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Getting Back to Me in 2016

Contributed by Heather Stewart, San Francisco Marathon Ambassador. This is Heather’s third year as an Ambassador, and in 2016 she’ll run the Half Marathon in honor of Girls on the Run LA.
If it is both terrifying and amazing, you should definitely pursue it. ~erada
For 2016, I didn’t make resolutions. I didn’t even really make goals. I set intentions for myself with a theme. 2016 is “The Year of Being Vulnerable.” I intend to be more open and honest – to let people see me how I really am. In that spirit, I have to revisit a time when I was the person I was most proud to be, and when I felt like, “This is me.”

This “Me” is Heather from 2013: two years into my journey to a healthier life after losing 80 pounds. Proud and joyful after completing my first full marathon. I felt happy, healthy, and authentic.

That was also the first year I ran the first half of The San Francisco Marathon. Oh, and I set a PR. And it’s still my PR at 2:40. (We’re not all fast, we just all do it).

I remember running through the finish line, feeling strong and proud. Snapping selfies, texting everyone, picking up my bonus medals and a cup of Irish coffee. It was a great day! I haven’t run a sub 3-hour half since then. I want that day again. I want more of those days!

At the end of 2013, I got injured. I let that derail me – I gained some weight, made lots of excuses, and allowed myself to feel disappointed and defeated. Although I continued to move forward and once healed I kept racing, I wasn’t really “in it”. I didn’t do it […]

By |January 29th, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors, Latest News||1 Comment

Running Resolutions for 2016

Contributed by Stephanie Laska, San Francisco Marathon Ambassador. Stephanie is a first-time TSFM Ambassador and plans to run four marathons this year: Modesto, Big Sur, San Francisco, and the California International Marathon.

At the end of every year, I spend hours locked away in my office, methodically organizing digital photos from the past 12 months. It’s a grueling task that everyone in my family pretends “not to know how to do.” Pulling from every digital device, I place photos chronologically from iPads, iPhones, and GoPro into one master database, followed by a review and evaluation of every image. Should this be in the family album? Is it representative of our year? The next step is much more fun: I organize, design, and publish a 100 page album. It’s a lot of work!

The same process should occur for our running. We devote so many hours of our lives to this beloved sport, but how much time is spent reflecting and planning? I decided to take a look at my past year in running. I wanted to see what worked, what didn’t, and what’s worth repeating. What I learned about myself is worth sharing with you; it is what I call my Running Resolutions.
Run Happy!
This Christmas we adopted a dog from a shelter for my little boy (cue sad music). It was all he wanted in life (that and Call of Duty). I had been toying with the idea of needing a running partner for safety, and suddenly I had a new best friend at 5am wagging her tail and grabbing the leash. Our first run together surprised me. She was so happy! Tail­waggin’, butt­shakin’, nose­sniffin’ HAPPY! Somehow, I had lost that feeling in my own runs. This is supposed to be […]

By |January 26th, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors, Latest News||1 Comment

Living in Possibility – Comin For Ya SFM

By: Kristine Ciardello

Kristine is into all things active and sweaty – barre, running, cycling, Pilates, skiing, hiking, the works. She’s a certified Pilates Instructor and kind of in love with San Francisco. That said, Hawaii is her favorite place on the planet. She’d rather be on a beach pretty much any time of day. She loves to cook (and also eat). She’s fluent in Sarcasm and Wit. To sum herself up? She’s essentially somewhere between a green juice and a glass of cab at all times. This is 31. Visit Kristine’s Blog at:

So this whole new year thing.

I’ve talked about where I want to focus. On Possibility. On Connection.

I think that living in a place of possibility rather than in the fear of failure opens you up to so much. I’m an impulsive person by nature (for better or for worse right?) and while spontaneity has never been an issue for me (I thrive at it), I’m really good at thinking about things and talking about things. Like a lot.

It’s the doing of the things that holds me back sometimes. Enter fear of failure. Enter oldest-child-syndrome. Enter Scorpio.

But F that. Right? It’s time.

YOLO and all of that.

We’ll start on a lighter note. 

I want to run a sub-1:50 half-marathon.

“Officially”, I’ve never done this. “Unofficially”, (i.e. via my Garmin, I have 1:49 at the Kaiser 1/2 in 2012) I have. Lady who decided to stop on the finish line, I will never forget you. Ever. I hope your brunch was terrible post-race.

Dead horse, beaten.

This has been a goal I’ve had for a while. I know I’m capable of it. I know where my fitness level is. I know I can execute.

It’s just the whole doing it for a couple of months (consistently) to prepare […]

By |January 13th, 2016|Categories: Latest News||0 Comments

Setting Intentions For TSFM 2016

Scott Benbow, above right, is a returning endurance runner, training for The San Francisco Marathon on July 31st, and a returning TSFM Race Ambassador. We caught up with him this New Year’s weekend to hear about his training plans, as he focuses in on a strong TSFM race on July 31st, 2016.

