Thursday, August 30, 2018


"We are young, we run free
Stay up late, we don't sleep
Got our friends, got the night
We'll be alright"
~ Travie McCoy

As I mentioned in my last post, this past week-end I went down to PA for Oiselle Birdcamp.  I was ridiculously fired up about it, (think 5 year old on Christmas Eve) which always makes me a little worried because you never know how things are going to unfold.  But, not surprisingly, it did not disappoint.  I mean...throw 260 women who love to run and discuss all things running into one of the most beautiful settings on the east coast and what do you expect?  People often ask me what one does at running camp besides run.  It's a fair question.

A typical day for me looked like this:
7:00 Coffee. And breakfast.
8:30 Group run.
10:30 Masters Running breakout session. (for those of us over 40)
12:30 Lunch. And more coffee.
1:30 Behind the Flystyle (lead by Oiselle owner Sally Bergesen)
2:30 Breakout session with Pro Allie Kiefer, how she got here, where she wants to go.
4:00 Float in giant unicorn blow up with friends at the lake
6:30 Dinner
7:30 Q & A with Pros Lauren Fleshman, Kara Goucher & Allie Kiefer
9:00 S'mores by the fire
10:00 Bed

So, clearly we packed a lot into our days.  They weren't all this busy.  And there were a lot of other panels and breakout sessions available.  But this is the gist of it.  Really, when it comes down to it, it's probably not much different than a typical day for my 11 year old at her camp.  Including sleeping in a cabin and sharing a bathroom with a bunch of people that you've never met until they become your best friends and you cry when you say goodbye.

(Photo credit:Lesko)

It's hard to put into words all that I got out of this experience.  But, I can honestly say that I am a changed, if not better, runner and person after having spent three days in this loving and insanely positive environment where all were welcome and anything went.  Some of the women on this team, many of whom I originally met through social media or at various races and team meet ups, are now my closest friends.  I don't see them often.  But the connection is almost more powerful because of that.  And I am one hundred percent sure that it will remain this way for many years.  Which is pretty magical when you think about it.  As I've done at every other Birdcamp I've attended, I picked up some pretty invaluable tips to take home with me.  Life lessons, if you will.  Which, of course, I want to share.  Please forgive me as I took so many notes that I'm not sure who said what on all of them.  A lot of them were from the Pros who spoke.  Some were from those who work at Oiselle, more specifically Sally herself.  And some were from my teammates.  If you're reading this and I'm sharing your words or advice here but didn't give you the credit, I'm sorry and, more importantly, thank you.  It's also worth mentioning that this team is open to women of all ages, sizes and colors.  Fast or slow.  Weekend warrior or ultra runner.  Doesn't matter.  Come one, come all.  Get in here.  We love you.  Head up.  Wings out.


*Photo credit: Heather McWhirter

1. Women rise through sport.  This sport, running, represents the way we feel.  And what we choose to do with it is up to us.   ~ Sally Bergesen

w/ Holly, Jackie & Anna

2. Look in the mirror.  Love and respect what you see.  Do that every, single day.  For the rest of your life.  ~ Dr. Melody Moore

w/ Tracy, Chicken & Jana

3. Happiness is a direction.  Not a place.  Let yourself go there.  

*Photo credit: Beth Gillespie

4. Pain is not the enemy.  It is inevitable. A 6:30 mile hurts as much as an 8:30 mile.  You can push through.  You will be okay.  ~ Allie Kiefer

w/ Courtney, Jackie & Caityln
*Photo credit: Holly Batchelder

5. Get to the starting line.  Let go of all the questions and just believe in yourself.  Commit to the plan.  And then do it.  ~ Allie Kiefer

w/ Jungle Chicken

6. Despite what you may think, attempting a handstand or cartwheel at age 43 is NOT a good idea.  (Found this out the hard way.  I'm blaming Chicken)

Oiselle MA/RI Birds

7. You are not a failure when you fail.  It is better to risk failure than to risk nothing at all.  

Rainbow of fruit flavors.

