Beth Runs!

After sitting on my butt all winter, knitting and watching Craig Ferguson into the wee hours, it's time to get up, get out, and move!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hey Walt Stack 10K, bite me!

This was to be my very last run before losing my uterus the next day and spending several weeks on my butt instead of my feet. I was so excited about it the night before, I could barely sleep. I just knew I was going to wallop my last year's result in this race. I'd have to, right? Then, I'd only been running for a few months. Now, I've got all this experience under my belt, inside my shoes, around my knees and up my shins. How could I not do well?

I could not do well if the temperature suddenly went up to 80 degrees at 9 a.m. and I had no shade or water along the way. That's how I could not do well. That's how I could just keep stopping to walk all during the second half and even be tempted to sit down on a bench and quit. This was actually the closest I've ever come to quitting during a race. And as I tore across the Finish Line after 67 minutes and 54 seconds (a mere 1 minute faster than last year), swearing at Kevin Lee, "That sucked! It sucked! I hated it! Feh!" I felt defeated even though I had finished.

I finished. I kept telling myself that all day long. Who can predict the weather? The same thing happened during the Disney Marathon in Florida. Why did I not feel defeated that day? Probably because I'd never completed a marathon before and had nothing to compare it to. Probably because I'd had no real time expectation going in. And also because I didn't have visions of surgery the next day looming before me. I wanted to go out with a bang, not a whimper. This running thing is constantly teaching me lessons about expectations.

Well, no more running for me for a few weeks. I don't know how many. I hope I can train for the Disney Half Marathon, but what I've learned from the race today is not to have expectations about beating my time from last year's Half Marathon. That was in SF. This will be in LA. And this will be after having holes drilled through my body and parts of me sucked out with a morcellator.

Just be patient, Beth. Take it all as it comes. And don't forget to breathe.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

2007 Bay to Breakers

Yep. I have been procrastinating on updating this blog and I don't really know why. The Bay to Breakers arrived promptly on May 20, and Michael and I arrived promptly at the starting line after an almost-crisis during which I thought I'd lost my cell phone on BART, got all freaked out and frantic, found it in the station agent's booth waiting for me, and then proceeded to forget to tie my sweat shirt around my waist for later during the ├╝ber-chilly Footstock.

It was a historic day! Edna Kiplagat became the first woman ever to break the ribbon and win the Bay to Breakers with a time of 38:55.

Not long after, Michael crossed the finish line with time of 56:28! He came in 586th place out of 23,710 registered participants, Mr. high achiever!

I came crossed the finish line 24 minutes later for a final time of 1:20:26, 15 minutes faster than last year!

We met up, thanks to my NOT having lost my phone, and smiled for the camera:

Afterwards, I spent $40 for a Bay to Breakers sweatshirt to keep from turning blue as we walked back through Golden Gate Park to see the rest of the race. Er, I guess at that point, you wouldn't call it a race anymore but a big, sloppy parade.

The day finished with karaoke at The Mint with our friend Jan. Who could ask for a better day? Really, could you?


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Playing hookie, or why a footrace is the same as a group meditation retreat...

Another 6 months, another meditation retreat. Sitting with a group of people, all with the same intention. Running with a group of
people, all with the same intention. Meditation, sometimes difficult, sometimes effortless. Running, sometimes difficult, sometimes effortless. Meditation, following the breath. Running, following the breath. Compassion from other meditators. Compassion from other runners. Meditation, non-competitive. Running, non-competitive.

Really? How can that be?

I don't know what the elites experience, but for me, an average runner, often struggling, with no expectations of winning, each runner ahead of me is an inspiration. "Come on!" their backs are saying to me. "Look, it's possible to go this fast. I'm doing it! So can you!"

I'll admit, I don't always have this enlightened perspective. But when you sneak out to run a race during a meditation retreat in which you've been experiencing some of most profound silences of your life, it's kind of hard to be competitive. And what a joy it is to feel supported as you ascend 800 feet up a mile-long dirt fire road, breathing rhythmic but hard, heart pounding, mind focused only on the moment, the body, and the ground ahead. And what a feeling to make eye contact with the course monitor at the top of the hill as you approach the halfway point, turn, lean forward, and fly, almost literally, back down the hill, allowing gravity to do the rest of the work. Letting go. Feeling resistance melt away.

