Monday, August 29, 2016


"It all adds up to something more."
~ Ace Frehley

As you may have read, last week I was up in NH working as a counselor at a high school running camp (post here).  As you might also know, I'm currently training for an October marathon, so I had to log quite a few miles during the week that I was there.  Unfortunately, my training plan didn't always match up with what the kids were doing, so I often had to get creative.  Take Monday, for example, our first full day of camp.  I had 13 miles on my schedule.  The campers were doing anything from 3 to 9 for their first run in the morning.  The plan was to head out at 6:45am.  Okay, that's not too bad.  But, I was going to need to get a head start if I was going to get some extra miles in.  So, I had to set my alarm for 6:00am and get going on my own before joining everyone else for the main run.  Right, so, even 6:00 isn't terrible.  But, there was one issue that was, in fact, really tough for me to deal with.  There was no coffee. (I'll pause here to let the impact of this one set in)  Yes, the staff drank coffee, but no one got up and got it going before the cook and her crew were in the kitchen, so there would be no pre-run caffeine for me for the first time since I don't remember.  Let's just say those first few solo miles (with no music, mind you, as it was not allowed on the trails) were not the prettiest and/or the swiftist I've ever done.  But, still.  I got it all in.  All 13 miles.  I did 10 in the morning and then another 3 in the afternoon.  And when I went to bed that night, I thought to myself....

---> Getting up at the crack of dawn to run a 10 miler without the support of music or caffeine.  And then running again later in the day.  THAT is what will make the difference.  That's what will take me to the next level on race day.

Because the camp is up in the mountains and most of the running is on trails with many long, steep, rolling hills that are virtually unavoidable, my coach told me to bag my workouts and just bank as many miles as possible on the challenging terrain.  Right-O.  By the end of the week, I had run about 70 miles total.  I'd done two runs every day but one.  I'd done several of them solo and without music and most of them without caffeine.  By the end of the week my legs were toast from all the hills, especially my quads, and my overall exhaustion level was at an all time high (not much quality sleep happening at a summer camp on a hard wooden bed with a crappy mattress and 14 high school bunk mates).  And as I drove home on Saturday afternoon, once again, I thought to myself....

---> 70 miles on tough terrain with several double sessions, most of that mileage done without caffeine and in a sleep deficit.  THAT is what will make the difference.  That's what will take me to the next level on race day.

After all that mileage along with many late nights (anything after 9:30pm is late for me), I could not wait to put my feet up and rest on Sunday.  It was supposed to be my day off and damned if I hadn't earned it.  Yea, no.  That next Monday, my girls had soccer camp from 9am-11am.  Though I tried, I could not find a sitter to get them to and from the field.  The only way I could get my long run (21 miles) was to get up at 5:00am and get it done before I had to drop them off.  Given how tired I was from the week that had just ended, I knew that just wasn't going to happen.  So, basically, what I realized late Saturday afternoon, much to my dismay, was that the only way I could get that 21 miler in without stressing about logistics was to do it on Sunday.  Thus, I'd be topping off my week at 90 miles (a first) and running the last 21 of them on jelly legs and with bags under my eyes.  Oooh boy.  Despite quite a bit of moaning and groaning, I got up on Sunday morning and got it done.  Because I had to.  And as I sat on my porch on Sunday evening in a rocking chair with my feet up and dinner on my lap, yet again, I thought to myself.....

--->  22 miles on tired legs after a 70 mile week after which I was functioning on fumes.  THAT is what will make the difference.  That's what will take me to the next level on race day.

In the end, what I realized or maybe just reconfirmed is that it ALL adds up.  And that all of it together will be what makes the difference.  There is no one single thing that will enable me to achieve my overall goal.  My 90 mile week?  It will undoubtedly help.  Just knowing I was able to dig deep and find enough energy to pull that off will likely come to mind as I'm fighting through my final 10K.  But, it won't be the deal breaker.  Everything that I put in over the past four months - the hundreds of miles, the stretching, the rolling, the icing, the workouts that I suffered through in the heat, the workouts that didn't go how I wanted them to but I did them anyway, the core work, the double sessions - all of it will be what takes me to that next level.  We can never be 100% prepared when we get on the line as there will always be variables that are out of our control.  But if we do everything we can to get there, particularly on the days when we thought we couldn't, then, yea, THAT is going to make the difference.  All of it.

