Tuesday, January 29, 2019


"Stop looking ahead, stop looking behind, and stop looking at everyone else.  Focus on what's happening now, take one day at a time, and one run at a time."
~ U of CO Senior, Dani Jones, in a letter to her younger self

w/ my dear friend and Colgate teammate, Merri Wade 
circa 1993

Last Thursday I was forced inside for both of my runs due to a crazy winter storm.  Well, it was actually 50 degrees outside, but there was flash flooding and gale force winds, so going out wasn't safe.  It was a bit heartbreaking that I couldn't get on the road in those warmer temps.  But, I digress.  I'm fine with one run on the belt, but heading back inside for the second one was rough.  I needed some serious help to get through it and my music wasn't cutting it.  Thankfully, I recently discovered Mario Fraioli's podcast, The Morning Shakeout, and one of his interviews was just the distraction I needed to slog through six additional mind-numbing miles on the machine.  I opted for his session with former pro-runner and all around awesome woman, Lauren Fleshman, turned it up and settled in.  He touched on her role as an athlete, a coach, a mom, owner of Picky Bars and so much more.  It's an awesome podcast and, whether you're a runner or not, I highly recommend it.  One of the things that really caught my attention was when Fraioli asked Fleshman, knowing what she knows now, what she would tell her younger self.  It's such a great question and one that we could all likely put some serious thought into, right?  As a 43 year old wife, mom, runner, and coach, I have learned so much over the years, gained so much knowledge, learned so many lessons.  I would love to go back and share some of it with the sixteen year old, wide-eyed Rebecca who was stepping on the track for the first time in the spring of her junior year in high school.  Even super driven, goal hungry college-aged Rebecca who thought she had it all figured out, (ha!) could have used a letter from older me.  It might not be the same message, but it would be just as valuable, probably more so.  As I ran and listened, I thought about the things I would have included in a letter to young Trax.  A lot of them were similar to those that Lauren mentioned.  Things like it's not the destination its the journey.  Turns out I'm still figuring this one out.  But, I do try to remind myself of it daily.  Or, don't care what people think so much.  Just be yourself.  This one is huge.  I used to get really caught up in what others thought, always aiming to please regardless of how it felt to me.  I was constantly worried about letting people down if I didn't perform my best, which happened a lot my senior year due to injury.  I often felt like a failure.  It was such a stressful state of mind and so unnecessary.  I try and remind my high school athletes as well as my own girls of this one as much as possible.  Days later, I found myself still thinking about Fraioli's question.  I keep a journal in my bag and I started keeping a running list of things I might have wanted to know way back when.  I can't change young Rebecca's outlook at this point.  But, I can share my list with others and hope that maybe it will make a small impact or even just generate some thought.  Perhaps someone reading this, whether young or old, will stop and re-think the way they are approaching things after going through it.  A lot of them are easier said than done.  But, I've got to believe that it still helps to hear them at least once if not multiple times.  Regardless, it was a great exercise for me and serves as a platform as I start this next stage in my life, both in running and beyond.


Colgate Track
circa 1994

~ Relax.  There is absolutely no reason to walk around carrying so much tension.  Yes, running and racing can be stressful.  School even more so.  Hell, even your outfit can be a big deal.  But, it doesn't need to be.  And it will make things so much easier and more enjoyable if you take that pressure off yourself.

~ Trust your instincts.  Powering through isn't going to get you anywhere and will set you back even further.  If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

~ Communicate with your coach.  If you're not sure why you're doing something, ask.  If you want to now how to change something, talk about it.  If you're frustrated, speak up.  You have a voice.  Use it.

~ Embrace mistakes.  They're healthy.  We learn from them.  We grow because of them.  We become who we are as a result of them.

~ Set goals, but don't let them define you.  Being top 3 on the team is awesome.  But if you're not up there, you're not a failure.  Your roll as an athlete is just one small part of who you are.

~ Love your body.  Listen to it.  Respect it.  Give it as much as it gives you.  Then give it more.

