By Anne Stanton
When Kristy Beyer decided to run the Chicago marathon last year, she
was a bona fide couch potato. She couldnt even walk on a treadmill
for five minutes without getting seriously winded.
But last March, she was inspired by a man who stood in front of her
churcha big guy who was heavier than she wasand announced he was
going to sign up for a marathon to raise money for World Vision, a
Christian group that helps families in the worlds poorest corners.
Would anyone care to join him?
Beyer, in a moment of insanity, decided to go for it. On April 13,
2009, she got off the couch and began walkingback and forth across
her 70-foot patio so no one would see her. By race day on October 11,
2009, she took her place at the starting line with tens of thousands
of people and proceeded to run and then walk and then run 26.2 miles.
She completed the marathon in seven hours and 16 minutes, placing
33,643 out of the 33,701 finishers (a total of 45,000 signed up, but
not all showed up or crossed the finish line).
A BIG DEAL
Im a short, round woman and not an athlete by any means. So it was a
big deal for me to be able to do it, said Beyer, who suffered a
painful tendon injury just two weeks into her training. There were a
lot of points where I could have given up, and I chose not to. I think
you just need to make the choice whether youre going to do it or
If youre interested in running a marathon, Beyer advises to run for a
causeyoull not only help change lives, abut also receive added
inspiration and support. Team World Vision provides runners with all
kinds of advice, as well as fundraising support (she raised $1,500 for
Beyer was also able to electronically chat with runners from all over
the country. The website provides a complete training schedule for
complete beginners to experienced runners. Beyer put together a small
team in Petoskey, but essentially trained alone for the entire time
because of conflicting schedules. The inspirational guy at church? He
had to drop out after pulling a tendon in his knee early on; he never
returned to training.
Beyer has once again put together a team for the next Chicago
marathon, and admitted to suffering from aches and pains: Im
starting all over again. My muscles are fighting it againthe shin
splints, the blisters, the calluses. I dont want to start all over
again, but I really like running. Its something Ive come to
Here are excerpts from her blog from last year:
August 3, 2009
The struggle in my head is by far the toughest part of this training
process. From being motivated enough to go out and exercise to eating
healthy to just the sheer thought of 26.2 miles (in a row). Even
though I am confident that I can do this if I keep working at it and
focusing on the daily challenge rather than the final challenge, there
is always that voice in the back of my head trying to shout out that I
am not going to make it, that I will simply be making a fool of myself
for even trying to take on such a challenge or that all this muscle
pain simply isnt worth it. It begs me to return to the days of
watching hours on end of television and working on my laptop without
moving a muscle at all. The voice even agrees with the Dairy Queen
commercials that a Brownie Batter Blizzard would taste great and that
I deserve one for all my hard work. Its a voice that is hard to
ignore sometimes, but with the last nine weeks of training for the
Chicago Marathon on the horizon I must be stronger than that voice.
I remember back in high school I was able to run like the wind. I
recently found my first place medal for running the two-mile at the
Northern Lake Conference. Can you imagine not only did I run an
entire two miles, but I did it faster than anyone else and won a first
place medal. Hard to fathom now, but that person is still in there
dying to run a full two miles. Will I be able to do it within the next
nine weeks? Who knows?
August 10, 2009 -- Eight weeks before the race
Well, off to The Refinery Gym to work on triceps and shoulder muscles.
Last week my triceps and armpits (of all places, who knew you had
muscles there) hurt so bad the next day that I forgot I even had legs
that were aching.
August 26, 2009
In every book that I have read on marathon running an energy
supplement is suggested and now that I am up to 16 miles I thought I
should give them a try. Every description Ive read on these things
didnt sound very appealing. Many are described as goopy gels that
dont taste very good, but are essential to sustaining energy (in
other words, suck it up buttercup, youre going to need this to
survive). The GU (an energy supplement) was similar to sucking
frosting out of those foil packages that come with your Betty Crocker
brownie mixes. Come on, Im not the only one thats done that right?
The consistency was more like liquid caramel. After trying both I did
notice I felt less pain in my leg muscles and seemed to have more
energy though. I have a few more long runs to narrow it down as to
what I am going to take along. I am open to suggestions if you have
For all of you that are still shaking your heads and thinking that I
am crazy for attempting this at my size I made it 16 miles within
the marathons qualifying time. Thats over half way to the finish
line. Remember, only a mere 8 months ago I couldnt even do 5 minutes
on the treadmill without being out of breath and having my legs shake.
Ive come a long way nothing can stop me now.
September 11, 2009
As the finish line gets closer I have started reflecting on how far I
have actually come. I think back to the very first day of
pre-training. Monday, April 13th. I had just downloaded a 30-minute
Nike itunes training workout for my ipod that features Serena Williams
as your personal coach. It was to help build endurance by walking a
brisk pace and then running for a few minutes on and off until the 30
minutes was up. I remember distinctly being so embarrassed by my
physical condition that I didnt want to walk down the road. I
actually thought that if I got too far from the house I might not be
able to make it back.
This was the thought process of someone who had just decided to take
on a race that would last for 26.2 whole MILES! Can you believe it?
For this first training session I decided to do windsprints back and
forth across our back patio (by the way its only 70 feet long). Our
dog, Jack, thought I was nuts as I walked back and forth, back and
forth, not really going anywhere. It seemed to make perfect sense to
me at the time. I was close to a bathroom, water, and a comfortable
seat should I not be able to make it the full 30 minutes. It all seems
so silly thinking about it now. I did make it the full 30 minutes
though, huffing and puffing the whole time. After it was completed I
actually felt a small sense of accomplishment. Next time I will do
better I thought, and have thought that way ever since.