8. Listen to your friends.  They always have your best interests at heart.  Especially when you don't.  (Thank you, Jackie)

w/ Fleshman & Heather

9. Stop apologizing all the GD time.  If you're not sorry, don't say it.  Stand by what you mean and don't make excuses for it.  ~ Lauren Fleshman

w/ Sally & Ashley
*Photo credit: Heather McWhirter

10. DO NOT attach your successes and failures in running to your worth as a person.   ~ Lauren Fleshman

*Photo credit: Heather McWhirter

**** And last, but definitely not least, never EVER stop dancing. ****

Listen to this:
Human Right - The Strike

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


When we hear the word 'camp' we tend to think of kids and summer.  And it makes sense.  My daughters went to five different camps between the two of them this summer.  Lucky ducks.  But then, at least as far as I'm concerned, is there really any reason why grown ups can't attend camp, too.  Of course, it has to work with our schedules, be affordable, be somewhat easy to get to and, ideally, be relevant to our lives at the time.  So...yeah.  When you look at it that way I can see why adults don't often do the camp thing.  Several years ago I joined the Oiselle running team.  After many smaller "meet-ups" they began to recognize the benefit of getting people together who share similar goals and passions, regardless of their age or ability, for a brief but insanely intense and awesome window of time; otherwise known as Birdcamp.  That's right, my friends.  A running camp for women.  To my good fortune, I've been able to attend all four that have been offered to date and I'm currently in the process of packing for my 5th.  So, as I prepare to embark on yet another one of these epic adventures with my teammates, I took some time to look back at some of my favorite memories from my past camps; one in OR, one in WA and two in NH.  All of them amazing.  Words cannot describe how excited I am to head off for round 5.  You'll have to wait until next week for the details, but I have no doubt there will be some good stories to share.  Until then, here's a few of my favorite memories from years past.  #WINGSOUT



Cooling down after the Deschutes Brewery 5K w/ Lauren Fleshman & my Oiselle teammates, including Allie Bigelow who took first Master & won a lot of beer.

Post-race with the whole team, over 100 of us in the same singlet.  That was just so damn cool.

Running at the spectacular Smith Rock State Park w/ Asher & Nicole.  Well, I didn't run with Asher.  She's too fast.

Tubing down the Deschutes River with Nicole and Ashley.  Easily one of the best days of my adult life.

Reunion with Ashley and Nicole at the 2015 WA Birdcamp.  It was like no time had passed. (think multiple mountains) with my teammates.  Holy crap, that was hard.

First NH Birdcamp in 2016 with my Treehouse crew.  Love these ladies.

That time, at Birdcamp, when we broke the dock.  We did. We broke the dock.

Second NH Birdcamp in 2017 with the Foss coffee club.  OMG the amount of coffee we consumed.

Dorking out with my Treehouse crew before saying goodbye.  Again, love these ladies.

Listen to this:
Keep You Close - Knox Fortune

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Rest day agenda
In terms of my marathon training, Sundays are my usual "rest day".  No running, no strides, no core, no dynamics.  Nothing.  In peak training, like now when my mileage is in the 70s and 80s consistently, it is far and away my favorite day of the week.  Along with coffee, it is the proverbial carrot that dangles in front of me as I power through all the miles Monday through Saturday.  Last week, in particular, was a tough one, again in regards to training.  Monday I fought through a brutal marathon pace workout.  It was ugly and took a lot out of me.  The rest of the week I just ran lots and lots of miles.  When Saturday rolled around and I'd finished my last run of the week I was like a kid in a candy store.
Saturday. Final run done. Initiate rest mode.
Smiling and giddy.  Let the laziness begin.  Sunday morning, I slept late.  Because it was my rest day.  Then I sat on my ass, ate a big breakfast and drank four cups of coffee.  Still resting.  After that, I took my dog for a nice long walk, something I frequently do on this day of rest.  A bit of mellow activity, even on rest days, does a body good.  Then I read for a few hours, books and magazines and such.  So restful.  I ate a nice big lunch.  Very relaxing.  I might have napped a bit.  That one's a no brainer.  And then swam with my kids for a bit.  Not super restful but fun.  Finally, around 2:00, we all went out for ice cream, something we often do in the summer, especially on the weekends.  And, of course, I indulged because my only agenda for the remainder of the afternoon was to rest.   It was right around here when I learned that my in-laws were taking my girls to see a movie and then for pizza afterwords.  That would be three full hours totally to myself.  The wheels immediately started spinning.  The next day I needed to run 21 miles, which would also take me about three hours.  But, first I had to drop my girls off at camp.  And that wouldn't be happening until 8:45am, which might as well be lunch time for me.  As you may already know, last week I had a little drama at drop off which delayed me from starting my run.  I wasn't expecting it to happen again this week because the older sister was now around but we all know anything is possible.  On top of that, both of the girls were on a waitlist to be moved from the day camp program to the sleep away program, which is what they were hoping for.  So, there was also a chance that I was going to have to drive suitcases back over to camp if one or both of them came off the list.  Do you see what I'm getting at here?  Yes, Sunday was my rest day and, up until that point, I'd milked it for all it's worth.  And no, it was not quite over yet.  There was more rest to be had.  But, the next morning could go in many different directions and I had little to no control over what might unfold.  So, yes, all signs were pointing to lacing up and hitting the road despite the fact that it was 4:00 in the afternoon.  On my rest day.  I wasn't 100% sold on the idea so I laid out the pros and cons.

