Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I have run with music since there was a portable listening device available to me.  I'll just go ahead and date myself here.  In junior high and high school, I used a Sony Walkman and listened to mixtapes, or what my friend Kirsten's son recently referred to as "small boxes with holes in them".  I also vaguely remember a brief stint where I attempted to run with my Discman, stepping gingerly to minimize the skipping.  That didn't last long.  After college, I was onto the original iPod.  OMG.  The fact that I could download and listen to all of my CDs on one device completely blew my mind.  It couldn't possibly get any better than this, I thought.  Funny, right?  Today, I use an iPod Nano and I love it.  It's light, fits in my pocket, holds a shit-ton of music and has even survived a session in my washing machine.  Why am I telling you all this?  Because through the years, as my music devices have evolved, my headphones have continuously been a complete pain in the ass.  I've honestly never been able find a pair that worked just right.  Ever.  And I've tried them all. (SEE RWM POST:PLEASE HELP, 2012)  Since they came onto the market, I'd been curious about trying a wireless option but I don't run with my phone and thought that was the only way to make those work.  Not so.  I recently discovered that my latest iPod Nano (this is my 3rd) has Bluetooth functionality which meant that I could expand my headphone options and finally update and enhance my running with music experience.  Enter Jaybird Sport.  A few weeks ago, I reached out to the Jaybird team and asked them about trying their product and potentially joining their team.  I'd heard and read about them on various sites and blogs and I knew one of my run-heros, the great Lauren Fleshmen, was sponsored by them so if they would take me, I wanted in.  I gave them a little backstory on myself,  describing both my passion for running and music as well as the fact that I'd yet to find a pair of headphones that met my all needs:
~ good, quality sound
~ perfect fit (I have child sized ears and struggle with earbuds falling out)
~ long battery life (over four hours)
~ wireless (it was time)


I explained that I'd reached max level of frustration with my current headphones; that I'd tried multiple brands and styles and that too often I was dealing with stupid issues including:
~ constant tangles
~ earbuds falling out (particularly in the summer when sweat is a bigger factor)
~ losing the earbud covers completely
~ accidentally ripping them out of my ears while on the treadmill because I was tired and my arms were flailing out of control (this has happened on more than one occasion)   
I told them that I was running two marathons this spring, training like a madwoman and that I was desperate to find a product that would improve my running/music experience.  They patiently heard me out, agreed that I could use an upgrade and let me know that they were starting an ambassador program and that I could potentially work with them if the headphones worked for me.  To which I responded, I'LL MAKE THEM WORK FOR ME.  No, but really, that is the kicker here.  Jaybird Sport headphones are unique in the fact that you can't take them out of the box, throw them in your ears and go.  They are specifically designed for the individual user and require quite a bit of time and effort up front in regards to getting the perfect fit.  I started by trying out the Freedoms.  Each pair comes with two different styles of ear tips in three sizes and four pairs of silicone ear fins in four sizes.  

When you take it all out, it's a bit overwhelming.  And I'm not gonna lie, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to find the style and size that worked for me.  But true to their word, after trying multiple combos of tips and wings I landed on the fit that works perfectly for my mini-ears (smallest sizes of both).  After that, the setup was cake.  You just connect to Bluetooth on your music listening device and pair the headphones up.  Once their connected you're good to go.  Rather than give them a test drive with a shorter run, I opted to jump right in at full tilt and hope for the best.  The day after my Jaybirds arrived we were smacked with a blizzard (the second in 5 days) here in Boston and running outside was not an option.  So, I cruised to the gym, threw them on and settled in for an an 18 miler on the dreadmill.  

I brought my old headphones as a backup but I never used them.  From that first run, the Jaybirds were a dream.  They sit comfortably in my ears and the sound is phenomenal.  There is chord that wraps around the back of my head to attach the buds but it can be cinched up and I found that it was basically non-existent.  For the first time, I was running without a wire between my body and the treadmill and it was awesome.  I could jump back and forth between the TV and my iPod without missing a beat.  I could change the speed and grab water without worrying about ripping the chord out of the machine.  I was totally free.  And that, my friends, is all she wrote.  I have worn them every day since.  I'm a die hard fan.  And while I'll admit that they are an investment financially (the Freedoms retail for $149.99), they are worth every cent and then some.  Oh, how I wish I was like Oprah and could give all of you who are reading this post a pair of Jaybirds.  But, alas, this is not the case.  I can, however, give you an opportunity to win this fantastic prize pack from the folks at Jaybird.  Because they want you to try them as much as I do.  And you might as well look cool while you're doing it.  Here's the details.


