Saturday, December 28, 2013


Well folks, it's hard to believe the time has come to bid this year adieu.  I hope your 2013 was truly fantastic.  Here's to another great one for all of us.  I am already giddy with excitement over some of the new music that is set to be released in 2014 i.e. I Break Horses, Alt-J, Grizzly Bear & U2.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  There was some incredible music released in 2013.  We listened to it, obsessed over it, danced to it, ran with it, talked about it, wrote about it, shared it and then did all of those things over and over and over again.  If you are passionate about music as I am, it's likely that you, too, are always on the hunt for new gems.  Fortunately, they are incredibly easy to find as long as we are willing to spend the time to dig them up (clearly, I am more than willing).  A few weeks ago, I asked you to chime in with your favorites which I then compiled to create the below playlist of songs and albums.  The list is long, has some solid variety and, in my humble opinion, is totally awesome.  I realize that everyone has their own taste in music.  I do my best to seek out a good assortment for this blog, though I know I don't always tap into the full spectrum.  This, dear readers, is precisely why I reached out to you.  My goal was to include as many genres as possible and, hopefully, to broaden all of our musical horizons.  Most of the music on the list was released in 2013.  And those songs or albums that were not, well, they aren't as new, but they moved you all the same.  And that is what matters.  Many thanks to everyone for both your contributions and for sharing your passion for music with the rest of us.  Happy New Year & ROCK ON.

Washed Out- Paracosm
Lorde - Pure Heroine
Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the Modern City
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Calvin Harris - 18 months
Avett Brothers - Magpie & the Dandelion
Tinariwen - Emmarr
Frente Cumbiero - Frente Cumbiero Meets Mad Professor
Tame Impala - Lonerism
POND - Hobo Rocket
Jagwar Ma - Howlin
Bombino - Nomad
The Lumineers - The Lumineers
Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
Molly & The Danger Band 
Fall Out Boy - Save Rock and Roll
Flogging Molly (any album)
Dropkick Murphys (any album)

Sparklers - Gemini Club
How Loud Your Heart Gets - Lucius
Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
Battle Born - Five Finger Death Punch
Born to Rise - Redlight King
Free - Train
Radioactive - Pentatonix & Lindsey Sterling


************** WINNERS of RUNNERBOX & YURBUDS GOODIES ****************

YURBUDSMARCY, a fan of AWOLNATION and the Avvett Brothers
RUNNERBOX (single box) - RunningNutza fan of Lady Gaga & Bruno Mars (& a Loopster)
RUNNERBOX (gift cert) - Heather, a fan of Fallout Boy & the Dropkick Murphys

Please email me at with your contact information so I can get these out to you.  Thanks again to Yurbuds & RUNNERBOX for the amazing treats.  See you all in 2014!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Everything

Tomorrow we are headed to Cape Cod to spend Christmas with my husband's side of the family.  In all, there will be 6 adults, 5 kids (ages 12-6), 2 dogs, and 2 guinea pigs.  Translation: total chaos.  But it's all good.  It's happy chaos.  I am signing off for a few days as my list of 'to-do's before Santa arrives is long and will likely be pretty time consuming.  And so, fellow runners and music junkies, I will leave you with my top 5 albums and songs of 2013, in no particular order.  It took me more time than I'd like to admit to compile this list but it's only because it was really hard for me to narrow it down.  For a music fan, it's not a bad problem to have.  Not to worry, I am still working on the RWM Readers' Best of 2013 music list which, thanks to your contributions, is lengthy and deliciously diverse.  That one I'll post after the holiday dust has settled. (note: there is still time to chime in on this. Click here)  Until then, here is a little something to sink your teeth into as you forge ahead through the holiday madness.  Eat, drink, be merry and rock on.

RWM Best of 2013 - ALBUMS
Reflektor - Arcade Fire  
Pure Heroine - Lorde  
Bitter Rivals - Sleigh Bells  
Bigfoot - Cayucas  
In Rolling Waves - The Naked & Famous  
Honorable Mention:
Secondhand Rapture - MS MR  

RWM Best of 2013 - SONGS
Here Comes the Night Time - Arcade Fire  
Burn - Ellie Goulding  
We Sink - Chvches  
A Stillness - The Naked & Famous  
Riptide - Vance Joy  
Honorable Mention:
Faith - I Break Horses  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Inside Humor

There are two scenarios that force me to run inside on the 'dreadmil'.  The first is a blizzard as it's pretty tough to run through a white out.  And the second is when temps go below 10 degrees and the roads freeze which is an invitation for frost bite and a broken bone.  Both of those weather phenomena happened this week.  Go figure.  Tuesday morning it was 6℉ and our driveway was a sheet of ice so I headed off to the YMCA to run on the hamster wheel.  Since it was my first time inside this season, I was okay with it.  I hadn't run in over a week so I was a itchin' to move and the combination of that along with the novelty of something new made the run kind of fun.  Kind of.  In truth, I did sing and dance a little bit to keep myself entertained.  During my 2nd of 5 miles, the trainer came over to chat with me.  That was funny.  Here's a little piece of our conversation:

Trainer: Miss, are you okay?
Me: Yes. Why?
Trainer: You were waiving your hands and mumbling. I thought you needed something.
Me: Oh. Sorry. I was singing and, um, dancing.
Trainer: (raised eyebrow) Ah. Do you do that a lot?
Me: Yes. Yes I do.
Trainer: Right. Good to know.

