History, Hope (and Running)

I am going to talk about history for a moment – bear with me, it will make sense to running, I promise!

I am a college history teacher by day (runner by early morning and afternoon). And I often tell my students that history is not teleological, meaning that it does not always progress forward (it does not always get better). Rather, history shows us that people, societies, and nations move forward, then take giant leaps back, sometimes it goes sideways, and sometimes it seems static. College students often struggle with their disappointments in our nation’s history. They become pessimistic and sometimes ashamed. For a long time, I didn’t know how to help them with this. As much as I loved the study of history, I knew how hard it could be to remove the rose colored glasses and see the painful events and choices of our ancestors.

Then I realized, where we can find hope and optimism is by focusing on those who resisted and consistently fought to improve our country and world. From women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton who refused to accept that women should have a second-place status throughout the 19th century and men like W.E.B. DuBois who fought for civil rights 60 years before the Civil Rights Movement “began.” These people who pushed, spoke out, and risked their lives are the ways to mediate a difficult history.

I was thinking about this today. (Here comes the running part!) Running is a lot like the study of history. It’s not teleological, our runs don’t always get better, longer, and faster. We might PR and then watch that PR hang around for way too long. Life sometimes gets in the way, we lose time for […]

By |March 4th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

My Running Canvas

When we are born, we begin with a blank canvas. Along the way, we add different strokes & colors to it. Running is such a canvas. Every runner begins on the same blank page. Some are blessed to run long, some short & fast, some slow. If you are born with fast twitched muscles, you might become Usain Bolt. Slow, you might become John Bingham -“The Penguin.” Or long, you might become Dean Karnazes.

In my eyes, they are equally successful. The common denominator is that it all involves running.

Running is like getting your degree. We begin as kindergartners: learning the basics, how to run from the 1st lamp post to the next. Then we go further from one block to the next, 1/4 mile loop, 1 mile loop and so on. The knowledge we acquire along the way allows us to venture further and further. What a feeling when we are able to run non-stop for that first half hour to one full hour.

It really is about putting one foot in front of the other.

As you build up your canvas, you become more confident, and your life becomes more colorful.

One day you’ll wake up and say “I AM A RUNNER!!!”. From that day onward, you will begin to build your dreams.

My running dreams began with my first marathon. I trained for a full 16 weeks. I bought all the running books available for first time marathoners. I followed the training program to a tee. I even did hill work! My “hill work” was this ramp that I would run up & down for about 10-12 times once a week. I laugh about it now. But I was so determined! On marathon day, I had […]

By |March 3rd, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

Have Camera, Will Run

Running outdoors is the perfect way to experience your surroundings and take in all the beautiful views, especially if it’s San Francisco! So why not take some photos to chronicle what you come across? I love to run and I love to take photos so it’s natural for me to run with my phone and take quick snapshots whenever I get inspired.  The following are some of my favorite photos taken while running, many of which you’ll be able to experience yourself when you run the SF Marathon!   

By |March 2nd, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

Gather Strength as You Go Along

It wasn’t until 3 AM when we staggered out of Golden Gate Park and onto the Presidio. We’d covered twenty miles, but it was difficult to see that as a great achievement when the mist was blowing out from the Pacific into our faces in the chilly pre-dawn and we still had over thirty miles to go. I was running with two Green Bay based members of My Team Triumph, a non-profit dedicated to exposing the disabled to athletic events. We pushed a empty running stroller to signify those who couldn’t make it that day. As part of the SF Marathon’s charity outreach, we hoped to use our 9 hour, 52.4 mile run to raise awareness for the great things My Team Triumph was doing and that the boundaries of what we view as possible are further than we believe.

The 52.4 ultra-marathon runs the SF Marathon course twice. The first half starts at midnight. Runners complete the course backwards. After reaching the Embarcadero, participant run the second marathon with everyone else. As we came down the hill from the Golden Gate Bridge onto Crissy Field, I saw two pairs of dim headlights in the distance. In front of them, thirty young women, all dressed in blue and jogging in two ragged, yet persistent lines. Some had pictures on their backs, others carried flags. This was Team Wear Blue, Run to Remember, a running community built to honor the sacrifices made by the military. Nearly all of these women had lost someone close to them in combat, many were combat veterans themselves. Faced with an emotional burden which seemed unbearable, they’d taken it upon themselves to meet a physical challenge which also seemed impossible; they […]

By |February 28th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

My Unaware Running Support Group

Hello again, my running community. How are we all doing? Hanging in there? Kicking butt and taking names? Carpe diem and stuff? Or, are there any of us just taking things one day at a time? Or, perhaps still working on one step at a time? I hear you. I have days like that, too. Lots of them. If you read my last blog post for TSFM (February 9th), you know that on January 20, 2014 the world lost an incredible kid to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare and incurable brain tumor, thus leaving a void so large and wide in my heart that it seems it can’t be filled. Since that tragic day that I saw Ronnie take his last breath, nothing has felt right and running isn’t fixing it the way that it has fixed so many other challenges that have come my way in the past. But, for Ronnie, I keep running, even though it takes all my strength and effort to get out there and make my Garmin chirp mile after mile.

I’m usually a morning runner. I prefer my world fresh and new. I enjoy beginning a run in absolute silence and finishing with a crescendo of noisy and opinionated birds. I like to imagine that I’m the first one to see the sun peek out over the mountains; perhaps a gift from Ronnie for me to silently appreciate and adore.

Lately, these simple moments of peace aren’t enough to combat my lack of desire to run. While I’m still out there, clocking nearly 50 miles a week, it’s hard, and I am not enjoying myself. I won’t stop, not ever, because I run for Ronnie. I remember his sweet, […]

By |February 27th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

Marathon Mind Monkeys

Have you ever run a marathon and hit the wall?  Or perhaps gone on a long training run and ended up stumbling through the final few miles?   Maybe you’ve found yourself complaining about the huge crowds at a race, or wishing you had worn different running shoes, or becoming upset at the smelly runner in front of you who really should have taken a bath sometime in the past week.

It’s in these unhappy moments when the Marathon Mind Monkeys show up, and there is a very good chance that something will happen that causes you to meet them if you run a long distance event.

“Mind monkeys” is, of course, simply a metaphorical phrase.   When you begin to experience negativity creeping into your thinking, you might jokingly say that the mind monkeys have taken over.  Your thoughts are your own responsibility, but during a marathon, it’s not uncommon to begin to feel as if you are unable to control your own emotions and thoughts.  The mind monkeys infect you with sadness, anger, despair, even depression.

This lack of ability to control the mind is often part of the larger physiological phenomenon known as “hitting the wall”.  When glycogen stores reach a dangerous level of depletion, various effects occur on a runner, one of which may be a harsh visit from the mind monkeys.  You may become discouraged and feel hopeless.  You might become angry at your body’s inability to perform at normal levels.  Some runners lash out at volunteers or spectators.  Some drop out of the race, too discouraged to go on.

There are other times when emotions and thoughts turn negative during a marathon.  Runners expecting aid stations might become upset when water runs […]

By |February 26th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

George is My Reason

Ever have someone so small change your life in so many ways? George came to us abused. He was found in a barn chained by his back legs.  He was rescued and brought back to health before he came to his furever home with us. When he was brought to us, he came scared, shaking and not wanting to get to know his own family.

By |February 25th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

26.2 Miles at Home

I’ve always been very proud to say that I am a “true” Bay Area native. I was born in Oakland, have lived here all 39 years of my life and don’t see myself moving away anytime soon, if ever! I know my hometown like the back of my hand and have worked and played in San Francisco as often as possible over the years.

By |February 21st, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

Real Food on the Run

While training for my first (and only) 50k last year, I started seeing visions on my long runs. White clouds suddenly turned into hamburgers dancing through the sky. Pine trees were now hot dogs doing a comedy act, nestled in the dirt were all different styles of cooked eggs yelling at me to eat them. It was then that I had the epiphany that I should probably eat more protein.

By |February 20th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off

The Gift of Running

I get asked many times why do I subject myself to running. Isn’t it painful? Don’t you get bored running so long on the weekend? My short answers: yes, it is sometimes painful and no, I don’t get bored on long runs. In all seriousness, here is my story. In my twenties, I caught the running bug. I completed various 5ks and 10ks races. My doctor told me that it was too risky to keep running due to my weight and high blood pressure. Heartbroken, I stopped and became a couch potato who developed diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol.  It was a low point in my life and my health paid a price for my inactivity.

By |February 19th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off