The Jaybird crew sent me four prize packages to giveaway, two here on the RWM blog as well as two over at RWM on Instagram (@runningwmusic).  Feel free to enter on both.  Each has a unique Jaybird "RUN LIKE YOU STOLE IT" shirt, a water bottle and a spike bag.  To enter here, just comment below.  Tell us what your favorite running song is.  Tell us what your favorite dance move is.  Or just give us your name and tell us you want the Jaybird swag.  Though that's not nearly as fun.  Two readers will be picked via random.org both here and on Instagram on Monday, March 6th.  Thanks to the Jaybird Sport team for spreading the love with RWM.  Have fun and good luck!*

Hot Thoughts - Spoon

*note:contest is only available to US residents.  Sorry Sasha!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” 
~ Sarah Dessen

As you may already know, in the winter I work at Cannon Mountain up in Franconia, NH.  My official job title is Ambassador.  Basically, what that means is if you come to Cannon, I am the person who will check your lift ticket, answer your questions, give you directions, help you if you get injured and show you where the good snow is; among other things.  When the weather is really bad (subzero temps, wind, rain, etc.), this job is admittedly pretty brutal.  Otherwise, it's a ton of fun and I honestly look forward to doing it every weekend.  The mountain staff is a motley crew of people from all walks of the earth and together we do our best to represent the laid back, fun, positive aura that is Cannon.  On Tuesday, I worked three hour long shifts at the Mittersel lift.  If the sun in shining at Cannon, this is, hands down, the best place to be.  From a working standpoint, it's one of my favorite assignments mainly because it has a super chill vibe and because I tend to know a lot of the skiers that roll through, many of them good friends of mine and quite often my own kids who both train and race at the mountain.  The lift attendants, and more specifically, the guys over at the Mittersel lift, are a stellar crew and such a blast to be around.  Most of them are long-haired, bearded dudes under the age of 30.  Except for Doug who is pushing 40 but looks (and acts) like he's under 25.

Crazy Doug

It should be noted, however, that this is by no means a cut on him as he is one of the funniest guys I've ever met.  It should also be noted that given my status as a 42 year old mom, I fit right in.  No.  Not really.  But they welcome me with open arms regardless.

Survival mode

This particular morning, I rolled into work a bit behind the eight ball from an energy standpoint.  I'd gotten up early to get a run in before my kids woke up which in and of itself is always a challenge for me.  On top of that, the combination of marathon training, working and skiing was simply starting to take a toll on me physically.  Basically, I was toast.  After our morning meeting I grabbed a cup of coffee and made my way over to my first shift.  Yes, I skied with coffee.  It was a slow morning which was both good and bad; good because it was mellow and stress-free and bad because time was literally crawling.  After my coffee, I jumped into a conversation about music with Sam.  I threw him one of my standard music-related questions: What band or artist would you see tonight if you could BUT they can no longer be together and/or alive.

Hanging w/ Sam

Sam is 21 so I was surprised when he responded with the 70s era funk band, Parliament.  I agreed that they would have been a killer show to experience.  He asked me who I'd see for which I always have the same answer....the legend, Bob Marley.  So, then we asked the rest of the crew who their picks would be.  Doug landed on David Bowie with Beastie Boys as a close second.  Nick threw out The Highwaymen, a country music supergroup from the 80s and 90s made up of  Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.  Again, not what I'd expected, but a solid choice.

Happy Nick

After that, we decided to have a little fun and throw the question out to all the skiers who were coming through.