Running. Meditating. No difference.

Now, back in the world of facts and figures, I feel the need to report the details. Race: Coleman Elementary School Run For The Gold in San Rafael, just a few blocks from the Santa Sabina Retreat Center. Distance: 6K. Course description: Leisurely run through historic Dominican University to trail head and then up an 800 foot elevation on fire trails. Benefits The Coleman public elementary school in San Rafael. My time: 49:56. Place: probably 41 out of about 100. There was a mix-up with the race results.

And I must also reveal that quite a few of the runners were little kids, which really added to the fun. Unless they have an adult to pace them, little kids will start out running as fast as they possibly can, arms flailing every which way, until they are absolutely spent. Then, doubled over panting, barely able to walk, they insist that they can't go another step. But somehow, a minute or so later, they have all the energy in the world and take off just as fast as before. They remind us what it was once like to run for the pure joy of moving our bodies.

And finally, looking closely at these race photos, I am reminded of the immortal words of one of today's most important poets:

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)


Sunday, March 25, 2007

2 down; 8 more DSE runs to go.

Another DSE run today. After being sick this week, I wanted to take it a little bit easier than last time. I ran with Jane, a DSE member who lives near me in Oakland and who, with her husband Don, has been giving me rides to these races in the city.

The weather this morning in Golden Gate Park was chilly and overcast: perfect for running. Jane and I were able to talk for about the first 1/2 mile. At that point, the heavy breathing started and conversation was no longer possible. I was glad to have someone with me to keep me on pace. When I run these races by myself, I get all tangled up in weird thoughts about how I'm not going fast enough and I just want to stop but I don't want to come in last place and everyone else has already finished and drunk all the water and eaten all the brownies and there won't be any left for me, boo hoo hoo.

We were happy to come in under 31 minutes today. 30:43. Place: 116/150. Full results here. And I was especially happy that neither of my legs hurt afterwards, although that could have been due to the 800 milligrams of ibuprofen I look this morning before leaving the house.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

1 down; 9 to go.

Completed my first DSE run of the year on Sunday. Man, it was hard! I've been so tired this week, getting barely enough sleep to stand upright, let alone run 3.1 miles. It's Oscar season, doncha know. The annual movie-cram, trying to see as many nominees before February 25th as possible, at least more than Nancy. (Does it count if I fall asleep several times during a movie if the movie sucked to begin with?)

Tired or not, I still managed to come in under 30 minutes. 29:47. Place: 89/117. Full results here. I'm moving up in the world. My place in the last DSE run (June's Walt Stack 10K) was 140/150.

But the whole run just sucked. I wanted to stop! I wanted to stop so bad that I actually did stop and walk for 30 seconds somewhere around mile 2. I walked just long enough to let a bunch of little children and their grandparents pass me. Yeesh! A couple of DSE guys teased me about my plodding, huffing and puffing pace. I'd have kicked a few if I could have caught up with them.

At least it didn't rain.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Breaking Things

Kaiser Permanente 5K 2007 Race T-shirtFirst, the good news! I broke my 5K PR (personal record) yesterday! I smashed it into tiny little pieces and kicked it to the curb! It's gone, pulverized, never to return!

What a run. Golden Gate Park was chilly and foggy, the BEST kind of weather for breaking things. I ran hard and just kept telling myself, "You can do anything for half an hour!" And you know what? I did it in UNDER half an hour. Official time: 29:30! Not even close to my previous record of 32:07. I came in 354 out of 3,028 overall and 25 out of 677 for my division.

You can look up official results here as long as they are posted:

OR see them here on my web site:

Afterwards, I joined the DSE runners who were volunteering at a water station near Mile 6 of the Half Marathon course. I was so excited from my run, I didn't even notice my friend David trying to get my attention as he ran by grabbing water. He called out to me about an hour later as he ran by the other way, only a few hundred meters from the Finish line. He looked really pooped, so I jumped into the race and joined him, egging him on to run faster. How great was that? I got to sprint to the finish line twice in one day!

So, okay, my 5K record was not the only thing I broke this week. Unfortunately, I had to break my running streak as well. Thursday, my left shin was aching so much I just couldn't run. Well, I probably could have, but I didn't want to risk harming myself before the race yesterday. Then, I think I got so depressed about it, I didn't work out Friday or Saturday either.

I don't know if I should start streaking all over again, or if it's still too soon in my running career to streak. Maybe I should try naked bicycling instead.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sweat and blisters and Vaseline, oh my!

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Waikiki finally writing about the race. Thank god for photos because I can barely remember it. Maybe running a marathon is like having a baby. If people remembered the pain, they'd never do it again.

I do remember it was freaking hot and humid. The first 2 hours before the sun came up were the fastest and easiest. I ran, slowly, for the first half. Combined running and walking after that. And pretty much walked the entire last 6 miles in the thick 85 degree heat. Each time I tried to run, I felt like passing out or throwing up.

Because of the sign on my back ("It's my 1st Marathon and my 42nd Birthday TODAY!!!") I had hundreds of friends along the way. So many "Happy Birthdays!" from people passing me (many of whom I passed later on!) A few of my "single-serving friends," as Tyler Durden would call them, ran along with me for part of the way and chatted. A grandfather from Pittsburgh whon looked like a character in "Easy Rider." A 20-something from Wisconsin whose parents had signed her up to take her mind off her imminent wedding. A guy with a 5:30 Goal sign on his back who, like me, was falling further and further behind his target pace.

I remember wanting to stop soooo bad at one point and also wanting to cry because there was no way I was going to stop. Ellen called me around the 22-mile point to find out my progress and all I could say was, "It hurts!"

Still, I noticed that no matter how much I hurt and wanted to quit, the smile never left my face! Talk about your cognitive dissonance. the 2 thoughts, "I hate this!" and "I'm doing it, oh yeah!" jostled together in my brain all the way to the finish.

Notice, I haven't said anything about Disney World itself. What's to say? It was Disney World. It was cheesier than I remembered. The last time I was there, I was seventeen and concerned with looking good for boys and not losing my retainer. This time, I'm 25 pounds heavier, red and sweaty and slathering on vaseline at every opportunity (there were vaseline stations all along the way to prevent "chub rub") and feeling sexier than I ever have in my life! Yeah Ellen, I AM bringing sexy back!

As I neared the finish line, I saw the spectators in the bleachers cheering, I forgot all about the pain and the heat. Adrenaline kicked in, and I took off, running toward the finish line and looking for my sisters. Such relief and excitement, if not actual joy, I have never felt before. As I crossed the finish line, I saw Ellen and Fran. They were crying and hugging each other and holding up their sign. It was a sister bonding moment like no other!

Fran and Ellen put a "Princess For The Day" crown on my head and helped me to the car as I talked to Michael on my cell phone. And they really did let me be Princess for the Day, although I think they got some secret pleasure at my screams as Fran poured 2 garbage cans full of ice on my swollen legs.

After the ice bath, Fran massaged my legs for 2 hours!

I felt so good afterwards, I dragged them out to see "Dream Girls" with me (my third time) and then to Pleasure Island where we danced until the clubs closed at 2am! Forget Justin Timberlake! WE BROUGHT SEXY BACK, BABY! It was lost and now it's found. (You may not have noticed it was gone, but WE will never be the same again!)

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

I did it all for the shirt...

Another day, another run. I couldn't resist. Wouldn't you run another race a week after your first 1/2 marathon if you could get a shirt like this:

Once again, I planned to do less than I actually did. I had a choice: 2M, 5K, or 10K. I thought 5K would be a good distance to get back into running after recovering from last Sunday. But when I got to Lafayette and looked at the course map, I realized that only the 10K race actually went around the reservoir. The other 2 races just sort of went up to the entrance and turned around. And what's the point of doing a Lafayette Reservoir Run if you don't get to actually see the reservoir???

So I did the 10K. I walked a lot of it. The path around the reservoir has some major hill action. My quads were not thrilled going up, but my whole body rejoiced coming down! A hill that takes me several minutes to climb only requires about 10 seconds to descend. My feet are in the air longer than they are on the ground, my heels nearly kicking my butt as my elbows turn into wings. It's scary good fun!

So here are the official results of my walk/run 10K:

My 1:11:17 finish time makes up for the porta-potty-lowered half marathon 10K split time of 1:26:55. I do learn. I got there an hour early and peed 3 times before the race started. My walking/running ratio was about the same amount as last Sunday. The only other difference was the hills. The first 10K of the half marathon was flat, so I'm guessing my time would have been even faster than this Sunday's.

