Brooke’s Marathon Stories 1- 25

Marathons 1 – 9

1 – Marine Corps Marathon 10/31/2004 Arlington, VA
2 – Richmond Marathon 11/12/2005 Richmond, VA
3 – Boston Marathon 04/17/2006 Boston, MA
4 – Chicago Marathon 10/22/2006 Chicago, IL
5 – Boston Marathon 04/16/2007 Boston, MA
6 – Marine Corps Marathon 10/28/2007 Arlington, VA
7 – Boston Marathon 04/21/2008 Boston, MA
8 – Berlin Marathon 09/26/2008 Berlin, Germany
9 – New York City Marathon 11/02/2008 New York, NY

Then in May of 2009, Brooke founded RunningBrooke and pledged to run at least a marathon-a-month – one marathon on each of 7 continents, in each of the 50 states, and the 5 world marathon majors — to inspire others to get involved and give back to Alexandria, VA-based charities.*

*Brooke pays for all of her own travel costs and related fees. She runs (24,000 miles and counting…) with asthma and exercise-induced asthma.

Here are her stories as she reported back after each race!

10 – Boston Marathon 04/20/2009 Boston, MA

I’m back from the Boston Marathon and feeling great as I head to the next running adventure! Boston didn’t go exactly as planned — I set admittedly high standards for myself — but I did the best that I could do that day and finished feeling proud and accomplished. So I’ll chalk this Boston up as a mental victory and another learning experience and I’ll cut myself some slack — this is new for me — as this was my best Boston time yet… (3:21 for those who just want the facts and I know who you are :).

So, now it’s off to Easter Island, Chile! We leave May 30th for Santiago. While in Santiago and in it’s surrounds, we’ll visit vineyards, beaches and it’s main port, Valparaiso. Then, it’s a 5 1/2 hour flight west to Easter Island!!! We’ll have time to visit the ancient ruins and see the fallen statues and sight see. There’s a triathlon and a mountain bike race and towns to visit and of course, the Marathon on Sunday, June 7th!

11 – Rapa Nui Marathon 06/19/2009 Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island
I’ve been home for a few days now, dazed and a little overwhelmed, exhilarated as I reflect on this amazing trip! On the way to Easter Island, we, my daughter Kate and I, and the fun and eclectic running crowd from Marathon Tours led by fearless leader Cliff Jennings, had three days in Santiago. First, it was strange to go from summer to winter and second, the water spins the other way when you flush!

Santiago is a bustling and sprawling city of 6 million nestled in the hills and mountains of the Andes Range. Unbelievable sites with snow-covered mountains –their ski season was about to begin — museums, wine tours, great food and picos sours — the official cocktail of Chile. Salute!

Easter Island was a 5 1/2 hour plane flight west into the Pacific Ocean. What a disconcerting feeling it was to be landing and seeing nothing but black! I felt like high-fiving the pilot for finding it. Actually, it’s a common run for LAN airlines. Twice a week, it leaves Santiago to go to Easter Island and then continues to Tahiti where then it makes the same trip in reverse. Easter’s airport has only a huge landing strip — thankfully — thanks to the US as this strip serves as the Southern Hemisphere’s emergency landing for the space shuttle and a pavilion as a terminal. These are the only flights in and out so hearing a plane was eventful.

Imagine an island roughly triangular in shape, 6 miles across at it’s narrowest with inactive volcanoes roughly at each point. No trees taller than me — with a few exceptions where there has been reforestation — no native birds — I think I saw 2 small chickadee looking things — hills covered with knee high grasses that looked like heather, wild and tame horses everywhere that roamed the island with the native dog population, again everywhere and no flying bugs. I think I saw one cricket and one crawling bug of undetermined variety. Did I mention the WIND? AND STATUES (MOAI)? There is so much to write about that this is not doing Chile and the Chileans — Mainland’s natives are Napuches and Easter’s Polynesian natives are the Rapa Nui — justice. Sorry!

But now to the personal highlights:

Winning the marathon and the feeling of breaking the tape. Major motivation for the track workouts!

Being interviewed by Chilean TV having spectators cheering for me.

Spending 10 days one-on-one with one of my kids and seeing her success in the 10k. 2nd place!

The stampede of horses coming up on me during the race. This made me run a little faster, for sure!

The rainbows because of the simultaneous sun and rain. The stark beauty of the island… the cliffs, the clear water, the grasses blowing in the persistent wind, the statues towering over all else….

12 – Steamtown Marathon 10/11/2009 Scranton, PA

Steamtown Marathon
Look how crazy happy we look after 26.2 miles :) Sharon and I both had great runs with a 4 min. PR for me (3:09:12) and a 3:05 for Sharon. I know that she’ll be, once again, breaking that 3 hour barrier. I’m so proud… We had that giddy elation for the rest of the day and talked, non-stop, on that 4 and 1/2 hour trip home eating Subway sandwiches and Peppermint Patties. We had lots of stares as we fell out the car gas up and lunch up. You could see them wonder who were these people with the funny walk! It is strange but once again, I couldn’t sleep the night after a marathon and she said the same thing happens to her.

Backtracking a bit, as far as the exercise induced asthma, it affected me some about mile 18 where I had a few, very rough miles and I had to use my rescue inhaler. It took me some time to realize that I was losing that much speed — I had a little mind mush by that time –but finally, I realized what was going on, took the inhaler and got it back together to finish strongly!

13 – JFK 50 Miler 11/23/2009 Boonsboro, MD

JFK 50 Miler Start

Hello World!

50 miles is a long way! I know a lot of you are going ummmm “we could have told you that, Brooke…” But I survived, more than survived, enjoyed it. I found my rhythm — once I got off the trails — and didn’t get bored. Our team — did I mention I was running from a team out of Albany, New York? — placed second! Hello John and the Albany Running Exchange! If I’d known we were only three minutes off first, I would have rolled down the trail hills –rocks, what rocks? who cares about cliffs? — and not stopped to take pictures… It was beautiful out there.

This was the 47th annual running of the JFK 50 Mile also known as “America’s Ultramarathon.” We started in Boonsboro, MD and ran a squiggly, horseshoe-shaped race through the Appalachian Trail near to Harper’s Ferry where we picked up the C & O Canal Path. From there it was only a marathon — ha, feels funny saying ‘only’ — along the canal before we headed north to finish in Wlliamsport, MD. Along the way, we passed near Antietam and Sharpsburg.

Ultramarathoning is a different animal than marathoning. Let me start by saying I respect anyone who can get themselves across 50 miles without the aid of a vehicle of some sort. And let me say that I really have a new respect for trail running and those able to do it without killing or seriously injuring themselves. But let me finally say that I now have ultimate respect for someone who can put the trails and the speed together and finish something like this at breakneck speed. Hello Mike Wardian who holds 2nd place for all-time top performers with 5:50:34! For some perspective, it took me almost 10 hours…

I discovered new muscles that I didn’t know existed. I learned that you can have pebbles, leaves and unidentifiable mush in your socks and still race on! I learned that it is possible to run on PB and J’s, bananas, m&m’s — okay, only had a few of those — hammer gels, coke — yes, I did drink one cup of coke and survived. I tried the chicken broth and raced on with pretzels sticking out of my mouth. And I learned that you really can push on and push through and run 50 miles.

The Good

The scenery. Think old historic towns and stone walls, think twisty and hilly leaf-strewn, single-file trails, snaking around boulders with switchbacks. Think 100+ sheer cliff faces with train tracks at it’s base, then the C & O canal, the leaf-covered canal path and then the Potomac River, sometimes broad and calm, sometimes fierce with falls. The camaraderie. Think happy people doing what they want to be doing that day.

The Bad

No real nutrition for the first 18 miles save one borrowed GU from friendly runner Kay. My fault, absolutely. My fault for not checking the course map for aid station stops, my fault for not being self-reliant and at least carrying some water, my fault for being so cavalier. Did I learn my lesson? Absolutely. What I was thinking as I waved back to my non-running friends at the start? This is what I had: camera, tissues — who carries tissues? –, and lip balm with spf! That was it. What was I thinking?! Middle on nowhere, no food, no water, no phone with sometimes no one in site…

The Ugly

No real ugly except the near total face-plant on the Appalachian Trail. Think helicoptering arms and spinning legs and the surreal stoppage of time as your body and gravity and luck decide your fate. Thankfully I survived that one with only some slight embarrassment and no blood. Others weren’t so fortunate…

Will I run another Ultra? Absolutely as long as I can count it in my 50 states or continents category. Will I be more prepared? You bet. Like I’d make sure that I always had the basics, you know, food and water. And I’d prepare with some like-course training. If there were trails, train on some trails, etc. See though, the thing was that I didn’t really want to know too much. I didn’t want to see how far 50 miles was on the map. I didn’t want to psyche myself out. I wanted to go about it like it was just a marathon. You know, a big plate of pasta the night before, a good nights sleep, a few strong cups of coffee the next morning and a little body-glide. Good to go.

Appalachian Trail
And it really is true, if you’re marathon fit, you can finish 50 miles. I remember thinking to myself as I finished 30 of the miles. Only 20 more miles to go. That is like 20 lengths in the pool; that is like some easy 400’s on the track. That’s right, you can do it. Easy, no problem… And you know what, it wasn’t. Once I got on solid, flat ground, no one passed me. I would see someone in the distance and that would be the next person to pass… I say that no one passed me but that is not entirely true. One girl — she called me ‘girl’ so I guess I’ll call her one — said “come on girl, hurry up, we’ve got to finish in under 10 hours.” And thanks to her, I did.

14 – Memphis Marathon 12/05/2009 Memphis, TN

15 – Disney World Marathon 01/10/2010 Disney World, FL

Hello World!

It is official… I’m GOOFY! A Goofy Challenge finisher, that is…

Brooke at Disney
To recap, Goofy’s Challenge at Walt Disney World, Florida, consists of a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. This was the 5th year of the challenge with the largest field ever, so it is good to know that I’m not the only ‘crazy’ — other people’s words, not mine — one! It was 39.3 miles of pure adventure, weaving through 4 theme parks…. Florida: state # 8, marathon #16, and continent #3 (hit #4 with Australia in July).

The fam and I flew to Orlando on Thursday and began the adventure immediately with Cirque Du Soleil at Downtown Disney. Friday and Saturday — after the half marathon — were all rides, all the time; the bigger, the badder, the faster, the BETTER! Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror… Okay, so here we go:

The Good

Meeting Bart Yasso — Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World — and his great wife Laura, an accomplished Ultra Marathon runner.

Brooke and Bart Yasso
I heard Bart speak at the Expo — very well run (no pun intended!) — about his book My Life on the Run. His talk was a funny recap about his running adventures around the world, his life, and how his life was changed — in a good way :) — by running. It was great to hear his insights… And yup, I asked him to autograph my dog-eared version and yup, I asked if he would be in a photo with moi… A tad embarrassing but hey, I figured that he gets asked this all the time. You’ll see the photo of us from the expo above, as well as the photo of our dinner group. We ate Jiko Restaurant (Animal Kingdom Lodge) Saturday. Great food and great people; lots of fun. Hello Group!

3 medals in one weekend… 3 medals in one weekend… 3 medals in one weekend… need I say more? One for the 1/2 marathon (Donald Duck), one for the full marathon (Mickey Mouse), and one for finishing both on the same weekend (Goofy — but maybe you guessed that!) I set off the alarms going through security, yup it was the medals in the carry on… Am now very tight with alert security guard, Amanda, at the Orlando Airport. Hello Amanda!

Seeing and running with friends from Albany, NY and Washington DC. Hello John and crew from the Albany Running Exchange www.albanyrunningexchange.org, George and Kelly P. and Mandie S! Mandie and I, between marathon miles 5 and 17, decided to run Comrade’s Ultra Marathon (South Africa) in ’11 or ’12. Ok, so it was really her idea… She wants to do it and I need the continent Africa; and how cool would that be?! Anyone want to join us?! If nothing else, it will be an adventure! www.comrades.com

Randomly sitting across the aisle from (on the bus to the expo) and talking to (on the bus back from the expo) a guy who is running in the same inaugural Outback marathon in Australia this July. Hello Bob from LA; see you this summer!
Somehow placing 14th in my age group for the marathon. From yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel: 14.Brooke Curran, Alexandria, VA, 3:35:43

The Bad

The sleet during the 1/2 marathon (Saturday), the ice crystal layer on top of the drinks at the aid stations (Sunday). But really, there was nothing any of us could do about it… The volunteers were great during the whole thing and applied salt — and warned runners — to the slick road (from water spills). At least we runners were moving and warm, well relatively warm… Thanks to all good race volunteers :) I can only imagine how cold ya’ll must have been.
Waking up at 3:30 a.m., to make it to the monorail by 4, in order to make it to the race start on time. 2 days in a row! I was running on 4 hours of sleep a night. Not pretty.
Being passed in the last mile (marathon) by a man dressed up as Mario. I mean, really…

The Ugly

The Goofy was overall harder for me than the JFK 50 miler (November ’09) was. It was harder being ‘race ready’ mentally, two days in a row. It was harder to take it easy (relatively) for the half on Saturday, when you feel so good, and then go out and run a full marathon on Sunday, when you feel so bad. I ‘lost it’ at mile 17 and never recovered. I have never felt this way during a race before, or encountered so many runner’s problems. Sure, I’ve had one issue or other during races or training runs, but never ALL issues, ALL at once: queazy/upset stomach but feeling oddly hungry or in need of substantial food — thanks for the pretzels, Mandi. Asthma — again (!) — about mid way through the race. I began to wheeze and the inhaler didn’t help much. Crazy tiredness — I was just drained. Dehydration? I realized that it wasn’t going to be my day so I just focused on running it in, and finishing… There is no doubt as to why. I was burning the candle at both ends — having tons of fun while I was doing it :) — but, it caught up with me by Sunday, and I couldn’t hold it together. Four hours of sleep, three nights in a row. Never resting, or taking it easy — Sharon, your text words are ringing in my ears! Walking, walking and more walking, standing, socializing, riding rides, staying up late, not eating enough and not eating in regular intervals… So, as a result, I fell apart, but REALLY, being passed by Mario added insult to injury! The GOOD NEWS to all of this is that my body now feels fine. My legs never gave out on me. Go legs! It takes *^&**&** runs like these, to appreciate all of the good ones. That is why it seems strange that I sort of ‘placed’ in my age group for the marathon… Thanks Keno, good friend of Leong from Easter Island, for noting this and saving the Orlando Sentinel for me!

