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Follow This Mother!

Sweat-stained Beth Risdon and Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes
When I cruised the Internet looking for just the right mom to kick off another year of inspirational profiles, I decided we needed to make a splash. Or, maybe I should say, a plop, plop. Part-time social worker, mom of two, and marathoner/blogger extraordinaire Beth Risdon, 43, is reknown for talking openly about pooping, peeing, and all sorts of bodily functions on her [email protected]*ting blog Shut Up and Run.  But we also admire (and envy, just a wee bit) her transformation from a newbie runner to qualifer for the Boston Marathon in less than two years.


Disclaimer: If you skipped the Potty Talk chapter of our book, don't read this profile. But  if you love TMI Tuesday status updates on our Facebook page, have at it!

Best recent run: Yesterday I ran for 50 minutes in the deep end of the pool. Don’t laugh: It’s a good workout. Since I’ve been injured (hip stress fracture), the pool has become my second home. I have made friends with the ladies who do water aerobics and fondly call them my pussy posse (well, not to their faces). I swear, 50 minutes in the pool takes the mental fortitude of running a marathon. Only good thing is you can pee and no one knows. Farts are a bit more, risqué, however. They produce too many bubbles.

Best recent runs: After Thanksgiving dinner, I had some really cool runs. They kept me returning to the bathroom every 10 minutes or so. My kids were astounded that so much noise and stench could come out of their 110-pound mom. These were my best runs of 2010. Wait, you were talking about those kinds of runs, right?

Doin’ it with Dean: When Gore-Tex asked me to run a stage of the TransRockies Run with non other than Ultramarathon Man extraordinaire, Dean Karnazes, as my partner, I almost crapped my pants. Seriously, I was a bundle of nerves, worried I couldn’t go the distance (21 miles, 3,000 foot elevation gain). The day of the race, (August 22, 2010) was surreal. We started running, and it took me about five miles just to relax and to stop being starstruck. At mile six, he opened my margarita Shot Bloks for me and we bonded a bit more over these gummy squares of sugar. By mile ten, it was 95 degrees and I was so hot and tired, I stopped caring what Dean thought and just concentrated on getting to the finish line. Every once in awhile I would remind myself that THIS WAS DEAN who was running beside me, and I’d get all giddy. He knew I was exhausted and told me stories the entire time to keep me distracted. He gave me running advice, and we talked about our kids. At the last aid station, he suggested stuffing my sport’s bra with ice for the remainder of the run. At the finish line, he hugged me and spent time with my kids.

What I can say about Dean is that he’s an animal, a freak of nature. He hardly drank or ate during the entire 21-mile run. He is not built like you and me. But, despite his fame and undeniable physical prowess, he is gracious, kind, and interested in the rest of us. I still have a crush. Can you tell?

Evolution of a BQer: How did I go from a non-runner to a Boston Marathon qualifier in only 20 months? Lots of steroids and crack. Seriously, it took a lot of grit and determination. I started running in September 2008 and did my first marathon in January 2009. To BQ, I knew I would have to shave 13 minutes off my first marathon time of 4:03 (I was 42 years old at the time and needed a 3:50). I felt like it was within my reach, so I started training. Hard. I joined a hardcore local running club and did a ton of speedwork. Then, surprise of surprises, I got injured with a stress fracture in my foot. I was sidelined from running for almost three months and came back smarter. In January 2010, I trained using the Run Less, Run Faster program. I did three tough running workouts per week and mixed in lots of swimming and Bikram (hot) yoga. I was able to BQ at the Colorado Marathon in May 2010 with a time of 3:42.

Being a newer runner, I am still learning how to take care of myself. Since my BQ, I got really intense with my training and got hurt again. When will I ever learn?? For me, less really is more. I have finally grasped that running more (50+ miles per week) does not make me a better runner, it just makes me fatigued and prone to injury. I am very Type-A, so scaling back and cross training is hard for me. I do, however, want to be running for the rest of my life so I need to be smarter.

Funny as a crutch: Injuries suck. I think runners get especially bitchy when they are injured. Somehow we feel entitled to run and, when we can’t, we tend to want to make everyone around us miserable. I did that for a few days, then my husband reminded me that pity parties weren’t attractive. After I filed for divorce (just kidding!), I moved into acceptance mode. I knew I wouldn’t run for three months. But, I also knew I would run again. My job was to find out how I could maintain fitness in a way that would put me in the best possible shape to run again when it was possible. I hobbled on my crutches to the deep end of the pool where I put on a float belt and started running. In the water. I followed a water running training plan developed by Pete Pfitzinger that was supposed to help me not lose any endurance while I was sidelined. I have done this almost every day for a couple of months now. I’ve also been using my bike trainer and going to yoga. I try to have a sense of humor about it all, knowing it is temporary. I am also trying to learn some lessons from this injury. What went wrong? How can I do better in the future to stay healthy? The book Zen and the Art of Running has really helped me a lot. It has helped me to see that although I love to run, I am more than a runner. It does not completely define me as a person.

“Shart”: Your term, or one you copped? Damn, I wish I could take credit for coining the term, “shart,” but I stole it from the movie, “Along Came Polly.” For those in the dark, a shart is the act of farting in hopes that it will just be air, but (to one’s dismay)...a little shit comes out. I like to call it a “fart with a chaser.” If you say you have never sharted, you are lying. Especially us runners. We fart so much that it is inevitable that sometimes something else slips out. It just comes with the territory.

Follow this [potty-talkin'] mother at:

Beth and the fam chillin' during a Mexican holiday

32 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. great post, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector do not understand this.
    You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

  2. I love it when people have the ability to be super funny, honest and descriptive all at the same time! I am challenging myself to go from a casual runner to a serious runner this year. It really is inspiring to read that someone else, and at her age, has come so far in such a short time – I am super motivated by this mother runner.

  3. “Shart” hahahaha….we called it “fell through”. I’ll have to check out her blog. I take it she is not running Boston this year with her injury. Amazing to go from new runner to BQer. Inspiring!!

  4. I am a huge fan of SUAR. I thought I was the only one with tummy troubles and running until I found her. Love that you featured her and didn’t censor her one bit!

  5. When I get to work in the mornings, I check two blogs, this one and Shut Up and Run. I laugh so much! Since I am in the eastern time zone, I get disappointed when new entries aren’t in there at 8:30 a.m! I have a SUAR sticker on my car and when I requested it, got a very nice and encouraging e-mail from Beth, so she is the real deal. I just wish I lived closer and she could coach me!

    1. Laurie, Laurie–So YOU are the East Coaster who sends me psychic vibes, telling me to update our Facebook status or blog when I get up to PEE at 3:35 a.m., eh?!?! Honestly, I litearlly lose sleep over such things.
      Buuuuuut, in our defense: We purposely have Follow This Mothers start mid-morning Denver time on Thursdays as Dimity used to qualify that Hump Day Giveaway lasted until that time. But if we sense demand, we’ll have profiles start earlier on Thursdays…

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