The Ultimate Runner Review


I don't know if you're like me...  

That you wish that you could read more than one book at a time, or even better, that you could read without falling asleep.  I definitely wish I could do these things.  

You see, I should have started The Ultimate Runner months ago (it has been sitting on my night-stand and even traveled to China and back with me...).  It's a great mix of short stories, written by everyday runners, expert runners and every type runner in between.  Some run to gain fitness.  Some run towards recovery.  Some, like me, run for charity.

I have to admit, at first, I wasn't hooked.  I didn't identify with the first few stories.  But then, I did.  And I was.  In fact, I was so hooked that I stole away.  I neglected.  I was in tears (and I'm no crier).  I laughed out loud.  I turned down pages, marked paragraphs and identified.  These are my favorite excerpts:

... that running transitioned from a lifestyle to a spiritual experience.
I felt connected to the world and at peace with it when I ran, as I did at no other time.
It was meditative, a time when I relaxed and drifted into an almost out-of-body, runner's-high state.
I learned to sort out the stresses of the day and leave problems behind...  
Why Do I Run?  by Joanne Hirase-Stacey, pg. 52


... And I run because I can.  
Why Do I Run?  by Joanne Hirase-Stacey, pg. 64


... Every one of us has our own finish-line tape.  In our minds, we have each formulated our own goal for this mission: to simply finish feeling strong, to cut time from our last marathon, a PR, or to quietly honor a cause or person who needs support.  Our tape is personal, woven from the fabric of our dreams, or reality, our own truth.  Breaking our symbolic tape can be an incredibly meaningful moment -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Breaking Your Own Tape  by Marcia Puryear, pg.35

If you or someone you know like to be inspired, then this book is for you.  Runners and non-runners alike can take away from this lifting and imaginative collection.  All can learn from the Must-Know Info section in the back:  Stretching, Distance/Race Training, Listening To Your Body/Training Theory, Nutrition, Resistance Training and Injury/Now What.  Find it at  AmazonBarnes and NobleBorders.

Cheers and it's a beautiful day for a run!  

*I was asked to review this book.  The opinions are mine.

The Grandma's Marathon Report! (Duluth, MN)

Hello Friends, Family and Neighbors-

Another state done and the 7th marathon in 2010 completed! What an incredibly diverse (culturally and geographically/topographically) country and world we live in.  To recap, since January, I've run a marathon in Disney, FL (Goofy Challenge -- 1/2 marathon Saturday and full marathon Sunday), Sedona, AZ, Las Vegas, NV, Oklahoma City, OK,
Eugene, OR, The Great Wall, China and Duluth, MN.  The inaugural Outback marathon in Australia (July 31) is next. Looking forward to running in the Land Down Under...

They don't call Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes for nothing!  Looking down through the airplane window, these little lakes (looked little, anyway) seemed lined up purposefully, dotting the vibrant green landscape.  Favorite father says that these lakes, and all those in Canada -- which by the way, again according to FF, has the most lakes of any country in the world -- were formed by retreating glaciers.  Seems plausible to me...  Clean air, blue skies, evergreens and these beautiful flowers that were all along the highways...

*So for those of you who wondering how Grandma's Marathon received her name...  The G-Rated version is that Grandma's Restaurant was the first major sponsor of the marathon.  The not-so-G version came from my cabbie.  Get the best stories from the cabbies...  According to him, Grandma was a infamous madame from a much-frequented 'establishment' in the 'service industry.'  Seems that there were a lot of lonely sailors needing some love.  I'm not suggesting that the marathon was named after our shameless 'Grandma,' but maybe the founder of Grandma's Restaurants was nodding back to part of Duluth's history.  Or maybe the restaurant owner just likes grandmas or home cooking... 

looking though the boats back into the city...

*Factoid.  Did you know that you can go, by boat, from Duluth to the Atlantic Ocean, over 2,342 fresh-water miles, via the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway?!  This is just incredible to me.  And over 1,000 ocean-bound freighters go in and out of Duluth annually.  Iron, grain, coal, stone.

*Another factoid.  Duluth was once home to more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world.

*Third factoid.  Duluth, population 87,000, was originally settled by the Sioux and Chippewa Indians.  It sits on the westernmost tip of Lake Superior halfway in between Minneapolis/St. Paul and the Canadian border.

And so, without further adieu:

The Good

  • Meeting Kara Goucher and having her sign my bib.  She was So cute and So personable and she could have kicked my bu** if she were racing the next day.  Even 5 months pregnant...  Her, not me ;D

Kara, a hometown favorite, graduated from Duluth East HS and went on to run at the University of Colorado.  She has Championship Medals and an American Record for the 1/2 marathon.  Kara is a 2008 Olympian (hello, Beijing!) and at her debut marathon, NYC 2008, she came in 3rd with a 2:25:53!  And to hear her goals -- yes, she's only just begun.

Her main goal is for her and her husband, Adam -- there in the photo with me (who also signed my bib) -- to both qualify and run in the next two Olympics... May I say Again how darned cute and personable she/they are?  I wish them the very best and hope that they both get there!

There is another reason why I identify with Kara.  It is the knowing that she has similar running struggles.  As written by Michael Lavine in the March issue of Runner's World.  "Kara Goucher has always had huge talent, but she also had crises of confidence that sabotaged her big races.  So in the past two years, as Goucher has chased a major marathon championship, Alberto Salazar and sports psychologist Darren Treasure have retrained her brain to quell negative thoughts, overcome injuries, and rediscover the joy of racing.  Goucher's candid admissions about her psychological struggles are rare for an elite athlete, but they will ring true to any runner who's ever battled doubts, setbacks, or mental demons.  Which is to say all of us."

