Tuesday, September 30, 2014

COACHING & LEARNING


As many of you know, I am a girls high school cross country coach.  And, whether you were aware of this or not, you should know that I truly love my job.  Not only because I love working with young girls to help them achieve their goals.  But also, because while I am doing whatever I can to guide them in running and in life, I am learning so much from them every day.  It's a win-win for me.  Last Monday, one of my runners, I'll call her Susie (I don't think she reads RWM, but if she did, she'd get a kick out of this name), walked up to me with a serious look on her face.  She's not the fastest runner on the team, but she comes and pushes herself every day.  She had not been happy about her last couple races so I knew she wanted to talk strategy.  She said something to the effect of:

"Coach, I'm freaking out here.  I don't know how to approach this race tomorrow.  I was so disappointed last week.  (okay, she might have said 'pissed off').  I just hate how I am always struggling at the end and miserable.  And I hate coming in last every time."

Oh Lordy, I thought to myself.  I can totally relate with this one; on, many, many levels.  It's not often that this particular girls opens up and gets honest with me, so I wanted her to know that I was taking the moment very seriously.  I took her by the shoulders and looked her directly in the eye.  This is what I told her (or at least the gist of it):

"First of all, the WORST thing you can do is compare yourself to others.  You have to want to run for YOU and only you.  It's not how you stack up against the other team or your best friend on the squad. It's getting to the line and wanting to be better than you were last week.  And the only way to do this is to change your mental outlook.  You can't go to the line doubting your ability.  You will be out of the race before it's even begun.  You have to step up, get in the zone, and prove to yourself, no one else, that you have it in you to run a good race, and more importantly, to have fun."

I believe she may have rolled her eyes at me here and said something like:

I try to get fired up, coach, but it always feels like within 2 minutes of the start I am getting passed by everyone else in the race and it sucks.  By the time I get to the hills, I want to give up.  And then everything falls apart after that.

Quick note here...our home course is a beast.  Shortly after the first 800, the hills begin and there are many of them and they are big.  It's really, really hard.  For a runner of any level.

Susie, I said, every time I start a marathon, and I've run 9, I hold back in the beginning so I have some reserves at the end.  For the first half, and sometimes more, of the race, I am getting passed left and right.  It's like I'm a slow car driving in the fast lane and everyone is wondering what the hell I am doing.  But then, for the last 8 miles or so, I tap into that last little bit of energy that I (hopefully) still have from taking it easy at the start.  When I do this, I tend to cross the line feeling strong and satisfied.  I don't come in first, mind you.  But, I don't race to be first.  I race to improve and have a good time.  If I'm not doing that, than something is wrong.

She was quiet at this point and really focused.  I could tell something was sinking in.  Or maybe she was just thinking about a song that would get her pumped up for her race (she's a big music fan).  Honestly, it didn't really matter.  All that mattered was that she wanted things to be different.  And better.  So I continued.

The hills on our course are tough.  You know they are hard for you.  When you take off, you have to put your blinders on and not worry about what everyone else is doing as you tackle them.  If that means you're the last runner for a little while, fine.  You can't stress about it.  You know and I know that if you hold back a little at the start you'll be able to finish strong and feeling good.  More importantly, you have to build up some serious positive energy ahead of time so that when that doubt starts to seep in, which it does for all of us, you can tell it to, excuse my french, "f-off".

She nodded.  So run my own pace?  Yeah, I can do that.  

Yeah, you can, I said.  But you also have to believe that you have it in you, which I know you do, but you tend to forget.  And then you have to let your body take you there.  I don't care what place you come in tomorrow.  All I want is for you to cross the line thinking, hell yeah, that was freakin' awesome.  As your coach, I can only do so much to help get you there.  You have to do the rest.  Come on.  I know you.  You're a badass.  You got this.

She smiled.  Okay.  You're right.  I got this.  Thanks coach.  

She walked back to her buddies with a little skip in her step and her shoulders just a bit higher.  I smiled, too.  No, I thought to myself, thank you.

