turned the music up loud in an attempt to distract myself from how cold I was and to drown out my thoughts in general.  The song that came on for my three minute drive down to the station was "Heatwave" by Glass Animals.  Ironic, no?  But also a great cut.  I turned it up louder.  This shit was happening.  Ready or not.

THE RACE
Laps 1-3
I wish I had a photo of the start for you.  Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning and as I got into my first lap and the sun began to come up I couldn't help but be grateful to be outside doing what I love.  There was definitely some photogenic moments during those first three laps, which totally flew by, with the sun shining through the trees and on the snow.  But, my hands were too damn cold to deal with my phone.  I had worn a scarf down to the station and ended up doing the first 15 miles in it.  I've never run in a scarf.  It was that cold.  The photo above was taken a little before 2:00pm by my daughter.  Not quite the same as first light but you get the idea.


LAPS 3-6
When I rolled in from my third lap my buddy and run wingman, Steve McK, was bundled up and waiting to do the fourth lap with me.  He's a really good friend.  I grabbed some fluids before we started and then we were off.  He was fresh out of the car and ready to rock so my pace picked up a bit to match his.  He was also very chatty which was a great distraction so I just went into cruise control next to him or behind him if the street was narrow.  He threw out a gem of a "would you rather".  It was would you rather have no cell phone ever available to you again or no condiments for your food.  It was an easy answer for me as I'm not a big condiments person but it was a tough one for him as he truly can't imagine life without them.  We had a nice lengthy debate about and before we knew it we were back to the start.  He bade me goodbye and passed the wingman baton off to my friend, Anoush, who was ready to run the next three laps with me.  She, too, is a really good friend.  Once again, we set off and went right into story telling mode, something she is exceptionally good at.  We talked all things dating, roommates, family and more.  She's significantly younger than me and her life is substantially more interesting at the moment so I was happy to listen and provide comments and feedback when needed.  After our second lap she noted that she was starting to feel our run in her legs to which I responded "Me, too.  Shhhhh."  And then we kept going.  


Laps 7-10
I dropped Anoush off after lap 6 and she told me she'd come back to check on me and run a bit more in a couple hours.  This is about when it set in that I was wicked tired and not even close to being done.  I mean, I'd run 22.5 miles at this point.  So, it made sense that I was feeling it.  But it was only 11:30am so my 3:30 finish time seemed ridiculously far away.  I was a little concerned.  And yet, there was no turning back so I just put my Jaybirds in, turned up the music and took off for lap 7.  As I was finishing this lap I noticed a person in the parking lot waving next to their car.  As I got closer I realized it was one of my former LHS runners, Maya B-T, who had noticed I was doing laps on Strava and kindly tracked me down to see how it was going and join me for a round.  It was such an unexpected and nice surprise.  I'm sure she could tell how I was feeling and she just jumped right into easy conversation, doing most of the talking as I listened and plodded along with her.  We caught up on all things college, lacrosse, running and family and before I knew it we were rolling into the pit.  I said goodbye, put my music back on and tried to get going quickly so I didn't think about how tired I was.  Now I was on autopilot; one foot in front of the other.  No idea what time it was.  No idea how many miles I'd done.  By the time I finished my 10th lap the insides of my shoulders were hurting which I knew was due to dehydration.  I had taken fluids at each stop I'd made but clearly not enough.  I now realized that the 3.75 gap between each stop was just too long of a spread to go without drinking.  I hadn't carried my bottles because I didn't think I'd need them.  This was a big mistake.  And I would pay for it on the back side.  


Laps 11-13
Things were touch and go now.  I didn't really know what to do other than just f***ing run.  My stomach was a mess, likely because of how dehydrated I was.  Or, maybe just because I'd done 30 something miles at a decent clip and it was straight up angry.  Probably both.  I texted Anoush and let her know that I needed to finish by myself.  I just didn't have the mental energy to be with someone as I ran and I really needed my music to distract me from how exhausted I was.  After the 11th lap I decided to change my shoes.  My feet had been hurting and I thought maybe some extra cushion would provide some relief.  This was also a big mistake.  After about a half of a mile in them they felt stupidly heavy and I felt like I was having to work harder in them which is really not what I'd wanted from the change up.  All I could think about for those 3.75 miles was how badly I wanted those shoes off my feet.  That might of been my worst lap.  When I rolled in after the 12th lap my husband was there with my girls.  Oh my, how I was hurting.  It was so nice to see them if only for the moral support.  But I was really struggling.  My goal had been to run at least 50 miles and in order to do this I needed to get through lap 14.  The rules stated that we were required to finish with a full lap so if I got to 3:00pm and couldn't get my last one done in 30 minutes I wouldn't be able to count it.  At this point, I probably could have gotten two more laps in before 3:30pm if I hustled.  Ha.  There would be no hustle.  I knew I would not be able to get it done in the shoes I'd changed into and so I decided to take the time to switch them back and to stop and drink more which wasted a lot of time because, as I said, no hustle.  And by the time I took off for lap 13 I knew it would be all I could do in our allotted time.  I was definitely bummed.  But I was also so ready to be done.  In the end I ran 13 laps, which was 48.75 miles with a total run time of 7:06:10 (average pace 8:45).  It ties the 2018 Boston marathon for the happiest I've ever been to be done with a race.  I sat down in my car.  And I couldn't move.  Like, literally.  I just had to sit there and do nothing for quite some time before I could motivate to drive back up to my house which felt a million miles away.  When I turned the car on, I kid you not, 'Heatwave' by Glass Animals was playing.  Now that is a coincidence.


Later in the day my coach checked in to let me know I'd taken the win for women and see how I was feeling.  I told him that I was pretty happy, especially since I hadn't known the results up until then, but that I also thought I'd have been able to do more given my training.  Why, I asked, was this so much harder than the last time I ran 50 miles, which was this past May.  Well, for one, it was cold.  Stupid cold.  He explained that the body likely burns significantly more calories when it's out in this weather.  Which leads me to believe that I probably didn't eat enough calories to make up for this difference.  And then the lack of fluids was my other problem.  I needed to be drinking from the get go and way more often than every 3.75 miles.  That really hurt me for those final laps.  My energy was just totally zapped and no matter how much I drank in the second half of the day, it didn't matter.  It was just too late to make up for it by then.  Two valuable lessons learned there.  All that said, my wheels didn't completely fall off and I ran right up to the end rather than calling it early which I so easily could have.  I definitely took longer breaks in between sets in the second half.  And I probably wasted more time than I should have but I'll chalk it off to rookie status and remember to keep things moving for the next time when I also will eat more and carry water.  If there is a next time.  If you'd asked me yesterday, I would have given you a hard NO.  Today?  I don't know.  Tomorrow?  Still not sure.  I might need a little more time to think on this one.  Or maybe a lot.

Heatwave by Glass Animals