We watched as people skied up to the lift, read the board and then thought about their answer (or didn't).  Not everyone was into it, but a lot were and many jumped on the opportunity to share their thoughts.  If they didn't have one right off the bat, they'd chew on it while the road up, then ski down and give us their answer.  The responses were all over the map.  Some of the artists I'd never heard of (Harry Chapin, Mother Lovebones, Richie Haven) others were on my own list (Talking Heads, English Beat, Traveling Wilburys).  Led Zeppelin was the clear winner.  Beatles a close second.  In the end, most genres were covered - country, classic rock, alternative rock, jazz and so on.  But the really cool thing was seeing the impact this one question had on the energy of the crowd.  People were smiling, laughing, chatting with strangers, chatting with us.  Not to sound cheesy but everything felt so good and right at the moment.  The beauty of it all?  There was no right or wrong answer.  We respected each other's choices regardless of whether we agreed or disagreed with them.  Music is such a powerful force.  It moves us beyond words.  It tells our stories.  It shapes our lives.  And not only did our answers reflect this but they brought us together just for that moment. Because, what it comes down to is that music is a universal language.  It is available to all of us.  And it is a medium that is shared freely across the board.  There are not many things out there, particularly in our current state of affairs, that have the ability to move us all in such a positive way.  And that is pretty spectacular, isn't it?

Bob Marley
David Bowie
Beastie Boys
The Highwaymen
Mother Lovebone
Talking Heads
Led Zeppelin
The Jerry Garcia Band
Grateful Dead
The Doors
The Beatles
Pete Seger
Janis Joplin
Richie Havens
Credence Clearwater Revival
The Eagles
Smashing Pumpkins
Jimi Hendrix
The Allman Brothers Band (original lineup)
Stevie Ray Vaughn
James Brown
Alice In Chains
Nick Drake
Janes Addiction
Miles Davis

Listen to this:
Machine by Misterwives

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


"Winter is not a season.  It's an occupation."
~Sinclair Lewis

To date, this winter has been pretty bearable.  Until now.  Here in the New England area, we have gotten pummeled by Mother Nature over the past few days.  She's having a hell of a time and she's holding nothing back, damn her.  I shouldn't be surprised.  It's the same every year.  And those of us who are training for a spring marathon and live in these seasonal areas fight our way through snow, wind, sleet and freezing temps day in and day out; many of us questioning what the hell we were thinking (wait, were we thinking??) when we signed up for our race every single time we step outside.  Yet we all continue to do it because we're crazy and we thrive on pain.  Kidding.  Sort of.  Each year I try really hard not to moan and groan about the winter because, let's be honest, no one is forcing me to run a spring marathon.  But, once in a while, usually after a particularly challenging stretch of weather, I just totally lose my shit.  I'm sorry.  I just can't help it.  In the end, all of it makes me stronger.  So, there's that.  And it usually makes me laugh.  Like, a lot.  Not while I'm running, but when I'm done.  So, there's that, too.  And when it's over, I'm always incredibly proud of myself for getting through it.  And that's huge.  But, for now, I'm struggling.  I'm hoping, whether you're a runner or not, that you might understand and/or appreciate my current mental state (loco with a little anger mixed in).  If not, well, perhaps you stronger than I and I applaud you for that.  Here's how the last few days played out for me.  You be the judge.

MONDAY - 2/6

Monday is my long run day.  Last Monday, my teammate and I knocked out 18 miles together.  The weather wasn't too bad.  The only thing we had to deal with was the cold and some wind but we're used to that.  So, I was still doing okay after this one.


Tuesday is when things started to go South.  I only had 7 miles to get through but I had freezing rain in my face for the majority of the run.  That's never fun.  By the time I got home I was totally soaked.  I'm pretty sure I said something like, well, hopefully it won't get any worse than that this week.  Ba ha ha ha.  Silly me.


On Wednesday morning I was drinking coffee when my husband came back in from attempting to walk our dog and let me know that the roads were literally covered in ice.  Oddly, the temp was supposed to get into the 50s later in the day but at that moment it was about 25 degrees out so there wouldn't be any melting happening for a while.  So, off to the gym I went.  Not only was I going to have to run inside, but I was going to have to flip my workouts and do my tempo run a day early.  Why?  Because a massive snow storm was en route for the next day and there was a good chance I wouldn't be leaving the house because of it.  Awesome.


I woke up Thursday and hustled out the door because the weather wasn't supposed to get bad until mid-morning.  The snow started coming down about a mile in and got progressively worse throughout the run.  The roads were okay when I got going but by the time I finished they were a mess. Fortunately, I only had to get through 8 miles so I managed to stay somewhat safe and got it done.  As you can see, the mental wheels were really starting to fall off at this point.