As runners, we do what we have to do to make it work, especially during the winter.  When I run, I like to rock out.  When I'm outside, it's not very obvious.  When I'm inside it probably looks ridiculous.  I guess I don't really care.  On to Wednesday.  It had snowed about 8 inches the night before.  The roads were sketchy and there was no room to run.  I headed back to the gym for a track workout.  The novelty had definitely worn off and I was in no way looking forward to getting back on a machine to run.  I begrudgingly hopped on and did a 2 mile warmup; nice and slow.  Then, I switched gears and started my workout which was 10x400 @ 5K pace with a 400 recovery jog in between.  As you can imagine, going from 7mph to 10mph every 90 seconds looked as bizarre as it sounds.  For my first couple of intervals, as I sped up and slowed down, I could see the trainer walking back and forth behind me.  I'm pretty sure she thought I didn't know how to use the machine and was worried I might fall off.  But, by the 4th repeat, I had settled into a rhythm, albeit choppy, and I guess she assumed I had it under control.  The whole workout took me a little over an hour.  It was so damn hard. (there's no cheating on a treadmill)  When I finished and was walking to a stop, the girl on the treadmill next to me was staring at me with a confused look on her face.  Here's how this conversation played out:

Her: What were you just doing?
Me: Oh, I was doing a track workout that I would normally do outside.
Her: Are you training for something?
Me: Not really.  I mean, I have a few races coming up next spring but I'm always sort of in training.
Her: So you like doing that?
Me: Well, it's hard and I don't like it while I'm in the middle of if.  But, yea, I like it when I'm done.
Her: No offense, but that's just crazy.
Me:  Well, I...yea.  Yea it is.  

I laughed with her as I hopped off and walked away.  It's going to be a long, and, apparently, humorous, winter.  I'm good with that.  No, really, I am.

Listen to this:
Turn It Around - Lucius  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Off the Road & Still Driving

Due to my recent aforementioned fall and a few bruised ribs, I have not been able to run in a little over a week.  As my coach said yesterday when I told him I was still sore and off the road, "If you had to suffer a setback, this is not a terrible time for it."  Not terrible at all.  In fact, I've been having a ball.  So, I have not been able to run.  I have, however....

~ skied with my family up at Cannon in NH. (very, very carefully)
~ over-indulged in festive food and drink at holiday parties.
~ finished all of my Christmas shopping.
~ read the Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Really good.
~ learned how to care for an Amaryllis flower. (not terribly hard, but I tend to kill plants, so I'm stressed about doing it right)
~ spent some quality time working on the RWM Best of 2013 Music List (there's still time to chime in)
~ consumed copious amounts of coffee with friends.
~ serviced my car (such a ridiculous pain but so satisfying when it's done)
~ figured out how to use the elliptical machine without moving my upper body while also reading a book. (this is harder than it sounds)
~ and much, much more.

....proving, once again, that life does go on even when the running doesn't.  I know, SHOCKER.  But,  seriously, it's good to get the reminder now and again.  I'm 38 years old.  I have had several running related setbacks over the years.  And like a loyal friend, running has always been there for me when I was ready to come back.  More importantly though, I've learned to make the most of my time off the road.  Particularly as I've gotten older.  Running is a "nice to have".  But family, friends (and fun) happen to be available ALL the time.  Well, okay, it's not that fun to service a car, but it IS fun to take your kids through the car wash, let them sit in the front seat and sing with them at the top of our lungs.  The road will wait for my feet.  Until then, I'll be driving on it with a very clean, fully serviced car with the music at full blast seeking out opportunities for more good times.  Àndale!!

