Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Finding Yourself, Nate Wright Style
by Uma Sanker*

"Running is a sport in which you can either choose to find yourself or lose yourself." 

Reading the Big Nate books growing up, one thing that I always admired about the protagonist of the books, Nate Wright, was that he never gave up on his ambitions. Whether he’s being thrown in detention for the millionth time in a row, or his friends are telling him that it really won’t work out with Jenny, he keeps working towards his goals. Even if they’re quite questionable goals sometimes. 

When I first started to run competitively, I was definitely more of a Chad - the insecure, chubby boy who’s one of Nate’s various friends and does things cause he enjoys doing them, not because he’s good at them. In sixth grade, when I walked to room 274 to scribble my name on the cross country sign-up sheet, I was someone you’d expect to have their head buried in a book. I was someone who you’d expect to be on the math team. Someone who you’d never expect to see busting out a six minute mile. Nate would have probably called me a nerd who needed to, “get a life,” much like he frequently said to Francis. I didn’t really have anything that I wanted to work towards at the time; nothing to ground myself. I hadn’t found who I really was yet.

Running is a sport in which you can either choose to find yourself or lose yourself. You can choose to work your hardest and be the best version of yourself, or mindlessly drag yourself through miles on end. One causes you to find yourself, and one causes you to lose yourself. The work you put in, the training that you dedicate yourself to, all define who you are as a runner. Both paths will get you to the same place, but in different ways.

Nate embodies the confidence that I tried to when I placed my name on the sign-up sheet. He doesn’t care what other people think about him. He shamelessly goes after what he wants, and doesn’t give a crap about what other people may think. He doesn’t strangle himself by conforming to the stereotypes that the world has provided him with, and in doing so, he’s found himself. 

In the process of finding yourself, it’s quite easy to lose yourself. I remember in my freshman year of cross country, that my summer training - although I did 200 miles, all of them were half-hearted. It was apparent that I cared, but I didn’t have the motivation to improve. The moment you begin to feel like you can’t improve anymore is always a point at which you lose yourself. 

The way to combat losing yourself is hard. You may think that the obvious answer is, you need to find yourself, but it’s not that simple. It’s a battle that occurs within the mind; it may not be visible on the outside, but can be an ongoing struggle. It sounds so easy to not be sucked into the trap of succumbing to your ego, but it’s ultimately easier said than done. I had to shatter my ego; wake up and realize that the world was not waiting for me, to continue to find myself. Although Nate has a huge ego, he doesn’t succumb to it. He knows, although he verbally never says, that he can improve. He knows that he can keep working on himself. Yet, he stays true to himself and doesn't change for anyone but him. Maintaining that balance, is key.

I like to think of running as a beacon within a storm; the competitiveness. Throughout my middle school years, cross country and track fed my inner competitive side I never knew I had. I started to grow an idea of what I was looking for. High school further showed me I had long ways to go, but that I was stronger than I realized. 

The pain is just as much as critical a part of the refuge as the serotonin. Workouts are the stepping stones to success, races are the mile markers. Pain is a part of all of it, but it is a constant that doesn’t change. The pain shows that you’re improving. The improvement is the motivating factor to find yourself; the constant desire to improve and to be the best version of yourself. Remodeling yourself from having a Chad mindset, to having a Nate mindset. Trying not to lose yourself amid the process. Quoting what Nate says when he begins to do something, practically anything: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Listen to this:

*Huge thanks to Uma for letting me share this post with the RWM readers.  It is such a pleasure to work with you and watch you grow both as a runner and a young woman.  Stay after it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020


"We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run"
~ Bruce Springsteen, 'Born to Run'

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend, fellow runner & coach and former deejay, Beth Baker.  I first met Beth out in the social world; Twitter I believe.  We connected through the Oiselle team, which we are both members of, and we instantly hit it off due to our shared passion for running, music, sarcasm and dumb jokes.  We finally met in person back in the summer of 2018 at a team Birdcamp, where we spent four intense days together sharing both a cabin and random toiletries like dental floss and earplugs.  We have obviously stayed connected on account of our friendship but it was not until weeks ago that I learned that she used to be a legit radio deejay.  And not just a deejay.  She majored in audio engineering assuming she'd be on the radio long term.  But, of course, life doesn't always happen the way we plan it.  In her own words:

Before I started running, I was on the radio. I got my degree in audio engineering and I wanted to go into radio to make people happy with my music choices. My debut on the radio was an intern for a classic rock radio station at the tender age of 18 years old. I was the one who would laugh at the morning comedy duo, and to run "the board".  My first day of being on the radio, the station got a record number of calls to get me off the laugh was "too much" (for those who have not met me, I have VERY loud laugh). But they kept me on and I continued to work in the radio industry till I started Running Evolution and got pregnant.  I hated running, but my love of porter beers started brewing, so I figured I might need a balance.  It took me a year to train for a 5k, and then I was hooked.  I began helping friends start running and created Running Evolution fourteen years ago.  I've worked with over 2500 new runners. One of my favorite things to do is to make rockin' running playlists.  And I get to use my engineering degree making my podcasts, Why We Run

So, yes, she took a different path, including motherhood, to get to where she is today but her love for music and running continues to be stronger than ever.  Listen to her playlists.  They're awesome.  Listen to her podcast.  Also awesome.  But first, let's get to know her a bit more here on RWM.  Without further ado, meet Beth Baker a RUNNER WHO ROCKS.


Name: Beth Baker
Where you're from: California, in the southern part 
Where you reside now: Seattle, WA in the southern west side
Age (if you're ok sharing): 46 or 12...depends on the day 
Occupation:Mom & Running Coach for people who aren't competitive, who like beer & doughnuts 
Podcast: Why We Run
Fav Radio Station:KEXP.ORG

What do you love most about running? 
One of the biggest gifts that I love about running is that I used to hate it, and I kept at it, and learned to love it.  It reminds me that I can change, evolve and be a better person.  I also love the way my legs look when I run.  

What do you love most about music? 
Music raised me, literally.  I was a 70's/80's kid and my parents weren't around.  It was me, FM radio and my MTV.  It's been the chorus throughout my life, and whenever I get lost in the muck, I turn to music, and it's a big billboard saying, "This is you.  Music is in your heart".  I also went to school for music engineering and production and was in radio for 15 years.  It shaped me.  When I run with music, it's like this weird moving dance that allows me to express myself on a very elemental level. 

Band (current, all time or both):
UGH! I want to pick all of them, but Built to Spill is pretty wonderful. 
Album (current, all time or both): Led Zeppelin 'Houses of the Holy'. I know, cock rock...but I love it.  
Race venue: Avenue of the Giants marathon in Weott, California 
Music venue: Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco
Race distance: 1/2 marathon. I can still walk the next day. 
Show you've seen live: I've seen The Mountain Goats many times, and cry each time. They're great. 
Ice cream flavor: Anything that has something crunchy in there. 

Sweet or salty?
Live or recorded? Yes. 
Coffee or tea? Coffee. 
Summer or winter? Summer. 

Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could?
PJ Harvey
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin or both together. 
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Tom Waits.  I've always wanted to meet him and I know so many people who have and say he's so great.  I also want to meet his wife, Kathleen Brennen, who is an amazing producer. 
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Bruce Springsteen...cause tramps like us. 

Today, I feel like….(fill in the blank):
making soup and being cozy. 

Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both? 
This Year - The Mountain Goats (a 2020 anthem)
Mr. Blue Sky - ELO
Juice - Lizzo
Comeback Kid - Sharon Van Etten
Straight to Hell - The Clash
Huffer - The Breeders
Oops. That was 6. 

Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
Moonlight Mile - The Rolling Stones
September Girls - Big Star
Pretty Good - John Prine (another good 2020 anthem)
Sweet Baby - Ted Hawkins
Mockingbirds - Grant Lee Buffalo 

Listen to this:
Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder