Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Birthday RWM & T-Shirt Giveaway

A year ago I sat in front of a blank screen wondering what to write for my first Running With Music post.  I had just figured out what a blog was over the summer and was newly inspired to create one about running and music; two of my greatest passions.  First, I shared the songs and bands that were moving me at that particular moment.  But as the weeks rolled on, it started to evolve into something more.  I quickly learned that all of us, runners or not, can relate on some level to many of the scenarios I was describing.  We all struggle to find time to run, or do whatever it is we love.  Those of us who have kids are constantly trying to "figure it out" and rarely do.  Those of us who love music are on a daily hunt to find the next best song, band, or album.  And some of us are dealing with all of it.  Basically, we've got a lot of crap to talk about.  Recently, my husband asked me why I write this blog.  Well, I thought, I love the way it brings so many of us who share the same interests together.  I dig how the lines of communication tend to open up over subject matter that is important to all of us.  And, finally, I like the way it makes me think and often re-think after I've written it down and passed it on.  I feel like I've created a small community and it makes me a little giddy each time I tap into it.  So, thank you for being a part of whatever it is this is.  I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am and that we all have another fantastic year together.  Oh, and I'm not going to leave you with just that.  I have a swanky, new RWM t-shirt to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Comment below or on the RWM Facebook page.  Share your favorite song or band.  Tell us why you run or listen or both.  Give us something to chew on.  Or, if you're short on words, just join the site (see right) or "like" us on Facebook.  The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday, October 1st.  Good luck and, as always, rock on.

Listen to this:
Till the End - The Raveonettes  Till the End - Observator

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Headphones:The Answer

Runners, music fans, and whoever else might be seeking the perfect fit as I am; it's no big shocker that Apple has, once again, pulled it off.  The bigger surprise is that they didn't come out with these bad boys any sooner.  As mentioned, I have had constant issues trying to find headphones that both fit into my ears and don't fall out when I sweat.  I have tested every pair out there to no avail.  I had all but given up and resigned myself to my $15 Gummies that I have to replace every 6 months.  Well, it turns out there is FINALLY a solution to my problem.  Over the week-end I upgraded my iPhone 4 to the fancy, new iPhone 5 and with it came a pair of slick, ear-shaped headphones.

 - > Insert shameless plug for my husband's company, Nextworth, here:
Want a new phone?  Consider selling your old one to Nextworth for cash.  Go to, provide some basic info about your phone and they will give you a quote for its current value.  If you're happy with that number, simply mail them your phone using the prepaid UPS label that they provide.  Done and done.  Oh, and FYI - with my AT&T plan's upgrade deal and my Nextworth trade-in, I paid a whopping $30 for my the new iPhone 5. <--

Naturally, I was doubtful.  No other pair has worked for me, so why would these be different?  That said, I'm happy to try anything new if there is a chance it will be better than what I've got.  My ears happen to be the size of a 10 year old child, so getting the old earbuds to fit was always tricky and once they were forced in they often felt unnatural.  Not so with these.  They easily fit and then sit perfectly inside my ears.  Honestly, I barely know they are there.  I have now run with them three times and they are snug, but not uncomfortable and they are not sliding out at all as I start to sweat or increase my movement.  Not only that, but the sound is phenomenal.  You don't have to purchase a new phone to get these babies.  Apple is selling them as an accessory for only $29.  Run, don't walk, to your nearest Apple store and pick a pair up.  Eureka!!

