Saturday, October 14, 2017

To Stand, Kneel, or Sit

Not many people know the hatred I held in my heart for this country after 9/11. The evening of 9/11, I heard my friend's words, "We wanted to go in, and stop them, Beth - but President Clinton held us back. Beth, I can't tell you how many times we were ready to go to war."

I never even knew who al Quaida was before 9/11, but my friend Jimmy, a former Marine, who served eight years - he knew, and after he told me that our President knew who al Quaida was, but never protected Americans from them, well, I took my anger out on the country.

Every time I heard the National Anthem, I wanted to stay seated. I don't know why I didn't. Maybe I didn't want to influence my children in a real negative way - or confuse them anymore than they were after having their Daddy murdered with detailed recount played over and over again on National TV.

I do remember a time when my four year old son asked me why I didn't put my hand over my heart anymore when our National Anthem was played. And I remember telling him that I needed time to make peace with what I felt when the song was played.

So, wether I agree with the NFL Players or not, wether they are kneeling like a bunch of spoiled overpaid athlete's, or wether they actually go back to the communities they say that they are representing and do good for the people in those communities - I actually get it!

Let's face it, most of the athlete's taking a knee are young - they have seen life pre-football, and now they see life with football. Most can say that their life experiences are divided into not having, and now having. Maybe they feel torn, confused, and angry. I say, let them kneel - they're pissed, they're mad - it is their right.

Because the NFL is forcing them to stand - they will never go through the beautiful metamorphosis that I went through. After awhile, I realized that I wasn't mad at this country - I was mad at our leaders, I was shocked at how other people from other countries viewed Americans - I am not full of hate, I am not war mongering - shit I say that I'm Running for Peace! 

Even so I had to be in my own head, and make my own peace to be able to once again stand for the anthem, and put my hand over my heart - and believe that this Country truly does try to represent freedom - we may not get it right all the time - but you tell me when you're walking down the street in Manhattan and you pass people who speak Hindu, Italian, French, Creole, Farsi, German, Spanish - that you don't get chills. I ran the Boston Marathon this past year with someone who wore a hijab - that's freakin' awesome! That's what Freedom is all about! And that's why now, when our National Anthem plays, I proudly stand with my hand over my heart - quietly pray for our military, for world peace, for the youth in our country, and I pray for the 9/11 families - that they may through their stories touch people to promote world peace. If you look close enough, you will likely see tears running down my face during the playing of our National Anthem!

If they are forced to stand - where is their freedom? 
And yet at the same time, their kneeling and their being forced to stand is likely confusing the young people in the communities they represent:

  • Does my hero like being American?
  • Should I disrespect my country?
  • Will I always be a victim because of my skin color, religion, race, sex? 
  • If I have no hope based on my genetics and stance in life - why should I ever strive to change anything? 

So, maybe if they are forced to stand, they could express themselves in another way - so they could, in a positive way, bring awareness to racisms and deprivation for those they represent.
How about a helmet sticker - they're doing this for the Las Vegas victims? 
Or maybe they can wear a certain color Nike Sneaker - 
like they do with Breast Cancer Awareness.

Let's have these efforts tied back to how these athletes give back to the communities they are representing - working on providing better laws, better education, safer streets, stronger families, access to healthier food - things that promote individual freedom, strength in a community, and respect for our country. Maybe during commercial breaks these positive actions and the players who perform them could be highlighted.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust";
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Run To Inspire!
Run for Peace!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

44th BMW Berlin Marathon

I don't know what it's like to run a marathon in my 20's, 30's or 40's - I started running marathons in my 50's. And for me, it takes a lot of planning, and it takes a lot of people - people who support you, believe in you, feel your pain, your sorrow, your passion, your drive to feel empowered, rise above, to show that love is empowering - and that, as crazy as it may seem, support that you have chosen to focus all of this in running a marathon.

Look at the people in this photo - they're smiling, thumbs up - I still got all my nutrition pinned on me and in my hands - so I know, this is pre mile 5. The gentleman wearing Bib #57107 is smiling, and the man wearing Bib #61716 is giving the photographer a thumbs up.


Early miles 44th BMW Berlin Marathon
Now take a look at this one - about 3/4 of a mile left to go. The gentleman off to the far left  - he's holding his stomach - he looks as if he's going to throw up. Now focus on the far right - there's a man in an orange jacket who is coaching a runner - listen closely, in any language, and you hear, "C'mon, man. You got this. It's just a few 100 kilometers more. You're amazing and you know you are because you've come this far! You got this! You know you can do this!" It's the sound of love  - one stranger to another - hope in the human spirit - and it shines so brightly in the marathon. It's beautiful.


Running through the Brandenburg Gate
44th BMW Berlin Marathon
I have to thank my family, friends, and running community for getting me through the first 18 to 19 - even 20 miles. You train, you put the time in - people ask how you're doing.

There's your base layer of professionals, Marathon Tours and their employees who get you enrolled in the Berlin Marathon, and plan a trip around the marathon - Thank you Nicole Langone and Jacqui Kaufman. 

And there's the professionals you turn to when your training goes awry and your body doesn't cooperate like my Podiatrist, Dr Jessica Merkel-Levy at Advanced Performance and Rehab, who helped me through a very painful and debilitating bout of Plantar Fasciitis from July to August. And my team at Parabolic Performance and Rehab - my PT, Dr Monica Saenz, who would massage and use the Graston on my Plantar Fascia and Achilles every week, along with my Acupuncturist, Michael Gonzalez who worked on my calves, adductors, psoas, periformis, and hammies. Of course, I have to mention my favorite Chiropractors, Dr Lou and Dr Jayne at Family Chiropractors of Montclair.

