'We don't even know about the gifts we have within us because we're afraid to take a chance'

Plus 6 summer half marathons in the mountains

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot

“All great achievements require time.” — Maya Angelou

“The distance is nothing when one has a motive.” — Jane Austen

Some days, you need more than one quotation to get you through, amirite?

This past week has been one of those weeks for me. After getting off to a great start with a half marathon training cycle a few weeks ago, I did something to injure the tissue in the ball of my left foot, which has been in pretty much constant pain for a while now.

That has really put a damper on my motivation to lace up my shoes for regular running, though I have fought through it on a few occasions for a few short runs here and there. Still, I’m not happy with myself for how I’ve fallen short of the goals I put out there just a few short weeks ago.

I was really feeling sorry for myself for a while there until I came across the story of Beatie Deutsch, a 29-year-old mother of five children who has become a national champion runner in both the full marathon and the half marathon in her adopted country of Israel.

Here’s the first thing about her that amazes me: she started running just 3 1/2 years ago, when she decided to train for a marathon after not exercising — at all — for six years. (“Not exercising” is relative in Deutsch’s case; she had four of her five children during those years!)

So, she’s definitely mastered time management — she gets up at 5:00 a.m. every day to run. But here’s the second thing: she practices Orthodox Judaism, which means she dresses “modestly” when she runs, wearing a headscarf, long-sleeve shirt and long skirt for all her training workouts and races.

‘I used to be the fastest’

Not long after the birth of her fourth child, she was spending a weekend with her family on the beach when she lined up for a 100-meter dash against her brothers and sisters, something she used to do all the time back when they were all kids.

“I used to be the fastest,” she told Nicole DeBoom in recent podcast interview. “But I came in dead last, I was huffing and puffing, I realized I was so out of shape.”

She stewed on it for a couple of months before announcing to her husband that she was going to run a marathon — even though she’d never even run so much as a 5K or 10K before. Giving herself four months to train, she found a Hal Higdon marathon training program and got started.

The reason she chose such a daunting goal, she told DeBoom, was that she wanted something that would challenge her and make her stick to something consistently. She’d tried going for runs here and there in the not-so-distant past, but her dedication always seemed to fade by a day or two later.

Going all-in

Training for a 26.2-mile race, she knew, would force her to show up on a consistent basis to train. “I knew there was no possible way to show up to the starting line of a marathon without putting in the training,” she said.

“I knew this would make me get committed to training, and it would work,” she added. “And I have not looked back.”

And how. Ever since that day of her race against her siblings just over three years ago, Deutsch has surpassed her own and almost everyone else’s expectations for what she could accomplish.

The one exception? Her husband. When she was filling out her application to enter the Tel Aviv Marathon, she guessed it would take her 4 1/2 hours to finish it. Based on her time running a practice half marathon, however, he told her she could finish it an hour faster than that.

Deutsch told him he was crazy, but he kept encouraging her through the remainder of her training weeks leading up to the race. On the day of the race, she felt great the entire way, and when she spotted her husband and their five kids waiting for her with five miles to go, he jumped in to run those last five with her.

‘If I hadn’t taken that risk…’

“I crossed the finish line of the first marathon I ever ran in 3 hours and 27 minutes,” she said. “I did a BQ (Boston Qualifying) time before I even knew what that was!”

She still seems amazed at herself today, as she said in the interview:

“I always say like, if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll never know. If I hadn’t taken that risk — it was a huge risk — I was like, terrified. I thought it was crazy. And if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be talking with you today. I never would have realized… it’s not normal to run your first marathon in that time.”

Deutsch is the first to acknowledge that the speed with which she’s been able to run at the level she has isn’t the norm. “I definitely have a gift in running, and it’s from God,” she says, after winning the Tiberias Marathon earlier this year with a finishing time of 2 hours, 42 minutes.

“But I wouldn’t have uncovered that if I hadn’t pushed myself to do something that was scary,” she adds. “And so many times we don’t even know about the gifts we have within us because we’re afraid to take a chance.”

She’s right, isn’t she?

— Terrell

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Mountain to Meadow Half Marathon

Lolo Pass, Idaho | Saturday, June 15, 2019

The name of this race captures perfectly the scenery runners can expect to encounter here in eastern Idaho, where the mountains on either side of the Montana-Idaho border meet among the trees of the Lolo and Clearwater National Forests, and the route from the start to the finish descends along a combination of dirt and gravel roads, with wide-open fields of wildflowers in the meadows along the course.

$50 - $65 | Sign up here

Mammoth Half Marathon

Mammoth Lakes, Calif. | Sunday, June 23, 2019

Run through Northern California’s High Sierras at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level, and follow a route that runs along a combination of trails and mountain roads among some of the most beautiful scenery in North America. It’s also where many of the nation’s elite runners train, from Deena Kastor to Meb Keflezighi. You’ll run a point-to-point course that starts at Horseshoe Lake just outside town, and follow a slow, gradual descent over your 13.1 miles as they wind through the mountains and into Mammoth Lakes.

Aspen Valley Half Marathon

Aspen, Colo. | Saturday, July 13, 2019

More than 7,000 feet up in the Rockies, this race is attractive especially for the first-time half-marathoner — a course that takes runners off the highways and onto a converted rail corridor trail, along gorgeous scenery thanks to the mountain peaks all around and the Roaring Fork River alongside the trail, and an almost all downhill course from the start to the finish.

$69 - $129 | Sign up here

Morgan Valley Half Marathon

Morgan, Utah | Saturday, June 22, 2019

The green, tree-covered hills and mountains of the Cache National Forest to the north and the snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountains to the east frame this small town that lies in Utah’s Morgan Valley, roughly an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. At about 5,000 feet above sea level, Morgan offers some truly breathtaking scenery, and you’ll run the race along the edges of the mountains that surround the valley without incorporating too many of its hills.

$50 - $80 | Sign up here

Slacker Half Marathon

Georgetown, Colo. | Saturday, June 22, 2019

Billed by race organizers as the “highest downhill half marathon in the country,” this aptly named race features a starting line at the Loveland Ski Resort (10,630 feet above sea level) and a course that is entirely downhill, descending by the end of the race to 8,400 feet. You’ll run past plenty of wetlands and waterfalls along the way, and take in views of the Continental Divide in the second half of the race.

$60 and up | Sign up here

Steamboat Stinger Half Marathon

Steamboat Springs, Colo. | Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019

Starting just shy of 6,700 feet above sea level, a challenging run on single-track trails through the mountains above this ski resort town about 3 hours west of Denver. You’ll reach a peak of about 8,200 feet on the half marathon course as you make your way up Emerald Mountain, and then back down again through a mix of “open meadows, aspen forests and wild sage gardens offering incredible views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.” Feeling really saucy? Do the 50+ mile bike race on Saturday, followed by the full (or half) marathon on Sunday.

$50 and up | Sign up here

A song to run to today

Tenderness on the Block” from the album Excitable Boy by Warren Zevon.

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