Sunday, February 28, 2010

Looking good! But why?

The Closing Ceremonies in Vancouver are tonight and the flame will be extinguished. I’m really going to miss the games. As a runner training for the New York City Marathon, there have been many lessons to learn from the past two weeks.

There were the heaven-sent moments of courage and inspiration, when athletes dug deeper and reached higher than anyone knew a person could. I took notes.

But the most important epiphany I gleaned from the Games is that as an athlete, you gotta look good. Really good.

I picked up this little gem in NBC’s sidebar feature on the American team’s headquarters, an impressive “home away from home” in the Olympic Village. The reporter skipped the dining hall and workout facilities I HOPE were there and zeroed in on a fully staffed hair and makeup studio the size of Madison Square Garden, occupied not by figure skaters and ice dancers whose sparkle is their signature, but by … others.

Say it ain’t so!

I always thought that a runner (or any athlete) was never more beautiful than when he or she had just finished getting the job done. Hair hanging like a Rastafarian in a monsoon. Singlet splattered with Gatorade and other fluids we don’t even want to know about. Drippage. Face red. Eyes hollow. Completely spent. Possibly nauseous. Totally gorgeous.

But after Vancouver, I know I was dead wrong. At the end of events, athletes gotta look red-carpet-good as though the effort of sport exacts no cost, takes no toll, leaves no trace. Is this even possible without the vast talent of NBC? And if it is possible, why would we think the illusion is important or care?

(Note to self: Buy waterproof mascara and spray-on bronzer. Add Glamour magazine to subscription to Runner’s World. Marathon training is becoming freaking overwhelming.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's cold. It's drizzling. It's perfect.

It’s cold in Gainesville this morning and I’m jumping-up-and-down excited!

Before I continue, let me attempt to soften appalling insensitivity. I sincerely apologize to all living creatures north of here. I understand that Gainesville’s cold is not “real” cold … and that your cold is. I know it’s no fun at your house. And in your eyes, Gainesville is downright balmy. If it makes you feel any better, it's drizzling.

But I’m excited and I can’t help it. When it’s cold in Gainesville, it’s the rarest gift for a runner. If I close my eyes on my run this morning, I can pretend it’s November 7th in New York and I am rounding Columbus Circle and nearing the finish line in Central Park. (Note to self: Keep NYC fantasy brief. Open eyes before I slam into a parked car.)

So, I’m so sorry for all the rest of you. But a guilty little part of me is quietly celebrating here in Gainesville. Cold day. Warm heart.

I wish you all a great weekend. Stay cozy.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My clothes tell the truth.

A little while ago, I spoke with America’s Dietitian, Kathryn Parker, RD, LD, about why people (uh, like Bev) sometimes have trouble getting control over food plans and how we distinguish between "enough" and "too much of a good thing." She stunned me with the simplified science for which she is well known. She hurled a famous Parker Lightning Bolt:

“With food, the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT is what you’re wearing.”

Don’t tell Kathryn, but in the back of my closet, I keep a small, secret stash of favorite clothes that haven’t fit forever. They are from a time when I understood that food was fun, but mostly it was fuel for training. I ate what my athlete’s body needed.

The clothes in the front of my closet, the ones I wear now, are chosen to cover mounds of too much “want.” When I stopped running and fell off the wagon, I landed in a pile of caloric goo that softened the landing and my midriff at the same time.

Losing your grip on the basic truths of food is a slippery slope, pal. Once I began that slide, no amount of clawing and clutching could stop it. I live in the South, where mayonnaise appears to transform any food into a culinary candidate for the cover of Gourmet magazine, where barbecue is a sacred art form, and where life is so fast paced that it’s acceptable to grocery shop at a gas station on your way to or from something (anything) more interesting than cooking.

I prayed for a bottom. Pleasepleasepleasepleasehelpmestop!!! I had nightmares about firefighters having to chain-saw through the wall of our den to remove me with the Jaws of Life and a crane while a documentary team shot video of Richard Simmons weeping and holding my hand and assuring me that we would get through this together.

But no. Hitting the bottom was far less dramatic.

I quietly bounced off it in October in Central Park as I stood and watched the New York Road Runners build their finish line for the 2009 New York City Marathon—when I remembered that I am a marathon runner and this is my marathon.

If what I’m wearing matches my NEED, then to get there, I’ll wear running clothes.

Thanks, Kathryn. We don’t call you America’s Dietitian for nothing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The braid is to blame.

I braided my hair into a long, neat plait in the back to keep it out of my face this morning.

And my run fell all to pieces.

No, I’m not superstitious. I’m not suggesting that changing my “do” brought bad juju down on me. But for sure, the braid is to blame.

I realize this morning that I run to the soft rhythm of a ponytail. Long and swishing, the ponytail helps me keep my pace steady and relaxed. The braid, on the other hand, was a little tyrant, constantly tapping me on the back, insisting that I pick up the pace: Get faster. Go harder. Come on. Come on. Come on.

I dread to think what a bun would do. I would probably just stand in the driveway for an hour, prim and paralyzed.

Note to self: Add “hairdresser” to list of coaches and consultants. I’ve always known that little things make huge differences on a 26.2-mile run, but marathon training is more complex than I remember.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Alice in Runderland

I'm training for the New York City Marathon! Am I going to be able to pull this off? Why the sudden question? Am I merely out of practice in believing in impossible things?

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe in impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

—From Alice in Wonderland

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I forgot to run.

This morning I discovered myself WALKING! I honestly thought I was running. But no. I evidently just simply forgot to run. Whoops. When my wandering attention snapped alarmingly back into sharp focus, I looked down and suddenly noticed my feet in mosey-mode. The pavement wasn’t a blur. Heck, I could count grains of sand on the road … and had plenty of time to do it. No sweat. No panting. No messy hair. No damp, red face. No runny nose. No dripping mascara. No righteousness of a runner. Just meandering down the road, thinking lah-dee-dah thoughts (if there were thoughts at all). Maybe I was even humming some lah-dee-dah song.

What madness is this? I’m on a singular mission to freaking train for THE New York City Marathon. I’ve got only a few months to hammer this out.

And I FORGET that I’m running???

Oh, this cannot be a good sign.

This is a tragic reversion to the undisciplined life of a couch dweller that uses forward momentum on foot to get from the den to the kitchen and back during commercials.

This can’t happen ever again.

I don’t know how I’m going to guarantee focus, but I’m thinking an iPod cranked up full barrel, a Rent-A-Runner partner with a bullhorn and a tazer, the neighbor’s evil tempered dog Rommel unleashed by agreement on certain mornings, and a commitment to run only in driving rain (with lightning) might be involved. I can never again allow the mind to wander and take the feet with it.

We all know that the marathon is largely mental, but we don’t want to underestimate how important … uh … actual running might be. I’m just saying …

When youth is no longer on your side ...

The Olympics have delivered one more lesson. During one of the skating events this past weekend, the NBC commentator said of a couple's particularly ebullient performance, "Youth is on their side!"

Is youth always an advantage in sports? Well, yeah. Pretty much.

I made a short video of my running yesterday by placing my little camera on the ground and running away from it so I could see my foot strike. I ran far enough that my entire body entered the frame. When I went to study the video, I made the HUGE mistake of accidentally playing it back in slow motion for a few seconds.

I'm not going to describe it. I'm just going to tell you that it took me an hour to come out of the fetal position. I have no idea what's wrong with my foot strike. I never got that far. Who cares??? Forget that I no longer have youth on my side. I'm now far more concerned about age on my butt.

But the marathon is a sport where being a little older is okay. In fact, it's possible for an older marathon runner to finish ahead of a younger runner because judgment factors heavily into covering 26.2 miles and with age comes wisdom. I've seen a lot of young lions who went out too fast and imploded too many excruciating miles from the finish. And I've seen older runners who designed tactical races that to the casual observer, might have seemed reined in at the start, but were calculated for negative splits and guaranteed finishes.

Success in a marathon depends on two things: superlative, meticulous training and judgment. As I said a while back, the marathon is a great leveler of people. And while youth is an advantage, maybe chronological age is less a factor than your ability to put all the pieces together wisely.

And maybe you should NEVER shoot video of yourself running from the rear. Ever.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Second chances and heroic comebacks.

I am drawing heavily from the Olympic Games for inspiration, watching carefully for stories of second chances and heroic comebacks. Fortunately for me, there are plenty!

But the Games have also taught me that second chances and heroic comebacks are hard won. By carefully listening and watching the athletes of snow and ice, I've reconnected to The Rules.

