Friday, September 28, 2018


"Remember this: no one cares about your running as much as you do. The training, the race results, the pressure, the expectation. It's all created within ourselves. I find that a freeing feeling in itself. Do what is needed to find success on your own path, not success as defined by others."
~ Stephanie Rothstein Bruce

Last week I ran 80 miles.  That included a 23 miler on Monday and a double on Wednesday.  Then, on Saturday, I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off at the Ocean State Invitational, borderline giddy as I watched the ladies on my high school XC team, 52 of them split up into three different races, run their hearts out.  Forgive the humble brag here, but when all was said and done, I was both proud to have gotten through it and more exhausted than I've been in a while as a result of it.  So, you can understand why, as I pulled into my driveway around 7pm on Saturday evening, I was feeling pretty anxious about running a half on Sunday morning.  Again, I was physically and mentally wiped.  On top of that, I hadn't raced since July and hadn't raced hard since my last marathon in April and I was almost a little scared to line up again.  My coach always says that fear is a good thing if you can channel it into positive energy on race day.  But, this felt different.  I had some worry and doubt sprinkled in, which is never a good thing.  My family was in CT for my daughter's soccer game on Sunday, so I did my best to relax and remind myself that this was just a tuneup for my upcoming October marathon.  Lots of talking out loud to myself on Saturday night.

On Sunday I woke up to a gorgeous morning; crisp, cool and clear.  It's been hot and humid here in the MA area for weeks, so this was such a pleasant surprise.  I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:00am, not by choice but likely due to my nerves which were already in high gear.  For the first time in...well, maybe ever, I woke my dog up and got her out for a walk.  Not that she minded.  We started in the dark and finished as the sun came up, which I took a moment to appreciate.  The race wasn't starting until 10:07am, so I still had LOTS of time.  Thus, I planted myself on the porch and enjoyed a cup of coffee as Clover stood on squirrel patrol.

After that I had some breakfast, did some laundry, cleaned up the house a bit and then walked Clover over to my neighbors house for a little playdate.  Yes, the one time I had five hours to kill before a race, it was basically happening right next door.  The irony was not lost on me.  Finally, around 8:30 I gathered all my gear and loaded up the car to head over to Wilmington, a quick and easy 15 minute drive.  I parked right next to the start and went to grab my bib before making my way out for a warmup.  It was relatively chilly, so I tacked on an extra mile to make sure I was fully awake and (hopefully) firing on all cylinders by the start of the race.  

After two miles, I got back to my car, took off some layers, had some water, pinned my number on and changed my shoes.  I hadn't laced up in my "fast shoes" in such a long time and, as it usually does, the process got me fired up and helped me mentally shift into race mode, which was good because up until that point I hadn't really been feeling it.  Around 9:45, I walked over to the line and did some last minute dynamics and strides as I waited for the 5K runners to take off.  We would be taking off 7 minutes after them for the half, hence the odd 10:07 start time.  Right around here, I gave myself a little pep talk.  

Okay, Rebecca.  You are ready for this.  Let's run with courage and see what we've got.  Go ahead and take a risk today.  Trust yourself to lock into goal pace from the get go and see if you can hold on.  The only pressure today is your own.  You are running for time, not place.  To test your fitness and have fun.  Don't get caught up in the chaos and stress yourself out any more than you need to.

By the time we were about to get going, I was excited.  Nervous as hell.  But, really pumped up.  I started my music, got my watch ready and, as promised, at 10:07 we were off.  I have an Apple Watch and it often takes a good half mile, sometimes longer, before I get an accurate read on pace.  Knowing this, I just found a group and settled in while I waited for the pace to sort itself out.  Mile 1 came quickly.  I checked my watch.  6:20.  Oh SHIT.  That was not the plan.  I pulled back from the group I'd been in and tried to reset.  But, my heart was racing and my head immediately started playing games.  Clearly, not a good way to start things off.  I cruised past mile two at 6:35.  Much better.  I was trying to hold steady between 6:30-6:40 for this, so I was back on track.  I calmed down and tried to find a fresh mental groove.  I did not check my watch at mile three.  I was trying to run by feel and wanted to stop stressing about time if I could.  This was a mistake.  At mile four my wheels started to fall off.  Mile FOUR.  What??  I have had plenty of race meltdowns, but it's rare that it happens this early on the course.  Things were bad.  I felt really off and my race demons were telling me to stop.  Literally.  I was thinking things like, I can't do this and I need to drop out and Why do I do this to myself???  Oh, and I'm pretty sure I had the classic I'm never doing another marathon again thought in there, too.  But this was a practice run.  It wasn't even the main rodeo.  I've been training since June for an October marathon.  This was a small piece of the puzzle.  A fitness test.  That was it.  Thankfully, a small part of my brain was still able to process this.  I convinced myself to calm down, which was much harder than it should have been.  Then I told myself that I needed to make it to mile 10.  I could ease up on pace if needed.  But I was not dropping out.  I also reminded myself that I needed a marathon pace workout regardless of the situation I was in so it was pay now or pay later.  I was flustered and my doubt was working against me, but I did not want to start this thing over again the next day.  So, I forged ahead.