FRIDAY - 2/10

On Friday morning it was 8 degrees outside when I woke up.  The struggle was real, my friends.  I did not want to go and was coming up with every excuse under the sun to delay my departure.  My good friend and Oiselle teammate, Sasha Gollish, was staying with us and very kindly encouraged me to get out there despite the temp and the state of the roads.  I think her exact words were Trax, you need to just go.  Afterwords, I made her come outside with me for a post-run high five.  I was stupidly excited to be done.  She understood and willingly obliged.

----->  The weekend was relatively manageable.  We were up in New Hampshire and I did my usual routine of working and skiing during the day and then running inside on the dreadmill in the evening.  It's not ideal, but I'm used to it and I no longer think about it.  I just get it done.  Sunday is my day off.  I look forward to it like a kid who's counting down to a birthday.  I crave the rest and the fact that I don't have to coordinate running with my families' daily schedule.  But this past Sunday....not so much.  A second, much bigger snow storm was coming through and hitting all of New England like a beast.  Winchester was going to get anywhere from 12-18 inches.  WHAT??  The storm was starting Sunday afternoon and going all night.  My husband needed to be home for work on Monday so we drove home in it.  Think clinched jaws and white knuckles.  In the meantime, I was wondering how the hell I was going to get my long run in the next day.  I considered driving over the gym when we got back Sunday night and banging it out but by the time we were home the entire town was totally shut down.  So, instead I did some shoveling and went to bed.

MONDAY - 2/13

On Monday morning, for the first time in my 42 years, I ran 18 miles on the treadmill.  It was as bad as it sounds.  But, it had to be done.  And hopefully, it will never have to be done again.  Knock on wood.  Here's to all the winter warriors out there fighting the good fight.  I'm with you.  We got this.

Listen to this:
STC (Interval Training) by Cash+David

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
~ Jedi Master Yoda

This past Sunday morning my daughter, Rosie, had her third gymnastics meet of the year.  A little backstory here.  Rosie is 12 and has done gymnastics, or some version of it, since she could walk.  She started around 18 months with "mommy and me" classes. (translation - roll around on the mats with other kids while the moms chatted with each other and drank massive cups of coffee because we were so tired it hurt)  She continued to take classes "for fun" until she was about 8 at which point she started to take notice of the team girls working out next to her.  For a few months, she stared longingly as she went through the motions in her own class.  Thankfully, the coach took notice of her as she watched from afar and eventually suggested she consider joining them.  She made the official switch from classes to the team at age 9 and has been 100% hooked from that point forward.  Currently she is a second year Excel Silver, she practices about ten hours a week and she lives, eat and breaths gymnastics.  And I fully support it for multiple reasons.

First, she loves it.  You can see it on her face when she's doing it, before she's about to go, after she gets back and while she's talking about it.  She never, ever complains about having to go to practice.  In fact, she's checking the clock beforehand and is literally bursting out the door when it's time.  It brings her so much joy and is a big part of who she is even when she's not in the gym.

Second, it's her choice, not mine.  I played sports when I was growing up up but my parents never forced me to do anything.  Everything I did was because I wanted to do it.  When I was in grade school, I fell in love with soccer the way Rosie has fallen in love with gymnastics.  I was always on multiple teams, playing every day of the week and dreaming about it when I wasn't on the field.  And, yes, my dear, sweet mom drove me to Timbuktu and back for games and tournaments from 3rd grade all the way up through high school.  Bless her.  I know, however, that if I'd started to burn out my parents would have been both supportive and understanding if I wanted to go in a different direction.  And we will do the same for Rosie.  Because the minute it's not fun and she's not enjoying herself, it's no longer worth it.  For now, she sees it as something she "gets" to do which is how it should be at her age.

Third, it is helping her grow into a strong, confident, driven young woman.  Rosie is unique in that she's never in a bad mood.  No joke.  My mother-in-law calls her Sunny because she's always happy, smiling and ready and willing for anything.  It's crazy, in a good way, but crazy.  She also moves around a lot.  Always has.  She's a bright kid but she has a hard time focusing, particularly in school or when there is a lot going on; something she is constantly struggling with and working on.  But when she's in the gym, her demeanor shifts.  A calm falls over her and she's able to set her intention and fully commit to the task at hand.  It's almost eerie to watch.  And the same goes when she's competing.  She's still her fun, easy going self; cheering on and laughing with her teammates, but her nerves are very clearly at bay.  As she moves from event to event, hopping on the beam or getting ready to fly over the vault, she's cool as a cucumber, which totally blows my mind.