Listen to this:
The Courtship of Summer Preasley* - The Griswolds  

* note: there is some explicit language in this ditty. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Take A Message

My 9 year old rarely stops moving.  She has a hard time sitting through a meal, she stands to do her homework, and when she's not trying to be still, she's dancing, cartwheeling, jumping, get the point.  She's a mover.  I am always telling her to slow down.  And she is always rolling her eyes at me.  I'm sure her energy will eventually serve her well, but at the moment, it can be very tough to manage.  Yesterday she hopped out of bed and ran downstairs to get breakfast.  Her wheels were spinning so quickly that she lost her footing on our basement stairs and somersaulted down the entire flight.  Fortunately, she is both agile and flexible, so she bent in all the right places and managed to walk (or hop) away with a small scratch on her back and a bump on her bed.  But, I could see the fear in her eyes as she described what happened with tears rolling down her cheeks.  She was really shaken up.  It was not the right moment to say something like..."Rosie, this is why I am always telling you to slow down", though I did think it to myself.  Instead, I gave her a hug, told her I was sorry and remarked on how incredibly tough she was.  I also made a mental note to chat with her at a later time about her fall and the message she could take from it.  Let's rewind a bit.  Last week, as some of you may know, I slipped as I was walking down my neighbor's stairs and landed on my back, bruising my ribs.  It was incredibly painful and I was incredibly annoyed with myself.  This type of injury is particularly frustrating because there is nothing you can do to heal other than take it easy.  I can sit still and focus for a lot longer than my daughter can, but I have a very tough time "taking it easy".  Having done this exact thing less than two years ago, I know it takes a while for the ribs to heal.  So, to my dismay, this injury is forcing me to chill out for a while.  Today, I can't help but think there is a message I should be taking from this, much like there was for Rosie when she tumbled down the stairs.  I have run three marathons this year and several other smaller races.  I have trained and raced while dealing with plantar fasciitis in both of my feet.  In between races, I have not given them the rest they need/want because I am impatient and more than willing to run through discomfort.  More recently, I have also been battling a pulled hamstring on my right leg.  It started to bother me just after the Plymouth marathon that I ran in November and hasn't let up since....not that I have given it a chance.  I have gotten a sports massage, rolled, iced, heated, biofreezed (is that a verb?)... all those things and yet it has still been bugging me on every run whether it's 4 miles or 10.  I have been running for most of my life.  You would think as I got older I'd listen more closely to my body, but no.  For some reason, I have been shutting out the noise my feet and hamstring have been making.  Perhaps my music is too loud.  Or, more likely, I am just being stubborn.  Do I think I was meant to fall?  Not really.  I don't think Rosie was either.  But I do believe that sometimes things happen for a reason.  Some higher power was telling me to stop.  To give my feet and legs the break they have been asking for.  To be mindful.  To listen.  Like Rosie, this might be where I roll my eyes and say "whatever".  But this time, I'm taking the message.  It's been a week since I fell and my feet feel significant relief.  Imagine that??  It's been a day since Rosie fell and she's already bouncing around like a ping pong ball.  Go figure.  But she's a kid.  Our minds work differently.  Thankfully, the message will always be there for both of us.  I hear it now.  She'll hear it eventually.

Listen to this:
Gold - Sir Sly     

One more thing:
Since we're talking about messages, I have one more.  Okay, it's more of a question.  WHAT DID YOU LISTEN TO THIS YEAR?  Share your favorite song/album from 2013 for running, dancing, whatever.  Click to comment and you'll be entered to win goodies from Yurbuds & Runnerbox.  It's so easy...just leave a message at the beep.  Beeeeep.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Believe, You Receive

So what do you when you slip and fall and bruise your ribs from front to back?  Well, first you wallow in sorrow and pain.  And then, since no one likes to be around a wallower, you pull up your boot straps and deal with it.  For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you will remember the summer before last (wow, that's a lot of blog posts) when I fell off a folding chair and bruised my ribs on the left side.  I had been training pretty hard for multiple races and was forced to take 3 weeks off  But not 'cross train' rest.  'Rib-healing' rest.  Translation: do nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  Because it hurt to do anything physical that involved movement; walking, sneezing, name it.  In truth, I wallowed quite a bit during those 3 weeks.  But this time around, dear friends, I am not going to do that.  I am going to make the most of the situation.  Side I think it's odd that I have fallen and bruised my ribs twice in less than two years?  Yes.  Yes I do.  Perhaps I'll revisit that in a another post.  This week, though, I will be healing with music.  My kids believe in Santa.  I believe in the power of music.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.  The ultimate spirit lifter.  It makes the party...or makes the party better.  It puts a smile on our faces.  It brings us to our feet.  It moves us to dance or to run or both.   It never lets us down.  And it never stops blowing me away.  I believe in music.  And, I also believe in giving.  My thought today...why not close this year out with one final mega RWM giveaway?  I believe, you receive.  Yes, I have too much time on my hands and way too much energy. How does this involve you?  So glad you asked.  Read below and let the festivities begin!

Readers, runners, rockers, all of the above....I NEED YOUR HELP.  From now until the end of the year I will be compiling a BEST OF 2013 music list.  I want to hear from you.  What song or album knocked your socks off this year?  Moved you to cut a rug?  Pushed you to a PR?  Made you not want to get out of your car so you could keep listening (this happened to me today)?  Caused you to spontaneously hive-five a stranger?  And if none of those happened this year....well, first I'm so sorry.  And second, you still have three weeks to drum up something good to share with us.  I realize that we are all insanely busy right now and that time is limited, so I'm going to sweeten the deal a bit to try to hook you in here. You've got 3 shots to win.  One lucky dog will get a swanky new pair of Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pro Earphones (retail value $59.99).  The best sport earphones out there.  Period.

