Monday, October 16, 2017

RACE REVIEW:MOHAWK HUDSON 26.2



How did expectations get so high
Got a wicked thirst to feel alive
~ Sir Sly


On Sunday, October 8th, I ran the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon.  It was my 18th rodeo.  My main goal was to come in under 3 hours.  And, as many of you know, it's a goal I've been chasing for a few years, now.  My training for this one, while more intense than ever, went incredibly well.  The week before go time I was both physically and mentally ready.  My coach and I spoke over the phone on the Thursday before the race.  Yes, I was excited.  Yes, I was ready.  And, yes, despite all my efforts, I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do about the weather.  The forecast called for rain, heat and high humidity; quite possibly the worst conditions to race in.  As he always does, my coach gave it to me straight, Well, Rebecca, it's not looking good.  You might be able to squeak in under 3, but given the situation, particularly, with the humidity, which is just so tough to battle at full speed, it's not very likely.  I'm sorry.  We can control so many things going into these races.  But the weather is the one variable that is out of our hands.  I knew he was right.  But, I still had three days and a lot could happen with the weather in that time.  Spoiler alert....it didn't.  I did my best not to stress about it (very hard) and attempted to stay positive (even harder).  This would be my third time running the Mohawk Hudson.  I was headed back because it's an awesome race, it's easy to get to, it's a super fast course and, usually, it presents perfect fall weather.  Usually.  Kirsten, my good bud and running teammate, would be joining me as well.  Here's how it all unfolded.


Kirsten & I celebrating after our final long run.
(note the humidity)

On Saturday the 7th, I scooped Kirsten up around noon and we made our way down to Albany.  It's about a 3 hour drive and despite a bit of traffic, we made it to the expo without incident.  With only about 1200 runners, the Mohawk is a relatively small marathon and thus has a similarly small expo, which we actually appreciated since we were arriving pretty late.  We grabbed our numbers and shirts and then bee-lined it back to the car as we hadn't been 100% sure that our parking spot was legal.  From the expo we made our way over to the Hilton, which was the official marathon hotel.  As it turns out, the hotel workers union was on strike due to a contract dispute and many of the employees were picketing in front of the hotel.  Think megaphones and a giant blow up pig wearing a tuxedo and smoking a cigar (I guess this was "the man").   It was quite the scene.  We walked to the door and heard someone shout, Hi ladies.  Are you here for the race?  We nodded yes. Well, you should consider a different hotel as we will be picketing here all night and we don't plan to be quiet.  Awesome.  Clearly we had no other options at this point so we just went inside and prayed for thick walls.  As it turns out, the picketers would end up being the lesser of two evils.  Two weddings were taking place at the hotel and the wedding guests would be the ones who woke us up in the middle of the night.  Whatever.  It's always something.


We got into our room and set ourselves up for the night and the following morning.  If you remember from my last marathon, we had a bit of a coffee fiasco.  Never again.  Kirsten and I both brought our Bobble Presses (easily, the best invention since sliced bread) along with an electric kettle in order to make our coffee.  Only took me 10 years to figure this one out, but I finally nailed it.  We ate some dinner, which we had also brought from home, watched a movie (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, random but funny) and did a little reading before turning off our light around 8:15.  Despite hoping and praying, the weather forecast hadn't changed.  I won't lie and tell you I wasn't bummed to know what we were heading into.  But, with Kirsten's help, I continued to try and stay upbeat about the situation.  As I mentioned, we were woken up around midnight by the wedding guests who were telling each other how much they loved each other multiple times.  Touching?  Yes.  Annoying?  Also, yes.  Then we were up for good at 5:15.  It was a really nice, stress free morning for a change.  We got changed, drank coffee, and took our time before heading down to the lobby.  When we opened the door to walk outside we were hit with a wall of warm air.  Added bonus?  It was windy.  Good, good times.  We hopped on the bus at 6:15 and headed out to Poughkeepsie, which is where we'd be starting.  We arrived with about an hour to spare and found a spot under a ledge to hang out as it had started to rain.  We started chatting with the couple next to us, Matt & Eliza, and ended up hanging out with them for a good half hour.  We dove right into conversation, learning about where everyone was from, where we grew up, our college experiences, our future travel plans and so on.  We all agreed it was one of the most mellow and enjoyable pre-race sessions that any of us had ever had.  Around 7:45, Kirsten and I said goodbye to our new friends and went to check our bags.  By now it was raining heavily and all we could do was laugh.  We took our traditional pre-race photo, hugged and wished each other good luck.  And finally, at 8:00am, we were off.
  