A huge thank you, of course, to Coach Joel, who is more than just a professional Running Coach to me - he's family - remember, I adopted him as my 'Track Daddy'!

And there's the local running group(s) whom you meet up with in those early morning hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning - and you hear: "Beth, How's it going? How's your training?" I always love Fidelma's great big hugs. I would be lying if I said I didn't look for one of her big, welcoming hugs. 

And training for Berlin, I made a new friend, Francois Prophete - we didn't run many times together - but we probably put in close to 50 miles together. I can't explain the connection you make with someone when you put in all those miles together. It's the simple gestures and words: Are you okay? Okay c'mon, we got this. Do you need to stop? Or the running ahead to make sure it's okay to cross a street. Or when you meet up and say you don't feel like running 16 miles the silly gesture of Francois picking me up and running down the street yelling - It's okay, I'll just carry you today! 

And the fact that there's actually someone behind the scenes orchestrating and promoting these runs, Rachel Crampsey and her group: Fueled by Doughnuts. It literally takes a village.

Or how about Jacquie, who the night before I left for Berlin brought me a card that read, "Ignore the Rain, Look at the Rainbow" Did she know that when I first met my late husband, we would go searching for rainbows? Or maybe she knew it would rain the day of the marathon - and I needed to focus on the positives.  

All of these people - they get you through those first 18-20 miles.
And then there's another layer - the people who get you through the last six miles.

I knew I would have trouble in Berlin. I kept telling everyone that I hoped I wouldn't crap myself. To manage my Crohn's Disease, I avoid lots of different foods that irritate my stomach. It's the main reason I became a LEAP Therapist  - I had to know if it worked before I used it in my private practice, B3yond Nutrition. 

But when you eat out in restaurants, are away from home, or are in another country whose culture enjoys foods that you avoid - you have fewer choices. If you notice in the above picture, I am carrying tissues in my right hand. This is because at my 2nd or 3rd run to the bushes in the median divide along the Berlin Marathon, a woman with a strong German accent ran up to me (shorts down and all) and gave me a stack of tissues. She was yelling something in German, but I couldn't understand - it sounded to me like, 'OMG! You poor thing!' I thanked her, apologized - I told her that I have stomach problems. At that point, she reached into her coat pocket and produced another bunch of tissues. After cleaning up, I headed back to the race - and I heard this woman (whom I fondly refer to as my Angel sent from Heaven) yelling, "Good Luck! Good Luck!" I thanked her profusely, signing, 
"I love you!"
Thank you! I love you!
My Angel from Heaven - You have no idea how much you helped me!
Of course I packed tissues in my back zipper pocket, silly, I got Crohn's. But I didn't think I'd blow through them and stop 4 times! Thankfully, after my 4th and final stop, my tummy settled down. At that point, I was dehydrated. I actually had cotton mouth I was so dehydrated. Problem - water stops in the Berlin Marathon are like every 3 miles. Each station I made sure I drank a full glass of water - sometimes I drank two glasses of water!

By mile 20, I wanted to stop. That's when you think of the other people - like your training partner, Rebecca, who ran a great marathon time after rehabilitating two crushed hips from being hit by a car. C'mon, Beth if Rebecca did this after getting her hips crushed - you can do this! Or your Coach's words, "You can do this. All that training you put in over the summer. Of course you can do this. No Problem." Coach believes in me ...
I can do this!
KEEP RUNNING!
And don't forget - Mom is praying for you, your sister's are praying for you - heck, even Joey is praying for you! You got air cover! Even Steve, the older gentleman you see on the track every week lit a candle at church for you! 
I can do this!
KEEP RUNNING!
And then there's yet another layer of people, who get you through the last 5k, like my daughter Juliette - who, I know is struggling because every day she does the same commute her Daddy did - she drives to Harrison, and takes the Path downtown. It's likely a combination of dealing with a new internship, the commute to NYU Grad classes at night - and another point in her life with a different sort of missing. I couldn't stop running. When I got a back spasm around mile 22, and a hammy cramp in mile 23, I yelled at myself: You gotta show Juliette, you just push through. Push through, push through, push through - This is God's Will!
I can do this!
KEEP RUNNING!
And at mile 24, there's my partner - and I hear my name, "Let's Go Davis!" Ron screams, "Let's go B. You're strong. You got this." As he violently points to his head, reminding me to think positively. And you remember all the things he said before you started that day, 'Don't let any negative thoughts enter your head. You trained for this. Trust your training.' And then you hear Stephanie's words, your other training partner, 'You have put in the time, there's nothing else you need to do, trust your training.' 
And you start, repeating: 
I'm strong, I'm strong. I'm strong. 
I can do this. I can do this, I can do this!
I CAN DO THIS!
No negative thoughts - think of what your son Johnny said when you ran Boston: Don't say you're not going to stop. That's negative. Say you're going to ...
KEEP RUNNING!
And then there is always one person, whose strength and resilience pushes you through that last mile and a half. This time, it was Helene. I had the honor and the privilege to run with Helene in her first half marathon after one year of her getting chemotherapy treatments for Ovarian Cancer. When we started that half she warned Rebecca and me that she was going to take walking breaks. Yeah, right! I got a kick out of her "walking breaks"  - Helene timed her walk breaks - like 15 seconds, every 3-4 miles! Even I wanted more of a walking break than that! 
Nope, not Helene, she pushed through - and I watched. 
It was not an easy half - there were several hills in the last 2-miles. 
Helene struggled up those hills - and I watched. 
At 13.1, Helene ran over that finish line, and did the Runner's Hunch - you know the one - where you lean over, put your hands on your quads, round your shoulders, and just try to breathe.
Helene took a moment, gathered herself, and then smiled - I just watched.
I wanted to cry, but I held back - it was Helene's moment. I was simply there to say, "I believe in you, I feel your pain, your sorrow, your passion, your drive to feel empowered, rise above, to show that love is empowering - and that, as crazy as it may seem, I support that you have chosen to focus all of this in running a half marathon.
Half-Crazed Runner, Helene, Rebecca
Westwoood, NJ Half Marathon
H-E-L-E-N-E
I spelled H-E-L-E-N-E's name a thousand times before I crossed the finish line. 
Watching Helene finish that half inspired me to 
KEEP RUNNING!
And when I crossed the finish line at 3:56:41, I felt someone tug at my arm, he was yelling in an accent (what type, I have no idea), "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You helped me. I just kept watching you for those last few miles. I kept watching you." I was overwhelmed. He was an older gentleman - maybe in his 70's. We embraced. I kissed his face, and said, "God Bless You!" 
Running is a funny thing - 
you really never know who is watching!
Train Smart: Nutrition, Training, and Recovery Are Key
RunTo Inspire: You Never Know Who Is Watching
Focussing on My "Why": Running to Inspire PEACE
Here, I Point to my Mercy Band inscribed with the words:
John A Candela
WTC
So, I challenge you to
RunForPeace: It Starts With You!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

State #33: Nebraska

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted. I feel bad. This blog is sort of like my running diary - so no posts might seem as if I haven't been running  - not true. Me, not run? Hah!

After the Boston Marathon, I struggled with speed. So, I did a couple of 5K's, like the The Ridgewood Run in which I placed 1st in my age group
Ridgewood Run
23:15:97
and the Milford Run
Essex Running Club: New Milford Run
Wasn't feeling it that day: 23:19, but that's running. Still, I was going to the track a couple of times per week to help maintain pace for when I run the Berlin Marathon. Then came June and July. And life unfolded:
Huge Celebration for my daughter, Juliette, 
who graduated from Fordham University with a BS in Psychology:

Congratulations My Beautiful Daughter!
Next Stop: Masters at NYU
And in July, I took an amazing trip to Italy with my family. No running for 10+ days! Even though I didn't run, after touring Rome and Venice, we hiked about 10-12 miles per day with Backroads Tours through the Dolomitii in Northeast Italy. So breathtakingly beautiful:



Las Vegas, Altor Badia

From our first Ruffugio

Ron, aka Drone Geek

Il Dolomitii

With the fam

Me and My Gal
Roma, Italy
Mini Man

Me and My Mini Man
Just want to cry looking at these pictures - we had so much fun. Italy is so very beautiful. Ron always says that when he retires, he wants to move to Colorado and become a Ski Ambassador. I am working on him to think maybe San Cassiano or Val Gardena instead. Black Night, Georgio - what do you think? We'd be neighbors.

And through all of this, I studied for two new Dietetics Certifications! I am now LEAP Certified, which means I can order  Mediator Release Blood Tests to identify food sensitivities. Based on these results, I work with my clients to develop an Immunocalm Diet. I am seeing amazing results with clients who have IBS, IBD, Chronic Migraines, Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia. It is very satisfying.

I am also now Board Certified Specialist in Sport Dietetics (CSSD). I worked at least five years toward this certification! With these two new certifications, business has boomed! 

And training was going well - that is up until a few weeks ago, when I started to have heel pain. I was doing really well. Running somewhere between 7:40 - 8-minute mile splits to break 3:30 in Berlin. This all came to a screaming halt after a 19 mile long run. After that run, I had trouble walking - let alone run. Dx: Plantar Fasciitis (PF). 

Everyone told me not to run the Logan View Half Marathon in Fremont, Nebraska. I would have listened, but I saw so many positive signs. Ron and I thought that maybe I should VLOG instead of BLOG. So, we went to Best Buy to buy a shoulder harness to wear his GoPro. When we got to Best Buy, the number on the building was #333 - which if you know me, reminds me of my late husband. I can't make this stuff up.


I prayed, 'Okay, if I find something that works, and fits (I'm a small person), I'll wear it and not run. Well, I did not find anything I thought I could wear comfortably for 13.1 miles. And after facing the heat of the day, I am really glad I didn't even try the shoulder harness. Decision made: I would run this half marathon!
Let's Roll!
Well, as my Coach put it, it was really just "The Survival Shuffle". It was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, No shade, corn fields, cows all around, on a sandy, gravelly dirt road (not good for PF), in which I turned my ankle, not once, but twice - still getting pebbles out of my sneaks! Did I mention that there were more challenging hills in this half than than in the Boston Marathon? 
At about mile four, I almost turned around. 
Thoughts of DNF ran through my brain. 
What? I never did not finish.
I started yelling at myself 'C'mon, you can at least shuffle through. You have less than 9 miles. I made a pact with myself to at least try to make it to the turn around'. 