Disney Goofy Race

16 – The Sedona Marathon 02/06/2010 Sedona, AZ

Hello World!

There is so much to say about Sedona, Phoenix and the great state of Arizona that I hardly know where to begin. It was an absolutely fantastic trip; great weather book ended with this CRAZY mid-Atlantic snow event. I just heard the news say that Washington, DC has now broken it’s all-time snow fall record. Power stay ON, power STAY on, POWER stay on! Without further adieu:

The Good

Mannnn… It was almost All Good, so I’ll go in chronological order:

TV interview — Phoenix’s CBS affiliate, KPHO, with anchor Sean McLaughlin. Hello Sean! I’ll post the interview on my website and blog, each of which were recently redesigned by Web-Goddess, Cheryl. Thanks Cheryl!

The drive from Phoenix to Sedona. A two hour drive north along I-17, where you go from city, through desert, to mountain, and pass signs like: Bloody Basin, Big Bug Creek and Dead Horse State Park. Did you know that the Saguaro cactus — the one that looks like a person with arms — lives up to 500 years and doesn’t get it’s first ‘arm’ until its almost 100 years old? In Arizona, the penalty for intentionally harming one of these is a $5,000.00 fine and up to five years in prison. Really.

Meeting great artists. Hello Chris! Check out her website cnormanart.com. The Pink Jeep Tours, literally in Hot Pink Jeeps! Hello tour leader extraordinaire John W… I took two tours through the Jeep: I. The Diamond Back Gulch Tour: a rockin’ and rollin’ vertical — don’t hit your head on the roll bar and Hang On! one, which was paired with the Ancient Ruin site tour (700 year old Sinaquan Indian cliff dwellings). The photo with the drawn figure, was at that site, where these — once, two-story cliff dwellings — hug the cliff face.

Sedona Sandstone Drawing
They had been built from ‘bricks’ and smaller rocks, held together with mortar. Too cool! II. Long Canyon Trail Hike. I know many of you out there are going, Brooke, Brooke now come on, ‘why are you hiking the day before a marathon?’ And I say, ‘because it was there, and it was beautiful!’ I hiked this visually stunning trail — okay, ALL of Sedona is stunning — two hours up and then back down, and learned all about the flora, the fauna, the history and the geology of the area. Worth EVERY lost marathon minute…

Radio Interviews with Juli — see picture — and Brad of the Yavapai Broadcasting Corporation. Check out either my website or blog for these! Also, a big shout out to Mindy of Mendelsohn PR, and Jeff!

Sedona

Meeting Phil Wharton of the Wharton Health Experience www.whartonperformance.com. Phil, who is a world renowned Olympic trainer, gave MOI personal training and stretching tips. My monthly marathon quest CAN be done. It was great to meet you Phil and best of luck to you and your father. I’ll make it to either your NY or Flagstaff clinics one day. Now, how about that introduction to Oprah and Dr. Oz?!

Meeting Terry Hitchcock. Terry, who at the age of 57, ran the equivalent of A MARATHON A DAY for 75 consecutive days. He ran over 2,000 miles — from St. Paul, MN to Atlanta, GA — to bring awareness to the financial and emotional hardships faced by single-parent families. He had just lost his wife to cancer. You inspired me Terry with your emotional courage. I hope that I have your same mental stamina! Can’t wait to read your book and really enjoyed the showing of your movie “My Run.” Terry’s website is www.terryhitchcock.com.

Getting Snowed Out of Washington. The first round of this snowpocolypse delayed my return to reality by two days. The BEST part? Favorite Husband was snowed out of Washington too! He was in Europe en route to more meetings in CA, and with no other place to land on the East Coast for a two-day meeting hiatus, flew to Phoenix to join me. We had TWO, yes, two, WHOLE days together. I don’t think that has happened since 1993. Really.

The Bad

It could have been a little warmer in Sedona. And I would have liked to use the pool in Phoenix. And the hills could have flattened themselves out for me a little during the marathon. Oh, and maybe a little less dust, please, along the marathon course and hiking trails…

The Ugly

With the elevation of Sedona at 4600′, it felt as if my lungs were going to explode. I wasn’t too affected during the hike or the normal walking around activities, but the running kicked my you-know-what. Still, 5th female finisher and 2nd master…

Sedona Wrap Up

  • Notice the new Lululemon race shirt. It says: RunningBrooke, 7 continents, 50 states, 5 marathon majors.
  • Special thanks to Michelle at MacNair Travel, who has gotten me to, and from, and everywhere in between. Now, only if I could convince her to move in…
  • Special thanks to my Favorite Mother who stepped in and ran the house, stepped up and stayed until I could get home, and kept smiling through it all. No kids lost…
  • Saw and cheered on fellow Marathon Maniacs at the race. Hello Maniacs and thanks to Marc, the Maniac Gatekeeper, and Tony for having my blog on their site!
  • FYI. Guns are allowed in the state of Arizona. No permit needed except for if you’d like to conceal it. No smoking allowed and No firearms allowed. Okay, I feel a little better…
  • Clairvoyants, Metaphysics and Spiritualists. Card readers, Personal Enrichment Coaches and Vortexes. It is ALL there, in Sedona!

Sedona Landscapes

17 – Red Rock Canyon Marathon 03/06/2010 Las Vegas, NV

It is a place of ConTrasts and Opposites and gives NYC a run for the title A City That Never Sleeps. So without further adieu…

Welcome to Las Vegas
The Good

The Intense Scenery and access to the outdoors: running, hiking, biking and rafting. ALL within minutes of the strip. In Vegas, you could choose to go outside and experience Outdoor Nirvana, or stay inside, and NeVEr see the light of day. The hotel/ casino complexes are SO huge and so CAVERNOUS that you could — and I’m NOT exaggerating here — eat, drink, smoke (LOTS of smoking going on in Vegas), sleep (NOT so much sleep going on in Vegas), game (remember that is the euphemism for gamble), have spa treatments, workout, go to a 20 screen Cineplex, Shop, Shop, Shop, bowl, see a live show AND never go outside…

The Maverick Helicopter Tour with sunset fly-overs, and incredible views of The Hoover Dam, Lake Meade, extinct volcanoes, Red Rock formations, and the Grand Canyon (with a 2,000′ descent onto a canyon ledge for a light snack and photo op).