Okay, so back to her aforementioned meet..  Her team was set to compete at 8:30am so they needed to be warming up at 7:45.  We arrived and checked in and then I wished her good luck and found a seat.  To date, Rosie has had a really solid year from a competition standpoint.  She's found her groove and the fact that she's a bit older and on the Silver team for a second year has given her a leg up in terms of experience.  Not that I stress any less from my end every time she's out there.  Her first event was bars and she did beautifully, scoring a 9.6, the best she's ever done on this element.

Next up was beam, typically her best event.  She hopped on, did her back walkover, missed her footing and fell off.  Bummer, but not a huge deal.  It happens.  She composed herself and hopped back on.  Then she did a half turn, something she can usually do with her eyes closed, missed her footing on the landing and fell off again.  For as long as she's been competing she's never done this. My heart broke for her.  But, she kept calm, got back on and finished her routine.  I saw her coach pat her on the back and say something as she smiled and nodded.  Then she marched over to the floor with her teammates and got ready to go again.  When she stepped on the mat to compete, she was her sunny, smiling self and if she was bummed about the beam, I couldn't tell.

She went on to perform beautifully on the floor and vault and finished 5th overall in her age group despite her mishap on the beam.  In the end she was both disappointed and pleased with the way the morning had unfolded.  And, yes, she was smiling as we left the building and headed home.  Why am I telling you all this?  I do love to talk about my kids and I'm incredibly proud of both of them.  But, that's not the reason in this case.  Both my girls make me laugh, drive me nuts, and keep me guessing.  But the cool thing is, though they likely aren't aware of it, I am always learning from them.   Case in point, Rosie could have so easily fallen apart and given up after her beam routine.  And there is no question that the rest of her performance would have suffered if she'd done this.  Not only did she hold it together to finish strong but she stayed upbeat and positive all the way through.  I'm not sure I could have or would have done this same if I was in her shoes.  In fact, there have been countless races for me when the wheels have started to fall off and I've thrown in the towel mentally and physically rather than bucked up and fought my way to the finish.  And if I'm being totally honest, there have been many races, marathons specifically, when I've done poorly and then claimed I hate them and will never do them again.  After which I dwell on it for hours or days even and overanalyze all that went wrong until the cows come home. (and then, I do them again, but that's a lesson for a different day)  Somehow, my twelve year old is always able to see the forest for the trees.  In this case, she was able to note that her day didn't go as well as she would have liked but that she'd done the best she could.  Rather than dwell on it, she was able to accept it, reset and move on.  It was that simple.  The bigger overarching lesson here is that not only does she love her sport but she recognizes that it's a privilege that she gets to do it.  I know this not only because she tells me but because I can see it on her face every single day.  Too often, despite the fact that I choose to run and train for races, I am dreading my workouts or complaining about having to fit it all in.  Because it's hard.  And it takes a long time.  And I'm tired.  And blah, blah, blah.  While, really, I should really be realizing and appreciating the fact that I get to do something that I love day in and day out.  Running is my passion and brings me joy and if I approach it with this in mind, the same way Rosie does with gymnastics, it will undoubtedly impact my performance in a positive way.  Because in the end, the reward, not the medal or the trophy, mind you, but the actual reward of getting to do what we love is really what it's all about.

Which brings us to Monday.  I had my usual long run to tackle and decided to approach it a little differently.  I put some music on, threw on my running clothes, drank some coffee and got excited.  I don't "have to" run long, I said to myself.  I "get to" run long.  I took off with a spring in my step and, like Rosie, a smile on my face.  I ran for almost three hours.  I felt good.  And I loved it.  So, thanks to Rosie.  Lessons learned.  Keep 'em coming.

