Wednesday, June 29, 2016


"It is the overall approach that makes 99.9% of the difference."
~ Coach Lowell Ladd

It's 6:45 am.  The house is quiet.  I've had a much needed cup of coffee and I'm lacing up to hit the road before it gets too hot or my kids need me for something.  My workout is a hard one: 2 X 2.5 miles at a 6:25-6:35 pace with a quarter mile recovery in between.  As I often am before these tough sessions, I'm both fired up and a little nervous.  I set out for my warm up, trying hard to wake up my legs and get in the zone.  I hear two voices in my that says I don't know if I can do this and another that says You've got this.  I can't drown them out, but I try not to focus on either of them.  After two miles I stop and re-set my watch.  Here we go.  I switch gears and attempt to settle into my goal pace.  It feels hard.  Too hard.  It's a pace I'm familiar with, that I fall into often, but I'm struggling.  The doubt seeps in.  I stop after one mile.  I rarely do this - stop mid-workout - because it never ends well.  I consider scrapping the workout and trying again the next day.  I pace back and forth, frustrated, hands on hips, head down.  WTF??  I decide to go at it again.  So, I'm off and while it still hurts I manage to hold on and finish close to goal pace for my first set.  Too slow.  But close.  I walk a quarter mile.  The second set looms but there is not turning back at this point.  I've lost a lot of my confidence and most of my fire.  Time for a pep talk.  Come on, Rebecca.  Buck up.  It's 2.5 miles.  Sixteen and half minutes.  Five or six songs, tops.  Let's go.  And I set off again.  At first it feels good, or, at least, better.  I'm a little faster than goal pace for a minute or so.  I check my watch.  I'm slipping.  But, it's okay.  I'm still in the range, just a little slower.  I check again.  Shit.  I have no wiggle room now.  I check again.  That's it.  I've lost it.  I stop checking and try to just put the effort in, whatever I can muster up at the moment.  Like the last set, it hurts.  But, it hurts more; phsyically, sure, but mostly mentally.  I eek out the second set at a 6:42 average.  Not terrible, but not great.  I stop, catch my breath, reset my watch.  It's over.  Finally.  I cool down slowly.  Annoyed, angry, sad, relieved - all of the above.  Silver least I got it done.  Later in the day, I reach out to my coach.  I give him the play by play of my workout.  Then I list out my thoughts as to why it might have gone down the way it did.

1. I'm not sleeping well bc I'm in a different bed. (can't change that)
2. I need to be drinking more water. (can change that)
3. Not used to the heat. (have to deal with that)
4. Need to get out of my head on these hard days and set myself up for success. (working on that)

This was his response:

This was not a terrible workout.  You had an off day, and you hit all the potential factors that could have contributed - probably some or all of them.  The most important one on the list is #4.  You have to relax a bit and just put in the effort.  If the effort is always there, the times will happen in the long haul.  Up and down days are part of the sport, but consistent training and effort with a good attitude lead to long term success.  Training for a marathon is...a marathon, so one or two steps along the way won't make or break it.  It is the overall approach that makes 99.9% of the difference.

In marathon training, as in life itself, I tend to analyze everything down to the nth degree.  I drive myself nuts.  What if I'd done it this way?  Why didn't I try that?  How could I have done it differently?  And so on.  And yet, in my 41 years in I've also learned (and often forget) how important it is to look at the big picture and not to get hung up on all the little things.  Sometimes we need a reminder.  Sometimes we need an attitude adjustment.  Sometimes we just need a good kick in the pants.  Turns out, I needed all three. 

It's 6:45 am.  The house is quiet.  I've had a much needed cup of coffee and I'm lacing up to hit the road before it gets too hot or my kids need me for something.  My workout is a hard one: 4 X 400 @ 88, 1 X Mile @ 6:00, 4 X 400 @ 86 (w/ 400 recovery in between everything).  As I often am before these tough sessions, I'm both fired up and a little nervous.  I set out for my warm up, trying hard to wake up my legs and get in the zone.  Today, I only hear one voice.  You've got this.  You've got this.  You've got this.  

Listen to this:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Back when my kids were little, like 2 and 4 years old, I needed a babysitter for just about anything that didn't involve them.  Getting out for a run was always tricky.  In addition to needing help just to keep an eye on them while I was gone, both of my girls (my youngest in particular) would cry the minute they saw me pulling out my running shoes and act as though I was leaving and never coming back.  Every.  Single.  Time.  When I finally did get out the door, I'd feel a combination of stress, anger and guilt for the first mile or so.  But it would all slowly wash out of my system with each step and by the time I got home I'd be momentarily cleansed, if you will, and ready to put my mom hat back on for the rest of the day.  Back then, an hour on the road was precious and I never took it for granted.  I'd set out my stuff the night before (clothes, shoes, watch, iPod, etc.) and set my alarm.  Then I'd pop out of bed and get going before anyone could protest.  I'd start running the second I got outside and wouldn't stop until I was back in my driveway.  Warm-up?  Nope.  No time for that.  Stretching.  Ha!  Only if you call reaching for my kids to pick them up when I got home 'stretching'.  So, basically, no again.  Life was all about working around my kids' schedule and if I could sneak some time in for a run or anything else that I wanted to do I considered myself lucky.  Today my girls are 9 and 11 and while they still need me for various things they're pretty independent for most of the day and thus I have a hell of a lot more time to myself than I used to.  Yesterday morning, I had a 14 miler on my schedule.  As I got myself ready to leave I had a little chuckle as I thought about the difference between the way it is now versus the way it used to be.  I woke up at 6:50am and didn't leave for my run until 8:30.  That, in and of itself, would never have happened 9 years ago.  Curious to know what I was doing in that almost two hour window before I finally took off?  I was.  As I laced up, I gave it some thought....


6:50 Woke up
6:52 Made & drank coffee
6:55 Took Clover out & fed her
7:00 Ate banana
7:05 Drank second coffee
7:10 Played quick round of frisbee w/ Clover
7:15 Drank a NUUN
7:20 Checked email
7:25 Got dressed to run
7:30 Went on a mad search for hair ties
7:35 Cursed several times bc I forgot to charge my Garmin (plugged it back in to try and eek out enough for the run)
7:40 Made Snapchat video w/ Grace, age 9 (my buds Mac & Heather just introduced me to it.  My daughter, Grace is teaching me what to do.)
7:45 Changed my outfit (it was hotter than I thought)
7:50 Applied sunscreen
7:55 Checked in w/ my girls to let them know I was leaving.  Big mistake.  Got delayed as they threw out random questions like:
~ Mom, can I get my ears pierced? (um, no)
~ Mom, can I go over to the Sweet's house (it's 8:00am, so not yet)
~ Mom, we go to town and buy candy today? (if I say maybe will you stop asking?)
8:15 Did multiple laps around the house trying to find my running shoes.  Grrrr.
8:20 Made a quick stop in the bathroom.
8:30 Left for run

And that was all before the run even started.  When I finally got on the road, I gave the whole thing (old process vs new process) some more thought.  Back when my time was more limited, not only would I be up and at 'em with everything already 100% prepared, but the run itself would also be efficient.  It had to be.  I'd head off, get in the zone and crank out the miles.  No dawdling, no distractions; nothing would set me off course.   Nowadays, I find myself walking or shuffle jogging the first half mile or so, stopping mid-run to chat with friends if I see them, pausing to pick out a new playlist, even finishing down at Starbucks and walking the extra mile home.  Don't get me wrong, my time is still precious.  It's just not quite as critical to have a plan and stick to it anymore.  So, instead of the head down, forge ahead manner that I used to apply to my running, it's now more of an experience that I like to dive into and take full advantage of.  Sure, the whole thing - start to finish -  takes a lot longer.  And, yes, I do need significantly more caffeine before I get started.  But, the net result is the same.  When I get home, I'm refreshed and ready to start my day.  I'm guessing that will never change.  Thank goodness.

Listen to this:
Ghosts - Alagoas

Monday, June 13, 2016


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; 
ask yourself what makes you come alive.  
And then go and do that. 
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
~ Howard Thurman

As many of you know, I've been running with Oiselle for several years now.  When I joined the team, there were maybe 100 of us.  Now there are over 3000.  We are not just a bunch of women who sport the singlet and buy the clothes.  We are a family.  A sisterhood.  A group of women who share similar lifestyles, goals, hopes and dreams.  And when you get on board with Oiselle, you are doing it not only because you love to run, but because you want to share that passion with others and support them in all that they do in running and beyond.  I've had the good fortune of attending the past two Birdcamps; the first out in Bend, OR in 2014 and the second in Leavenworth, WA last summer.  Both were two of the best experiences I've had in my 41 years.  And while there was no question that Oiselle wanted to provide this same opportunity to the rest of their now massive flock, the concept of organizing a camp for thousands of birds in one place was simply not feasible.  Thus, the regional Birdcamps were created; seven camps scattered throughout the country that anyone on the team could attend if they could get themselves there.  I stepped up to lead the camp for the Northeast birds last fall.  And after several months of planning, stressing, organizing, doubting, trusting, hoping and believing, our camp finally came to fruition last week.  Thankfully, it was, yet again, a truly unbelievable experience.  We fit a hell of a lot in to four days and I'm sure many of my teammates will be sharing their stories on their own blogs.  In the meantime, I figured I'd take my own angle and give you....wait for it...yep, a top 10 list.  It's not often that 100 women gather together willingly for a running-oriented retreat.  Now that I've been to three different camps, I've picked up some of the key indicators that suggest one is at such a gathering.  My top 10 signs are outlined below.  To Aubree and her crew at Camp Foss, thank you doesn't really cut it, but I'll say it anyway.  And to my Oiselle teammates and now friends.....see you at #NEBIRDCAMP17.  



1. You cry tears of joy when you get your swag bag at check-in.  Then you open it up and look inside multiple times throughout the weekend because it's so damn awesome.


2. You stand around and smile awkwardly for the first afternoon because you don't know many people and by the next day you're borrowing each other's clothes and trading recipes.


3. There's a line 20 deep at the coffee pot first thing in the morning and conversation doesn't begin until the cups begin to fill....or in some cases, refill.


4. You run double sessions when you haven't done more than 5 miles in over a month because it just seems like a good idea at the time.


5. You eat snacks 24/7 in addition to three square meals a day because it's available to you and you don't have to prepare it yourself.


6. You're so exhausted and you REALLY need a nap but you can't/don't take one because you have major FOMO on things like this:


and this


and this


7. It's day three and you haven't stopped smiling and/or laughing.

(w/ Mac, Feather, Ashley & Kimberly)

8. You sit quietly and listen to the experts not only because you want to but because it's the first time you've had a chance to do anything remotely like this without someone asking you for or needing something.


9. You put your legs up on the wall, close your eyes and relax for the same reason.


10. You wake up tired and cranky because you slept on a cot in a cabin with no heat and then you see this and all is good and right in the world again.


Look around
You know you've made it
You know you have
After all
You're never gonna waste it
You never will
~ Javelin
Listen to this:

Monday, June 6, 2016


On Sunday morning, I made my way over to Cambridge to run the Freedom Run 5K, part of the Cambridge 5K Race Series.  I was participating as a member of the Glen Doherty Team and in support of the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation.  Quick back story on this -- Glen Doherty was a US Navy Seal and one of the four Americans killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.  He grew up in Winchester, MA (my town) and though I did not know him, several of my close friends and neighbors did.  It's the second time I've run a race in his honor and it's something I'm very proud to do as he was an amazing individual that made a big impact on a lot of people's lives.  Ok, so back to the race.  Wait, no.  Another little side note first.  As many of you know, I've been working with a running coach for about three years now.  While my training is focused on the marathon throughout most of the year, I do throw several 5Ks into the mix, using them as a tool to sharpen my speed.  Full disclosure....I loathe this distance.  I honestly would rather run a marathon.  No, for real.  Which is precisely why I add them in.  And despite the dread and fear (yes, it's bad), I get out there and do them anyway because  there is no question that they make me stronger.  Anyway, this time around, I was aiming to break 19 minutes.  Sorry, I've probably mentioned this more times than you'd like to hear.  Still, it's a goal that's been on my radar for quite some time now.  On Friday, I reached out to my coach both see if he thought it might be feasible based on where I am in my training cycle and to talk strategy if he did, in fact, think I might be able to pull it off.  Here's what he suggested:

Rebecca, I think that 5:55-6:00 is your ideal first mile, then 6:05-6:10, and then whatever you have left in the tank.  If you can do 400s in 85 or faster, knocking them out in 89-91 shouldn't be too bad until the last mile.

GULP.  An 18:59 finish requires running a 6:07 average.  That, in itself, is scary.  But, seeing that recommendation of running a sub-6 first mile made my eyeballs pop out.  No, not really.  But you get it.  I tucked his note in the back of my head and just focused on getting to the starting line without losing my nerve.  Ok, so now, we're back to Sunday morning.  The race was set to begin at 9:30am.  The weather was crap - rainy, 70s and humid.  Always something, dammit.  Fortunately, unlike most of my races, this one was a mere eight mile drive from my house and I was able to get into Cambridge, find a parking spot, grab my bib and shirt and throw my stuff at gear check all in about 20 minutes.  Silver lining.  As I was about to head out for my warmup, I bumped into Magda and Stephanie, friends of mine from Winchester who were also running on the Glen Doherty team.