As of the first Sunday in 2016, January 3, the thirty-week countdown begins for the 2016 running of The San Francisco Marathon. Setting intentions for 2016, I have been mapping out my strategy for running a successful race on July 31. For me, that includes vowing to avoid injuries that have sidelined me for the past two years.
For the past several months, I have been undergoing weekly Graston Technique and Active Release Therapy sessions trying to recover from a debilitating case of plantar fasciitis. Finally, in the last month of 2015, it seems I’m cured.
This fall and winter, my strategy is to run minimal miles and focus more on strengthening my core — especially my seemingly nonexistent glutes — in an effort to prepare myself for healthier and happier miles in the spring. I’m getting most of my cardiovascular workouts from spin classes at the moment, but I can’t wait to begin running longer distances in 2016.
My winter goal is to continue to incorporate two intensive spin classes per week for the next several months, gradually incorporating a post-spin run to extend my daily cardio output.
I’m also focused on balance. I used to believe I had a pretty good sense of balance. That belief was crushed, however, after I purchased, and was utterly humbled by, a Bosu Ball. It strikes me that balance, along with lateral strength will serve me well as I train this year. I will continue working on hip strength, glute strength, […]

By |January 3rd, 2016|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Setting Intentions For TSFM 2016

Thankful And Blessed

Written by Jody Stoops, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador
A personal trainer and a certified RRCA running coach with a passion for helping others achieve their goals, whether it’s running their first race, qualifying for the Boston Marathon or attaining a new healthy lifestyle through faith, fitness, motivation, and nutrition. As a marathoner, I have completed 14 full marathons, including the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Boston Marathon (and returning in 2016) and six San Francisco Marathons, my personal favorite. Most importantly, I’m a wife and mother of three teenagers balancing a life that involves staying healthy and fit while raising my family.

This time of year we remember and we give thanks. As I look back over this year, I am thankful for so many things. In my running career, I have reached goals I never dreamed possible. Not only did I BQ (Boston Qualify) at the Boston Marathon in April in horrible rainy and cold running conditions, but I also got a new PR (Personal Record) of 3:39:00. Eight weeks later I reached another personal best and came home with a new Half Marathon PR of 1:43:05 at the Rock and Roll San Diego Half Marathon.

These new records were sidelined by some pretty devastating news. I was running my best but not feeling my best. I made a visit to a physical therapist, and after a few weeks of rest and then therapy, he determined that running probably wasn’t the best thing for my body due mainly to a slight curve in my back; scoliosis. The scoliosis, along with the fact that my hips are a little uneven, and one leg is slightly shorter than the other, led to some hamstring issues.

My physical therapist assumed the […]

By |November 26th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Thankful And Blessed

The Thankful Game

Written by Stephanie Laska, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador @140lost
Stephanie Laska works as a Medical Sales Representative for a Global Pediatric Nutrition Company. She has worked in pharmaceutical sales in the Monterey-San Luis Obispo communities in addition to the Central Valley. Stephanie holds a Masters in Education from UC Santa Barbara and holds three teaching credentials. Stephanie is 100% new to running having discovered the sport two years ago; she didn’t waste any time pushing herself to the limit. Stephanie won first place (Athena Division) of her very first Marathon in March — the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon, and went on to run the Big Sur International 21mi., and the San Francisco Full Marathon just months later. You may have read Stephanie’s story that was shared in the race brochure for the Big Sur International Half Marathon 2014. Through the discovery of running, combined with changing eating habits, Stephanie has lost 140lbs., or half of her body weight. Stephanie and her best friend/love-of-her life/running partner-in-crime, husband Bill, are raising their two elementary school aged children (both becoming runners!) in Turlock, CA.

I’ll admit it. Sometimes on a long run I just want to give up. It’s hard. I’m too hot. I’m too cold. I’m just not into it and I want to stop. Am I the only one out there?

With some trial and error, I’ve learned I can consciously convince myself to back away from falling off the runner’s cliff. I call this the “Thankful Game.” While running, I steer my inner conversation from complaining to compliments, from rejections to rejoices.

What are my “greatest hits” of running moments”? W​hat moments am I most thankful for?

It wasn’t long ago my kids saw me run for the first […]

By |November 26th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on The Thankful Game

Thanks Endorphins

Written by Heather Stewart, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador.
Heather Stewart works, lives and, most importantly, runs in Santa Clarita, Ca. Like many others, Heather was overweight and unhappy when she made the goal to run a 5K in late 2010. She trained, ran and was hooked! Since that day in March of 2011, she has completed over 40 organized races including 3 sprint triathlons and 3 marathons. She was chosen to be a Spotlight Runner for her first marathon, the 2013 LA Marathon and has a passion for encouraging others to meet their running dreams regardless of their size. When not running she works in Learning and Development at Princess Cruises, goes to Grad School, sits on the board of the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund ( and is an Ambassador for Girls on the Run LA. Her goal is to be an “old lady runner” and her favorite place on earth is a finish line….whether cheering at it or running through it.

Today, I had a bad day.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was blue.

I wanted to crawl back into bed and get out tomorrow.

I’m sure there are a plethora of reasons why I could have been sad.

I’m busy. I do it to myself. I’m overwhelmed with my busy-ness. I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I’m disappointing people. I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I’m disappointing myself.

So all day I felt,well, blah.

I knew I had to get a workout in today. I debated running, going to spin, or getting back into bed and exercising my right to change my mind.

But I ran.

I never thought I’d become a runner. I started running because I was stubborn. I […]

By |November 25th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Thanks Endorphins

Gratitude and Running

Written by Erin Garvey, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador
Erin Mink Garvey has had the pleasure of running TSFM’s 26.2 twice (in 2010 and 2013), its 5k (in 2014) and is absolutely stoked to be running the 26.2 again in 2016. Since 2007, she has ran 25 marathons, qualifying for Boston 13 times and NYC once; more than 30 half marathons; and a trail 50k. She obviously loves the running community and the sport’s transformative effects on people’s lives. When she’s not running, you’ll find Erin spending time with her husband and two daughters blogging or cooking and baking vegan deliciousness. She and her family recently relocated to San José, California, after living in Chicago for more than a decade.

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it’s because I lived in the Midwest for the first few decades of my life, and November is a beautiful time to enjoy the area’s changing landscape. It might also be because I have an early November wedding anniversary and birthday and like to celebrate all of them all month long.

It might be all of this, or it might just be because as I’ve gotten older (and maybe just a little wiser), I gravitate toward Thanksgiving simply because as a runner, I give myself plenty of opportunities to reflect on all that I’m thankful for in my life. I totally dig that the most popular day of the year for running is Thanksgiving (think nationwide turkey trots). Gratitude and running is a fantastic marriage, as far as I’m concerned.

I get excited for Thanksgiving each year because it’s the singular day of the year when all of us – runners […]

By |November 24th, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Gratitude and Running

Giving Thanks for Plantar Fasciitis

Written by Scott Benbow, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador
Scott Benbow is proud to be a member of the Ambassador team for the 2016 San Francisco Marathon. He loves to run the hills and the occasional flats in San Francisco. His new running buddy is his eleven year old son who, like his dad, loves to run.

I hit a healthy stride with my training earlier this year, and was well on my way to running strong at The San Francisco Marathon in July. Gradually, beginning in April, I developed a case of plantar fasciitis (PF) that propelled me through the seven stages of runner’s grief: denial, then denial, more denial, followed by even more denial, debilitating pain, resignation, and acceptance.

For the benefit of those fortunate enough never to have been afflicted with PF, at its worst the condition feels as if you’ve accidentally stepped on the business side of a rake. PF sneaks up on you. And it dovetails perfectly with runner’s denial because the condition hurts a lot when you’re resting and very little, if at all, when you are running. My ill-informed response in the spring was to run more because it hurt less when I running. By running up to 2 hours each day, I was uncomfortable only the remaining 22 hours each day.

Finally, in June, my feet started to hurt all the time, even when I was running; I hit stages 5, 6 and 7 of runner’s grief and was in so much pain I had to stop running. In July, to my disappointment, I did not start The San Francisco Marathon. Since July, I have run only sporadically.

Missing my daily runs, what do I have to be thankful for this season?

June […]

By |November 23rd, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on Giving Thanks for Plantar Fasciitis

A Thankful Note To Running

Written by Bonnie Wilson, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador
At 240 pounds, Pacific Northwest native Bonnie Wilson knew something needed to change — but she never expected running to become both her passion and her freedom. It did (after a few tries!) and today, she’s completed multiple marathons, is on a journey to becoming a personal trainer, leads Zumba classes as a fitness instructor and shares inspirational and insightful information on her blog, Zombie Running Princess.

In addition to her work on Zombie Running Princess, Bonnie works as a freelance researcher and writer, and enjoys anything to do with Pacific NW coffee, beer and professional wrestling.

Dear Running,

As we get ready for Thanksgiving, I found the need to tell you again how happy that I am that you have come into my life. I don’t know where I would be without you, so let me explain to you what makes me thankful that are in my life.

You give me peace: Any time I feel like my real life is spinning out of control you give me the chance to find peace. A good run always gives me the chance to work out whatever is going on in my head and helps me find solutions amidst the chaos. Bad runs remind me how strong I am and how much I can keep my head up and keep going “up the hill” even during the chaos.

Friends: Some of the best people in my life are my running friends. They inspire me, they encourage me, and they support me. They don’t care that I am always towards the back of the pack, they are always willing to be out there to cheer me on.

The Experiences: Running has opened […]

By |November 23rd, 2015|Categories: Latest News||Comments Off on A Thankful Note To Running