Wednesday, March 21, 2018


A setback is just a setup for a comeback.
~ Shalane Flanagan

Last Friday, Kirsten (friend, training partner, jokester, rock star) and I flew down to Virginia Beach for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon.  As you may know, my goal for this one, as it has been for a while now, was to come in under three hours.  As you may also know, I trained my brains out and it went as well as it could go.  I was as ready as I've ever been and because of that almost stupidly excited.  Typically for races that require travel, Kirsten and I do more of a cannonball run, if you will.  Meaning we fly down the day before the race, grab our bibs, eat our own food, race the next morning and then head back home.  This is primarily due to the fact that we both have jobs and ridiculously busy kids and both require our being in attendance whenever possible.  This time around, we wanted to try and soak in a little more of the whole marathon experience and decided to treat ourselves by flying down a couple days ahead of the race.  Hence our Friday departure, which we quickly realized was a very smart call and brings us to the start of this adventure.  There are are no direct flights to Norfolk from Boston so we would be flying through Newark on our way down.  Upon arriving at the airport, we learned that NY was experience extremely high winds and that our flight was delayed.  Shocker.  We eventually took off, assuming we'd probably miss our connection but that was delayed as well for the same reason.  We finally landed around 4:30 instead of the original time of 1:30 and made it to our hotel around 5:30.  We had been planning to get a shakeout run in when we arrived but scrapped it because neither of us could drum up enough energy for it by the time we were settled in.  Instead we unpacked, showered and made our way over to dinner at YNot Italian because...well....why not?

Pizza was the call and it was fabulous.  I have to say, it was really nice to sit and enjoy our dinner out rather than going with our usual routine of eating in the room out of tupperware bowls.  We got back to our hotel around 8:00 and did some reading and relaxing before turning in around nine.  

The next morning we woke to the sounds of music and the race announcer who was getting things going around 7:00am in preparation for the 8K, which would start right in front of our hotel. The 'pro' of our hotel choice?  Total convenience.  The 'con'?  Chaos and noise outside from dawn until dusk the whole time we were there.  The convenience was totally worth it so we weren't sweating it.  I headed over to Starbucks and grabbed coffees.  It was a gorgeous morning and with runners and volunteers buzzing about I found myself easily sliding into a really good mood and getting pretty excited.  

We had a sweet view of the race course from our balcony so we sat and sipped and watched the morning unfold.  Again, we never get to chill like this and I was really happy that we could just soak in the moment rather than having to deal with our typical pre-race chaos.  We watched the runners fly down Atlantic street and then got ready to head out for our own run around 9:30.  By the time we went down it was about 40 degrees out, perfect run/race conditions which we were really fired up about as we'd heard the last couple years it had been windy and pouring rain for this event.

That's our hotel right behind us.  Then, just to the left of us is the finish line for all the races.  So things were about as logistically easy as they could get.  After our run we showered and then walked down to the Pocahontas Pancake House for some breakfast.  It was packed wall to wall with runners who had just raced and those, like us, who were racing the next day.  We had to wait a bit but it was worth it as the food and service were both excellent.  Next up, the expo.  We were now down on 34th and the expo was back up on on 21st which was about a mile and a half away.  We opted to walk as we felt we could use the movement given how ridiculously full we were after breakfast plus it was gorgeous out and we could take our time.  We got to the Convention center just before noon and waited for the doors to open so we could grab our bibs and shirts.  We did a quick walk through, making sure we didn't need or want to grab anything else, and then slowly made our way back to our hotel.  Both of us were pretty tired by now so a nap was calling our names.  Yet again, one of the many bonuses of having a little extra time.  My dear friend Mollie (aka @pieceofcakerun) was in town for the half and we were planning to meet up with her for dinner down at YNot, so Kirsten and I decided to get our nails done beforehand because...well...why not?  Sorry, I had to.

