Sunday, April 24, 2011


Former and current wheelchair athlete winners.  What an honor to meet these amazing people!
When you are proud of yourself, you show it, you feel it and you know it. It shines in your eyes, the way you speak and the way you carry your very being.  You are proud because you could and you did, you can and you will, you cannot but you know it, and it is still okay.  When you are proud you do, give and share rather than take, talk and promise.  Pride is peaceful service, joy-filled sharing, inner knowing that there is more to come.  Pride does not argue to be right, push to get ahead, step over others to get there and forget them once it does.  Pride is gentle, calm and balanced.  It is not boastful, frightened or hurried.  Pride is pleasant.  Pride is grateful.  Pride is mastery, but most of all, pride is silent.
-Iyanla Yanzant-

In the "Spotlight" with Van

Meet the amazing and fabulous Van, aka "Pigtails" from Washington State.  Van is someone I truly admirer. Two time Marathon Maniac of the Year winner and a role model for me and many others.  Van is an amazing athlete!!!

Many runners know me as Pigtails. Even the ones I have never met. In years past, my jet black hair in pigtails at the front of the pack drew attention. Now I’m more in the middle of the pack, having peaked in my mid-30s. Sometimes you can find me in the back of the pack if I have run a 100 miler the weekend before and trying to run a hard 50K for recovery. Still, I get people approaching me almost every race and ask, “Are you Pigtails?” It’s fun! Likewise, I get to see the same runners almost every race, since there are likeminded people who just can’t get enough of running.

I live with my husband, our dog, two cats, a couple cows, three pigs during spring-summer, and over 2 dozen chickens in rural Maple Valley, WA. We don’t’ have kids, but my life stays stressful enough in my physician assistant job in orthopedic surgery. In fact, I don’t exercise at all during the week because of my job. I guess I have been running so long that my fitness is good enough to allow me to sign up for any race, anytime, without having to worry if I have enough training necessary. That’s a nice feeling.

I started running at age 30 because I felt I was “soft.” It didn’t begin great. I had hip pain but found that it went away with proper running shoes. My first race was Sound to Narrows 12K in Tacoma, WA, but I didn’t even get a result because I didn’t realize they needed my bib tag at the finish. This was before chip timing at the smaller races. Immediately, I was hooked and found that I was pretty good and kept at it. I ran my first marathon 3 months later at Portland and qualified for Boston on my first try in 3:38. I know-not fair you say! Unfortunately, I couldn’t run much for three months after that race because of IT band issues. Mixing up my running routes helped with this. Then, because I increased my mileage too fast (rookie mistake), I developed plantar fasciitis, which I was able to run through for 9 months and eventually get over with my trusty Superfeet. I haven’t had a serious injury since. Next thing you know, I’m setting PRs, getting stronger with every race. I started meeting people who were running frequent races and got caught up in the excitement. I also started trail running, which is now my passion. That first year with Portland, I just did that one marathon. The next year, it was 3, then 7 marathon or longer race (including 2 ultras), then 16 (11 ultras), 28 (16 ultras including my first 50 mile and 100K), 53 (29 ultras including my first 100 mile), 51 (30 ultras with 3-100 milers), 54 (27 ultras with 2-100 milers), 30 (28 ultras with 5-100 milers and 1-150 miler), and 28 last year (26 ultras with 6-100 milers). So you can see, I’m not running as many races, but I am tackling the ultralong distances. I just completed my 277th race last week at the beginning of April, which now includes 103 marathons and 174 ultras. I’m hoping to complete 300 by the end of the year or early next.

I have been asked countless time why I run. There really is not just one answer. I run for the challenge, the friends, the nice burn I get after a hard day’s effort, and so many other reasons. Running gives me strength. It gives me confidence. I know that if I can push through the night in freezing temperatures, lost on the trail, with the wind blowing hard in my face, I can do just about anything. I enjoy giving inspiration to others and helping them find their own strengths. I enjoy running on trails most and hope this will translate into me being able to keep running for many years. I just turned 40 and feel no desire to back off. Sure, I don’t race as much. I replaced many of the weekends that I used to race with fun, long training runs with friends. I find that I enjoy these types of runs more now than ever. It’s not about winning or setting PRs anymore. It’s about appreciating the outdoors and the fact that I am able to do what I enjoy most. Racing, as much as I did, was time consuming with travel and also expensive. My husband accompanied me to my races in the beginning but that changed after I started running every weekend. He still crews for me in my 100 mile race. I am lucky that he has continued to be incredibly supportive.

What advice to I have for beginners or those who have found themselves in a rut? Set goals. They obviously do not have to be as lofty as the ones I set for myself. And they don’t always have to involve a race. Make it fun. Three years ago, I started running my age in miles on my birthday. I’ve included my friends in my birthday runs and now it’s simply an all day party. I want to run beyond 150 miles. I want to try new trails.

So next time someone asks you why you run, walk, bike, or do whatever you do so much, just tell them to get out there and find out for themselves!
-Van "Pigtails" -

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's offical...

I am the Guinness World Record holder, "Most Marathons Run in a Calendar Year" by a woman!
To accomplish this goal it took hard work, persistence, staying focus, determination, planning, organization skills, faith, courage, support, belief, believing in myself and my #1 fan...JESUS!!!

When I look back on my journey I had many bridges to cross and hurdles to jump over. I had to learn to trust God and turn my worries over to him. Once I learned to trust God he provided the way. He kept me happy, healthy, excited, injury free, and that's all I could ask for. Thank you Jesus!

Dream big and never give up on your dreams. When your dreams become your life and your life becomes your dreams you begin to see God all over them.

Yolanda "Walking Diva" Holder

The Marathon Show will make you famous!

Have big fun with the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatic!

Run a marathon in every state with the 50 states club

I'm featured in the February issue of Black Sports Magazine

In the "Spotlight" with Rudee

This is Rudee from Washington State and she's a goal setting, high achiever, determined, strong young woman! At age 23, Rudee is not afraid to venture out and explore new things. Rudee is my best cousin's daughter. You're amazing Rudee!!!

In my teenage years, I struggled with wondering who I was going to become. A question that many young adults struggle with today, and even some adults. After graduation from high school in 2005, I attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Go Rebels!). During College I made some fantastic lifelong friendships, lost amazing friends, and experienced my first heartbreak. All these experiences definitely helped mold me into the exceptional and strong woman that I am today. Something amazing happened to me on December 13, 2009. Through all my hard work and dedication, I received my college degree in Business Management with a Concentration in Human Resources. I had completed college in three and a half years. It was a huge accomplishment for my family and me. It was a wonderful time in my life, but at the same time it was very stressful. I had so many questions, but no one had the answers. I couldn't remember having a college course on what happens next in my life. Luckily, the summer before graduation, I took it upon myself to do a Human Resources Internship. After the internship ended, the company wanted me on board as a permanent employee, where I worked as a Human Resources Coordinator while attending school. To fast forward back to after graduation, my company offered me a great opportunity. I was offered a Human Resources Manager position in Washington State.
The decision to move to Washington was extremely difficult. Not only was I moving to an unknown place, but I was also moving away from all my family and friends. I received so much criticism from people who I believed were good friends. But I ultimately made the choice that was right for me. With no regrets, I packed my bags and moved. I will admit that the road was bumpy and difficult. At the age of 21, I had to prove myself to a workforce of employees double my age. I was working so hard that I forgot to take the time to really enjoy Washington and all of its marvels. I remember the very first time that I was invited to go hiking. "Hiking! You have got to be freakin' kidding me!" Those were the first thoughts that went through my head. I'm from Los Angeles and I had never even been camping. The whole week leading up to the "Big Hike" I was asking every question I could think of. Will there be bears? Will there be snakes? And with every response I got the same answer. "It's the wilderness, you never know what you are going to get." My very first hike was on the Northrup Canyon trail, and it was three miles round trip. Everything about the hike was beautiful! I felt like I was experiencing the world and its wonders for the first time.
From there my new journey began. Almost every weekend I was discovering new places to venture, and meeting great new people along the way. Right before the summer of 2010 ended I took on another challenge. I came face to face with Mount Rainier. I have to admit that after all the trails that I had hiked, the mountain was intimidating me. My first attempt, I only climbed just around 7500 feet. The fear of the unknown was starting to kick in. All kind of questions started to hold me back from achieving something great. So with an unsure and cautious mind, I turned back. For weeks after my first Mount Rainer attempt I beat myself up for turning back. I moved all the way to Washington by myself, I know I can tackle this mountain. A few weeks later, I made my second trip to Mount Rainer. This time I was ready. I made it to my original goal 9500 feet. I remember sitting up on Mount Rainier looking at everything that life has to offer, and being thankful for everything I have in my life.
This summer, not only am I going to hike new trails, but I am going to tackle Mount Rainier again and hit 10,188 feet!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Labor of Love Marathon - April 9, 2011

Labor of Love Marathon was held off Lovell Canyon Road in Las Vegas Nevada. Last year I did 3 of Labor of Love events that total to 107 miles. This year I only did the marathon and was feeling guilty until it started to snow, yes I said snow. This was my first marathon in the snow and the temperature was 24 degrees at the start and 38 at the finish! I finished 6:17:14

Steve, Jessica, Mitch and Hector were excited and ready for the cold!

It was cold!!!

Tony "Endorphin Dude" was running a double...

Be Who You Are

Let the true spirit of who you are shine through in all that you do.
Let your hopes and dreams always guide you in the direction
that you definitely believe in.
Let the love that is within your heart
never stop being the most important
and beautiful part of your life.
Travel through time not as one alone,
but as one among the many;
reach out to those who need your
gentle spirit and caring ways.
Make your passage through time
an endless journey of love.
-Deanna Beisser-

Believe you can,
Yolanda "Walking Diva"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In the "Spotlight" with Aeedah

Meet Aeedah for North Carolina! She's cute, she's fun, she's energetic and her smile will brighten up your day. Aeedah stepped out of her comfort zone and into the Half Fanatics marathon club!!!

A year ago had you asked me if I wanted to do a half marathon I just may have laughed and asked if you knew me? But clearly I did not know myself. My father started walking marathons a year ago. Within that year he approached my sister to see if they wanted to join him in his hobby. I was the last to be asked for this was so out of my element and something I did not think I had the ability to do.

My dad wanted me to complete a half marathon and was already signed up as my number one fan. The support and encouragement of my father and family was totally apparent. I agreed because this was going to be a great way to spend time with my family and travel. Little did I know what would happen next? I did my first half marathon in San Antonio in the fall of 2010. While at the start line I was still questioning what I was doing and if I had made the right decision to attempt such a feat. But, I had the complete support of my family who were standing beside me getting ready for their respective races. That support and encouragement gave me the confidence and assurance that I was indeed doing the right thing.

I was blessed to be able to have a pacer for my first race. My sister who had already run several full and half marathons walked with me to help me keep my pace and to ensure that I would finish within the 4-hour time limit. The energy of the crowd at the starting line was exciting and absolutely amazing and as everyone was ready to go and awaited the sound of the starting horn. And, then with a last surge of enthusiasm, we were off and the race was started.
Throughout the race I still questioned why I was out there waking the 13.1 miles of torture. I constantly thought about how many more miles I had to go. This was proving to be one of the greatest mental challenges that I had ever faced. The runners, the walkers, the crowd and the volunteers are all giving you words of encouragement and support while you are on the course.

Then you approach the finish line and the crowd is getting louder for you and you may even hear your name. You see the finish line and you want to get to it and across it. As I reached the finished line I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment and tears. I did it!!! I did it!!! I walked my first half marathon!!! I overcame my own self-doubt and have a medal to prove it.

This year I knew I wanted to walk another half marathon. I thought completing another half marathon over the course of the year would be another accomplishment. Little did I know that my goal of one half marathon was going to be eclipsed in a big way. I recently completed 2 half marathons within 16 days which made me eligible to join the Half Fanatics half marathon club. But, I was not done with the two half marathons and just recently added my third half marathon in 30 days to my incredible journey. And, I have three additional half scheduled for this year and my first full marathon is planned for the fall.

My humble advice to anyone questioning their ablility is simply this, take your first step and keep stepping until you get to the end. Attempting to complete a half marathon is challenge directed at yourself and reaching the finish line will give you an amazing sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Be a Dream Releaser

If it wasn't for my husband, my friend, my lover, my BFF, I would not have broken the Guinness World Record for "Most Marathons Run in a Calendar Year". Thank you Roger!!!

Be a Dream Releaser

Think about the people God has placed in your life. They're not there by accident. God brings people to you for a purpose. We should live with this awareness that, "I am here to add value to people. I am here to help them succeed." Don't go around always thinking. "I wonder what that person can do for me. I wonder what they have to offer." No, we should have the attitude, "What can I do for them? How can I help them come up higher? Can I teach them something I know? Can I connect them with someone who can help them?" Don't make the mistake of going through life ingrown. Instead, be a dream releaser. Use your talent, your influence and your experience, not just to accomplish your goals, but to help release a dream in someone else.

Remember, there is nothing more rewarding than to lay down at night knowing that you helped someone else become better. You not only fulfilled your purpose for that day, you did your best. It may have just been a two-minute phone call where you encouraged someone; but when you live as a dream releaser, you'll see your own dreams come alive as well!
Joel & Victoria Osteen

Yolanda "Walking Diva"

Take a Stroll with the Walking Diva

The Marathon Show will make you famous!

Have big fun with the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In the "Spotlight" with Valerie

This week in the spotlight is Valerie from Berkeley California. Valerie's smile and story will melt your heart! Her courage, strength, and intelligent is hard to believe and she makes juggling work and family look like a walk in the park!
What got me into running? The party-like race environment and camaraderie of runners. Why do I continue to run? Exploring new neighborhoods and trails brings adventure into my life. Time on my feet gives me a chance to reflect on life and brings me peace. And, as a runner, I appreciate my body- it is a machine I need to fuel properly. Thank you for letting me share my story.

In early 2000 I had been struggling on-and-off with anorexia nervosa for about five years. At that time, I was doing dramatically better than when in high school, but I was still very thin and was overly focused on the shape of my body. After walking a 10K with my father, I fell in love with the carnival atmosphere of races and decided that I wanted to be a runner. Running completely changed my life! I began to acknowledge my hunger and feed my body without restrictions. I remember in college, there was an 8-mile loop I loved that ended at the San Marcos River. Frequently after completing the run, I would walk a few blocks to Subway and eat an entire foot-long meatball sub. Other days I let myself eat an entire pint of ice cream after running for a couple of hours. My body was starving but now I was a runner and so I was happy to feed myself without judgement or guilt. The more I ran the more I loved my body and all of its abilities.
I ran my first half marathon in April 2000 and continued to run half marathons for a few years. After completing an eighteen-mile run, I decided I was ready to train for a marathon, and in April 2004 I completed my first marathon-the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN. Eight weeks later (and on a whim) I ran my second marathon in Estes Park, CO. I ran a few miles with a 50-stater, and I made it a goal to complete a marathon in all 50 states. This was during graduate school when I had seemingly endless free time, so the travel involved did not bother me. And indeed, my first 21 marathons/ultras took place in 20 states and one Canadian province.

During Summer 2008, I decided to join the Marathon Maniacs (I'm #1057). I truly love this group of runners as the carefree party ambiance they bring to marathons brightens my world. The spirit of the Marathon Maniacs is exactly why I decided to become a runner over 11 years ago. Every time I see a mob of yellow filled with lots of encouragement, smiles, and silliness, it reaffirms just why I do this -- sheer joy.

Today in 2011, I am still a runner but I am also a wife and working mother. My life is more than just research and running like it was in graduate school. I will happily miss a run in favor of spending extra time with my son Sebastian. How do I continue to run marathons, be present with my son, and "bring home the bacon" for our family? I do the best I can, and I frequently feel like I am pulled in many directions with the weekends being a particular challenge. Should I run or volunteer at a local race? Work on my research? Take my son to a park to play? Cook a special meal for my family? Or spend some one-on-one time with my husband? Of course, I want it all, and I do everything but a little less than I'd like. I wish I could run more and do more research and have more family time, but alas I am human. I do the best I can and I'm happy with that; 31 marathons/ultras (24 marathons, 7 ultramarathons) in 22 states, 10 published research papers, a tenure-track position at the University of Miami (starting 01/2012), my beautiful 19 month old son Sebastian, and my wonderful husband Jerry. Life is good.