When I got to the turn around I thought, 'Okay, see if you could run a full 90-minutes'. I took it easy when I felt some pain, backed it down, and repeated to myself, 'Berlin is the goal. Berlin is the goal.' I thought of all the suggestions everyone made over the past couple of weeks:
Ron: Just use this as a training run, concentrate on your form
Dr Monica at Parabolic Performance and Rehab: If you have to, walk run. It's Okay. I will pray for you (Thanks Dr Monica!)
Dr Mike at Advanced Performance and Rehab: Berlin is the goal. Don't push. 
Sissy: You shouldn't do this. This is bad
Mom: My friend needed surgery for this. You gotta take care of yourself. You're running yourself down.
Jacquie: What would you tell me?
Coach Joel: If it starts to hurt - even if your walking, STOP!

I struggled to find the balance between all of these caring, 
and thoughtful suggestions.
I don't know why, but it seems all my common sense 
flies out the window when it comes to my running goals.
Why?
I'm glad I wore my headphones and listened to music. I kept one earbud in, so I could listen to how my feet were hitting the gravel. Since it was a small local race, there were stretches of road where no one was around me - it was so quiet, I could hear an echo from my own footsteps. 
Don't let this pretty picture fool you -
the hills were pretty intense!
Going up the final hill in mile 12, I thought, I never, ever want to run - ever, ever again. I was very uncomfortable, disgustingly sweaty, covered in sandy dirt from when the wind picked up, and I had tsetse flies flying into my eyes and mouth. But - 
You know you are a runner when you can think:
No good decision is ever made going uphill

I suspect that even if I didn't have PF, I likely would not have done that great. It was very hot, and I'm not a good hill runner. I took my time, had a few conversations with the locals at the water stops, tried to encourage others whom I past and who past me. Frankly, I was glad to finish in just under two hours. 
No age group classes, but 
I actually finished fourth female overall!
In the last few miles, The Stones came on my iPod: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you get what you need" It was wisdom to my ears. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep a fast pace, but I came for the finishers medal in State #33: Nebraska, and that's what I got!
State #33: Nebraska

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017

Well, it's taken me some time to sit and write my recap of the Boston Marathon. I think I'm still exhausted from all the training, excitement, and ..the hills.

When I say I had fun running the Boston Marathon - it's because I did. It was the first race that I held back, and because of that, I was able to relax and enjoy the race. I held back because I had a lot of concerns training for and anticipating this race:
  • Would I make it to the start? Last year I got injured and had to pull out of running Boston., and last September, complications form my Crohn's Disease landed me in the emergency room, and I had to withdraw from the Berlin Marathon three days flying to Berlin! 
  • Would that happen again?
  • Would my stomach blow up on me in the race?
  • Once I got there, would I finish? 
Let's face it, the Boston Marathon is intimidating. Anytime you ask someone how they started running, they tell you their story, and then there's always the 'And then I was accepted into Boston' or 'And then I ran Boston' or likely the most painful "And I tried four times to make it to Boston - the last time, I missed by X seconds'.

Don't get me wrong, I was definitely psyched. During the taper, I was flying. In fact, the last few miles, I ran on the track, and was running 7:40-8:00 minute miles, not even trying - just because I was so pumped up!

Even driving up on Saturday, I was psyched. It was nice spending time in the car with Ron, Jules, and Johnny. We stopped for lunch, and even stopped off at a brand new Ducati Dealership in Medford, Massachusettes so - as Ron put it - he could sit on a new Supersport and make some vroom, vroom noises! Carlo, the owner was so nice. You could see and feel his passion for the bikes he sold! I connected with this passion - as I have the same for running!
Vroom, Vrooom!
Like My 261Fearless Shirt?
The other reason I was so psyched to run Boston 2017 was because I was running in the race that marked Kathrine Switzer's 50th Anniversary as being the first official woman to run the Boston Marathon. Wow!
At 70 years old, she smiled crossing the finish line!
This woman is amazing!
I am not kidding! Kathrine Switzer's Boston Marathon story is the ultimate #runtoinspire. She has done an incredible job of promoting women's running. I didn't know she worked with Avon to promote races for women. I remember the first few races that I ever ran were sponsored by Avon! Who knew, Kathrine's hard work helped me run - giving birth to those bucket list items: I want to run a half marathon one day, I want to win a race one day, I want to run a marathon one day ... I want to run Boston ... one day ....
Kathrine re-enacting her race 50 years ago at
Adidas Base Camp, Boston, Ma
I did not run for 261Fearless. I had a lot keeping me busy this past semester with teaching both Advanced Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, juggling my private B3yond Nutrition Counseling Business, and my clinical work at a Kessler Rehab Hospital, not to mention all the training that goes into preparing for a marathon. Even so everyone was so welcoming. I have great memories of running down Boylston from the Adidas Base Camp!
When I say 261, you say "FEARLESS!"
Thank you Chris Grack-Wilson for organizing everything!
I have a confession to make, though. Even though I thought running down Boylston with Kathrine and the 261Fearless team was super wonderful, I was NOT, NO WAY, NO HOW, going across that finish line area. To me, that was sacred ground - I had to wait until Marathon Monday to have that privilege! Shhh - I snuck around some barriers, and waited for the team to run onto the sidewalk to head back to Adidas Base Camp.

The day before running Boston 2017
With Kathrine Switzer!
What a great Easter!
I felt bad asking Kathrine for a picture - everyone was pulling her in a thousand directions. But my daughter knew how much of a fan I was, and kept coaxing me to wait and get a pic.
Easter morning was wonderful!
Next stop, packet pick-up and the Boston Marathon Expo! 