THE RACE
Miles 1-5 (6:50, 6:47, 6:35, 6:44, 6:44)
As I lined up, I was still hopeful, if only a little, that I could eek out a sub-3.  I was thinking we might get lucky and that the rain could potentially cool things off once it ended.  Miracles do happen.  My goal pace was 6:50/mile, but my coach had recommended that I go ahead and bank some faster miles in the beginning just in case the weather turned South as the day went on, which is what it was predicted to do.  Once we got going, I could feel the heat immediately and got pretty nervous.  But the rain on my skin was helping to keep things cool-ish, so I settled into 6:45 pace and just rolled with it.

How I felt I looked to the race spectators.

Miles 6-11 (6:43, 6:49, 6:44, 6:42, 6:44, 6:40)
For these next few miles, I was with two men who were holding steady at 6:45.  They seemed to know each other and were chatting comfortably, (damn them) so I just sat on their heels and held on, which they didn't seem to mind (bless them).  Around mile 8, a spectator told me I was the 7th woman.  There was a small pack in front of my group and I could see that 3 of those women were in that crew.  So, I decided to surge, see if I could catch them and potentially overtake them.  It was a risky move and I knew it.  But, I also knew that we were all likely to suffer down the line given the conditions.  So, I figured I might as well do what I could at the moment and then hope I could hold on after the fact.  By mile 11, I was alone and in front of both groups.  At this point, my music started going in and out because the rain was getting my iPod wet.  In fear of losing power, I took the iPod out of my pocket and held onto it in an attempt to keep it dry.  Within minutes, it slipped out of my hand and I had to stop, turn around and grab it, which totally sucked.  I also noticed that my shoe lace had come undone so I stopped again to deal with that.  During this madness, I was passed by 2 of the 3 gals that I had just overtaken, which was a bit of a blow.  I worked to re-gain my composure for the next couple minutes and then pushed myself to catch back up with them.

Just keep swimming

Miles 12-18 (6:50, 6:52, 6:50, 6:40, 6:41, 6:39, 6:36)
We a had slight uphill at mile 12, so I powered up it and was able to get back out in front of both packs a second time.  After that, I tried to stay calm and just hold on.  The rain had stopped by now and the temperature was steadily rising.  I could literally feel the heat on my skin.  I was taking 2-3 cups of water at each stop, but the stops were about two miles apart and I was really struggling during those stretches where there was no fluids available.  It was around this time that I realized that my goal pace was no longer in the cards for the remainder of the race.  The heat was oppressive and I knew that I had pushed the limit up front so there was a good chance I would have to slow down.  I could feel a shift in my breathing and my body was starting to ache from head to toe.  But, I was hoping that my early surge had given me enough of a gap to keep my second place position.  At mile 17, I crossed the train tracks and flew down hill to then turn onto the street and into the wind.

