Running Toward a New Future
Publisher and mother of three trains for her first marathon

A few months back a friend of mine asked me to run the Big Sur Marathon with her. I had to think about that. Why not? Doing a marathon has always been on my bucket list, and with my 42nd birthday looming, I am actually a little disappointed that I have waited so long.

Which made me wonder, why did I wait so long? After a decade of working in the outdoor industry, I have met some inspiring athletes, and have especially admired women who juggle motherhood, careers, and busy race schedules.

Unfortunately for me, I have often felt insecure in the presence of these women. The pounds I’ve gained over the course of three pregnancies and the “birthing” of 65 issues of ASJ has allowed me to discount my own successes and has also got in the way of me pushing myself like I used to in the outdoors.

When Angela asked if I wanted to run Big Sur, my initial reaction was to respond with my usual answer:

“Nope, sorry. I’m too busy.”

The second half of that excuse, the part I usually keep to myself, is, “I’m too fat right now.”

Sadly, over the years these thoughts have stopped me from living the fullest life possible.
After some consideration, I decided that I was tired of letting my busy life and extra pounds get in the way of doing the things I’ve always wanted to. I signed up for the race. Sitting at my computer and filling out the registration, it felt right. This time I was saying “yes”.

Since when did my bathroom scale determine how I measure up? Why have I let my scale tell me if I can run a marathon or not?

I guess I’ve allowed the images of successful athletes get in the way of my own athletic goals. I might be heavier than I was ten years ago, and I might not run, bike or paddle as fast as I used to, but I still have a passion for the outdoors, and recognize the many benefits of challenging physical activity in fresh air.

I don’t want to wait years, until my children get older, to get started. I am pretty sure I don’t need to look like a marathon runner before I actually try one. With the support of my friends and family, I am excited to take on this new challenge.

For many ASJ readers and athletes maintaining a healthy weight is a non-issue. In fact, running a marathon is a non-issue. Running a marathon is something some of our readers do a few times each season, or as a training run for something much more difficult.
On the other hand, my guess is there are women reading this who can relate to my situation. The truth is, I would love to hear from you. Please email me. Starting in 2012, I won’t let my chunkiness stop me from pursuing outdoor sports. And if you feel the same way, write me.

In the meantime, I hope everyone—regardless of your dress size or fitness level—enjoys this issue. From the Sierra to Hakuba, Japan, this issue shares backcountry adventure opportunities that tickle our passions to explore and experience, as well as profiling the competitive form of ski mountaineering imported from Europe, rando racing, now gaining exposure in the U.S. I hope this issue provides you with a bit of inspiration for your next adventure.

See you on the roads and the trails.

Cathy Claesson

P.S. Thanks to Heidi Boynton, coach of Team Mermaid, for her inspiration and encouragement to accept myself and go for my goals. Learn more at