I got some great advice from my son when we were driving up to Boston. He told me,
"Don't say that you're not going to stop on Heartbreak Hill, 
instead say you're going to keep running, because
everything you say and think must stay positive!" 
I had a few minor lapses of confidence, until seeing the time leaving for packet pick-up: 3:33pm - I knew my late husband was telling me that I would be fine, and that he would be with me! Luvutons! Thank you! I needed to see that!
3:33pm Of Course!
Aaagh - my first Boston Marathon!
Head for the Citgo Sign
And then there's the Boston Marathon Expo - it's like the largest running candy store in the universe!

After the expo, we drove the course. We took the highway out, and race course back. About 3/4 of the way to Hopkinton, my son says OUT LOUD, "Wow, This is really far!" Yeah, thanks, son! You might have thought that, but you didn't have to say it out loud! We all cracked up! It was like the worst thing you could say!
Okay! Marathon Monday Morning:
Didn't really know what to do except eat and drink! My plan: 1g carbohydrate per kg three hours before, 1g carbohydrate per kg two hours before, 1g carbohydrate per kg one hour before. I tried to get in as many carbs to top off liver glycogen stores - of course the last three/four days I "carb" loaded - basically traded up some protein for carbs in my mid morning and mid-afternoon mini-meals. I also Beet loaded all week with 1-2 BEET IT Sports Shots, and took one shot 2 hours before the start of the race. So for the next three hours I ate a few red potatoes (no skins), some of my famous banana nut bread, a banana with Justin's Honey Flavored Almond Butter (I'm addicted to the stuff), and topped off with water and a little Gatorade on the bus over to Hopkinton.

I heard all the stories about the drive on the buses to Hopkinton, and anticipated all the feelings that my runner friends shared. I sat next to a gentleman, John Devries, who was running his 20th Boston Marathon! He was 72 years old! He told me that he didn't started running until he was in his 40's! Just incredible. I can only hope that I'm still running at 70 years old!
John finished in 4:26:10! 
Congratulations, John! It was great meeting you!

I started at 10:50am, Wave 3, Coral 1. The next thing I knew I was yelling at myself to slow down, "Easy Peasy Elizabeth, Save it for the End". Well, I told myself that so much, I made a friend, Alexandra (Sondra) Darvish - she was from California. We were in the same age group. Her husband worked in a Rehab Hospital - no coincidences here! She and I planned to run with the same goal - easy enough to BQ! 

It was hard holding back - it was scary seeing an 8:40-8:45'/mile pace on my watch in a race. With fresh legs, and all that downhill - it was hard to hold back. But holding back made the race very enjoyable - even at the end when your legs feel disconnected - like tree stumps coming out of your hips!

The Boston Marathon isn't like the Chicago Marathon or The NYC Marathon because the course winds through quaint little New England towns and unlike the big city streets, the little roads keep the runners close to one another. When you look up ahead - you see a mass of runners. It's quite an awesome view. Sondra and I kept taking in all the sights and sounds. For about 10 or so miles all we heard was, "Go Mexico!" We would just laugh! Then, IDK what happened, but we lost Mexico.

The crowds are just like everyone says they are - incredible! Everyone screams for the runners. It's like they get up on Marathon Monday and drink one or two double espresso coffees and then scream non-stop all day! And nowhere were the crowds louder than the screaming girls at Wellesley College.
OMG! My Poor Ears!
Their screams were so loud that I felt a surge of anxiety rush through my body. I looked at my watch, and I was running an 8:10' mile. My new friend, Alexandra yelled out, "A little too fast" I had to slow it down! After that, Sondra and I ran together for about another 3 or 4 miles, then we lost each other.

I took the hills, miles 16-20 pretty comfortably, but when I approached Heartbreak Hill, I was like - okay, Heartbreak - I'm ready for you. Even though Heartbreak isn't the largest of the hills, at that point, you feel it - and at that point, I was also feeling the heat of the day, and started to look forward to the push home. My strategy on each hill was to let the person in front of me do all the work. I always tagged behind someone and told myself that they were doing all the work. But on Heartbreak, my "pacers" were dropping like flies. It was odd - I always chose someone to pace because they looked strong - and then they would stop running.
I refused to stop! 
I refused to walk!
I have to admit that I am proud to say, I ran the entire Boston Marathon - even through the water stops - I might have shuffled - but I refused to walk. That was one of my goals - and it was my goal especially up the hills. I promised myself in the beginning of the race that even if I had to slow down, I would continue to run, jog, or shuffle to the end.
Why?
Because I have one sister-in-law who had to have cancerous tumors removed from her lungs this past year  - and throughout that entire process I asked her to stay strong, and to have faith. And I have another sister-in-law with metasticised lung cancer  - there too - is this unspoken request for her to fight every single day, and to not give up - and every day she puts a smile on her face says, "I am so blessed!" and fights an incredible fight.
So you bet your sweet bum, 
I was NOT going to stop and walk during my Boston Marathon.
I had to be Fearless! I had to be #261Fearless!
Plus, like family, the crowds push you.
Going up Heartbreak Hill people were just screaming:
"C'mon, you can do this!"
"C'mon, you got this."
"This is it, one more hill and your home!"
"You're almost done!"
"You are near the top!"
and at the top of Heartbreak, they were cheering 
"You conquered Heartbreak! You did it! You did it! You did it!"