~ 3 uninterrupted hours to myself and thus a relatively stress free long run.
~ A hassle-free camp drop-off. Or, if not, no long run lingering while I dealt.
~ Wide open schedule for Monday w/ plenty of time to rest.
~ Good practice to run on tired (very tired) legs

~ I was still tired from the past week of training.
~ I was not really in the mindset to run 21 miles.
~ I just ate ice cream.  And lots of other things that were not easy to digest.
~ It was still really hot out.
~ I was incredibly unmotivated.

Let's just see what happens.
Go or don't go.  What to do?  Finally, I decided I would just give it a shot.  I told myself that I would drive to the bike path and shuffle through a couple miles.  I would just see how my legs responded for a bit but still give myself the out if I wasn't feeling it.  Somewhere in the back of my head the decision to get it done was made.  I pretended to debate but the bottom line was this: I was going to bang out this 21 miler.  At 4:00.  On Sunday.  Which was also my rest day.  As I laced up I couldn't help but feel like I was borderline nuts.  But all things considered, I knew it was the right call.  And despite my lack of motivation, I also knew I would be really happy that I'd gotten it done come Monday morning.  So, off I went.  As predicted, I got past the three mile mark and just kept going.  It took me two hours and fifty eight minutes.  It was getting dark as I finished.  And I was toast.  But I was done.  We do weird things sometimes.  But sometimes the weird things are the most logical at that particular moment.  I suppose, when you really think about it, marathon training is anything but logical.  And, thankfully, there will always be time to rest.  At some point.


Listen to this:
Peach - The Broods

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” 
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

It was Monday at 8:30am and I'd planned to be well into my workout by this point.  So much for my plan.  My daughter, Grace, and I had taken off around 7:00 for camp drop-off.  It was her third week at this camp, which she loves.  Stupidly, I'd figured that we'd be checking in, dropping bags and high-fiving as we said our goodbyes since the process was now old-hat for both of us.  Pipe dreams, really.  As she unpacked her bags, Grace surveyed the scene and slowly realized that none of the other campers in her cabin looked familiar.  And unlike the last time she was here, she didn't have her sister to lean on because Rosie was off doing something else.  So, she immediately went into panic mode.  Then the tears came quickly afterwords.  Back into the car we went.  She was saying things like, I can't do this, and it's going to be awful, and how can I stay here for 5 days with NO FRIENDS?!!,  and so on and so forth.  I did my best to remain calm and tried to assure her that she'd likely have new friends within the next two hours and that there was no doubt in my mind that she was going to have a blast.  I told her that she'd just have to get over this uncomfortable hump and then she'd be good to go.  She didn't buy it.  Not that she was expecting me to tell her that she could bag camp and come home with me.  Thankfully, she and I both knew that wasn't happening.  Instead, she just drew out the process of saying goodbye along with the added drama for a solid hour.  By the time I left, she'd calmed down and gone with her counselor to make bracelets.  She was fine.  I was a mess.  I was annoyed, frustrated and sad for her all at the same time.  Between that and the heat and humidity, which were now at full force, it was a perfect set up for a the 10 mile marathon pace workout that I had to tackle.

Or not.  I drove over to the park where I was starting as I tried to chill out and switch gears.  I'd been hoping to treat this workout like a dress rehearsal for my upcoming half in September.  Here's what I said to myself...out loud.