Above you can see my splits.  If mile 3 is anywhere near accurate, then it's no wonder that I had a complete meltdown at mile 4.  I honestly didn't feel like I was running a 6:09, but I have no idea and clearly I can't trust my watch on pacing.

Why, you ask?  Because despite the fact that my watch shows an accurate finish time, the distance is completely off.  Which means my average pace is also totally off.  So, who knows what was going on.  I knew none of this at the time, mind you.  And just thought I was running slower than I'd planned given my average pace.  Somehow I was able to fight through my fear and doubt and get through miles 5-10.  But it was touch and go for a while in there.  I did have a gentleman next to me for much of this stretch and we often passed water between us and took turns leading, so that was a huge help.  When I got to mile 10, I knew I could finish.  As I mentioned, I thought my pace had dropped, so by now I had stopped looking at my watch all together.  I was bummed, as I'd really wanted to run well for this race and get a sense of how things stood as I head into my final month of training.  But, I also knew that fighting through that rough patch would serve me well down the line so as I was finishing my final 5K I was telling myself that the effort wasn't a complete throwaway.  Finally, I got to mile 12 and I was so freaking psyched to be done and put this mess behind me.  You can imagine my surprise, then, when I turned the corner and saw the clock at 1:25 and change.  What the HELL???  Yes, I knew that's what my watch said for time, but my distance was wrong and thus I thought for sure the clock time was also wrong.  Not so.  I crossed the line in 1:26:05 and had to double and then triple check the Racewire clocks to make sure I wasn't delusional.  

I was thrilled.  And completely shocked.  It was a great time for me.  And I really had thought I'd blown it.  I was also pissed, because I put myself through some serious torture that probably could have been avoided.  And had I known that I was running a good time all along, I think I would have finished stronger.  What a shit show.  There's no other way to break it down.  I just didn't get it figured out from the get go and never got it back together.  Obvisouly, I'm happy about the time.  But, the fight was so ugly that it's hard to not see it as a bit of a fail, too.  As he always does, my coach gave it to me straight.  First, and foremost, I have got to find a way to settle the nerves for the marathon.  That first mile probably cost me 20-30 seconds.  I won't have that time to spare on game day.  And it's definitely going to cost a lot more with a full 26.2 miles to run.  Second, his words here, I don't think I can let you call a half marathon PR and "off" day.  Yes, it was an awkward battle, but I'd managed to get it together and hold on.  And because of this, I should be confident in knowing I can carry out my goal plan for the marathon.  And last, but definitely not least, he suggested that I might need to get a new watch or borrow one from someone on race day as no pace data at all is better than wrong data.  Okay, so calm down, be sure of myself and get a new watch.  The watch is easy.  The other two are going to take some work.  Any thoughts are suggestions are welcome here.  But please make it quick!  I have less than four weeks to go.  GULP.

Listen to this:
THUNDERCLOUDS - LSD feat. Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth

Friday, September 21, 2018


" important part of running, which I think is a very good skill to cultivate for life in general, is learning to rewrite the narrative that develops when you’re doing something challenging."
~ Jane Senko

We moved to Winchester back in 2007.  At the time, my older daughter, Rosie, was 2 and my younger daughter, Grace, was just 6 months.  Right after we settled in, I decided I wanted to qualify for Boston and started training for the Baystate Marathon.  With kids that young, I needed frequent help with coverage while I ran.  Thankfully, our neighbors, the Senkos, had three daughters ages 12-14 who were often free to keep an eye on the girls while I went out.  Rosie quickly began to idolize their youngest, Jane, and despite the age gap instantly considered her a "friend" (not a babysitter).  Jane, bless her, always rolled with it and willingly had "playdates" with Rosie and would come to her birthday parties despite the fact that she was 10 years older.