But I knew, after Heartbreak, I was still far from done. And ouch - those small hills after Heartbreak just chew up your quads. As I ran those last few miles I remember thinking ....
  • Aaagh, now I get that person's post how you see that "damn" Citgo sign forever!
  • Where are those the three blue lines? This is new as of last year - starts somewhere around mile 24? IDK I was delirious at that point  - But three blue lines are painted on the road for about the last 1-2 miles (?)
  • Ech, there's still Hereford. Don't forget that person's words of wisdom "At Hereford, you gotta let the crowds push you up the hill."
  • I also wondered what young Kathrine Switzer felt like after she made that turn at Brookline 50 years ago?
  • Another little hill, "Our Father who art in heaven...."
  • I'm doing it, I'm doing it, I'm doing it!
I am every woman! 
I'm doing it! 
Fighting to reach the end of a marathon 
because it embraces hard work, perseverance,  and is empowering
It shows my kids that no matter what, 
you push, you strive, you set your sites on a goal, and you fight to reach that goal
I am #261Fearless!
I'm every woman, it's all in me
Anything you want done baby, I do it naturally
I'm every woman!

Somewhere in the last few miles, Sondra past me. She asked me if I were okay. I said, "Yeah, just taking it a little slow." I got really bad GI cramps. They were pretty intense and for a mile I worried that maybe I was actually perforating. More Our Fathers... Which definitely helped because before I knew it, it was a right on Hereford, and left on Boylston. 
Alexandra finished 3:50:01! 
Congratulations girl! 
It was so wonderful meeting you! 
I know why you run - you told me your story! 
And you are Fearless! 
#261Fearless!
    Letting the Crowds push me up Hereford!
    Secretly wishing that little side street was Boylston!
When I got to Boylston, I had a surge of energy. The crowds were screaming, and I saw that grandiose finish! There was about 1/4 mile left to run. I ran that last stretch at the best pace I could muster, about 8:10'/mile.
Running down Boylston!
Wow! Boston Marathon 2017!
As I approached the finish line, I remember thinking, "Is this real? Will I still hafta keep running, even after I cross that blue mat?"
Boston Marathon 2017
3:51:38
It was real! 
I ran the Boston Marathon! 
I finished!
I blessed myself, praised God, thanked all my supporters in heaven, grabbed a water, and was crowned with a medal. Literally, a volunteer said, "You - come here, let me crown you!" Next thing I knew, someone was handing me a space blanket.

I couldn't wait to get my bag, and call my family,
"Ron, Juliette, Johnny - I did it! I ran the Boston Marathon. I finished!" 
"I love you guys!"

Then, I called my Coach:
"Joel, I did it! I finished! Thank you! You got me to Boston, and you got me through Boston! I BQ'd! I wanted to BQ for you - to show everyone what a wonderful Coach you are."

In spite of this past winter Crohn's problems (Anemic, low albumin, tired, very slow at times), Coach Joel got me through! He told me that I ran a very smart race - especially in spite of the heat. I set out to run an 8:50'-8:59' mile, and my pace wound up 8:51'/mile. It is my slowest marathon!

Then, Coach Joel, in his typical drill sergeant way told me,
"Great race! Rest up! Training for Berlin starts in May!" 
Yeay! Just what I wanted to hear!
Then his new softie self came out, and he said, 
"Congratulations! You did great! Go celebrate ... I love ya'!
I hung up the phone and cried!
Coach told me he loved me!
... I love you too, Joel!
Proud 2017 Boston Marathon Finisher Momma with Kids!
 #Train Smart
#RunToInspire
And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside, and you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a Hero lies in You!

#RunFearless
#261Fearless!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Joel's Angels

Coach Joel and I have been together now for 7 years! 
I believe I'm the runner he has coached for the longest period of time. I fondly refer to him as (whether he knows it or not) my "Track Daddy".

In the early years, Coach was, how can I put this ... ROUGH!
He always seemed to come to the track with a specific agenda. He'd yell out, "Too fast, Too fast!" Or "C'mon, Let's Go!" When I would try to steel some extra time between repeats he'd bark out, "C'mon get to the line! Now - get to the line!" You'd seldom hear a, "Great job, today," and might hear a "Good effort, Good effort" every so often. I never really minded because I had my own agenda: To build running speed and strength.

Well, I guess that's not altogether true, I minded a little. Over the years, I'd come home and tell my better half, "Joel barked out this or that, today." I mimicked his voice and his gruffness, I had Joel's voice and mannerisms down pat. It became funny, and when I'd come home, Ron would ask, "How was Coach Joel today?"
I mean, I was already in my 40's when I started training with Joel, 
and it wasn't as if I was trying to make it to the Olympics 
- or even to the Boston Marathon for that matter! 

And I actually appreciated Joel's intensity about my workouts and level of seriousness he showed to each of my strides and repeats. And whether it was 19*F or 99*F - he was always there. At the end of the workout, I'd get my homework for the week. Always on recycled scrap paper, from whatever paper he had laying around in his house at the time. And, yes, over the years, I began to treasure these homework assignments.

Then something happened to Joel ....about 4 years ago, Joel's daughter and son-in-law started a family. Joel would come to the track with these incredible pictures of him and his grandchildren - holding his grandbabies, on the floor playing with his grandbabies - even in silly poses with his grandbabies ... Yes, Joel! My Track Coach Daddy - aka Drill Sergeant - was becoming a "SOFTY!"

I mean - he was never a mean person - always Coached kid's running events, always extended himself to the community to inspire people to run, and always looked for ways to promote his beloved sport: Running.