Colorado River

*factoid: there is enough concrete in the Hoover Dam to circle the Entire earth with a 5 foot sidewalk… and Lake Meade, up and to the left of the dam, will be dry in about 10 years. A little disturbing… Pictures as we approach The Grand Canyon. This was AmAZinG!

In the front seat, surrounded by glass for spectacular, breathtaking, unimaginable views… Gut wrenching, stomach-lurching **the pilot made special note as to the location of the upchuck bags ** as the ‘copter — without warning — crossed over the canyon edge and the ground instantaneously fell away, only to reveal itself again, 4000’ below!

Maverick Helicopter Tour

*factoid: ECO-Star helicopter, run by the Maverick Aviation Group, cruised at about 120 miles per hour and used 2 gallons of fuel per mile… Feel somewhat guilty about being part of such a energy-sucking, pleasure trip, but hey, as my favorite mother puts it, it is sure better than taking a mule down the canyon! And she’s speaking from experience. canyon ledge landing site (mid-way down)…Colorado River. Riding in a helicopter felt like being a bumble bee — okay, ONLY UsINg my imagination here; my hippie days are behind me! — flitting, and lifting on the whim of wind currents. Eventually making it to the target location…

The Race

The Red Rock Marathon was well run, by a fellow Lululemon ambassador. Hello Joyce! And was set in some of the most SOuL inspiring scenery that I’ve ever run. Pure, Zen-Like, Running Nirvana. Pure connection with nature. Body and mind moving forward; Peace, where all is right in the world. AND, they served fresh, hot-off-the-griddle pancakes at the finish line! Still LOve you Sedona and Easter Island!
Placed 2nd in AG (age group) with 9th place overall (4:12) and got a groovy momento… Ran with fellow Marathon Maniacs. Hello Mitch, Al and Steve!

Marathon Maniacs
The Bizarre and The Unexpected, The Learned
*new category in honor of Las Vegas

  • No coffee pot in the hotel room and no coffee pot to be had. There was a martini shaker, olives, and martini glasses, but NO coffee pot, and no coffee pot to be had!
  • Mid-flight (outgoing) diversion to Albuquerque — yes, New Mexico — because the lady behind me went into Labor!
  • Vegas is OutRageous. A place of Polar Opposites. Awesome in a seemingly lawless way. So cheers; it was a beautiful day for a run!

18 – Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 04/25/2010 Oklahoma City, OK

OK for the OKC Marathon!

 

Oklahoma Airport Gate

We’re spelling out “O” and “K” here, for Oklahoma, bear with me here, people ;D

OK City is a REALLY friendly place to visit! I’ve never been called “hun” and “ma’am” so many times… ever… in my entire, GosH DaRn, life. Refreshing. Pleasant. Respectful. A place where people still take their hats off (as they should), and place their hands over their hearts (ditto), for the National Anthem.

London was supposed to be my RunningBrooke April marathon, but the volcano event and subsequent flight disruptions, had me change course. So, hello Oklahoma City, for the running of the 10th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. And so, without further adieu:

The Good (and The Really Good)

Best first.

Meeting and talking with Running Greats: Bart Yasso, Dick Beardsley and Joan Benoit Samuelson! Each spoke at the Expo. Each shared their personal story. How they came to running, and where running has taken them. Literally, the opportunities, races and places, and not so literally, the strength, courage, and determination, to persevere through life’s hardships. Most important message? To NEVER Give Up.

Meet Bart Yasso, on my right, Chief Running Officer (CRO), of Runner’s World dubbed the ‘Mayor of Running.’ Great guy whom I first met at Disney in January. If you haven’t read his book My Life On The Run, go out. And buy it Now. Funny. Inspirational. Makes you want to get out there! Bart was a 2 pack a day smoker, and at a crossroads in his life, whose first run was a 1/2 miler, to a bar stool, for some cold ones. Visit www.bartyasso.com to learn more. His inscription: Never Limit Where Running Can Take You.

Meet Dick Beardsley, on my left, motivational speaker, London and Grandma’s Marathons Champion. Who, at the ’82 Boston Marathon, lost to Alberto Salizar. By Two Seconds. Here was a kid, a relative no one, from nowhere, running against a known great, in (arguably) the most prestigious marathon. This race is considered one of the most memorable marathons in history. And Dick, who only joined the cross-country team, after being sandwiched by 20 guys, in the first tackle, of the first football practice, and deciding that this sport was for someone else. His book, Staying The Course: A Runner’s Toughest Race, is a great read, where he recounts his rise to running great-dom (made this word up), and his recovery from near-death accidents and pain-killer addiction. In October of 2007. he founded the Dick Beardsley Foundation to help people who cannot afford treatment for chemical dependency. His inscription: Have a Smile on your Face, Enthusiasm in your Voice, Joy in your Heart, and Faith in your Soul. To learn more, visit www.dickbeardsley.com

 

Brooke with Bart Yasso, Dick Beardsley and Joan Benoit Samuelson

Bart Yasso, on my right – Dick Beardsley, on my left – Joan Benoit Samuelson

Meet Joan Benoit Samuelson, two-time Boston Marathon Winner and Olympic Gold Champion (1984 LA games). 1984 was the first year women were allowed(?) to run this distance. Protecting our female reproductive organs for us(?)! She kicked butt finishing in 2:24:28, and ran Chicago a year later in 2:21:21. Joan came to the sport rehabbing, from a downhill ski-racing injury.

Her inscription: May the Many Miles of Life be Good to You.

Her advice to the audience (but I know she was talking only to me ;D), was to run your own race, and don’t get pulled into someone else’s energy field, whereby running theirs. I have met my hero, and she is not taller than me. (always envisioned my hero as someone taller…) Joan has a great article in the May/June issue of Women’s Running. Check out www.womensrunning.com/home

There’s a common thread, and bond, among these three, and I guess, really, among ALL runners, no matter when they came to the sport. It is the love of running (obviously) but, it is also the people we meet, the adventures we share, the stories we have, the camaraderie. It is what running has taught us, how it has become our lives. And for some of us (me included), it has become our vehicle to make a difference in the world. It has become what we can do to help others succeed.

And the Good

Thunder-Mania. OKC Thunder in the NBA playoffs (first for Thunder), playing the LA Lakers (staying at my hotel). The championship rings are HuGE and ummm, GaUdy, hunks of gold. Diamond encrusted, unmissable… Wish I know which players I rode down the elevator, and insulted(?), by saying ‘So what’s up with the ring?!’…

The OK City National Memorial and Museum. Serene strength. Peace in a place of violence. The 128 seconds of silence (pre-race, just after the National Anthem) represented the 128 lives taken that day. It brought tears to my eyes. And I’m no crier. The reflecting pool sits where the Murrah building once stood. Field of Empty Chairs symbolize each life lost (128). A victims name is etched on the base of each. The Survivor Tree withstood the blast and now stands as a symbol of resilience.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

The Bad

I had good to eat was a nice and thick, dripping-rare, (probably corn-fed) steak. But it was. The Best Steak. I’ve ever had.

Winds. Sustained and swirling. Unsettling. Not working for me.

New shoes. Yeah, I really did this. Ran Sunday’s race in a newish pair of Nike Luna Racers (They’ve worked before. Virtually weightless, and score for the high-cuteness factor). I’m vain. Problem was, I ordered a Half-Size. Too Small. Mile 10, feet were talking, mile 16, screaming. Needless to say, I’m returning to the tried-and-true, Mizuno Wave Riders.

Lost Running Karma. My Zen-Like, forward-motion, trace. My Euphoric connection of Body and Mind, moving in harmony to the finish line. Sunday, not so much. I just ran through OK City with a bunch of people I didn’t know, but whom seemed to know everyone. Which was a bummer. Kinda lonely. Usually I hook in with a like-paced, like-minded runner. We work together. We help each other. Not this time.

The Ugly (none!)

Factoids*
*Shopping Cart (1937) and Parking Meter (1935) were invented by OKC’ers
*OKC is the home of the National Softball Hall of Fame
*Oklahoma means “Land of the Red Man” in Choctaw language

19 – Eugene Marathon 05/02/2010 Eugene, OR

Track Town and The Legend of Pre! The Eugene, OR Marathon Report

I loved, LoVed, LOVED, Eugene, OR… Everything about it. The small, college town-ish-ness (with walkable streets, bike lanes, running paths and parks; integrated, and meticulously maintained, throughout the city). The innate outdoor beauty (tall, tall pine trees, mist, ferns — not bought at Home Depot or Costco ;D — and moss). The propensity to think outside the box, with a live-and-let-live attitude. And an alive counter-culture, thanks to a Hippy Migration from San Francisco. Gotta love the Cow Bell!

Eugene Foliage

Eugene is Green — literally and figuratively –, Clean and Serene, where Priuii (Prius plural), Recycling (paper, plastic and compost) and Coffee, rule. My kind of place!

Eugene Oregon Bike and Foliage

So, without further adieu:

The Good

The Oregon Relays at Hayward Field. College and high school athletes competing at Track and Field’s (most?) famous field in the nation!

Oregon Relays Sign

The Eugene Legends.
Longtime running legends, leaders, and Olympians: Mike Manley, Joe Henderson and Cathie Twomey Bellamy. What fun to see the three of them bantering on stage, and answering questions.

Brooke with Eugene Running Legends
Olympian Cathie Twomey Bellamy. Cathie is considered one of the best US runners, in events from the 1500 meter to the marathon. As a kid who wouldn’t let her older brothers ‘best’ her, Cathie’s running career started just after Title IX. Her feelings about the era: “I didn’t think badly/think much of the (inequalities) because I didn’t know any differently. I was grateful for the opportunity to compete and I was just happy to be there.” Cathie is a Mom and a Coach.

Joe Henderson. Joe commented on the HUGE boom in women’s running (thanks Kathrine Switzer!! — Joe also ran the Boston Marathon that year). Joe is a coach and writer for Marathon & Beyond Magazine, but was, for many years, a columnist and editor for Runner’s World.

Masters Marathon World Record Holder, Tatyana Pozdnyakova. Tatyana (I hope you are sitting down for this) holds the record for women over 45, with a time of 2:29:00!!

Mike Manley escaped my photo-op. Mike is considered a Steeplechase Champ and was part of the Olympic Team in Munich in ’72.

Favorite Quotes of the Legends

“Success is not what you once did,
It is what you keep doing…”
and
“Winning is doing the best you can,
With what you have…”

Running in the Footsteps of Legends. Literally. This is The Town and The Track where Olympians are made, and track records are broken. The scenic marathon course took us through city streets, along and across the Willamette River (twice), with a finish at historic Hayward Field (last 200 meters). Had a serious ‘runner’s high’ and finished with one of the best KICK’s ever. Couldn’t let the GREATS down…

Learning and Living (for the weekend, anyway) the History and Mystique from the Running Capital of the World! Bill Hayward (father of the Oregon Duck’s T & F, and coach for World Record Holders and Olympians), Bill Bowerman (coach and co-founder of NIKE, who invented the nub-sole running shoe (still in use today) from a waffle iron, and a new track surface from recycled running shoes. Steve Prefontaine (70’s Running Legend)…

Steve was a distance star for the University of Oregon, who earned 7 NCAA Track and Cross County Titles, Conference Crowns, and 8 Collegiate Track Records. At one time, Steve held EVERY American record from the 2,000 to 10,000, some of which STILL stand today. Charismatic and involved in the community (volunteered and started a running club for prison inmates), Steve tragically died when his MG convertible hit a rock and flipped, killing him, at 24. His death shocked the running community.

Bill Bowerman Statue at Hayward Field. Notice waffle iron base… and Pre’s Memorial in a nearby neighborhood. Notice the shoes, the notes and the medals left behind…

Bill Bowerman Statue and Steve Prefontain Memorial
The Bad

Slow Leg Turnover. I felt strong and ran pain-free, but the legs didn’t want to turn over. Guess the marathon (OKC) the Sunday before took a little toll… And I thought I was invincible…

The Ugly

Yippee, no ‘ugly’ here. Felt strong and confident throughout!

20 – Great Wall Marathon 05/16/2010 Beijing, China

Beijing, China and The GREAT Wall Marathon!

According to Mao (and Mao is still much-loved in China), you become a great hero if you climb the Great Wall. Not saying that I’m any hero, but surviving the Wall was one of the biggest marathon-accomplishments yet. Over 5,200 steps (risers ranging from 2 to 18”), with a 4,000′ elevation change, in heat that topped 88 degrees, and humidity that only Hot Yoga can prepare you. I saw someone slip and break her leg. A man had a seizure. People sitting on the Wall steps in exhaustion, and seizing up with leg cramps, needing electrolytes. It was not only a test of fitness, but one of Planning (bringing ALL nutrition needed), of Strategizing (starting *really* Slow and finishing *hopefully* Fast) and Patience. Little, common mistakes (that ordinarily would just slow you down) turned into big, breakdown, race-ending ones. Things like: How well you hydrated in the days before (always important and hard to do, especially relying on bottled water). How much you rested (none). How well you feel (good). How well you’ve eaten (well). How much of your own supplies did you carry (enough to share, and did). How much sun protection you put on (none, and this was a problem). How many time zones you traveled (gulp, 12)…

There is so much to say about China (Beijing). The people. The Wall. The sites. The marathon. I fear that whatever I write, may be woefully inadequate. It could be a book but I’ll save that for another day. But for now, here we go, with some general, overall observances…

China is a very proud country, in a fever-pitch to modernize. You can feel it. You can see it. Blocks of torn-down rubble surrounded by high-rise producing cranes. Gleaming cleanliness and (sorry) screaming filth. With over 22 million people and 4 million cars + bikes + over-flowing carts + pedestrians (few sidewalks) + mopeds, it was organized chaos.

Crowded Bike Rack

Bike anyone? All unlocked…

China is a country (as told by my Chinese tour guide) about image and saving-face. I bring this up in conjunction with their successful hosting of the 2008 Olympics. They did a great job. The world saw it. But at what cost? 800,000 people displaced to build the Bird’s Nest (90,000 seats) and The Cube. Beautiful examples of extraordinary architecture that now stand empty… Dams built, an entire town flooded (the roof tops are still visible) to make the necessary water-sport venue. But is this advancement? Are people better off? And what was lost for this price? Architecture? A way of life? And this translates to what I saw last week, with the still on-going tear down and build up of the city. Will there be any of the old things left? I wish I could have seen Beijing before 2008…

The 90,000 seat Bird’s Nest, that now empty and without any venues…

Birds Nest Stadium and Chinese Kite

Many kites were flying in the Olympic Stadium Plaza (for sale, as were ‘Gucci’s’ and ‘Rolexes’ ALL for 5 dollars, U.S. ;D)…

Tour Guide Show Ping

Show Ping (tour guide extraordinaire for the week)
Show Ping (phonetic) means “Be Good to Your Parents” in Chinese. He said that there were three things we had to do while in China. See The Great Wall (check), eat a Peking Roast Duck Dinner (check) and see a Kung Fu Show (check).

Noticeably few children, or people under 25ish… The one-child program is a policy, not a law. It seems that most people (especially in the city) follow this. Incentives: I was told that the government will pay you money if you only have one child. And, if you have more than one, you pay money to the government, for the additional social services.
3 Religions: Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism, sprinkled with A LOT of Superstition and belief in Lucky Numbers (#8 especially good). Remember the Olympics Games Opening Ceremony started on 8/08/08 at 8:08:08?
The Chinese are SERIOUS about their tea: Oolong, Jasmine, Black, White and Green.

Chinese Teas

Famous Chinese Inventions: Fireworks (gunpowder), Paper Making (rice paper), Printing and Composting (ahhh… the fond memories of Eugene, OR ;D)
And so, without further adieu…

Statue

The so, so Good!

The Temple of Heaven, made of carved and intricately painted wood, where the emperors of the Ming and Ching dynasties prayed to heaven for a good harvest…

Tiananmen Square, the biggest square in the world. It is hard to imagine this square, in April of 1989, filled with thousands of student and intellectual protestors, and the violence that occurred. Ironic that the day we were there, it was filled with families and tourists enjoying a Late-Spring outing.

Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square

*Factoid: Mao is entombed there in a glass enclosure. Visited by (seemingly thousands) that day, on a street-level platform, he in his glass-enclosure, is lowered and refrigerated at night, to stay nice and fresh, for the well-wishers of tomorrow. No kidding…

Brooke with Baby

I’m guessing that our blond hair and western features made us, me and Favorite Daughter #3, mini celebrities. Families wanted us in their photos, and babies were put into my arms. I was happy to oblige but also happy to hand THIS baby over when I realized that he was not wearing a diaper. Not that I want MILLIONS more disposable diapers in land fills, but something there would have been nice. First clue, dampness at my waist. Second clue, full visual!

The Forbidden City and The Imperial Palace, one of China’s architectural masterpieces…

Forbidden city and Imperial Palace

Male Lion (paw on top of a ball, not a cub) guarding interior palace entryway… And me in front of one of the MANY interior buildings.

A garden within…where a lady preformed her slow-motion morning exercise…

Chinese Woman and Garden

The Summer Palace (1749). Vast mini-city with 4,000+ rooms, surrounding a lake, and beautiful arcade, intricately carved and painted (‘horse-shoes’ the lake). This palace was used by the royal families of the Forbidden City to escape the city heat…
Far away, hill-side building. One of many… Close-up of the arcade and of one of the many pavilions. Notice the woodwork and paintings… a close-up of one of the many (1,000’s (?)) of paintings…

Summer Palace

The Pandas. The emissaries of Good Will for China…

Pandas

There are 3 types of Pandas: Black and White, White, and White and Pink (Manchurian – rare/hard to see). Because of loss of habitat, it is estimated that there are only 2,500 Pandas left.

Rickshaw Tour through the ancient alleys of Hutong, the old city of Beijing!

Rickshaw Tour

Tibetan Lama Temple (1694) with its famous Buddha statues. This temple was originally built for the Imperial Palace Eunuchs, then became the palace for the Emperor’s son. Now considered THE place to come and burn incense, PRAY, and MAKE WISHES. Many believers come, buy incense, donate, and pray that their wish will come true. Buddhist or not…
Tibetan Lama Temple

Race Day, Saturday May 15th!

I had a great run. Just coming from marathons in Eugene, OR (5/2) and Oklahoma City, OK (4/25), I had no expectations. I just ran. My only plan was to start SLOWly, walk the (and I’m not kidding here, 5,200+ steps) of the Wall, run strongly during the middle section of the course (through towns and trails), and finish as FAST as I could. I did that. Was able to negative split. Didn’t kill myself, and placed 2nd in my Age Group!

China Race Start

Me and “Favorite Daughter” #3. The mountains behind us were where we were heading…

Race Officials…

Race Officials
Me and some local kids. About mile 12… Nee how’d (phonetic for hi or hey), and gave out plenty of ‘hi-5’s.’

Marathoners ran this section twice, once in each direction…

Further along. These boys were handing out their hand-made ‘laurel wreaths.’ Tried to run with it but unfortunately, it wouldn’t stay on…

Marathon Route with Kids

Impromptu reunion with Floyd, Nancy, and Goeff (from New Zealand). We were all in Easter Island together last June. None of us knew that any of us would be on this trip! Congratulations to Floyd who has now run a marathon ALL 7 Continents! Nancy, Floyd and myself. Sorry Goeff that you missed being in the picture!

Runner Reunion

*I’d like to recognize Lee at www.marathontours.com who organized this GREAT trip, and who came to my rescue. With NO notice, he booked all flights, expedited all visas (still don’t know how he pulled this off), and had a general “no problem” attitude with anything that came in the way. And lined us up at a great hotel too… Big hug to Lee! See you in Antarctica ;D

The Bad

The Jet Lag. It took me four nights (each way) to sleep well.
The Realization that Dog Meat could be on the menu…

The Ugly

The Bathroom Facilities. I’m a trouper and I don’t mind ‘roughing it’ (within reason), but I was absolutely unprepared for the bathroom situation. Bring-your-own TP and hand sanitizer. Squatty Potties with porta-potty like odors… UGH!
Below are assorted pictures that I couldn’t exclude, but didn’t make it in the narrative, above…

Pearls yet to be harvested… and part of our dinner meal (notice the fish head sans eyes – I wonder where they went?) and the rest of our meal… Most were served this way.

Dinner Buffet

Street vendor foods… Brass water pot, filled in case of fire… and a great Chinese Garden Gate.

Street Scene in China

Old-style weights and measures… A traditional Chinese wedding procession. The bride is in there! Just before the marathon… still not sure what this was about… And how about an Obamao T-Shirt?

Street Scene in China

and one more shot…

The Great Wall

21 – Grandma’s Marathon 06/19/2010 Duluth, MN

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…

Flowers

*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…

Boats in Duluth, MN

*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 ;DKara, 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.

Kara Goucher and Brooke

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 dependency.

Dick Beardsley

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…

Photo 1: 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).

Photo 2: 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…

Photo 3: Walking from bus drop-off to race start. 7 A.M.

Photo 4: and the necessities…

Grandma's Marathon Race Start

22 – The Outback Marathon 07/31/2010 Australia

Sydney New South Wales

Sydney New South Wales

The Rocks: Sydney’s oldest quarter where we traced the footsteps of spice traders and convicts.

*Factoid: A third of all Sydneysiders are foreign born.

*Factoid: The country is slightly smaller than the contiguous US states and the climate, wow, goes from temperate to tropical/subtropical to desert.

The Opera House (below) and The Opera House with the Sydney Harbor Bridge behind highlight this part of the harbor.

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge

*Factoid: Aboriginal presence in the Sydney area has been dated to 43,000 BC.

The first British fleet landed in Sydney Cove in the late 1700’s carrying more than 1,000 convicts, soldiers, administrators and their families. Soon after that, Sydney’s first free settlers began to arrive. In 1840, the transportation of convicts ceased and the rest is history.

The Outback was a three hour flight NW into the Northern Territory. We left the city and once over the mountains, the terrain turned flat, then red and flat, with scrubby vegetation. Soon, we saw Ayers Rock (Uluru) and The Olgas (Kata Tjuta). It was as if these enormous red masses had been dropped out of the sky onto the flat, desert floor.

Ayres Rock at Sunrise

Ayres Rock at Sunrise

*Factoid: Ayers Rock is carved from one huge unfractured, piece of rock. It is 2 1/4 miles long and rises 1,141 feet above the surrounding scrub.

*Factoid: About 500 million years ago, this was all part of the ocean floor. Amazing…

So without further adieu…

The Good
Sydney – city sites and surrounds.

The Harbor Bridge climb. We climbed along catwalks and ladders to the top of the upper arch span for a jaw-dropping 360 degree views — ocean to the east, mountains to the west and the harbor city all around us.

443 feet above Sydney Harbor

443 feet above Sydney Harbor

Famous Bondi Beach (for surfing and catching the sights).

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Featherdale Wildlife Park. A day-long adventure outside Sydney. At the park, we were able to get up close to some of Australia’s most famous animals including koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles.

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Featherdale Wildlife Park

The Blue Mountains. Where we hiked the trails down and back up, twisting through the rainforest and along gorgeous waterfalls.

The Blue Mountains and The Three Sisters rock formation

The Blue Mountains and The Three Sisters (rock formation)

The Outback – red sand and scrub, Ayers Rock and The Olgas.

Sunrise at Uluru (Ayers Rock). Started the day watching the sun rise and the colors change on Ayers Rock.

Sunrise at Uluru

Sunrise at Uluru

Sounds of Silence Dinner. BBQ buffet, under a canopy of brilliant stars, with traditional fare (crocodile, kangaroo and Barramundi) while our Star Talker took us on a journey of the night sky… constellations, The Southern Cross, The Milky Way, and Mars, Venus and Saturn all lined up in a row.

Sounds of Silence Dinner

Sounds of Silence Dinner

*Factoid: You can’t see the North Star in the Southern Hemisphere. Makes sense, I had just never thought about it…

Camel Tour. A cameleer led our small group on Dromedary camels (one humped) along paths, for great sights (again) of Ayers Rock and The Olgas. Camels were imported into Australia and are now a common sight in Central Australia. With no known predators or diseases, numbers are estimated to be over a million wild camels wandering the desert regions.

Camel Ride

Dot Painting Workshop with an Aboriginal guide and interpreter. I have no photos of this as we were not allowed to take pictures, but Favorite Daughter #1 and I were able to listen, learn and then paint our own story using traditional Anangu (native Aboriginal people) symbols and techniques. We heard both the Uluru (Ayers Rock) creation stories and the creation stories of the surrounds, how Kuniya (woman python), Liru (poisonous snake), Mala (hare-wallaby) and Lungkata (blue-tongue lizard) created the land.

Marathon.

Goes without saying. I got a chance to run 26.2 miles in the Australian Outback!

Race Morning

*Factoid: The Aboriginal didjeridoo is likely the oldest instrument in the wind family.

Aboriginal didjeridoo

Didjeridoo player at race start

Kelly from Marathon Tours

No Bad and No Ugly!

(except for a little jet lag…)

I’m off again; this time to Vancouver, BC (Lululemon Ambassador Summit Meeting) and then to Anchorage, AK (August marathon… why not since I’m already out here?).

23 – Big Wild Life Marathon (Humpy’s) 08/15/2010 Anchorage, AK

Just back from Anchorage, AK where I had a fantastic time running Humpy’s marathon. The race is sponsored by Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse which is a cross between a wild west saloon and Cheers, with too many beers on tap to count, bar stools always filled and local bands featured on most nights.

Band at Humpys

I came directly to Anchorage from Vancouver, BC where I participated in the Lululemon Ambassador Summit Meeting. This was a magical few days of company-learning and self-growth (more on this in a separate post). Favorite daughter #2 navigated three airports to join me in The City of Flowers (Anchorage) and we got in as much as we could in our three days there.

Looking Toward Anchorage

Alaska is one big state! It is the northern, western and easternmost point is the United States. Think about that. Northern most point, sure, Western most point, ok, but Eastern? Get this, The Aleutian Chain extends into the Eastern Hemisphere and crosses the International Date Line. Cool. It is the largest U.S. state by area, the least densely populated and has a longer coastline than ALL other U.S. states combined…

From the locals I talked to, I got the feeling that Alaskans don’t much like big government telling them what to do. Washington, DC and all of its politicians certainly seemed faraway and insignificant…

They love their own, with obvious admiration for Sarah Palin — drove by Wasilla — and palpable sadness over the loss of Ted Stevens.

*Factoid: AK has one registered pilot for every 58 residents — 6X as many pilots per capita and 14X as many airplanes per capita than the rest of the U.S.

Glacier

*Factoid: Anchorage — Alaska’s largest city with 42% of the state’s population — sits at the base of the Chugach Mountains and is surrounded by glaciers. 60 of Alaska’s 100,000 glaciers are within 50 miles of Anchorage.

And so, without further adieu…

The Good

The Moose Encounter. Favorite Daughter #2 and I encountered this Bull Moose along the Anchorage Coastal Trail. We watched him for a while before he started walking towards us and (thankfully) veering off to the other side of the trail. Too close for comfort!

Bull Moose

Biking the Anchorage Coastal Trail. This winding coastal trail led us through scented forests and by sweeping vistas.

Alaska Landscape

Green forest floor. *Factoid: Anchorage broke a record for the most consecutive days of rain while we were there… 28 days.

ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) adventure across Alaskan back country. Single file through mud lakes — deep enough for soaked shoes — and over gnarled tree roots and rocks. Cool, but…why did I wear white?

ATV Ride

For surroundings like this…

Brooke and Daughter

Meeting up with Bart Yasso, the official Mayor of Running, and Debbie Cropper, 3 time winner of Humpy’s marathon and winner of the inaugural Outback marathon. She and I were in Australia together just two weeks ago. Serendipitous!

Debbie Cropper and Bart Yasso

Debbie Cropper and Bart Yasso

The Marathon.
I have not felt this light, this strong and this good — during a marathon — in a while. Spiritual. Placed 2nd in my AG (age group), was the 14th female finisher and 55th finisher overall. Why? Why two weeks after running The Outback marathon and trashing my quads hiking — then running down — the Grouse Grind (Vancouver’s premium trail with an elevation gain of 2,800′) just days before. Who knows, I was just happy for it!

Meeting Michelle. She and I live miles from each other but met for the first time in Anchorage. She is honoring her mothers’ memory by running a 1/2 marathon a month for 12 months. Go Michelle! My second Age Group coffee mug…

Michelle and Coffee Mug

No Bad and No Ugly
(sorry, I know this can be fun…)

24 – Omaha Marathon 09/26/2010 Omaha, NE

Just back from Omaha (15th state, 10th marathon in 2010 and 24th marathon overall). Feeling great and looking forward to running in Hartford, CT in two weeks!

Omaha (founded in 1854) is in the heart of the midwest. Lewis and Clark trekked though there (1804) on their westward quest to the Pacific ocean. Originally populated by three Indian tribes (Pawnee, Otoe and Sioux), Omaha soon saw Mormons (great Mormon migration) and pioneers, and, later, laborers and meatpackers. The construction of the transcontinental railroad started (1863) and the mighty Union Pacific Railroad was born.

Omaha is the birthplace of Malcolm X and the home to five Fortune 500 companies (Berkshire Hathaway, Con Agra Foods, Union Pacific Railroad, Peter Kiewit Sons and Mutual of Omaha); it was an interesting place to visit.

And so, without further ado…

The Good

Walkability. A Distinct Downtown District with Sculptures and Parks.

Downtown Omaha

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: a cabled bridge spanning the mighty Missouri River that connects Nebraska with Iowa. Cool!

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

looking back into Nebraska…

Small-town feel. While there, the River City Rodeo was at the Quest Center, the Cornhuskers were playing Oklahoma State and the Heritage Day Parade marched though the downtown. Heritage Day horsemen and… covered wagons… and some really adorable kids.

Omaha Locals

Corn-fed Omaha Steak. I hate to admit, as I am a grass-fed proponent, that this was the BEST steak I have EVER eaten. Period.

Corn Fed Beef

Meeting up with Fran and Jerry. Fran is the mom of a running friend of mine; Fran just completed a marathon in all 50 states. Congratulations Fran! And… Jerry and I know each other from the Easter Island, Chile and The Outback, Australia marathons. He’s also running in Hartford, CT in 8 days. See you there, Jerry! Fran and I have been following each others’ progress and met for the first time in Omaha at the 50 States Club quarterly reunion.

Fran and Brooke

The Bad

*glad to be able to deliver to those waiting for some bad as I’ve been getting some questions about the soundness of my reporting :)

The Marathon.

I either picked up the cold floating around home, or caught one on the plane, but every step was a uninspiring struggle (along concrete roads and through industrial areas, twice), complete with cold sweat, towards the finish line. I did get tons of compliments on the run-wear, however. Glad I had something going for me! Lululemon, of course…

Race Start and with Medal

At the start and holding up my medal at Lewis and Clark Landing
*individually-crafted glass metal – cool…

Omaha Folks

These are not actors and this scene is not staged…

25 – Hartford Marathon 10/09/2010 Hartford, CT

Had a great, but short — less than 24 hrs — stay in Hartford, CT. Known as the Insurance Capital of the World because so many of the world’s insurance companies are headquartered there, Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the US — almost 400 years old — and the state’s capital. The city is home to the nation’s oldest public art museum — Wadsworth Atheneum –, the oldest public park — Bushnell Park — and the oldest continuously-published newspaper — The Harford Courant. It was the home of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. And as Mark Twain put it, “of all of the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is the chief…”

Hartford Umbrella

The weather was beautiful, the race was well run and I hit a milestone — my 25th marathon! Here are the stats: 15 states done, 5 continents done — Antarctica scheduled for March of 2012, Africa, ? — , 4 marathon majors done — 5th and final in London, scheduled for April, 2011. I’ve raised over $26,500.00, giving children and families hope for a better future.

So without further ado…

The Good

Unexpected Reunion #1, childhood neighbor. Our families lived next door to one another and took many family beach vacations together for over 20 years. I remembered that Bill lived somewhere in the area — and then, there he was volunteering at the race expo! Like a big brother to me, Bill coined my nickname “Boingy,” as I had an obnoxious — to others — habit of while sitting, bouncing my back off the seat back… repeatedly. Car seats were my favorite.

Bill and Brooke

Unexpected Reunion #2, runner friend Mike W. Race morning at the Elite Runners Village, I saw super-runner and super-dad, Mike Wardian. Mike came up with my marathon-a-month plan after I asked him “What would impress you, Mike?” And… he won the marathon that morning. Great job, Mike!

Michael Wardian and Brooke

Homes of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. Neighbors — houses just yards apart in a section of Hartford called Nook Farm — and contemporaries, these two prolific authors shared many interests.

Harriet Beecher Stowe transformed her world, and arguably ours, with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the ground-breaking anti-slavery novel. “I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustice I saw…” Harriet Beecher Stowe Home and garden of Stowe, where she spent the last 20 years of her life, a modest Victorian cottage..

Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Mark Twain, American icon, writer, lecturer, social critic and entrepreneur, built this 19 room mansion with every luxury and modern efficiency known at the time. A man who thumbed his nose at social convention, he called his year-around white suit his “don’t care a damn” suit.

Mark Twain House

*Factoid #1: Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Clemens. Samuel chose this pseudonym because it conveyed his love for the water and riverboats. A riverboat leadsman called “mark twain” to signal the water level was two fathoms deep — 12 feet — and safe for boat passage.

*Factoid #2: Ernest Hemmingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.”

The State Capital Building (1872). Standing on the edge of Bushnell Park, this High Victorian Gothic building houses the executive offices and legislative chambers.

Hartford Capitol and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

Hartford Capitol and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

The Marathon.

We ran on a beautiful, crisp morning through downtown Hartford, along the Connecticut River, over into East Hartford, on rural roads and past red-clapboard barns. Great race swag including a handsome medal — the arch you see to the right, an artsy tech shirt and a reusable water bottle.

The Bad

Missed Press Opportunity. I had a TV interview lined up for race day morning — to talk about The RunningBrooke Fund and its support of children and families in Alexandria — that didn’t happen because of a missed call. Ugh!

Missed Speaker and Book Signing. I wanted to hear author Christopher McDougall speak at the Eat Pasta, Run Fasta carbo-load dinner. He wrote A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. He suggests — because this technique resolved his pain issues — we drop our high-tech running shoes and run like the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.

Hamstring Leg Cramps. Both legs from mile 15 on…

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