  • Re-meeting Dick Beardsley.  Dick is a two-time winner of Grandma's and holds the course record of 2:09:37!  Some say his most famous race was the 1982 Boston Marathon where he came in JUST 2 seconds after Alberto Salazar.  It is often called the most memorable race in marathon history.  The two battling it out and Dick's near collision with a motorcycle down the final stretch...  Dick's book,  Staying The Course: A Runner's Toughest Race, recounts this race and the difficult years that followed; near-fatal farm accident and subsequent addiction to painkillers.  Dick persevered, overcame this addiction and now runs the Dick Beardsley Foundation to help those who cannot afford treatment for chemical dependancy.  He is an inspiring motivational speaker.  As said by Dick:
"Have a smile on your face,
Enthusiasm in your voice,
Joy in your heart,
and faith in your soul."

* Factoid.  I first met Dick in Oklahoma at the OKC marathon expo.  He and Bart Yasso (aka The Mayor of Running) shared a table, and some laughs/kinship too.  If you haven't read Bart's book, My Life On The Run, do so.  It's an entertaining read about his races and adventures around the world...  

  • The Race.  A beautiful point-to-point along the north shore of Lake Superior.  Well organized and well supported (some of the cutest little kids handing out sponges), the race begins in Two Harbors, MN and finishes in Duluth's Canal Park, all run along scenic highway 61.  Lake views, tall trees and a cool breeze (unfortunately, a head-wind) all the way in.

The Bad

  • The &^*%#@ asthma came back.  I scared an elderly couple nearly off their lawn chairs as I veered off course into their front lawn to use my rescue inhaler.  The look of relief when I smiled, waved and said "I'm ok" was priceless.

The Ugly

  • No ugly to report...
The Unglamorous

Some of you ask about some of the finer race-day details.  Just for you...

Contents of my drop-bag (bag that you can check at the start of a race and retrieve at the end),  5:30 A.M...
Trail Mix, Grape Nuts, Milk, Nuun Water, sunglasses, chocolate milk mix, glide, Accel Gels, banana, inhaler and sunblock.  This is all for the ride up to the starting line.  I'll leave all but the gels and my inhaler behind in the bag (along with my favorite Lululemon zippered jacket).

School bus ride to the start...  5:50 A.M.  This is where you try to not think about the fact that you're running the Whole Way back...

walking from bus drop-off to race start.  7 A.M.

and the necessities...

Easter Island win!  June, 2009

Cheers.  It's a beautiful day for a run!  Brooke

New readers, this is for you...

My Vision Statement

~~I have been running marathons for many years now.  And for most of those years, it was about ME.  Getting better, getting faster, getting stronger.  Ironically, the faster I got, the better the runner I became, the more goals I met, the less my running meant to me.  So I changed my thinking.  I decided to pair two passions.  My running, and my commitment to helping those less fortunate than me.  I feel very blessed and very lucky, so this is what I have done.  I have committed to running a marathon on every continent, in each of the 50 states, and the 5 marathon majors (London, Berlin, Boston, Chicago and NY), one marathon a month, in order to raise awareness to, and raise money for, the at-risk population within the City of Alexandria.  I partnered with ACT for Alexandria, a 501 (c) (3) organization.  (Click HERE for more information).   Every dollar I raise goes to charity.  I pay all of my travel expenses and associated fees.  A donation is 100% tax deductible.  In February of 2010, I granted $20,000.00 to Child and Family Network Centers.  (Click HERE learn more).  My grant ensured that 36 children and their families continued to receive FREE preschool, FREE ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, FREE job training and FREE social services such as hearing and vision screening.  My goal for 2010 is $50,000. ~~

Along the way, I hope to inspire others to reach their goals and to love running as much as I do.

My Supporters:

Many of my friends have been generous (thanks friends!).  Many of Alexandria's businesses have supported me (Virginia Commerce BankJack Taylor ToyotaLindsay Lexus, and Unwined).

MY SPONSORS have laced up their shoes and committed to 1K a year for the next 5 years.  A BIG thanks goes out to them: Bonitt BuildersPacers EventsMcLaughlin Ryder InvestmentsTJ Fannon & SonsMacnair Travel ManagementMark G. Anderson ConsultantsSean McEnearney/McEnearney & Associates, and McGinn Investment Management, Inc

The Summer Garden, Goal #10


New record.  Haven't been to a grocery store for 10 days.  And counting.  And yes, I'm still feeding the favorite family.

Let me back up.  Milk, bread, cheese, eggs and meats (grass-fed and mainly on two legs) are delivered by South Mountain Creamery.  I'm growing the rest (with some supplement from the Farmer's Market).   Is that cheating?...

So far, so good.  I have 2 large planters like this, and 3 smaller ones...

Tomatoes (6 heirloom), peppers (green and red hot), 2 squashes (probably will be sorry I didn't plant just one but they look so cute and innocent), fennel,  eggplant, swiss chard and lettuces.  Strawberries.  Blueberries.  Grapes.

Most likely will plant some cantaloupe, green beans and lots of other things...

I keep harvesting and it keeps growing.

Plenty of herbs: basil, parsley, rosemary, dill, sage, mint...

and after all of that healthful eating, a little cupcake noshing!