Around 6:30 we walked down to grab dinner and to our dismay learned that the wait for dinner was an hour and fifteen minutes.  Well, that wasn't going to work.  We call Mollie, who was walking down, and let her know the deal.  She suggested we just order takeout and eat at our hotel.  Brilliant.  We stood by the bar and caught up with each other while we waited for our food.  Quick side story here.  I first met Mollie about five years ago at this very same event.  Both of us were running for Oiselle at the time and we hung out at the various 'O' sponsored events throughout the weekend.  I was planning to race the half and she was on crutches with a stress fracture in her sacrum, so no racing for her.  Not surprisingly, we became fast friends and while she's no longer on the Oiselle team, we have stayed in touch and are fortunate to see each other a few times each year.  Sadly, I didn't grab a photo with her this time around.  Just our food because all three of us could not believe the amount of pasta they sent home with us.

Seriously, though, I had planned to hang out with her post-race and grab a photo then but that didn't pan out for reasons I shall soon explain.  It was so awesome to chill and chat with her, to catch up with her on life and for Kirsten and I to have some added company to keep things light and easy.  Finally, around 8:00, Mollie took off and Kirsten and I got ourselves ready to turn in.

At this point, I was still feeling cautiously optimistic.  I was well rested and my mind was in the right place.  I had nothing stressing me out.  Aside from some wind, the weather looked good.  We were set up for a solid eight hours of sleep.  All systems were a go.  We read a bit and then turned in for good at 9:15.

Sunday morning we woke up at 5:30 and got our coffee going.  Yes, we brought our own.  We changed and gathered all our stuff and then threw on our $10 hoodies, which we'd bought the day before to stay warm at the start since we knew it was going to be in the 30s for a while.  We had the pleasure of seeing Bart Yasso in the lobby as he was staying at our hotel.  We've met before so I said 'hi', we talked a bit (he was riding in the lead car), and then we agreed to meet at the finish for a photo.  The start was a little less than a mile down the street, so we walked over briskly, using it as a short warmup.  We got down with plenty of time, ditched our stuff at the bag checks around 7:00, hugged and wished each other good luck and then got ourselves lined up and ready to rock.

Miles 1-6.2 - 42 minutes, 6:46 average
I got an Apple Watch for Christmas.  I love it.  It has never crapped out on me except for one run when it stopped tracking after which I just restarted it and it worked perfectly.  One run in four  months.  You know where this is headed, right?  The gun blew and I started my watch.  As with any GPS watch, it takes a while to get to the correct pace.  So, when I saw 8:30 I ignored it.  Then I got to mile 1 and my split was 8:35.  WHAT THE F??  I asked the gentleman next to me if had a pace as mine was not right.  He quickly told me we running a 6:45 and then cruised ahead of me, clearly annoyed.  Whatever.  I tried to relax and hoped that my watch would eventually find the right pace.  No dice.  After three miles with no calibration, I restarted the whole damn thing.  At this point, I was just running by feel and hoping I was on target.  I didn't feel great and my effort was more than I wanted it to be for the beginning of the race, but I knew it was because I was stressed out and was just praying that I'd settle down once I got my watch figured out.  After about four miles, I think, because at this point I no longer had the correct distance either, I checked my pace which said 8:28.  Shit, shit, SHIT.  Okay, plan B.  I'd been cruising with two guys for a couple miles and I decided to just ask again.  One of them told me we were running a 6:48.  He was really friendly and let me know that he was trying to run a sub-3.  So, I let him know that my goal was the same and asked if I could just tag along behind him.  Then the other guy said his goal was the same and that we were right on track.  "Let's just call this the sub-3 pace group" he said.  YES.  I thanked them both and then cranked my tunes back up and tried to relax as best I could.
Miles 6.2 - 8.1- 55 minutes, 6:48 average
Okay, so now I'm basically running watchless which very unsettling but I had to let it go.  I was totally dependent on the guys next to me and just praying to whoever is up there that nothing else went wrong.  Ha!  I had to make a quick pit stop at the bathroom, more of a safety measure than a panic moment, and then easily caught back up to them.  All was going pretty smoothly at this point.  My heart rate was back down and my mind was now set on the goal.  "Everything is okay now, Rebecca.  Let's do this."  Lots of pep talks during this one.

Miles 8.1 - 13.1 - 1:29:02, 6:48 average
As you can see, I crossed the half at 1:29.  A hair slower than I'd wanted but otherwise right on target.  I was feeling good now, like things were falling back into place.  The miles were clicking by and my body was repsonding well.  I was running solo for a while, but I had both the guys I'd started with right in front of me which was a little added insurance.  

Miles 13.1 - 18.4 - 2:07:57, 6:58 average
At this point we were running on a boardwalk.  The wind was at our backs and the sun was out so I ditched my gloves.  I had my groove on and my confidence was building now.  For miles 13-17 I just kept saying, "Relax. It's yours." over and over and over.  I also tried to smile every once in a while as I've read that it keeps your spirits up which in turn can enhance your overall performance.  And then the shit hit the fan.  Right around mile 17 my left calf seized up.  I felt a sharp pain and then every step after that the pain increased.  I stepped off the course and tried to massage things out.  When I got back on and started up again things were a little better but I was now limping and my pace was rapidly falling.  I hobbled along like this for three more miles, stopping every once in a while to work on my calf and then starting back up again.  Nothing was working.  At this point, I knew it was over for me.  I had no shot at reaching my goal and wondered if I could even finish.  I was tired and confused and not sure what to do so I texted my coach.  

Me: You there??
Lowell: Yes.
Me: Calf just split and daggers now every step.  Started at 17.  Have been walk-jogging since.
Lowell: Oh no!! I'm am so sorry.
Me: Should I call it?  I'm starting to feel it go down to my achilles and pull there.
Lowell: Unless you have a problem with a DNF the smart move is to minimize further damage and shut it down.
Me: Medics are here. They are also telling me to call it. I'm pulling the plug.  Too nervous about the rest of my spring.
Lowell: No second guessing the decision.  It is the right call.

And that, my friends, is all she wrote.  I waited in the volunteer's car until the van came to take me back to the finish line.  "I have Bib #78 with me and we are headed back" the driver said into his walkie-talkie.  This was when it really hit me.  It was over.  And after all the work, the hours, the miles, it was not going to happen.  I was numb, staring out the window and just letting the reality of the situation wash over me.  He dropped me off at the medical tent and I went in to get someone to take a look at it.  The woman who tended to me let me know that she thought it was a strain or some partial tears in the soleus.  She massaged it out, wrapped it with ice and sent me on my way.  I limped to the gear check and grabbed my bag so I could throw on my clothes.  I called Kirsten, who had successfully finished, and let her know what happened.  We found each other and walked...crawled...back to our hotel for a shower and a nap.  

I've run 19 marathons and this is my first DNF.  It sucks not to finish.  But, as I processed the whole experience on the flight home and then later the next day, I knew I'd done the right thing.  My coach later reminded me that every step I continued to take once the injury occurred was adding to the damage and making it monumentally worse.  Could I have hobbled to the finish line?  Yes.  Would that have been worth it. Nope.  I'm signed up to run Boston with a blind runner next month and then to run a relay with my Oiselle teammates in May.  I knew, right when it happened actually, that all of that would be out and, more importantly, that I would be letting people down, if I continued on.  And by calling it, I had a shot of recovering and hopefully getting back in the saddle sooner rather than later.  On Sunday I was limping.  On Monday it hurt to walk but the limp was gone.  On Tuesday, the swelling was down and it no longer hurt to walk.  Today is Wednesday and the pain has subsided even more.  I am on the right track.  I am trying to stay positive.  I am trying even harder to be patient.  And I'm trying to be smart, which is always the hardest.  But, if things go right, and my body is good to me as it has been for the past ten years or so, well, then who knows.  My goal is still right there.  It's just out of reach but I can see it.  And for me, that's enough to keep me going.  It's a new chapter.  But it's the same story.  Stay tuned.

Listen to this:
Moving On - Kaptan

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


"'Cause everything that we could feel, we feel insanely"
~ Mikky Ekko, 'Love You Crazy'

Marathon training is a beast.  I'm sorry, I know I say this often.  But, having just gotten through this last training cycle, it's really the one word that comes to mind each and every time.  It is such a physical and emotional rollercoaster and there are no free rides.  Well, unless you're willing to roll the dice which usually results in a brutally painful ride and I'm guessing there are not many out there who willingly choose to hop on the pain train.  Seriously, though, whether you are training with a lofty goal in mind or just to have fun on race day, you still have to put the time in.  And it's so much time.  Months and months of long runs and workouts and miles upon miles.  And that's in addition to all the other stuff we have to do in our ordinary, every day lives.  It's like a side job that no one really gives a shit about but we still have to punch the clock because, for whatever reason, we want....need...even crave the extra work.  As I reflect back on this particular training cycle, I can pinpoint all of the various phases and the emotions that went along with them.  Joy, pain, madness, doubt, fear, desire, worry and total and complete exhaustion among many others.  I've run about 1,130 miles since I started training back in November and I've honestly been overcome by every single one of these emotions, often all of them and very often multiple times a day.  String them all together, and that's my story.  It's funny and crazy and awesome and ridiculous and probably even annoying.  But I truly feel it all; the good, the bad and the ugly, right up to the start of the race and all the way through it.  And, in sharing it, hopefully you feel it, too.  Because feeling is living.  But feeling it with others makes it that much more real.  Can you feel that?  I know I do.

Listen to this:
JOY - Loma

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


"Are you one of those runners who is "too serious" to run with music? Good. Stay that way. I need every advantage I can get."
~ Matt Fitzgerald

Through the years, I've done several posts specifically about the positive affects of music on overall performance.  Back in 2014, I shared this one based on a study done by ASAPScience.  I won't rehash the details as you can check out the video at your leisure if you so desire.  But, in a nutshell it explains how music acts as a mood enhancer, physical stimulant, welcome diversion and overall mental energy driver.  Please and thank you.  In summary, through extensive research, Almost all findings found that listening to music PERIOD, regardless of composition or speed, enhanced performance compared to no music.

About a year later, I posted this one written by Matt Fitzgerald which I found on Again, you can check out the original post or read the article to get all the details.  But, basically he explains how the brain imposes fatigue based on predicted physiological limits.  If and when an athlete is highly motivated the brain will allow the body to edge a little closer to the point of discomfort as it seeks out a better performance.

Clearly there are many factors that influence an athlete's level of enthusiasm and motivation (ie. the roaring crowds of Boston).  But, science shows that music also happens to be another big one, not necessarily alleviating pain but making the pain more bearable by putting an athlete in a better frame of mind.  Personally, I find myself able to take it to the next level or to pick myself up if I'm struggling if a song I like comes on.  So, this makes complete sense to me.

But check this out.  About a week ago I read a small blurb in Runner's World magazine about the impact of music on recovery.  This was a totally new concept for me and I wanted to learn more.  I dug a little deeper and found the full details of the study which took place at Brunel University in London.  To my surprise I learned that music is a plays a key role in one's entire exercise routine beginning with the warmup through the workout itself and, as this report shows, through the recovery as well.  This struck a chord with me (no pun intended) as I often turn my music off post workout.  What I really should be doing, based on this research, is changing up my playlist to some chill tunes and continuing to listen as I cool down and drink my coffee...I mean stretch.  Who knew?  There were a few key takeaways in this article for me.

* Your playlist is key to getting the most out of your post-exercise recovery and can help you stick to your routine, scientists show for the first time.

* Slower chill-out music puts a positive spin on how you remember feeling after exercise. And that’s important because enjoyment helps make exercise a habit.

* Listening to music-specifically, 20-30 minutes of slow, sedate tunes - after a run can also speed recovery.  Chill music can lower your levels of cortisol, a hormone released when we're stressed.

As Dr. Costas Karageorghis excitedly explains, this study marks a new phase in harnessing the power of music in exercise.  In so many words, evidence shows that we can use music during all phases of a workout as a tool to tailor how we want to feel at that particular moment; the end goal being to improve our mood and disassociate the brain from pain.  So let's take yesterday, for example. I ran 18 miles and it was brutal.  I was tired from the beginning, my legs hurt throughout most of the run and I had zero flow.  When I finished, I wanted to lie down and do nothing for the rest of the day; not that this was an option.  Clearly, I did not have a positive taste in my mouth after this particular run and it kind of sucked.  Perhaps if I had put put on some tunes (---> Pop Chillout by Spotify would likely work well)  and taken some time to stretch, roll and unwind, it would have changed my overall mindset and left me feeling differently about the run.  Perhaps. I don't know.  I do know, however, that I will be trying it today as I need all the tools available to me to get through this training cycle.  Bottom line, music is some pretty powerful stuff.  And it's basically free of charge and totally legal.  So, if you are so inclined, turn it on and turn it up.