Listen to this:
Lonely Cities - TIGERTOWN

Monday, August 22, 2016


Last Sunday I made my way up to Strafford, NH to spend the week at Camp Foss, a New Balance sponsored running camp for high school athletes, where I would be working as a counselor.  As you may remember, my first time up at Foss was at our Oiselle Birdcamp back in June and that was an epic experience so I was more than thrilled to get back up there again.  This time around, things were just a wee bit different.  There were about 260 teenage boys and girls in attendance.  I know....crazy.  Many of them have been training all summer and were hitting their peak mileage while at Foss.  Most, and more likely all of them, were there because, in addition to the fact that they run XC for their school, they simply love to run, especially with friends, both old and new.  From the minute they started to arrive, the atmosphere began to buzz with energy and within a few short hours the excitement across the camp was almost palpable.  I've been a camp counselor in the past, but working at a running camp was something totally new for me and though I didn't tell anyone at the time in fear of sounding dorky, I was just as fired up if not more than the kids.  The weather for our first couple of days was pretty brutal, not that anyone really cared.  We were coming off of a crazy, hot week in New England and the temp and humidity on Sunday were both through the roof.  If you weren't standing in the shade, you were sweating.  So, naturally, the kids jumped right into their standard routine of running around and playing various games at full speed.  Because, why not??  Sunday afternoon went something like this:

1:00 Check in
1:00-1:15 Find cabin, throw bags on or under bunk, say goodbye to parents.
1:15-1:30 Hug and chat with teammates as they arrive and then head outside to catch up with and/or meet runners from other schools.
1:30-4:00 Hang out, run around, play beach volleyball or Gaga (for those of you who are my age, this is a game similar to bombardment played in a pit with as many people that will fit inside. It's nuts.)
4:00 Afternoon run (people did anywhere from 4 to 9 miles)
5:00 Jump in the lake
6:00 Dinner aka the 'Mad Rush for fuel'.  Honestly, I've never seen anything like this.  The campers would race in and pile their plates with food as if it was their last meal.  I quickly learned that you have to elbow your way in if you want first dibs on the good stuff.  No joke.
7:00 Announcements
8:00-10:00 Hang out, run around and play more games.
10:00 Back to cabin
10:30 Lights out

I'm a 41 year old mom who is typically in bed by 9:30pm.  Thus, you can imagine my reaction once I realized how the rest of the week was going to play out.  Let's just say I checked in with the kitchen staff to make sure they had plenty of coffee available.  The first morning, we rolled out of bed at 6:30am and got right down to business, busting out a 10 miler before breakfast (and, more importantly, before I'd had caffeine).  Holy crap.  I was going to have to dig deep to make it through the week in one piece. From that point forward I just buckled down and got in the game.  The kids were amazing, the rest of the staff was fantastic and the scenery was breathtaking.  I knew from the get go that it would be virtually impossible for me or anyone else, for that matter, to have a bad time.  Somehow, on very little sleep and limited caffeine along with a ton of insanely tough miles on difficult terrain, including several double sessions, I made it through.  Like Birdcamp, it was one of the best weeks of my life.  Fun, crazy and incredibly rewarding both as a coach and a runner.  I knew it had made a substantial impact on me when, come Saturday I was legitimately sad to leave.  Though, I will say, taking a shower with water pressure and without spiders in the corners was pretty nice.  Seriously though, Camp Foss is, for lack of a better term, a truly magical place.  I left a different and, in many ways, better person and for that I will be forever grateful.  Now, you know I'm not going to leave you without a Top 10 list.  In fact, as I sat and thought this one through, one of my Lexington runners threw out a couple items of her own.  We probably could have gone on all afternoon, but, alas, I'll leave you with these 15.  Happy trails.


1. Running twice a day is normal.
2. You're hangry multiple times a day.

w/ Alex after our 2nd run of the day

3. You look forward to meals the way a 5 year old looks forward to Christmas.

The coffee station.  I spent a lot of time here.

