Tuesday, December 29, 2020


Dear RWM Readers,
As I went through and rounded up some of my more memorable moments from 2020, I couldn't help but appreciate the fact that some great stuff happened despite the overall shittiness of the year.  And then of course, there was all of the new music that came out.  Which, to our good fortune, is pretty much always a sure thing.  At the start of the year, I got to watch my daughter compete with her high school gymnastics team for the first time.  This was a totally new experience for her and I loved watching her grow as an athlete as she tackled some new challenges in the sport.  In February, I was lucky enough to get down to Atlanta to watch the Olympic marathon trials and hang with my Oiselle teammates before the world shut down due to Covid.  That was pretty amazing.  Then?  Well, school went remote for my girls, LHS spring track was canceled and I, if I'm being honest, I didn't have a hell of a lot else going on.  So, I started running.  Or, I should say, running more.  Like, a lot more.  First, I decided to try a 50K.  For fun.  And when that went well I figured I might as well go ahead with a 50 miler.  I did this one to raise funds for Team With a Vision, an organization that does so much to support those who are visually impaired; a group of individuals who's lives have become significantly more challenging due to the virus and all of the associated restrictions.  After that, my girls and I coasted through the summer, Rosie working and doing gymnastics and Grace, much to her dismay, not really doing much of anything.  I think her exact words at the end of the summer were, "Mom, if you ask me to go on another freaking hike with you I will literally lose my mind."  LOTS of mom and Grace time.  Clearly.  Once September rolled around the girls got back into a rhythm with school and sports and while everything was different they embraced whatever was offered to them as a welcome change from the summer doldrums.  Thankfully, I got to coach the Lex girls for a modified fall XC season and even though it was incredibly challenging and less than ideal from a logistics standpoint, we made it work and it was one hundred percent worth it.  In November, we enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving with just the four of us for the first time in years and then Rosie turned 16, got her learner's permit and started driving.  So many emotions there.  Finally, I closed out the year with a crazy eight hour run challenge in some really tough weather; perhaps one of my most difficult races to date.  As far as next year goes?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I gotta believe there is a light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel for all of us.  For now, all I can do is hug my kids, send virtual love to the rest of my family and friends and hope for the best.  If you can believe it (I can't), this RWM blog has been going steady for ten years now.  I have found that sharing these stories, both my own and those of others, keeps me sane and somewhat grounded.  This year, especially.  So, I can't thank you enough for following along in whatever way that you do.  Here's to new beginnings and brighter days in 2021.  Happy New Year to all of you!

Rock on, 


Watched Rosie compete for her high school gymnastics team

Went to the 2020 Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta

Started quarantine & Rosie started running w/ me for the first time ever


Ran the Sugar Badger Virtual 50 Miler (for TeamWithAVision)

Got the hell out of Dodge with my girls (to the in-laws)

Ran many miles for the #RunWithRivs campaign

Spent some (more) quality time w/ the family up on the North Shore

Began our modified & very bizarre fall XC season at LHS

Raced the Mine Falls 50K in NH

Rosie turned 16 and got her learner's permit. What??

'Raced' the Virtual Frosty Looper 8 Hour Challenge (48.75 miles)


Monday, December 21, 2020


"Road shimmer
Wiggling the vision
Heat heat waves
I'm swimming in a mirror"
~ 'Heatwave', Glass Animals

On Saturday I took on the Frosty Looper - 8 Hour Challenge. This was the first time I've tackled an event of this kind and despite the fact that I trained for it by running a shit ton of miles, I really didn't know what to expect.  In a nutshell, I would be completing as many 3.75 mile laps as I could in an eight hour window.  Originally, the race was supposed to take place in New Jersey and when I signed up I thought, or more accurately, hoped that I'd be doing it in person.  As the race got closer and things were actually getting worse, as far as Covid goes, I realized that driving to NJ and staying in a hotel for a race would not work if I was going to see my family for the holidays.  I reached out to the race director and told him that I was sad to miss it but that it was no longer in the cards for me.  He let me know he understood and told me that I could still run it virtually and submit my results but that I would not be eligible for awards.  A bummer but totally fair.  Not that I was assuming I'd place, but it's always fun to have something to shoot for when you decide to take these things on.  Since I'd been training for this for months there was no question for me as to whether or not I'd be doing it, even if I had to do it on my own.  If anything, it was a test of my fitness and mental fortitude and I was "excited" to see what I could do.  Unfortunately, after Thanksgiving the Covid situation continued to get worse and just a few days before the event was set to take place, the state of NJ told the race director that he could not hold the race in person.  I'm guessing that he knew it was bound to get called, but it was still a blow after all the work his team had done to make this thing happen safely.  Thus, the 2020 Looper was officially postponed to 2021 and the 2020 race was now virtual, if you so desired.  The upside here being that I was now back in as an official entrant since all of us were doing it as a solo effort.  So, with just a few days to go until race day, I tried to get my head back in the game and to get myself fired up for this ridiculous virtual adventure.  And then, the Thursday before race day, we had a full blown blizzard here in the Boston area.  We got over a foot of snow and the temps dropped below freezing where they were predicted to stay for the foreseeable future.  Classic Murphy's law.  Sure, Rebecca, you can do a virtual race but we gotta make it legit by throwing you the worst possible weather and road conditions in the books.  Now, you can go for it!  Oh, and have fun out there!

As always, I laid out all my gear the night before the race.  My coach and I talked about throwing in things like extra shoes and socks since there would be snow on the ground and my feet would likely get wet.  I also threw in an entire change of clothes as it was going to be 10º at 7:30am when were allowed to start and closer to 30º at 3:30 when we were required to call it.  Basically, if I thought I might need it, I threw it in the pile.  I had driven a bunch of routes earlier in the day and picked the best possible option given the conditions.  There would be no sidewalks but one of the roads had a pretty solid lip that I could stay in for the way out and then on the way back I'd be on a quieter road and just hope that drivers would give me space.  The whole thing was now a bit daunting in a way I wasn't really prepared for, but I guess that's always bound to happen so I just tried to take it in stride while also laughing a bit about the craziness of it all.  

I continued laughing the next morning as I got up and checked the weather.  Note the "feels like" temp.  That's right.  2º.  Even my dogs didn't want to go outside.  And I didn't blame them.  Okay, so I had a brief moment with myself at this point when I questioned whether this was a bad idea.  Which it decidedly was.  But I was doing it anyway.  Obvs.

Clover didn't really understand what was going on and began nudging me as she thought I was dressed to take her out.  No buddy, I explained, it's not going to be me this morning.  I gotta go do a thing.  To which she responded with more nudging and some whining.  She's good at what she does.  I won't lie and tell you I didn't want to just grab a second cup and cuddle up with her in my bed.  I wanted that real bad.  I had to get out of the house pronto or I wouldn't be going.  

I grabbed my bin of crap and made my way out to my car.  We live on a significant hill and I was not willing to go up this beast every lap.  Thus, I would be parking down at the train station and running my loop from there, using the parking lot as my pit, if you will, for breaks and to grab fuel and whatever else I might need.  I turned the music up loud in an attempt to distract myself from how cold I was and to drown out my thoughts in general.  The song that came on for my three minute drive down to the station was "Heatwave" by Glass Animals.  Ironic, no?  But also a great cut.  I turned it up louder.  This shit was happening.  Ready or not.

Laps 1-3
I wish I had a photo of the start for you.  Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning and as I got into my first lap and the sun began to come up I couldn't help but be grateful to be outside doing what I love.  There was definitely some photogenic moments during those first three laps, which totally flew by, with the sun shining through the trees and on the snow.  But, my hands were too damn cold to deal with my phone.  I had worn a scarf down to the station and ended up doing the first 15 miles in it.  I've never run in a scarf.  It was that cold.  The photo above was taken a little before 2:00pm by my daughter.  Not quite the same as first light but you get the idea.

LAPS 3-6
When I rolled in from my third lap my buddy and run wingman, Steve McK, was bundled up and waiting to do the fourth lap with me.  He's a really good friend.  I grabbed some fluids before we started and then we were off.  He was fresh out of the car and ready to rock so my pace picked up a bit to match his.  He was also very chatty which was a great distraction so I just went into cruise control next to him or behind him if the street was narrow.  He threw out a gem of a "would you rather".  It was would you rather have no cell phone ever available to you again or no condiments for your food.  It was an easy answer for me as I'm not a big condiments person but it was a tough one for him as he truly can't imagine life without them.  We had a nice lengthy debate about and before we knew it we were back to the start.  He bade me goodbye and passed the wingman baton off to my friend, Anoush, who was ready to run the next three laps with me.  She, too, is a really good friend.  Once again, we set off and went right into story telling mode, something she is exceptionally good at.  We talked all things dating, roommates, family and more.  She's significantly younger than me and her life is substantially more interesting at the moment so I was happy to listen and provide comments and feedback when needed.  After our second lap she noted that she was starting to feel our run in her legs to which I responded "Me, too.  Shhhhh."  And then we kept going.  

Laps 7-10
I dropped Anoush off after lap 6 and she told me she'd come back to check on me and run a bit more in a couple hours.  This is about when it set in that I was wicked tired and not even close to being done.  I mean, I'd run 22.5 miles at this point.  So, it made sense that I was feeling it.  But it was only 11:30am so my 3:30 finish time seemed ridiculously far away.  I was a little concerned.  And yet, there was no turning back so I just put my Jaybirds in, turned up the music and took off for lap 7.  As I was finishing this lap I noticed a person in the parking lot waving next to their car.  As I got closer I realized it was one of my former LHS runners, Maya B-T, who had noticed I was doing laps on Strava and kindly tracked me down to see how it was going and join me for a round.  It was such an unexpected and nice surprise.  I'm sure she could tell how I was feeling and she just jumped right into easy conversation, doing most of the talking as I listened and plodded along with her.  We caught up on all things college, lacrosse, running and family and before I knew it we were rolling into the pit.  I said goodbye, put my music back on and tried to get going quickly so I didn't think about how tired I was.  Now I was on autopilot; one foot in front of the other.  No idea what time it was.  No idea how many miles I'd done.  By the time I finished my 10th lap the insides of my shoulders were hurting which I knew was due to dehydration.  I had taken fluids at each stop I'd made but clearly not enough.  I now realized that the 3.75 gap between each stop was just too long of a spread to go without drinking.  I hadn't carried my bottles because I didn't think I'd need them.  This was a big mistake.  And I would pay for it on the back side.  

Laps 11-13
Things were touch and go now.  I didn't really know what to do other than just f***ing run.  My stomach was a mess, likely because of how dehydrated I was.  Or, maybe just because I'd done 30 something miles at a decent clip and it was straight up angry.  Probably both.  I texted Anoush and let her know that I needed to finish by myself.  I just didn't have the mental energy to be with someone as I ran and I really needed my music to distract me from how exhausted I was.  After the 11th lap I decided to change my shoes.  My feet had been hurting and I thought maybe some extra cushion would provide some relief.  This was also a big mistake.  After about a half of a mile in them they felt stupidly heavy and I felt like I was having to work harder in them which is really not what I'd wanted from the change up.  All I could think about for those 3.75 miles was how badly I wanted those shoes off my feet.  That might of been my worst lap.  When I rolled in after the 12th lap my husband was there with my girls.  Oh my, how I was hurting.  It was so nice to see them if only for the moral support.  But I was really struggling.  My goal had been to run at least 50 miles and in order to do this I needed to get through lap 14.  The rules stated that we were required to finish with a full lap so if I got to 3:00pm and couldn't get my last one done in 30 minutes I wouldn't be able to count it.  At this point, I probably could have gotten two more laps in before 3:30pm if I hustled.  Ha.  There would be no hustle.  I knew I would not be able to get it done in the shoes I'd changed into and so I decided to take the time to switch them back and to stop and drink more which wasted a lot of time because, as I said, no hustle.  And by the time I took off for lap 13 I knew it would be all I could do in our allotted time.  I was definitely bummed.  But I was also so ready to be done.  In the end I ran 13 laps, which was 48.75 miles with a total run time of 7:06:10 (average pace 8:45).  It ties the 2018 Boston marathon for the happiest I've ever been to be done with a race.  I sat down in my car.  And I couldn't move.  Like, literally.  I just had to sit there and do nothing for quite some time before I could motivate to drive back up to my house which felt a million miles away.  When I turned the car on, I kid you not, 'Heatwave' by Glass Animals was playing.  Now that is a coincidence.

Later in the day my coach checked in to let me know I'd taken the win for women and see how I was feeling.  I told him that I was pretty happy, especially since I hadn't known the results up until then, but that I also thought I'd have been able to do more given my training.  Why, I asked, was this so much harder than the last time I ran 50 miles, which was this past May.  Well, for one, it was cold.  Stupid cold.  He explained that the body likely burns significantly more calories when it's out in this weather.  Which leads me to believe that I probably didn't eat enough calories to make up for this difference.  And then the lack of fluids was my other problem.  I needed to be drinking from the get go and way more often than every 3.75 miles.  That really hurt me for those final laps.  My energy was just totally zapped and no matter how much I drank in the second half of the day, it didn't matter.  It was just too late to make up for it by then.  Two valuable lessons learned there.  All that said, my wheels didn't completely fall off and I ran right up to the end rather than calling it early which I so easily could have.  I definitely took longer breaks in between sets in the second half.  And I probably wasted more time than I should have but I'll chalk it off to rookie status and remember to keep things moving for the next time when I also will eat more and carry water.  If there is a next time.  If you'd asked me yesterday, I would have given you a hard NO.  Today?  I don't know.  Tomorrow?  Still not sure.  I might need a little more time to think on this one.  Or maybe a lot.

Heatwave by Glass Animals

Friday, December 4, 2020


"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed."
~ Maya Angelou

Well folks, we have finally made it to December. Praise be. I think I can safely speak for many when I say this has been one of the most challenging and chaotic years I've ever waded through and I am more than ready to put it behind me. Not that 2021 will be a guaranteed walk in the park, but I have to believe that it can only get better. I will say that I have never been more eager to move into holiday mode if only just lighten up my spirits a bit as we come into the home stretch of 2020. I started writing this over Thanksgiving when I was supposed to be down in Georgia visiting my sister and her family along with my parents. Obviously that didn't happen. It has been a really long time since I've seen them and while I know it was the right call it did break my heart a little that we couldn't all be together. The way I see it, or that I'm trying to see it, is that it will just be that much more amazing when we can all meet up again. I'm giddy just thinking about it. Until then, though, I'll be hunkering down with my husband and the girls and enjoying even more quality time with them over these next few weeks. Seriously, though, with all this extra time I've been on the hunt for some fun gift ideas for runners, music lovers and really, for anyone who likes cool things. Which is probably most people. I did my best to cast a wide net and I think I've ended up with a pretty fun and unique group of ideas that you can tap into as you think about what you'd like to treat your loved ones with or, better yet, yourself to during this giving season. You'll notice there are items from some of my favorite companies, like Oiselle and Jaybird. These guys are tried and true and products from their company will likely always be on my list as they have never let me down as far as gifting goes. And then you'll see that I have a few new ones on here and these I am really excited about as I know they will be well received if only because of how different they are. So here it is, my 8th annual holiday gift guide along with a killer giveaway with some of my favorite products. Check the list. Check it twice. Then enter the giveaway for you and friend. Because I'm sure you've both been nice. Sorry, I had to. Cheers, everyone! And Merry everything.


OISELLE FLIPSIDE PUFFY SKIRT - Oiselle calls it a "wearable blanket". I call it a socially acceptable sleeping bag. You can call it whatever you want. But the bottom line is this - it's warm, it's chic and it can be thrown over tights after a run or for a day of coaching outside in the colder temps without having to be awkwardly pulled over the sneakers which never really works out in the end. Genius.  

LANDGROVE COFFEE DOUBLE SHOT PRESS - If you love coffee, then perhaps you also appreciate a fresh cup of joe made with a French Press. This little gizmo enables you to both make it and take it. It has a spill-proof press/drink lid, it's incredibly durable and it has been newly designed with their Brü-Stop press technology for a perfectly smooth brew, anytime, anywhere. Added bonus...the lid can be attached for left or right-handed drinkers. Plus, the base doubles as a container in case you want and/or need a second brew on the go. Given.

LIKE THE WIND MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION - I've been getting Like the Wind for several years now. It's a beautiful quarterly magazine created "for runners, by runners". Really, it's more like a book of short stories, each one paired with it's own unique illustration, the whole thing printed on matte paper. Personally, I like to take my time with it, to stretch it out over a few weeks as I go through it and then, because each issue is full of so many morsels of wisdom, I add it to my book shelf for a future reference. The stories are relatable to anyone so you don't have to be a runner to enjoy this publication. They offer multiple payment methods or you can buy specific issues if one happens to catch your eye. I can honestly say that I have loved every one so far. Click on this link to receive £5 off your order.
Price:Approx $38

WYETH DESIGN EARRINGS - I am really excited about these gorgeous, hand crafted earrings designed by my dear friend, Jason Koob, creator and owner of Wyeth Designs. Jay is a doctor by day but woodworking is another one of his passions and he uses much of his free time to build both furniture and earrings like the ones you see above. In his own words, "My pieces display clean, minimalist lines reflecting my love of Japanese architecture and Scandinavian furniture design. I also try to incorporate natural elements such as stones, grass, and water into my pieces whenever possible." I have three pairs of my own and plan to give both the Strong and Brave sets (designed by his daughter!) to my teammates this season.
Price:Ranges from $12-$42

ATHLETIC BREWING CO. - I love a good beer. But I'm not a big fan of how alcohol impacts my sleep or, for that matter, my performance when I'm training. Last year I was on a quest to find a high quality Non Alcoholic beer and after several fails, which I won't mention here, I finally discovered Athletic Brewing Co. They make a great tasting N/A Craft Beer with high-quality, all-natural ingredients. It's ideal for those with an active lifestyle or anyone who just really enjoys beer but doesn't want to sacrifice taste. Plus, have a few as there is no risk for a hangover. Seriously, if you want to switch things up you will not be disappointed with ABC. My local liquor store sells it but you can also buy it and get it shipped straight from their site. Note: Use code RTRACHSEL20 to save 20% on your first order.
Price:$12.99 per six pack

JAYBIRD VISTA - These were on my list last year. And, well, they just have to be again. Because, in my humble opinion, they are the best accessory since sliced bread. Wireless. Waterproof. Sweatproof. Shockproof. Dust proof. Isn't that enough proof? Pop them in and turn them up. You don't even know they're there. For running or working or doing whatever it is you do with music. Never go quiet again. Note: Use code RWM to take $10 off your order. US & Canada Residents only.
PRICE $179.99


NUUN REST - Any product that "aids my relaxation responses" is a no brainer for me. NUUN Rest's blend of magnesium, potassium and tart-cherry are all known to help you relax while also releasing tension from overworked muscles. Please and thank you. I like to heat mine up and drink it before bed. Each tube has 10 tablets. We all need rest during the holiday season, right?

KENYAN RUNNING BANDS - Who doesn't want to wear a bit of motivation while they are working to reach their goal? These beautiful Kenyan Running Bands are handmade by the Maasai people who are based in a workshop in Narok. Artisan Design, founded by Rob Paddock, is the only UK company that stocks these bracelets which are fairly traded direct from Iten. 10% of all sales are given to local young runners as they work to achieve greatness in sport plus you are helping support the local Maasai communities.

HALOLIFE MASKS - Every stocking should have a mask in it this year. Might as well make it a high quality one. The HALOmasks are durable and adjustable. They are available in three sizes and come with replaceable filters. They are also really cool. Well, as far as masks go.

PICKY DRIZZLE - Think taste explosion in your mouth. I mean, that should be enough. Made with cinnamon, vanilla and superfood maca, it's the perfect addition to your oatmeal or a dipping sauce for your fruit....or your finger. I actually put a dollop into my coffee. Mind blown.

***** 2020 WINTER GIVEAWAY*****

4 lbs of
Landgrove Coffee
2 pairs of Wyeth Designs Earrings
2 NUUN water bottles
4 Tubes of NUUN
1 jar of Picky Drizzle
1 Bag of Picky PB&J Granola
1 Variety Pack of Picky Bars
1 pair of Oiselle Power Puff mittens
1 pair Oiselle Power On tights
1 Oiselle Trucker Hat
2 Artisan Designs Kenyan Running Bands
2 HaloLife Masks
2 six packs of Athletic Brewing Co.
2 issues of Like the Wind Magazine
1 pair of Jaybird Vistas

Let's get right to to it, shall we? It's been a hell of a year and I just want to give some cool stuff away. No games or questions for this one. Just add your name in the comments below along with the name of a friend that you'd like to share all these goodies with. You can also jump over to RWM on Instagram and enter again there. Winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, December 11th. Huge thanks to all of the companies that contributed to this giveaway. Good luck. *US Residents only

Listen to this:
Solid Gold by Sheppard

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Finding Yourself, Nate Wright Style
by Uma Sanker*

"Running is a sport in which you can either choose to find yourself or lose yourself." 

Reading the Big Nate books growing up, one thing that I always admired about the protagonist of the books, Nate Wright, was that he never gave up on his ambitions. Whether he’s being thrown in detention for the millionth time in a row, or his friends are telling him that it really won’t work out with Jenny, he keeps working towards his goals. Even if they’re quite questionable goals sometimes. 

When I first started to run competitively, I was definitely more of a Chad - the insecure, chubby boy who’s one of Nate’s various friends and does things cause he enjoys doing them, not because he’s good at them. In sixth grade, when I walked to room 274 to scribble my name on the cross country sign-up sheet, I was someone you’d expect to have their head buried in a book. I was someone who you’d expect to be on the math team. Someone who you’d never expect to see busting out a six minute mile. Nate would have probably called me a nerd who needed to, “get a life,” much like he frequently said to Francis. I didn’t really have anything that I wanted to work towards at the time; nothing to ground myself. I hadn’t found who I really was yet.

Running is a sport in which you can either choose to find yourself or lose yourself. You can choose to work your hardest and be the best version of yourself, or mindlessly drag yourself through miles on end. One causes you to find yourself, and one causes you to lose yourself. The work you put in, the training that you dedicate yourself to, all define who you are as a runner. Both paths will get you to the same place, but in different ways.

Nate embodies the confidence that I tried to when I placed my name on the sign-up sheet. He doesn’t care what other people think about him. He shamelessly goes after what he wants, and doesn’t give a crap about what other people may think. He doesn’t strangle himself by conforming to the stereotypes that the world has provided him with, and in doing so, he’s found himself. 

In the process of finding yourself, it’s quite easy to lose yourself. I remember in my freshman year of cross country, that my summer training - although I did 200 miles, all of them were half-hearted. It was apparent that I cared, but I didn’t have the motivation to improve. The moment you begin to feel like you can’t improve anymore is always a point at which you lose yourself. 

The way to combat losing yourself is hard. You may think that the obvious answer is, you need to find yourself, but it’s not that simple. It’s a battle that occurs within the mind; it may not be visible on the outside, but can be an ongoing struggle. It sounds so easy to not be sucked into the trap of succumbing to your ego, but it’s ultimately easier said than done. I had to shatter my ego; wake up and realize that the world was not waiting for me, to continue to find myself. Although Nate has a huge ego, he doesn’t succumb to it. He knows, although he verbally never says, that he can improve. He knows that he can keep working on himself. Yet, he stays true to himself and doesn't change for anyone but him. Maintaining that balance, is key.

I like to think of running as a beacon within a storm; the competitiveness. Throughout my middle school years, cross country and track fed my inner competitive side I never knew I had. I started to grow an idea of what I was looking for. High school further showed me I had long ways to go, but that I was stronger than I realized. 

The pain is just as much as critical a part of the refuge as the serotonin. Workouts are the stepping stones to success, races are the mile markers. Pain is a part of all of it, but it is a constant that doesn’t change. The pain shows that you’re improving. The improvement is the motivating factor to find yourself; the constant desire to improve and to be the best version of yourself. Remodeling yourself from having a Chad mindset, to having a Nate mindset. Trying not to lose yourself amid the process. Quoting what Nate says when he begins to do something, practically anything: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Listen to this:

*Huge thanks to Uma for letting me share this post with the RWM readers.  It is such a pleasure to work with you and watch you grow both as a runner and a young woman.  Stay after it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020


"We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run"
~ Bruce Springsteen, 'Born to Run'

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend, fellow runner & coach and former deejay, Beth Baker.  I first met Beth out in the social world; Twitter I believe.  We connected through the Oiselle team, which we are both members of, and we instantly hit it off due to our shared passion for running, music, sarcasm and dumb jokes.  We finally met in person back in the summer of 2018 at a team Birdcamp, where we spent four intense days together sharing both a cabin and random toiletries like dental floss and earplugs.  We have obviously stayed connected on account of our friendship but it was not until weeks ago that I learned that she used to be a legit radio deejay.  And not just a deejay.  She majored in audio engineering assuming she'd be on the radio long term.  But, of course, life doesn't always happen the way we plan it.  In her own words:

Before I started running, I was on the radio. I got my degree in audio engineering and I wanted to go into radio to make people happy with my music choices. My debut on the radio was an intern for a classic rock radio station at the tender age of 18 years old. I was the one who would laugh at the morning comedy duo, and to run "the board".  My first day of being on the radio, the station got a record number of calls to get me off the air...my laugh was "too much" (for those who have not met me, I have VERY loud laugh). But they kept me on and I continued to work in the radio industry till I started Running Evolution and got pregnant.  I hated running, but my love of porter beers started brewing, so I figured I might need a balance.  It took me a year to train for a 5k, and then I was hooked.  I began helping friends start running and created Running Evolution fourteen years ago.  I've worked with over 2500 new runners. One of my favorite things to do is to make rockin' running playlists.  And I get to use my engineering degree making my podcasts, Why We Run

So, yes, she took a different path, including motherhood, to get to where she is today but her love for music and running continues to be stronger than ever.  Listen to her playlists.  They're awesome.  Listen to her podcast.  Also awesome.  But first, let's get to know her a bit more here on RWM.  Without further ado, meet Beth Baker a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.


Name: Beth Baker
Where you're from: California, in the southern part 
Where you reside now: Seattle, WA in the southern west side
Age (if you're ok sharing): 46 or 12...depends on the day 
Occupation:Mom & Running Coach for people who aren't competitive, who like beer & doughnuts 
Blog/website: https://runningevolution.com
Podcast: Why We Run
Fav Radio Station:KEXP.ORG

What do you love most about running? 
One of the biggest gifts that I love about running is that I used to hate it, and I kept at it, and learned to love it.  It reminds me that I can change, evolve and be a better person.  I also love the way my legs look when I run.  

What do you love most about music? 
Music raised me, literally.  I was a 70's/80's kid and my parents weren't around.  It was me, FM radio and my MTV.  It's been the chorus throughout my life, and whenever I get lost in the muck, I turn to music, and it's a big billboard saying, "This is you.  Music is in your heart".  I also went to school for music engineering and production and was in radio for 15 years.  It shaped me.  When I run with music, it's like this weird moving dance that allows me to express myself on a very elemental level. 

Band (current, all time or both):
UGH! I want to pick all of them, but Built to Spill is pretty wonderful. 
Album (current, all time or both): Led Zeppelin 'Houses of the Holy'. I know, cock rock...but I love it.  
Race venue: Avenue of the Giants marathon in Weott, California 
Music venue: Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco
Race distance: 1/2 marathon. I can still walk the next day. 
Show you've seen live: I've seen The Mountain Goats many times, and cry each time. They're great. 
Ice cream flavor: Anything that has something crunchy in there. 

Sweet or salty?
Live or recorded? Yes. 
Coffee or tea? Coffee. 
Summer or winter? Summer. 

Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could?
PJ Harvey
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin or both together. 
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Tom Waits.  I've always wanted to meet him and I know so many people who have and say he's so great.  I also want to meet his wife, Kathleen Brennen, who is an amazing producer. 
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Bruce Springsteen...cause tramps like us. 

Today, I feel like….(fill in the blank):
making soup and being cozy. 

Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? 
This Year - The Mountain Goats (a 2020 anthem)
Mr. Blue Sky - ELO
Juice - Lizzo
Comeback Kid - Sharon Van Etten
Straight to Hell - The Clash
Huffer - The Breeders
Oops. That was 6. 

Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
Moonlight Mile - The Rolling Stones
September Girls - Big Star
Pretty Good - John Prine (another good 2020 anthem)
Sweet Baby - Ted Hawkins
Mockingbirds - Grant Lee Buffalo 

Listen to this:
Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder

Sunday, October 18, 2020


"When you run your first marathon, more things seem possible.  When you run your first ultramarathon, everything seems possible."

~ Michael D'Aulerio

Last Sunday I raced the Mine Falls 50K  Not virtually.  It was a real, live, in person event with other runners, bib numbers and start and finish lines.  I know some of you have already gotten out there again but this was my first official race of 2020 and by the time Sunday rolled around I was giddy like a toddler on Halloween.  Seriously, I have never been so excited to race, maybe ever.  And while my expectations weren't super high simply on account of the fact that, for me it honestly didn't really matter how organized or well attended this even was, the first annual Mine Falls Trail Running Festival did not disappoint.  

Running is such a simple sport, you know?  But then, I guess when you're out in the woods for multiple hours during a pandemic it becomes a bit more involved.  As of Saturday our forecast looked perfect.  The race was taking place up in Nashua, NH which is about a forty minute drive for me.  Temps were expected to be in the low 50s at the start and then work their way up to the mid to high 60s for the finish.  I have a couple new run friends, Brian and Addie, who are ultra experts and both have been incredibly helpful to me as I have started to dip my toes into these uncharted mega mileage waters.  No joke, I would have been up shit's creek without their guidance as I prepared for this rodeo.  The race director let us know that there would be water and fuel stations but asked us to consider carrying our own fuel in an attempt to avoid over crowded stops.  Fine by me.  I've been practicing with a water vest for my last half dozen long runs so I was happy to wear it.  I laid out my stuff the night before the race and then checked in with Addie to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything.  I told her headphones were "optional but not recommended" and asked if she thought I shouldn't bring mine.  "Fuck that" she said.  "I always have to have my music."  Clearly I was very glad to hear this from an expert.  See how helpful she is??  Since I was driving up in the morning for the 7:00am start, I tucked myself in around 8:45 which is a full fifteen minutes before my usual bed time.  I know...crazy.

I needed to be out the door by 5:30, so I set my alarm for 4:45.  Oddly my eyelids popped open around 4:15.  Too early.  Couldn't get going.  I went back to sleep for thirty minutes which actually felt like thirty seconds.  Holy crap was it hard to roll out of bed at that hour.  I slithered down to the coffee machine and started brewing the magic.  My dogs, of course, heard me and came down to be fed after which they assumed they'd be getting walked.  How they are able to spring to life so quickly at any hour totally blows my mind.  I got all my stuff together and got going right on time.  It was a quick and easy drive, most of it in the dark, though the sun was starting to rise just as I got to NH.  I got off the exit and made my way to 1 Park Street.  It was a big, empty parking lot which I thought was odd as I figured the race crew would be in full deal mode by 6:15.  I drove down the street, back around the block and over to the lot again.  Nope.  Nothing.  Cue the panic.  I got on Facebook and found the race company and a listed phone number.  Praise be.  I did feel bad calling someone who might not be at the race that early in the morning but I had no choice.  Thankfully, Chris, the race director, picked up and explained I needed to go to Park Street Extension which was about five miles from where I was.  I calmed myself down and drove over to the right location, reminding myself that one doesn't really need to warmup up for a 31 mile race so I still had plenty of time.

Mother Nature did not disappoint and though it was a little on the cool side since we were further North, it was otherwise perfect.  I picked up my bib and shirt, dropped them at my car and walked down the hill to the race start.  By now it was about 6:45 so I just took in the moment and worked to keep myself warm while pretending to look super focused as I had no one to talk, too.  As you can see, the scene was pretty mellow and absolutely nothing like the start of a typical race which was a welcome change.  I was still pretty nervous as this was my first legitimate ultra but the pre-race pressure that I normally put on myself was nowhere near as high.  

The 50K runners would be doing four, 8 mile laps.  Normally, this might sound kind of painful.  But given how long it had been since I'd raced I probably would have still done it if it was 30 laps on a one mile track.  And, I mean, check out the scenery?  So, yea, I was totally good with the laps.  The entire loop was on trail; a lot of single track and some parts more technical than others.  We set off on a main part of the trail but were directed off to the right shortly after we got going.  We'd be weaving on and off of that main trail for most of the course.  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I felt like I was floating.  The miles just clicked by.  Pace didn't matter.  People were around me, passing me, smiling at me; the vibe was so awesome.  I did make the mistake of following the group in front of me around mile three which went off in the wrong direction.  The course was marked with pink tape and the lead guy missed a piece that had gone downhill and since I was a newbie I just followed the leader.  Lesson learned.  They took me about a half mile out of the way but clearly that was all on me.  No big deal.  Aside from this, I had no other issues and I cruised comfortably through the finish chute on my way to lap 2, still feeling like the situation was almost too good to be true.

This lap was much quieter.  The 80 or so of us doing the 50K were now pretty spread out and I was happy to have my tunes for a distraction.  I thought I'd have no issues finding my way through the course on my own since I'd already done it.  But I quickly realized that I'd leaned heavily on those in front of me during my first lap and found myself having to slow down or even stop once in a while to find the pink tape.  I had a couple moments in this lap when I worried that I was backtracking as I saw the tape but felt like I'd already gone by in the other direction.  What happens then, I thought?  Do I get disqualified?  I had no to one to ask so I just kept going and hoping I was getting it right.  Finally I saw the set of wooden stairs that were about half a mile away from the finish area and breathed a sigh of relief knowing I'd gotten back to home base.  

Katrina in the blue shorts above

The legs were definitely getting tired by now and my excitement was waning a bit.  It was also getting a little warm.  But, as I set off for my third lap I just reminded myself how lucky I was to be out doing what I love and to embrace it all regardless of how I was feeling.  About a mile in people started passing me.  Lots of people.  They were literally flying by me.  I felt a tap on my shoulder and responded with a "yep" meaning, I know, I hear you & I'll get out of your way only to look and see that it was my friend Aaron who smiled and waved as he cruised by me.  Several more people passed me and I started to worry that I was falling apart at the seams as I couldn't move my legs any faster.  Then Aaron's wife, Katrina, tapped me and said "Hey Trax!"  I asked how far she was going and she let me know they were running the 8 mile race.  Ohhhhh.  Well, that made more sense.  We chatted a bit and I ran behind her for a while on the trail until it opened up and she flew off to a first place finish.  Seeing them was such a boost for me and gave me a new burst of energy that I so needed at this point.  Once I got to the finish area and waved to them again I knew I had enough in me to bang out my last lap.  I took off into the woods with an ear to ear grin on my face for my final push.

Cruising past the finish area where those who raced the shorter distances had their feet up and were drinking cold beers....well... that was tough.  When you're talking about 31 miles and change, 8 miles sounds like nothing.  But when you're in the woods, climbing up a hill that requires putting your hands down for balance, 8 miles sounds like a GD marathon.  I was so ready to be done and I had over an hour to go.  Oof.  I put my head down and forged ahead.  I will say, the playlist I created for this race was so good I almost felt like I was cheating because I had it and my competitors didn't.  Every time a new song came on my batteries would get a mini re-charge, if you will.  Thank goodness I listened to Addie as things would have been very different without my music.  Picking my feet up over the rocks and roots was getting significantly harder due to the fatigue in my legs.  It was also tricky to keep the pink ribbons in site as having to focus on more than one thing was kind of tough.  For a while, I had a guy running right on my tail which was kind of unnerving but at the same time it was nice to have his company.  The trail was tight but whenever I could I moved to the side in case he wanted to pass which he eventually did.  I was happy to give him the lead and follow in his footsteps for a while thus taking the navigation element off the table for a bit.  When the trail opened up again he moved to the side and I took the lead back.  And this is how we finished.  I had one part where, yes, even after three laps I couldn't remember where to turn, so I looked back and he pointed me off to the right.  I was very gratefull for that.  And once I popped out of that final small section I knew I was home free.  Well, I had 2.5 miles to go, but basically home free.  Finally, I saw the clearing up ahead and the finish line with volunteers waiting with medals.  Sweet Lord above, I was done.  It was probably the most anti-climatic finish I'd ever experienced.  Aside from the medal guy, no one was even near the finish and those who were were sitting off to the side, totally engrossed in their own worlds.  This made me smile.  I found a spot in the grass, took my shoes off and just laid in the sun basking in the glory of having successfully knocked out 32 miles.

In the end I ran about a mile extra due to my wrong turn and a couple other small turn errors that I made when I was by myself.  My watch has me at an 8:41 average which is just too good because, as you may know, 41 is my favorite number.  I placed 7th overall and was the second female across the line.  I was thrilled.  Though, honestly, none of this mattered.  I could have cared less about place and time, but still, it was just really exciting to have this first ultra behind me and to have it go so well.

Note the wooden medal shaped like New Hampshire.  I love this.  Of the three ultras I've done, two virtual and one in person, all the medals have been unique like this.  The ultra world has a whole different character compared to the regular race scene.  It's warm and friendly and, as I already said, mellow.  And having been racing somewhat competitively for the past ten years or so, it's such a breath of fresh air.  I literally can not wait to get back out there.  I just need to make a few more friends in the area so I'm not hanging out by myself before and after my next race.  Or Steve, my running partner who recently moved to Vegas, needs to come home and start doing these things with me.  I'm not holding my breath on this one.  Next up....an 8 hour race in NJ.  In December.  So, yeah.  Next level crazy.  Bring it.

Listen to this:

Feel Good (feat. Bre Kennedy) - Super Duper