Two other lucky ducks will win either a box of running related goodies from RUNNERBOX or a RUNNERBOX gift card which they can use to pick out the box of their choice (and there are several options).  BOOYAH!  Oh, and make it snappy because the first 10 people who comment will receive an RWM sticker from yours truly.  I know, it's MADNESS.  And if all of that doesn't get you excited and make you want to chime in, I don't know what will.

THE DETAILS:  Comment below or tweet your "best of" music choices to @runningwmusic. Yurbuds and RUNNERBOX winners will be picked via on 12/27.  Please make sure I can reach you in some way, shape or form.  Contest is open to US residents only.  Many thanks to Yurbuds and RUNNERBOX for being awesome .  Good luck & rock on.

Listen to this:
Run - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friends, Gingerbread, Smiles, etc.

~ Flaming Lips

I have had several valuable realizations this week.  Some more significant than others.  But all worth sharing.  I'll cut right to the chase here.

1. Running is so much better with a buddy (at least for me).  Though my running partner and I have trained and raced together in the past, lately our schedules have shifted and our training plans have gone in different directions.  Sadly, we haven't been able to get out together for a few weeks other than the occasional one-off.  Somehow, we managed to run together 3 times this week and it was such a pleasure to be out with her again.  I love listening to music when I run.  But I like chatting with a friend even more.

2. Though I enjoy most gingerbread products, both edible and non-edible, I do NOT like Gingerbread lattes and was slightly devastated when I realized, despite my best efforts, that I couldn't finish this so-called holiday treat.  Nothing like pouring money down the drain.  Literally.  Moving forward, I will stick with the basics ie. gingersnaps and scented candles.

3. Just when I thought they couldn't possibly make running shoes any cooler, Saucony does it again with the Ride 6 ViZiGLO.  These puppies glow in the dark.  And they are ridiculously badass looking.

4. Pandora is good.  Pandora One is amazing.  For a mere $3.99 a month (which is less than a gingerbread latte, dammit), you can get all the music YOU want, anywhere, anytime.  No ads.  No crap.  It is the ultimate personal music system at your fingertips.  Why not treat yourself this holiday season?  In this case, a little does indeed go a long way.

5. And last, but not least, more often than not, when you smile at someone, they smile back.  I have been making a conscious effort to do this more.  It's so simple. Yet so nice.  And the nice part tends to spread, in a good way.  As my friend KH said to me yesterday, "I'm realizing that life doesn't need to be taken so seriously all the time.  I am trying really hard to smile and laugh more."  I think she might be on to something.

Listen to this:
Faith - I Break Horses  
Note: 'I Break Horses' is set to release their latest album on 1/20.  Oh boy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Running Gear & Good Music

TOP 5 REASONS to Purchase New Running Gear During the Holidays:

1. It's cold and you can no longer get away with holes in your socks.

2. Your tights from last year aren't meant to be see through.

3. Nothing fits right because it didn't fit right last year and you didn't deal.

4. You need a new watch to keep pace with the chaos of the season.

5. You and Santa had a falling out and you're not sure whether he's forgiven you.

Okay fine, maybe you just want them.  That's okay, too.

TOP 5 REASONS to Listen to Good Music During the Holidays:

1. You're going caroling and you need some inspiration.

2. You will be spending an insane amount of time wrapping presents and you want to take your mind off of all the cutting and taping by rocking out.

3. You have a holiday party to go to and you want to sharpen up your dance moves.

4. You have a holiday party to host and you don't want to play the same old thing.

5. Wait, really?  Do you really need a reason for this?

Go ahead.  Wear sequins.  Drink eggnog.  Belt it out.  GET FESTIVE.  Anything goes during this season of never-ending joy.  Here's some goodies to liven up your spirit.

Listen to these:
Sam Smith - Money on My Mind

Sweater Weather - The Neighbourhood

The Man I Need - Jagwar ma

Jennifer - Little Comets

Sunday, December 1, 2013


'Tis the season, folks.  December is yet another big one.  Particularly for the wee ones.  My monthly "to-do" list is long and multi-layered.  And, yes, most of it is holiday related.  Ho ho ho.  I have just learned that the lego sets that have been on my girls' lists for several months are no longer a hot ticket item.  Total bummer seeing as I'd already let the big man know about them and gone so far as to purchase them myself knowing he would pay me back.  So much for being on the ball.  Though my kids would beg to differ, there is more to this month than Christmas.  My local running group has a 5K on the books that we'll be trying to win as a team...for best costume.  My family will start trekking up to Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire every week-end to ski; my 9 year old downhill racing for the first time this season (deep breaths).  And, as always, I will continue to dig around for good music.  Though, I can not tell a lie, I am a sucker for Nat King Cole in December.  So, to all of you, regardless of what and/or how you celebrate this month, if at all, may you enjoy it as much as my 6 year old does....which is typically a lot.  MerrEverything!

December 'To-Do' List
1. Several holiday related items including, but not limited to:
  • purchase & trim our tree
  • shop for Christmas gifts
  • stress out and panic when my kids change their minds
  • decorate the house with holiday tchotchkes (we have MANY)
2. Run the Winter Classic 5K with the Winchester ladies in full costume, tutus and all.
3. Head up to New Hampshire for the start of our ski season at Cannon.
4. Build a snowman and get some sledding in with my kids (weather permitting).
5. Go cheer on my LHS ladies at an indoor track meet.
6. Eat a ridiculous amount of gingerbread products.
7. Host our neighborhood Christmas party.
8. Enjoy the long break from school, work, & routine between Christmas & New Years.
9. Spend some quality time with my husband's side of the family during the break; a total of 5 kids (ages 6-12), 6 adults, 2 dogs, and 2 guinea pigs when we're all together.
10. Rock around the Christmas tree with the December music of the month.

Mesmerise - Temples


Matangi - M.I.A.

AND (I couldn't resist)

A Very She & Him Christmas - She & Him

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Yesterday, despite the gale force winds and the torrential rain, we took the ferry over to Martha's Vineyard to spend the holiday with my extended family.  My parents bought this house in 2003 and we have spent 10 amazing years here; this one being our last, as the house was sold last month.  This Thanksgiving will undoubtedly be a little bittersweet.  We have already shed a few tears and had some good laughs over some of the memories and will likely continue to do so until we leave on Sunday.  It is what it is.  I love running on the island and have been looking forward to doing the Oak Bluffs Turkey Trot, a very low key event that I've always enjoyed.  This morning I woke up early intending to head over for the race.  My 6 year old shuffled in shortly after I arose to show me the rainbow tattoos and $2 that she got from the tooth fairy.  She was incredibly relieved that the fairy was able to find her even though she wasn't sleeping in her own bed.  I was incredibly relieved that I remembered to let the fairy know where we were before I went to sleep.  She crawled into bed with me, we chatted, and read some books.  The race was still on my mind, but the importance of making it over there was fading quickly.  After some good quality time with Grace, I hopped up, made some coffee and threw on my running clothes thinking I might still be able to motivate.  And then my nephew came in to my room and asked me to help him find his Nintendo DS.  It was urgent, he claimed.  I understood.  We all have our priorities.  As we began our hunt, I decided that the race was not in the cards for me.  And I was totally good with that.  I grabbed another cup of coffee and settled in for the day.  Thanksgiving day.  A day to spend with my family, to soak it all in, to relax, to snuggle with my girls, to drink more coffee, to hug my mom, to do a crossword with my dad, just to be thankful.  For all of the incredible years that we have spent at this house together.  And for all of the future adventures that are still to come for us, wherever we may be.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

Listen to this:
Come Back Down - Greg Laswell (feat. Sarah Bareilles)

Monday, November 25, 2013


"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
~ Winston Churchill

This morning I took on one of Oiselle's #RUNGIVING challenges and bought the guy in line behind me at Starbucks his coffee.  Or, I should say, his grandé, quad, skim, mocha.  QUAD??  In fairness, he did give me the out after I learned what his order was.  But, I had already made the offer and I was sticking with it.  Nick, who had clearly just woken up and was wearing flip flops despite the 16 degree temperature, was incredibly grateful and thanked me multiple times before he headed off.  I have to give kudos to Oiselle here as they are successfully highlighting the importance of both giving and being thankful in one fell swoop.  Very cool.  I am incredibly thankful for so many things.  Every day I count my lucky stars for my family, my friends, my health, my babysitter (I've been needing her a lot lately)...the list goes on and on.  But, I am also thankful that I have the ability to give something back.  Not millions of dollars mind you, but a smile or a hug or, as was the case this morning, a coffee to a stranger; little things of big value that will hopefully have a significant impact.  After successfully completing the coffee challenge, I was inspired to keep it going.  I gave my high school xc girls a sweet treat after practice.  I gave my dog, Lucy, some extra love and attention.  I gave my friend FC a heavy dose of sarcasm and a good laugh over an afternoon latte.  If I could find a way to give, I'd do it.  It's ridiculous how easy it was.   It's also ridiculous how good it can make one feel; the giver, the receiver or both.  So now, because I'd like to end my day in the same way that I started it, I have one more thing to give.  And it's for you.  Here's what gives (sorry, I couldn't resist).