Next up: training for the Disney World Marathon on my birthday, January 7.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Faster than ever!

I DID run faster than 10:40/mile. I actually ran 10:21/mile, my fastest time EVER! (Previously, my fastest 1 mile was 10:24 on the treadmill, and I couldn't keep up the pace after the first mile.) Here are the Official race results:

San Francisco Marathon 5K Official Results

Click here to see all the results of the Marathon races yesterday.

My inside right shin hurts this morning. Well, it's been hurting for weeks. So far, my knee has been just fine. I wish I knew what was going on with my shin. I tried to focus on landing on my midfoot yesterday, but maybe I'm still coming down too far forward. Or maybe there's really something torn and I need X-rays.

Another thing about yesterday: I forgot to smile. Usually, if I'm having a sucky time running, I'll smile, and somehow that fools my brain into thinking that I'm actually having fun. I forgot to do that yesterday. Through the whole run, I just wanted it to be over. I was soooo not in the moment!

Leaving tomorrow morning for Maryland. I'll need to get in 3 runs while I'm there. Hope the humidity doesn't get me!

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Consolation Prize

SF Progressive Marathon Finisher's Medal Side 1

SF Progressive Marathon Finisher's Medal Side 2

Well, it's not a Marathon Finisher's medal, and it's not a Half Marathon Finisher's medal, but it is a real medal, it's pretty, and I won it, and it's mine. Progressive Marathon means that I ran 23.1 miles on my own over several days and the final 3.1 miles at a 5K race during the marathon today.

The 5K was much harder than I expected. My legs and knees were fine (hallelujah!) but I was breathing really hard from the start and felt like I was going to throw up. The difficulty was surprising, as I've run 3 miles or more many times in the last few months. Then, I got home and looked up my unofficial finish time. I was running 10:40/mile: the fastest 3.1 miles I've run so far. In fact, my time may have been faster than 10:40. The results page says that the gun time was 8:01:02, but the chip on my shoe was timing from 8:00:00. See below.
SF Progressive Marathon Unofficial Results

I credit the increased speed to 2 factors: the forward lean of the ChiRunning style, which causes you to run faster or fall on your face, and the race atmosphere itself. I just can't stand being passed by so many people. Hey, I was in the top 25% of my age group! That's something!

Oh, there is one other factor: Michael running alongside me to spur me on. He got up for me at 5:30a.m. on his day off. I couldn't let him down!

Today, I focused on 3 things: maintaining the lean, relaxing my lower legs and ankles, and increasing my stride rate. I didn't bring the metronome I just got, as I thought its constant cheep might annoy other runners. But I did concentrate on taking smaller, faster steps.

The Full Marathoners started at 5:30a.m., and we were able to see some of the first finishers cross the line just after 8a.m., as we were running our 3.1 miles. They looked awesome... energized and fit and smiling. We didn't stay to see the slower runners cross the line. I think I was afraid to see what I might look like when I finally run my marathon. I'd like to keep imagining myself as an eagle, even though I'm really a penguin, as John Bingham calls those of us who are slow but stubborn.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Against All Odds...

I completed my 7-mile run today, and it wasn't bad! I hadn't run at all since the 10K last Sunday. The blister was too raw for me to run all week. So I used the Stairmaster at the gym twice and apparently that (and all my previous training) was enough. I ran from home to Berkeley, around the UCB campus, and back. ( There were several steep hills, but somehow they did not daunt me. I just kept reminding myself how much fun it would be to run down the other side.

Maybe my body appreciated the rest this week because I ran today without getting very tired. It wasn't exactly easy, but there were parts that were totally fun! And, once I started, there was never a moment when I doubted that I could and would do it all.

Discovery: Clif Shot Mocha Energy Gel is vile! I brought one with me to refuel after running for an hour (just like they tell you to do in all the books!) I ripped open the packet with my teeth and sucked the thing down like a pro. And gagged. A nasty glop of sticky glumpus that made me feel like I wanted to hurl. Having nothing would have been better than this. Blech! There's got to be a better way!