* Work hard every day. No. Harder.
* Let your mistakes be lessons.
* Fear nothing.
* Believe.
* Pull out the stops.
* Rip down the limits.
* Play full out.
* Finish with nothing left.
* Keep your team close.
* Remain humble and gracious as you grind your opponents into the tundra. The press will think you're adorable.

Even though Florida is a long, long way from Vancouver, I'm drawing energy from the winter people.

And speaking of winter people, here is a photo of my coach Jim Wharton in Central Park last week. I think he's training for the Alpine Super-G Back Stroke. Looking good! Go, Jim, GO! Strong finish!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"We believe in women."

I found a back issue of Runner’s World last night: November 2005. It was the introduction of Mary Wittenberg, then the new director of the New York City Marathon. In the article, she is quoted as saying, “This is our statement: We believe in women.”

Good on ya, girl! Me too!

I ran New York for the first time in 1984, the same year that the Olympic Games hosted the first women’s marathon. The gold medal was won by American Joan Benoit in her white painter’s cap. My mom and I watched together from her hospital bed in Virginia. She knew I had entered the New York Marathon for later that fall and was fairly certain that I had lost my mind. But watching Joan Benoit cross the finish line, she suddenly saw the potential of a hardheaded, hard-driving woman in running shoes. My mom, of a genteel generation that regarded sweat as the exclusive purview of men, acknowledged, “Maybe a woman running a marathon is possible … even for you.”

She died a few days later. I think she was a little amused and kind of proud of me for thinking I could do such an outrageous thing. I carried her (and Joan Benoit) in my heart when I ran that New York.

In some ways, returning to running after a few years off is harder than starting from scratch. My head has expectations that my body cannot meet right now or maybe ever again. But that’s okay. I think I’m going to get myself a white painter’s cap and lock onto the “possible.”

See ya in New York!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Poetry in motion

This morning, poetry found its way through the rhythm of running. I didn’t say it was GOOD poetry. I just said it was poetry.


Feet hit the floor.
My body’s sore.
I’m out the door
Cuz I want MORE!

Please save your applause for the finish line of the 2010 ING New York City Marathon, where I will welcome your standing ovation for my athletic prowess and poetic genius. I might even compose another poem during the marathon ... if I can find a word that rhymes with DOES THIS MYLAR BLANKET MAKE MY BUTT LOOK FAT?

Hope your weekend is going great. See you on the road!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A great coach talks about fun.

As I’ve told you, on weekends some of the Gainesville runners gather at a local bagel shop after we run. Last weekend, Thomy stopped by our booth and slid in to talk for a few minutes. In addition to co-owning a cycling shop, Thomy is also an accomplished marathon runner. And in addition to being an accomplished marathon runner, he’s also a coach for boys’ and girls’ high school cross-country and track teams. He sometimes shows up for bagels accompanied by a happy gaggle of sweaty, starving teenage athletes after they’ve worked out or raced.

But I digress ...

One would think that a man who cycles, runs, and coaches would take his sports so seriously that his chosen topics of conversation would be confined to all things technical.

One would be wrong.

Coach Thomy talked about fun. Of all the good things running is, the best is that it’s fun. We enjoy it. We’ve never been sure whether running attracts great people or attracts ordinary people and makes them great, but it doesn’t matter. We decided that either way, the net result is a solid human connected to joy.

We talked about all the friends we’ve made through running, and all the couples that have met on the roads and married and now have children, some of whom are almost grown up and are runners too. (By the way, Thomy’s wife is also a New York City Marathon runner and their daughter is on one of his teams.)

In Gainesville, marathon running has created a community of fit, happy friends who have maintained tight relationships for decades now. Some have moved away, but have never left the fold. They have merely expanded the geographic reach of our family of friends, and wear our familiar Gainesville tee shirts in other places now.

Our lives are measured not by years, but by miles on the road. Our bond is not one of blood; it’s one of sweat and Gatorade … and probably good bagels and cream cheese (low fat, of course).

Thanks, Thomy, for never losing sight of fun. Joy is the Holy Grail far beyond any finish line. Good coaches know about running. Great coaches like you know what running is about.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


“Into every life a little rain must fall.”

Rain fell into my life this week, but it wasn’t “a little.” It was a deluge so overwhelming that it required an ark for survival. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo that I would need an ark. I didn’t have time to get out my hammer.