Rosie's 3rd Birthday*
*One or both of them might kill me for posting this. #worthit

Through the years, my passion for marathoning grew and Jane, while admittedly not a runner, would always take the time to ask me about it, curious perhaps or more likely just being nice, but definitely thinking I was borderline nuts each time I signed up for another one.  She has always a been a big yoga gal, but running was just not her thing.  Until now.  On Sunday, we had the following conversation via text:

Jane: I have been meaning to tell you - I signed up for a half marathon this October and have gotten so addicted to running (never thought this would happen).  I think I may try for a full!!
Me: YES!! That is amazing.
Jane: I'm so exited to have discovered the joy of running long distances - now I understand why you have never been able to stop!     
Me: Right?!  Life changer.  And now it's a whole new world for you.  I'm almost a little jealous.  :)
Jane: YES! It really feels that way.  In fact, today was my 13 mile run (the longest in my training cycle) and I kept going until 15 because I was just feeling SO GOOD.  And thus now I am searching for the next race.  Even though I haven't even done the half yet!  LOL.
Me: Welcome to my world.

This conversation makes me smile every time I read through it.  I can feel what she's feeling.  I've been there.  Lived it.  Am still living it.  And I love that she found it, too.  Afterwards, I asked if she would elaborate and share her story with us.  You don't often hear how people go from strongly disliking running to plotting out their first marathon like this but it's so refreshing to hear how it unfolds.  Fortunately, she was more than willing to elaborate.  So, here's Jane's story, one that is clearly just beginning.  I will be following along as the rest unfolds, living vicariously through her as she starts down this new road.  Best of luck, Janie.  Go get 'em!


Hi! Thanks, Rebecca, for having me as a guest on your blog.  I am so honored to be featured.  A little backstory for your readers,  I live next door to the Trachsels and have spent a lot of time hanging out with Rosie and Grace. Through the past few years, I have followed Becca’s whole running journey from afar - from the inception of this RWM blog, to her training/participation in various races, to her adventures as a coach. A particular memory that stands out to me as I write this is when I saw her when she came home from the Boston Marathon last April - the one with the cold, rainy, treacherous weather - and said it was the hardest thing she had ever done.  I remember going home thinking to myself, I will not/could not EVER run a marathon.

A few months ago, my cousin Sofia told me she'd signed up for a half marathon in Oxford, England, this coming October and asked if I would consider doing it.  The mere suggestion is something I would have scoffed at a few years ago as I used to detest running, but I had been slowly building running into my workout routine (~3/4 miles a few times a week) this past spring/summer for some variety, and I figured the half was worth some consideration.  I researched half marathon training schedules and found one online that worked for me.  I saw that the maximum mileage for the first few weeks was 5 miles and I thought, I already know that I can make it to the third week of this training program, so I’ll sign up for the half and see what happens.  Even if I don’t end up finishing the race, it will be nice to have a little vacation in England this fall.

Jane as a newly Certified Yoga Teacher

Fast forward to this past Sunday, I ran a full 15 miles, despite the training schedule only requiring 13.  Oops!  I know you’re not supposed to increase your mileage too much right before a race, but I couldn’t help myself.  I am nine weeks into the training program and have absolutely fallen in love with running.  I think I had always stayed away from it before because truly I never really gave it a chance.  Over the past few months, I’ve realized that it takes me around 2-3 miles to sort of “settle in” to a run, and then around the 4th or 5th mile I really start to enjoy it as I find my pace and natural cadence.  Longer runs only get better as each mile passes.  I really cherish the feeling of being out in nature and breathing so much fresh air.  And, I assume everyone reading this blog can appreciate this, it is such a treat to go for a long run and get lost in whatever music you’re listening to.  You don’t have to think about anything at all!  Physical benefits aside, running gives you really great headspace.