Over the years, not many, but a few women dared to join me and Coach in these track workouts - and to date, only a few have hung in there with me, and Coach Joel.
Coach Joel, Half-Crazed Runner, Rebecca, Sephanie
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Coach tells us we should run in a local relay race.
Okay! Everyone is in - but I'm skeptical.
My track partners in crime are so much faster than me - Steph's goal is to run a sub 6-minute mile, and Rebecca has this incredible ability to hang back - and power through the last 1/4 mile like everyone else is standing still - all while holding a conversation (no joke!). And Jodi - I'm recently getting to know. For some reason, because I tend to be socially unaware, I thought she was in her late twenty's early thirty's - until we were recently at a local half marathon, and Coach said, "That's Jodi's Daughter" What? She's married and has kids? She's always been such a strong runner - I never thought she was even older than 40!
Okay. So we have a team of four women!
And we call ourselves Joel's Angels.
Turns out Jodi even has a job! She's an artist and is an Art Teacher!
She buys the shirts, designs a logo, and makes iron-on presses:
Joel's Angels
Race day: I just don't want to screw up and slow our time down. Of course, me and my tummy start to act up!
Steph picks us up. 
Rebecca's in charge of the directions.  She gets us to "A" park - I immediately head toward the port-o-john. When I get out of the port-o-john, I see 3 women running toward me screaming, "Get in the car, Get back in the car, We are at the wrong race!"
Okay back in the car. Jodi's turn at directions. 
I start to panic (literally freaking out on the inside). I start my 4-7-8 breathing. Steph rubs my arm, and whispers," It'll be okay, Beth".
Thanks, Jodi, but how did we end up on that dead end street?
I literally grab the race sign up papers out of Jodi's hands, read some cross streets, and talk to my droid for directions. Twenty minutes to the start of the race - and I haven't done my dynamic stretches, warm-up, strides;  4-7-8, 4-7-8, 4-7-8. Breathe Beth, just breathe.
Coach calls: "Where are you guys?" 
Me:"We got a little lost, we will be there in 3-minutes."
Steph's still rubbing my arm.
Rebecca and Jodi are singing the Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin - Don't ask.
We get there, warm up a little.
Steph's first. She kicks unbelievable ass! Coach says we gotta worry about the green team - the women in the tutus.
Okay, Rebecca is next.
Stephanie and Rebecca
We are all screaming. Steph gives us pointers about the course. I start my strides. Coach starts screamin' at me (so used to it), "What are you doing? What are you doing? Get back here! Not 100 meter strides. Get back here. Just do 50 meter strides. Rebecca will be here any second."
OMG! OMG! OMG! 
Don't drop the baton, don't drop the baton - OMG! 
What a Teammate!

Look at Rebecca's face - she looks totally exhausted ...Yeay, that'll me in a ..."Gooooo, Beth, Run!"
Focus, girl, move your legs
until they feel like they're gonna fall off your body!
Next up, Jodi. I pass the baton off. And we wait. Through some trees, on the other side of the park - you can see the runners as they clear 1.25 miles. I see Jodi, I start screaming, "Go Jodi, Gooo. Ruuuuun!"
Jodi, runs through the home stretch ... 
We did it, we did it! 
Our 1st Relay!
Jodi Runs It Home!
We placed 3rd Overall - beating out even some men's groups - and took First Place Female Master's Group in the De Novo Harrier's 4X2-mile Relay.

City/Town,State Age Sx U Code Time Pace Place Place PLP 

1.Team Dad Bodz , 91 M M 56:14.04 7:01 1/13 M91-91:1/3 0.00 

2.Team Touch Of Grey , 91 M M 56:20.03 7:02 2/13 M91-91:2/3 0.00 

3.Team Joel's Angels , 94 F B 58:58.51 7:22 1/12 F94-94:1/4 0.00
4.Team Va Rove Lightni , 95 M X 1:00:59.57 7:37 3/13 M95-95:1/7 0.00 
I turn toward my teammates and say jokingly, "And we were worried about the tutus?" They actually did an awesome job! They took 2nd Master's Female. Congratulations Ladies!
First Place Female Master's
DeNovo Harriers 4X 2mile Relay
And Coach Joel - my Drill Sergeant Coach - who when I started to cry a few weeks ago because he told me was taking his Granddughters to Disney World in the middle of my training for Boston (yes, he got me to Boston!) kissed and wiped my tears away, hugged me, and told me not worry b/c everything would be okay -  couldn't have been more proud. He, my transformed Coach, now a Grandpa and a real softy, was hugging and kissing my teammates, telling them all what a great job we did, and shaking his head like we just landed on Mars!
And people say running is boring!
Hah!
Train Smart Today!
#Women #Runtoinspire
#RunFearless
#261Fearless

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mississippi River Half Marathon: State #31

I thought I was going to knock my time out of the park in the Mississippi River Half - the race is flat. Flat as a pancake! I've been training really hard: running hills, pick-ups, strides, and lots more leg and glute strength exercises. I found a video online that's been helping me strengthen my hip, relieve the pain I've had since training for (and dropping out of) Boston last year. Sounds like a plan - until you count in some other factors.

Ever since I got the required flu shot in early September 2016 (re: I work per diem as a Registered Dietitian in a hospital), I have struggled with my Crohn's. My arm blew up after the shot, and it must have triggered my very sensitive immune system. I've struggled with anemia, low albumin levels, ech, blah, blah, blah. It's taken up until the end of January with a strict SCD diet, supplements, Ginger/Tumeric tea to finally start feeling better. When I asked my doctor WTF? why are my energy levels still low, he says that I'm still healing. Okay no excuses, but the Mississippi Half Marathon goes down as one of my slowest halves.

So considering all the training, my Crohnny issues, and being on a low CHO diet, I have diagnosed myself with overtraining syndrome. Since the Mississippi River Half, I've made a conscious effort to reduce my pace except for a weekly tempo run and my speed work on the track. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to run - and come home from running and say to myself, "Now that was a great run, a really great run!" We will see how this unfolds in Boston next month ...

