Tuesday, July 28, 2015

RACE REVIEW: TONNESON + CO. 5K

Back in June, I signed up to run the Tonneson + Co. 5K with my good bud and Oiselle teammate, Jess C.  Unfortunately, Jess's hamstring then decided it was not happy and that, it, too, wanted a summer vacation.  Funny how they do that.  We touched base a couple weeks ago and she let me know she was still planning on joining me despite the fact that she wouldn't be able to race.  Wow, I thought, that is some serious runlove right there.  When this past Saturday rolled around, I shot her a note and told her I would be thrilled to have her with me on race day, but that she really shouldn't feel obligated to go.  She was going to have to get up before 7am to make it work and that, in and of itself, was reason enough for her to bail.  But, she wasn't hearing it.  She was going.  Yes, she rocks.  On Sunday,  I woke up at 6:45am, gulped down some coffee, grabbed my gear and headed over to grab Jess.  She was bright eyed and bushy tailed as she hopped in my car.  I was impressed.  We got to Wakefield about 15 minutes later and easily parked and found the race tent.  Gotta love the small races.  I grabbed my number and we both grabbed our shirts.  Interesting side note, Jess is thinking about making a quilt with patches from all her race shirts.  How cool is that?  It was a grey morning, not too hot, but humid.  So, it wasn't ideal, but it could have been much worse.  I wasn't feeling very motivated so I was very, very happy to have a cheerleader.

This girl!!!!

I headed off for quick warmup and left Jess standing alone by a playground with my car keys and a cowbell.  Man, I thought, she is such a good sport.  When I rolled back in I was soaked.  Even though the sun wasn't out, the humidity was in full force.  Jess hates racing in the heat so I noted that one small brightside for her was that she wouldn't have to fight the weather this particular morning.  Though, I'm not sure it helped much.  When you're injured, anything is better than not running.  As I mentioned, this was a pretty small event (about 120 runners), so after some announcements and thank-yous from the race director, we got a verbal "Ready, Set, Go" and we were off.  I settled in to what I thought was a comfortable pace.   Well, comfortably uncomfortable, I guess.  Not too fast, but not a heavy duty push.  We were running around the circumference of  Lake Quannapowitt, which was lovely, and the course was flat, so, despite the buckets of sweat pouring down my face, I was kind of enjoying myself.  My first mile was a 6:22.  Okay, I thought.  I'm feeling good.  Let's go.  I shifted gears....or at least I thought I did... and tried to get my groove on for the next mile.   I was working hard, but there was no one around me, so I guess my drive waned a bit as my second mile was a 6:35.  Oh well, I thought, not great, not bad.  Time to get this done.  What else you got, Rebecca?  


As I got into mile three,  I could see the finish line which was good because I was hurting big time.  I caught up to a guy and passed him but I don't think he was happy about it, so he surged back up next to me.  It was nice to have the competition as I definitely needed the push and was glad to have the distraction.  We worked together for a bit but then I guess he decided it wasn't worth it, so I took it home, rolling in at 20:09.  I wasn't thrilled with my time, but it was good for the win, which I was really excited about.  I grabbed some water and found Jess as I attempted to decompress.  Shortly after I finished, a woman came over and started chatting with me.  Here's how our conversation played out:

Her: Ugh. What did you get for distance on that?
Me: I got 3.11
Her: Really, I got 3.05. I think it was short.
Me: Oh well.
Her: So, what was your time?
Me: Right around 20 minutes. 
Her: Yea, I ran 20:30. I'm stuck there. I don't know why I can't get it down. Such a crappy time.
Me: It was humid today. Tough conditions for a PR.
Her: Not really. I feel like I should have been able to do it.
Me: Oh. Well, sorry about that.
Her: At least I might have gotten the age group win. You look older than me. How old are you?
----> insert pause as I digest this last statement.
Me: I'm 40.
Her: Oh, I am, too. I just turned 40, though.
Me: Yea, me, too.
Her: Oh, sorry. I feel really bad now.
Me: Why, because you said the course was short, my time sucked and I look old?  Don't sweat it. 

Aside from the "don't sweat it" bit,  I did not say that last sentence.  But, I did think it.  The whole thing was a bit surreal.  And beyond hilarious.  Jess had heard that they'd be doing awards around 9:30 so we decided to stay and pick up my medal.  Huge props to Jess for her willingness to stick around even after having already stuck around.  In the end, I'm glad we stayed because in addition the medal, I was awarded a $25 gift card.  Such a nice bonus.  Next on the list, coffee.  Jess found us a Starbucks and we bee-lined it for our caffeine fix.  In my post-run haze, I forgot to treat her to her beverage, which was a major party foul on my part.  I have given her the official IOU and she knows I'm good for it.  Finally, we headed back to Winchester, I dropped Jess off at her pad and then headed home.  Later that afternoon, I used my gift card to treat my daughter and her two friends to the Minion Movie.  Mega props for mom.


So, as far as races go, it was a good day.  But, not because of the win.  That was great.  Even better, though, was getting to hang with my bud all morning; getting in some solid laughs and a cup of coffee.  I wouldn't be racing if it weren't for that.  That's the good stuff.

Listen to this:
Make Our Own Way - Little Brutes

Friday, July 24, 2015

10 WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR SUMMER RUN

Remember last winter?  I do.  I laughed.  I cried.  I shoveled.  I froze.  My kids didn't go to school.  I cried some more.  And, when that last pile of snow finally melted (in June, I think) I did a little dance of joy.  I run year round.  Most of us do.  Obviously, some seasons are harder to deal with than others.  But last winter did me in from a running perspective.  I bitched and moaned like nobody's business.  Now, if I'm being honest here, I do tend to bitch and moan a little about summer running, too. Has it been hot over the past few weeks?  Hells yeah.  Is it hard to bang out a 15 miler with the sun beating down on you like a laser beam?  Indeed it is.  Have I said a word about it to anyone?  NOT.  ONE.  If there is one thing I can thank Mother Nature for after last winter it's that I can now handle almost anything she throws at me.  Heat?  Bring it on.  Humidity?  Let's go.  T-Storms?  Game on.  I ran a freaking marathon in June, for God's sake.  That pretty much sums it all up.  This past Monday morning, I dropped my girls off at camp around 9:00am.  By the time I got home and ready to hit the road it was 9:45.  By this point, the temp was hovering right around 90 and the humidity was so thick you could slice it with a knife.  Not that I complained.  Not a peep.  I swear.  I went out and took those 6 miles down.  Rebecca: 1  Summer: 0  Over the past few summers, I've written various posts about coping with and/or beating the heat; most of them with a tinge of bitterness.  This year, dear readers, I've decided to put a positive spin on my summer running post.  As I cruised along on Monday, I brainstormed the various ways one can guarantee a more pleasurable summer running experience.  Unless you can handle the dreadmill or you are a hamster, you're going to run outside.  You might as well enjoy it.   Here's how.


10 TIPS TO HELP YOU ENHANCE YOUR SUMMER RUN

1. Always pick routes that have sources of water along the way....water fountains, bathrooms, sprinklers, etc.  Just being able to splash water on your neck or head makes a considerable impact on overall comfort.
2. Run a loop that goes by a friend's house or comes back around to your own mid-run so you can do one or all of the following:
a) shed a layer
b) grab some water or stick you head in the freezer
c) hang out and chat with said friend or a neighbor (if it's your house)
d) abort mission all together and bum a ride home (hopefully, it's a really good friend) or just open the door and walk inside (if it's your own house).
3. Leave the watch behind.  When it's hot out, unless you're Usain Bolt, you're gonna run slower.  Why torture yourself by staring at your watch?  Map your route out ahead of time and JFR. (just f***ing run)
4. Wear a visor & sunnies.  Shade = Cool.  Enough said.
5. Use music.  It can be such an easy and fun distraction from the elements if and when you need it.  For those of you who do depend on music (like myself), download a few new songs.  Fresh music makes the world go round...and your run more pleasant.
6. Throw some cash in your pocket and finish your run at a coffee shop.  Just thinking about iced coffee in the summer makes me happy.  Knowing I have one waiting for me at the end of my run...well...you get it.
7. Stock your freezer with these bad boys.  Pull one out when you finish or grab one mid-run.  Words can not express how unbelievably good they taste when it's hot out.




8. If you don't own wrist bands, go buy yourself a pair.  Then, throw them in the freezer.  Pull them onto your wrists right before you hit the road and you will cool your whole body down by 10 degrees.  Then, a few miles in, you can start to use them for their primary function of sweat absorption.  Added bonus...you will look really, really cool wearing them.


9. Plan to end your run at a body of water - lake, ocean, kiddie pool, whatever.  I chose the lake.  Ham chose the kiddie pool.  Either one will do.





10.  Never, EVER, say it can't get any worse.  It always can.  Did I mention last winter?

Listen to this:
Weathered* - Jack Garratt  Listen w/ 
* Give this one time.  It's a slow build to awesomeness.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

RWR: MEET DESIREE LINDEN, PRO RUNNER

"Stepping outside the comfort zone is the price I pay to find out how good I can be.  If I planned on backing off every time running got difficult I would hang up my shoes and take up knitting."
~ Desiree Linden

Let's go back in time a bit, shall we?  It's April 18, 2011 and I'm going crazy as I watch the women's finish of the Boston Marathon unfold on TV.  Two runners are flying (literally) down Boylston Street and one of them is none other than American distance runner, Desiree Davila.  Holy crap, I think to myself, look at her go!!  Desiree is neck and neck with Caroline Kalil, who's in the lead by a hair.  Caroline is clearly struggling to hold on and Desi is digging in and gaining ground.  The Boston crowd is going nuts, their cheering so loud that I can't hear the reporters through the noise.   It's one of the most exciting race finishes I've ever seen and I'm sure anyone watching would likely agree with me.  In the end, Desiree came in 2nd by a mere 2 seconds, setting a huge personal record of 4 minutes.  She crossed the line in 2:22:38, which, at the time, was the fastest finish by an American woman in the history of the Boston Marathon.  HOLY. SMOKES.

THE FINAL PUSH
Boston Marathon, 2011

Fast forward to 2014.  Desiree was still crushing it in the racing world, coming in as the 2nd American woman at Boston in April and then as the first at the New York City Marathon in November.  On a whim, I sent her a note, first congratulating her on her Boston & New York performances and then asking if she might be willing to do a RWR interview, as I knew she, too, was a huge music fan.  She kindly responded that she'd be happy to answer my questions and would get back to me when she could.  After a few months, I hadn't heard from her and I didn't want to bug her as I knew her schedule was probably insanely busy.  So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I checked my email last Thursday and pulled up a quick note along with the answers to my RWR questions from the one and only Desiree Linden (now married).  "Better late than never", she wrote.  Hot dog!!  I am so freaking pumped for this one, can you tell?  Desiree has two big races coming up; the PanAm Games 10,000m, which is taking place this Thursday, July 23rd in Toronto and then the NACAC Senior Area Championships 5000m in San Jose, Costa Rica.  I know I'll be watching.  For today, though, meet Desiree Linden, a RUNNERWHOROCKS.

RWR:DESIREE LINDEN

Name: Desiree Linden
Where you're from: San Diego, California
Where you reside now: Washington, Michigan
Age: 31
Occupation: Runner
Blog/website: TBA

Holding court in Boston
April, 2014

RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running?
I love the feeling of moving forward toward a goal.

What do you love most about music?
There’s is something for every mood.

DESIREE'S FAVORITES:
Band (current, all time or both): Angus & Julia Stone (current), Saves The Day (all time)
Album (current, all time or both): Ben Howard I Forget where We Were (current), Ryan Adams Heartbreaker (all time)
Race venue: On the roads.  Hopkinton to Boston, baby!
Music venue: Canes Bar & Grill in San Diego…so many memories
Race distance: Marathon
Show you've seen live: Andrew Bird & Wilco
Ice cream flavor: Butter pecan





THIS OR THAT:
Sweet or salty?  Salty
Live or recorded? Live
Coffee or tea?  KAWFEE!
Summer or winter? Summer




MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could?  Ryan Adams

Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could?  Muddy Waters


The great Muddy Waters

Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could?
Bob Seger

Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)?  Of Montreal

LAST ONE: (complete the sentence)
Today, I feel like….being productive!



Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both:
Outkast - Rosa Parks
Flight Facilities Feat. Giselle - Crave You
Bloc Party - Banquet - phones disco edit
Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
Empire of the Sun - Walking On A Dream


Last 5 Songs you listened to today:
Small Wonder - Patron Saint of Pretty Faces
My Morning Jacket - In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)
Bob Seger - Turn The Page
Brand New - Degausser
Death Cab For Cutie - Black Sun

Friday, July 17, 2015

MUSIC & MEMORIES


Why do you think music is so important to runners to listen while they run?
Science has proven that music is a cognitive and physical stimulant.  (read more).  It can enhance one’s mood and, thus, can enhance one’s performance.  It can also provide a much needed distraction from the pain and fatigue that goes along with running.  Personally, my motivation to run or race increases tenfold when I put my headphones in.  But, that said, it doesn’t work for everyone.  Clearly, it’s a personal choice.