4. If you're wearing a shirt your overdressed....for the run, that is.
5.You go through your entire wardrobe in 3-4 days.  Maybe less.

The cabin steps (aka the drying rack)

6. You love your bed more than your teammates.  Just a little.  But still.
7. That said, you can fall asleep on virtually any surface-floor, yoga mat, picnic table.

Shep asleep napping on a picnic table

8. You sleep, eat, swim and breathe in your running clothes and shoes.  Yes, I slept in my shoes.
9. It is totally normal for a group to break out in song at any given point in the day and you always join in.

at Foss Olympics with the LHS crew

10. There are rocks, bugs, large quantities of sand and other various items in your shoes, your bed and all of your stuff.  At first it annoys you.  By the end of the week you no longer notice it.

w/ counselors Megan, Hayley & Stella

11. When you're not running, your Snapchatting about running.

Post run selfie w/ Alex, Anna & Maya from LHS

12. Your drink of choice is chocolate milk which you consume 2-3 per day.
13. Waking up is often harder than the run itself.


14. Showering (for some) is optional.  What??  There's a lake.

Post-triathlon with the gals from Sugarloaf

15. You go to bed wondering how you can possibly run again the next day and then you wake up and do it regardless.  Because, it's just what you do.

w/ Anna, post-run #5 (of 10)

Listen to this:
Heartbeat - Tongues.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

BEST SUMMER RUNS & Why I Love the Sport

1. a feeling of good friendship among the people in a group

Barring any issues, my running partner, Kirsten, and I typically train for races (anything from the 5K to the marathon) together from early September through late May.  We've been at it, on and off, for the past six years or so.  There is absolutely no question that it's a hell of a lot easier, both mentally and physically, to stay upbeat and driven when you have someone to do the work with, so I consider myself very lucky.  In the summer, much to my dismay, we tend to go our separate ways as our family plans rarely line up.  Knowing that it's short-lived makes it easier to accept, but it still kind of sucks.  Training for a marathon is tough no matter what.  But, training for a marathon in the summer and on your own, well, let's just say there have been a lot of days where I have really, REALLY, struggled to motivate.  This past Sunday, I had to get 20 miles in and to my good fortune Kirsten had just returned from a trip that previous Friday so she could join me.  Hallelujah!  I've tackled seven 15+ milers since June and, for obvious reasons, this was by far the best one.  No joke, we chatted for the entire three (yes, 3) hours and before I knew it, we were done.  It doesn't get any better than that as far as long runs go.  All that said, however, I recently had an A-HA! moment.  When I look back on my summer training, most of my best/favorite/most fun runs have been with various family members, friends and/or teammates. Thankfully, even though Kirsten wasn't around, I was able to rally quite a few others to join me here and there, thus making those long patches of solo training in between significantly more bearable.  People often ask me why I continue to train year after year, day in and day out.  There are quite a few reasons actually.  But, what I love the most, and likely the biggest reason behind why I stick with it is due to the camaraderie of the sport.  Whether training or racing you can almost always find someone who is game to join you.  And regardless of whether it's just two of us cruising for several slow, easy miles or a whole group of us going all out for a race, it's almost always fun (or funny) in some way.  People also often ask me when I think I might stop training, at least at my current level.  And, my typical response is,  I'll probably stop when I'm no longer having fun.  As you can see below, I'm still having a damn good time!


13 miler w/ my Oiselle teammates
June 10

1. Group run at Oiselle Northeast Birdcamp.  This was our second run of the day and I almost bailed because I was so tired.  Thankfully, I found enough energy to join in because it was amazing.  Such good people and positive energy.

Long run w/ Locky
Chatham, MA
July 10

2. I hadn't run long with a friend in weeks so I was beyond thrilled to run 16 with my sister-in-law.  So what if it was 80 degrees and ridiculously humid.  We still had a good time.  Sort of.  Mostly when we were done and enjoying our coffees.  But still.

8 mile cruiser w/ Dave Ames
Brighton, MA
July 14th

3. Met up with my friend, Dave, for a jaunt through the city.  Always fun to get a run in near the Boston course.  We pretend to take ourselves seriously.  And then we spend the entire time making fun of each other.  Needless to say, our runs go by pretty quickly.