Listen to this:
On My Way - Tiesto

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


If you want to go fast, go alone. 
If you want to go far, go together.
~ African Proverb

This past Friday I flew to Phoenix for a Oiselle team meet up.  As most of you know, Oiselle is a women’s running apparel company and I have been an ambassador for the brand (aka Volée) for about five years now.  Over these years I have met and connected with some of the coolest gals from all over the country who I now consider some of my dearest friends.  Several of us would be reuniting for this particular event so I was more than giddy to get there.  I was also looking forward to getting to know some of the new birds who had recently joined the team, many of whom I'd already met over social media but had yet to meet in person.  And, let's be honest, Phoenix weather is a hell of a lot better than Boston's at this time of year, so there's that.  This specific meetup was based around the 2nd Annual Phoenix Women's Half Marathon, which, along with a 10K and 5K, would be held on Sunday morning.  There were about 100 gals in the group who would be either racing or cheering depending on their current training agenda.  The ringleaders of our group would be Sarah (aka Lesko) & Heather (aka Feather).  They both work for Oiselle and manage the Volée (a nationwide team of over 3000 women), which is no small feat.  They also happen to be two of my favorite people in the world.  Yet another reason that I was stupidly excited to go out there.  My main focus for this trip was to meet and hang with my teammates and to enjoy all of the team-related activities but I was also going down to race the half.  It would be my first race of 2017 and I was both nervous and fired up to test my current fitness.

At the airport w/ coffee.  My second. 
(Or maybe my 3rd)

After a relatively painless flight that included two coffees and three movies (the new Ghostbusters is really good, Bridget Jones' Baby, not so much), I arrived in Phoenix around 2:00pm.  My roommate/wingman Ashley, who I met back in 2013 and have stayed with at almost every Oiselle meetup since, was coming in from Texas but wouldn’t be arriving until Saturday morning, a bit torturous given how psyched I was to hang with her.  After a nap and some much-needed down time, I hopped in the car with Lesko and Feather and we made our way over to dinner to meet up with the rest of the Oiselle crew who’d arrived on Friday.  As it often is with runners, it was an instant love fest.  Hugs, kisses, maybe a little screaming; all of it most definitely annoying to those who weren’t in our group and trying to enjoy a quiet dinner.  Late sorry to them.  Couldn’t be avoided.  We met and/or caught up with each other over ridiculously large bowls of beer and pizza.

 w/ Erica, Dana, Feather & Tara

The hours flew by but finally (and thankfully) someone initiated the shut down.  The time change was definitely hitting me hard, particularly given my usual 9:00pm bed time, so shortly after dinner I put myself to bed.  Of course, we had to get a team shot before we broke up for the night.  I'll just throw it out there now...there will be a lot of these.

The next morning our plan was to meet at Granada Park at 9:00am for a shakeout run and then go straight to breakfast.  Not surprisingly, I woke up at 5:30am because of the time change (okay, yes, it was more likely because of how excited I was) and after attempting to drink the coffee in my room (aka brown water with coffee flavor) I headed down to the hotel's cafe to try and find something stronger.  Lesko and Feather came down as I was sipping my second cup (still weak, but better) and, once again, I jumped in their car for a ride over to the park.  It was a clear, crisp sunny day, but only about 30 degrees which was definitely a little cooler than I’d expected.  Another group of Oiselle gals would be rolling in to join us for our run having arrived late the night before or early in the morning.

Rolling out w/ Feather

After lots of chatting, some photos, some stretching and a little dancing in the parking lot, we finally headed off for our run.  Within minutes we all fell into step together and various pods of runners formed depending on desired pace and distance.  We soaked up the sun and the good company as the miles passed quickly behind us.  I had the pleasure of running with Marilyn and Christiana, two birds that I had not yet met but felt like I’d known for years by the time we finished our run.  I love how that happens.

Post-run high

After our run we made a mad dash over to brunch at Luci's at the Orchard, an eclectic little indoor/outdoor cafe that made awesome breakfast burritos and killer lattes.  We parked ourselves in the back and hung out for several hours; sipping coffee, chilling out and gabbing some more, basically picking up where we left off on the run.  It was incredibly difficult for us to pry ourselves out of our seats and get going but we finally motivated to get back to the hotel for some down time before our next team activity.  Around 2:00 we all ventured out to Tempe Beach Park where the next round of our teammates would meet up with us.  We parked ourselves on the green with blankets and food and hung out for another couple hours.  Yes, a lot of hanging out and chatting during these meetups.  But, when you haven’t gotten to spend time with your runfamily for a while you have to make the most of it.

w/ Ashley, Kerri & Feather

Dinner that night was at Sauce, another cool eatery that served simple, healthy food which somehow managed to meet the pre-race needs of a group of 100 runners.  Impressive.  We planted ourselves under the heat lamps outside and while the vibe was still warm and bubbly, the excitement had simmered down a bit and you could sense that many of us were starting to get nervous about racing the next day.  Pro-runner Stephanie Bruce who runs for Oiselle, lives in AZ and would be racing with us as well, joined us for dinner.  This was beyond awesome as she’s one of my biggest sister/run heroes and I think I can safely say the same goes for most of the crew that was with me.  I was pretty excited about the fact that I’d be running along side er…behind…one of the greatest female distance runners in the country the next day.  I was also tired and thankfully this was one of the few meals where everyone wanted to call it pretty early so we could rest up for the next day.

Sunrise in Phoenix

Ashley and I woke up early again the next morning and bee-lined it to Starbucks.  In exchange for the use of their car, we also grabbed coffee for Lesko and Feather.  A legit win-win.  The race was starting at 8:30 so we all got going around 6:45 in order to give ourselves enough time to gather with our crew (all here now), pick up bibs, warm up, stretch and do all the other pre-race rituals that we do.  It was another gorgeous, sunny day and the temp was around forty; chilly to start but otherwise perfect racing conditions.  I took off for my standard two mile warm up and then got back in time to have a little pump up session in the car with Lesko, Ash and Feather before heading over to the start. This was our second of several impromptu dance parties.  The day before I had texted my coach to ask him about my pacing strategy.  I threw out a goal time of somewhere between 1:25-1:26, a result that would have been a PR for me, my best time being 1:27.  But, I’m currently training for a May marathon and have just begun to ramp up my mileage so this goal was lofty or in my coaches words “aggressive but not suicidal”.  He told me to aim for a pace of 6:30-6:40 but not to be surprised if that felt too difficult given where I am in my training cycle.  I decided to go for it because...why not?

Team photo before the start

Miles 1-5 
After a simple ready, go we were off.  Okay, so this was weird.  We could take a hard right or go straight and there was no sign to tell us what to do.  And there was also no one standing there to tell us what to do.  Instinctively, I went right but after a few steps I heard someone say, is this the right way so I stopped and turned around to make sure.  We finally got it figured out and continued on our way.  But it was definitely not an ideal way to get things going.  I took some deep breaths and tried to ease into goal pace and settle down after the hectic start.  We made our way down a path that ran under all the major freeways in Phoenix and while it was nice to be off the road we would be going down and back up the tunnels beneath the roads which, I later realized, occurred every couple miles for the entire race.  I did not know this beforehand which was probably a good thing.  These dips weren't long but they were significant and after the novelty of the first one wore off I knew that they were going to be a challenge for me, particularly in the end.

Running alongside my teammate, Jo Rupp

After about two miles I found myself in the lead (exciting) and totally by myself (scary).  This is not something I’ve ever experienced before in a race and I quickly realized that I didn’t like it as I knew it was going to be tough to stay focused without someone to keep me in check.  I cruised comfortably for these miles and when I got to the 5 mile mark the folks at the water stop told me turn around.  Like....right here? I asked.  Yes, right here, they said as they handed me water.  There was no cone, no barrier, nothing to signify the turn so I literally stopped and switched directions.  Another first for me in a race of this length.

Pro-Runner Stephanie Rothstein Bruce

Miles 5-9
After the hairpin turn I worked to find my rhythm again, which was tricky.  But, then I started to see the other runners headed in my direction, many of them my teammates, and I got really, really excited.  I’d been solo for the past 5 miles so It was virtually impossible not to high five, wave or yell at almost everyone that I passed.  Which I did.  And it was awesome.  I also passed Steph Bruce who was running the 10K.  She gave me a peace sign.  I gave her a thumbs up.  That was awesome, too.  I ran some good, solid miles in here at or below pace on account of being back with the crowd and on a fresh high because of it.