Recently, fellow runner & blogger Ron Greig over at 50 Plus Runnerasked me the above question and I provided the above response.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that listening to music boosts my overall performance.  It's not that I don't put the time in and do the work in regards to my training.  That's a given.  But with music, the whole running experience is typically heightened and I'm often able to push myself to that next level.  That alone is reason enough for me to listen while I run.  But, there's more to it than that.  A couple days ago,  I was banging out a 14 miler.  It was hot, humid, and I was dragging.  And then the song 'Colorful' by Rocco DeLuca & the Burden, came on.  Suddenly, I could feel a huge smile spreading across my face.  I remembered discovering this song when I was pregnant with my second daughter back in 2006.  I was still running, albeit gingerly, up until about 30 weeks of my pregnancy and I would start almost every run with this song.  So now, not only do I think back on that time in my life each time this song comes on, but I also think of my daughter, Grace, who is, indeed, very colorful.  Not every song jogs a memory like this one, but a lot of them do.  And if I'm running along, regardless of whether I'm doing track repeats or a 20 miler, and a song starts playing that makes me smile, than that particular moment is all the more sweeter and perhaps just a hair less painful.   In all my years of running, I've found that just one small spring in my step can push my entire workout in the right direction.  Music is insanely powerful.  Good memories even more so.  Together, they can blow your mind.  Yet another reason to run with music.

6 SONGS THAT MAKE ME SMILE & WHY

Rather Be by Clean Bandit: My daughter, Rosie, age 10, loves this song.  She screams when it comes on and then belts it out at the top her lungs as it plays.  She knows every single word.  And it always makes her smile.  It's also the song that my NH State Parks Reach the Beach team used in our recap video. (link here)  This event is such an epic adventure and just thinking about it puts me a in a good mood.  So, this song is kind of a double whammy in terms of awesomeness.

Dynamite by Taio Cruz - My nephew, Will, was totally obsessed with this song when it came out.  He's 9 now, but was probably 5 or 6 at the time.  I won't deny that my kids and I loved it, too.  But Will would literally drop everything and start break dancing if it came on.  And his moves were epic.

Here Comes the Night Time by Arcade Fire - I was in the car with my daughter Grace, age 8, when this song came on and I saw her pause and listen.  As it sunk it, she started to groove out, closing her eyes, moving her head and arms to the beat and, yes, smiling.  The best part?  She had no idea I was watching.  I remember thinking how cool it was to see a wee one so moved by a song.

15 Steps - Radiohead - My husband and I saw these guys at Great Woods (now the Xfinity Center) in Mansfield, MA.  I was pregnant with Rosie, and we ponied up the big bucks for seats so I didn't have to deal with the crowds on the lawn.  Radiohead is easily one of my favorite bands, but this song in particular, completely blew me away.  I'm not sure if it was because my hormones were raging at the time but something pretty magical happened for those few minutes.

Time to Run - Lord Huron - When I first heard this song, I was in my car and I pulled over so I could write down the artist.  I'd never heard of Lord Huron, but I was instantly stricken by both the song and the band.  My dear friend, Cara Z., who I have run hundreds of miles with, loves this band as much if not more than I do.  We went and saw them together in Boston and it was such an amazing night.  She recently moved to VT with her family and I don't get to see her as often, but every time this song comes on, she comes to mind.  I love that.

Blessed by Tom Hangs & Shermonology (Avicii Mix) - I was riding on the bus with my high school XC team when this song came on the radio.  I wanted to add it to my running playlist so I discreetly pulled out my phone and Shazamed it.  All the sudden, I heard someone quietly whisper something like, "you guys, I just saw Coach Trax Shazam this song."  I was totally busted.  So, I came out and admitted to over 60 high school girls, that, yes, I did like listening to their music despite the fact that I was almost 40 years old.  Now whenever I hear it I think of my XC crew and how lucky I am to have my job.

Confession...I am now smiling like a total idiot as I finish up this post.  Totally worth it.

Listen to this:
Seventeen - Sjowgren  Listen w/