Monday, March 31, 2014

Almost there. All of us.

Well folks, today is Monday and the Boston marathon is 3 short weeks away.  Wait...what???  I will be tackling my last long run this morning.  21 big ones.  My friend and fellow runner, JM, just did his last one this past Friday.  Lucky duck.  Many other Boston bound runners tuned up with the Eastern States 20 miler yesterday.  My point is this...all of us who are headed to the start in Boston this year, all 36,000 of us, are almost there.  Almost.  I have never wanted to run, or, I should really say, be a part of a marathon, more than I do this one.  I would imagine a lot of others who have been training along with me, whether it's their 1st marathon or their 101st, likely feel the same way.  And for most of us, this winter, in particular, has been a mental and physical battle of epic proportions. Throughout this training cycle, every time I headed outside for a run, I did my best to recognize that facing single digit temps and wind chills below zero was still nowhere near as challenging as some of the physical and mental battles that so many people have been fighting since last year's Boston marathon.  In a way, we've all been training for the race this year, runners and non-runners alike.  We've all been doing these long runs, some longer than others.  We've all been getting ready to face this day again.  And, on April 21st, we will all be toeing the line together.  All of us.

As we walk out, without question without doubt 

In the light that we have found, it is finally clear 

Our day has come, and we'll stand for who we are 

We are ready, we are young, we have nothing to fear
~ Birds of Tokyo, 'Lanterns'

Listen to this:
Lanterns - Birds Of Tokyo  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stay Sunny

"Always keep on the sunny side."
~ June Carter Cash

My daughter, Rosie, is one of the most happy-go-lucky kids I know.  My mother-in-law calls her Sunny because of her sunny disposition.  She'll hang with anyone, regardless of age, she's always up for anything from biking to dance parties, and she's very rarely in a bad mood.  It's unbelievably refreshing.  She also happens to be pretty athletic.  She plays soccer in the fall and spring, races on a ski team in the winter and does gymnastics year round.  Yes, she chooses to do them and she loves all of it.  She likes being out there with her friends, she's happy to do whatever her coaches tell her; she's even pretty good at them.  And that's basically where it ends.  I understand and appreciate that at age 9, that's pretty much all that matters.  But, lately my husband and I have found ourselves wondering if we should give her a gentle nudge to try a bit harder (ie. suggesting that she get a little more aggressive on the soccer field instead of admiring her teammates' various hairstyles). To push or not to push?  And how much or how little?  I do realize this is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, and that Rosie will likely figure it out on her own.  But, on some level, I have to ask myself if I am giving her the best support I can to help her grow and get the most out of what she does.  It's a daily battle for me.  On Sunday, Rosie had her second gymnastics meet.  I'll go out on a limb and say this is probably her favorite activity as she's even more enthusiastic about it than all the other things that she does.  She works hard and she's improved quite a bit since she joined the team.  At the meet, she did really well on 2 of her 4 events.  She did so-so on the other two.  She kept her chin up, smiling the whole time.  She even won a couple awards (8th place on the vault, 15th overall).  When it was over, I told her she a did fantastic job and that I was incredibly proud of her.  She thanked me quietly.  As we walked outside, she had her head down, her shoulders slumped and I got the sense that she wasn't happy.  I asked if she was okay.  She shrugged.  I realized, that maybe for the first time ever, she was disappointed with the outcome.  This was new for both of us.  Given her typical positive attitude and cheery persona, I could sense that she was having a hard time wrapping her head around her feelings.  I tried to help her out.  "Rosie?" I asked, "You seem bummed?  Do you wish things had gone differently?"  She looked up at me and nodded 'yes'.  "I, um, well....I wish I'd done better." she said.  Oh boy.  All the sudden, my gut was wrenching and I was cursing myself for even considering suggesting that she try a little harder.  She's nine.  I don't want her to feel the pressure of being the best.  It's too soon.  I just want her to get out there and have fun; to stay sunny.  Life is too short not to.  I squatted down and looked her in the eyes, "Kiddo, you did an awesome job out there today."  I told her.  "You should feel really good about it.  With everything that you do, all that matters is that you feel good about yourself, you try your best and that that you're having a good time."  She smiled and said, "okay."  And that was it.  What I love most about running is that it makes me truly happy.  It is a healthy outlet for me, both physically and mentally.  Sure, it's is a challenge and there's some heartbreak involved.  But there's also a great deal of reward.  The bottom line is that I do it, day in and day out, because it always puts a smile on my face before, during and/or after I'm done for one reason or another.  With running, I stay sunny.  I want whatever it is that Rosie chooses to do to make her feel the same way.  That is all that matters.  Shine on, Rosie.

Rosie (aka Sunny)

Listen to this:
You Know Me - Air Traffic Controller  

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Mom's 'Long Run' Day

My typical schedule on a "long run" day:

~ Drink coffee.
~ Charge electronics. (Bia go-stick & iPod)
~ Feed dog.
~ Curse out loud because I forgot to buy more GUs last week.
~ Find one stashed away in my running bag from last year. (It's expired, but does GU really expire??)
~ Make lunches.
~ Eat whatever I can find in the pantry that will fuel me up for 20 miles. (ie. cinnamon bread, Honey Nut Cheerios or one of my kids' ZBars)
~ Drop girls at school.
~ Procrastinate in the hallways by talking to other moms about nothing important.
~ Attempt to drum up some motivation on the drive home by turning up the volume on Kiss108. (my girls' favorite radio station)
~ Procrastinate a little more at home. (dishes, laundry, email, etc.)
~ Double check that iPod is charged (must have music)
~ Run for 3 hours.
~ Finish and stretch.
~ Lie on the floor for 15 minutes wondering how I am going to make it through the rest of my day.
~ Drink more coffee.
~ Freak out when I realize I have one hour to get all of the following done:
  • shower
  • grocery shop
  • eat lunch
  • go to CVS to fill a prescription
  • find an electrician and schedule an appointment
  • everything else on the list that I put off over the weekend.
~ Head to work. (while shoveling a pb&j in my mouth on the way)
~ Run around with over 100 high school girls for 2 hours at track practice.
~ Head back home.
~ Help my girls with any remaining homework.
~ Make their dinner. (eating whatever I'm making as I cook)
~ Eat a second dinner with my husband.
~ Read one page of a book.
~ Pass out at 8:45. (before my kids)

It's currently 7:30am and I'm on the "make lunches" task.  It's going to be a long day.  Giddy up.

Listen to this:
Don't Wait - Mapei  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Fever

It's Spring fever.
That is what the name of it is.
And when you've got it,
you want - oh, you don't quite know
what it is you do want,
but it just fairly,
makes your heart ache,
you want it so!
~ Mark Twain

It's 6:00AM on March 21st and I am already in a really, really good mood.  Why?  Because it's spring.  And I have Spring fever.  Big time.  Who cares if it's supposed to snow next week here in Boston. (for the love of Pete, NO!)  I'm living in the moment.  I feel totally recharged and ready to rock.  How do I know I have Spring fever?  Well, I'm hoping that's what it is, otherwise, I'm losing it.

1. I've had a perma-grin since yesterday.
2. Every time I walk outside my house, I find myself pausing to look at the grass.  It'
3. I ran twice yesterday.  Once in the morning with a buddy.  And then again at track practice with my high school team because I couldn't resist another opportunity to run outside.
4. I find myself randomly hugging my children at odd times of the day.
5. I considered buying an iced coffee yesterday.
6. I love every song I hear on the radio.
7. I've been high-fiving my mailman. (he must have it, too, because he's been happy to oblige)
8. I'm not dreading my next 20 miler because I won't have to wear a face mask or cover my exposed skin with Aquafor.
9. I went out of my way to buy bird seed on my way home from work yesterday.
10. It's currently 36 degrees and I'm thinking shorts & a tank for my run today, right?

Feeling it.  Loving it.  Spreading it.  Happy Spring, everyone!

Listen to this:
Somebody Loves You - Betty Who  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meet Sarah (aka Mac)

As much as I love to write my own posts, I'm learning that it's nice to step aside and let someone else run the show every once in a while.  Over the years, I have met several very cool people from all walks of the earth who happen to share my passion for both running and music.  I think it's safe to assume that if you're reading this blog on a regular basis, than you might be interested in meeting some of them, too.  Thus begins my new Runners Who Rock series, where I will be introducing other runners who are inspired by music, and sharing their stories.  Regardless of whether they are fast or slow, old or young, or whether they prefer classic rock to alternative, none of it matters as long as they can weave it all together for us with running and music as the thread.  For those of you who know her, it should come as no surprise that the first person who came to mind when I dreamt up this series was my fellow Oiselle teammate and avid music fan, Sarah Robinson (her friends call her Mac).  I met Sarah when I joined the Oiselle crew back in 2011 as an ambassador and quickly learned that, along with being a runner, she is equally moved by the music she listens to.  So, grab your coffee, pull up a chair and meet Sarah, a runner who so many ways.


Name: Sarah Robinson, Mac
Where your from: Never sure how to answer this one... born in North Carolina, grew up in Colorado and Massachusetts. Massachusetts was the majority.
Where you reside now: Seattle, WA
Age: 30
Job: Marketing Director at Oiselle, sometimes model (for Oiselle) & crazy, fast runner.
Sarah's Blog: Running Starfish

What do you love most about running?
The feeling of freedom.  Running is escape.  I'll be having a hard day at work and don’t even want to go for a run, but within three miles my whole perception of life has changed.  In a world of all these false things, it is a very primal thing to just go and run.  I think you tap into something that feels very youthful and free and so unhinged from the rest of your day that is tied down to checking email, or pushing the gas pedal on your car.  You feel like a cog in the wheel and when you’re running you are released … it is your own thing; your own space.

What do you love most about music?
Ditto. It's an escape that you can enjoy all alone or drift through wonderful times with close friends. Running and music are happy places for me. They unlock things and show me possibility. My ideas, creativity, memories... all live in one or the other.

Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Band (current, all time or both):
That's hard! I never get my fill of Modest Mouse (mostly older albums) and Passion Pit. But I love me some smooth 70s... like Crosby, Stills and Nash.  More recently I'm loving Local Natives, Vampire Weekend's new album, & Empire of the Sun... and I'm getting way into what I think is called Chillwave.

Album (current, all time or both): 
Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a perfect album...
Bombay Bicycle Club's A Different Kind of Fix is doing it for me lately.

Race venue: 
Chicago Marathon, Hood River Marathon, Vermont City, I'm bad at favorites.

Gorge Amphitheatre
Quincy, Washington
Music venue: The Gorge in Washington at sunset, warm breeze with the hint of night coming.

Race distance: Marathon

Live Show: Though I've seen lots of great bands, and lots of great shows Band of Horses at the Showbox a few years ago was the most fun I've had at a concert ever.  Everyone in the crowd and band was blissed out the entire show.

Ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk

This or That?
Sweet or salty? both
Live or recorded? live
Coffee or tea? coffee
Summer or winter? summer

Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? 
I'd get dancey with Passion Pit.  (But only a 21+ show.)
Which band or artist (no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight? 
Led Zeppelin
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could?
I want to break bottles with Isaac Brock.
Which band would you like to have playing alongside you during your next marathon? 
Music during a race? That would be crazy...TV on the Radio.

Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? 
Wolf like Me, TV on the Radio  
Block After Block, Matt & Kim  
The Reeling, Passion Pit  
Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against the Wall), Mystikal  
Shit Luck, Modest Mouse (off of The Lonesome Crowded West, not available on iTunes)

Last 5 Songs you listened to today? 
The first 5 songs on This is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About - Modest Mouse

Running's top model getting prepped by Sally Bergesen, CEO of Oiselle

Other Items of Note:
1. I recently learned that Sarah has a Baby Mac on board (she's 18 weeks pregnant) who will, no doubt, be a runner and rocker as well.
2. Sarah does NOT listen to music when she races.  She couldn't even imagine it!

**Huge shout out to Sarah for taking the time to share her running & music story.  Rock on, Mac!**

One More Thing:
Are you a runner who rocks?  Do you want to share your story?  Email me and tell me more.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Race Review: SHAMROCK (& FLOCK) ON

"Birds of a feather are flocking outside."
~ Trey Anastasio

This past weekend I flew down to Virginia Beach to run the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon with my Oiselle teammates.  I was excited about the race.  But I was way more excited to meet the 40+ women from my team that were coming in from all over the country; women that I have connected with through social media, for months, and in some cases, years but have never met in person.  I had also hoped to meet up with the Loopsters, another group of runners that I have connected with over the past few months via Runner's World (sadly, I couldn't make this one happen for reasons you'll see below).  In order to get down to VA, I had to fly through Atlanta, which makes absolutely no sense, but was my only option with my Delta frequent flyer miles.  I arrived in GA sporting my Oiselle (okay, fine, every day) uniform of a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers.  Within minutes, I was pegged by a teammate who was headed down to race the 8K, which was being held on Saturday.  Unlike myself, Asher was put together in a totally chic outfit, perfectly coiffed, and looking nothing like the scrubby runner that I did.  Her husband, Dallas, who I met a few minutes later, looked just as dapper in his wing tips and button down shirt.  I wanted to be annoyed with them for making me look and feel like the 39 year old mom that I am, but they were just too damn nice.

Asher &, funny AND crazy fast runners.
We hung out together and chatted as we waited for our flight to board.  Four hours, 2 broken planes, a new flight crew and 2 meals later, we took off for VA.  Let's just say we got to know each other pretty well within a very short (or long, depending on how you look at it) window of time.  I finally made it to my hotel around 11:45 and bee-lined it up to my room to hit the hay.  I was sharing a room with KMet, our Oiselle team leader, who I’ve gotten to know through email since I became an ambassador in 2012.  Turns out, there would be no going to bed (my fault).  I was completely wired and stupidly excited to be there.  We stayed up and talked for another hour before we finally nodded off.  Unfortunately, KMet's alarm would be going off at 5:30am.  Yikes.  In addition to Asher, several other Oiselle birds would be running the 8K the next day and she needed to be there for the start.  I got a little more sleep than KMet, but not much, as I wanted to get over there by 8:00am to watch my teammates fly through the finish line.  The ladies who were not racing had made plans to meet at 7am the next morning and head over to the race, which was a 15 minute drive from our hotel.  In my sleep deprived state, I thought they had said 7:30 and as a result I completely missed my ride.  After a minor freakout, I cabbed over to the beach, asking my driver, a lovely woman named Sheila, to step on it so I wouldn’t miss the end of the race.  She got me as close as she could and then I ran the rest, making it just in time to see all of the Oiselle runners cross the line, several of them totally crushing it, including these four lovely birds who run at the elite level.

Asher Henry, Heidi Greenwood & Aubrey Moskal
After the 8K, I had a chance to head over to meet the Loopsters at the beer tent and I really wanted to, but I could not keep my eyes open.  Literally.  A few of us grabbed a quick bite and then KMet and I headed back to our hotel for some much-needed shut-eye.  The only bummer here being that it was beyond beautiful out…sunny and 60 degrees…something I haven’t seen or felt for over 4 months living up in the Boston area.  It felt almost wrong to hole up in the dark cave of our hotel room when it was like this outside.  But in this brief mental battle between sleep and nature, sleep took the win.  At 4:30pm (yes, 4:30) we headed over to Bravo, an Italian restaurant, to have dinner with our whole group.  There were about 50 of us total, including ambassadors, along with several friends, moms, babies and significant others of ambassadors and, of course, our fearless leader, KMet.  We easily took up half the restaurant.  It was awesome.  For two hours we all got to know each other, or know each other better.  It was pretty incredible to be surrounded by a group of people who are as passionate about running as I am from all walks of life.  All of us so different, but at the same time, a lot alike.

