Erin Takes Life By The Horns as a Beach Runner

“I can’t tell you how much running has changed my life without boring you to death but it has helped me go from this.”

208 lbs.

168 lbs. and still losing lbs.

“Hmmm. Well I don’t know if I’d call this artistic, but I’ll share my story

Not long before I became involved with Beach Runners I was in a pretty dark place. So dark in fact, that I literally woke up and went to sleep crying on a daily basis. One morning in late April after waking up to my own tears I simply decided that I had to do something to change my life for the better. I dragged my (rather large) behind to a Weight Watchers meeting and a couple of weeks later I joined the Beach Runners.

It sounds really cliche, but if “I” could bring myself to run and make lifestyle changes then anyone can. It’s all about believing in yourself and feeling that you are worthy of good health, physically and mentally. That’s it! :)”


RunCast 13 – Run to the Top of Mt Baldy

Watch the video

Dion in our running group made this kick ass videoblog of his run to the top of Mt. Baldy in Los Angeles. 8 miles. 4000 feet of elevation gain. One of the hardest runs in the United States.

We’d love more contributions.

Make anything for us, poems, articles, and especially cool videos like this one.

Dion you rock! 



Another quote from “The Messiah’s Handbook”

for your limitations
and sure enough
Illusions, by Richard Bach

I am lucky enough to have coaches, mentors and friends helping me through this lifetime, always reminding to search higher.

I started reading Illusions, by Richard Bach last week after I had copied a quote from another one of his books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I was at my friends Rob and Ingela’s beach pad when I pulled out the following quote and read it aloud to them,

”Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.”

Rob turned to me and said, “Have you read Illusions?” by the same author. “It is his best work.” Ingela agreed, so he went into his bedroom, pulled out the book and gave it to me. I started reading it Saturday, will finish it today and he may be right. A funny side note is that Gary suggested that we make Jonathan Livingston Seagull required reading for our marathon training program. Look for that to happen starting in our fall 2006 marathon and half marathon training program.

The lead quote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours” is the ultimate quote for runners, for me and life in general. If I had a dollar for every time I talked about my limitations, I’d be rich. Why are we drawn to the negative? Because it seems to be human nature. Gary wrote about these, ANTS – Automatic Negative Thoughts in his Mt. Baldy article (scroll down the main web site page to read his article). Staying positive could be one of the greatest challenges for humankind.

Well, as a runner it took me over 5 years to go under the 20-minute mark for a 5k. I know it was me and my ANTS holding me back. Somewhere in mile 3 I’d lose some steam. I would always give in saying things like, “I am not strong enough yet.” I finally did it this year with a 19:17. It wasn’t until I told myself, “I know I am close and will probably go sub 20 in my next 5k,” that I did.

The first thing that really helped me achieve my goal was running with faster people. I didn’t let myself get dropped and pushed to new levels. I had to bite the bullet. Thank goodness for ChiRunning®. I knew my form was getting better and I had other ChiRunning® techniques helping me yet it was the ability to push my mind past some hurdles that made the difference. Maybe that’s the reason I became a hypnotherapist.

In my last article I stated that, “The body follows the mind.” If this is true so is the lead quote. I believe it is true.

Argue for limitlessness and the world will be your oyster.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel

An Important Message

“There is
no such thing as a problem
without a gift for you
in its hands”

“You seek problems
because you need
their gifts”
– The Messiah’s Handbook – Illusions by Richard Bach

I believe that one of my jobs, as a coach is to motivate and inspire, so I read and listen to a lot of inspirational material. I came across this yesterday. The first stanza is gentle reminder of something most of us know, yet we choose to ignore. For us a problem is just that, a problem.

Then comes that second stanza, like an unexpected punch in the kisser.

Maybe its time to start re-framing our lives and running. Since this is a running site, I’ll keep it about running. Here are some common problems and some gifts:

PROBLEM #1 Injuries – Your body is screaming out to you, all you have to do is figure out what it is saying. Listening is the gift. It may be that you are pushing it too hard. It could also be saying, “Take better care of me.” Re-examine your lifestyle patterns. Some injuries come from your mental state. Are you setting realistic expectations? In the end, the body follows the mind. To run the best, you have to be mentally in the zone. I am always listening for ways to get in touch with that zone.

PROBLEM #2 Finding the time to run – Are you always making excuses not to run? What really bothers you about running? Some people just don’t enjoy running yet many of us do not give it the proper chance. A gift here is learning how to schedule and follow your schedule. Running could be one of the most natural things we can ever do. We were designed to run. Let’s schedule it in.

Problem #3 Getting faster – Speed is a gift and speed is relative to each individual. We can all get faster. It just takes the work and desire. Many of get into that “same run – same pace” rut. We run the same routes. We don’t run with faster runners than ourselves. Practice your form at very slow speeds too. There are many ways to vary your training to increase your speed. We are here to help you get faster.

These gifts are all around us in each problem in our lives. We ask directly and indirectly for them but we don’t take them when they are right in front of our faces. Start re-framing your problems and you’ll probably find your gift faster. When you do find it, take a moment to be thankful and share that thankfulness with your family and friends.

Train Focused looking for gifts, Steve Mackel

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Gary’s Mt. Baldy Race Report


(L-R) Larry, Anja, Dion and Tonya, Beach Runner Mentors, prepare to be de-virginized by the Devil’s Backbone trail

So I had high hopes of keeping up with uber athlete and fellow ChiRunning coach Steve Mackel on the 41st running of The Race to The Top of Mt. Baldy.

It was a lovely day. Hot. A guy at the top even pointed out how hot it is was compared to previous years. Global Warming perhaps?

After a restless sleep the night before I drove up early and was one of the first in the parking lots. Immediately two Beach Runners, Mina and Doug, parked next to me. I love that about joining a running group, it sure is nice to meet new running friends.

I registered. Then sat in my car listening to SAMONAS music. Most of you don’t know this, but I am an educational therapist. I work with dyslexics and other students with reading and/or learning difficulties. SAMONAS is the world’s best music for improving listening and communication abilities. My writing skills drastically accelerated after stimulating my inner harmonies with this amazing technology. So I sat gratefully, visualizing a good race, while listening to soothing flute and guitar.

So after this moment with prayer and music. I was ready. Then other Beach Runners started appearing…Dion, Larry, Tonye, Angie, Bert, Steve (with coconut juice of course).

And the race began. Within one mile I couldn’t keep up with Steve. Maybe I could. I don’t know. Or maybe I didn’t feel like it.

Actually, I did what I tell all my ChiRunning students to do…

listen to your body. I knew it was a hard race, and I began my pace. There is such a tendency to run with the fast pack at the beginning of a race then burn yourself out. This happens to marathoner after marathoner at a race like the Long Beach Marathon or Los Angeles Marathon.

So I settled into a good uphill pace FOR ME. And did what I usually do on runs, took in the scenery, stroke up conversations with people, tuned inward into my breathing, felt grateful for my health, thought of Rex, my grandfather, and tried to kill any ANTS.

ANTS are automatic negative thoughts. You know them. “I didn’t train hard enough”. “It’s my beer belly slowing me down.” “I should have got more sleep.” “I’ll never be as fast as Steve.” “Damn, this race is hard.” “What was I thinking of running up a mountain. “These kinds of thoughts can ruin your race if not your life. And I have listened to them, and unfortunately, believed them far too much in my life. Not anymore. The ANTS are losing. There is a new sheriff in town. Positivity and Gratitude.

So I settled in and tried to run the course well. I can honestly say I ran the race the best I could. I had to walk certain sections. But I ran hard on the short downhill section, and passed as many as I could on the final hill to the top, pacing about 10 people behind me.

I saw views of the desert, Los Angeles basin, wild flowers, and found new sections of my lungs I didn’t think I had.

At the top I saw Steve who urged me to run it in.

My time: 1hr 51 minutes. 6 minutes slower than last year. Strange because I thought I ran the race very well. And I am certainly faster than last year.

Steve, is right, I do need to develop a “race gear”. He has it. This other super competitive strong running gear. I started to get it on the track this year. But overall, its funny, I don’t like to be in this gear that much.

Certainly if you want to smash your previous running times, Steve is your man to listen to. I’ve got to get him to share his race secrets with you folks.

Look for an interview in the future.

On that mountain that day, Steve left early with his bag of trash to recieve a medal. He finished second in a very competitive age group (40-44) and 17th overall. I am very proud of his results and when you see him be sure to congratulate him, he so deserves it.

So I sat up there on that Mountain that day waiting for the rest of the Beach Runners. Bert, Eric, Loren, Doug, Mena, Angie, Dion, Tonye, and Larry. I ran them in congratulating them all taking photos giving hugs. And told myself I would wait for every last Beach Runner to get to the top.

And we walked down together listening to Larry sang show tunes and it all came to me about lucky I am. To have my health to do one of the five hardest races in the United States, and to do it with friends, and even better, \for someone shy and self centered like me, to play a role in inspiring and motivating others to get to the top of a mountain.

Thanks and congratulations to all the all the Beach Runners who believed in themselves to take the crazy chance to run to the top of mountain that day. I’m so proud of everyone of you. That was a hard race and you did it.

And I hope you found something up there in the clouds also. Something that you can keep with you for years to come.

Run with Joy,


Steve takes 2nd Place in His AG at Mt Baldy.

Steve displays his silver medal in AG in the Ski Lodge after the Run To the Top of Mt Baldy

My only fear is that a run like yesterday’s run comes only once in a lifetime. Then deep inside I know that there will be others, just the bar is set so high now.

I talk about it all the time, the experience of being in the flow, letting go, becoming one with moment and I experienced it in a new way yesterday. My run was a meditation, which aligned my mind, body and spirit and the results were more than a new PR, a new found freedom. I have to thank Coach Ilg and Wholistic Fitness® for showing me the path to get here.

Run-To-The-Top of Mt Baldy is circled on my calendar every year as long as I live in Southern California. It is a test and a beautiful way to spend a Monday morning. This was an “A” race for me. I knew what it takes but I didn’t know if I was up to the test. I thought I may had over trained last week leading up to the race. How hard would I go? I went medium hard, saving something for the last mile. I kept everything in check. I was breathing easier than most of the other runners. I was relaxed and (in)joying my run. I was passing people and I was keeping it quick and lite.

The last section of this race is straight uphill and I have been passed every year so far. Once I hit that section I made a decision, go hard and don’t be passed. Most of it was too steep to run. I walked almost the entire last section yet no one passed me. I saw the finish banner and started running again. I crossed the line in 1:22:08. I also knew that a 1:22:08 was probably good enough for a podium spot in my Age Group (AG). I hung out and waited for my friends to make it up to the 10,000+ ft mark. They all finished strong. I wanted to be at the lodge for the awards, just in case. I grabbed a trash bag and started the 4-mile hike back to the lodge.

The results came in and I took 2nd in my AG and 17th overall. I also took 10 minutes off last year’s PR. I was hoping to beat it just a couple of minutes, not over a minute a mile. It is hard to describe my feelings yesterday. For the first time in a long time I really surprised myself. And, I owe this victory to the ChiRunning® method. Since becoming a certified ChiRunning® instructor I have PR’d in every race I have raced in. I have been on the podium twice this year and my body feels better than ever. ChiRunning® works. I beat much faster runners because they don’t know the ChiRunning® hill techniques. I ran with my metronome set at 89 BPM. I focused on my posture and efficiency, knowing that I needed a great first 4 miles and a great last mile. I was thankful every step of the way. I listened, visualized, sang, prayed and focused, I tripped three times on the way up but you don’t fall that far when the road is that steep. How about a ChiRunning® lesson now?

Thank all of you for wishing me well before this race. I carried those thoughts with me and they helped power me. I look forward to being back out on the road with you. See you soon and RACE FOCUSED. Steve Mackel

Beach Runners’ Doug, Mina, Gary, Anja and Dion celebrate on the summit (L-R)