Life is forever changed. I am a runner, so instead of dealing with catastrophe by doing things that will surely land me in the Betty Ford Center, I’ve decided to try to “run it off.”

We all know that there are situations in life that no amount of running can fix, but we also know that a few miles on the trail can knock the jagged edges off sorrow … even if only for a few minutes. And those few minutes might be the beginning of healing. Maybe.

The problem is that I run in the morning before work. There’s an irony here. Running reduces stress. But I’m not stressed before dawn. I’m asleep. This is the only time I’m NOT stressed. The minute I awaken, I'm plunged back into the reality of here and now.

This cycle is a Catch-22 I need to resolve if I am to have any expectations at all. I’ll give it thought while I run this week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Last night NBC announcer Bob Costas described the sports of the Olympic winter games as, “Artistry, speed, and guile.” I loved that. Wouldn’t every athlete—even a marathon runner—want his or her performance to be described in those terms?

I would!

It has been said that I bear an eerie resemblance to Sasquatch when I run through the forest, so I think “guile” perfectly describes my style and speaks to my aspiration to run the New York Marathon again.

I am one-third of the way to meeting the Olympic standard already!

Therefore, it is with pleasure and pride that I announce that immediately following my triumph in the 2010 ING New York City Marathon, I will begin training for the women’s marathon trails for the Olympic Games in London in summer 2012.

See? I told you. Guile.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bev goes into sports broadcasting.

Training for the hills of New York City might challenge most flatlanders. But not one in Gainesville. The University of Florida Athletic Association generously opens the Gator football stadium to the community for training. Doing stadium steps is a killer great workout. I take you for a few-second video peek inside the famous Swamp, where Gainesville runners learn to deal with the ups and downs of running the marathon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jim checks on my sanity.

Jim Wharton called last night to talk about the "shoe incident." (I mentioned it to you in the posting on February 10 -- "A gift from Jim Wharton!") I thought it was over. I was wrong.

Jim: Hey, girl. Jim here. Just checking on you. Running going better?

Bev: Hi, Jim! Better. That DVD about Fred turned everything around. Again, thank you so much for the surprise. It arrived when I needed it most. You just sensed that my running was in trouble, didn’t you?

Jim: Uh, Bev, you FedEx’ed a hacked up running shoe and a half a Snickers bar to the clinic in New York.

Bev: Funny, right?

Jim: Yeah, it was pretty funny, but I’ve been bothered by the single shoe. Why only one shoe?

Bev: It wasn’t necessary to hack them both up. The other one got the point.

Jim: Bev? Did you make the other shoe … watch?

Bev: Now, that’s just plain crazy.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah, it is. Well, did you???

The conversation went on for a few minutes until I couldn't stop laughing and Jim had assured himself that his runner was (mostly) sane. Good thing Jim Wharton is an expert in the behavior of athletes, is quick to recognize the subtle signs of stress in training, and knows how to handle them. A lesser man would be filing a restraining order.

[The photos are of Jim Wharton and The Psycho Shoe at the Wharton Performance Center in New York. I love the look on his face! And for the record, the other shoe is fine.]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My running partner AJ.

My dog AJ is 19 years old. Last night as she napped on the floor, she dreamt dog-dreams of running. I watched as she ran on her side, legs pumping, until breathless and huffing. For those few minutes, she was free from a body that’s failing. It was so great.

Aging sucks. She and I will both confirm that.

When we were much younger, we ran together in San Felasco Hammock State Preserve right across the road from our house. It’s 6,500 acres of forested heaven with miles and miles of trails. We tied two leashes together: one attached to her collar and one around my waist so that both of us had plenty of slack in the line. She agreed to help me train by scouting the trail ahead and setting the pace. In exchange, I agreed to stop and wait at the occasional whiff of something that needed her attention. We had fun for a long, long time.

But life happened and AJ and I got older. Eventually running in the forest gave way to running in the neighborhood. Then walking. And now just sniffing around awhile. Just so you know, at age 19, AJ can still gallop from the end of our driveway to the back door when her supper’s waiting—a testament to an elderly runner-dog’s ability to summon a power surge when food is involved.

She’s confused by my return to the forest alone. On some days, so am I. I wonder what happened to the young woman and shining dog who used to run the trails. I try not to let AJ see me putting on my running shoes. But I know that if her vocabulary extended beyond “cookie” and “good dog,” I could explain and she would understand completely and give me her blessing. She, like all dogs, wants the best for the humans in her care.