Hydration is critical during these holiday months for a plethora of reasons.  NUUN will support you all the way through.  Many thanks to all of you who read this blog and give me your time and attention, your thoughts and feedback, and a reason to keep writing and sharing day after day.  I am so grateful.

The Details:
To enter, comment below.  Tell us what you are thankful for.  Or, tell us what or how you recently gave.  Bottom line, tell us a story about thanks or giving.  The winner will be chosen via on Saturday, November 30th.  A huge thanks to NUUN for providing this fantastic treat. Winner can pick a 4 pack of any flavor (excluding watermelon and banana).   Contest is for US residents only.

Listen to this:
All the Days - Haerts

Friday, November 22, 2013

2 - 4 - 6 - 8

1. recognize the full worth of.

I've had a perma-grin on my face since running the Plymouth marathon last Sunday.  Twice this week my 8 year old has asked me why I was in such a good mood (for no particular reason that she could see) followed by some eye rolling and "whatever"s when I responded that I just was.  I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty fantastic to feel this way.  I have run hundreds of races over the years of various types and distances.  But, it's been a while since I had the overwhelming feeling of complete satisfaction from one particular race.  Even with my best performances, I find that I tend to ask the standard questions post-race:

~ Did I push as hard as I could have?
~ Did I go out too fast?
~ Did I wait too long to kick?
~ Did I eat right the day before?
~ Should I have hydrated more during the race?
~ Should I have tried to get more sleep?
and, even when there is a PR to celebrate,
~ Could I do better if I train harder next time?

I'll admit that it's not necessarily the best way to break down a race each time and it kind of kills the overall experience a bit; good or bad.  But, I am a runner, I am stubborn, and I am competitive with myself.  So, it is what it is.  That said, my experience at Plymouth really threw me for a loop and changed my whole perspective.  In a good way.  I can honestly say that I have a totally new appreciation for running and a much better understanding of why I should and will continue to do it.  Yesterday I went for an easy, four mile cruiser; my first jaunt since Plymouth.  Throughout said run, I realized not only that I have a new respect for running, but with many things running related as well.  I also came to the conclusion that, moving forward, as I continue to train and race it might be worth approaching each race a little differently.  After my experience at Plymouth I learned that it doesn't have to be so freakin' intense all the time.  All this in four short miles.  Well, four miles, 8 marathons, 10 halfs, and countless 5Ks.  Let me break it down for you (forgive the high cheese factor.  It was unavoidable):


~ For running and how incredibly rewarding and freeing it can be, particularly when I'm willing to let go of my expectations and run just to run.

~ For music and how it never fails to motivate me from start to finish.  Because it helps to drown out the doubt frustration when they start to seep in.  In running, it is truly my most reliable companion.

~ For my arms.  There were some serious hills throughout Plymouth and the strength in my arms helped to drive me up and over each time.  (Note to my LHS ladies who might be reading this...all those push-ups this season were definitely worth it!)

~ For my coach who is both a runner and a father himself.   For reminding me to sit back, relax, have fun and enjoy the experience along the way.

~ For the race volunteers, particularly in the smaller races.  There was not a whole lot going on out there on Sunday with only 300 runners on the course.  No bells and whistles like at Boston.  It undoubtedly took some serious dedication for them to stand out there alone for 4-5 hours in the quiet as we tossed cups and GU packets at them.  

~And for my husband.  I will always appreciate him.  But I appreciate him more because after Hartford, despite having just given up an entire week-end for me to race, he was the first to suggest that I sign up for another race right away to wipe the slate clean.  Because he "gets it."  And that's amazing.

2, 4, 6, 8...who do we appreciate? Goooooo running.

Listen to this:
Jungle - Emma Louise  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Her Words: The Soundtrack of My Run

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything”
~ Plato

A guest post by fellow runner & music fan Stephanie Surratt:

I am a 36 year old married mom of four. I have been running for about 18 years.  I have a full time job in sales and I am an avid runner.  I love it and it is definitely a passion of mine. I live in Nashville, Tennessee and I love it here. (I mean after all, we are known as The Music City) I recently partnered with a fantastic, locally owned sports store here, Sport Seasons, and I am doing a weekly blog on their site.  I found RunningWithMusic on Facebook and I loved the page and the blog as it was so in line with the passion I have for music and running.  Rebecca was kind enough to ask me to guest blog… here I am!

After I began having children I became competitive with myself and my race times.  I decided that I needed my own personal goals, both to keep me interested and to be a role model for my children. I have been known to start a very long run at 3:30 in the morning so I can make early soccer and basketball games for the kids. Through the last several years I slowly chipped away at my time and started placing or winning my age group. This year I ran my fastest full marathon (3:29 in the pouring down rain) and my fastest half marathon (1:32) ever. This April, after 3 qualifying times over the last 5 years, I will run my first Boston Marathon. It has been a long road to get there but I am finally doing it.  To say I am excited is an understatement! (Did I mention it will be my husband and I’s first trip with no children?!)