Cambridge, MA
July 22

4. Okay, this run actually sucked.  Like top 10 worst ever.  BUT, I did love hanging out with my Skechers teammates.  It's an awesome group of gals and, race aside, we shared some good laughs.  I'm still laughing.

20 Miler w/ Kirsten
Winchester, MA
August 8th

5. And last, but not least, was the 20 miler that Kirsten and I just did this past Sunday.  It was hot, we were tired, we were stupidly thirsty from mile 15 on.  And, yes, it was awesome.

Listen to this:
We'll Never Be Alone - Believe In Giants (feat. Lucy Rose)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Yesterday afternoon, my daughter, Grace, and I were walking our dog around the neighborhood.  Despite having been at camp all day, she was chock full of energy.  It may have had something to do with the fact that she was sporting new running kicks.  That and the fact that she's 9.  I, on the other hand, was struggling to keep my lids open having run a 19 miler that morning and then a bunch of errands after that.  As we walked, we had a funny conversation that I haven't stopped thinking about for a few days.  Here's how it unfolded:

Little G

Grace: Mom, let's have a race up the hill.
Me: I can't, Grace.  My legs are too tired.
Grace: Let's do it anyway.
Me: OK, ready win. (I threw my hands in the air as a sign of surrender)
Grace: Moooommmmm.  Come on.
Me: Sorry, G.  I ran 19 miles this morning.  I'm totally wiped.
Grace: Oh, yeah.  I forgot you had a long run today.  Why do you have to go that far again?
Me: Well, I'm training for a marathon and I need to get used to running for long periods of time so I can hopefully do better on race day.
Grace: But, aren't you basically running, like, a marathon, every week?
Me: Kind of.  Yeah.  But the more long runs I do, the more comfortable I become with the distance, so it all helps in the end.  
---> she looks up at me in confusion.
You know how you scrimmage at the end of almost every soccer practice?  Your team does that over and over each week so that on game day, you'll be ready to compete.  It's the same for me.  I do a bunch of trial runs so on race day I'm ready to go.
----> she nods in agreement.  I think.
Grace: Do you want to win your race?
Me: Well, sure, I'd love to win.  But, that's not why I race.  Really, I just want to improve on my time and enjoy myself, or at least try to.
----> long pause
Grace: Wait, Mom, when you're running your marathon and you get tired, do you stop and do this?

Me: Ummm. Yeah.  Sometimes.  (now I'm confused)
Grace: Don't do that anymore.  For your next race, instead of putting your hands on your knees to rest, you should put your arms behind your head like this.  Just look straight ahead.  Don't let the people next to you see that you're tired.

Me: Oh, yeah?  I should try and outsmart my competition, eh?
Grace: Definitely.  Even if you need a break, don't stop or look down.  You can even pretend to tie your shoe, but never lean on your knees and try not to breath too heavily.  Because then you'll give it all away.  
Me: Ok, good advice.  I'll remember that for next time.  Thanks, Grace.
Grace: You're welcome.  How many more do you think you'll do?
Me: Marathons?  Oh, I don't know.  I haven't really decided.
Grace:  Because it seems like you might get too tired to keep going at some point.  Right?
Me: Some day, yes, that will happen. But, hopefully not for a while.
Grace: Don't worry, Mom.  I'll keep coming up with ideas to help you out.
Me: Cool, Grace.  I appreciate that.  You're kind of like my secret weapon.
Grace: (smiling)  Totally!  Want to go check the pool drain for chipmunks?

And, that was it.  Kids are funny.  They often say what's on their mind and it doesn't always make sense but when you stop and think about it there is a message in there.  Here's my own interpretation of Grace's ramblings:

You run a lot.  I don't really get it.  But that's okay.  If you're going to keep at it, you should put some thought into how you're going to be successful.  At some point you're going to get too old for it.  But, don't stress too much because there are lots of things you can do to keep going.  Plus, you can always ask for help.  Oh, and this subject is kind of boring, so I've already moved on and you should, too.

So we did.  To rainbow unicorns.  MUCH more fun.

Listen to this:
We'll Never Be Alone - Believe in Giants (feat. Lucy Rose)