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Carpe Viam

 

Anyone in the running community will tell you, to get to the Boston Marathon is no easy feat and this year was extra special. It marked the 50th anniversary of Amby Burfoot’s @bostonmarathon win.  

I met Amby back in 2012. I had talked my good friend Marge into joining me for a “girls trip” weekend in Pennsylvania and running a 10K at the festival. She agreed to leave her family at home and take off “Thelma and Louise style” to PA.. I knew we’d see members of a magazine staff, & I knew elite runners would be there. What I didn’t know, was how much fun & how humble it would be to meet Amby.

Back then, Amby was selling one of his books, and chatting with runner’s from all over. We were talking with him about Florida and he had mentioned he and his wife were going to be moving to CT and had been looking at real estate. They had planned to set up one of their retirement homes in CT.

Over the course of the last 6 years, Amby has written two more books, traveled to Boise a couple of times with George Hirsch (former worldwide publisher, Chairman Emeritus of the NYRR, & founder of the NYC Marathon, & Onward Shay marathon- which would later be called Boise Marathon), gotten settled in CT, and also traveled a few times to Mexico (where his wife Cristina is from).

Amby knows everybody, and I’ve even joked, “if you’re a runner, and Amby didn’t meet you, you didn’t exist”. If you ask me, he is just that hooked up with the running community.

Once I landed, got checked in to the hotel, and “Uber-ed” over, I walked right in and the first person I noticed was Deena Kastor. She was signing books, getting photos with fans and had George not come over to say goodbye to her, I would have missed him and Amby! I quickly got a picture with everyone and was able to later chat with Amby on his current training and goals for the Boston Marathon this year.

At the conference, I asked what kept him going and what his best advice was for anyone his age or near his age in keeping fit. He said to just “keep moving” and recommended walking. For the race on Monday, he said he’d be doing a 4:1 ratio of running to walking and said he was going to start training for shorter distances. Over the last many years, he’s completed the Manchester Road race over 50 times, been healed from depression caused by a C-diff infection (and was the most challenging health issue he’s dealt with ever) and has enjoyed training in CT and Mexico, “snowbird style”. He and his wife spend winters in Mexico.

I knew I’d be getting a unique gift for Amby to celebrate his 50th Boston Marathon. I had been to London, and while tooling around shopping, I was in Harrod’s and saw these great chocolate bars that resembled bars of gold. They were solid chocolate and a signature line to the Harrod’s brand packaged in gold packaging. I bought 5 (one bar for every 10 years) and gave them to Amby and his wife, as well as gave George Hirsch pictures when I saw him with friends last October.  For many people like myself, it’s more fun to give gifts than get them, and gag gifts are even more fun.

After Marge and I attended the conference and met some fun peeps, like John Young and met writers, Jonathan Beverly, Deena Kastor, & Scott Douglas. I got pics and had some laughs. Probably the most comical of the day was when Deena Kastor asked what race I attended to qualify for Boston. I answered, “well, I’m not exactly running, and haven’t qualified as of yet”. She laughed and made a few motivating comments as to how I’d do it later. Truth be known, I tried three times in the NYC marathon and I decided after the last one I completed in ’03, that I’m not going for it again.  

I’m crosstraining hard in the weight room and enjoying other forms of cardio.  Biking, swimming & occasionally the rower are some favorites.  

The rest of the weekend was a riot, we checked out a few pubs, hit up a workout at Planet Fitness in Revere and went shopping.  We stopped by the Brooks Running expo booth too, at Seaport to see some of the staff.   Marge got her daughter & husband a few things, too.

Marge is a business woman in the New York City area.  I’m grateful for such a fabulous friend!  I tend to surround myself with people who will motivate me to work harder and in turn, I try to motivate others.  I’ve known her and her family since 1992.  

I have a photo shoot  I’m excited to do. I shared this with most everyone I chatted with this weekend. It will just be a blast! It’s for my “fitness over 50″  plan.  Funny too, I was sitting a local pub, and a man who missed his Boston qual by 20 seconds (and a touch miffed about it), was asking my opinions on his startup concept. It was a treat to offer advice.  I had contact information on in Australia (who are related to his business fitness concept)  and also to mention (since he and his girlfriend were from Toronto), to check out all of the Canadian magazine  issues of the last year. I recommended too, he start writing a blog once a week (the new advice I was just given).  And, also, to check out any ladies fitness magazines.  

I don’t believe in a whole lot of coincidence, so it was great that I met this couple, and even if I never see them again, my “two beer stop in” to a pub in Fanueil Hall might’ve flipped a switch to motivate more health and wellness. It was funny too, the aggravation the man had with his “near-qual miss”, and the couple was entertained I showed up from a “no qual zone” just to see friends.  (No qual zone being my fun way of bypassing I hadn’t tried in a few years and have no plans to try to qualify for another 20).

I got the short phrase, and name of this blog post, “Carpe Viam”,  from an article Amby wrote on Ryan Shay. It means “seize the road” and when you are in Boston on marathon weekend, even if you can’t “seize the road”, you’ll “seize the vibe” and get motivated to get moving on a project. You might even motivate others to get projects going, too.

Until my next post, remember to work hard and laugh harder. Thank you for reading my blog, & remember, YOU are FABULOUS:-) 

Amby answering questions at the RW popup.
Marge & I with Amby.
I stopped by the Brooks booth at the expo.
Amby Burfoot, myself, George Hirsch
George co-founded the New York Marathon
Deena Kastor chats it up with fans.
There I was with 3 amazing writers!
Events

The Jay Fund Event

This year I got invited to attend the Jay Fund event hosted by the Coughlin’s. It’s no secret I’m a football fan, and in the fall, I check out more than just NFL football. I love watching SEC and occasional high school, too.

The event was held in Jacksonville, Florida, my hometown.   It is in the  category for one of the largest cities area wise in the United States.   It’s been home to the Jacksonville Jaguars since November of 1993. It’s no secret either that the team made it all the way to the Championship. I was more than psyched. I’m a fan, win or lose, and last season was especially fabulous to watch.