Oh, one more thing! I found out that my 10K time last week was actually 68:54, not 71 minutes as I thought. I placed 140/150 overall and 42/50 women. I was faster than I thought and I didn't come in last! There's something to celebrate! Tuelo was the #3 woman and received a 3rd place ribbon. And she was disappointed in her time! She thought she should have done it in 42 minutes rather than 44. Everything is relative, isn't it? Here are the complete results that I copied from the Yahoo Groups posting: Stack 10k Results.htm

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

My First 10K & Yet Another Pair of Shoes

Walt Stack 10K finisher's ribbon Well, I completed my first 10K race. My time: 71 minutes (11:27 minutes/mile) Surprisingly, I don't feel elated. I think it's that even though I ran further and faster than I have to date, I was way, way slower than most of the other runners. I'm trying not to compare myself to them. Trying very hard to focus on my own personal goals. But my competitive spirit does kick in. I'm not used to being worse than most people at anything. In my marathon training book, the authors stress that the important goal for the first time runner is to simply finish with no thought to time.

The run was hard. The weather was warm and there was no shade. The course was mostly flat (except for a hill at the very beginning and very end) and very straight with no twists and turns to break up the distance. I felt like it would never end. My friends who came with me, Katy Johnson from Aunt Ann's and Tuelo from the gym, past me early on (along with most of the other racers), and I was alone. Then, I caught up to a middle-aged man running fairly slowly and kept pace with him for the rest of the race.

Running back during the second half, he talked to me and encouraged me. He said, "If you can run a 10K, you can certainly run a half marathon." I said, "But I haven't run a 10K yet." And he said, "Yes you have! You've already done it!" (There were 2-1/2 miles left to go.) He kept breaking it down for me. "Only about 13 more minutes. You can do anything for 13 minutes." And "Just 100 steps to the top of the hill. By the time you count to 100, we'll be at the top."

I didn't tell him until after the race that for the entire second half I was running with a huge blister on the instep of my right foot. I guess I felt that if I didn't mention the blister, the pain would be less real. Or something like that.

I blame the blister on running in brand new shoes that I bought yesterday. I know you're not supposed to run a race in new shoes. They must be broken in. But the old ones (which are only a couple of months old!) were killing my toes! So this is my 3rd pair of shoes since I started running: New Balance 1122 Motion Control shoes. Size 8-1/2 D. That size was wicked hard to find. You should see these things. They look like Frankenstein shoes... flat on the bottom for major stability. My feet are so deformed!

Now I'm feeling tired and discouraged. I want to keep going. I will keep going! I just ran 6.2 miles in 71 minutes without ever stopping to walk! Come on, Beth! Suck it up! That's an achievement for you! Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow after lots of sleep.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Beth comes in 8,632nd Place!

8,632 sounds pretty awful, until you consider that there were 40,000 registered participants and an estimated 62,000 total. I was worried I wouldn't come in under 2 hours. Look at my time! 1:35! Better than I thought!

I didn't run for 30 full minutes at any point during the race. I think the longest I ran was about 18 minutes in the very beginning. Then, I thought I ought to pace myself. I ran and walked and ran and walked the whole way.

I had planned to run the entire length of Golden Gate Park, but by the time I was there, my shoe was rubbing a painful blister onto the back of my ankle. It was a real mental fight. It didn't hurt as much when I walked, but it would take longer to finish. Running made my ankle hurt more, but the pain would be over sooner. Man, was I happy to cross the Finish Line and head for the Red Cross tent for a bandaid.

So one thing I learned from this race was that I ought to put bandaids on the vulnerable parts of my feet ahead of time, knowing that I am prone to blisters in those areas.

Another thing I learned is that oatmeal is a good thing for me to eat before a race. I had a cup of oatmeal and a mug of tea at 6:30am, and I never felt sluggish or nauseated or hungry during the race.

I think I'll make a list of these things that I learn as I go, and post a link to it on the sidebar.

Here's another thing: a new mantra. "Pain is just weakness leaving your body." Don't think about it too much or over-analyze it. It sounds good. I'm going to add it to, "I know I can do this!" and "Quit whining, Beth. You know you're not going to stop." Maybe I'll make a list of these as well.

What else about the Bay to Breakers? The rain held off for us. The weather was cool and slightly muggy. Michael ran ahead of me for most of the race but would stop and wait for me to catch up. He took a lot of pictures with a disposable camera. I'll post the rest of the photos, as well as the Official Bay to Breakers photo when I get it in a few days.

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