Jane w/ her parents, both marathon runners

I am not, by any means, glossing over the fact that running is difficult.  And to long distance runners who have completed multiple marathons, it's probably laughable for ME to be talking about difficulty because I have only run a handful of 10+ mile runs.  But it is tough.  My feet are covered in blisters, and one of my toenails is black and blue and very close to falling off.  As great as it feels to finish a double-digit run, there are definitely times when you have to convince yourself to keep going.  I was talking about running with my hairdresser yesterday, who ran a marathon a few years ago and said it was the hardest thing she had ever done.  But she also said she felt the greatest she had ever felt right after it was done.  I agreed with her that the feeling of accomplishment you get right after finishing a run is amazing, but you do have to work to get there.  It is common knowledge that our brains will tell us to stop doing something before our body actually physically NEEDS to stop.  So an important part of running, which I think is a very good skill to cultivate for life in general, is learning to rewrite the narrative that develops when you’re doing something challenging.  The negative thoughts that arise when you’re really exerting yourself are inevitable, but you can (and must!) overpower them by drowning them out with encouragement from yourself.  My older sister, Grace, ran the New York City Marathon, and I remember talking to her right after she finished her first longer training run (I think it was 17 miles).  She said it was THE BEST, simply because of how proud she felt of herself when she completed it, because the whole time during it she wasn't sure if she'd be able to do so.

Doing SUP yoga
Because Jane doesn't have any race photos. Yet.  

Now that this half marathon is only three weeks away, I have found myself wondering what I will do when it’s over.  I will have followed this training program so stringently for the past twelve weeks that I’m not sure how it will feel when I don’t have something to train for…thus I have decided to sign up for my first full marathon (recommendations welcome!). And as I told Rebecca yesterday, now I can kind of understand why she has never been able to stop running.  And I say kind of, because twenty-something marathons is A LOT of marathons.  :)

Listen to this:
BOSS - The Carters (Jane's pick)

Thursday, September 13, 2018


“Oh, good,” she said matter-of-factly when told what her time was. “At last.”

Photo cred:NYTimes

Yesterday, a running legend passed away.  Her name was Diane Leather.  She was the first woman to break the 5 minute mile.  Sadly, I just learned about her today through an article in the NY Times that my sister-in-law sent me.  Women weren't really running "long" distances back in 1954.  And they sure as hell weren't breaking any records.  At least none that were worth talking about.  And while her feat was monumental, it went largely unrecognized.  She made several attempts before she got it.  Unlike today, there were no pacers, no fans in the stands, no sponsors offering contracts.  Nothing.  She was just a woman, a chemist actually, with a goal.  The crazy thing or, I should say crazier, was that she was not the only woman in the race for the sub-5 mile record.  Several others were aiming for the same goal.  Their names?  I have no idea.  You already know why.  Today, women are breaking barriers in running and in sports that back then many believed were totally unthinkable.  Perhaps some still do.  But, barriers are made to be broken.  As Leather watched the women running around the track at the Helsinki Olympics and thought to herself “I’d love to do that,” she had no idea what an impact that moment and her later actions would have on women all around the world who may have thought the same thing but were told it couldn't or shouldn't be done.  And then she went ahead and did it.

As many of you already know, I run for Oiselle.  A women's running company.  A company that believes in the power of sport and how it changes lives.  A company that believes that our bodies are made to move, to run, and that our lives are inherently better when we're doing just this.  A company that believes in gender equality in sport and beyond.  A company that believes that women rise through sport.  A company who's owner is an admitted sports feminist, but also a mother, a runner and a leader and follower of women.  All women.  Recently, Oiselle recommitted to their mission.  A mission that includes changing the sport as we know it and building the sisterhood.  A mission that I am proud to get behind.  Because, in the end, we are all born to fly.  Rest in peace, Diane Leather.  And thank you.  

Listen to this:
I Am Free - Cosmos & Creature

Friday, September 7, 2018


Treadmill workouts are hard.  Mad, crazy hard.  At least, they are for me.  But, sometimes braving the elements is harder.  Here in the Boston area, this summer has been stupidly hot.  I've managed to get outside for almost all of my easy/slower stuff.  I've also learned the hard way that successfully completing a workout on pace in heat and humidity is rare and going inside on the belt is usually the lesser of two evils.  Lesser, mind you.  Still very evil, though.  Yesterday I took one look at the weather ('Feels like' 99, Next Hour:Humid??!!), laughed out loud and packed my bag for the gym.  I had a tempo run to tackle, so eleven miles total.  Oof.