Okay, Rebecca.  This is the deal.  Your September half doesn't start until 10am and it could very easily be as hot as this.  And let's be honest.  Anything could happen on race morning that might throw you off your game.  You could oversleep, you might get lost on your way out, another kid meltdown, who knows.  Bottom line, your current scenario - arriving on the later side to a race in a stressful state - while not ideal, is a pretty realistic one, so let's just suck it up and get going.   

They happen a lot, these solo conversations.  Perhaps you do it as well.  If so, you get it.  If not, well, yes, it's pretty strange.  But, we do what we do.  I changed into my shoes, drank some water and took off for my warmup.  The path I was on had some solid shade, which was a bonus.  I still felt like I was swimming in the humidity, but at least it I didn't have the sun beating down on me directly.  I got back to my car, drank some more water, did a couple strides and lined up on the path as if I was racing.  Game on.  Here's how it went:

Mile 1: 6:45 - It was a solid first mile. I felt good from head to toe.  My body was awake, my mind was now focused and I was feeling ready to take things on.  I hit my target perfectly.
Mile 2: 7:00 - At some point during mile 2, my mind decided it was not so sure about the situation.  I can't do this I said as I stepped off the path. And then DAMMIT.  I had two options.  I could bail and do the workout the next day on a treadmill.  Or I could fight it out and see how far I could get while also adjusting for the heat.  Come on, Trax.  You CAN do this.  Let's go.  Obviously I chose the latter.  I cleared my watch and started again.
Mile 3: 6:33 I needed to adjust my pace but I also wanted to run by feel instead of using my watch which I felt was adding too much stress.  At the end of mile 3, I stopped again.  This is crazy.  I'm done.  I felt like this mile had been too off pace and it simply wasn't worth it to keep going.  But then I checked my watch and saw that I'd actually gone too fast.  (Note:You can safely assume that all my talking from this point forward was out loud and to myself).  Good grief.  You've got to get it together here.  You are stronger than you think.  And there is no way you'd quit at this point if you were actually racing.  You have 7 miles to go.  Do what you can given the situation.  Stop thinking so much and just go.
Miles 4-6  6:48, 6:57, 7:15  Off I went again.  I was just trying to manage now and do what I could.  I was too far in to quit.  I turned around at 5.5 miles so I'd finish where I'd began.  I started to overheat in the 6th mile and felt a little dizzy so I pulled back on pace significantly.  I'd need to do the same thing if I was racing I thought to myself.  Let's ease off now and see if you can pick back up at the end.  
Mile 7: 6:50  I was now back on track.  So a lesson learned there.  Take a little break when you need it.  Remember, this is a practice.  It's good to try this stuff.
Mile 8:  6:47  Still on track but starting to suffer from the heat again.  I knew there was a water fountain up ahead and willed myself to get there with the promise of a stop as my carrot.  The fountain was at 8.8 miles.  I took off my visor and drenched it.  I splashed my face.  And then I drank. And drank some more.  The tourists on the path around me must have thought I was nuts.  Whatever.  Now I had 1.2 miles to go.  I was cooled off and fully hydrated.  Let's get this shit DONE. (yep, out loud)
Mile 9:  7:12  Way off pace but I hadn't stopped my watch for the water so I wasn't surprised.  It was survival mode now to the finish.
Mile 10:  6:39  I gave it everything I had for this mile and by some miracle, I slipped in right under goal pace.  Praise be.
Overall Average: 6:52

I didn't hit goal pace.  But, all things considered I came in pretty damn close which was a total surprise.  It's been a long time since a workout has challenged me as much as this one did.  When it was done, my thoughts were all over the place.  On the one hand, I was really proud of myself for fighting it out, even if it was ugly.  On the other hand, I worried that I'd blown the workout given how broken up and off pace it had been.  In the end, though, I decided that battling the elements and working through the chaos was the right call.  The next day my coach sent me his thoughts on the workout:

Yesterday was a choppy, grinding effort but you got it done despite the heat and some distractions.  Workouts like that definitely toughen you up and remind you that you are capable of more than you realize.

Racing is unpredictable.  We can train our brains out but there is always going to be that one variable, sometimes more, that is totally out of our control.  Maybe I'm not faster after getting through this one.  But I am mentally stronger.  And perhaps I won't be quite as thrown by the unknowns next time I'm about to start a race because I can look back on this one and remember that I got through it.  I suppose it's all part of this crazy process.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

Listen to this:
Run the Road by Santigold