PAIN TRAIN

Miles 19-26 (7:03, 7:08, 7:23, 7:18, 7:39, 8:00, 8:10)
These miles were clearly the hardest to get through.  Miles 19-22 were directly into the wind and we were sharing the road with cars.  I was totally alone and my motivation to hold pace was slipping.  There was a lot of swearing here...at the wind, the heat, Mother Nature, my hair, which was sticking to my face.  Basically anything that I could curse, I did.  My thirst was unreal and my body was starting to fall apart because of it.  I couldn't take down any more gels in fear of throwing up.  But, I felt that I was in need of something, ANYTHING, to help keep me going.  It was touch and go for a while.  Finally, at mile 23, I wanted to stop so badly that I forced myself to slow down enough that I wouldn't have to.  While my mind was now playing tricks on me, I was lucid enough to know that stopping would be the kiss of death.  I was also sharp enough to realize that placing was still viable as long as I could hold on.  After the road section, I hopped back on the bike path for the final stretch.  People kept telling me I was still holding onto second, which was enough to keep me moving if only slowly.  During this section I saw both my Oiselle teammates, Erin & Rachel, and my Skechers Performance teammate, Karen B., who looked at me dead on and said Come on, Rebecca, you have half a mile.  Let's go.  I can not tell you how powerful her words were.  They were all I needed.  Well, that, and some water.  But, I finally could see the finish line and I was pretty sure I was coming in solo which meant I'd been able to hold onto second female.


It's kind of hard to tell but I was actually smiling when I crossed the finish line.  And it was definitely not because I was happy with my time. Oh, no.  I was way too out of it at that point to give a crap about my time or even know what it was.  I was smiling because never in my 10 years of marathoning, I have never been happier to be done with a race.  No joke.  The pain I felt from exhaustion and dehydration was like nothing I've experienced to date.  It was a complete and total breakdown during that last stretch.  Every step hurt.  Every mile felt like a million.  And, despite my burning desire to quit, I somehow managed to pull myself through.  So, yeah, that was why I was smiling.  That, and I might have still been laughing about the weather.  Who knows for sure.  


Shortly afterwards, Rachel found me sitting solo in the finish area.  She wrapped me up in a hug and told me how proud she was of my effort.  I've met this woman a handful of times but she's part of my #runfamily, if you will, so she knew what I'd been going for.  I was pretty emotional at the moment, so I was more than thrilled to see her and so appreciate of the hug.  I have since thanked her for being such an amazing, supportive teammate that day.  But, Rachel, if you're reading this, thanks again, you're the best.


I was very pleased to have earned a spot on the podium given the battle that I had fought.  It definitely made things easier to digest and added some unexpected joy to an otherwise tough day.


Just before the awards, Eliza and I had found each other and were hanging out together, commiserating a bit and laughing at the madness of it all.  She was trying to find Matt and I was looking for Kirsten, who, as it turns out, had also run into each other post-race and were hanging out in a different area.  We all agreed to keep in touch and try to visit if we were in each other's neck of the woods.  It was a real treat to hang with these guys both before and after the race.  I know I say this all the time but runners are just such good people.


An hour or so later, Kirsten and I finally got going, slowly making our way back to the hotel for a shower and a quick power nap before we had to hit the road.  On our way out, we stopped at Stacks Espresso, owned by my dear friend Erin, for iced mochas.  Oh my.... there are no words to describe that deliciousness.  Just, if you are in the upstate NY area, Stacks is a must.  Later in the day,  I got two messages that really resonated with me.  The first was from my friend and fellow coach, Bill Babcock, who said, A little advice from someone who focused on the marathon.  Every marathon you run from now on is going to shorten your competitive career.  Stop chasing the dragon and enjoy racing shorter races and racing more frequently.  The dragon here being the sub-3, obviously.  I understand where he's coming from.  At some point you have to think long and hard about whether it's still worth it to hold on to a dream that you may or may not reach at such a cost to your body.  Particularly if it brings you down physically and emotionally every time you try.  But, then, shortly after that I got a message from my friend Matt who said, You always remember the rough ones a little more fondly.  They really help develop grit for the next breakthrough.  Bill is wise and I will likely heed his advice at some point in the next couple years.  But, my dragon and I?  We've got one or two more breakthroughs ahead of us.  The chase won't last forever but we're both good for a few more rounds.  At least, I am.  To be continued....