Listen to this:
Tightrope - WALK THE MOON  Tightrope - Walk the Moon

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Basic Need

Yesterday I wavered back and forth for hours trying to decide whether or not to run.  Note to self - this is never a good sign that the run is going to go well.  I was tired and unmotivated, but often when I feel this way I try to go anyway as it tends to snap me out of a funk.  Stupidly, I waited until 4:00pm to head out.  I figured I would just get in a quick three miler and call it a day.  How hard could it be?  Well...very hard, actually.  As I set off, I successfully drowned out my thoughts, including, but not limited to, my desire to walk, as well as my heavy breathing, with music.  After about 3/4 of a mile my Nano failed me and it started to re-play the first of the three Arcade Fire songs from my playlist.  I love this band, but I can't listen to them over and over again for 25 minutes.  So, I stopped and tried to fiddle with my settings to get back to the main playlist.  No dice.  After repeatedly swearing at the Nano and seriously considering just walking back home, I eventually rolled up the headphones and continued on without music.  Typically, my main reason for listening to music when I run is because it gets me fired up and motivates me to push harder.  Yesterday, however, I needed it for so many other reasons.  As I shuffled along I felt slow.  Listening to my steps made me feel slower.  On top of that, it was quite painful to have to listen to my very labored breathing.  And I hate to say it, but I didn't want to wave to other runners and walkers and be friendly.  Yes, I understand that once in a while it's good to take in all the scenery, cruise along and not worry about how it's going, but I couldn't even do that.  I simply wanted to zone out and get home.  And, bottom line, I needed music.  Am I too dependent?  Probably.  But it is what it is.  I say enjoy it if you have it, want it, need it...whatever.  Rock on.

Listen to this:
Get Gone - White Arrows   Get Gone - Dry Land Is Not a Myth

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Watch It, Like It, Share It

RWM readers, friends, family members, runners, music fans, and anyone else who's interested - PLEASE watch and share this video of our team's Reach the Beach experience with others.  We are trying to win a video contest and the more "likes" we get on YouTube, the better our chances are of winning.  If you dig it; pass it on, spread the love, talk it get the gist.  Thanks to everyone for your support. ENJOY!

Oh, and if this doesn't make you want to do it next year I will be shocked.

Listen to this:
The Electric Version - The New Pornographers   The Electric Version - Electric Version

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No Tunes: A Top 10 List

As I recently mentioned, runners were not allowed to have headphones on during the Reach the Beach Relay.  As one reader explained, the rules stated that our earbuds could have been strategically placed outside the ears -  looped around a headband for example - but we couldn't have them sitting inside or covering our ears.  Basically, it was important for us to be alert and, well, to be able to hear, while we were racing.  It's a crazy, logistical, race, and I totally understand their reasoning behind this rule, but as someone who is motivated by music when running; not having it was a challenge.  I tried setting mine up for the first two legs by wrapping them around my visor strap in the first leg and then again around my headlamp strap in leg two, but the volume level was minimal at best and I found myself fiddling with them too much.  A couple miles in to my second leg I just gave up and turned off the music.  This race was such an adventure; something totally new for me, with so much to think about, so I found I could (sort of) handle the lack of music.  But, I cannot lie, there were moments, particularly on the hills at 2:30am when I could have used a little help from my favorite artists.  So, naturally, I created a list of things to think about, work on or do when I don't have Nicki Minaj or Radiohead blasting in my ears during the next Reach the Beach Relay (or any other race where we can't listen to music).  Here is what I came up with:


1. Start listening to my iPod ahead of time and get my favorite song going in my head.  Then, when I head out to run, play it back in my head or sing it out loud, whatever it takes to get me pumped and keep me going.

2. Craft a letter to the Reach the Beach organization asking if we runners could possibly listen to music with ONE headphone on during the night run.  Just one? I know, this is a stretch, but last Saturday night it was a solid 20 minute distraction.

3. Plan my 8 year old's birthday party - guest list, theme, favors and all.

4. Write out my children's potential Christmas list including items that can come from my husband and I, Santa, and our various family members that tend to ask for suggestions.

5. Think through what I need from the grocery store, including dinner ideas, for the following week.  Perhaps this is a good week to try something new?

6. Think back on some of the artists/bands I haven't listened to in a long time and craft a playlist in my head so I can dig back into my library when I get home.

7. Chat with and encourage other runners.  Not everyone is up for this, but during Reach the Beach, I found that most people were since we had so much time on the road and none of us had headphones covering our ears.

8. Plan my next vacation, with kids or without (not sure yet), that doesn't involve running or racing of any kind and where bagels and gatorade can not be purchased.

9. Write my next blog post.  This one is a no-brainer.

10. Sit back, relax, breath, look, listen, take it all in and make the most of the moment.

And then, when you can listen to music....

Listen to this:
Wasted Away - Dum Dum Girls   Wasted Away - Only In Dreams (Bonus Track Version)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reach the Beach: My Story

A week ago, my friend and I met in Hartford, CT to see AWOLNATION.  It was an epic evening and one that I thought would be difficult to top.  Ha!  Two days later, my dear friend, C.C. picked me up late in the evening to drive to Franconia, NH for the Reach the Beach Relay.  We were part of a 14 person team, including 12 runners and 2 van drivers, that would be running 200 miles in 24 hours starting at Cannon Mountain and ending in Hampton Beach.  I had agreed to be on this team the previous winter not really having a clue what I was getting myself into.  On Friday, the day the race began, I had a private 'holy crap' moment as we all prepared to head off on this slightly insane trek.  The night before, I had laid out all my clothes and gear for the next two days and placed it in a plastic bin to be stacked up in our van.  As I laid my shoes on top, I happened to glance quickly at both pairs and realized, much to my dismay, that I had forgotten my orthotics and was looking at the inside stitching of the shoes as neither pair had any insoles.  I haven't run without orthitics in my shoes in almost 20 years so you can imagine how I was feeling at this point.  I decided I could either freak out and cry or laugh and go to bed with my fingers crossed.  I did the latter.  I could hear Coach A.L. reprimanding me from afar for not being "race ready" as he consistently reminds our athletes to be before a meet.  It was a teaching moment for myself.  In the morning I drove to Walgreens and picked up a pair of Dr. Scholls to substitute for my orthotics.  They felt totally different and very uncomfortable and I had no choice but to roll with it.  We headed off to Cannon to meet up with our teammates to do an equipment check, take our team photo and, at 1:40 pm, start our race.  Game on.  Our van of six runners would be completing three legs of various distances and degrees of difficulty from the start straight through until the finish the next day.  Here's how it played out for me:

Leg 1:
5.5 miles.  3:30 pm.  Easy, downhill course. Despite the heat and the fact that my feet felt bizarre, my energy was high and my excitement pushed me through each mile.  The team stopped and cheered along the way and I felt strong as I cruised down toward the next hand-off.  In the back of my mind, I worried about how my feet would fare for the next 2 legs, but I tried to drown it out by singing out loud and encouraging other runners.  Oh, did I mention we weren't allowed to listen to music for this event?

Leg 2:
8.9 miles.  2:30 am.  Very difficult trek up and down multiple, large, hills.  At this point, I had gotten 30 minutes of sleep in a sleeping bag on the grass by our van at the last transition area.  I was not bright eyed and bushy tailed when my teammate passed me the bracelet.  But, off I went, wearing a neon vest, flashing lights on my back and a head lamp.  I expected this to be the most difficult leg to get through, particularly without music, but as I started to get into a groove, I had a sort of out of body experience where I was able to transcend my exhaustion and just take in the moment.  And it was truly incredible.  The stars were out in full force, it was dead quiet except for the crickets and all I could see were the other runners' lights dancing in front of me as the miles passed.  It was totally surreal and one of the most exhilarating runs I've had in my life.  Could I do it again?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Leg 3:
4.4 miles.  11:30 am (I think) Moderately difficult with a couple of steady climbs.  My teammates and I had been able to grab three hours of sleep as well as a cup of coffee between our second and third legs, so I felt like a new person and was fired up to finish.  My feet felt bruised and swollen after running on new insoles, but I knew I only had this last bit to go, so I tried not to think about it.  It was hot again, and I was insanely tired, but I was ready to be done...we all were.  So, off I went using every ounce of energy I had to complete this short, but challenging run.  When I handed off the bracelet for the last time, I limped to the van and had a celebratory moment where I took of my shoes, which felt like torture devices at this point, and just sat there.  My teammate made sure to video tape this moment as my feet had become a steady topic of conversation over the past 24 hours.

That said, I was done.  The moment was bittersweet as I was both happy to be done and sad that it was over.

So, that's it in a very small nutshell.  It was an unbelievable journey including several hilarious and insane moments.  It was like nothing I've ever done before and one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had as a runner.  A couple lessons learned:
1. Don't go to a concert two nights before a 200 mile relay race (though I don't regret it for a second).
2. Double and triple check your gear the night before and then have a friend or family member do it with you again.
3. Always carry a toothbrush and deodorant with you when traveling with multiple people.
4. And, something I don't do enough, but will make every effort to do in the future; always be willing to try something new and to dive in head first when you do it.  Life is too short not to.

A HUGE shout out to all my teammates on the the NH State Park Bloggers Team.  Thank you all for being so freakin' awesome.

Listen to this:
NOTHING  - I wasn't aloud to listen for this race, so I'm suggesting a day off.  Just one.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We Reached The Beach

Congratulations to the NH STATE BLOGGERS for successfully completing the Reach the Beach Relay.  What an unbelievable experience.  (post to follow...way too tired to write at the moment)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The AWOLNATION Experience

I'm afraid if I try and describe the experience I had last night I won't do it justice, but I'll give it a shot.  As I mentioned, my dear friend, LD, and I met in Hartford, CT to see AWOLNATON, a band that we both love.  We are moms (me of 2, her of 3), with multiple jobs and we tend to have more to do than hours in the day but Tuesday night we decided to put aside some of our responsibilities and just be music fans.  And it was truly incredible.  We were definitely the oldest at this show by a minimum of 10 years.  We actually thought this was pretty cool and gave ourselves a high five for our motivation and commitment.  We're also both relatively short so we weaseled our way up to the front, which we like to do in these smaller venues, and when AWOL came on we just let go and embraced the music.  This band has a way of bringing people together like no other band I've seen.  People from all walks of life were packed like sardines; pushing each other, leaning heavily on each other, lifting and carrying each other across the crowd (I decided I was way too old for that) and yet everyone seemed to be willing to roll with it because we all really wanted to be there.  It was like we were this crazy, tight-nit community that came together and bonded over this one passion that we share.  To me, this is one of the reasons why music is so incredible…it brings friends together, strangers together, and bands together with their fans like nothing else can.  And for three hours, speaking for myself here, I felt alive and totally free which is a feeling I often get when I'm running and helps to explain the main reason why running and music go hand and hand in my day to day life.  Two pieces of advice from this experience: 1. find a band you love and 2. go see them live.  Don't wait!  Go.

Listen to this:
Anything by AWOLNATION  Megalithic Symphony - AWOLNATION
At Home - Crystal Fighters   At Home - Star of Love

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Day In The Life...

...of a mom, runner, coach, coffee addict, and avid music fan.  Here it goes:

1. Drink coffee
2. Brush, teeth (my own and my children's) make lunches, make beds, get us all dressed and fed.
3. Drop girls off at school.
4. Get a run in - which will start and end at the Ford dealership because I need to service my car.
5. Drink another coffee.
6. Pick up supplies for my team's van (ie. toilet paper, paper towels, zip locks and trash bags) in preparation for the Reach the Beach Relay that we're running this Friday - a 12 person, 200 mile relay race that takes place over 24 hours; starts in NH and ends in MA.  What?
7. Call pediatrician to schedule my seven year old's physical.  Holy crap....she's turning 8?
8. Wash every piece of running clothing that I own so I have fresh attire for all three legs of the relay which will be about 6:00 in the evening, 2:00 at night, and 9:00 the next morning and could easily range from sunny and hot to rainy and very cold.  Hmmm.  Maybe I need some more running clothes?
9. Drink more coffee (this is the last one, I swear)
10. Head to LHS for cross country practice with my team of 56 awesome girls.
11. Drive straight from practice to Hartford, CT to meet up with the only other friend I know who would drive 2 hours to meet me for a show (thanks LD) to hear AWOLNATION  play at the Great Hall at Union Station.
12. Eat a quick dinner if there's time, if not, well....Balance Bars and pretzels are a viable option.
13. Enjoy about three hours of some incredible music.
14. Grab a few hours of sleep at my in-laws apartment - conveniently located in West Hartford.
15. Smile because I pulled it all off....hopefully.

It's about 6:00am and I've already done step one and part of step 2.  Off to a good start, right?  Rock on!

Listen to these:
Tiptoe - Imagine Dragons   Tiptoe - Night Visions
Wake Up - AWOLNATION   Wake Up - Megalithic Symphony

Friday, September 7, 2012

Whatever Flows

A couple weeks ago I started a new job as the head coach for a high school girls cross country team.  In this short period of time, I have done my best to learn all FIFTY SIX names, to get a sense of their various running levels, to learn all of their regular routes so no one gets lost, including myself, and to get a clue as to where the different meeting rooms are in the school so I don't look like an idiot when I'm trying to find them.  My brain has been focused solely on this effort and as a result my creative juices have not been flowing.  Fortunately, I'm still able to get out and run on my own in the morning. But rather than focus on my pace, my mileage or how much pain I'm in, my focus has shifted to practice schedules, captains meetings and team dinners.  It's a refreshing change but my ability to reflect - on running, on music, on, well, pretty much anything beyond cross country - is nil.  I'm not going to lie, my exhaustion level is high.  Juggling my own family, including a five year old who doesn't want to go to bed or school, my training, and this job is a whole new ball game for me.  So, the net/net here is that I have nothing to offer you but some great freakin' tunes.  Through all the madness, the music is still flowing.  Listen to it.  Run with it.  Soak it up!

Listen to these:
Telephone- The Black Angels  Telephone - Telephone - Single
Heart It Races - Architecture in Helsinki (as played by Dr. Dog)   Heart It Races (As Played By Dr Dog) - Heart It Races - EP
Generals - The Mynabirds  Generals - Generals
Melody Day - Caribou   Melody Day - Andorra

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Aim High...Now!

Over the week-end my daughter mentioned that she saw a seven year old being interviewed on the Today's Show who had done a sprint triathlon.  I was surprised, as I can barely pull one of those off myself, but some kids do have "it", so I suppose it's possible.  Rosie, who is also seven, said that she thought she could definitely do that and wanted me to buy her some gear so she could give a try.  Specifically, she asked for running shorts (real ones, not Old Navy), good goggles and a turquoise swim cap.  Her bike, which is a hand-me-down from a neighbor, would be fine, she told me.  I'm pretty sure she just wanted some new stuff, and I had to laugh because as an avid runner I'm always wanting new stuff for myself, so I got it.  But, I went on to explain that taking on an athletic challenge like a triathlon was extremely difficult and she might need a little more time before she gave it a shot.  She argued that she rides her bike for "hundreds" of hours all the time, swims in her nana's pool all day and can run all the way to town and back.  Though slightly exaggerated, it was a fair point.  I did tell her, however, that riding her bike around the circle in our neighborhood with her friends, having tea parties at the bottom of the pool with her cousins and running to town with me while stopping for a slice of pizza and then running home is not quite the same as training for a triathlon.  She wasn't backing down and I had to give her credit.  Why not aim high?  Whether or not she actually follows through with a triathlon or anything even similar down the road, she could still have this lofty goal now.  Back when I was 32, if someone had told me that within five years I would have run five marathons I would have laughed in their face and said something to the effect of, "yea, right".  But the truth is, since I was young, maybe not seven, but much younger than I am now, I had always wanted to run a marathon and by holding on to that desire I eventually made it happen.  Granted, at my age, it's easier to put the time and effort in to make something like a marathon a reality.  But, that said, there is no reason why Rosie can't set her sites on something today and make it happen when she's ready.  So, we wrote it down together, I caved on the shorts (yes, I am a sucker), and we'll see what happens.  In the mean time, she has planted the seeds for something great in her mind and I can't wait to watch them grow.  Cheesy, I know, but I'm a mother, so I can go there.

Listen to this:
The Veldt (feat. Chris James) - Deadmau5  The Veldt (Radio Edit) - The Veldt (feat. Chris James) - Single

Saturday, September 1, 2012

End of Summer Reader's Picks

Happy September, everyone.  Today's picks are from my six year old nephew, Will T.  This kid LOVES to dance.  I've seen his moves... total showstoppers.  He told me he likes these songs because "they make me feel happy and like I'm not tired."  Because who really ever wants to feel tired, right?  If I could bottle Will's energy I'd be running AND dancing until I'm old and grey.  Since I can't do that, I tend to just stand near him with the hope that I'll get some of it through osmosis.  His favorite week-end activity with his cousins?  Dance party, of course.  Rock on, Will.  Thanks for sharing. 

Listen to these:
Dynamite - Taio Cruz   Dynamite - Rokstarr 
Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5  

Want to check out Will's moves?  How can you not after that write up?  Enjoy!