Listen to this:
Bad Habit - The Kooks  

Friday, September 26, 2014

RACE REVIEW: FALL CLASSIC 5K

Amanda, Myself, Stacey & Jess
#birdsistas

Last Sunday, I met a few of my fellow Oiselle birds over in Cambridge to run the Fall Classic 5K.  Originally, I had planned to skip the race review for this one.  Even though we had a good time hanging out together pre and post race, the weather was brutal, the race itself was sort of "meh" for all of us, and, in the end, I didn't feel like there was a hell of a lot worth sharing.  But then on Wednesday, Jess, one of the birds who ran with me, who also happens to be my neighbor, came over to grab her race shirt which she'd left in my car.  After we got to talking, the race stories started flowing and some good laughs were had between us.  I then realized that no race is not worth re-capping.  No matter what does or doesn't happen.  Because, really, something always happens.  And usually, when you throw in multiple women who like to have a good time together, there are some quality tales to tell.  True, none of us crossed the line with a new PR or setting any world records,  but it was still a boat load of fun.  Okay, there might have been a few other issues....

So what if my only hair elastic fell in the urinal when I peed for the first time?  That's what hand sanitizer is for, right?
So what if the line for the port-o-pottys was so long when we got back after our warmup that Amanda and I had to sneak over to a condo complex and squat in the bushes so we wouldn't miss the start?  That was a wee bit awkward and slightly inappropriate.
So what if it was 80 degrees along with 100% humidity and all of us were totally soaked through before the race began?  That pretty much sucked.
So what if the race was so big (over 1400 runners) that it took us 10 seconds to cross the start and a solid 30 more to bob and weave until we had some space to run.  That was stressful.
So what if I looked like death warmed over at the finish?  Not cute (see left)
So what if I overheated at the end and had this weird desire to take off all of my clothes and run through Cambridge naked?  Again, awkward.
So what if Amanda threw up on her new singlet in the finish shoot?  Major bummer.  Though, she still managed to look super cute in the photo.  How did she DO that?
So what if we were all disappointed with our times?  Ain't no one gonna PR in that "fall" heat.
So what if Jess had to run 9 more miles in the worst possible weather AFTER the race to finish up her scheduled long run which meant she couldn't stay and have coffee with us.  Not fair at all.  Oh wait, she chooses to train for marathons.
So what if the bakery we went to afterwards was out of bread so I couldn't get an egg sandwich?  Wait, what?

What does matter is that we all motivated, coming together from several different corners of MA (huge thanks to Stacey for making the 1.5 hr trek), ran our guts out (literally), managed to take a good team photo (see above) and had some solid conversations over good coffee afterwards.  Soooooo, that's what.

Listen to this:
Thousand Miles - Tove Lo 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

RWR: MEET FASTK8

Shortly after I became a Oiselle ambassador, Kate Grace joined their elite racing team also known as HAUTE VOLÉE, which is French for 'high flyer'.  At the time, I didn't recognize her name.  But, that means nothing, as I was not tracking recent college graduates who are now running professionally.  Not that I wouldn't love to do this.  It did not take long, however, for Kate to become a household name.  Well, in the world of runners, at least.  In her first year as a pro runner, she hit the track running, literally, and was instantly a mad force to be reckoned with.  I didn't ask her if I could post her personal bests but I (sorry Kate) just can't resist.  Check out these times:

Frequent flyer, Kate Grace

800m: 1:59:47
1500: 4:07:35
Mile: 4:28:79
3000m: 8:55:06

Seriously???  Not only is she smokin' fast.  But she's also super chill, ridiculously sweet and gorgeous.  She is the real deal, folks.  And I am thrilled for you to meet her.  After that, you should follow her as she's got a one-way ticket to awesome city and you're gonna want to be along for the ride.  And the best part?  She's a complete music junkie.  Check out the various artists she'd like to have dinner with and you'll see what I mean.  Imagine that dinner party?  Side note, she has some serious opinions about ice cream.  Okay, that's enough from me, meet Kate, a runner who rocks.

RWR: KATE GRACE

Name: Kate Grace
Where you're from: Los Angeles, CA
Where you reside now: Bend, OR (and Seattle a bit)
Age: 25
Occupation: Athlete, Flockstar
Blog/website: runmantra.tumblr.com, sexyankle.tumblr.com (for run-related travels)

RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running?
Feeling like I am completely in the moment, powerful, in a rhythm.