Listen to this:
Shake the Fire - Sampson

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

RWR:MEET ANTHONY & THE MIGHTY

“Reimagining the music player for the streaming generation.”
~ Time Magazine

Last Sunday I ran my 18th marathon.  I'm still processing and not quite ready to share that story.  But, what I will tell you is that my iPod Nano cut out on me about 8 miles into the race because it was getting wet from the rain.  I took it out of my pocket and attempted to dry it off.  Then I decided to hold it from that point forward so I could try and keep it relatively dry.  Around mile 12, I dropped it and the on/off button broke.  No more music.  As I ran, I attempted a reset (holding down the play & on/off button at the same time).  I'm guessing I looked pretty odd as I held my iPod in both hands while rolling through the half marathon.  Thankfully, I got it going again, but the whole process put a serious ripple in my flow.  Today, I can no longer depress the on/off button.  I have no idea if it will work again but it's not looking good.  Which is why this post is both timely and fitting.  So, read on, my friends.  Because if you're a Nano or Shuffle user or you run with any type of music player, I'm a about to rock your world.


Recently, I learned that Apple would no longer be making the iPod Shuffle or Nano.  For years, the Nano has been my preferred music listening device, primarily because of its size but also, more recently, because of it's Bluetooth functionality.  So, as you'd imagine, I was slightly devastated to hear this news.  I'm not a fan or running with my phone.  For one, it's big and heavy.  And secondly, I like to disconnect from the world when I'm on the road, to feel unattached, if you will.  So, carrying a phone makes that tough.  Over the past couple months I've been doing some product testing over at Jaybird Sports.  After my latest round, I jokingly reached out to one of the development guys who works there and told him that I needed him to come up with a new Nano option that would work with my Freedoms.  To my surprise and delight, he got back to me right away with this.... Hi Rebecca, do you use Spotify? If you do you might wanna check out the Mighty.  Well, as it turns out, I do use Spotify.  EUREKA!!  This, I thought, could be the answer to all of my problems.  Or, at least, my running with music problems.  I immediately reached out to the folks over at Mighty and asked if I could give their little gizmo a go.  To my good fortune, they got back to me and let me know that I could, indeed, try it out, but also that they would be holding a killer running contest around the same time I'd be testing and that perhaps my readers might like to get in on the fun.  Yes and yes.


HOW IT WORKS
The Mighty comes with the player itself, a charging cable and a very simple set of instructions.  They really couldn't make it much easier if they tried.  First, you plug the Mighty in and let it charge for an hour.  After that, you'll need to download the Mighty app.  You'll also need to get Spotify Premium in order to download your playlists.  I already have this and if you don't, I highly recommend it as it's basically like having an entire music library at your fingertips for pennies.  For music lovers, it's a no brainer.  Once your Mighty is charged, you'll need to go through the set up process on your phone to both connect it to your network as well as download some of your favorite playlists.  After that, you're ready to rock.  As I mentioned, I run with Jaybird wireless headphones, which can also be synched up with the Mighty.  I took this little bad ass gizmo out for its first spin last week.  Like the Nano, it's light as a feather and fits easily into my pocket or clips on to my shorts.  I picked a playlist and took off.  I might have been smiling through my entire first mile, which I'm sure looked ridiculous.  I couldn't help it.  I was just so pumped to have found a new product to replace my Nano and the fact that it was so simple to set up and use kind of blew me away on the spot.  So, yeah, I'd highly recommend grabbing yourself this square of joy.  They come in orange, black or white (I went with orange), holds up to 1000 songs and has a 5 hour battery life.  The retail value is $85.99 but I'd pay a hell of a lot more for it.


RUNNERS WHO ROCK
Now that you know about the product, let's meet the chief gadget geek (his words) behind it all.  Very excited to introduce you to Anthony Mendelson, the Mighty founder and CEO.  He's a runner, a music lover and in my humble opinion, a game changer with this small but "mighty" device. Today, I can rest easy knowing that the Nano is no longer being made.  The Mighty has quickly moved in and taken it's place.  Once you've met and learned more about Anthony, read on for details about the insane giveaway that his company is hosting at the moment and click on the link to enter.  Okay, I think that about covers it all.  Let's meet Anthony, a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.

