August 2013


Dear Kristin,

I’m your Betty.  (Or at least one of them—I did spread the word to my ninja posse of badass women, so I hope you’ll pick some of them too.)

Mom died last year.  (When she was first diagnosed with cancer I signed up to walk the 3-Day on the grounds that all cancer sucks and it didn’t matter she didn’t have breast cancer, and raised $5,000.  The next year I did it again.)   She wanted to die at home with her family and her dog, and that’s how she did it.  When she started on hospice, I went home to hang out with her.  Even though she was busy dying, we laughed a lot, and told bad jokes, and even when she couldn’t get out of bed she insisted I help brush her hair and put a little blush on her so she didn’t look “too scary.”  It is royally unfair that Mom died before I got married, before my brother’s kid was born, before she reached her goal of 50 years of marriage to Dad (she made it to 46).  I don’t get mad and refuse to be defeated.  My response to Mom’s death was to run my fastest half marathon (which wasn’t very fast, and Dad beat me by over half an hour) and raise $24,500 for the American Cancer Society.  (I would have raised more, but I only had July to mid-November to do it.)

I’m an instigator.  I’m the one encouraging my co-workers to get out from behind their desks and sign up for the Warrior Dash or take a trapeze lesson.  Last year I pushed the Detroit office of my firm to run the half marathon relay, which inspired one partner to keep running so she could run the entire half this year.  This is my second year as an Action Hero for Women’s Health magazine, promoting the Run 10 Feed 10 events and raising money to feed the hungry through partnerships with the FEED Foundation.  This summr I not only got Dad to run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Chicago, I also convinced him to don an Elvis wig and pose with me–here’s the photographic evidence:


I’m versatile.   My day job is lawyering; I know more about the linings of your bodily cavities, the proper way to post-tension a tennis court slab, and how to tap a sewer pipe than you have any need to know.  My Monday-at-6-am-job is teaching yoga.  (I’m not a morning person but I can reliably predict I won’t be in court or a deposition at 6 a.m. on Monday.)  I’ve translated for a volunteer group building stoves in rural Guatemala and appeared on stage with the Italian National Opera Company, unpacked clothing at Macy’s and supervised the children’s wardrobe for the Oregon Ballet Theatre (both of those after law school).  When I met my Brazilian mother-in-law for the first time, we conversed in French because it is the one language we have in common.

I’m tenacious.  As of today, I’ve run 15 half marathons this year.  (There are another 11 on calendar.)  I started a blog at (I fought WordPress and won!).  At age 15 I chaperoned myself on a trip to the national Scout jamboree in Finland, and at age 23 I chaperoned a group of eight Girl Scouts on the same trip.  I’ve bagged a Munro, sang onstage with the band at Isolde’s Tower in Dublin, and drove on the isle of Harris.  Next year I think I’ll learn SUP (better! SUP yoga!), try a long bike ride, maybe do a sprint triathlon?  I’m also going to apply to join Race Guards.


I’m opinionated.  I’m a vegetarian who will tell you how to poach salmon and marinate a turkey.  I love to engage in a good debate, hear your experiences, and learn something new.

I love to cross the streams (and I’m really good at it).  I work in a suit-wearing profession while cultivating a community of Mensa members, runners, Burning Man attendees,  hackers, authors, PhDs, and yoga practitioners.  I’ve lived in six states.  My real purpose in life seems to be introducing people who need to meet each other but wouldn’t otherwise have a way to meet.  My secret superhero power is to accidentally meet the most interesting person at the party.  I’m licensed to teach PiYo, Zumba, RealRyde, TurboKick, and Piloxing.

So call me Betty.  Or Elizabeth.  (Just not Lizzie—I don’t want to have to kick your ass.)



My running goal was never “to win this race.” I am fond of telling people that I look at racing this way: I’ve seen the Olympics, and at the end they give the people who win a big medal; every time I cross a finish line someone hands me a medal, so I must win A LOT of races!

A classic first-child/Type A/perfectionist/otherwise-driven personality, sticking with something that I’m not particularly “good” at (and frankly that I don’t know I like) is challenging for me. One of the ways that I have kept myself from getting crazy insane and overly serious about running is the Sparkle Skirt. It is pretty much just like it sounds–a skirt with sparkles on it. Totally ridiculous, as you can see:

Snoopy and Kat after Santa Rosa

On the left you can see me in the Sparkle Skirt (a commando model, since I like to wear compression shorts/tights) posing with my running buddy Kat and everyone’s favorite beagle after the Santa Rosa half marathon this past Sunday. (Santa Rosa, for those who don’t know, is the home of Charles Schultz. There is even a small Snoopy-shaped labyrinth.)

The Santa Rosa half marathon (and marathon and 5k) is in its fifth year, and it has hit a sweet spot that many older races can only dream of achieving. As you can see from the photos (credit to Kat, by the way, as they are hers), the race comes with a sweet spinner medal on a fat custom ribbon, and instead of yet another race shirt all runners receive a track jacket.  (The jacket came in a men’s and women’s version–blue and pink respectively–and features reflective stripes and venting mesh.  They run true to size, even in the women’s sizes.)  Santa Rosa is also the only race I have personally attended where packet pickup takes place at a winery–with wine tasting. What’s not to love??

But wait, it gets better.

(You might want to sign up for 2014 now: It will sell out again next year.)

There were so many porta-potties at the start/finish that I never had to wait in any line. (I never had to wait at all–I just walked along the line until I found a green/unoccupied indicator.) If you’ve ever been to a race and had to wait in line, only to find the one open potty has no paper or is already full enough to reek (or like me, you’ve waited in line so long you miss the starting gun) you know how important the porta-potty factor is. Nearby were two stands dispensing hand sanitizing foam. Best porta-potties ever.  I wish I’d taken a picture, as it was unbelievable.  This fact alone makes me bow in gratitude towards the organizers.

The start/finish was a combined area. As a starting area, there was plenty of room to mill about and warm up (note the total absence of lines for the porta-potties). Bag check had no line and was well-organized. Only a minimal amount of the street was closed off by barricade fences, making it easy to get around.

The course for the half marathon shared much of the course for the full marathon, and had some areas where traffic went in both directions (as part was out-and-back). Initially I was worried about (1) crowding, since I’m not the most coordinated of people and if there was a way to accidentally knock down the next Mary Decker my body would find a way to do it, and (2) figuring out which way to go, as Mom was directionally challenged (she literally got lost with a map and compass, after which the Girl Scouts wouldn’t let her lead hikes any more) and just leave it to me to run the course backwards or something. Neither of those was a problem, even with the marathon field looking about twice as big as the half field. The transition points were well-marked and staffed by volunteers, often with accompanying water/gatorade/snack stations.

The course was also pretty. Most of it was in a local/regional park with murals along the walls and/or greenery. The one thing I love about running, without qualification, is spending time outside. Blessed with gorgeous weather, the Santa Rosa half course was at its finest. I loved running alongside several vineyards, and seeing birds eating their breakfasts along the way.

Back to the start/finish, the finish chute was wide and the photographers were placed in such a way that even I couldn’t trip over them. Stepping off the course with my shiny new medal, I was greeted by volunteers staffing a fruit table stocked with cut watermelon (BRILLIANT!), oranges, apples, and bananas. Bottled water was plentiful. Stepping out of the immediate finish chute area, the park provided plenty of room for runners and their friends and families to enjoy the day. In addition to booths from the race sponsors, the finish line also had an inflatable “bounce house” for the kids, food trucks (including my favorite organic ice cream, Three Twins), a beer garden with pulled pork sliders for sale, live music, and a free pancake breakfast for the runners. My huge pancake, complete with butter and syrup, was just what I needed. After relaxing a bit and having some snacks, I walked the 2 blocks back to my car. Did I mention the organizers are smart enough to put the start/finish right next to several humongous mall parking structures? Booyah!

I will admit that initially my finish time–3:14–kinda bummed me out. Between January and July, I’d managed to whittle my time down below 3:00, but Sunday I was just beat. Was it the oncoming heat? A small touch of humidity? Oh wait! It was probably that on Thursday I donated double red cells at the Red Cross blood drive! (Somewhat ironically, the charity beneficiary of the Santa Rosa race was the Blood Centers of the Pacific.)

See you next year, Santa Rosa!

Honestly, I had very low expectations for this event for a number of reasons: (1) Lifetime Fitness, one of the main sponsors, promoted and sponsored a “Commitment Day 5k” on New Year’s Day 2013 and not only was the San Francisco event cancelled, I was never notified of the cancellation and spent part of New Year’s Eve scrambling around the internet trying to figure out where I was supposed to show up.  Also, still waiting for a refund. (2) The event was moved from its original location (Emeryvile, near me!) to Palo Alto, on a weeknight.  Seriously guys, who plans a run for a weekday evening at the end of one of the major traffic corridors in the country?? (3) Originally the event had a 10k and a 5k, but the 10k was cancelled just a few weeks’ out.

That said, I had a fantastic time!

Pre-event: The customer service team was quite accommodating and offered to allow me to either cancel my registration with a full refund or switch to the 5k with a partial refund (the initial cost for the 10k was a little bit more than the 5k).  Mad props to Stephanie Weber, the recipient of my initial email which included complaints about the cancellation of the Commitment Day run.  One day I was pleasantly surprised by an email informing me I’d won a full box of Luna bars; as promised, a full box of 15 Peanut Honey Pretzel flavored Luna bars arrived at my door via UPS.  Communication regarding logistics was adequate without being overwhelming.

Arrival: Parking locations were signed/easy to locate.  Lots were close to the start!  Check-in had a wait of a mere five minutes, with no waiting at bag check.

The course: A 5k out-and-back in a regional park (Baylands Nature Preserve) that will soon be closed to all events for several years, it had both negative and positive aspects.  I was annoyed by the narrow passage in a few spots, and decidedly uncomfortable on the unpaved sections, where I was literally eating runners’ dust (and crying it out from under my contact lenses).  On the bright side, it was a gorgeous day to be outside, the park setting was lovely, and the water station and cheerleaders did a great job.  The two-wave start was a great idea.  I loved seeing the girls from Girls on the Run smiling on the course (as they passed me in one direction or the other).

The swag and after-party: Decidedly great!  Instead of a race shirt, Esprit de She came with a cute tank top and reusable yellow cross-body bag (think Chico Bag, but with a cross-body design and an internal pocket).  The bag had sponsor samples, of course, and more were available at the finish line.  After I had a mimosa and a glass of wine, I enjoyed a vegetarian sandwich (I’m a vegetarian–meat-eater sandwiches were also available) and other snacks accompanied by live music.  I spent some time chatting at the Vega booth (more on that in a later post).  I skipped the mini massages, manicures, and makeovers, in part because it was getting chilly as the sun went down and in part because I had an hour’s drive ahead of me.  One thing I didn’t skip: entering the “text to win” by sponsor Athleta–I won a $50 gift card!

Conclusion: I’d definitely do this event again.  For one, Girls on the Run ( is a worthy recipient of funds raised by this event.  Second, there were a decent number of women who were running their very first 5k.  The event accommodated both the faster runners (definitely not me!) and the super slow-pokes (that’s me).  Finally, I had a great time even though only one of my running buddies was there.  I’m looking forward to 2014.


For more information on the Esprit de She series of runs, rides, duathlons, and triathlons, visit