Monday, March 28, 2016


in the dark a secret river conceals itself 
in the heart it pulls me under the deepest spell
~ Mike Benecke, 'Bloodsong'

Today I'm really excited to introduce you to singer/songwriter, Mike Benecke.  After stumbling on this blog, Mike reached out to let me know about the recent release of his debut LP, Call the Waves, as he thought it might be something the RWM reader would enjoy listening to.  Naturally, I dove right in and spent some time with the album.  Instantly, I was moved by this slow, dreamy music.  There is something unique and hauntingly beautiful about it.  This is not the kind of music that I would put on to get fired up for a race.  But, it's the perfect album to sit and chill with, perhaps while stretching or drinking your morning coffee or as you close out your day.  There's a darkness behind Mike's lyrics which you can spend some time pulling apart if you are so inclined.  Personally, I chose to simply relax and take in the simple, melodic structure of each song without giving it too much thought.  Mike's been writing music and producing records since he was a kid and toured with several different bands before landing here.  It is at this stage in his career, with this raw and stripped down version of his original sound, that he so clearly connects with his listener.  So what if Mike used his speed as a sprinter to show off for the girls way back when.  Along with his music, running is part of him in his own way.  For now, we'll just leave it at that.  Many thanks for sharing your music and a bit of your story with us.  Here's Mike, a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.


Name: Mike Benecke
Where you're from: I was born in Illinois, but grew up in "The OC"
Where you reside now: Los Angeles
Occupation: musician for life, filmmaker for a living

What do you love most about running? 
Growing up, I loved to sprint.  The first girl I ever liked was a sprinter too.  It was a good way to show off.  She became the first girl I ever kissed.

What do you love most about music? 
Creating music is hard.  Being a musician is harder.  Sharing your truest self and connecting with a listener makes it all worthwhile.

Band (current, all time or both): both*
Album (current, all time or both): all time*
*I don't have any favorite albums or bands, but here is a list of some of the artists that inspire my record: Run DMC, Screeching Weasel, Elliott Smith, Randy Newman, M83, Antony and the Johnsons, Billie Holiday, Bon Iver, Cass McCombs, Cormac McCarthy, James Taylor, Joanna Newsom, John Coltrane, Wolf Parade, Louis CK, My Bloody Valentine, Philip Glass, Richard Buckner, Sufjan Stevens, Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch, Charles Bukowski, Tom Waits
Race venue: My sofa.  I'm a better spectator.
Music venue: Headphones, low tide, twilight
Race distance: Shorter the better
Show you've seen live: Jawbreaker
Ice cream flavor: Fresh strawberries, but if they aren't fresh, I'll take vanilla

Sweet or salty: life is about balance, blue cheese with honey, and a glass of wine since you're offering
Live or recorded: solo version live
Coffee or tea? I'm a snob. single origin, light roast, pour­over, please
Summer or winter? Summer in summertime. Homegrown tomatoes! Kinda over LA's summer all the time.

Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could?  Tom Waits
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could?  Elliott Smith
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could?  They would have to be a good cook, 'cause I just want to relax and have a Jameson (it's Saint Patrick's Day)
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Is that a thing?!

Today, I feel like (complete the sentence)....kiss me I'm half­-Irish

Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? 
Let's go for a hike and listen to a This American Life podcast

Last 5 Songs you listened to today? 
Vince Guaraldi - El Matador
Cannonball Adderley & Milt Jackson - Things Are Getting Better....
.... then some cheesy jazz came on the radio so I switched it off.

Listen to this:
Call the Waves - Mike Benecke (listen & download for free on bandcamp.)

Monday, March 21, 2016


Last fall I joined the SISU Project, a local team of die hard, dedicated post-collegiate runners of all ages and abilities.  The cornerstone of their philosophy is positivity and their two main messages are your goal is mine and we are all in this together - yes and yes.  I am definitely one of the more seasoned runners in the crew (translation-older), but then, age is just a number and we are only as old as we feel, right?  My dear friend and fellow runner, Kelly, who turned me on to the team, let me know that from a racing perspective, while many of these cats compete pretty seriously throughout the year on both the track and the road, I could get as involved in as much or as little as I wanted depending on my own goals and how they fit in with the group.  Perfecto.  Shortly after I joined, I reached out to a Amanda and Sumner, two gals who live relatively close by, and asked if I could meet up with them for some easy running.  To my delight, we jumped right in, hitting Battle Road together in Lexington and getting to know each other as we cranked out the miles.  For lack of a better description, at least for me, it was love at first run.  These ladies are warm, friendly, smart, energetic and even though I'm over a decade older than them, they made me feel like I fit right in.  From our first day on the trail, I knew that joining SISU was the right call for me.

post-run with Amanda & Sumner

As a team, the SISU Project participates in most, if not all, of the 6-8 races in the USATF-New England Grand Prix series every year.  Again, I was relieved when Kelly told me that I could do as many or few as I liked, so there was no pressure for me to feel as though I had to make every event, which is good because, with kids and a job, it would never happen.  The New Bedford Half Marathon would be one of the early races in the series and since it was happening after the LA Marathon, which I would run February, I figured I could make it my first race with SISU.  Given that it was only four weeks post-LA, it was a bit sooner to race than perhaps I would have chosen, but I still couldn't resist the urge to start running and hanging with this group, so I signed up.  Not surprisingly, I roped my bud and running partner, Kirsten, into joining me as she was training for a May marathon and a March half was perfect timing for her for a tune-up effort.  But, mainly because I wanted a wingman.  As most of you know, my main focus from November thru February was training for LA.  And while Kirsten's training wasn't as ramped up as mine since her race was in May, she was still putting the miles in so we did a lot of running together.  We also drank a lot of coffee together.  They go hand in hand.

post long-run with Kirsten

Since LA, I have been dragging big time.  It's no big shocker.  I put it all on the line out there.  And as a result, it's taking me a little longer to bounce back, which is fine.  The only issue being that as New Bedford was approaching, I was starting to feel less and less prepared to get on the line.  Meanwhile, Kirsten is now in the throws of her training, with her mileage up substantially and her exhaustion levels at an all time high.  She, too, was not sure what to expect as she had run a 20 miler on Monday and a very hard workout on Wednesday before the race.  Regardless, Sunday came and there was no backing out so off we went to brave the unknown.  We woke up to a beautiful and very, very chilly morning.  We had an hour + drive ahead of us and both of us needed to get a warm up in, so we left with plenty of time to arrive and deal without any stress.  Fortunately, it was a non-eventful trip and we pulled into the parking garage with a stream of cars full of runners both in front and behind us, around 9:30am.  We bundled up and headed over to the YMCA to grab our numbers and hit the bathroom. New Bedford is on the water and the wind was in full force, slapping us in the face the second we got out of the garage.  I tried to stay positive and made a comment about how beautiful it was out but Kirsten was all about calling a spade a spade, noting that it was really damn cold and windy.  Fair enough.  We grabbed our bibs and headed back to the car to ditch some layers and hit the road for an easy mile warmup.  I called Sumner from SISU, who had arrived right around the same time as we had, and told her we'd scoop her up at the Y as she needed to get some miles in, too.  I had brought a small, cheap pink fleece blanket to bundle up with until the start and then eventually ditch.  I ended up wearing it around my neck for the warmup, which looked ridiculous, not that I cared.  Finally, all three of us went back to the car again to get rid of more layers and agreed to meet at the start.  Around 10:45 we lined up in the chute.  We stretched a little, jumped around to stay warm and took the pre-race selfie which has now become tradition for Kirsten and I.

w/ Kirsten and my pink blankie

Kirsten's goal for this race was to test her training, run strong and have fun.  Mine was to shake off the dust from LA, try to relax, run hard and also to have fun.  After the National Anthem, a hug and a high-five, we were off.  Sumner is also training for a May marathon, so I had asked if I could possibly pace myself with her which she very happily agreed to.  It's a big race, about 2,500 runners, so from the get go we were bumping and weaving to try and find a spot and settle in.  My coach had advised me to stay in the pace range of 6:45-6:55 per mile so I worked to find that groove.  Within the first mile, I could tell that Sumner was feeling spritely and itching to fly faster, so I bid her adieu and did my best to hang back and do my own thing.  

And then the hills hit.  Holy crap.  For some reason, I didn't get the memo about how hard this course was.  At mile 2 we were climbing.  At mile 3 were climbing even higher.  What the hell??  I decided it was better that I hadn't known, told myself to buck up, put my head down and dug in.  From the elevation map above, it looks as though we could sit back and regroup for miles 7 - 12.  Ha!  At mile 7 we turned to run along the beach.  Cue the wind.  The gusts were cold and big and hitting us in the face for every single one of those miles.  Good, good times.  I found myself laughing as it was all  I could do.  From the beginning of the race my legs were tired and I had absolutely no pep.  After the hills, it was worse.  Again, I had gave myself a little talking to while I tried to chill out and embrace the run for what it was - a reentry into racing after a very hard effort in LA.  This helped and I cruised along not looking at my watch and just running by feel, doing what I could without killing myself.  I actually did have a little fun at this point, grooving to my tunes, throwing in some dance moves, high-fiving the crowd (which was awesome) and soaking it all in.  Finally, I got to mile 12 which was a solid climb to the finish.  Good grief.  Again, I was smiling, just giving it what I had and reminding myself that I was almost done, thank the Lord!  I rolled in at 1:30:19, a time that I was totally fine with given the course, the weather, and the state of my post-marathon body.  I found Sumner and we cooled down together and then I jetted to my car to grab some clothes.  Kirsten and I had made a plan to meet back at YMCA after we'd both cooled down.  As I was trudging up the hill to the garage, I heard Bec, Bec, over here.  I turned around to see Kirsten running toward me with an ear to ear grin and right away I knew something big had happened.  With all those forces working against her - exhaustion from training, the weather, the course, she still managed to crush it, setting a personal record by over 3 minutes. Beyond amazing.  I threw my arms around her and then grabbed a stranger and asked her to take our picture to capture the moment.

Finally, we made our way over to the Green Bean Coffee Shop to meet up with the rest of the SISU crew and grab some much needed post-race food and coffee.  We ate, drank, relaxed, met a bunch of new people, ogled over Matt and Kaitlyn's adorable baby, both SISU members, and then decided we needed to head back.  We had started our morning at 8:00am.  It was now 2:00pm and we still had a our drive home ahead of us.  Holy long one.... totally worth it.  My race went fine, but it was Kirsten's day and I was thrilled for her.  If I'm being totally honest, I won't say I wasn't a little disappointed in my own effort once the dust settled.  In the back of my mind, I'd hoped that I had a faster time in me simply due to the fact that I've ramped up my training and gotten a lot stronger over the past few years in general.  I expressed these sentiments to my coach and he responded with, Rebecca, all of your races serve a different purpose.  Today you ran a half marathon at your marathon pace just four weeks after a very big race.  It is exactly where you should be.  I'm happy and you should be, too.  Big picture, yes.  Be proud.  Be grateful.  Be happy.  Today, and every day, I am reminding myself that running is as much about recognizing our own efforts as it is about supporting the efforts of our friends and teammates.  And, yes, I re-read my last post, too....this time, for myself.  #TEAMBACON #SISUP

Listen to this:
Always/Never - DE & The Great Lakes

Monday, March 14, 2016


Last Saturday my daughter, Rosie (age 11), had a gymnastics meet.  She's been on a team for four years now and this year, in particular, she has really upped her game.  She works incredibly hard, practicing three times a week with nary a complaint.  At her last meet, she did very well; placing high in three out of the four elements (beam, bars, vault, floor) and 2nd overall in her age group.  It was the best she'd done to date and she was thrilled.  She walked out of the meet with an ear to ear grin and a trophy the size of half of her body - completely useless and totally awesome.

The one thing she's been sort of struggling with all year is her floor routine; more specifically her tumbling pass which is a roundoff-backhandspring.  It's a pretty basic skill at her level but you have to land it perfectly to score high and she was regularly landing with her ankles turned in which looked a little sloppy.  For the record, I had to ask her coach to explain this to me as her pass looked fine and exactly the same every time I watched it.  Anyway, she recently worked one on one with her coach for about an hour specifically on her pass and by the time they'd finished she had it down.  As a mom, it was really fun to watch all of this unfold....her first real taste of success at the meet, her realization she could do more to improve, her heightened desire to work hard and make it happen and her excitement when her hard work paid off and it finally clicked for her.  As you'd imagine, once she got it, she was beyond fired up to give it a go again at a meet.  Which brings us back to last Saturday.  Off to Acton we drove.  We arrived early and went in to find her team for the warmup.  I was nervous.  She was not.  I told her we were going to get lunch and as I was asking if she wanted anything she interrupted me mid-sentence and said, "I''m good, mom.  You can go.  I'll see you later."  Ok then.  About a half hour later my husband, my other daughter and I got back to the gym and took our seats.  These meets are typically very slow and somewhat tedious when you're not watching your own kid.  But they got things moving right away and within no time Rosie was up in bars.  She did well, scoring a solid 9.0.  Next was beam.  This is her favorite event and I am always so impressed at how unphased she seems to be by the fact that she has to do a cartwheel on a very high (4 feet) and very narrow (4 inches) apparatus.  Again, she did great, scoring a 9.3.  Next was floor.  She had yet to score above an 8.5 on floor this year.  I was sweating.  She was smiling.  She got out there and hit her tumbling pass perfectly.  When she finished she was almost giggling as she knew she'd done it.  She was given a 9.2 and she was over the moon.  Finally, she went over to vault and did her thing.  She finished out with a 9 on vault and for the first time ever she scored 9 or higher on all four events.  Jeff and I were so excited for her.  After a long and tortuous wait the judges finally finished tallying the points.  The girls are judged first on the individual elements and then overall.  Rosie placed second and seventh on beam and floor respectively.  And even though her overall total of 36.5 was the highest she'd ever scored, it was not enough for her to place overall.  From across the room I could read the disappointment in her face instantly.  She had done so well and yet, for her, it wasn't good enough which totally broke my heart to see.  I wrapped my arm around her and we walked out of the gym, her head down as she processed all that had just happened.  "You did great, kiddo.  I am so proud of you."  I told her.  She responded with a shrug of her shoulders and a quiet Mmmmm.

You listen here, Missy!

I wanted to stop and shake her and tell her that she should, by no means be disappointed.  I wanted to explain that she needed to look at the bigger picture and recognize that she'd improved so much and that her work was truly paying off even if it didn't get her on the podium for this meet.  But, I knew that wasn't going to sink in and, if anything, would likely annoy her, so I just kept walking.  As we drove off, I thought of all the similar experiences I've had with my running, and more specifically my racing, to the one she'd had that day.  I've done so many marathons.  I've had specific goals for each of them.  And, like Rosie, I've worked my tail off every time.  Sometimes I've hit my goal.  More often than not I haven't.  For example, my goal for the Albany Marathon down in GA, which I ran in 2013, was to run a 3:15.  I finished in 3:16.  It was PR by 8 minutes, good for 4th place overall, but, in the end it was not what I'd hoped for.  And rather than take the time to be proud of what I'd accomplished, my thoughts were shadowed by what I hadn't been able to do.  Then, just recently out in LA, I ran a tough race on a challenging course with a lot of factors working against me.  I had wanted to run under 3 hours and I ran a 3:05.  Time aside, I was the first woman to cross the line in my age group and the 15th overall.  That alone should have made my year.  But, once again, my overall success was clouded by the fact that I hadn't reached my one main goal.  All of these experiences have been incredibly bittersweet.  In the end, though, with a great deal of support from my coach, my family and friends, I have done everything in my power to recognize the good in all of them.  To give myself a pat on the back and be grateful for ALL of my accomplishments, even if they weren't exactly what I'd hoped for from the start.  If I didn't do this, I likely would have given up on running and racing years ago.  Very rarely, if ever, does it all come together perfectly.  But, we gain strength and confidence in the other successes, all of which help us to become the athlete or person we eventually want to be.  Later that day, I did talk to Rosie.  I said something to the effect of I know today didn't turn out the way you'd hoped.  But you still incredibly well and you have to take a minute to be happy about that.  You brought your A-game and it showed.  The fact that you're not taking home the trophy this time doesn't reflect who you are as a gymnast.  Success takes time.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  But, it's not.  If you love it, which you clearly do, you have to take all the successes as they come, no matter what.  At the time, she still didn't have much of a response for me.  But a couple days later, I circled back and asked her if she felt okay, good even, about the way things had gone.  Her response,  Yea, mom. Yea, I do.  
This kid.
Listen to this:

Monday, March 7, 2016


I'm not a huge fan of running in the dark.  But, during the winter I have to do it quite a bit.  On the week-ends, throughout the entire season, I work up at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH.  Between my job, my own recreational skiing, which I squeeze in between shifts, and the fact that both my girls train all day with the local ski team, I am typically on the hill from 8am to 4pm.  It's a long day. But, I love it, so I'm not complaining.  Since I started working at Cannon, about 5 years ago, I've also always been concurrently training for a spring marathon.  Thus, at the end of each day, when my friends are saddling up to the bar for a cold one, I often find myself zipping home to change my clothes and get my run in.  At first, it was kind of brutal as I, too, wanted nothing more than to just chill out at the lodge with my crew after a long day.  Over time, though, it's become the norm and I've learned to just accept it because it's what I choose to do and that's that.  My typical routine gets me out on the road around 5:00pm.  It's not quite dark out when I start but by the time I'm finishing it's pitch black.  I do my best to stay on smaller, local roads or the sidewalk whenever possible, but it's still a bit unnerving to be running in the dark in a bustling ski town where very few people expect to see a runner cruising the strip on a Saturday night.  After several unnerving run-ins with cars that were way too close for comfort, I bought myself a reflective safety vest with blinky lights on both the front and the back which I now wear religiously.  Even with this, though, I'm often not seen until drivers are very close to me if at all.  I should mention that I have tried several different types of headlamps and none of them stay snuggly on my head.  In fairness, my head is very small, but still, between having to constantly adjust the position of the strap and having to put it back on entirely when it slips off, I ended up giving up on the headlamp years ago.  So along with the vest, I am constantly seeking out additional safety devices to ensure that I stay visible and in one piece.  Enter RunLites.  A few weeks ago, the company reached out to see if I'd like to give them a try.  Yes please.  The timing could not have been more perfect as I was getting very close to resorting to using Christmas lights in some way which would have most likely been a huge pain in the ass to deal with if not really dorky.  In a nutshell, RunLites are gloves with built-in safety lights.  They offer several different options (size, color, fabric) for all sorts of activities (running, cycling, camping, etc).

For my purposes, winter running, I chose the RunLites Full-Length Fleece gloves.  Not only do they have lights, but they also have a reflective strip along the top of the glove for extra visibility as well as touchscreen capability for the thumb and pointer finger in both gloves.  You turn them on with one quick and easy touch and you're ready to go.  

There are two brightness settings, both providing more light than a standard flashlight, that project up to 15 feet in front of you.  They're powered by a rechargeable battery (USB cord included) that lasts up to 48 hours.  The gloves themselves are soft, lightweight, and breathable.  So, really, in regards to running in the dark, there is absolutely nothing these gloves can't do and no reason you shouldn't snag yourself a pair.  Winter is far from over and darkness, well, it's a daily occurrence.  Might as well get out there and run the night!


The good folks at RunLites have generously donated one pair of gloves in the size, style and color of your choice to one lucky RWM reader.  Here's how to enter:
1. Comment below.  Tell us what you love or hate about running in the dark.
2. Post the following to Twitter: I want to run the night with @RunLites and @runningwmusic
3. Send me an email with RunLites as the subject and your name in the body of the message.
4. Do all of these things.
Note: Contest is only open to US residents.  Winner will be picked via on 3/11/16.  Retail value of RunLites gloves is between $34.99-$39.99.  Many thanks to RunLites & good luck!

Listen to this:
Lemon Eyes - Meg Myers (StéLouse Remix)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


"We rise by lifting others."
~ Robert Ingersoll

Yesterday I joined my running partner, Kirsten, for a long run.  She had to get 19 miles in and I only had to do 12, so she ran 7 beforehand and then picked me up.  She's currently training for a May marathon and her mileage is just beginning to ramp up.  Normally, I'd be right there with her, as we often do the same races.  But, since I just ran LA, I'm in maintenance mode instead which feels lovely if not a bit odd.  As we set off, I was thrilled to be out on the road.  The sun was shining and it was a balmy 55 degrees outside.  We settled into an easy pace and caught each other up on our week-ends.  Around mile 5 (mile 12 for her) we were staring down (er....up) a nasty hill.  Our talking ceased and we dug in for the climb.  All in, we gained about 200 feet of elevation over the distance of a mile.  It doesn't matter if you're in the heat of marathon training or out for a joyrun, an elite runner or a weekend warrior, a hill like this is a bitch to get over.  We caught our breath as the road flattened out and reset ourselves for the next 6 miles.  Kirsten was really tired at this point.  Rightly so.  Me?  I was a mess.  Now, granted, I did run a marathon two weeks ago, but holy shit, my legs.  Talk about dead weight.  From this point forward every step hurt.  Here's the thing, though.  In the same way I did today, Kirsten joined me for almost every single one of my long runs as I trained for LA.  I had at least 8 runs over 18 miles to deal with and she was on board for part, and often, most, of all of them.  Not only that, but she'd often join me for a second run in the afternoon, not because she had to but simply because I was so unmotivated and so damn exhausted and she knew it would help.  Which it always did.  Throughout all four months of my training, she was my biggest cheerleader.  So now it's my turn.  Which brings us back to yesterday's run.  Around mile 8 (15 for her) we stopped so Kirsten could get some water at McDonalds.  I attempted to stretch out my legs which were slowly growing roots into the pavement as I waited.  I cannot express in words how badly I wanted to just sit down in the parking lot and hang out for a while.  But, I kept my mouth shut and we plowed on.  When we finally got to mile 18, I said something like, Ok, Kirst, the worst is behind us.  We got this.  To which she replied, the thought of running 8 more miles at this point is borderline unfathomable.  I reminded her that this run was coming off a very hard week of training and that running the marathon would be on fresh legs and she'd be good to go.  And to that, I think she said, my feet hurt.  Fair enough.  But, in the end, we got it done.  And what I realize now, having just gone through it myself, is that it makes me a better runner, a better person, when I play both roles.  My own running 'career', for lack of a better word, would not be nearly as rewarding if I couldn't take a back seat to my friends and fellow runners like Kirsten who are chasing their own dreams.  Sure there is reward in my own success but there is just as much if not more in the success of others.  And I know her success and any role I might have in that will have a greater impact on my own life than many other things.  So, yeah.  This time around, it's her trip.  I'm just along for the ride.  SHOTGUN!

Listen to this:
Quarks - SKYES