Yes, I have graduated to running/walking the back country roads of my
neighborhood instead of doing windsprints on the patio, but I tend to
focus on each mile, one at a time. It has been this baby step
mentality that has inched me closer and closer to the finish line and
hopefully soon (on October 11th) across it. When every I look at the
training schedule and see those big numbers, that actually just keep
getting bigger and bigger, I have to remind myself that its just a
couple more miles than I did the week before and that next time I will
do even better.
October 11, 2009 RACE DAY!
I found it odd that the day before and the morning of the race I
didnt feel nervous. I had leaned on Gods graces for getting me
through this journey for so long that this didnt seem to be a big
deal to me. I knew that I had done everything I could to get to this
point and that being nervous would only waste the energy I would need
to cross the finish line. The only time that I felt overwhelmed was at
the starting line. The crowds of people shoving and pushing to get
into their corrals and my germaphobia did not mix well. I couldnt
seem to find my happy place to help me overcome this growing
anxiety. Thankfully Tony noticed this right away and called Steve and
Rita over to pray. Never underestimate the power for prayer. I felt
much better and was able to focus again shortly after.
Another unexpected thing was the support of the volunteers and
spectators. Team World Vision encourages you to write your name on
your jersey, which at first I thought was silly, but later realized
why its important. Hearing your name shouted out with words of
encouragement was uplifting, especially when youre running without a
partner. There was one person that was cheering so hard for me when I
passed I thought he was going to burst. It made me laugh right out
loud. For the longest time I ran behind a man dressed as a nun and
another dressed as the pope. I must be in a hundred photographs as
many spectators took their photograph as they approached. They were
having such a great time with the crowd that it made me forget what
mile I was on sometimes.
Most racers will never experience the race I completed after the
half way mark. When a racer stays in front of the pace car the
spectators are still lining the streets cheering loudly and shaking
noise makers, mile markers are still in place, the water and Gatorade
stations are still full of cold beverages, the cheer stations are
pumping out loud, motivating music, the finish line is lined with
people, and the race ends with someone putting a blanket around your
shoulders, a medal around your neck, and the last few steps are filled
with people handing you food and drink and family members running up
to congratulate you with hugs and lots of photographs to remember your
journey. These are all things you get to experience when you stay in
front of the pace car. When you fall behind the pace car..well, your
experience changes dramatically.
Once the pace car passes you are pretty much on your own. Once it
passes, the water stations ahead of you are closed, the spectators
leave, and the bands and exciting spectator events that you get to run
though are all gone. The run I experienced quickly became similar to
the training I had done, quiet and more mentally challenging. Life is
easy when its full of distractions and noisy fans cheering you on,
but its a lot different when youre at the back of the pack, left
with your thoughts and only a sprinkling of runners on the trail that
are just as determined as you to finish the race.
At mile 15 God blessed me with water. A lady carrying two bottles of
water while packing up her spectator gear offered one to me. Since
everyone had told me that there would be plenty of water along the
course and not to take my own because it would add weight to my pack,
I hadnt had any for two and a half miles. The bottle of water was a
welcomed sight. With this single bottle of water I knew I could finish
the race. Without it, I wasnt so sure and thoughts of giving up had
crossed my mind. Its crazy that the one thing I was running for,
clean water for kids in Africa made such a difference at that moment.
The other girl (whom Beyer ran with at the end) was from Team World
Vision and had traveled from Vermont just to participate in the race.
Her feet and knees ached but she was determined to keep up with our
pace. I had packed some Aleve in my pack just in case I needed it, but
other than being a little achy, I was fine. I offered it to her and
she gladly received. Sometimes you just need a friend out there to
make the time go by more quickly, share in your aches and pains, and
not feel so alone on the journey. I was glad to have met them along
With only two miles left to go, the blisters on my heels were worse
than ever. Luckily I had made it this far without too much trouble. By
this time you could only see remnants of the race. It became the joke
that if you werent sure where you were on the course to just follow
the cups littering the street (believe or not, it worked). It was
strange that the clean up crew was just putting away the one mile to
go sign as I approached.
Suddenly my pace quickened. My mind was telling me to run for it, but
by body overruled and I simply walked a bit faster. I had passed a
couple of racers wrapped in shiny silver blankets that were leaving
the park where the finish line was, they said, You can make it,
youre almost there. My heart quickened. As I ran up the bridge
(which by the way, is poor planning if you ask me, who puts an uphill
climb at the end of a marathon, I mean really) my only thought was I
hope they still have a medal for me and that they havent put away the
The finish line was such a welcome sight to see. I knew that I was
only a few steps away from a huge accomplishment in my life, no matter
how long it took me (7 hours, 16 minutes). It didnt matter that there
were no fans cheering me on, no spectators, no one taking photos. As a
matter of fact they were putting away the leader boards that line the
track as I approached. The only thing that mattered was the beep that
I heard as my shoe activated the finish line. To my surprise a guy
waved me over and hung a heavy medallion around my neck. I was sure
there wouldnt be any left by the time I got there. I held it and let
the heaviness of it sink deeply into my hand. I kissed the photo of my
sponsor child that was pinned to my shirt then looked to the heavens
and said, We made it.
To read the entire blog, go to kbeyer2009.wordpress.com. Her new blog
for the upcoming marathon is teamstarfish.wordpress.com (Beyer will
detail on the blog how to support the World Vision cause).