That's a long freaking run on the treadmill.  No excuses, right?  Had to be done.  I hopped on the machine and started my warmup of three easy miles.  When I finished that, I stepped off and changed my shoes.  Then I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face.  I walked back over to my stuff, threw my hair up into a bun, picked out a new playlist, got back on and re-started the treadmill.  Then, and only then, was I ready to get going.  We all have our methods of operation.  And we obviously do what works for us; whatever it takes to get us through the task at hand.  And after finishing yesterday's tempo run, as I cooled down, I realized that I've come up with quite a few helpful, if not quirky, things that are useful to me when fighting through a workout inside.  A system, if you will.  And following these steps usually makes it relatively easier for me to get both prepared and eventually (hopefully) through it.  I also realized that I use all of them every time I'm forced to run on the machine.  My guess is that if you're a runner of any kind, unless you prefer the treadmill like my dear friend Beth G. (how does she DO it??), than you, too often find yourself in deal mode; using tricks of the trade to get through.  Here's just a few of my "go-tos".  Perhaps you'll want to give some of them a try next time you're forced inside.  And, by all means, if you have your own, do share.  I'll take all the help I can get.


~ Change your shoes. Every time I do a workout inside I bring my trainers and my flats.  When I'm done warming up I change my shoes.  It breaks things up and helps me get in the zone.  And I always feel a little bad ass when I hop back on with my race shoes.  Then I change again when I'm done, a signal to my brain that I can relax and reset.

~ Change your music.  A shift in BPM (beats per minute) can make a big difference in regards to motivation and drive.  As soon as I'm ready to start, I switch my playlist to one with faster tunes and pump up the volume.

~ Take a short break after your warmup.  As I mentioned above, I like to splash water on my face before I start.  The walk to and from the bathroom helps me reset and the water cools me down and helps me get more alert and fired up.  But you can also just take a lap around the gym or grab a drink.  Maybe throw some positive self talk in there, too. (WE GOT THIS)

~ Adjust the little things.  After my warmup I take some time to make some small, last minute adjustments.  If it's hot, I take my shirt off to run in my sports bra.  I'll also throw my hair up in a bun.  And, as I mentioned above, I change my shoes.  But, I don't do any of them until it's go-time.  When the bun goes up, it's time to get serious.  

~ Don't panic.  It's often tricky for me to go from warm-up pace to workout pace on the treadmill without feeling a bit overwhelmed at the intense difference.  It's easy to panic when this happens and doubt that I can maintain the goal pace.  Instead of freaking out, I count to 60 and try and find a groove in my head that will eventually flow down throughout the rest of my body.  Sometimes, I'll do this twice.  Usually, by then I'm okay.  Even if it hurts (which it usually does), I know I can likely hold on for the rest.

~ Don't look.  The clock always runs slower on the treadmill.  Always.  Nine times out of ten when I look at the display, I'm short of where I thought I'd be.  If I'm struggling or I feel like it's been a while and I have a burning urge to check my time or mileage, I try to wait it out just a bit longer.  So, I'll tell myself to listen to one more song or again to count (slowly) to 60, before I look.  Sometimes this distracts me enough to hold off from checking at all.  But if not, it gives me time to get a little further along in the workout before I look and therefore cushions the blow when I learn how much I have left.

~ Finish fast.  Regardless of what my workout is and what pace I'm running, I always trying and finish my last 1-2 minutes at a faster pace, sort of like I'm finishing a race.  If I'm having a bad day, maybe I haven't been able to do what I set out to do, finishing strong leaves me with a better taste in my mouth than if I just got off and left.  If I'm nailing it, a fast finish reminds me that I can switch gears on race day, too.  This is more mental than anything, but it's a trick that has served me well.  I almost always find a new gear that I didn't think I had and that's a huge boost.

~ Wear your power suit.  Whether it's your favorite shirt or a uniform that you race in, putting on clothes that you like and feel good in always helps you get in the game.  I wear my race kit or part of it almost every time I'm forced inside.  I get an extra little high knowing that I'm running for and surrounded by my team, even from afar.  It's so simple but incredibly empowering.  I love it.

Listen to this: