Distance Divas With Amy Yoder Begley

Do you know any famous people?  Maybe an Artist, Actor, Writer, Singer, Professional Athlete or an Olympian?   Most probably do not, particularly if you come from Small Town USA, like me.  However, my high school managed to be home to two kick-ass amazing athletes while I was there and those athletes eventually landed professional contracts.   One, Brad Miller, we watched on the basketball court tearing things up until his retirement just last season, the other,  Amy Yoder Begley we watched on the track. 

As the internet grew and social media became more popular, it has been easier than ever to watch Amy develop as an athlete on the track.  I didn’t have to stalk watch her website for tidbits of info, instead her upcoming races, progress and results were always posted to Facebook or Twitter.  While watching Amy’s career, I also became interested in her coach Alberto Salazar and her training partner, Kara Goucher.   See Goucher & Begley celebrate below on the track after they both qualified in the 10,000 meters to represent Team USA for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (click on the green link for full article in Runners World).

How Amy Begley Made the 10K Team

Photograph by Victah Sailer

So while watching Amy & Kara, this led to and eventual interest in Shalane, then Desi.  I now have an interest in all things related to women’s running and I’m not sure that would be the case if it weren’t for Amy.  Thank you, Amy!

Recently, Amy has embarked on her newest endeavor and is creating a community of women runners called the Distance Divas.  When I originally heard about the Distance Divas, I was certainly intrigued but didn’t even consider it would be a group for someone like me, an injured amateur runner.  It appears that I was wrong.  The purpose of this group is to connect women runners throughout the country.  The group focus will be social with an emphasis on training tips and advice presented in a members only forum where we can ask questions and talk with one another and get input from Amy on a regular basis.  Coaching is also available for those who may be a lot more serious than me but it’s optional, not required.  Eventually there will be races.  Yes, races.  Races where we can gather as a group and meet one another.  Races which Amy will attend and host social events and group runs.  Have you ever ran with an Olympian?  This is your chance!

After reading all the cool stuff on the Distance Divas website I basically assumed that I couldn’t afford to join the members only group.  I wanted to be a Distance Diva really badly but didn’t even want to click open the “Join this Group” tab and see the cost.  Do you want to know the cost?  Is this something that would interest you too?  $50.  Yep, $50 is the cost to be part the inaugural Distance Divas.  I’m in and I hope to see some of you over in the forum too!  There aren’t many of us yet but I’m pretty sure that will change fast.  So look for me on the trail in my new Distance Diva tee, which is included with the membership!

Diva V  Diva Back

Photo Source:  BegleyTrack.com

For the record, I don’t make any $$ if you decide to be a Distance Diva; I just thought it was a cool concept and something that will really take off as the word gets out so I wanted to tell you about it.   And in my book, all of you ladies are Distance Divas.  Keep running; I’ll see YOU on the trail!  🙂

** Run Like a DIVA ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

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5 More Days….2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

It seems like I have been awaiting the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials forever.  This is obviously not true but there are only a couple of times a year where we get to see the American Elites barreling down our streets with a tv camera in their face.  That is why I am glued to the tv or Universal Sports each and every Boston, Chicago & New York Marathon.  Our Streets, Our Athletes.  Go Team USA! 

My focus, of course, is on the women’s line up.  I think most are now fans of Desiree Davila who many including myself now refer to as “Desi”.  If you weren’t a Desi fan before the 2011 Boston Marathon, I bet you are now.  She had been on my radar previous to Boston because she had frequented the Chicago Marathon and is usually the top American female for us.  So I had “hoped” she would do well but when she re-entered the live tv stream during the 2011 Boston Marathon after pushing her way back to the front, I was on my feet in front of my computer screaming in my office.  I just couldn’t believe that she would win, or even come that close, but she sure made a believer out of me and the rest of America on that Monday morning in April 2011.   Wow.   So Desi has my hope for top spot on the 2012 US Women’s Olympic Marathon Team.  GO DESI! 

I think Desi’s biggest competition will come from America’s current distance running sweethearts:  Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher.  These women are now training together under Jerry Schumacher and are both converted track stars who have moved up to the marathon distance after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  Shalane is currently in the “best shape of her life” although I don’t think we have ever seen her in poor shape and I really think she will make the team.  She is strong mentally and physically and she is a competitor.  She hasn’t done much real racing this year as her focus has been toward the trials.  I think we are going to see an amazing fight from her.  Good luck Shalane! 

Kara Goucher is another amazing distance runner.  She took some time off after the Beijing Olympics and her marathon debut to have a bouncing baby boy.  Let me just remind all of you that I too have a bouncing baby boy and they take up a lot of time.  Kara, like many moms, went back to work immediately after the birth and has really knocked out some fast times for a strong come back…..then she got injured.  Too much, too fast?  Maybe.  Or possibly I just find that childbirth kicks the shit out of a women’s body this was related to the birth or just overtraining but it was definitely unlucky timing.  However, Kara is now back on track and will be ready to run by the Trials.  She has had a lot of changes lately between the birth, injury and a coaching change but I don’t anyone will be thinking about those things on Saturday unless the commentators keep mentioning them over and over again when she toes the line with Desi and Shalene.  The heart of every distance running mom will be pushing Kara forward on Saturday.  We LOVE Kara!

Although Desi, Shalene and Kara are sucking up some serious press time, there are several other ladies who will show up Saturday ready to fight.  This has to be the best line up ever for an Olympic Trials.  So many wildcards.  I don’t think anybody expects former 2008 Olympic Marathoner and American record holder Deena Kastor to hand over her spot without a fight.  This is another lady who took some time off for childbirth between Olympic games.  I feel like nobody really  knows what level of fitness Deena currently maintains.  I will certainly be watching her closely on Saturday and hope that she has the run of her life to fight for a spot with those youngin’s!  Go Deena! 

We also have a lot of other players in Saturday’s race.  Magdalena Lewy Boulet is probably the most well-known from the 2008 Beijing Marathon team. 

Amy Hastings

Colleen De Reuck 

Stephanie Rothstein 

Chicago’s Hometown Favorite – Tera Moody 

Clara Grandt 

Katie McGregor 

Dot McMahan

Molly Pritz 

 Janet Cherobon-Bawcom

Serena Burla 

These are some of the faces that I will be looking for on Saturday during the 2012 Olympic Trials.   Who will you be watching?  Can you pick the three who will make the team?  I just can’t narrow down to which three will be the best on Saturday.  So many random factors go into making race day perfect and I know there are hundreds of women looking for a perfect day and a spot on the team.  I wish them all lots of luck and hope that they have good health, good results and are able to walk away happy.  However, looking over this crew, there is going to be a lot of unhappy ladies walking around Houston on Saturday afternoon.   Congratulations to all the ladies who graced my list and all of those who qualified for the trials.  This is a class act which I can only join in on by watching thru the eye of the camera. 

Have you noticed that each day we have more and more amazing and inspiring women?   You know these ladies are just like you they just run faster.  Inspire somebody today.

Counting Down til the Trials,                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz