Sindy’s UltraMarathon Race Report

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Peggy (womens 15 Mile winner), Sindy, Sandy, and Laury
Catalina Marathon was such a beautiful experience.  When coach Gary
suggested going 7 miles farther in an ultra marathon I was eager to
try!  In preparation We’d done two four hour runs and I’d done one 26
mile run in the Santa Monica mountains.  My running has been improving
and with coach Garys coaching I felt ready for this adventure.

Every run is a learning experience.  Either helping you realize your
strength, your improving endurance, or a challenge that shows you the
things you need to improve on.  This race was a challenge for me.

I was prepared for the distance but not the terrain. Single track,
rocky, and with 7000 ft elevation gain.  I ran the first four and a
half hours on pace and feeling good.  The views were beautiful and the
technical trail was also beautiful.  We ran over two mountain ridges
and we were on the Pacific Crest Trail when we hit a seven mile
section with loose rocks, no aid stations, and downhill swtchbacks.
This section slowed me up a lot and I could see my time slipping.  I
arrived at the 21.8 mile cut off 5 minutes too late.  I wouldn’t finish
this race today.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, however, as coach Gary
says,”smooth seas do not make good sailors”

This run gave me the opportunity to evaluate my running and it has
driven me to work on some training aspects I have avoided.  I love
running especially since learning Chi running and adding yoga to my
training.  I feel that every choice we make takes us where we need to
go.  I was where I needed to be. I was doing exactly what I needed to
do. I learned the things I needed to learn to become a better runner
and a stronger person.

I’m going to go back to finish the course in a few weeks.  I need
closure with the mountain.  The message of my experience is never stop
trying.  Learn from the outcome you get and don’t let the fear of
falling short of your goal stop you from going for it.

I’m so grateful for our supportive coaches and the other beach runners
I’ve become close with.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for
anything.
Thanks for letting me share my story.


Sindy Seal
Natural Strength Private Training
(310) 689-8931

Ultramarathon Race Report with Gary

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He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
Muhammad Ali

The word courage comes from the old French word corage meaning what is in your heart. It has taken on a modern meaning of bravery or toughness, but its older meaning points to something more richer. That our courage sometimes is not brave, but very emotional, but its always a strong faith in our direction.

I took three runners up to the mountains on Sunday to run 33 miles in Big Bear at the Holcomb Valley Trail Run. 33 difficult miles in the mountains with 7200 feet elevation gain in altitude on challenging terrain that would be exhausting to hike let along run.

Beach Runners Sandy and Sindy both trained with us during the winter and ran the Catalina Marathon for their first marathon. This was an impressive athletic accomplishment because the Catalina Marathon is one of the hardest marathons in the United States: 18/26 miles are uphill with 4100 feet elevation gain. Both these strong women found that they loved running on the natural surfaces of trails.

So when I threw out the idea of training for an ultramarathon, these were the only two Beach Runners who had the courage to attempt something this difficult. Training would mean a significant commitment of trail running for hours and hours every weekend. And power yoga. And our secret nutrition plans.

We ended up spending many weekends together up in the hills of Palos Verdes. We even climbed a mountain (San Jacinto).

And in this time, we became really good friends. I now consider these two remarkable women two of my closest friends.

Coaching is still a learning process for me, and I did what I could to develop training routines, motivational messages, and nutritional guidelines. All the while these two with beautiful beginners minds, followed along to all my training suggestions with strong determination and discipline.
I signed Steve up for the ultramarathon despite his wishes. I knew deep down inside Steve needed a new challenge. He has overcome so much this year by self healing his back injury. Steve has a ton of courage, and has been doing lots of trail running and power yoga this year also, and with a 4:32 at Catalina, I figured he had the ability to do this ultra with no specific training due to his ChiRunning skills.

Overall, my fitness was excellent. I am in the best running shape of my life. My endurance base is off the charts. I’m strong from Power Yoga and hard trail running. Ate extremely well the week before the race. But unfortunately, did not get enough rest.

The five days leading up to the race I did a hard trail run, power yoga, hatha yoga with my teacher, and trained Beach Runners including two yoga sessions. I cannot stress this enough to take it easy the week before race day. I didn’t follow this advice and it affected my race.

The Race

The race started with a five and a half mile climb to a mountain pass. Steve forged ahead of me suggesting I run with him. But I was torn. A dilemna I’ve been thinking about for days now. With me was Sandy, who I had done so many training sessions with, who I had done so much coaching. I reflected back to my prayers that morning with God and my prayer had finished with asking God for the opportunity to help another finish this ultramarathon rather than asking for a fast performance from myself.

Those of you that know me know how important that is for me to help others finish.

The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.
Robert Cushing

So I chose to run with Sandy for a while. Enjoying her efficient pace on a very difficult, rocky, mountainous, and high altitude course, I took my time and conserved my energy. Steve was ahead somewhere and I figured he was taking it easy also. My plan was to run with Sandy to the high point of the course at mile 8 then run hard on the down hills and catch Steve.

I left Sandy at mile 8 after wishing her good luck and began running hard for the next 6 miles. When I passed mile 14, I began slowing down, bogging and couldn’t figure out why.

Then another runner, Lorraine came up behind me, and asked, “How are you doing?”
“Feeling a little tired.”

“Do you have a Goo? You need to eat right away. In fact, you should have been eating this whole course.”

I sucked down my only Goo, and began eating my Garden of Life bar. The fact was, I hadn’t been eating much for the first two hours of the run. Just nibbling at the rest stations. That was insufficient calories for the difficulty of the race I was doing. I needed to be eating every 30 minutes. I thought I could eat every hour. But not on a course this difficult.

So I bonked. Yes it does even happen to coaches. After eating my Goo and Garden of Life bar, I felt a little better and had the energy for a very challenging and rocky downhill section to mile 20. It took 100% concentration to not trip on all the rocks. I almost tripped numerous times, and the one time I did let my mind drift, I ate it, landed on my knee and rolled into a bush. Nothing too serious, brushed myself off, and kept running.

Miles 20-23 were a steep steep fireroad, and so I walked most of it. Lorraine who was faster than me on the uphills, caught up to me and we chatted. I was so amazed on that course that day because everyone I spoke to was the most incredible athlete. Lorraine had done over 70 ultramarathons and had qualified for Boston like 20 times in a row. This is one reason I like doing hard races, because I get to meet amazing athletes who motivate me to accomplish more than what I’m doing.

So Lorraine and I ran together for a while, swapping stories, laughing, enjoying this climb. After another rest station where I should have been eating more, I grinded out a long flat fireroad through the valley from miles 24-27.5. This fireroad seemed to go on forever and forever. I tuned into my metronome shifted into a ChiRunning 1st gear and found my focuses again. Thats the beauty of learning ChiRunning–even when you are tired, you can use your form to keep propelling yourself along.

At the last rest station, I ate one of Sandy’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and nibbled on some Pringles. And was relieved to hear that there were only 5.5 miles to go.

A little delirious, I forgot to fill the water bottles on my fuel belt. So was thirsty for the last section. After a two mile climb, the rest of the course was downhill. It was very rocky so I had to completely concentrate, but for me, like Steve and Sandy, it was the most enjoyable part of the course. Especially with this fantastic scenic view of Big Bear Lake.

I came up to the finish line to have Steve and Sindy (you’ll have to hear her story from her) cheering me on across the finish line.

I was passed by a runner the last 50 yards. I simply did not have the energy to race him. Afterwords, he said his race was slow because he had done a 100 mile bike race the day before!!!!! Yikes.

Other than him, I had passed many runners from mile 8 onwards, about 10-15 runners. And no runner had passed me other than my guardian angel Lorraine. So I run according to my plan of taking the first 8 miles easy, then running hard the remainder. That just was not enough to stay up with uber runner Steve that day.

My time: 7 hours 9 minutes. Steve came in 19 minutes ahead of me. So he had an awesome run. I am so proud of him.

About an hour after I came in, Sandy ran to the finish line smiling with tears in her eyes.

Sindy ran a courageous 21 miles but was unable to finish this day. I’ll let her tell her story. But all I want to say is that there is no failure in attempting to do anything as difficult as an ultramarathon, marathon, or half marathon. Less than 1% of the American public ever complete a marathon. So to train for an ultramarathon and run most of a very very difficult course up in the mountains earns my deepest deepest respect and admiration.

Some reflections…

Race Mindset: Not tough enough for me. I spent too much time running with Sandy trying to help her along when she didn’t need my help. I needed to let her run her own race. She was well prepared from my training program, and needed to let her go once the race started.

Also I spent too much time walking hills. Now if you are a first time marathoner or ultramarathoner, you should walk hills. But I had the fitness and the skills from ChiRunning to run many that day that I walked. Read Steve’s race report on how he ran most of the hills that I walked.

In addition, I cannot ever ever give Steve a head start. He is too good a runner to be caught from behind. Lesson learned for Baldy.

A bigger issue for me is to get more courage on race day, a competitive gear, to be able to run hard even when tired. I still need to get tougher. This is something I can work on during my training runs during the week. In fact, this last Tuesday night, I pushed myself hard up three tough PV hills and passed my training partner Matt despite my whole body being fatigued from the ultramarathon. I will need this ability to laser focus on my form even when tired for Baldy. I have the skills from ChiRunning. I have the breathing practice. I just need the mental toughness.

My ChiRunning was essential for finishing this race. I had a lot of speed on the down hills. Using my metronome and taking short strides was essential for keeping my momentum even when I bonked from lack of race day nutrition. I had no pain during the run from any part of my body, fatigue, yes, but no pain. I felt great after the run, walking around like normal. Thats the real benefit of ChiRunning: you can run a 33 mile ultramarathon in the mountains with no injuries, and no pain. As a competitor, I have to keep this in mind sometimes, what a miracle this running system is.

Overall, this was a fantastic weekend for me. I got to spend time with three people I really love. I met new friends. And I helped others finish the race by signing up Steve, and coaching Sandy and Sindy.

The course was beautiful. We saw mountains, valleys, meadows, songbirds, Big Bear Lake, with clean air, and friendly volunteers at every rest station that would even fill our water bottles. We want to think Pam and Gary Kalina for putting this race on for the 11th year in a row. Put your application in early for next year because it fills quickly.

Courage is the first of human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
Winston Churchill

Steve, Sandy, and Sindy are such amazing examples of courage to attempt a race as difficult as this one. All three were not afraid to fail. That’s the meaning of courage for me. They trust themselves, their coaches, ChiRunning, Yoga, and God. They know in their hearts that by just coming to the starting line of a hard race is a success.

I can’t wait to go running with them again. They are wonderful inspirational people that I’m lucky enough in this life to get to run with.

God Bless you,

Gary

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The Beach Runners Ultra Team- Gary, Sindy, Steve, and Sandy

Steve and Gary’s Marathon Training RunCall 2

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Another jam packed RunCall from Steve Mackel and Gary Smith including information on:
– our ultramarathon experiences from last weekend
– recovery strategies after a marathon
– plantar fascitis
– learning ChiRunning
– how many miles to run a week
– all natural electrolytes

Click Here to Listen to the Show from 6/13/07

Sandy’s Ultra Marathon Race Report

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Sandy enthusiastically tackles largest hill on 33 mile course
I started with Beach Runners last winter and I have been having the time of my life ever since. I’ll start by giving a brief history on my running. Like many other runners, I started running as a way to cope with life’s many challenges. I considered myself to be a walker and had no aspirations to run. It took a major heartbreak 3 years ago to get this lifetime walker to get out and run.

I started running on a treadmill and was only able to last 5 minutes before I had to stop and take a break. Mind you, I wasn’t even running very fast. Slowly, I progressed to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes and I was super stoked when I got up to 30 minutes. I know. I’m easily excited.

Fast forward. You may have already figured out that I am not a natural runner. With that said, instead of training for a 10k, I decided to go for the half marathon instead. I was training on my own using a training plan off the internet. I got up to 8 miles and found that my knees were way too sore and there was no way I was going to run the half marathon without some help.

I remembered reading about the Beach Runners and Chi-Running. The idea of running injury free seemed too good to be true. By this time, I had fallen in love with running and its many benefits, so I emailed Steve and here I am today. I started running with the group in the winter 2006 season and was running pain free within weeks. I read Danny Dreyer’s book religiously and practiced my form constantly. I was even focusing on my posture at work. I didn’t care that I looked like a dork leaning up against the copy machine, while waiting for my job to finish.

Long story short, I have finished two half marathons, a marathon and now my first ultra marathon. I can’t believe that this has all happened within 7 months of starting to train with the Beach Runners.

I felt a bit lost after the Catalina Marathon.  I no longer had a race to train for.  I’m not quite sure when I decided to do the Ultra Marathon, but next thing I know; Gary, Sindy and I were training again.  I logged in many a miles with and without my training partners in the PV hills.  The training I got from Gary when we did run together was priceless.  I also took Gary’s Power Yoga class every chance I got.  He truly did wonders for my mental preparation for this race.
I won’t go into too much detail about the ultra marathon course. Steve described it well in his race report. It was a lot tougher than I had imagined. Many parts of the course were rocky and super technical. Our PV trail runs were great training for this course. I trained hard and I was ready to accept whatever came my way.

I knew going into this race that it was going to be a mental run for me. There was a point on the course where I focused on just putting one foot in front of the other. Miles 21 to 25 were the toughest miles for me. That part of the course almost brought me to tears. I began to debate whether I wanted to continue the race.

I ate every half hour. I sipped on Cytomax and water every 10-15 minutes. I also made sure to grab a few bites at every aid station, even if I didn’t feel all that hungry. The elevation was a concern for me. Luckily, I had no serious reaction to the elevation. I did have some blurred vision at about mile 15. I made sure to hydrate as much as possible at the next aid station and my vision seemed to go back to normal.

I have found that my ability to body sense helped me to run a really fun and safe race. This is definitely one of my favorite aspects of Chi-Running. I ran with several things going on in my head at all times. I focused on having soft feet, relaxed legs, picking up my feet, not pulling and running with my heart out. I also focused on keeping my knees together while running, which helps me to keep my knees down. Thanks Gary for this invaluable tip.

I had a little tinge of pain in my right knee, but I kept my focus on picking up my feet. I have a strong tendency to power run once I get warmed up. I am happy to say that I finished the race strong and with no pain whatsoever. I ran the last 3 miles of downhill with a smile on my face. Chi-Running is the only reason that I was able to run the last three miles of a 33 mile course.

Thanks for letting me share my experience. This has been a spiritual journey for me in so many ways. Little did I know that joining the beach runners would change my life forever? I am thankful for Gary, Steve and all the Beach Runners. I have yet to run with someone in the group that did not have a smile on their face and an enthusiasm for a sport that has turned into an activity that I hope to be doing for the rest of my life.

Truly grateful beach runner,

Sandy

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Sandy comes up on finish line filled with Joy

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Steve’s First Ultra Marathon – Race Report

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Laury, Sindy, Sandy, Steve, and Gary at Finish Line of Ultramarathon

The truth is that I really didn’t want to do this race. It wasn’t planned, going back to my 2007 race goals. Yet, Gary took the liberty of signing me up and what the heck, I could be spending a Sunday in the mountains or in LA; I’ll take the mountain chi.

I didn’t research the course by looking at maps and elevation gain charts. I tried not to think about it and “just show up.” I did know that it was a up and down 33-mile race, with over 7,000 ft of climbing at altitude. Sunday, I just showed up without expectations. I followed Coach Ilg’s pre-race meditation of remaining relaxed and empty, ready to experience.

Going in all I knew it was going to be a long day, in fact the longest day of racing I have ever put in. Armed with this knowledge I decided to use a different strategy, go easy on the uphills, fly downhill and race the first 20 miles pretty hard. I figured when I hit the wall I could at least walk it home and still be able to add an Ultra Marathon to my resume.

Since I’ll be editing a Runumentry – RunCast this week, I’ll keep this short and you can watch the movie.

This race was technical trail running, rocks everywhere. I almost went down numerous times. This race was absolutely beautiful, pine trees, lakes, mountain meadows and scenic views toward the desert. You get to see a lot over the course of 33 miles. Ultra marathoners are a cool group of friendly people, the volunteers were awesome and race was well organized.

6:50 hours went by at a decent pace. I worked on picking my spots to attack this course. I took a long time at the aid stations, like I would in a century bike ride. I ate about 250 calories an hour along with Enduralytes®. Our MaraYoga training system was key. I used every ChiRunning® technique I teach. I used my metronome most of the day, especially during those miles between 21-27. The last 6 miles were tough and I had a difficult time maintaining even an 85 cadence. Miles 30-33 were harder than I expected, even being downhill. Crossing the finish line felt like a real accomplishment. I ran well enough to finish ahead of Gary, which I didn’t think was possible. Learning to train easy on easy days and harder on hard days this year paid off. And, my base training this year (the best of my life) carried me through without the normal specific training for a race like this. My fitness is strong and I was able to run most of the 33 miles. I figured I only walked about 4 miles total.

The Mental Race

I stayed in the moment as well as I ever have in a race. I didn’t look too far ahead, just step by step over the technical terrain. I thought of almost everyone in my life, carried them with me and received their support. In this Ultra I ended up running miles with no one in sight or to be heard. It truly was my church, alone in nature with God. I prayed, and gave thanks for all the gifts in my life. I ran my race without expectation. I didn’t even wear a watch. Most of the time I had no idea of how long I’d been out or how far I had run. I ran with an attitude of gratitude. I ran with a smile. I ran with an open heart and I ran one of the best races in my life.

No rush to get my next one in. I’ll (in)joy the summer training with the Beach Runners and my friends. Look out Mt. Baldy, I’m feeling good.

Thank all of you for all your kind thoughts.

Namaste and Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Beach Runners Head Coach

Last Thoughts Before the Big Day

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Happy and Hungry After Finishing Wildflower Long Course Last May, Ready To Go Ultra

As I sit here at 11:30 PM, Saturday, May 10, I am mentally preparing for my first ultra-marathon, a 33 mile trail run with 7,000 ft of elevation gain, up and down around Big Bear between 6,000 ft. and 8,300 ft.

I am working on shaking the uneasiness. I am not prepared physically for this. My longest run before tomorrow was the Catalina Marathon back in March. Since then my longest is 13.2, the half marathon at the Wildflower half ironman. So, we’ll see how it goes and a real test of my personal training, MaraYoga, Wholistic Fitness® and ChiRunning®

Racing Focused, Steve Mackel ChiRunning/ChiWalking® Instructor

We’re off to the Holcomb Valley Ultramarathon

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Tomorrow, Saturday, Steve, Sindy, Sandy, and I head off to the mountains to the Holcomb Valley Ultramarathon at Big Bear Lake, CA.

This is Steve’s, Sindy’s, and Sandy’s first ultramarathon and they all seem very excited except for Steve, who I kinda of nudged into running this race. He is in incredible shape so I figure he will do much better than he thinks he will do.

Sindy and Sandy have spend a lot of time with me running trails, coming to yoga class, following some of my nutrition plans, and practicing the Inner Game of Running. You can see the difference this makes in their running and endurance right now. They are both in superb running shape. They have both worked very hard to prepare for this race. I’m really very proud of them both. And am 100% confident that they will finish.

We’re going to need all the good vibes we can get on Sunday. So send us a prayer or two when you’re in church or meditating please.

Why?

The course is 33 miles long with over 7000 feet of elevation gain/loss and most of our running will be on either fireroads or single track. And to top it of, we will be running at a high elevation so there will be less oxygen available.

Sounds like my kind of race. Very difficult and very scenic.

I finally bought a new camera tonight as my last one broke after I took it snorkeling then dropped it on the Buffalo Run.

Hence the lack of RunCasts lately. But all that should change very soon. Look for some new video when I return. Especially of our experiences Sunday.

If any of you want to come and cheer us on…please come up to Big Bear on Sunday.

We will start at 7 A.M and I figure we will be coming in to the finish line between 12:30 – 4:00 in the afternoon, depending on how each of us do. So if you want to spend a beautiful day up in the mountains and cheer on your coaches and fellow Beach Runners come join us on Sunday.

Holcomb Valley Ultramarathon with directions

Gary Smith, ChiRunning® Instructor

Steve and Gary’s Marathon Training WebCast 1

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Steve and I completed our first WebCast on Monday Evening. We only sent the invitation out to a few people as we are still trying out the technology.

We had over 25 people on the line and we answered many questions sent in including

  • How do you deal with knee pain?
  • How do you prepare for trail running?
  • What pace should you run during the week?

We are scheduling our next WebCast soon and look forward to meeting you on the air.

Click Here to Listen to Our WebCast

Gary Smith
ChiRunning Instructor

Catalina Marathon Race Report – Special Wedding Proposal Edition

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Doug proposing to Mina at mile 23 of the Catalina Marathon

March 17th 2007, St Patrick’s Day, the Catalina Marathon. Sounds like enough for one day, doesn’t it? When I woke up at 4AM to catch the ferry that would take me to the start line of the Catalina Marathon, I had no idea how much more meaningful this day would become.

When my boyfriend and fellow Beach Runner proposed that we run the Catalina Marathon, I thought he was crazy. 26 miles of grueling trail with 4,300 feet total elevation gain?!? But after doing several runs through the mountains of Palos Verdes with the Beach Runners, I actually got kind of excited for the beautiful scenery and the chance of running into a buffalo during my race.

4 AM is very, very early in the morning. But seeing friends and sharing the excitement and anticipation of the race motivated me to shake off the morning grogginess. The ferry left Avalon at 5AM and took us to the start line at Two Harbors. It was still so dark as we waited in the long lines for the bathroom. We were actually lucky enough to have a little surprise at the start line. A big, brown buffalo was grazing near the start line to wish us all good luck. Then a few minutes later, I heard a little ruckus behind me and saw the buffalo charging across the path toward some runners. Wouldn’t you know it was Steve that was right in the middle of the trouble! (I still wonder what he did to provoke the peaceful creature!)

The race was just as beautiful as I envisioned it would be. It was overcast for a good part of the morning which actually made some of the steep uphills a little easier since you could never really see how much further you still had to ascend. It was amazing to feel like you were running deep into the clouds above you. I saw runner after runner ahead of me disappear into the thick white haze.

After reaching the top of the first peak and back down to sea level, the slow ascent to the final peak was a challenge. A long 15 mile, 1600 foot uphill challenge. But luckily, I still had my Doug (and another good friend Tucker) by my side to keep my spirits up and make me giggle as we pushed onward and upward. As we started approaching the highest peak, the clouds began to clear and show us a view that made you forget the fatigue, tired muscles, and leg cramps. At Mile 23, we had reached the highest point of the marathon. What a feeling of accomplishment to look out from the top of the mountain and see the boats of Avalon Bay and the ever expansive Pacific Ocean. And in the far distance, I could see the Casino, a beautiful historic ballroom from the 1920’s, which meant the end was in sight. The finish line was still teeny from my vantage point, but so much closer than where we were hours ago.

As Doug and I enjoyed the view from the top of our conquered mountain, we decided to take a picture. My friend Tucker was ready for the heroic shot. Off comes Doug’s hat, his Halo headband, and even the Fuel Belt! Wondering why he cared to look nice for a picture in the middle of a marathon, I also shed the Fuel Belt and smiled for the camera. Then the next thing I see is Doug down on one knee, saying something to me, and holding something in his hand. I couldn’t understand his words, all I could do was cry. And cry, and cry. And apparently, I ran away a little too. (I blame it on dehydration and delirium from the preceding 23 miles!) Eventually, Doug caught up to me, got back down on his knee again, and proposed a second time. I still didn’t understand the words that were coming out of his mouth, but I didn’t run away this time. As he put the ring on my finger, it all suddenly became clear. I was at Mile 23, in the middle of the Catalina Marathon, with a view of the vast blue ocean behind me, and the love of my life is asking me to marry him. It was surreal. And I even had an audience of runners that stopped and cheered and shared their joy for us.

Little did I know I had another surprise waiting for me a little further down the mountain. A Beach Runners cheering squad at Mile 24! Kristin, Alexis, Lani, and John (who all had run the 10K race) hiked up the mountain to share their hugs and congratulations. (Apparently, I was the last to know about Doug’s special plans…)

The last three miles were all downhill—very fast, even faster for me since I had a renewed burst of energy from the shiny bling on my finger! Finally, I could see the glorious vision that I waited 26 miles to see. The big banner that bears the words ‘Finish Line’. As I inched nearer and nearer, I heard Steve yelling from the crowd, “Are you engaged?” So excited to be able to share my happy news again, I ran toward Steve and Gary, yelling “Yes! Yes!” while pointing at the ring. Onlookers and fans waiting at the finish line must have caught onto the engagement news because I felt like the crowd erupted into joyful Congratulations! What an unbelievable feeling! Hand in hand with my new fiancée, I triumphantly crossed the Finish Line. No more tears—just a big smile.

The rest of the day was one big party. All day, I had random people hug me and tell me that they ran by me during the proposal and were so excited for us. It was like a whole island of people that were happy to be part of my special moment. The after-race partying began with burritos with Lani, Kristin, and John. Then another burrito (and tequila shots!) with my friends Tucker and Elizabeth. Then over to Steve and Gary’s house for champagne (and gossip!) with Beach Runners Sandy, AJ, Sindy, and Sindy’s fabulous daughter. I never would have thought that after a marathon, I would be out until 1:30 AM, but our Beach Runners group had such a close family feeling to it, that it felt so natural to be sharing my engagement evening with these happy faces. We did a mini bar crawl (Sandy’s first!) complete with kamakazi shots, green beer (St Patrick’s Day, remember?), and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

I will admit that for months, I was secretly frightened that the mountains of Catalina would kick my butt and that I would suffer through every uphill step of the 26 mile course. But truthfully, we were all so well trained (especially for the downhills!) that the marathon was not nearly as painful as I had originally feared. When I look back on March 17th 2007, I don’t think about the calf cramps, sweat, and sore toes. I remember my friends at Mile 24, Steve and Gary at the finish line, giggling about territorial garibaldi fish, laughing at Steve leaping into every picture, and dancing at the Chi Chi Club until my quads burned. And of course, I remember an extraordinary man kneeling on bended knee with a ring in his hand, wanting to spend the rest of his life with me.

Mina Oh, Beach Runner

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