Back to my half ..We flew into Jackson, Mississippi and drove about 2 hours Northwest to Greenville, Ms. We were told by locals that all the land we passed was farmland - full of corn, cotton, and wheat when it's growing season.
We're not in Jersey, Toto! They got lots and lots of land here!
Ron even tried his hand at making a video of our trip using his Osmo (see below). 

After driving awhile, I finally found a place that seemed to serve good, local food. OMG! If you are vegetarian - you're S-O-L, not only is there a church on every corner, but there's a smoker on every corner, too! And if your vegan and a Hillary fan, you're double S-O-L:
In the window of The Pig and Pint
I usually don't eat pork or BBQ, but at the Pig and Pint - what else do you eat? I'll admit - this BBQ was the best I've ever had, and it went down real easy! 

More driving to packet pick up at the Greenville Mall, next stop Walmart for some groceries, and check in at the Hampton Inn. The young ladies at the front desk suggested some restaurants in the area. This was good because when I went on Open Table, this is what I saw:

On race day, we had to meet in downtown Greenville, where buses lined the streets to cart us all across the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I met a lot of Fifty Staters. They all reassured me that even though the race started in Arkansas, it would qualify as my Mississippi Half (Thanks, guys!). 
Driving over the Mississippi to the start
We actually started on the bridge - yeah it was a highway, and tractor trailers were driving by beeping ...no I wasn't a little freaked out (yeah, riiiight!). At the top of the bridge, I jumped/leaped, held my breath, and screamed - there was a huge expansion joint. I calmed myself down by focussing on how great it was running over the Mississippi, again. The first time I ran over was on the Rainbow Bridge in Minneapolis, Mn. 

I didn't take off quickly, my goal was to run a 7:50min mile pace. Since I'm training for Boston, I didn't want to push it. I really haven't been myself lately - and I've really been struggling with my track work outs. I've been reading Dr Phil Maffetone's book, Endurance Training and Racing - and suspected overtraining syndrome. 

I don't know why I couldn't maintain that pace - not feeling great, overtraining, not used to running in 65 degree Fahrenheit weather, eating too low carb diet with consistent training with lower and lower liver and muscle glycogen stores, plus lots of recent stress from juggling my private nutrition practice, working per diem at a rehab hospital, and teaching two courses at a local university (Advanced Nutrition, and Sports Nutrition). Final time: 1:47:28; Ech -an 8:12min mile pace. I ran the Chicago Marathon faster than that!

Okay, enough whining. 
Looking on the brighter side, 
there are some great memories I'll take away:
Like the teens yelling to me around mile 10/11: 
"Look at that little lady! Go little lady, gooooo.
Keep running! Follow your dreams, never give up on your goals, never give up! 
You can reach your dreams!" 
I cried. They have no idea how much they impacted me. They were so unbelievable. This part of the country was likely the poorest part of the country that I've ever visited. The economy is suffering. How do you maintain the drive, and the courage, to follow your dreams? On our way back to the airport, we stopped in Yazoo, Mississippi to catch a bite to eat before flying home  - there was nothing open in Greenville when we left - everything, but fast food restaurants, are close for church on Sunday morning. I took this picture as a way to show how the economy is suffering - and as someone who works in a hospital, I ask, how do can people afford health care?
Downtown Yazoo, Mississippi
But here, these teens were inspiring me to follow my dreams, and reach my goals! Thank you, guys!

It was also beautiful to see how the whole town came out to cheer on the runners. Families on their front lawn. I remember running past a group of females and I made a face, as if to say, "I'm exhausted, and it's only mile 8! Why am I doing this?" And they yelled back,"You keep going girl! You're lookin' strong!" Thank you, ladies!

I didn't feel strong at all. I was suffering to finish as best as possible. Still, towards the end, I gained on a few people. There was a young couple who stopped, and started walking. I grunted at them as I ran by, "Don't stop - shuffle if you've gotta. Keep moving. You got this." After the race, they came up to me, "Hey, you're the lady who yelled at us to shuffle, and keep moving!" They thanked me profusely - "That helped us so much, thank you, thank you so much." ...more tears!

And thanks to the young girl who, around mile 12, yelled, "Kick butt girl, keep going - your sixth female!" There was a woman older than me, Fran O'Neal (Congrats, girl, you rock!) ahead of me. I hung on with her up until that 8th mile, when the wheels started to fall off. She finished #1 Grand Masters. I managed to finish #1 Female Masters.
What a beautiful award!
We hung out and listened to some great blues by a local band! I love the blues - BB King, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Etta James ...
Every day I got the blues!
Enjoyed some more local food
No, I did not try the Alligator!
Kept singing the same lines of River Boat Queen, until I Ron got annoyed
River Road Queen
And planned how I was going to recover from this Overtraining Syndrome
As my pace dropped, my heart rate surged - dangerously high!
I can tell you all the metabolic issues that led to the Overtraining Syndrome based on my labs, and training - but can I figure out how to reverse it? Well, for one, I don't leave the house without wearing my heart rate monitor. I'm trying to go slow, and rebuild my fat burning metabolism - what I'll need at the end of Boston. Mind you, this is different form a low CHO diet - your body can figure out how to burn fat, without starving your body of carbohydrate, it's just a matter of training within a certain Heart Rate Max (or VO2 max if you've gotten this tested).

Okay, enough of the science. Enjoy Ron's State #31:Mississippi River Half Marathon Video
Train Smart Today!