I hoped to meet as many Jags players as I could, see friends and of course, see Tom Coughlin. When I got to the event, I parked across the street and walked over. The wait time on getting in was easy, as the organizers were going through the line and scanning the bar codes for each entry. I forgot my printed entry and it was nice that all I had to do was pull it all up on my email and scan the code from there.

Right after I walked in I was greeted with wine tasting glasses and many tables full of exciting memorabilia to bid on throughout the night. All along each hall were tables of incredible hors d’oeuvres, and each table had two different kinds of red or white. I started with Chardonnay and that would be it, as I’d switch to water after half a glass and a few tasties from B.B.’s.  I’m not a heavy drinker, but do appreciate an occasional “taste”.

Onward to the escalator (and the photo ops) were lines of people everywhere. The first person I recognized was Sam Kouvaris. He is the sportscaster over at WJXT. I met his wife Linda and chatted a bit on their four grandkids. It’s always fun to see Sam. He’s worked hard for Jacksonville. I forgot to ask him if he’d seen Lex and Terry lately. Those two were a scream on local radio. I used to listen to them and had heard a show with Sam talking about the Gate River Run several years ago.

Later I saw some friends from the gym, Gregg Gosch, a LSU alum and former football player for their team. We couldn’t help but have a small chatski on Leonard Fournette. It was soon after, that I pretended to be catching the ball that Leonard had signed for the auction.  I also saw Jaguars memorabilia signed by QB Blake Bortles, who founded The Blake Bortles Foundation.

Up the escalator, I ran into some staff from Jacksonville Magazine, who couldn’t have been nicer. I got a few pictures and headed over to the second camera where I’d try on a Viking hat.

I circulated the room several times looking for any familiar faces and there he was, Tom Coughlin himself. Surrounded by many getting pictures and with a friendly member from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office. I got in line, too. There was no time to “talk football”, but everyone was in positive vibe and rest assured, ready for this season.

After that, walking over by another food table I ran into Doug Marrone. I hadn’t met him, but since I’m not shy, I just asked if I could get a picture real quick. He was a scream, said “sure”, and I started the trend to at least 4 more photo ops with different people, for him. (They were all laughing, too). There was a girl next to me who was so funny, and said, “they need me to be his photographer, I know how to get good pictures”.

Meeting AJ Cann sure was fun, too. He was there with his girlfriend and I asked which number he was on the team.  I could tag pictures later. I could tell he’d been raised in the South. Everything was “yes m’am, and “no m’am” on any question I’d asked. I had forgotten (when I was meeting him) he had played for the Gamecocks. My aunt Celia is a retired math professor from USC and Gamecock football is talked about at the dinner table in her house (and was at my late Dad’s) over every Sunday dinner during football season. It’s really quite entertaining.

Onward before I left, I saw Todd Philcox and his wife Katie. It was great catching up. I see him on occasion in the gym and he’s always talking about his kids, Lindsey and Tyler. I never walk off without a laugh when I talk to Todd. Todd played QB for a few NFL teams, played with the Jags in ’96 and retired with the Patriots in ’98.

Thanks for stopping by my site and reading my blog.  Remember to work hard, laugh harder & that YOU are FABULOUS:-)

#workhardlaughharder

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The Cliffs of Moher

It was the second day of my Ireland  trip and though I have been to Ireland many times before, I have never ventured to see the Cliffs of Moher, or much of the West Coast. I would either get side tracked with seeing other things, visting with friends, or wanting to wait until it was a sunny day.  The day I went it was crystalline clear.

I wanted to get more experience driving on the other side of the road, tooling to the outskirts of Shannon, Limerick, Westport and Clifden. This trip didn’t disappoint. This trip was a solo ride over the hill and through the farms to see water, ancient school houses, cows, horses, donkeys and sheep roaming freely.

I got up around 9 or so and looked out the window and noticed it was another sunny day. My phone was finally working and in the US it was 3 am. Too early to call anyone there, except maybe the local rooster.

I grabbed my GPS, a jacket and drove to the Cliffs. On my way, I took into account that it was a good thing that the car I rented was small and able to weasel through skinny streets. Most of the time this trip, there weren’t many cars coming in the opposite direction. It was a crystal clear day, most everyone was at the beach and everyone kept saying that it was their summer. I suppose I take summer for granted being at the beach most of the time at home, but was so grateful my vacation was getting sunny days.

The drive was full of scenery. I opted to jam to Spin FM most of my stay in Ireland, with an occasional flip to another station when I got bored. I did spend a lot of time in the car, and was glad to do it. It was the only way I was going to see parts of Ireland and venture to places unseen by a bus. I also was glad to be back in a manual transmission, though on the other side of the car, but not a boring automatic.

On the way down the N67 from the hotel it was Usher with Ludacris, and later on another station it was the Eagles. I’m a bad singer, any roommate I ever had growing up said it, so I know better than to make a bet I’ll win karaoke or think I might make money singing.. I still have a good time singing though, solo car jams, running on the beach (when no one is around) and anywhere else I can get away with it is where I’ll sing. I’ve often said that I doubt I could’ve gotten through a marathon (or most any workout), without tunes.  I’ve retired running in ‘22, but still hit the gym for workouts, & always with a headset.  

When I first started running, I wanted to get to thirty minutes nonstop. This was when I was a teenager.   I had read somewhere you needed to be at a full thirty minutes of running before you could even deal with speedwork.   I alternated running and walking to songs with a headset to the local radio stations (back then it was a FM stereo and the radio stations were usually WAPE or Rock 105 in Jacksonville, FL.) One song on running and one song off by walking. I’m always looking for a good beat. These days, good beats get me through eighty reps of ab work on the Captain’s chair (per set) or a good 9 mile run in humidity where when I’m done, it’s nothing but nirvana. The goal is to keep this up and not slow down, merely stay “status quo”.

When I got to the Cliffs of Moher, I parked for about 6 Euro. I was excited to see what was up on the horizon. It was crowded, with buses pulling in and lotsa people all around. The walkway went all the way up to the middle of each of the two cliffs.  The pathway went right up the middle and once at the top it was a dichotomy of picturesque beauty that I doubt man could recreate.

I decided facing the water that I’d go to the right up the hill, and see the cliff with the castle on it. I looked over the cliff and there was a boat and a plane flying over. Behind me there were cows and horses. I did a quick video which I enjoyed.  

The view from the top of the first cliff had some cows on the way to the cliff to the other side.   On my way there, I decided  I’d stop by and see Elsie & company. (The cows who were all relaxed).   It was a scream. I decided I’d have a quick video there, too.  The best way I knew how to make it funny in the video,  was to say they hadn’t had their coffee yet. All five of them were laying down. I was hoping for a “moo”, but didn’t get one so I left the scene and walked up the hill. A section of the hill was fenced off and you were allowed to go past the point, but not without a warning that you were headed to a dangerous area & to be cautious. The other signage was encouraging anyone depressed to stop and get help. It never occurred to me much that peeps might go there to jump off. There was a suicide in my family and anyone that’s been through it knows it’s heinous. I didn’t want to put a somber mood to my fun day, so I kept the momentum going and hopped the wall everyone else was hopping and got pictures of the gulls down below and a 360 view of the trip to that side of the hill. They were just incredible.

I didn’t get to chat much with anyone there. I heard a lot of different languages, Chinese, Russian and Spanish. The most entertaining bunch was the pack of ladies were headed up the hill together and chatting on days of their teens. I imagined they must’ve been in their 70’s.

It was around 1 or so and at that point I still had a good bit of the daylight left. I had to take advantage of the good driving conditions. Had it been raining or dark, I doubt I would’ve done all that I did.

The next stop was a solo car jam up to West Port. I had been there the previous year, under worse weather, & it’s  still as cool.

I don’t regret my decision to go on the backroads one bit.   I will say though, it’s not my recommendation to drive at night on unfamiliar roads.  There are no street lights in some areas.  The drop off on some cliffs near Westport are 60 stories high, & there are no railings around some areas.  If you made a wrong turn, you might go off a Cliff and not even know it, so day driving is my best recommendation.

Remember to laugh every day or make someone else do it.  And remember, YOU are FABULOUS.

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My 2017 Gate River Run Experience

My post-hernia surgery race.

This year’s Gate River Run was nothing short of a “laugh fest on overdrive”.   I’ve often said, “if I’m not laughing, it’s not worth it”, and about all I did at this expo, race & post-race was laugh. It was just that fabulous.

My history with the GRR goes back about 8 or 9 other GRR races. My personal record with the race is 1:10, and that was in 2004. I knew this year I would not be doing any personal records for 3 reasons.  First off,  I had a hernia fixed on 12/22/16 which slowed down my training a few weeks.  Secondly,  I had picked up 5-6 lbs. in post-recovery that I haven’t lost.  And, my longest run since the Onward Shay ‘16 half marathon (back in October), had only been 7 miles.

The race expo was a fab kickoff. I found the capri tights I’d been looking for on sale  (20-30% off), noticed running shoes on sale, too.  I also ran into 3 friends I hadn’t seen in ages.

After getting my race number, I was on my way to the car.   In the parking lot, there was a man walking near me and he said, “man, I’ll be lucky to finish this year without stopping”.  I said, “join the club and I’m right there with you on the lack of training this year”. He was a scream, never caught his name or saw him again.  The funniest thing he said was that he was going to be “losing face” by running with his neighbor.  His neighbor  was retired and 20 years his senior.  He said he would probably cross the finish behind his neighbor.  It was the best kickoff to my weekend. I said as I was getting in the car, “it’s more about the post-race this year”, and we both cracked up.

The day of the race was fab. No rain, a light breeze and temps in the low 60’s. I didn’t catch the humidity percentage, but it was “do-able”. With my Onward Shay half marathon finish time I did back in October.  I was able to be seeded in the orange section.

At the race start, the ropes went down and we were off. The first mile was slow, at about a ten minute mile. Back in the days of my more intense training, I might’ve tried to weasel ahead and get faster at the start. This year I figured “who cares”, and to just focus on not stopping until I got to the bridge on mile 8.

Miles 2-5 were on negative splits, getting several seconds faster per mile than before. I settled in at a decent pace and got water any time it was offered. I didn’t wear a watch, but the pace was probably around a 9 minute mile, maybe a tad better. My training pace was usually 8.5 minute miles, so I just chalked it up to being a slow day.

Miles 5-7 felt great. I was amazed.  I had no aches or pains and just loved it. Nirvana had really kicked in. I knew my biggest challenge would be the bridge.

After mile 7 things were good, but the thought of the bridge &  the wind, were nagging me. No matter how loud I had my headset jacked up, the thought never went away. Everyone that knows me knows I train with music. I love it. Rock and Roll, R&B and top 40 have always “done me right”. When I got the bridge I saw 1:11 on the clock.  It was funny.  (I thought to myself, “well, several years ago that was my race finish, and now I still have 1.3 miles” ). I did about a minute uphill and then walked 60 seconds. I did the math and thought if I could just pull out the stops, I might be able to get 1:22. So I took off again. The wind was blowing sideways, and once I got the top, I knew I had the downhill on my side. I never stopped again.

I crossed the line with 1:24 on the clock, which later equated to a 1:23 chip time. I turned the corner to exit and had made it in to a top ten percent finish. That probably made me smile for a whole week. I jokingly called  the race, “Beth returns from the surgical dead” and said “alrighty then” to the lady handing me the hat.  It meant I was still able to do top 10% after a hernia surgery.  

 

Ladies & men get a hat postrace if they finish top 10%.  When you come across the finish, you learn if you made the cut,  as when hats are gone, top 10% is done.  Men usually finish ahead of the ladies, but equal amounts of hats are given to each gender corral. 

I wore the hat all day, celebrated with a few postrace beers and had my boyfriend take pictures of me with Herb Peyton (entrepreneur, Dad of the former mayor of Jax, and founder of the Gate Petroleum).   My boyfriend didn’t drink that day, & drove me home.

 

The day got even more fun with seeing a few friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. My boyfriend and I stopped to get a burrito on the way to my home at Sierra Grille. It was fabulous day.

Thank you for checking out my blog.  Wishing you lotsa laughs, a positive cash flow, & remember, YOU are FABULOUS:-)  

#JacksonvilleFloridaRacing #GateRiverRun2017 #FloridaRoadRaces #GatePetroleumSponsoredRun #RunningExperiencePostSurgery

 

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The Alien is Gone

Only my good friends and family knew I went through hernia surgery on 12/22/16.  I won’t say that surgery was something that I looked forward to, but it was necessary to fix an epigastric hernia. My first question for the doctor was how I got it. He said it was a ligament that gave way, a congenital defect likely. I don’t lift heavy weights, 10-15 lb for upper body,  and not much heavier for lower body, so I couldn’t point the finger to that. Sometimes I’ll lift a bag at work, or strain on occasion. You take all of that together and there you have a quarter sized alien coming out of your stomach that won’t go away without a surgery fix. Mine was slightly noticeable in a bikini and I was sick of it. It was located 4 inches above my belly button. And, by the way, babies are born with this same affliction, so I can’t pull the “age card”

I had asked around, and did some research on what surgeon to see. I even asked my attorney exhusband who he saw to get his lower hernia fixed. I didn’t go with his surgeon because his doctor had a few revision surgeries under her belt,  and some complaints online, too. I don’ t have time for a revision, or patience either for it.

I did look at the education of the doctor I chose, John Koppman, MD, and asked how many surgeries he had done.  He was close to home, too, being in St. Augustine, FL. 

I also asked questions like when he thought I’d be back to work and to “full strength” on fitness training. His advice was back to work in 10 days, and not to attend a gym for 2-3 weeks. I followed his advice. I could walk outside or what, but was advised to stay out of a gym,  and also since my incisions were fairly deep, no jacuzzi or ocean swimming for a full three weeks.

I also consulted with Bart Yasso. Bart is on staff as a senior editor (he’s now retired) at Runner’s World Magazine,  and he said he was back to work in a few days and back to full strength training in a few months after his surgery. He had mentioned his hernia   somewhere online. I could deal with a few months. The only other runner I knew that had one fixed was Dathan Ritzenhein and I never got to ask him via email how his recovery went. He’s elite, finished top 10 in Boston.  That’s wicked fast. To be that fast is out of my comprehension.

My family didn’t think it was too wise to do the surgery near Christmas, but I kinda just wanted to get it over with while I’d satisfied my deductibles for insurance. No sense in racking up a new set of bills in the new year.

I did a few things for myself to keep my mind busy and to not gain weight during the holidays before this surgery. One being a photo shoot a week before the surgery. Nothing says don’t go “hogwild” on cookies better than getting in front of a camera with a bare mid-drift.   I still ate cookies, but didn’t bake in 2016.  There’s always next year.

My abs weren’t exactly where I wanted them to be for the shoot, ripped, but for being mid-December and still some what flat, I was happy. My weight the day of the shoot was about 127,  or so. Normal photo shoot weight is 125. I’m 5’6.5″ and that’s good enough for me.  This attached picture of me in the green shirt was taken a month or two before surgery.  The cute green tie hides the “alien”.

The day of the surgery, I checked in at 0500. I had a friend take me. Something I was very grateful for, and much better than paying a nurse I didn’t know to come help me. At check in it was pretty routine, change into a gown and roll down the hall after a shot before you see another pack of doctors to get anesthesia to knock you out.

It went well. I saw the doctor, Dr. John Koppman, MD, beforehand (in between seeing the anesthesiologist and a couple of others).  I confirmed with him just one more time that no incisions would be made directly down the middle of my abs. I didn’t want a surgery to put scars right between the abs, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  My surgery was done laparoscopically,  with two 1 centimeter incisions made on the lateral sides, and one 1 inch incision made right near the hip bone. (The larger incision was for the camera).  The surgery was in St. Augustine.  

I got out of there and wokeup in a row of beds with a few other people next to me. One lady was about two beds down and coughing a lot, another man, directly beside me,  didn’t say much and I was ready to go ahead and get on out.

I had another friend pick me up. She and her husband are retired and I know them from the gym. Rita is probably the fittest “70 something” and can train harder than most women in their forties. It’s amazing. I surround myself with people like this on purpose. The funniest thing she said, “Come on Beth, get dressed. Sheldon is waiting in the car”. I rolled over sideways and the pain was so ridiculous that I really got a touch worried. I expected pain, but had never had any gut surgery and it was definitely “gut wrenching”. It was worse than the gum surgery I had before,  and the knee surgery I had to fix a meniscus tear a few years back.

The day of the surgery I knew I’d need pain killers. I hate taking them, but did. (Pain medications scare me, and also back me up, which I didn’t want to fool with). It hurt to cough, laugh, raise my head, roll sideways or even get up. I never knew how much abs were involved in just basically getting around. I knew running or most things would be out of the question. I was instructed to wear a elasticized belt around my waist (I called my girdle) and this would be in place for about 3 weeks. I hated it. It was uncomfortable and even at work I had to wear a lot of clothes to hide it.

Days 2-4- I got increasingly better. I could walk without pain, managed to attend a Sunday Jaguars football game and could take small walks around my neighborhood. It was great! I had to ask friends (and my Dad) to tone it down on anything funny. Laughing was just that painful. A total first for me. The only pain killer I used was 200-400 mg of extra strength Tylenol.

Day 4-6 I was better everyday. Rolling over didn’t hurt. I could sleep on my side (instead of my back) and I attempted a walk on day 6. It was about an hour long and outside. I loved being outside and about half way through the beach walk, I decided I would not be working out again for days.

Day 7 I went to South Carolina. I drove instead of flying for a lot of reasons. Being in the car that long wasn’t bad, and I had to get up there to watch football on TV with my family. It still hurt to laugh. I had to ask my Dad more than once not to make me laugh.

Day 11 I walked an hour

Day 12 I did the eliptical without using the arms.

Day 13 I did 50 minutes on the eliptical, no arms.

Day 14 I did a short walk.

Days 15-19 I did nothing fitness wise and saw the doctor for followup. I was cleared to train full strength in a gym and advised to listen to my body.

I enjoyed being back to weights and cardio. I did register a total of a 6 pound weight gain after it was all said and done, but it was off before too long. I cleaned up my diet & expected it gone by April. (The holidays have never been a good time to “clean it up”).  

I ran 5-7miles nonstop several times at about a normal training pace of 8.5 minute miles.  I did that mostly on a treadmill.  

I did miss one trip at work for doing something a bit overly “gung ho”. I did an hour of weights, ran 7 miles and then took an evening walk with a friend all the same day (about 5-6 weeks after surgery). The next day (the day of my trip) I felt a pain I hadn’t felt in a good month. It was gone two days later and I was back to work next trip and have felt fine since. I  decided to be conservative for another two months.

My next race is the Gate River Run 15K and if I can’t run all of it, who cares, but I at least want to run 3/4 of it. I’m more looking forward to mingling and seeing friends than doing the mileage. I hope to see all of you there and if you’ve got an “alien”, don’t be afraid to get it fixed or that your training will be over.

 

*(The blog was written 3 months after the procedure. I finished in the top 10% at the race,  1:23:08.  I was thrilled.  It was a happy day). 

Wishing you lotsa laughs, a positive cash flow, & remember, YOU are FABULOUS:-)  

 

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Onward Shay

With Amby Burfoot, the ’68 winner of the Boston Marathon

I was excited to attend the Onward Shay event. I had read about it with a column by David Willey, staff at Runner’s World Magazine awhile back.. I usually read David’s editorial every month. I loved the idea behind Onward Shay. It was to commemorate Shay Hirsch, who passed after an 11 year battle with cancer. Shay was married to George Hirsch, who was worldwide publisher of Runner’s World magazine, founder of TCS NYC marathon & Chairman Emeritus of the NYRR.  

Shay sure sounded like a special lady. I never met her, but everyone at the race and expo that knew her said how special she was and I loved the story on how George and Shay met. She was always looking out for others and she was always with a smile, from what people said. George met her at a race and introduced himself and asked her out. She said no, so he showed up the next day to seek her out and run the marathon with her. I imagine they chatted quite a bit over the course of 3+ hours and she got a Boston qualify running with him. He stepped aside before the finish line as he never registered for the race.

The story kinda reminded me of Jim Morrison of The Doors. Jim didn’t meet his girl at a race, but said she was “the one” and followed her until she went out with him. 

Also, I might add, a beer was created in the memory of Shay, and The Onward Shay marathon. It’s an IPA entitled “Onward Shay”. It can be found at the Payette Brewing Company, Boise, ID. Such a radical way to celebrate life, and a fabulous postrace beverage.

It was predicted to be a clear sunny day on the morning of the race expo. I had taken a few flights to get to Idaho the previous day. 

When I landed in Boise with a car rental reservation but I found out they closed at 11:30 and took off. I was miffed. Given we landed at midnight, this did me no good. The initial company I booked with shouldn’t sell car rentals if they plan to be closed when flights are still landing. All the other counters were open and with no lines. I got by three counters looking for a decent rate. When I went with the last one, the guy said “yeah, they stranded a whole Canadian soccer team last night”. My only response was, “man, that’s worse than this”. Probably the thing that made my night was the kid making the reservation for my rental car said I didn’t look as old as the birth date on my driver’s license. I walked off thinking “well, the other peeps can cut out early anytime they want”. At least their competitors knew how to work.  Charm sure works wonders..

I got to the race expo. A local at the grocery store gave me directions & it was all within close proximity to downtown. And, I  was trying to iron out the issues with my race number. My relay team was comprised of two others who were paralympic athletes and we were still down one more runner a few weeks ago. I was still looking for the last one when the other two team members said they were injured, and likely not even going to be able to do the race at all. They both ran into issues with sores on their “stumps” while training and needed to pull out to not risk infection. I was disappointed at first, but it’s just one race and I agreed it was the best thing to do. There will be other races, and like I told one teammate, “if you push your injury and still run the race, you might be out of work for a few weeks with infection in your blood which is worse”. No one is going to pay his bills but him.  Being out of work is worse than being out of a race.  The way I see it, no race is worth sidelining the paycheck. Nowadays, you even have to worry if your insurance will cover your doctor bills.

They couldn’t have been nicer at the race number table. They got my race number and downgraded me to a half marathon and I said I’d try and run at least 7 miles of it. I had no idea what I could do, and knew after mile 9 it would all be mental. The longest distance I had done since the 2003 NYC marathon was 15K, but after that distance, I had no idea what kind of shape I’d be in. At the time, I only ran 6 miles a week, if that, at low tide at home. I do no formal training for running as I no longer do much racing. I keep about a 8-9 minute pace for that, which is fine by me. I raced a lot of 10K’s in my 30’s and got bored with the schedule it took to get my race times down. I now cross train hard with other forms of cardio.  I also work in 2-3 days a week of weight training. I’ve really taken a liking to my cross training, and with my international travel, it fits. I figured I could do two hours of running, because I’ll sometimes spend 2 hours in the gym (one hour for weights, the second for cardio), and I love it as much as I love to eat.

The first athlete I saw at the expo was Amby Burfoot.  He’s the ’68 winner of the Boston marathon and an excellent writer. I’d been reading his stuff for years in books and Runner’s World magazine. Probably my most favorite article he wrote was on what it was like to run with the legends like Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter back in the day. Amby went to college with Bill. He said in the article that back in college Bill was usually pulling in from late night honky tonks. (All I could do reading that was laugh). I saw on the expo bulletin board that Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers were going to be speaking and were also selling their books. When I met Bill, all I did was laugh.

 

Leading Ladies in running were also speaking at the expo. Joan Benoit Samuelson, talked a lot of her training, love of running & challenges she faced in running after a arthroscopic knee fix. She overcame the knee surgery in weeks, won Olympic Gold, & is still a strong runner.  

Getting the news (as a runner) that you may be out of running is the equivalent to telling a squirrel not to have nuts, a literal buzzkill.  Like a party where a DJ prematurely throws a ballad into a 4 song dance jam to a full dance floor.  I’m glad Joan didn’t have to hang up running.

Getting back to Bill. I mentioned I was from Florida.  He said in front of Frank Shorter, (without asking Frank), “Frank and I would love to be at a race. I need to beat him you know.”. Just a scream.  I would be at the Onward Shay half start line  that year ready to laugh more.  

Meeting Frank was a pleasure too, as he went to the University of Florida, so we chatted on how the Florida/GA game that was on TV as the Onward Shay expo was going on. I love football, missed all my games this expo, but who cares.

After the conference was over, George Hirsch, who helped create the Onward Shay event, took pictures with all of the athletes and some of the locals that were left at the expo. I was unable to chat much with George, but enjoyed meeting him. He still has the passion for the sport. I headed out to grab dinner afterwards and was dead to the pillow solo at 8 o’clock local time. On the east coast it was 10 pm, my usual bedtime.

I got to the race and met Keith Hughes. He was the race director for the event and it was a pleasure to meet him. We chatted quickly on how his training was going and how much fun the event was going to be. He mentioned too, the reason there were costumes from the Wizard of Oz was because Shay loved the movie. It was a scream seeing girls that took the time to make blue checkered tights the color of Dorothy’s dress in the movie. My phone went dead and I didn’t get pictures of this, or the ruby sparkled running shoes I saw, but it was a nice touch. The locals really went the extra mile.

There was a short delay in the race start. Normally I would’ve been miffed, but given I needed to find a restroom, it worked out just fine. I made it back before the two minute delay ended and started with everyone else. I’m not sure why there was a delay and didn’t bother to ask later.

The course was flat and scenic. It started raining about mile five and i was thinking, “really mother nature? today?”. If I had any control over the weather, it’d be cool and sunny at all of my races.

This race was reminiscent to my very first NYC marathon in ’97. It was rainy then, but I had such a blast. Locals lined the streets all along the course. I was so glad I didn’t have to see a time clock every mile at Onward Shay because it just would’ve pissed me off. Back in my “glory days of faster race times” I’d have wanted to see a clock at every mile, but at this one, no. I knew I was running slower than normal and I set my mind to just not stopping until mile 13.

At mile 5, Amby Burfoot was yelling, “Beth, wake up, I’m trying to cheer you on”. I had my headset on, and was jamming to Boston and other rock tunes.  I was untrained for this race, & music was the only way I’d get through it.  It was no disrespect to my friends,  or legacy editors of Runner’s World Magazine.  

I usually listen to rock, top 40 or old school R& B, and it keeps me focused. I can tune things out and just focus on what I need to do. It works in the gym too, because I love to chat with friends. IF I had the headset off, I’d never get any weight training done because I’d always be talking. Seeing Amby made my day. Yelling my name in the race and cheering me on (like he was to several other runners) was very kind.

After I passed the sign for 6 miles, the rain kicked up a bit more. I put my jacket back on and tried not to get wet though I knew it was inevitable. It was nothing but a hydroplane through then next few miles. I felt so good at mile 9, and was on total “runner’s high”. I wish I could bottle and sell the feeling you get when you get a runner’s buzz. It’s total nirvana. I stayed in the nirvana zone till mile 12. After that, my legs were asking me what the deal was, and if they could talk would say, “when are you gonna knock this mess off?”. One local said at mile 13, “it’s almost over”. Another local said, “I like your jacket”. I was so happy I had ran steadily the whole time without stopping. Even when I grabbed water or the sports drink, I kept going. I didn’t want to hit any walls. It was what I had to do in the ’03 TCS NYC marathon, too. ( I set my mind to running 20 miles in that one without stopping).

It’s best if you can get through the whole distance without stopping, at least for me. I haven’t tried the Jeff Galloway method as of yet, but maybe one day:-). Before entering the race, I even gave myself the option to “DNF”, (did not finish), but didn’t need to DNF.  I said from the start of entry, I was there more to mingle and see friends than to run hard and try to set “PR”‘s.

I saw a sign that said 14, and thought I’d taken a wrong turn so I asked a lady standing next to the sign “where’s the finish line for the half?”. She said, “about a quarter mile ahead”. I walked about one minute and then kicked back in for a running finish.

The best part to my finish was the announcer yelled “Beth Adair is coming across the line now. She’s from Florida”. They were yelling all of the runner’s names by their race numbers as they crossed the finish. It was a nice touch, and I was happy with a 2:08+ finish. I came across in 3 shirts & 2 pairs of pants that were soaking wet and a jacket unzipped. All of my makeup was off, and of course it was a bad hair day, but such a blast!!

My PR 15k is 1:10, back in yesteryear. My PR half marathon of 1:51 was in 2000 at the Bermuda Half Marathon. A 18 minute difference  at ‘16 Onward Shay Half Marathon (with no formal training) was thrilling. My best finish time in a full marathon was 4:16, at the 1999 TCS NYC Marathon , so the way I see it, 17 years later, and I wasn’t in a bad place. I was never a Usaim Bolt speed demon anyway. I’m grateful for all my miles.

May you all find inspiration from my writing and remember to laugh everyday:-). “Work hard and laugh harder”, I say, and because it’s always worth it, and remember too, that YOU are FABULOUS:-) 

 

*It is not recommended that you increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. Though I enjoyed the half marathon, next time I’ll either train for it, or have a backup relay team:-

 

 

**** I’ve retired running and racing, and did so in February of 2022.  I enjoyed my running days, but have taken my fitness training on a new course. 

With Frank Shorter & Bill Rodgers
A pack of elite runners, all in one room!

The pictures from inside expo are from 2016 Onward Shay.

#OnwardShay2016 #BoiseIdahoRunningEvents #ShayHirschMarathonEvent #OnwardShayGeorgeHirschFounder #MarathonEliteAthleticExpo #BoiseIdahoMarathonEvent #IdahoRunningExpo2016

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Chariots of Fur 5k

It was a cool morning of 53 degrees with a heinous wind whipping around for the Chariots of Fur race. I showed up to Jax beach with a jacket, an ipod and no dog for the 3.1 race for dogs. I knew when I pulled in this was going to be a fun experience as when I pulled in the parking lot, Kim Pawelek and her husband Keith Brantly were there.

As I got out of the car, two cars down, there they were, Kim and Keith. They had just pulled in the lot. The timing couldn’t have been better. I got out and said hi, with my hair sticking out from the wind and barely any makeup on and you could tell it wasn’t photo shoot day. Their dogs, Scout and Chase were eager to get the day started, probably more so than me. I wanted to get a picture (glam or no in my case), so I could put away my phone. As we were posing, we were in good company with Greyhounds passing by with full length coats on, and the loud speaker announcing the “warm up session with Doga will begin in five minutes”. As I walked to the car, I could hear the instructor saying “ok, double dog down”. I just had to laugh. A “double dog down” with a dog, that’s classic.

The race itself started at 10 am. We all shuffled to the race start on the beach and planned to go out and back on what was a blustery day, which could’ve been much worse with rain. I needed to be done no later than thirty minutes so I could hit the car, the shower and attend a memorial service of a friend from the gym who had passed away. When we got down to the beach, I knew I was going to need my tunes. The wind was at our backs going out, and any beachrunner like myself will tell you it’s usually better to have it in your face on the way out and at your back on the way to the finish. I forgot to give Mother Nature the phone call before I left my condo.

The whole idea of the race, the name and the beach run brought back a memory from my teens. In high school, I would sometimes ride my bike to public beach access at Solona road in Ponte Vedra, and run down the beach to Corona road and back with a headset on. Back then, there was no Lodge, A1A was a two lane highway and then I’d only dream of doing the River Run. One afternoon, I got on the beach to run and a pack of guys were teasing me as I ran by humming the tune of the movie “Chariots of Fire”. This only made me laugh and I raised my hands in the air and acted like I was carrying torches. They laughed and one guy, Bill Luebke, said “hey Beth”. Once I passed them, I jacked up the volume to the song “Boys of Summer”, by Don Henley. It was on the radio then, just released, and it was then I made the goal of having my own place in PV and a nice ride, while singing “deadhead sticker on a cadillac”.  That day.  It was epic. There were no ipods or cassette players, they hadn’t been invented, & for years and the only way to hear music was being at the mercy of the DJ. Rock 105 was usually my station, along with an R & B station in town famous for hits by The Time. Truth is, I doubt I’d like running, or most other forms of fitness training without music. Let’s face it, I wasn’t a “Shalane Flanagan out the gate”, and I just ran for recreation.

i know I’m not a phenomenal singer, either.  So singing only gets done on the beach when no one is around, in the shower, or in the car when I’m alone. I have a good time. Today singing was only brief, after the turn back, followed by a few facewind cusswords and on to cracking up laughing at the dogs. One pair was having a lickfest with the dog next to him and another decided the ocean was more fun than the running.

I got in under 28 minutes and cooled down walking to the car, among the other doberman’s and retrievers and made the funeral I had planned to attend on time. The pouring rain didn’t hit until much later, so the day was a success. As always, I’ve said, if I’m not laughing, it’s not worth it, and today was full of laughs:-).

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Hal Higdon

An icon who met another named Amby

by Beth Adair

Back in the winter of 2013, I had the opportunity to meetup for happy hour w/two insanely fast runners, Hal Higdon & Amby Burfoot. I had read one of Hal’s books, and had used his intermediate training plan back in ’99 for my second NYC Marathon.  I also had seen many stories over the years in Runner’s World magazine by Amby. I knew they were both elite runners, and Amby was the ’68 winner of the Boston Marathon.

I first met Hal in 2011. I had flown up to NYC to see friends and check out the NYC marathon expo. I figured if I wasn’t running, at least I’d be around positive energy. I wanted to buy some books for my Godson and some kids I knew, and Hal was there. There were a few other elite runners like Dean Karnazes, Bart Yasso and Runner’s World editor-in-chief, David Willey, as well. (This was a treat, as I had read David’s column for years and loved it).  Ryan Hall was working, too.  He was signing autographs at the expo for fans.

My first meeting with Amby was at the 2012 Runner’s World festival weekend in Bethlehem, PA. He was there to answer questions and promote one of his books. It was great to meet such talent. I used to always think, “I can’t even qualify for Boston, how does anyone win Boston?”.  Marge, 1  of my best friends went with me to do the 10K that year. We headed over to meet Amby after the race.

These two are veteran runners. They’ve got thousands of miles under their belts and over 50 years of friendship. Their friendship started as race rivals.

We all met up at the Lodge & Club (lodgemember.com). Amby and his wife Cristina were in town for a couple of weeks in January that year. Amby mentioned too he was getting some of his training done in Jacksonville Beach for the 2013 Boston Marathon. Hal’s wife Rose was unable to attend, unfortunately. I do hope to cross paths with Rose later on at the gym. A couple of other Jacksonville athletes were invited, but unable to attend.

Nothing about either of these two indicated “slowing moving”. If ever there was a cocky “20 something” wanting to throw around their fast race time, I’m pretty sure they’d get close to “losing face” after 20 minutes of talking to these two. Another thing I have to mention is there wasn’t a massive “ego” sitting at the table, either. Hal is over 80, but gets around the gym like someone in their 40’s. He’s very sharp, concise in his writing and has little patience for “lazy”. Amby is the same way. Amby still works at a standing desk and also works in a “mini workout” during the day with small breaks with exercises between writing and editing. Also, they both hold themselves to a high level of integrity.

Hal got started with published articles when he was asked to write an article for Distance Running News, what is now Runner’s World magazine. Bob Anderson had founded Distance Running News, and Hal wrote an article on Ted Corbitt who ran from London to Brighton, England. I knew where both places were & the article was initially commissioned for Sports Illustrated, but not used by them and was featured in the second issue of Distance Running News. It would make Hal the oldest regular contributor. You’ll see Hal’s name in the editorial section of Runner’s World magazine now. Hal sold to many magazines, and became a contract writer for Runner’s World in 1976, with previous articles written for free. Hal was always a full-time journalist. He split to go to The Runner around 1978. Rodale would later acquire Runner’s World and The Runner in the mid-1980’s. (I’ve learned mergers and acquisitions happen a bunch in the airline business, it’s also in journalism).

Hal first met Amby in 1965. THIS IS A GREAT STORY. I can’t make it any funnier than it is without using direct quotes from Hal Higdon himself, so enjoy. “I decided to vacation with my family on Cape Cod and run a lot of road races, since New England was the cornucopia for running back then. Road races barely existed elsewhere in the US. One of the races was in Warren, RI where I got 1st and Amby got 2nd. I was at the top of my game. Amby was a few years away from the top of his. Merchandise instead of money was offered as prizes. Because our family was crammed in a small car, I had to accept a Timex watch. Amby had brought a station wagon and was able to claim for 2nd a massive rotisserie grill that I coveted, but had no room for”. Hysterically, to this day, they still joke about the grill, and I was definitely laughing when I heard the story. Hal mentioned too, that he joked about that in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated. Amby and Hal also participated in another race together where Hal took first place, at the World’s Fair in New York City.

The two of them were also used as “guinea pigs”, so-to-speak, on a product test. They both participated in a study where the two (along with others) were to run 20 miles a day for three days. Each were put on a treadmill at different times with three different testing’s. (Groups were given water, Gatorade or nothing). The result of the test would be that the groups given water or Gatorade would have improved performance, compared to no water at all. In my own experience, w/all 3 NYC marathons I did, drinking water for the first 13 miles, then alternating water and Gatorade for each mile after mile 13 proved my best performance. No injuries, no cramping and a fun post-race experience. I’ve always been under the notion too, that you are to take a look at the marathon you are doing and see when that specific marathon offers water and/or sports beverages. Adhere to doing that water and sports drink “alternating setup” in your training that’s offered in the race itself. You can also “adlib” by bringing gels with you.

As a kid, Hal didn’t think of running as being fun. It was something he did to impress girls, because quite simply, he was good at it. He went out for sophomore track to gain a letter and later took things a tad more serious when he got to Carleton College. His endeavors took him many places. Later on, Buddy Edelen would be his toughest competitor and both Hal and Buddy were coached by the same man, Fred Witt. These men weren’t “twiddling their thumbs” with a pace of 50:00 for a ten mile race. A five minute pace for that long? Me? No way. Now races offer money and appearance fees vs. grills and timex watches. I remember even reading too, some years back, a story in Runner’s World written by Grete Waitz and her experience being the female winner of the NYC marathon. There was no huge prize then. (I still regret to this day not saying hi to her at the NYC marathon expo in 1997. She was there signing autographs and I was too intimidated being it was my first marathon to say hi.)

Elite runners are very intriguing and there’s a talent I can’t fathom, because it wasn’t my gift. I love to run, and top 10% in the GRR (gate-riverrun.com) was the best I ever did in my “salad days”. Number one will never happen. For Hal and Amby, it seemed to come naturally.

I asked Hal how he met his wife Rose. It was at a bowling alley where he had just gotten out of the US Army and was looking for a lifetime mate. Hal bowled on Sundays with the club he joined and Rose was bowling in the next alley over. He mustered the nerve to get a conversation going and “she only said yes on the 3rd marriage proposal”, and they have lived “happily ever after” since. They have children and Hal also authored a children’s book “The Horse That Played Center Field”. It was later made into an animated feature on ABC-TV. Even now, in their daily activities, they both still strive to be active. At the Lodge gym, (frequented by many a retired pro-athlete), Rose participates in Aqua classes and Hal does work in the gym and uses the bike with him around the neighborhood in Florida. (The Higdon’s also have a residence up North).

Amby met his wife Cristina on staff at Runner’s World. He said she continues to make him laugh everyday. I remember reading too that she bakes amazing cakes, just perfect for dessert after a 10 mile run. Cristina is an attractive brunette, thin, tall and also spoke of a love of running. She mentioned too that she qualified for Boston using a run/walk method. She was a the Boston marathon in 2013 to cheer on Amby and let him know during the race when the bombs hit. Amby was quick to write an article on the experience at the race, and afterwards. It was a heinous halt to a perfect day to run. We will never forget. Cristina & Amby ran Boston again.

Hal continues to be a motivator in his fitness training and running and is always interested in motivating the next generation. The best example of mentoring I witnessed from Hal was over a year ago. I was walking up to the gym sidewalk and Hal was on his way out. He was whizzing towards his car when another young man, in his 20’s, was walking in. He said “Jonathon, how’s your training going?”. It was a quick conversation I didn’t interrupt with a “hi” and it just made Jonathon’s day. I later saw Jonathon in the gym “putting in his time” in the weight room. It was encouraging, and both Amby and Hal practice what they preach.

I’ve often said, “telling a runner not to run is the same thing as telling a squirrel not to have nuts”. Both men said they were very lucky not to be injury prone or ailments preventing them from fitness. Amby mentioned he has completed the Manchester Road Race for 53 consecutive years. He had three big challenges over the course of 53 years. Not wanting to break the continuous streak, one year he had walking pnuemonia (and wheezed whilst running), another with severe tendinitis (where he ran gingerly) and in 2013, he was challenged with clostridium difficule (which induced severe depression). In 2013, he was 15 pounds under normal weight, and unable to enjoy any part of the event, but was able to mentally force himself through it. Good news, in 2014 he fully recovered, had a wonderful time and completed the 2015 race 8th in his division.

Hal continues to write and inspire and books can be found on www.halhigdon.com. Amby still writes for Runner’s World magazine, (online and in the printed publication) and is currently writing a book on training. His contact is www.ambyburfoot.com.

You can’t go wrong dropping either a note or question on your training. Their books are full of knowledge and you’ll get nothing but a positive vibe.