Dropping bags off w/ Steph

After my warmup, I headed back into the main race area to find the rest of the team.  Mind you, I was thoroughly soaked thru with sweat at this point.  Not good.  I met a few more teammates, including Muffy, the woman who organized the whole thing, and received a very cool GDMF singlet to sport for the race.  Around 9:20 we made our way over to the start.  On account of the heat, I made the executive decision to tuck my tank into the back of my sports bra.  Anything to make the race (relatively) more comfortable.  The music at the start was blasting and the crowd was insane.  There were over 1,800 runners, maybe more.  It was mayhem.  Given the "Freedom" theme (many runners wore red, white and blue) and this huge American flag that hung down directly in front of us I assumed we'd get a killer rendition on the National Anthem before we took off.  Not so.  We got a Ready. GO!  That was it.  

In my head, I'm was still going to go for it despite the weather and my doubts.  I settled into a pace that I felt I could hold, trying to peg a few other runners who might be in the same range as I was so I could work with them or try to keep up with them.  I hovered right around 6 min pace which, to my surprise and delight, didn't feel too painful.  I crossed the first mile in 5:59.  Okay, I thought.  This is good.  Maybe I've got this today.  I was doing eveything in my power to distract my brain from the fact that I had 2 more miles to run....counting steps, singing, predicting songs, you name it, I tried it.  I was still chugging along, slower, but within range.  Mile 2 was a 6:09.  Right on target.  But, now I was wicked (sorry, it's the best descriptor) tired.  And the heat was pressing down.  And I was so, so tired.  Oh, I mentioned that.  Right.  This is when I started talking to myself.  I said things like:
"Come on, Rebecca.  You can suck it up for one more mile"
"Stop fighting yourself.  You've trained for this.  Let's do it."  
"Oh look, there's a Dunkin'.  An iced coffee sounds so damn good right about now"
I tried my best to stick with the guys who were near me.  But, at the same time, though I was still working just as hard, I could feel myself fading.  We had a slight, but in my opinion at the time, massive, hill to get up before turning to the finish.  Mile 3 was a 6:15.  SHIT.  I was at 18:23 and had .1 to go.  I had no wiggle room.  And I had absolutely nothing left to pull from.  I was toast.  I looked up to see the clock change to 19 as I was just steps away.  RATS.  I finished with a respectable 19:09, so close but yet so far.  It was the first race in years that I have literally been gasping for air once I stopped.  I had used everything in my tank and I felt it big time.  

Pic taken by my friend, Cecille

Once I had recovered a bit, I slowly trotted off for my cool down.  Very slowly.  I eeked out a couple miles and made my way back over the tents to join my team for the post-race party.  There were about 40 people in the Glen Doherty crew.  We had our own tent with a cooler full of beer.  I was grateful for the shelter but couldn't take down the beer.  My stomach wouldn't have it.  I met a few people from Winchester and others who had known Glen growing up and just relaxed for a bit with this nice bunch of people before heading home.  

As I packed up, I heard the DJ, a very charismatic gentleman who had the crowd singing and dancing in the rain, mention that awards would be coming up shortly.  There were no age group divisions for this race, which is rare.  So, out of curiousity, I went over and asked the timing company about the awards break down.  He let me know that top 3 men and women and top 3 male and female masters would be getting something and recommended I stick around.  I found a corner out of the rain and enjoyed the scene as I waited to see if I'd placed.  

Turns out, I was both second female overall and first female Master (40+).  They called my name twice, which was a little akward, so the second time I went up I asked the woman if I should hold off on taking a second cup.  Her response?  Nope.  You earned both.  Take 'em!  Well, HOT DOG!!  I'll take those two glasses, thank you very much.  

After all that, I'm so glad I stuck around as I bumped into my friend and Oiselle teammate, Cecille (aka @Chirpily) who I will be headed up to NH with next week along with 100 of our teammates for another round of Birdcamp shenanigans.  We both got a little giddy just talking about it.  Finally, around 11:30, I headed home.  As I thought about the race I realized I was happy....really happy....for a few reasons:
1. I haven't run a sub-6 mile in a 5K race since college and never thought I would again.  My hard work is paying off.  That's exciting.
2. I didn't hit my goal time, but I didn't die, either.  I could have easily given up when I knew it wasn't going to happen.  I'm psyched that I was able to hold on and finish where I did.
3. I ran hard for a good cause and had a lot of fun doing it.
4. I'm happy that I'm happy about all of these things.  As I should be.
And so, the chase continues.  Gotta dream big.  To be continued.....

Listen to this:
WOW - Beck