RWR:ANTHONY MENDELSON

Name: Anthony Mendelson
Where you're from: Napa, California
Where you reside now: Venice, California
Age: 33
Occupation: Gadget geek
Blog/website: www.bemighty.com

RUNNING & MUSIC:
What do you love most about running? 
The euphoric feeling when you really push yourself.  Running away from stress and being in nature.
What do you love most about music? 
It’s the most exciting and fun form of creative expression on earth.


Big Boi & André 3000 of OUTKAST

ANTHONY'S FAVORITES
Band (current, all time or both): Outkast
Album (current, all time or both): Aquemini
Race venue: Fog City 5K in San Francisco
Music venue: Fox Theatre in Oakland
Race distance: 5K
Show you've seen live? Wu-Tang in 1997
Ice cream flavor: Rocky Road






THIS OR THAT?
Sweet or salty? Sweet
Live or recorded? Recorded
Coffee or tea? Coffee...for sure
Summer or winter? Summer





MORE MUSIC INFO:
Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? Kid Cudi
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? Tupac
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Bob Marley
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Outkast


The Legend, Bob Marley

LAST ONE:
Today, I feel like….(complete the sentence):
I need some DayQuil



Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both?--> Running
Kanye West - Power
Mos Def - Ms. Fat Booty
Kendrick Lamar - Backseat Freestyle
Naughty By Nature - Hip Hop Hooray
Jay-Z - Public Service Announcement

Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
Travis Scott - Butterfly Effect
Roy Woods - Instinct
Neil Frances - Dumb Love
Theophilus London - Last Name London
Son Little - Your Love Will Blow Me Away




Listen to this:
Hip Hop Hooray - Naughty By Nature


** ENTER TO WIN A RUNNERS DREAM BUNDLE ** 

Mighty is currently hosting a killer running contest with a bunch of tried and true (and, in my case, well-loved) running companies.  The bundle includes a fresh pair of Saucony Liberty ISO shoes, CLIF Bar goodies, Jaybird Wireless X3 Headphones, a Mighty Spotify music player, stylish Goodr running glasses and a registration for a future Rock 'N Roll Marathon.  Total value is $700!  Click here to enter.*
*Note: this contest is not affiliated with RWM


**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.
View complete Official Rules which govern this Giveaway.

Monday, October 2, 2017

GROUNDHOG DAY

"The idea that..."  Mr. Murray trailed off as he paused to collect his thoughts 
"The idea that we just have to try again.  We just have to try again.  
It's such a beautiful, powerful idea."
~ Bill Murray


Mohawk Hudson - 3:04:05
Los Angeles - 3:05:29
Wineglass - DNS
Philadelphia - 3:08:29
Sugarloaf - 3:00:16
Mohawk Hudson - TBD

Two years ago, I lined up in Albany, NY for my 13th marathon.  Everything changed after that race.  And yet, at the same time, a lot has stayed the same.  It changed because I saw something new in myself and in my ability as a runner.  Just a little flash; a small dose of "what if".  It stayed the same because my drive to keep going along with my desire to be better; those have never wavered.  This Sunday, I will try again.  I will run my 18th marathon.  I will try to hit my goal, to break 3 hours, for the 5th time.  Why?  Because there is something in me that craves the challenge.  Because years ago I told myself I couldn't do it and at that moment, I believed it.  Because each time I've gotten closer to making it happen, I've proved myself wrong.  Because I want, no, I need to show myself and anyone else who is interested or who might feel the same way that I did, that there are no limits and that there is always a way.  And because, no matter how hard it is, no matter how many times I want to quit, no matter how much I want to curse this crazy sport, I still f***ing love it.  Because, in the end, regardless of the outcome, trying again is such an incredibly beautiful and unbelievably powerful idea.