~ Have more fun.  Because you're young.  And you can.  There's plenty of time to be serious when you're older.

~ Treat yourself.  Eat more ice cream.  And cookies.  And other delicious things.  Because they bring you pleasure.  And they're tasty.  You don't have to "earn it".  You're not "cheating" if you indulge.  Don't think about it beforehand.  Don't analyze it afterwards.  Just enjoy it for what it is.

~ Be open to change.  If something isn't working, try something different.  The tried and true way is not always the right way.

~ Let go.  Allow yourself to process things, yes.  But, then be willing to move on.  Don't dwell on what did or didn't happen.  It's a waste of time and energy.  Every day is a fresh start.

Listen to this:
Realign by Jiants

Thursday, January 17, 2019


"Good thing I didn’t accomplish all of my goals yet, because then what would I do tomorrow?"
~ Alexi Pappas

As you may know, I accomplished one of my big running goals when I broke three hours in the marathon last fall.  But, by no means am I done.  Insert chuckles and eye rolls from family & friends.  Seriously, though, I would never say to my 8th grader, Yes, Rosie!  You finally got your back handspring on beam.  Man, that took forEVER.  You can sit back and relax now.  No need to keep working on anything new.  Most of us are goal-oriented by nature.  It feels good to aim for something, whether attainable or even just out of reach, because it gives us purpose and drive; something to work on that is different and often more challenging than things that are thrown at us in our day to day lives.  We need that.  At least, I do.  So, after Baystate I got on the phone with my coach and we set some new goals.  First, I'd like to bring my half marathon time down.  I've run a minimum of two marathons per year and often three or four since 2012.  After giving it a lot of thought, I've decided, for the first time in six years, to skip the spring marathon and focus solely on the half.  I can't remember the last time I ran a half that wasn't a tuneup for a marathon.  Which means most of them have been at the end of a 70 mile week, after having done a 20+ miler and a hard workout just days before and with no taper.  It's the perfect physical state to be in when using it to test your fitness during marathon prep.  But, unless you're training at a whole new level, it rarely results in a PR simply due to the fatigue from months of marathon build up.  Then, assuming I can successfully bring my half time down, I will have another go at the marathon in the fall with the goal being to lower that personal best as well.  So there it is.  Two new goals.  Big ones.  Go big or go home, right?  I'm turning 44 next month.  The clock is ticking.  I don't have a ton of time.  But I have enough if I stay healthy and play my cards right.

So, after a couple weeks off and a race "for fun" over Thanksgiving, it was time to start building again.  For my first tempo workout I decided to go on the treadmill.  I knew I didn't have the mental strength to find and hold tempo pace outside on my own.  And, to be honest, I didn't feel like fighting for it.  I wanted the machine to pace me so I could zone out and just get the work done.  It was really hard and it hurt, but it felt good to be pushing again after several weeks of easy miles.  The next week I had another one.  Exactly the same workout, just a little longer.  The day before I'd tripped on the sidewalk and taken a massive digger; cutting up my hands and knees where I'd landed.  I was fine; my ego bruised more than anything.  But, for my workout, I opted to go inside again.  I remember thinking, everything is sore and I really don't want to fall again.  But let's just call a spade a spade.  I was using any excuse I could come up with to use the treadmill.  Given how tough it had been to hold on the week before and my general lack of motivation and drive for training (yes, it was becoming a bit of problem), I knew the machine was the only way I was going to make it happen.  Once again, this one hurt.  As much, if not more than the last.  I wanted so badly to stop in the middle of it.  I didn't.  But, I wanted to.  It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.

Post-workout. Toast. And slightly defeated.

The following week I was on the track for some 400s.  These are hard, too, but I never do them inside because they're just too short and quick to manage on the belt and because, mentally, I can usually grit through the intervals, even when I'm by myself.  Back to the tempo run the Monday before Christmas.  It was cold and snowy out and the streets were icy so off to the gym I went.  I was not sad.  In fact, I was almost starting to look forward to hopping on the machine for these tempo workouts and just grinding them out without having to think about it.  Almost.  This one, my 3rd since I'd started back up with the workouts, went surprisingly well.  I was able to hit goal pace and even to push myself to the faster end of my time range for most of the miles.  I was pumped.  My coach texted me later in the day to ask how it went.  I let him know the details and he, too, was psyched that it had gone well.  But, he also reminded me that I can't stay inside for all my hard workouts.  Sigh.  I know, I said.  Just let me get through December and then I'll buck up.  Which brings me to last Thursday, January 9th.  This was my first tempo effort of the year and my longest in quite some time.  Yes, it was cold out and a little windy, but I knew I needed to brave the elements.  I also knew that I'd been using the treadmill as a crutch for the past few weeks because I'd lost all confidence in my ability to hold pace & stay focused.  No more excuses, I told myself.  It was time to hit the road.  Pun intended.  I warmed up with 2 easy miles and felt unexpectedly decent.
Pep talk #1.  Okay, Rebecca.  You can do this.  You ran a half marathon at this pace.  Believe in yourself.  Let's go.  
Mile one was 14 seconds too slow.  SHIT.
Pep talk #2.  Relax, Rebecca.  It's just one mile.  You have 7 more.  Let's see if you can settle in and find your groove.  
1.25 miles in and my pace was the same.  DAMMIT.  I stopped.  I texted my coach.  He wasn't there.  Part of me wondered if he wasn't answering on purpose.  You know, so I didn't do exactly what I was doing.  This was not the case, but I was in panic mode and all the thoughts were flying.  Worry, fear and doubt were seeping in.  Do I stop or do I keep going?
Pep talk #3.  NO!  You're doing this.  Screw goal pace.  You just have to stick it out at this point.  It's all mental.  Take control.  And get this done. 
I didn't hit goal pace for miles three and four, but I had average pace on my watch and I could see that I was getting closer, which was a big boost.   And I needed all that I could get at that point.  At mile four I turned around.
Pep talk #4.  Four miles to go.  What have you got?  
And then, it happened.  I hit my target pace.  I couldn't hold on to it for the whole mile.  But, I'd felt it click.  And that was enough.  It was in there.  Then....magic.  Miles six through eight were right on pace.  Sweet Pete, I'd finally done it.  I was sailing.  It was amazing.  It was also slightly downhill, but still.  And then it was over.  Praise be.  I was pretty satisfied with how things had played out, even a little proud, given how rough the start was.  I hadn't done the workout as planned.  But, I'd fought hard and I'd held on.  That was progress.  I won't forget that feeling for a while.  I've trained with one main goal for the past three years.  I've been so focused on it and wanted it so badly that I've been able to hit almost every one of my workouts when I needed to.  All of them, weather permitted, outside.  I'm starting over in some ways, building off of what I've done, yes, but treading into new territory.  All the feelings of uncertainty and fear that were there when I set the goal of running a sub-3 are back for these new goals.  Somehow I figured out how to navigate through them before.  I have to believe that there is no reason I won't be able to do it again.  This workout was a step in the right direction.  And as hard as it was to get over this one hurdle, one of many, I'm sure, it was also somewhat rewarding.  Now, I know I can forge ahead from here.  Thank goodness for small victories.

Worked. But proud.

Listen to this:
Blaze Up The Fire - Major Lazer

Thursday, January 10, 2019


"I’m not just listening to the music, I’m in it."
~ Shane Faria 

Today I'm really excited to introduce you to friend and fellow coach, Shane Faria.  Shane and I met last spring; both of us coaching high school track over in Lexington.  I've been at Lex for a while now but it was Shane's first year with us and he came in quietly, watching and observing as opposed to guns blazing.  It's an approach that I always admire and respect because I find it's a bit harder to connect with the kids at first but then when the magic happens, it tends to be that much more meaningful.  Currently in grad school here in MA, Shane originally got into coaching as a stopgap between start-up jobs.  Not surprisingly, he fell in love with it immediately and now has decided to dedicate his future to both coaching and teaching English, the latter of which he'll plan to do at some point down the line.  Shortly after we met, Shane and I connected over music.  He might be the only person I know who spends as much time as I do and who dives in as deep, probably deeper, when it comes to this passion.  The really cool thing about Shane and his music choices is that he does not discriminate.  He loves a good pop song as much as a rough cut by Otis Redding.  It didn't take long for us to start trading favorites and suggestions; new stuff, old stuff and everything in between.  Since then my library and willingness to step into new musical territory, if you will, has expanded quite a bit.  The cool thing is that he's a 27 year old student and I'm a 43 year old Mom, so we grew up in different eras and are currently living in very different phases of our lives but our shared love of music seems to have bridged those gaps; definitely one of the many ways that music is so powerful.  I asked if I could profile Shane for several reasons.  First, he's a music fan.  Second, he's got to be one of the most positive people I've ever met.  Third, he's an incredible storyteller, though if you get to experience this you'll need to pull up a chair as they tend to run long.  And last, because he wishes he could bring back KC And The Sunshine Band.  If only.  Here he is, my friends, Shane Faria, a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.


Name: Shane Faria
Where you're from: Burlington, MA
Where you reside now: Burlington, MA
Age: 27
Occupation: Track Coach at Burlington High & Lexington High. Student-teacher (English) at Burlington High. MEd candidate (UMass Lowell ‘19)
Blog/website: twitter.com/shane_faria

w/ the LHS Outdoor Track Coaching Staff, 2018

What do you love most about running? 
Speed.  I was a sprinter/jumper in high school and for a spell in college.  I just love going fast.  Back then, I loved the competition too.  I was always “undersized” (5’10”, 150lbs) compared to other sprinters, so it was nice surprising people and forcing them to know my name.  I’m not a big distance guy.  I like to go, go, go as fast as I can, while I can still do it.

What do you love most about music? 
Oh boy.  This is really hard to answer. Everything.  I’m all over the place with music.  I want to experience every human emotion as deeply as possible but to never let anything completely overwhelm me.  Often that happens through life experiences, but music is a great way of experiencing certain emotions in a way more low-risk environment.  I’m not just listening to the music, I’m in it. 

w/ RCG at NB Nationals

Band (current, all time or both): Currently I’ve really been into Hop Along, a rock outfit from Philly. Historically, it’s hard to answer.  It really depends on the mood.  I’m not sure I have a clear cut favorite.
Album (current, all time or both): Astral Weeks - Van Morrison. This is clear cut all time. 
Race venue: The REGGIE.  Lots of long days and great accomplishments there.
Music venue: I like the Sinclair in Cambridge.  Great Scott in Allston is very intimate, if that’s what you’re looking for.  Back in high school and college it was mostly basements and backyards. Those are the real special shows for me. 
Race distance: 200m
Show you've seen live? I saw Leif Vollebekk live at the Middle East. There was a rock show playing downstairs and the sound was coming up through the floor.  Leif is a singer-songwriter and pretty low key.  He used the tempo/signature of the rock music downstairs to alter the tempo of his music for that setlist, so all these slower songs from the record were sped up.  It was really cool. He’s one of the most emotional artists I’ve ever seen.  Wears everything on his sleeve.  I appreciate that a lot.
Ice cream flavor:  I’m pretty simple.  Chocolate chip.  Salted caramel when I’m feeling funky. *note:I went w/ Salted caramel for the photo. Might as well go funk when there is a choice.

Sweet or salty? Salty, usually. Big pretzel guy.
Live or recorded? Live w/ video, usually
Coffee or tea? Coffee, black
Summer or winter? Summer, early & late

Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? 
I’m feeling pretty energetic of late, so I’m gonna say The Dirty Nil. Pretty loud and fast. Rock n’ roll ain’t dead. 

Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could?
John Coltrane.  He was channeling some holy energy.  Maybe Sun Ra. I feel like I really missed out on those jazz days. It just feels so American. Jazz and baseball. That’s a nice combo. Also maybe KC & The Sunshine Band in their prime.  That’d be a blast.  Imagine a setlist going from “Boogie Shoes” to “Get Down Tonight” to “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” to “That’s The Way (I Like It)”?  And if I could go back in time, I’d love to have been able to experience the original Woodstock in ‘69.  Especially Joe Cocker.

Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could?
I’m gonna say Andrew WK.

Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)?
In high school I used to always warm up to “Rush” by Talib Kweli.  Live rap is kinda funky to me, so in terms of a live band?  My mind is going to a pretty obscure group called 100 Onces.  It’s pretty in-your-face.  Great for a sprint.  “Abusey Junction” by KOKOROKO is my current long run song when I need a bit of a meditation.  I just throw that baby on repeat and keep the rhythm for my tempo.


Today, I feel like....(fill in the blank):
Amped!  It’s a meet day.  It’s a “prove it” day for my athletes, and I’m excited to see what they can do.  There’s nothing better than watching a kid PR.  It’s objective progress and a reliable way to see the product of your hard work.  That’s especially important with the entire digital age of comparing yourself to everyone else’s highlight reel. 

Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? 
Junior Senior - “Move Your Feet”
Daft Punk - “One More Time”
Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell - “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
Michael Jackson - “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
Curtis Mayfield - “Move On Up”
*This is mostly dancing but probably both. 

Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
Tyler Childers - “Universal Sound”
Michael Rault - “I’ll Be There”
The 1975 - “Sincerity Is Scary”
Jason Isbell - “Relatively Easy”
Al Green - “What a Wonderful Thing Love Is”

Listen to this:
Move Your Feet - Junior Senior

Thursday, January 3, 2019


🎶Hey, I put some new shoes on 
And suddenly everything is right🎶
~Paolo Nutini

Do you remember your first pair of running shoes?  I'm guessing Grace, who was two at the time the above photo was taken, probably doesn't.  But I happen to remember not only the shoes themselves but the details of our entire morning.  We had just finished a tumbling class and were in the car headed to our next activity.  Out of the blue, Grace asked me if she could get a pair of "fast shoes".  Naturally, I was more than happy to oblige.  Because everyone should have a pair of fast shoes.  So, we detoured to the shoe store.  When I opened the door, I have vivid memory of feeling like we had walked into Grace's favorite ice cream store; so many shoes in so many colors, all of them just amazing.  Grace's eyes were wide as saucers as she surveyed the choices.  How to choose???  She eventually picked the bright turquoise Saucony model off the shelf and immediately attempted to put it on her sweaty little foot.  I had to explain that the shoes she was seeing on the shelves were not the ones we actually tried on and took home.  That was confusing.  The guy finally brought out a pair from the back and a huge smile spread across her face.  Out of the box and onto her feet.  They fit perfectly.  No, she did not need socks.  Yes, she was going to wear them out of the store.  Happiness is.  Our plan had been to walk our dog, Lucy, in the woods after our gym class and she had been patiently waiting in the car while we'd shopped. As we left the store, I suggested that we run home and get Grace some clothes to throw over her leotard for our hike.  To which she responded, "BUT WHY?"  It clearly did not matter to her that she would be hiking in nothing but a leotard.  She just wanted to get there and start trying out her new "fast shoes".  She begged me to go straight to the trail.  And how could I blame her?  I knew exactly how she felt.  Not that I remember my first pair of running shoes.  But, I do remember my first pair of racing flats, which I bought my Junior year of high school and wore to practice simply because I could.  She ended up doing the entire two mile loop, no stops (that was a first); running, walking, skipping.  In the leotard.  Oh, and no socks.  And she loved every second of it.  It was magical for her.  And it was also magical for me to watch.  She eventually grew out of that pair and we ended up getting new ones, exactly the same model, but rainbow colored.  Those were awesome, too and I do remember that she loved them.  But neither the shoes or the experience of buying them would ever compare to that first time.  That was the best.

Listen to this:
People - LINES feat. Adele Kosman