 I can tell you for certain that aside of course from the support of my husband, family, and friends, I would not be the runner I am today without music.  I have always loved music and I have always exercised with it.  From the Walkman to the Discman to the MP3 player and now to the fantastic iPhone (thank you Apple!), music has always been an essential part of my running.   Music became an even bigger part of my running after I had my children.  My schedule became more demanding and I wasn’t able to run as often with my friends.  I had to find motivation to still get out of bed on a day to day basis to run!  While nothing can ever replace the time I had (and still do sometimes get) to spend talking with my friends, music has become a close second. Those long talks with friends are therapeutic, but so is music.

Music is motivating, relaxing, inspiring, healing….I could go on and on. Some people say it’s the pace of the song or the beats per minute that stimulate a runner’s mind.  While I do believe that, I say it’s also about a chord that a song strikes deep within in an individual.  I try to find songs I associate the people in my life that make me want to be better, like my family and my friends. When you make that connection, your mind can take over and you can soar to new heights. Often my mood dictates the type of music that I play that day.  I have even been known to have an occasional KidzBop song on a playlist if it is a song I have enjoyed listening to with my kids. (We are no stranger to impromptu dance parties in the playroom!)

So what’s on my playlists? Well, that is what I love about music. I don’t have to pick just one genre.  I have a wide variety of songs that I favor. As I mentioned, I live in Nashville….so yep country is on there! I also love hip hop and R &B. (old school and new)  I love songs from movies as well, I am not ashamed to say that Footloose and Flashdance are two of my favorite movies and yep, the songs are proudly in my iTunes library. I mix all types of songs together to create the perfect, personal playlist for me.  Another thing I always do is create a new playlist with fresh, new music before any race.  When you are feeling tired, there is nothing that can pump energy into you like a good song. I saw this quote and it is forever etched in my mind:

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”  ~ Hunter S. Thompson

I try to remember that quote when I feel I may be hitting a wall in a marathon or even a training run, and I know it is time to find that perfect song, that fuel.

Below is one of my favorite playlists.  As you will see it is a mix of things, but it is all music that moves me and motivates me in one way or another. It may surprise you that a few of the songs are not as up tempo as others.  As I mentioned earlier, for me, sometimes it’s more about how the song connects with me, how it makes me feel, and if it moves me.  I hope you enjoy it, and I am always interested to see other runner’s playlists.  A few new songs can make or break a race.  And, finally, thank you RWM! So many of us can learn and be inspired from your blog!

----> And thank you, Stephanie.  My feelings are mutual.  Rock on.

Fall 2013 Playlist  by Stephanie Surratt

Stronger - Kanye West
Moves Like JaggerMaroon 5
PayphoneMaroon 5
Wake Me Up –Avicii
We Were Us – Miranda Lambert & Keith Urban
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Applause – Lady Gaga
Marry the Night – Lady Gaga
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
Holy Grail – Jay Z and Justin Timberlake 
P.Y.T – Michael Jackson
Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys
Southern Comfort Zone – Brad Paisley
DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love – Usher
Roar – Katy Perry
Drink a Beer – Luke Bryan
I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
Done – The Band Perry
Scream and Shout – Britney Spears and Will I Am
I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes
Fire Burning – Kidz Bop
Hold On We’re Going Home – Drake
She Wouldn’t Be Gone – Blake Shelton
Super Bass – Nicki Manaj
As Long As You Love Me – Justin Beiber
Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen
My Wish – Rascal Flatts
Diamonds – Rihanna
Night Train – Jason Aldean
Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
Footloose – Kenny Loggins
Flashdance – Irene Cara and DJ Bobo
What About Now – Daughtry

Note: Find Stephanie at Sports Seasons Blog.  She is also on Twitter @stephsurratt.  You can also  'Like' Sport Seasons Facebook page to get updates on blog entries.  

