Archive for the ‘Essays’Category

What If Disney’s Beauty & The Beast Were Runners?

Beauty & the Beast, runDisney

Beauty and the Beast

If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be?

The Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend of races kicked off today with the Cinderella Royal Family 5K, and continues Saturday with the inaugural Disney Princess Enchanted 10K and the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Not to be forgotten is the first ever Glass Slipper Challenge, where runners complete both the 10K and half-marathon. Talk about medal envy; I’ve got it bad. You know I love me some Cinderella.

So in honor of the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I thought I’d share another installment of my runDisney Running Profiles.

Previous installments have looked at Sleeping Beauty as the runner who needs some rest and recovery, Alice in Wonderland as the newbie runner who has fallen down the running rabbit hole, and Cinderella as the hard working back-of-the-pack runner.

But who better to spur runners on this Princess Half Marathon weekend than Disney’s best cheerleader, Belle?

Beauty & the Beast, Disney running

Belle

Beauty & the Beast: The Coach and the Runner

Great coaches—in running and in life—are the people who bring out the best in us. They cheer us from the sidelines, encourage us when we’re down, expect more of us when we give them less, and help us show the world, and ourselves, just how great we really can be. Never is that more apparent than when watching the Olympics.

In the Disney universe, the greatest coach of them all is Belle from Beauty & the Beast. And the Beast is a quintessential runner.

If I had to pick one Disney character to coach me, Belle would be my top pick. Read the rest of this entry →

I’ve Got Peace Like A River: Reflections On Running

i've got peace like a river

After a swim at the Holy Cross Monastery in 2007 (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

In just four weeks I’ll be on my way to the Jerusalem Half Marathon.

I thought this would be the perfect time to share an essay I wrote back in August 2007 called “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.” I was one month into training for my first marathon—the New York City Marathon—and at the end of a religion reporting fellowship. I’d spent the previous eight months immersing myself in the world of belief, traveling to India and across the U.S. to uncover stories of faith.

Near the end of the fellowship, my colleagues and I went on retreat at an Anglican monastery that observes complete silence for 12 hours every day, from 8:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. It was a unique experience to play Scrabble in silence and eat breakfast at communal tables in quietude.

But it gave me a chance for reflection; I think that was the point. In the stillness, I found that running, rowing, and swimming—the exercise of my life—have been the conduits of my own spirituality.

I’ve Got Peace Like a River

i've got peace like a river

A tree on the Hudson River. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Floating. The sun stares down, turning the inside of my eyelids red. The water feels warm, but a cold current tickles my fingers, rolling over them in tiny waves. My arms above my head, my toes pointed, I stretch as long as I can, tensing all my muscles, then relaxing. Little splashes of water wash over my face as the wake of a boat crosses the river toward me.

I float downstream. I am all alone. Just me and my river.

The Hudson runs past my home in Manhattan. But here, at the Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York, it’s a retreat. A retreat from my work-a-day world into the inner sanctum of my own being. Read the rest of this entry →

2014 Winter Olympics Evoke Childhood Dreams

2014 Winter Olympics

The Olympic rings in Whistler, Canada. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

As a kid, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Olympics. My family would gather around the TV night after night and watch the spectacle unfold. I was dazzled by figure skating and skiing in winter and obsessed with swimming and running in summer.

And since this was the dark ages before the Internet, I’d keep my own medal tally like the nerd that I was—and still am—drawing gold medals with yellow and blue markers (for the metal and ribbon, naturally), silver with grey and red, bronze with brown and orange. Forget Leap Year. The Olympics were the event I waited for every four years.

Once again, they have arrived.

As I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (holy jellyfish/dove of peace dance!) I was transported back to 2010 when I was lucky enough to attend the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a reporter. It was not only a career highlight, but also a personal dream come true.

2014 Winter Olympics

She-Ra rides Swift Wind “For the honor of Grayskull!”

I think Graham Watanabe, who competed for the U.S. in Snowboard Cross, summed it up best:

“Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.”

By the power of Grayskull! Apparently, being an Olympian is like being She-Ra.

It’s kind of what it felt like to attend the Olympics too. What struck me most was this: I was not only watching athletes doing what they do best, but doing what they do better than anyone else in the world. At that moment in time, there would be no faster speed skater, no lovelier figure skater, no more daring snowboarder. I witnessed the pinnacle. And we all get to witness it every four years. That is magical. Almost as magical as She-Ra riding Swift Wind, her winged unicorn.