Listen to this:

Want more?  Here's the daily songs that have been posted in 2018 to date.  A little bit of everything for you.  Song titles below.  Spotify playlist below that.  Happy listening.


Out Of My Head - Loud Forest
Panic Drills - Sleigh Bells
Warm Fire Lightening - Satellite Mode
Woman Up - Meghan Trainor
Out of My Head - Loote
Touch It - Busta Rhymes
Crazy - Lost Frequencies
Go Out Fighting - Dr. Dog
PARAD(w/m)E - Sylvan Esso

*Note:will continue to add songs to this playlist throughout the year.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Oh, that's the push and pull
In a short life for a long time
Just a feelin'
~ Until the Ribbon Breaks, 'Push Pull'

I'm pretty sure I write this post at least once a year or maybe even once a marathon cycle. I hit a point in my training where I'm so tired that it's almost humorous.  At least to me.  I find that all I can do is smile and laugh about it because I am teetering on the balance of function and dysfunction and if I take it too seriously I will undoubtedly fall apart.  As you may know, I'm currently training for my 20th marathon and this is by far the hardest I've ever pushed myself both physically and mentally.  I'm pretty sure I say this every time, too.  Two weeks ago I peaked at 90 miles and was a walking zombie.  This past Monday was my last 20+ miler and while I still have a couple hard workouts to tackle, the mileage is now starting to come down.  To be honest, I've done it so many times that the shock of how intensely it hits has kind of worn off.  Kind of.  I've also learned some pretty solid coping skills to get through the harder days and weeks.  Things like grabbing a 15 minute power nap in my car before school pick wonders.  In a weird (sick?) way, pushing myself to this level of exhaustion is incredibly rewarding.  I know I won't be able to do it forever.  But, I'm always surprised that my body had been able to hold on as long as it has.  This time around, I've had a couple moments during my tougher weeks where I literally stopped mid-run and laughed at myself. Take this football chair, for example.  I was finishing up a long run with my teammate when I saw this thing on the side of the road.  Someone left it out on the street, presumably to
get rid of it.  When I saw it, I remember thinking that it was a very odd piece of furniture, but at the same time, a super cool chair for a young football fan.  I also thought to myself...out loud this, that looks so insanely comfortable.  How I would love to sit in it and put my feet up right now.  I'm pretty sure my running partner agreed with me on this one and that we were both laughing about it.  Yes, that's my over-tired runner brain at it's finest, my friends.  This training cycle is almost over.  And I haven't done a TOP 10 list in quite some time.  And, in my humble opinion, it wouldn't be complete without one.  So laugh with me because you've been there.  Or laugh at me because it's ridiculous.  Me?  I'll be laughing all the way to the starting line.  Because it's all part of this crazy process and a big part of what it's all about.


1. My dog, who runs with me often, has had to literally pull me along on some of our recovery runs.  I can't imagine how funny (pathetic?) it looks to those driving by.
2. Coffee, while delicious, has almost no effect.  Almost.
3. I can't keep track of anything.  Keys, wallet, gloves.  I put them down and instantly forget where I put them.
4. The above makes me cry.
5. Driving in the evening is tough.  My car is just really comfortable.  And when darkness sets in, my mind immediately thinks about sleep.  If I'm on a longer trip, staying awake and focused requires a fresh piece of gum every hour and very loud music.
6. I find myself wearing compression socks or tights all day.  Not for recovery.  But because I'm just too tired to deal post-run.  And let's be honest, it's really hard to get those suckers off.
7. I've been needing a quick 15 minute power nap at 5 or 6 o'clock at night in order to make it to my regular 9:00 bed time.
8. On more than one occasion my kids have looked at me at suggested I take these naps.
9. I have to go to the grocery store at least 4 times a week. Not because I'm always hungry.  I am.  But, because I forget something that we need every single time I go.  I now know 4 of the cashiers by name.
10. I definitely have some repeaters on this list from the last time I posted on this situation.  But, I'm too tired to go back and check and I'm also too tired to care.

Listen to this:
PARAD(w/m)E - Sylvan Esso