******************Stay inspired!  Music only makes people stronger!******************

Monday, November 18, 2013

Race Review: Myles Standish Marathon

As many of you know, the Hartford marathon, which I ran back in October, did not unfold as I'd hoped.  From mile 18 on, there was a lot of cursing, heavy cramping, some limping, slow shuffling, and more cursing all the way through the finish line.  Despite running a decent time, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth in regards to marathons in general.  I was seriously doubting whether I even wanted to continue doing them anymore.  That said, rather than close out the year with a bad race, I decided, upon my husband's recommendation, to run one more marathon with the hopes of having a different and better experience.  I have never run back to back marathons (these being 5 weeks apart), so this was a foreign concept and a bit daunting.  But, in my head, my heart and my gut, I felt like it was something I needed to do.  I truly believed, or wanted to believe, that what took place in Hartford was not the end all be all and that I could still find joy in marathon running.
So, the next day, before I could change my mind, I signed up for the Myles Standish Marathon, which was taking place on November 17th, in Plymouth, MA.  The race was small (about 300 runners), close by (45 min drive) and inexpensive ($50).  Done and done.  Five weeks, I thought, would give me just enough time to both recover from Hartford and to re-amp up my mileage for Plymouth.  I was looking at it as an opportunity to try again under very little stress and with no expectations other than to finish strong and have fun.  Game on.  The lead up to this second race was everything that Hartford was not.  First, there was no fanfare.  I decided to keep the fact that I was running it to myself.  This was a personal journey and there was no reason to shout about it on Facebook or Twitter.  I didn't even tell my parents I was doing it.  Second, for all 5 of those weeks, I was completely focused on my high school cross country team.  The girls would be competing in their League Meet, their Divisional Meet and, assuming they made it, their State meet.  My training was secondary to my job for those few weeks and the distraction was both welcome and appreciated.

LHS Ladies after finishing 4th in the EMASS Divisional meet, good
enough for a spot at the State meet the next week.
As I had hoped and expected, my girls made it to the State meet which happened to be the day before the Plymouth marathon.  Not ideal.  But what can you do?  In all honesty, I didn't have time to think about it.  But, after running around like a crazy chicken all day at the State meet, I seriously considered bailing on the marathon, as I was totally drained both mentally and physically.  I decided to sleep on it, and when I woke up at 5:00am the next morning, before my alarm went off, I took it a sign that I should forge ahead.  It was a beautiful morning; 40 degrees, clear and calm.  Perfect day for a marathon.  I drove to Plymouth North High School, which was the end point of the marathon, parked my car and hopped on a shuttle to the start of the race which was in the Myles Standish State Forest.  I jumped off the bus and within seconds I hear, "HEY!! Rebecca.  It's me, Rebecca!"  This other Rebecca, who I've never met but have chatted with over Twitter, is a fellow Oiselle ambassador who works at the Bayside Runner, the store that was sponsoring the race.  So, naturally, we hugged and asked someone to take our picture because we were really freakin' psyched to have found each other.

Rebecca T-W & I at the start of the race.
After chatting a bit and then agreeing to meet at the end, I checked my bag and headed off to the starting line which was a 1 mile walk from the drop off.  Huh??  As I stood waiting with the handful of other runners who were about to head off into the wilderness with me, I questioned my sanity and said out loud, to no one in particular, AM I COMPLETELY NUTS?  Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? It was not the best time to doubt my decision, so I turned on my music and turned up the volume to drown myself out.  After a very uneventful and almost zen-like, "ready, set, go", we were off.  My typical mistake when I run these things is to get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast.  Such a classic blunder.  Sometimes it pays off but most times it doesn't and it definitely didn't in Hartford.  So, despite my strong desire to cruise ahead, I held back.  Big time.  I was doing this for fun, NOT for time.  The course was beautiful.  We wound our way through the park, running on quiet roads and trails, passing lakes and horses and tackling hill after hill (after hill).  Did I mention the hills?  They were big and rolling.
The hills were alive with the
sounds of music and heavy breathing.
But, again, I wasn't worried about it.  I tracked my splits to make sure that I didn't get going too fast and held steady at a comfortable pace for miles 1-18.  And then, at mile 18, I had my first ever EUREKA! moment in a marathon.  It all made sense.  Conserve in the beginning and it will pay off in the end.  So ridiculously simple.  You'd think I would have figured this concept out before my 8th marathon, but alas, I did not.  When I hit mile 18 my legs were ready, my head was in the game and I was good to go.  I shifted gears and tapped into my reserves to give it my all for the last 8 miles.  I was able to bring my split times down 30-45 seconds per mile depending on the hills and I felt amazing.  I was running solo for several of these last few miles which was incredibly peaceful and oddly freeing.  I was able to cruise all the way into the finish with a smile on my face.  My time, 3:25, was not my best, but not my worst.  It was good for a 2nd place finish among the females and a $75 cash prize which I happily spent today at Whole Foods.  The experience, however, was far and away my best.  I have never had so much fun and appreciated a race as I much as I did on Sunday.  It was a much-needed reminder of why I love to run and should continue to do these races.  It could not have gone any better if I'd planned it.   And, in this case, I hadn't planned anything.  There is no manual to running a successful marathon.  We train, we prepare, we strategize, we eat right, we do everything we are supposed to do.  But there is more to it than that and there is no guide to this 'other' part.  On Sunday, I was reminded that so much of it is passion and spirit with a sprinkling of chance and luck.  I will most definitely be doing another marathon.  I am thrilled to report that I have, once again, found the joy in running.  Hallelujah!

Rebecca, Jayne (who came in right after me and happened
to be wearing the same shorts) and I at the finish.

Listen to this:
We're On Our Way - Radical Face