2014 Winter Olympics

My Cinderella storybook cassette. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Olympic Childhood Dreams

How many of us as kids dreamed of being Olympians? I’m guessing a lot of us.

I always dreamed of going to the Olympics someday, albeit as an athlete. Swimming was my sport back then and I was sure I was going to be the next Janet Evans.

2014 Winter Olympics

Side 2 of the tape contained my Olympic warbling. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Not too long ago, I unearthed a cassette tape I had made on my purple boom box (it was the ‘80s after all) when I was about 8-years-old. Appropriately, it was the backside of a Cinderella storybook cassette. Regular readers know I’m officially obsessed with Cinderella. What you may not know is that I was equally obsessed with She-Ra. Like Cinderella, she is a princess. But she is the Princess of Power! A warrior. And what are athletes if not modern day warriors?

The recording reveals an intrepid young journalist (played by me) “interviewing” an Olympic swimmer (also played by me).

It went a little something like this. Bless my 8-year-old heart, this is an actual transcript of the recording). Read the rest of this entry →

08

Feb 2014

A Running Pilgrimage To The Jerusalem Marathon

Jerusalem Marathon

Runners pass the Tower of David at Jerusalem Marathon (Photo: Kobi Gideon/Flash90-IsrealTourism/Flickr)

In its fourth year, the Jerusalem Marathon has grown to become a large international event. In 2013, 20,000 runners from 54 countries competed at the Jerusalem Marathon weekend; 1,730 of them came from abroad. This year, I’ll be one of them.

I’m going to the Jerusalem Marathon on March 21 as part of a press trip sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with El Al Airlines. The event includes marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K and 800-meter races. I’ll be running the half-marathon.

Jerusalem Marathon

The 2012 Jerusalem Marathon (Photo: Uri Lenz/FLASH90 – IsraelTourism/Flickr)

The courses were designed, the race website says, to trace Jerusalem’s history, taking runners through the Old City and past the Tower of David to more modern locales like the Knesset and Hebrew University.

But the course itself has been an issue of political debate. The Palestine Liberation Organization asked runners and sponsors to boycott the 2013 Jerusalem Marathon because it traveled through East Jerusalem. Read the rest of this entry →

25

Jan 2014

Race Report: Disney Family Fun Run 5K

running streak, Disney Family Fun Run 5K

Pausing for a pic in Epcot with my mom during the Disney Family Fun Run 5K. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

This year, I took the name of the Disney Family Fun Run 5K seriously and did it with my family—my mom to be precise.

runDisney invited me to be their guest at the race. When I asked her if she wanted to join me at Walt Disney World, she jumped at the chance and quickly pronounced her desire to do her first 5K.

The Disney Family Fun Run 5K on Thursday, January 9, 2014 was the first of four races at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon with some runners doing all four for the Dopey Challenge.

The 5K was the first of three races for me. I was doing everything but the marathon, and in costume, of course.

My Mom’s First 5K Read the rest of this entry →

To Streak or Not To Running Streak Over The Holidays?

Yaktrax Run, winter running, running streak

Ready for the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. (Photo: Phil Hospod)

As Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaches I’m struggling with an age-old running question: To streak or not to streak? Back in 2011, I participated in the first annual Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. I ran at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, logging 100 miles in 40 days during a month when I often sit on my butt. It was an excellent exercise in perseverance that helped me battle the gluttony of the holidays and sluggishness of cold, dark winter days. I didn’t run a fall marathon in 2011, so I was raring to go.

Come 2012, I’d finished the Philadelphia Marathon just four days before Thanksgiving and I didn’t have the running streak in me. I needed a break.

But this year, I’m debating taking the pledge once again. My fall marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, is more than a month behind me and I’m feeling that familiar itch—the itch to train. I loved doing the running streak in 2011. It kept me honest and gave me a great training base for nabbing some personal bests in 2012, which proved to be one of my fastest years on record. Though I bested my 5K and 10K times this year, my half-marathon and marathon PRs from 2012 still stand.

But the Holiday Running Streak is a commitment. I found that squeezing in a mile was sometimes difficult. There were midnight runs, a pre-holiday party run in 3-inch heels, and post-dinner runs with creamed spinach jiggling in my belly. There were sick runs, runs during snowstorms in rural Quebec, and plain, old “I don’t want to” runs.

So how to decide whether or not to streak now? Read the rest of this entry →

25

Nov 2013

More Thoughts On Women’s Running Shirts

women's running shirts

Runners at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon got their choice of a men’s or women’s cut shirt. (Photo: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon)

Many of you read my post decrying “unisex” race shirts in favor of women’s running shirts that I wrote back in September. After reading reports that the organizers of the Omaha Marathon gave men tech shirts and women cotton shirts with their race registration, I decided to write another op-ed about women’s cut race shirts on my column at The Washington Times Communities.

I honestly couldn’t believe it. Not when other races, like the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Baltimore Marathon, give runners gender-specific technical shirts. It was just one of many complaints runners had about the Omaha Marathon weekend of races, but it came shortly after I wrote a diatribe about “unisex” shirts here on my blog.

A few people voiced their disagreement to my position. Most of them were women who prefer men’s cut shirts because of fit issues and some were men who found it “silly.”

But the vast majority of readers—and I mean vast—have agreed with me. Fewer than 5 percent of the feedback I received—via comments, e-mails, tweets, direct messages and the like—were critical of my stance. A full 95 percent of readers—including a few race directors—wholeheartedly agreed.

If you’re not sick of me harping on this topic and you feel as strongly about it as I do, please consider sharing that column as well. The wider we spread the message, the better chance it has of actually being heard. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering My Dad Through Running & Writing

The Man That Wasn't, remembering my dad

My sister (left), my dad and me (right) on a trip to Florida in 1982.

My very first post on “Run, Karla, Run!” back in October 2009 was about remembering my dad through running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

That marathon was an emotional one for me. The race on October 11, 2009 marked the 6th anniversary of my father’s death in the city of my youth.

In The Chicago Marathon Homecoming Run, I wrote:

Just after the 12-mile mark, the marathon course tracks past The Merchandise Mart, where my dad worked during his glory days. I spent many weekends at my dad’s office when I was growing up. I can never pass the Mart without thinking of him. He was a workaholic, but more importantly, he was an alcoholic.

And after the race, I wrote in The Chicago Marathon: A Run Down Memory Lane:

As we crossed the Chicago River near the 12-mile marker, we passed the building where my dad once worked. “That’s the Merchandise Mart,” one of the pace team leaders yelled to the group. “It’s the largest office building in the world.” I bowed my head and prayed for strength. Not for me, but for him. At some point during his life, he’d lost the strength he once had; he died of alcoholism at the age of 58.

Last month marked the 10th anniversary of this death.

Now I’m remembering my father in print, once again, with “The Man That Wasn’t: My Father’s Slow Suicide.”

My dad never knew me as a runner. For a decade, I hated running, thanks to a bone tumor in my leg just below my knee. The surgery that changed my life, and opened up the world of running to me, happened just two months after my father died. Read the rest of this entry →

04

Nov 2013

The Half Marathon Moment of Truth

moment of truth, half marathon

(Photo: Darnok/Morguefile)

This is it. It all comes down to one moment: 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 22. It’s my half marathon moment of truth—the time when I’ll cross the finish line of the DirectEdge Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City, New Jersey under 2 hours …or the time when I won’t.

This is what I’ve been training for all these months. Yes, the Soctiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon still lies ahead for me on October 20. But breaking 2 hours in the half marathon is what has haunted me as a runner. It’s the goal I’ve most wanted to achieve. And the one that has continued to elude me.

Staten Island Half-Marathon, Staten Island Ferry Terminal, half marathon

On my way to the Saten Island Half Marathon in 2012. I missed sub-2 by 31 seconds. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Last year I came this close. At the 2012 Staten Island Half Marathon, I ran 2:00:30. I gave it everything I had and came up 31 seconds short. It was still a personal best by nearly 5 minutes, but I really wanted my time to start with a “1.”

In January, when I laid out my 2013 goals, I made a bold pronouncement: “This is the year,” I wrote. “Those 31 seconds are toast.”

I hope so. I’m going to toe the line at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and give it everything my body has.

What are my chances? Read the rest of this entry →

20

Sep 2013

Why Every Race Needs Women’s Cut Running Shirts

runDisney, Disney running, Tinker Bell Half Marathon, running shirt

Smiles for women’s cut race shirts at the 2012 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. (Photo: runDisney)

An Open Letter To Race Directors Everywhere

Dear Race Directors,

Earlier this year, runDisney announced they are offering women’s cut running shirts at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon in addition to the “unisex” race shirts they’ve handed out for the last 20 years.

Women all across the U.S. shouted a collective “Amen!” to Disney’s news. Why? We’ve been grumbling about this for years: under our breath, to other runners, and, on occasion, to you.

Disney recognized what you should too: women now account for the majority of runners. The tide has turned and women are the main driver in the current running boom.

So here are all of the reasons why you should have women’s cut running shirts at your next major race as part of your registration kit. Read the rest of this entry →

The Confidence Game In Running, Riding & Life

confidence

Confidence! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Confidence. We all struggle with it. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Because I struggle with it in running, as in most things.

The last two months have been a real confidence struggle for me. And it all comes down to the day I fell off a horse.

Since then, I’ve been struggling through injury to get back into running shape, riding shape, and mental shape to believe that I can do the things I set out to do—score a personal record in a September half marathon, run an October marathon, continue to make progress as a runner and a horseback rider.

Shaken confidence is pernicious. It takes root like a tree and begins to shade every thing you do.

You thought you were making progress as a runner? Think again. You won’t be able to run a sub-2 hour half-marathon this fall. Not gonna happen! Maybe next year, kid.

You think you’re a good enough rider to play polo? Not even close. Maybe you should just give up. Hang up your mallet and call it a day. Or else you’re going to fall again!

A Christmas Story comes to mind. I feel like I have a chorus of naysayers in my brain chanting, You’ll shoot your eye out!

They’re the type of thoughts that, if given in to, undermine your best efforts and all but guarantee a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Read the rest of this entry →

Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon Childhood Memories

Kauai Marathon, Kauai Half Marathon

The Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon feature an ocean front start and finish. (Photo: Jo Evans Photography/DaKineImages.com)

Aloha! In just 10 weeks, I’m running the Kauai Half Marathon on September 1. It’s part of the 5th Annual Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon in Hawaii. Last year 1,829 runners participated in the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon, coming from 45 states, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and 15 countries. This year, I’ll be one of them. Read the rest of this entry →

Get Back On The Horse In Polo, Running & Life

get back on the horse, polo

Players from Newport Polo (red) and Far Reach (blue) race to the ball. (Photo: Phil Hospod)

Sometimes in life you have to get back on the horse.

Literally.

There’s a horse—an actual four-legged animal with a mane and a tail. You fell off of it, dirt and grass covering the shoulder of your white polo shirt. You’re breathless, having had the wind knocked out of you by a collision with the hard ground. You lie there a moment and catch your breath. You make sure nothing is broken, stand up, and walk over to the horse. You pet her and tell her it’s OK. Then you plant one foot in the stirrup and swing your leg over her back. You get back on the horse.

I’ve been taking polo lessons for two years now. Two weeks ago, I fell off my horse. Suddenly, an old cliché had real-world meaning. Read the rest of this entry →

What if Disney’s Cinderella Were A Runner?

Cinderella, runDisney

Cinderella at the ball is like a runner at a big race.

runDisney Cinderella

If Disney characters were runners, what kind of runners would they be?

In honor of registration opening today for runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend including the new Enchanted 10K and Glass Slipper Challenge, I thought I’d share another installment of my runDisney Character Profiles.

Previous installments have looked at Sleeping Beauty as the runner who needs to take a few weeks off even if she doesn’t want to, and Alice in Wonderland as the newbie runner who has fallen down the running rabbit hole.

This week, we’re working hard with my favorite runDisney Princess and one who suits Disney’s Princess Half Marathon perfectly…Cinderella Read the rest of this entry →

Why Do You Run? A Running Nerd Confesses

running, reasons to run

Why do you run? (Photo: Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea/US Marine Corps)

Happy National Running Day, everyone! It’s the 5th anniversary of the event, and I’m proud to say I’ve been a runner for every one of them.

Part of the National Running Day campaign allows runners to make an “I Run…” badge. It can be any reason you run, a place you run anything. This year, my badge says, “I Run Because I Can!” There was a decade of my life where running was so painful that I avoided it by any means possible. You can read about that here.

Sadly, I won’t be running today. I fell off a horse on Sunday—more to come on that in another post—and landed on my hip. It’s pretty sore and I’m going to get an x-ray just to be sure everything is alright. I don’t want to run and potentially make it worse. Being injured reminds me to appreciate every day that I can run.

National Running, Day, free events

Yay!

So in honor of National Running Day, I thought I’d share the top 10 reasons why I run. I first came up with this list in 2010 and it’s still true. I’ve also updated it a bit for this year.

So here goes. Here are the top 10 reasons I run, in no particular order.

I run because… Read the rest of this entry →

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