Listen to this:
Feed the Beast - ARIZONA

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

WHY I FLY


Back in 2012, I joined Oiselle because I'm a relatively competitive runner and I wanted to be a part of team.  My passion for running and racing was becoming a big part of my life and I was seeking out a group of people who could relate and who potentially shared similar goals.  At the time, we were a smallish group of about 50 women and my love for both the team and the company was instant.  Over the past few years, the Oiselle team, now called the Volée, has expanded and changed quite a bit.  There are over 1000 women on the team now and it is open to anyone out there regardless of pace, age, shape or size.  It's different, yes, but it's also fabulous in a new way.  And what I've come to realize is that my role on the team and my connection with my teammates has stayed strong and continued to grow regardless of the size of the team.  Today, five years later, I still find that being a part of this "bad ass lady gang" continues to fulfill my needs; first and foremost as a runner, but even more so as a mom, coach and woman in general.  My Oiselle teammates, both new and old, are some of my dearest friends.  I don't see a lot of them as often as I'd like, but my connection with them remains tight despite this.  The bottom line is this, when you join the Volée, you are joining a family, and regardless of whether you stay on the team or choose to move on, family is forever.  Back in August, owner Sally Bergesen, wrote a blog post on why one might want to become a member of the Volée (link here).  Her reasons make complete sense and I share a lot of them with her.  But, I have quite a few of my own, as well.  They may not be the reasons that drew me in, but they are undoubtedly the reasons that I continue to stay on year after year.  And sure, some day I'll probably move on, we all will, but what we've created here has impacted my life in a way that words can't describe.  And for that, I will be forever grateful.  #wingsout

10 'OTHER' REASONS TO JOIN THE VOLÉE

1. You don't need new running clothes, particularly hoodies and other such casual items. But you want them.  And you want to discuss this with others who feel the same way.  My friend, Richarda (second from left), and I have an ongoing chat about it.  Our categories are strongly thinking about it, need to see it on a friend first and no question, have to have it.  You can guess which one we land on the most. (Jay Ericson, if you are reading this, I'm sorry.)


2. You like to laugh out loud every, single day, and more often than not, at nothing in particular.  There are a few gals on the team who I can text at any given moment and, without fail, they will crack me up.  Jungle Chicken, Nicole F., Richarda, Beth, Ashley....to name a few.  But the list is long.


3. You have strange food cravings at 10 o'clock at night and want to discuss them with others.  Not only will your teammates appreciate your situation but more often than not they have been there themselves.


4. You're not sure whether you should keep a new item of clothing, Oiselle or non-Oiselle alike, and want feedback from anyone who has an opinion, good or bad.  Take the new sleeveless vest below, for example.  A little random and while Kara Goucher can pull it off, I was doubtful.  So, I threw it out there for others to decide.  Even Kara herself chimed in on this one.  For the record, I kept it.  I know, shocker.


5. You love an impromptu girls night out, coffee date or dance party.  I can pretty much drum up a group of three or four MA birds (there are 175 of us!!!) on any given night of the week for a burger and a beer.  Actually, Dana (far right) and I prefer to share a bowl of gnocchi, but you get the gist.


6. You like to be reminded that you're a badass, that you can do it, whatever "it" may be, and that no matter what happens, you still f***ing rock, on a regular basis.  Enough said.


7.  You’re weird and a little crazy and you’re proud of it.  This one really relates specifically to me.  But I know there are others out there who feel the same way.  Sasha Gollish and I made this connection instantly.


8. You're an avid couch surfer and/or you like opening your door to friends who do the same.  Though Ashley and I prefer to share a bed.  Always have.



9. You want your friends to reach their goals as much, if not more so, than you want to hit your own.  Because there is truly nothing better than seeing those you love succeed.  


10. Everywhere you go, you’re always looking for a wingman.  As a member of the Oiselle team, you are 100% guaranteed to find one.



#OISELLEMARI

Listen to this:
Running Away by Royal Foundry