Final push

Miles 9-13.1
At mile 9 I was back at the start and then took a hard right to head off in the other direction.  Sadly, I was now alone again.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very exciting to know I still had the lead, but staying mentally on top of it was starting to get really, really hard and I was noticing that my body was starting to fade.  I reached out to grab Gatorade off the table and couldn’t get my hands around a cup but accidentally knocked about seven of them off the table as I tried (think dominos).  That was a bummer and stressed me out as I felt like I needed the fuel.  The temp had risen steadily and was now in the 60s with the sun beaming down on us directly.  I could feel the salt caking on my arms and neck.  It was at this point that I started talking to myself.  Come on Rebecca.  You gotta dig deep here.  You’re strong enough to hold this pace.  Stop doubting yourself and finish this.  And while I was saying these things.  My legs were like…yeah, but we’ve worked really hard and now were tired and we’re going to ease up just a little bit now. Cool?  No, not cool.  My pace was slowing and I started to get pissed but then I saw the giant orange Gatorade cooler which I new was the final turn around, another hairpin, this time with a cone to get around, so I was able to re-group and get back in gear.  Now I was seeing my teammates again, so I started high-fiving, yelling, all of it as I fought my way to the finish.  I saw 1:26 on my watch at mile 13 and I knew a PR was out but I still pushed hard to finish strong regardless finishing in 1:27:59.  Holy crap that was hard.  Much more challenging than I’d expected.  And though it wasn’t the time I’d wanted, I was proud of myself for getting gritty in the second half of the race when I could have so easily let myself go.  Plus, it was a win, which I was thrilled about.

The finish

Like the start, my finish experience was pretty bizarre, too.  I crossed the line as the announcer was yelling out the names of the 5K finishers.  I stopped and looked around but no one was doing or saying anything.  Not a big deal, but for having just won the race, it did feel a little strange that there was no official race person there confirming it.  I walked down the path for a few steps and a little girl tapped me on my shoulder and handed me a finisher medal.  I guess I'd missed them when I went through the chute.  Then I had to ask around to find out where the water was as I was parched beyond belief and there wasn’t anyone handing anything out.  Again, strange.  Let’s just say the direction and guidance from race officials was minimal for this one.  I took off for a little cool down and then made my way back to the finish to cheer on the rest of my teammates who were coming in.  I was instantly elated by the love thrown at me from everyone.  Tons of congratulatory hugs and high fives that made me feel, albeit briefly, like a rock star.  I have to say there is no way I would have held on and stuck with it had I not had that incredible crew of women cheering me on and I was so grateful to them for that.

Post-race shenanigans

The beauty of a meetup like this is that you don’t have to finish the race, drive home and dive head first back into reality.  The whole gang relocated to a quirky Mexican joint and unwound over beers and tacos.  We rehashed our races, both the good and the bad, talked about what we had next on the agenda, traded notes on races that we loved, and talked about a lot of other stuff that I don’t remember because I was painfully tired.  When Lesko asked me if I was having trouble keeping my eyes open I knew it was time to go.  I wanted a nap before we were planning to have our final group session for the weekend, a meeting to go over team logistics, to hear the wise and encouraging words of Steph Bruce and to talk with each other over our roles within the team, what was working and what else we could be doing.  We were in the conference room for three hours and by the time we finished we were all ready to celebrate the end of our adventure.


We dined at True kitchen yet another super hip joint.  As is my post-race norm, I indulged on a burger and fries.  And, oh my, was it good.  This meal was our longest as all of us were reluctant for the night to end.  There were a lot of hilarious conversations, many of them random, some of them gross, most of them funny; something that tends to happen at the end of these meet ups when everyone is tired and overly squirrely.  It’s easily one of my favorite things about the whole experience.  A mad, crazy bond is formed every single time and you leave with a whole new batch of friends that you can’t wait to see, hang and run with again.

w/ Lesko and Feather

It also happens to be why I joined and continue to run with Oiselle year after year.  We love, support, and believe in each other in a way that’s kind of unheard of for a team of women.  It’s almost uncanny how close we are even though we are scattered all over the country.  There is a force that pulls us together and then pulls us tighter, a force that is driven by Oiselle, whether they mean to or not. And that is some powerful shit.  It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye to each other after having spent such quality time together but I tend to find myself almost floating as I make my way home; taking that high back with me and holding onto it until the next time we meet.

Listen to this:
Rockabye - Clean Bandit