AJ and I both dream of running again. Only one of us can make it really happen now. You know what I’m going to do for her this weekend? I’m going to sniff the air as I run, and when I catch the scent of something interesting, I’m going follow my nose until I find it … and maybe even dig it up and wallow in it. Just as she would. You’d do the same for your running partner, right?

Friday, February 12, 2010

This weekend is for sports!

The Olympic Games in Vancouver
February 12-28

Watch on NBC.

Also, this weekend is the LifeSouth Five Points of Life Marathon here in Gainesville. We wish all the runners a WONDERFUL run!

Why the marathon?

Yesterday someone bluntly asked why I love running when I’m obviously so bad at it.

I cracked up.

I’ve always been bad at it. Fred Lebow once shook his head in exasperation and declared that if I ever broke four hours in New York (elevating me to the high altitude status of “average”), he was going to have me drug-tested. I worked hard for years to earn his demand that I pee in a cup. But it never happened.

I’ve never been good enough to finish in average time. Not then. Not now. Possibly not ever.

So why cling so ferociously to the marathon when I know I might never finish with a respectable time?

Simple. Not all the gifts of the marathon are measured in time.

The marathon, whether you break the tape or drag in at dusk, is generous. The gift at the finish line is clear knowledge that quitting was never an option. This isn’t something you can learn with your intellect. It has to be delivered to your soul through decision. When pain, exhaustion, hunger, thirst, cold, and fear take hold of you (maybe around mile 20) and everything in you tells you to hail a cab, the marathon teaches you to dig down and find the will to take the next step … and the next … and the next … all the way to Central Park. When you tap into that wellspring of resolve, it stays tapped forever and translates into all aspects of your life. Once you’ve crossed the finish line of the marathon, you become a formidable human in every way. It doesn’t matter where in the pack you finish. It matters only that you do.

There are other gifts. I’ll tell you about them someday. But this morning, I wanted to begin to answer the question, “Why?”

Why, indeed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Running in a winter wonderland

I talked to Jim Wharton in New York yesterday. Sometimes when I ask and he has time, he walks onto the sidewalk outside the clinic and holds his phone up so that I can listen to the sounds of the city. But yesterday when the man risked life-threatening frostbite to indulge me, there were no traffic noises, no sideswiped conversations, no dogs barking. New York City had taken the day off under the silent cover of snow. Jim said it was beautiful. It even sounded beautiful.

So this morning when I ran, I thought warm and guilty Floridian thoughts … and sent them to New York, exchanging them for the muffled chill of the Upper West Side.

I often think of New York as I run here in Gainesville. I know that at the exact same second I roll out of my door, the runners of New York are rolling out of theirs. Together, we shake sleep off our shoulders and take on the morning. As my foot hits the pavement, it’s in perfect lockstep with thousands of footsteps in New York.

Together, we are training for the ING New York City Marathon.

This is communion.

Of course, all runners (even those in my mind) are faster than I am and leave me behind, so communion is replaced quickly by abandonment issues, self-loathing, and ever-present disappointment at not being Kenyan. But for a few sweet moments, I am a thousand miles away and part of a world much larger than my own. I am in Central Park, running in the snow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A gift from Jim Wharton!

Jim Wharton has an uncanny intuition for knowing when things aren’t going well in Bev’s life. Perhaps a thousand years of friendship have spun a tensile psychic thread between my soul and his. Perhaps in his quietude, he’s attuned to darkening corners of the universe. Or maybe he inferred some meaning from the running shoe I hacked up with a butcher knife and mailed to his clinic with a half-eaten Snickers bar.

Astonishingly, without my having to say a word, he just somehow … knew.

And being Jim Wharton, he rushed to the rescue of a despondent runner whose training refuses to come together. Look what the man sent me! If ever there was the perfect gift at the perfect time, this DVD is IT.

Run for Your Life is Fred Lebow’s story. The back cover reads:
The story of how one immigrant's determination and sweat created the most significant running event in the world. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE touches the heart and soul of anyone who has a passion for running, and documents the inspirational life of Fred Lebow and the history of the New York City Marathon.

To the rest of the world, Fred Lebow is best known as the founder and director of the New York City Marathon. But to me, he was mostly a beloved friend. I miss him. Having this DVD—when I’m trying to return to running and to his marathon specifically—well, it’s like an invitation: “Come home, prodigal runner!” Seeing Fred and all those familiar faces and places reminds me of who I used to be and who I am still when no one is looking. I’ve watched the DVD repeatedly and puddled up every time.

Maybe someday I’ll tell you the story of the unlikely friendship between a back-of-the-pack runner from Florida and the great Fred Lebow himself. But for today, you need to go shopping and get to know the man who changed our lives forever with passion that galvanized into the greatest marathon in the world.

I found three places you can buy this DVD: (New York Road Runners online store under “books” – It would be good to support them with your purchase, but don’t register for the marathon lottery, okay? The odds of my getting in are already abysmal.) (new and used) (where you’ll also see an entertaining array of extra material)

Make popcorn, call your running buddies over, and settle in. You’re going to love this DVD. I promise. And if you see Jim Wharton, thank the man for snapping Bev back to reality.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Runners are good people.

Yesterday I enjoyed the privilege of a phone conversation with a luminary in the world of running. I asked if being recognized creates awkward moments and log jams on starting lines. I could hear a smile in his voice when he said humbly, “No. The community of runners isn’t like that.”

He’s right, of course.

I have always been struck by what a great leveler of people the marathon is. I have stood many times at the starting line of the New York City Marathon on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and distractedly scanned the crowd of runners that surrounds me. I sense no nationality, age, gender, education, profession, bank balance, religion, political affiliation, ideology, language, or worldview. We’re all merely humans clad in runners’ clothes that hide no flaw. On that bridge, we’re as real as we ever get. And even though we each run alone among the thousands, we’re all people on a collective mission to bring our best to unforgiving streets, leave nothing behind, and deliver everything we have at the finish line in Central Park.

When the cannon signals the start of the marathon, something sweet and secret happens in the back of the pack where I run. Instead of a massive surge forward in dog-eat-dog jockeying for position, the field quiets and spreads slightly so that each runner has a little room and no one will tangle up or trip. There is unspoken agreement that this day is going to be long and the marathon is going to be hard and none of us is going to win, so we’re going to take care of each other and make sure we all finish. People smile and wish companion-strangers well before the pace quickens and we gently crest the high point of the bridge. By the time we start down the other side, no one speaks at all anymore, but grace and respect for each other and our mission remain.

I love this about the New York City Marathon. I hadn't thought about it in a long time … until yesterday. There are lessons of the marathon that we carry far beyond the course.

Runners are good people.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bev discusses "itch" and "yuck." Who loves ya, baby?

From my email queue: I got a funny, delicate question this weekend.

When I started blogging, I had lofty plans for creating frequent explorations of deep philosophical and spiritual aspects of running. But two things have become apparent over the past weeks: First, I have a quickening sense of responsibility to my fellow runners who are now checking in with me for practical things. And second, I don’t have deep thoughts every day. So the “delicate question” meets perfect timing.

There is no good way to open a discussion of runners’ body parts described in terms of “itch” and “yuck,” so I’m just going to get to it. Candor wins out over Southern decorum.

The email question: “Hey, Bev. I have recurring jock itch. It’s easily treated and goes away, but it always comes back. I sweat heavily. I can’t help it. Between the faint, funky odor that has seeped into all my running clothes down to my socks and the frequent infections in unmentionable places, running is taking a toll on my social life. Yuck. Any suggestions?”

Yes, my friend. Bev has suggestions.

Runners sweat. Sweat is wet and soaks clothing. When a wet garment is allowed to remain in contact with a warm body part, microbial badness happens. (Yes, this is the correct scientific term.) There are ways to prevent it. Much of it is self-evident. When you’re finished running, take off your sticky, stinky clothes, and take a soapy shower. Dry thoroughly before you dress in your day clothes. Launder your running gear before you wear it again. If you can, use bleach. (Whatever you do, don't let your damp clothes pile up while you try to amass a load of "whites" sufficient to justify a bleaching. This will generate microbial badness on an apocalyptic scale. You'll never be rid of it.) And dry out your running shoes. Many runners have two identical pairs of shoes and rotate them, so one pair is dry while the other is drying.

But here’s the runner’s secret for helping keep bacteria, yeast, fungus, and other assorted “itch” and “yuck” away from the body. After you remove your laundered running clothes from the washer, but before you dry them, seal them in a plastic zip-up bag, and microwave anything without metal, still damp, for three-four minutes. Badness is obliterated. Then take your clothes out of the plastic bag and toss them into the dryer or hang them. You’ll have CLEAN clothes. Funk doesn’t survive nuking. (And yes, you can save the plastic bag and use it repeatedly. Very ecologically responsible. You can “go green” now, but in a good way.)

Okay, then.

I’m gratified that in spite of a brutally frank answer to a delicate question, we have a lofty, quotable moment this morning: “Funk doesn’t survive nuking.” We should all have tee shirts made.

Final thought: I think the Saints finally won their first Super Bowl last night because they trained every day and never gave up or stopped believing they were champions. Run well today, my friend. Dig deep and know.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday is the day of rest ... or is it?

It’s Sunday, the day that God gave us to rest. So what does a marathon runner do with it? Run the LONG run. What part of “rest” did we not understand?

The enduring tradition of the Sunday long run has always challenged my logic. For sure, it rips “rest” right out of the day-of-rest equation. Boldly and unapologetically, it makes mincemeat of the day. And on Monday, the toll of the long run launches the week with a tiny net deficit in energy (even though we sleep GREAT on Sunday night). As many years as I have been pondering the insanity of it, I’ve rarely been able to re-order the universe and run the long run on … say, Wednesday night. Of course, at this stage of my piddling training, the term “long run” is sort of a misnomer. It’s more like a short-distance jog with intermittent walks and a full-blown halt once or twice to admire the azaleas in bloom by the path.

But the joy of today’s “long run” is remembering that the New York City Marathon is run on a Sunday. So perhaps I’ve begun imprinting the behavioral pattern into my training that in November, will translate into: “Hey, it’s Sunday! Today is the day we run the New York City Marathon!”

Besides, as all runners do, I know for sure that running restores a person’s soul. Like rest. Only better. It re-calibrates and refreshes parts of your spirit that kicking back only softens.

Run long; run strong. We can kick back later.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back to the countdown to New York!

I need to straighten out a small confusion. I got emails and calls this week from people who wished me well in Sedona today. And as wonderful as it is to think that I could be in marathon-shape in less than a month of training (for I am noted for an aggressive taper), sadly I’m not running Sedona.

I loaned the blog to Phil Wharton in Arizona this week to use to encourage his Sedona runners. Marathon runners are like this. We're hugely supportive of each other.

Also, if one is in the New York City Marathon lottery system (as I am), one naturally hopes that Sedona runners might be so thrilled with their marathon that they won’t apply for New York. Without an inundation of Arizonans, the odds of a Floridian New York lottery applicant getting in might increase from one chance in a gazillion to one chance in a bazillion. I’m not saying that I’m self-absorbed, but I could see a small, serendipitous, personal benefit to helping Phil make the Sedona experience a successful one.

Besides, if I don’t get into New York in November, I might be running Sedona next February … and I want them to look kindly upon me. “Say, isn’t that Bev, the blogger who sacrificed her postings for an entire week just so Phil Wharton could keep us pumped up last year? I ran a PR because of her. Let her have extra Gatorade!”

But mostly, honestly, and really, I got caught up in the excitement of Sedona and red rocks. Phil and his runners have been going through all the “week before” preparation so familiar to me after sixteen marathons. I loved it. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all well today. As Phil always says, “Enjoy the experience.”

Tomorrow, we get back to talking about the Floridian quest for New York. And the Sedona runners can sleep in. For results, go to

Friday, February 5, 2010

FRI: Countdown to Sedona from Phil

One day to Go Time!

Short discussion about the "few showers" predicted: We are not going to let a little rain spoil our fun on one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Arizona needs the rain!

Here are four tips to help you make this marathon your best ... even if you get a little wet.

1. Wear light technical clothing that won't get too heavy in a downpour.
2. Use a light running cap to keep your hair dry and keep your view of the road open.
3. Wear shoes that have mesh uppers so they drain better. Make sure your socks are thin so they won't bunch up and cause blisters.
4. Bring dry clothes to change into right after the race.

Quote for the day: “Ask yourself: 'Can I give more?' The answer is usually: 'Yes.' " -Paul Tergat, Kenyan professional marathoner

I’ll see you tomorrow. You’re ready. Enjoy the experience.


Forecast Sat Feb 6

Few Showers
Few Showers

52° High
40° Low

Thursday, February 4, 2010

THURS: Countdown to Sedona from Phil

Only two days left! Time to really start fueling up with High Octane Fuel. The better the food quality, the better your body will feel. If you're running the half or full marathon, now is a good time to up your caloric intake. Don’t wait until the night before the race. Remember, you want to have a full tank when you begin your long journey!

Quote for the day: "Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" - Peter Maher, Canadian marathon runner

Enjoy the experience.


Weather Forecast Sat Feb 6

Few Showers
Few Showers


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WED: Countdown to Sedona from Phil

Good Morning, Arizona Runners! Three days to go. You are tapering down now. If you're running the marathon, you have been reducing your training for several weeks. No matter what distance you’re running this weekend, now is a great time to use the extra time you would be running to focus on your flexibility. If you’re in Sedona, I’m teaching a flexibility workshop. Come on by. You can also find some great range of motion exercises on

Quote for the day: "You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." - Steve Prefontaine

Enjoy the experience.


Forecast for Sat Feb 6

Perfect Weather for the Marathon

Few Showers
Few Showers

50° High
41° Low

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hey, Sedona Runners. I'm weather-watching for you!

Forecast Saturday, Feb 6
Perfect marathon-running weather!

Few Showers
Few Showers

51° HIGH
42° LOW

TUE: Countdown to Sedona from Phil

Good Morning, Arizona Runners! Phil Wharton is taking over the blog this week! Just for YOU!

It's Marathon Week here in Arizona as we count down to the Sedona Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k. Time for us all to start making deposits in our "Rest, Regeneration, and Recovery Bank" so we can reap the dividends on race day! On race week it's good to go to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night. If you start tonight, you'll have an extra hour of energy when you need to wake up early and feel great on race day!

Quote of the day: "Everything has a force. Either embrace it or deflect it. Why oppose it?"

Enjoy the day.


Monday, February 1, 2010

The Sedona Marathon is this weekend!

The Fifth Annual Sedona Marathon takes place on February 6 ... and guess what! Phil Wharton will be there to take runners through the famous Active-Isolated Flexibility training that revolutionized sports, particularly marathon. Runners of Arizona, you have NO idea how fortunate you are to have Phil there with you right now. Athletes fly from all over the world and pay thousands of dollars to sit at his knee. And he's all yours for the marathon! Check out the special Web site for details.

Sedona runners, I wish you the very best on February 6! May every step on the route through ancient red rocks bring joy and carry you closer to discovering how strong you really are when you decide that quitting is not an option.

Phil Wharton will be at the Sedona Marathon Feb 4!

Phil explains the photo and reveals another secret.

Howdy, Bev! Phil checking in ...

Wow! A picture IS worth a thousand words! The photo taken at the tennis court looks like we really worked 'em over the edge! Did I rip a page out of John Parker's "Once a Runner"? 40 X 400 meters really isn't that tough!

Truth be told, this is a group of high school athletes I was taking through a visualization and meditation training. The athletes were experiencing the power, flow, and relaxation from learning to "turn inward" to access their energy centers.

That brings us to your second question. You wanted another "Kenyan Secret." During my visits to Kenya's Rift Valley, I mostly stayed with Moses Tanui. Moses is a superstar in the running world. Moses was one of the great cross country runners; he was world champion on the track; and he won the Boston Marathon two or three times. During my longest stay in Kenya (4 1/2 months), Moses was my running teacher and I was his therapist for keeping his body healthy. We formed a deep friendship in that exchange.

Moses, like many of the great Kenyan athletes, was in the armed forces and competed for the military team as well. That is the reason some of his metaphors were military language or jargon. On one occasion after a extra tough workout (and by the way, all the workouts were tough to me as I was running 140 miles a week at fast paces with high altitude and hills), Moses said to me, "Philip, we were bombed today! But you know what? I am still MOSES TANUI!"

At first I thought, Wow! This altitude and training load have really spiraled this guy into an ego-fueled frenzy. Then I thought about the power of belief. I realized that Moses believed in himself more than any external confidence could give him. That day, I really learned something that has helped me through difficult moments ... and not just with running.

Thank you, Moses.

"Philip, the marathon is 42k. It is very difficult, but you must finish!"-- During a 14k run together near his birthplace.

Keep the spirit! Love the laundry "Afterburn." In Kenya, we washed our clothes by hand at altitude. That really elevated the heart rate!

Keep running, baby. New York City Marathon one more time!!!