Just listen and run!

People always ask if I run with music. For me the answer is generally no. I have never been one to listen to music while I run.  I only do on occasion when running outdoors or perhaps to get through a boring treadmill workout. I prefer to listen to the sounds as I run . . . the rhythm of my feet hit the ground, the sound of my breathing, my inner monologue, and also to the noises and sounds around me. By focusing on these sounds I am able to enter an almost meditative state as I run.

Colby Crew-My inspiration

This preference to run in peace began when I was a rower at Colby College. There was nothing better than going out for a morning row in the eight on Lake Messalonskee on a glassy lake morning. Rowing requires an intense focus as all eight rowers attempt to take the perfect strokes together to balance the shell, a long straight arrow, sliding through the silver water.  The sound of each stroke, each click in the oarlock, and each feather of the blade coming into the catch to drop the blade into the water in perfect unison was the sound of perfection. Breathing. Harmony. Peace. Power. Endurance and strength.

Lake Messalonskee-Belgrade Lakes, Maine

I still crave those moments and often miss that sensation. I find that on runs when I am alone or enduring a hard focused workout with a friend, or in a race, if I am able to bring myself into that almost zen like state then I am able to fly. Therefore I choose to run to listen to myself. Free without being plugged in.

This is a hotly debated topic according to Runner’s World Magazine.  Check out this fantastic article where both sides are debated.

“Running With Music

Running Debate—Two sides of a very hot topic.”

another alternative?

What is your preference?


Winter Brrrrrrrrr. . .

Just in time for my first Winter Wild race event tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. at Whaleback Mountain in Enfield, NH the temperatures will be plummeting. Instead of enjoying the nice balmy winter temperatures that we have been having due to two supposed la nina events (whatever that means????)so instead it will be frigid which will make for a super icy hard-pack for the race up the mountain and back.

Here is the weather report for the morning:

Saturday, January 14
7 am
Partly Cloudy
Feels Like1°F
Wind From WNW
18 mph
 Sunrise 7:20 am
8 am
Partly Cloudy
Feels Like 0°F
Wind From WNW
18 mph
Any normal individual would probably skip the ridiculous-ness that is this race event choosing to stay cozy and warm, snuggled up under a giant down comforter.  However, apparently I still have some of the craziness leftover from years of rowing  at Colby College  with Colby Crew before dawn in frigid temperatures.
I still have vivid memories of rowing on Messalonskee Stream in Waterville, Maine in the middle of winter. A thin-film of ice would often cover the stream only to be broken like glass as the shell gracefully slid along the water.  We would launch the dock in the quiet of the early morning on a floating dock that would often submerge causing wet feet (perhaps spandex too) which is obviously less than ideal in the middle of the winter. It was often so cold that when we returned to the dining hall to gorge ourselves on the buffet of deliciousness that is breakfast post workout, my hands often felt as if  I was still clutching my oar when I went to pick up my spoon.
As I am writing this I am pondering  why I am going to do this tomorrow. I am wondering what to wear. Hmmmmmmm . . .
This looks like it would be cozy but not sure about the breathability
ummmm . . . this looks a little extreme

I’ll let you know more tomorrow after the adventure. Stay tuned . . .

Winter Wild or Winter Insane

Winter Wild or Winter Insane? That is the question of the moment. So I am contemplating running at least some if not all of the Winter Wild running series put on by the Western NH Trail Running Series.

Wild or pure lunacy?

Have you ever raced anything like this?  This race series is composed of  5 races at 5 different ski areas  All of the races start at the crack of dawn before the mountains open. You can choose your ideal mode of transport up and down the mountain: snowshoe, ski (with skins on the way up), or run . . . I think I may need my yak traks for this. (and if you were most people you might say, “I think I’ll ride the chair to the top!”

Off-roading runner style

My favorite training friend and amazing inspirational runner Bridget completed this series last year and raved to me about how awesome it was. Last year I was in the process of regaining my former endurance after having given birth to my son Brock by c-section the previous August.  As you can imagine running up a mountain at the crack of dawn in the middle of winter was not exactly on my list of things to do.  As all moms know, sleeping is a cherished activity when you have little ones especially babies so the call of the warm and cozy bed is often more appealing than heading out for a freezing mountain run.  This year however, I am back in my running groove and am looking for the challenge.

Ever since I found my love for running my favorite kind of running has actually been running uphill. In high school it was running up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps in  with the crew team doing repeats and feeling like “Rocky.”


In college it was our beloved Wednesday Hill runs at Colby College (http://www.colby.edu/).  Our rowing coaches Mark Davis and Peter Steenstra loved to impose this workout on us during the winter to help build strength.  Everyone on campus probably thought we were nuts running up and down Heights Hill until the sun went down looking forward to the end of the workout to dive into dinner at one of the dining halls.  I have great memories of post-run delirium which resulted in hysterical laughter over  dinner which for me usually ended in a giant bowl of cereal. I have to admit my cereal choice was totally non-organic: ‘Lucky Charms.’  But hey, “They’re magically delicious!”

The Heights-I'll race you to the top!

After college my love for running hills grew as I adapted to the terrain of New Hampshire and Vermont. It is pretty difficult to find a totally flat run around here and even from my house either way you choose to go you are faced with a hill waiting to challenge you at the end of the run.  I love runs with hills in fact the more the better. My first marathon was the Nike Women’s Marathon

Nike Women's Marathon

in San Francisco which as you can only imagine definitely had some monster hills.  It was a great event to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This race also gave me some great motivation to race for charity and also helped me to regain some balance in my life by providing me with a personal goal.Living in the sticks of NH I raised  money as a part of the ‘Virtual Team in Training‘ since there are no physical teams in this area.

Team in Training-A great cause

So now that I feel in my running groove I am ready to attempt this new challenge. The first race is January 14th at Whaleback Mountain. Check back soon to see how it went but for now here is a taste of what’s to come. Please click on the links below to see just what I’m in for and hopefully I’ll see some of you at the mountain!

Winter Wild: Uphill Ski Race


*Please take note of #94-My awesome friend and amazing runner Bridget Ferrin rockin’ the course!

Winter Wild Race 1 by jjdd316