What do you love most about music? 
Same as above.

Kate, in the zone.

KATE'S FAVORITES:
Band (current, all time or both): Not "favorite" necessarily, but I could listen to Josh Ritter all the time.
Album (current, all time or both): ack.
Race venue: The Armory, NYC
Music venue: Hollywood Bowl.  I like outdoor venues.
Race distance: 1500
Show you've seen live? Oof. I haven't been to enough to have a favorite.  As long as the band isn't especially bad live, I enjoy it.
Ice cream flavor: I go for something with a hint of chocolate and maybe a crunch.  Mint chocolate, Stracciatella (photo), Peanut Butter cup, Chunky Monkey, Coconut/almond/chocolate combos. And Coffee flavors.



THIS OR THAT?
Sweet or salty: Salty
Live or recorded: Recorded
Coffee or tea: ooo. Both. Different functions. Tea over straight coffee. Lattes and cappuccinos over everything. Maybe i just prefer milk.
Summer or winter: Fall. ;)



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

Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? I mean, The Beatles.

Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Mmm.  Paul Simon.  Elton John.  Randy Newman.  Pete Seeger.  Leonard Cohen.  Jennifer Lopez.  Taylor Swift.  Miley Cyrus.  Lady Gaga.  Pink.  Nicki Minaj.  Kanye West.  Beyonce.  Ed Sheeran.  Hell, Beethoven.  Not necessarily for their music.

Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Pitbull (right) might win for frequency over the years on my workout playlists.


Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? *
This is always changing. that's issue with pop songs... they're like cheap clothes or ipods... kind of a built-in obsolescence. Right now (although, I think I'm at the end of my cycle with these ones... getting overplayed):
Ghost - Ella Henderson
Bang Bang - Nicki, Jesse, Ariana
Black Widow - Iggy and Rita
All about that Bass - Meghan Trainor

+ a few throw backs that i'm in to right now for fun runs
Proud Mary - Tina Turner
Rockin' Robin - Bobby Day
Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver
Call Your Girlfriend - Robyn
Happy Ending - Mika
Rebellion - Arcade fire

+ just made a list of songs that have ~180 bpm (or 90) ... so, they link up with a running stride.
Bang Bang - K'naan, Adam Levine
Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
The Middle  - Jimmy Eat World
Paper Planes - MIA
Fidelity - Regina Spektor
Untouched - The Veronicas

Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
The pop ones ;)

* I will add the links to these songs later today.  Need to switch gears for a bit.  Check back later and they'll be up there.  Thx for your patience.

Friday, September 19, 2014

LACKING SLEEP, NOT MUSIC

Sleeping on the job. Busted by my neighbor.
Between our new puppy, who still gets up in the middle of the night to pee, and my 9 year old who is suffering with allergies and has a brutal cough, I can't seem to get ahead of the eight ball in the sleep department since the RTB relay.  Confession: I went to bed before my kids on Wednesday night.  Grace is 7, so... yeah.  Oh well.  It is what it is.  The bummer, though, is that I'm still in the throws of marathon training and the next couple weeks, in particular, are far and away the most critical.  It always happens this way, doesn't it?  In the end, the mom role, trumps the marathon role, so I'm just keeping my head down, plowing on and doing the best that I can on whatever sleep I can get.  Even if it is a 5 minute snooze in my car as my kids are packing up for school (see photo). As long as it's followed by a second or third cup of coffee, I'm usually all good.  Somehow, despite my high level of exhaustion and my many balls in the air, I have still managed to dig up a s**tload of good, new music.  We all have our priorities, right?  Music gets me fired up both for running and for simply getting out the door in the morning.  New music takes it to the next level.  Turn up the volume and throw in some dance moves and I'm ready to roll.  Sleep?  It's overrated.  Music?  I can never get enough.  Happy Friday.  Rock on.

WAKE UP & KEEP DREAMING


All of You - Betty Who  
Celeste - Ezra Vine  
Cadillac, Cadillac - Train  
All Over - Cruisr  
Inferno (feat. Lizzie Plapinger) - Sir Sly 
Out of My Mind - The Madden Brothers  
Leave it Alone - White Arrows  
Class Historian - Broncho