The Oiselle Birds
After dinner, I headed back to the hotel to get to bed early as the half marathon would be starting at 7:00am, which meant I'd be getting up around 5:00.  I always get a good kick out of the fact that I’m likely going to bed before my 7 year old when I have an early race start like this.  It was not easy to turn off the light and will myself to fall asleep in the 8 o'clock range, particularly when my nerves were starting to kick in, but somehow I managed to fade out.  Two minutes later (more like 7 hrs, but if felt like 2 minutes) I was up and at ‘em.  KMet dropped myself, and my new buds, Ashley and Nicole at the race with about 30 minutes to spare.  As we walked along, we noticed that none of the other runners next to us had their race bags.  We quickly realized that we were late for the bag drop off and that there was a good chance we would be running with our bags if we couldn't find the last truck.  Fortunately, the volunteer on the last shuttle took pity on us and took our bags despite the fact that we were at fault for messing up the system.  Bless her.  After this debacle, we booked it over the start line, but the race was already underway and we had completely missed the start.  Not good.  I still had to use the bathroom and there was no chance that I had time to make that happen.  There was nothing I could do but jump in and head off.  I’m going to venture to say, that despite the good company, this might have been one of my worst race starts to date, as we totally botched it.  I tried to relax and settle in, but within minutes I knew that my urge to pee was going to break me down.  I had to go.  Much to my chagrin, there were no port-o-pottys for the first 3 miles and when I finally made it to a row of them, there was a line.  WHAT??  There was no chance in hell I was going to wait in line to pee. (men are so freakin' lucky in this regard)  So I continued on, stressing about my situation but trying not to think about it.  Eventually, I came up to a wooded area and, out of pure desperation, I ducked behind a tree, er, um….large shrub, to relieve myself.  I pretended not to care in the least as I watched the other runners fly by, several of them noting my presence in the woods.  Finally, I got back on track and attempted to find my groove again.  Despite my rocky start, it was a great race.  The course was lovely, nice and flat, and our weather was perfect.  We had some wind against us for a few miles, but otherwise, we lucked out.  Fortunately, once I had gotten myself together, I felt pretty good through the rest of the race.  I turned up my level of intensity at about mile 9, but it was too late in the game to hit the goal time I was aiming for.  I finished with a strong push, coming in at 1:36, but had way more in the tank than I should have, and was annoyed with myself for being too conservative.  It’s always something, dammit!

Finish shot with tractor and man in green.
Instead of dwelling on it and moping around like I typically do, I found my teammates who had raced and the ladies who had been cheering for us and quickly moved on, asking them about their own races and discussing where we were going to go for breakfast.  Originally we had grand plans to go to the beer tent and celebrate over a well-earned brew, but the wind was whipping like mad, making it so cold that none of us could muster up the enthusiasm for this idea.  All we wanted to do was get inside and get something warm to drink.  Thankfully, we all felt the same way, so we bagged the finish tent, thus missing my final shot at finding and meeting the Loopsters (total bummer), and headed for Java Surf Beach Cafe, a little hole in the wall right off the main drag.  This place was heaven.  Hot, delicious coffee, awesome staff, cozy, and WARM.  All of us squeezed in (this time taking up the entire restaurant) and picked up where we’d left off post-race or from the night before.  Again, awesome.  After about an hour, a few of us had to head back to pack up for the airport, so we said our goodbyes, promised to keep each other posted, and agreed to visit each other whenever possible.
KMET, aka Daisy Duke
The car she thought she was driving.
KMet offered to give Ashley, Nicole and I a ride in the General Lee, er, um, rental car.  Not quite sure on directions, she was not at all afraid to u-turn in oncoming traffic at high speed as she figured out where we were going.  Turns out this is not the first time she’s done this maneuver and while we thought it was slightly risky, she thought absolutely nothing of it.  I think her exact words were, "Relax ladies. I’m going to get you there without killing you.”  That made us feel much better.

After a pretty quick turn around, Nicole and I headed to the airport.  Huge shout out to her for giving me a ride on her way home.  In return, I gave her a sweet pair of Oiselle arm warmers as a token of my appreciation, which I shamelessly mooched off of KMet in order to bribe Nicole for the ride.  Thanks, Kristin.  At the airport I hung out with Dallas and Asher again as we were headed back to Atlanta on the same flight.  At this point, my disappoint in regards to my race performance started to seep in.  I know I am capable of so much more and I have been working so freakin' hard over the past few months, but my results did not reflect any of this.  Dallas suggested I look at it as a “test-tempo” run, a tune-up for Boston and to be satisfied both in knowing that I had the ability to turn it up and finish strong and that I'll be hungry for more when the time comes.  He also offered me a detailed half marathon race plan based on my ability, which I thanked him for while also yelling at him for not giving it to me BEFORE the race.  Come ON, Dallas!

Post-half, Oiselle birds looking fresh on the beach
...especially Ashley.
As I reflect on this week-end, I am realizing that, yes, I went down to race.  But a good finish time was not my priority.  Perhaps it should have been.  But it wasn't.  I love training and racing.  But I love the running community as much, if not more.  And (forgive the high cheese factor here) I love my Oiselle running family the most.  I love that everyone in this group supports each other no matter how fast or slow, how old or young; no matter what.  I love that very few of us knew each other before we arrived in VA and by the time we left we’d learned about upcoming weddings, moves, military agendas, favorite grocery stores and plans for the future.  I love that there was not a negative vibe in this flock for the entire 72 hours that we were together.  And I love that I left VA wanting to do the whole thing over again as soon as possible.  FLOCK ON, fellow birds.

Listen to this:
Kick - Colour Coding  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Box of Joy

For four of my eight marathons, I've had the good fortune of training with one of my closest friends who, like myself, is an avid runner.  Much to my dismay, the majority of training for my next marathon, which will be Boston in April, has been a solo effort.  Like me, my RB (running buddy) is a mom who is always on the go, literally.  Unlike me, she has three kids (as opposed to my 2), all three of them play hockey, and she has a relatively new "part-time" job that seems more like a full time job.  Bottom the moment, her life is nuts and running, and more specifically racing, has had to take a back seat to everything else.  It happens.  I've been there myself.  But, having gone through the last three months of training on my own, aside from a few long runs and some recovery runs, which she has thankfully joined me on, I now realize how much I appreciate having her with me on these somewhat psychotic journeys.  Having a running wingman for marathon training is huge.  You don't just run together.  You laugh, cry, complain, obsess, worry, doubt, and breathe together for four long, often painful and exhausting months.  This support has pulled me through hundreds of workouts of all kinds.  Literally.  Like, "there is no way I would have finished without her" pulled me through.  Since January, music has been my new sidekick.  My marathon playlist has 136 songs on it (8 hours and 42 minutes).  That's a lot of freakin' music.  And yet, when some of my runs are 2-3 hours long and I'm running 5 days a week, this playlist repeats itself more frequently than I'd like it to.  This is a long winded way of telling you that despite being a music junkie who is inspired by music daily, my running playlist, all 8 hours of it, is getting a little stale.  Thankfully, I have other resources to tap into when this situation arises.  Enter my friend, and fellow runner, Nicole Devine; perhaps the only other person I know who is as into music as I am, maybe more.  Yesterday I sent her a note, or rather, a plea, to help me out by sending me her current favorites.  I told her I had a race this Sunday and I was desperate.  As I'd hoped, she pulled through for me in spades.  Within minutes, she had posted a Spotify playlist with 50+ songs on it, many of them, both the bands and the songs, totally new to me.  I was like a kid in a candy store; glued to my computer as I explored, listened, and decided which ones I would add to my various running playlists.  It was like opening a hypothetical box of joy.  Total awesomeness.  Personally, I like to give more than I like to receive, so clearly I want to share this box of joy with you, or at least some of it.  I highly encourage you to pass it on, as music is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  Nicole...I owe you.  Big time.  KH, I do love music, but I will always prefer to run with you over a good playlist.  Many thanks to both of you for supporting me and my crazy habits.

Listen to these:  (& then share them)*
Cruel City - Augustines   (This whole album is worth a listen) &
Artiface - SOHN  
Glitter & Gold - Fire In The Hamptons  
High - Sun City  
No Gold - Norma Jean Martine  

*NOTE: You can listen to all of these gems on Spotify (need an account) & some of them on Soundcloud (don't need an account).  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Laugh & Roll

Sunday morning was lovely.  My husband was out of town and my older daughter had slept at a friend's house, so it was just my little one and me.  I woke up before her, did some laundry, made our lunches and then sat and enjoyed not one, but two cups of coffee.  When she got up, we chatted a bit, got dressed for skiing, ate some breakfast and then Grace did some bracelet making while I cleaned up.  Basically, both of us were just putzing around, wasting time and enjoying ourselves.  It was downright peaceful, which doesn't happen often, especially when it's all four of us and we're hustling to get ready.  I remember taking a minute to just pause and enjoy the moment, which I rarely do.  Eventually, we got motivated, packed up the car, and headed over to Cannon to meet up with my nine year old and then get Grace off to ski school.  When we pulled up to the lodge the sun was shining, there was no wind to speak of, and the music was blasting.  Too good to be true.  Added bonus, we were able to park right in front the lodge, which NEVER happens.  Grace was thrilled.  Her boot bag and skis weigh more than she does, so the hike from the car to the lodge is brutal for her.  If she could have, she would have skipped (but that doesn't really work when you're carrying skis and poles).  We headed into the lodge, which is typically filled to brim with people, painfully loud and so crowded that you start to sweat instantly.  Instead we heard....nothing.  Literally.  Crickets.  Grace looked at me, puzzled.  Are you putting two and two together yet?  Yep,  I'd forgotten to re-set the clocks for daylight savings.  Classic blunder.  The week before, I had received several reminders from various sources (school, coaches, etc.) but, despite all of those, I went to bed on Saturday with nothing on my mind except the last song in the Cinderella movie that I had just watched with my daughter (cute, but slightly painful).  "Grace, I said, I completely forgot that today is daylight savings so it's not 8:30, it's 9:30.  We have to hustle if we are going to get you to class on time."  So much for our peaceful morning.  Grace continued to look confused while I rushed around trying to get it together, and yes, within minutes I was sweating.  Awesome.  We finally made it out and onto the chairlift.  I calmed down and took a breath.  Mom, Grace said, who changed the clocks?  Great question.  Mother Nature, I replied.  So, is it her fault that we're late, she asked?  It would have been so easy to blame this one on the little old lady who manages time (yes, that is how I picture Mother Nature).  But, instead, I took the shot.  Nope, I laughed.  Totally mom's fault.  Grace laughed, too, happy to have a reason to make fun of me for messing up.  Ah, kids.  Gotta love 'em.  There are times in life, and more specifically in running, when the above situation would be really bad.  It stresses me out to even think about arriving to run a marathon and realizing I was an hour late.  That would suck.  But then, just last November I arrived at Martha's Vineyard High School to race a 5K only to realize that I had the date wrong and had missed it completely.  I won't pretend I wasn't bummed, but even still, I had to chuckle as I headed off to get a coffee instead.  This past Sunday with Grace, all was okay.  Yes, we were late for class, but no one was going to yell at us.  We weren't holding anyone up or ruining someone else's day because of my mistake.  We were able to find Grace's group and slide her in as though nothing had happened.  She didn't get upset (thank goodness).  I skied off, smiling and shaking my head while also tapping myself on the shoulder for pulling it all together.  Throughout the day, I made fun of myself multiple times as I told my friends the story.  It was a good one.  Two lessons from this short but sweet experience.  First, life is unpredictable.  Roll with it.  And two, life is short, laugh at yourself.  This is the case in running, work, school...anything, really.  Grace's advice?  Apply liberally.

Listen to this:
Compliment Your Soul - Dan Croll  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Good Story

Last Thursday I woke up and stared down a brutal speed workout.  It was a balmy 8 degrees outside.  I don't know about you, but my legs don't have quite the turnover they usually do when it's this cold out.  If I was going to get anywhere near a 6:45 pace, it was going to have to be on the dreadmill, where I could actually feel my legs.  I dropped my girls off at school and headed to the Y.  I stepped onto the treadmill; making sure I had all the necessary supplies in place before I started....water bottle filled with NUUN, iPod, towel, phone (in case of emergency), and motivation, which was somewhere under the towel, waiting patiently to be tapped.  After an easy mile warm up, I switched gears and started my first set of 2 miles at tempo pace.  I tried not to think about how hard this pace was going to be to maintain for 7.5 miles and attempted to lose myself in my music.  As I was on my second set, a very cute leggings, pink shirt, high bun, etc., stepped onto the treadmill next to me.  Is it strange that I noticed how put together she was?  Maybe.  But, I was trying really hard not to think about how much pain I was in, so I was focusing on anything but.  At this point, I was looking....well...not cute.  Maybe downright unattractive.  I was sweating like crazy, breathing heavily and I had taken off my tank top because it was soaked through.  After a couple minutes, she gives me the sideways glance.  The classic "over the shoulder" look that is meant to be casual but isn't.  I laughed a little to myself as I though about all the things that might have been going through her head ie:
~ Wow, she's sweating like nobody's business.
~ What is she doing with her arms?  Wait, is she singing?
~ I wonder if I can switch treadmills without being obvious?
~ Um, is she okay??
I do not have a six pack.  My stomach muscles are in there, but despite my best efforts over the years, they refuse to surface (damn, them).  I don't typically run in a sports bra, but when I am sweating like a pig, anything goes.  I do brush my hair and try and put it up nicely pre-run, but that lasts about 1/2 a mile and then it all starts sticking to my face.  I don't wear make-up when I workout because, well, what's the point?  Bottom line, I do make an effort, albeit slight, on my appearance, but when I'm training, most of my energy is put towards the workout.  I got a couple more looks from "cute girl" as she power walked next to me, pumping her arms like mad, but keeping her hair in place perfectly.  How does she do that?  She attempted to disguise the staring by looking to the other side (which no one was on) or by doing the shoulder rub, as she re-focused on her own treadmill.  Each time she looked, I would throw in something a little bizarre, such as my killer dance moves or some head bops, just to spice things up a bit.  I might as well go all out, I thought to myself, and give her a good story to tell her friends:
"hey, you guys...I saw this crazy girl running like a maniac at the Y today.  She looked like she was in terrible pain and she was doing weird dance moves and singing out loud while she ran.  It was hilarious!!"
Me?  I am proud to be that girl.  The one covered in sweat from head to toe.  The one who banged out 7.5 miles at tempo pace on the treadmill.  The one who took her shirt off because it made her feel lighter for her last set.  The one who rocks out to her music when she runs.  The one who fist pumps when she's done.  And the one who can tell this story and not give a crap what anyone else thinks!

Listen to this:
Start A Riot - Jetta  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Races, Meet-ups, & Spring (hopefully)

Not to be totally cliché here, but I'm feeling incredibly lucky at the moment, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's March.  In two weeks, I'm headed down to VA to run the Shamrock 1/2 marathon with my fellow Oiselle birds.  While I am down there, I will also get to meet up with the Loopsters, a group I have connected with through Runner's World and who have become like a second running family to me.  Right after St. Patty's day, my high school team's outdoor track season begins, and I could not be more thrilled about that.  Go Lex!  And maybe, just maybe, we'll start to see some temps in the 30s and 40s, (which will feel like a freakin' heat wave) as spring is lurking in the wings.  Yes, there are a lot of good things happening this month.  I'm ready.  Let's go!

My MARCH "To-Do" List:
~ Pray for warm weather.
~ Fly to Norfolk Beach, VA to race and hang with the my Oiselle teammates
~ Meet, hug, high-five, etc. all the Loopsters I have been chatting with, getting advice from and laughing with over the past few months.
~ Catch up with John Wayne Lui, my running angel from Providence, down in VA.
~ Watch my daughter sing with her school's chorus at the Ice Chips show in Boston.
~ Get inspired by Olympic figure skaters who will be performing in the above show.
~ Mentally prepare myself for this monster training month that leads to Boston.
~ Get my spring track plan ready for the LHS ladies distance squad.  Whoot!
~ Enjoy our last month of the ski season up at Cannon in New Hampshire.
~ Listen to, run with, and share the March music of the month.

Coattails - Broods  

Voices - Phantogram