Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Headphones: PLEASE HELP

For the love of Pete, will someone please tell me the best headphones to use for running?  I have tried every kind out there and I'm still seeking the perfect fit.  Let me break it down for you:

Pair 1: Califone kids tiger Headphones  These are my 5 year old's.  I have a very small head so they fit me perfectly.  But, I feel a little weird wearing them on the street and she doesn't like to share them.

Pair 2: JVC Gumy Headphones  I've had the most success with these.  They fit nicely into my ears and the gummyness helps hold them in.  BUT, if I get sweaty, they tend to fall out, often from only one ear, which is extremely frustrating.  They also tend to lose their sound quality over time.  That said, they are under $10 so I can justify buying a few pairs.

Pair 3: JVC Inner Ear Sports Clip Headphones  I really wanted these to work and they probably would for most people.  My ears are so small, though, that the ear hooks don't wrap around completely so the whole piece tends to flop to the side.  I didn't even try running with these despite the fact that I purchased them.  Anyone want them?

Pair 4: Sony Noise Canceling Headphones  These are a sure bet.  Awesome sound.  Great fit.  But, unless I'm Fergie (and I'm not) I'm going to look like a total idiot running with these.  Enough said.

Pair 5: Apple iPod Headphones (Standard issue)  These have great sound quality but don't stay in very well.  I have been known to tape them to one of my daughter's headbands for back-up but the whole tape in the hair thing is a disaster.

Pair 6:  Sony circ. 1985.  Yes, I still have them.  The felt comes off the ear piece easily BUT at least they stay on my head.  The bigger problem is that the sound quality is very poor and the volume doesn't get high enough.

So, I am at a total loss here and I'm desperate.  I have spent a small fortune trying to find the best pair.  My search continues but, please, if you have a pair you love, share them with the rest of us ASAP.  If the price is within reason, I'll buy us both a pair.  Well, let me think about that.  But, seriously, PLEASE HELP!

Listen to this: *
Asunder - Fang Island  Asunder - Major

* One of the best album reviews I've seen in a long time by Carter Fritz on iTunes: This album was so good I spontaneously high-fived myself throughout it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Little Picture, Big Picture

So often when we run and/or race the end result is not always what we hope for.  We tend to compare ourselves with others and often wish we could have done better.  It's tricky not too fall into this trap, but if you have a competitive bone in your body it's virtually impossible to avoid it.  Is this a bad, thing?  Maybe not.  Through several recent scenarios I've realized that it's all relative and it's important to keep this in mind.

Scenario 1:
As my teammate and I finished the Cigna 5K a few weeks ago we happened to see this guy that we both recognized, gathering his things to leave.  At the start of the race, he had been hanging out with a group of incredibly fast-looking runners.  As he was putting on his jeans, yes jeans, to go back to work, my teammate asked him how he did.  He shrugged and said "not so good," and he explained that he had struggled in the heat.  We asked if he minded sharing his time with us and he bashfully said it was a 14:53 but that he usually came in right at 14 minutes, so it just wasn't his day.  Translation: instead of his typical 4:30 pace, he had slowed to a 4:48 for this race.  He smiled and waved goodbye as we stood there with our jaws dropped in disbelief.  His time was insanely fast to us and his ability so far above ours that we couldn't quite fathom his disappointment.

Scenario 2:
The results posted on the wall at the end of my most recent 5K showed that I was the 3rd female overall.  I had also run a personal best and was thrilled with my time.  But, I didn't expect to place so I was as excited about that as I was my time.  The announcer began to give out awards and as I got ready to walk up for 3rd place, to my dismay and total embarrassment, he called out a different name.  My heart sank.  I asked the race director about it and he apologized and said there was a glitch in the registration process and some confusion with names.  I was so bummed.  My teammate told me that I should be more proud of my time than anything as I had achieved a long standing personal goal.  But, I still wanted that 3rd place feather in my cap, and I was disappointed.

Scenario 3:
As I was running this past week-end in Martha's Vineyard I passed an older man who looked to be in his  seventies.  He was run/walking and cruising along at a nice, steady pace.  As I circled back, we passed each other again.  This time he slowed and said, "I wish I could still do that."  I smiled and told him he looked great, though I'm sure that didn't help much.  He clearly saw a glance of his past as a runner and though his desire is there, he's no longer capable of carrying himself as he once did.

Regardless of our level as runners, all three of us experienced the same tinge of disappointment.  It simply hadn't gone the way we wanted it to, or the way it used to go.  And that's okay.  Because all three of us will most likely get out there and do it again.  Do we need to dwell on it?  No.  But, in the little picture, we can have that moment of despair and then hopefully move on.   We also need to realize, however, that it's all relative.  If we look at it in the bigger picture, what we did that day, to us might have been average at best, but to so many others it was monumental.  And, this, too, helps us continue to get out there and do what we love to do.  In my opinion, we need and should take both pictures.

Listen to this:
Forever - Youngblood Hawke   Forever - Youngblood Hawke - EP

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Friday...

And this is how I feel today.  There are several ways you can interpret this picture and my emotions that go along with it.  Let me elaborate just a bit:

1. Yes! I made it through this week without losing it!
2. Ahhhhh...I'm so overwhelmed with my life at the moment; all I can do is laugh.
3. Hallelujah! School is starting in less than 2 weeks.
4. Ha Ha Ha.  So funny to think I might be able to squeeze a run in today.
5. Holy crap!  I'm so tired I could pass out right here.
6. YAY! My coffee is ready.
7. I freakin' LOVE this song.
8. It's going to be an AMAZING day.  I CAN'T WAIT.

Thanks to Grace for helping me express my feelings.  Happy Friday!

Listen to this:
Dancing Song - Little Comets   Dancing Song - In Search Of Elusive Little Comets (Bonus Track Version)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's All In The Look

As mentioned, this past Sunday my teammate and I ran a 5K in Cambridge, MA.  When the race was over and everyone was socializing I noticed a woman next to me wearing a very cool running tank.  I bee-lined it over to where she was standing and told her how much I loved her top.  We were  both sweaty and tired, but this didn't seem matter to either of us as we began to discussing our style, so to speak.  She told me that she seeks out fun and funky running clothes because, regardless of what place she comes in, her chic duds make her feel faster.  "Yes", I told her, "I totally get it."  When I buy my running shoes, I explained, the brighter the better.  I absolutely feel speedier in a pair of fluorescent blue kicks versus a pair of plain jane white sneakers.  Another case in point; my running teammate showed up at my house today with a little extra zip in her step.  Immediately, I noticed her swanky new running shoes.  I could tell she was fired up to hit the road and when I get a new pair of sneaks I feel exactly the same way.  Runners have little to work with when it comes to fashion.  We're not wearing much to begin with, so we have to make the most of what we've got.  Bottom line - if you look good you tend to feel good.  And if you feel faster, even better!

Listen to this:
Good - The Dodos  Good - No Color

Monday, August 20, 2012

You Never Know

I just got back from a week with my family in New Hampshire where I ran less and relaxed, slept and ate way more.  It was so nice.  About a month ago, my teammate and I signed up for a 5K to run together on the Sunday after I was getting home.  I knew it would be after this lazy, gluttonous week, but it was local, inexpensive and "relatively" flat, so I decided it was worth it.  This morning when I woke up I was doubting my decision.  I had slept terribly; tossing, turning and waking up often, twice with my kids.  After a slow start, I gathered all my things then quickly checked my iPod.  Despite the fact that I'd charged it the night before, when I pressed play I got nothing.  No green light, no sound, nada.  I immediately started to panic as I knew I was going to need music for motivation this race (yes, I'm too dependent).  My husband told me to calm down and suggested I grab my daughter's Nano and do a quick download.  As I rushed around trying to find it (not an easy task), he assured me that I had enough time but I continued to freak out.  Finally, I threw everything in the car realizing that I had forgotten and/or couldn't find my sunglasses but now I was on the clock, so I couldn't go back.  By the time I scooped up my teammate, I felt as though my day was falling apart before it had started.  Such is life.  We parked the car, grabbed our numbers and warmed up without any major issues other than having to bail on the bathroom because the line was too long.  With minutes to go, we high-fived and danced a little as we always like to do.  Right before we took off she said nudged me and said, "hey, you never know".  And you don't.  For the first few minutes I futzed around with my daughter's iPod which was playing the same song on repeat.  Then I cursed myself for not having gone to the bathroom one last time.  Then I let go of all my thoughts and emotions and just ran.  I didn't check my pace or my distance and just went with how I felt for a change.  It had been such a crazy morning and everything had felt off, right up to the start of the race.  And when I crossed the finish line and looked at the clock, I realized I'd run a time better than I've run in years.  It was a huge breakthrough.  I could only laugh.  You never know.  But you can always expect the unexpected.

Listen to this:
The Night - School of Seven Bells   The Night - Ghostory

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nature's Symphony

Today my running partner and I tackled the rolling hills of Perkins Pond in NH for one last time.  There was very little conversation between us; which is rare.  Soon after we started we realized that we would have to settle in, save our energy and focus on each climb.  And there were several of them.  Once in while one of us would throw in a "holy crap" or something slightly more inappropriate.  But that was it.  As we ran, I couldn't help but think of Julie Andrews who dances around in The Sound of Music and tells us how 'the hills are alive'.  The hills were indeed alive today....but they were alive with the sounds of heavy breathing, shuffling feet and the high-pitched humming of the crickets in the background.  They were filled with the sounds of our frustration, a few groans and some laughter as we reached the top and looked back at what we'd just tackled.  They were filled with the sound of music, no doubt, but it wasn't coming from an iPod as it usually does.  As my teammate said when we got home, it was sort like "nature's symphony" - different, peaceful and a nice change for both of us.  Am I going to ditch the music? Never.  But, if it's not available I'll take what I can get and make the most of it.  A beat is a beat.

Listen to this:
Oh Love - Green Day   Oh Love - Oh Love - Single

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Little Help & Some Music

Yesterday I set off on a six miler around Perkins Pond in New Hampshire; one of my favorite settings for a run.  The route is mostly dirt roads and has huge roller coaster hills so I had to mentally prepare myself ahead of time which basically meant telling myself not to worry about my pace and to simply relax and enjoy the scenery.  I hadn't run this loop since last year, but I figured I would probably remember the turns so I didn't look at a map before I headed out.  Not smart.  I was cruising along taking it in and then all of the sudden I realized I had been going down a lot but had not been coming back up.  I knew the run was hilly so I figured I just hadn't gotten to the final turn yet and kept chugging along.  Again, not smart.   Finally, at about six miles in, I reached an intersection of what looked like a major road and at this point I knew I had done something wrong.  I flagged a woman down, told her I was trying to run around Perkins Pond, and asked her if she could tell me how to get back.  She smiled and said, "I hope you have enough charge in that music thingy because you need to turn around and go straight back up these hills for about two miles and then take a right on North Street."  Awesome.  Then I asked her if there was any other way to do it but she thought and decided that her way was the easiest and quickest, so to speak.  Then she said, "it's not too bad and you look like you can handle it.  You'll be fine."  I thanked her for the vote of confidence and headed back up.  In the end I accidentally ran ten miles. There were more than a few moments when I was so tired I just wanted to stop and sit down.  Truthfully, if it weren't for this woman's words of encouragement I might have asked her to drive me home.  In this case, a little help went a long way both mentally and literally.  That and some good tunes from my "music thingy".

Listen to this:
Sappho - Tribes  Sappho - Baby

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's Friday - Reader's Pick

Today's pick is from Kirsten H.  She is both a dear friend and loyal teammate and I often look to her for inspiration and advice.  She definitely keeps it real which I find incredibly refreshing.  She likes this song because it's got so many different elements to it - groovy horns, unique solos, complex rhythms - and this keeps her mind entertained while she's on the road.  Especially when she's running a 5K in oppressive heat and humidity at 6:00 at night as we did yesterday.  Go team Bacon!  She also likes it because it's funky, fun and fresh without all the foul language and inappropriate subject matter that so many rap/pop songs have today.  Just basic good stuff.  Thanks for sharing, Kirst!

Listen to this:
Pump It - The Black Eyed Peas  Monkey Business - The Black Eyed Peas

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Time Is Now

Over the last year or so I have been trying to break a specific time for my 5K.  I'm 37 and the clock is ticking, so I'm feeling like I need to make it happen sooner rather than later.  After running several races last the year, I was beginning to feel a bit stuck so I asked a coach to work with me to create a plan that would help me achieve my goal.  Since May, I have been diligently heading to the track to run his suggested workouts.  Even on paper they were intimidating and each time I began I wondered if I would be able to pull it off, which, I suppose, was the point.  Despite the heat, some family travel, and a few bruised ribs, I have been able to successfully follow his plan.  At this point, I have two final races to attempt my goal and then I have to shift gears and focus on my job for the fall.  I'm hoping that the hay is in the barn, so to speak.  The first race is tomorrow evening so I was planning to treat it as sort of a dry run to see what I'm capable of.  I emailed my coach and asked him to suggest a strategy which I have struggled to come up with for my past races.  Should I go all out?  Should I take it easy for the first mile?  Should I just treat this as a speed workout and save my energy for the final race the following week?  His response was unexpected and so simple.  He said, "Rebecca, sooner or later you're going to have to take a risk, why not now?"  Fair question.  As I mulled it over I hopped in my car to run an errand.  And then, as if someone was speaking to me from above, I heard this stirring track by Lord Huron titled, no joke, It's Time To Run.  The song's story happens to be about someone who is running from the law, but hey, running is running.  I listened to the lyrics explain that this guy took a risk and that he has no regrets about what he did.  Yep. Ok.  No regrets.  I don't want to have them either.  Let's risk it all.  Because, clearly, the time is now.

Listen to this:
It's Time to Run - Lord Huron 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Morning

My girls are five and seven years old.  I run for them and because of them.  Translation, I want to set a good example for them and sometimes they drive me nuts.  This Monday morning I was dealing with the latter.  My seven year old was up first.  Unbeknownst to me, she has figured out how to find her favorite shows 'On Demand' so she simply snuck down and started watching.  When I came down and poked my head in the room, she looked at me and said, "what?" as if the fact that she'd set herself up with "Good Luck Charlie" was something she'd been doing for years.  Ok, fine.  This one I could deal with.  We had a quick 'check with me first even if you don't need my help' conversation and I moved on.  I sensed a little eye rolling, but I decided to let it be.  I did note, however, how fun that will be to deal with as she gets older.  Next, my five year old walked in and informed me that she no longer wanted to go to gymnastics camp this week.  I explained to her that she had asked me to sign her up back in May and that it wasn't free so she would need to buck up and give it a try to which she responded, "ok, but I changed my mind."  Awesome.  We packed everything up and headed out the door all while my little one kept reminding me that she actually wasn't going to go which I chose to ignore.  We got to the gym and I asked my seven year old where her bag was.  She gave me a blank stare and said, "I thought you had it?"  I was taking deep breaths at this point as I shuffled them inside.  I could feel a slight grip on my leg as I let the teachers know that I had to come back with the lunch and towel that "we" forgot.  When I returned, my five year old was sitting by herself in the corner with tears running down her cheeks refusing to participate.  So I left and hoped for the best.  And then I ran.  And despite the heat and humidity and my feelings of frustration and anger, I was ok.  And with each step, I got better.  And by the end, I had left it all behind.  Until Tuesday morning.

Listen to this:
Mixed Bizness - Beck  Mixed Bizness - Midnite Vultures

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Month, New Music (& NUUN Winner)

I'm just going to go ahead and date myself here but remember when Gwen Stefani came on stage with pink hair begging whoever she was singing to not to speak because she knew what they were saying?  It was 1995 and I was a junior in college.   No Doubt wasn't just a band, they were a part of a rock movement.  Punk, ska, pop - whatever you want to call it - a lot of us were digging it.  The band continued to evolve, in some ways good and in other ways, well, different.  Let's just say some of their fans might have sought out something new as the years passed.  And then Stefani went solo, became a wife, a mother and a fashion designer.  Nothing wrong with that.  Fast forward seventeen years and suddenly I'm hearing No Doubt again on XM Radio.  What?  That unique 'thing' this band had going back when it all started is still there simmering under the surface while slightly a bit more, dare I say, mature?  Is it ironic that the song is called 'Settle Down'?  You make the call on that.  A huge smile spread across my face when I heard this fresh new ditty.  Not just because it's a catchy tune, but because it's bookending my life between a time when I was young, free and clueless to today when I am older, smarter and slightly more clued in.  And, to some degree, that's what music is all about.  It's about the story, the experiences, and the history that we dwell on when we hear certain bands, old and new and, in this case, both.

Listen to this:
Settle Down - No Doubt   Settle Down - Settle Down - Single


Nuun Contest Winner:
Congratulations to 'YouMightDieTryin' who picked up a tube of Kona Kola NUUN.  The question was, beyond all the standard reasons, why else do you run?  Her answer: "so I can eat oreos by the ROW and not feel guilty about it."  Amen to that!  
*please email your address to to receive your prize.