Bay to Breakers: Running Down a Dream

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My Bay to Breakers weekend started off with a strapping college boy, a van cab and Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin'” bumping in the background.

What could have been scandalous prelude to my highly anticipated weekend of debauchery was just an innocent cab ride the airport.

Quick note for those of you who don’t know — Bay to Breakersis an annual run in San Francisco that starts downtown, at the Bay, and ends along the ocean breakers. With its colorful costumed runners, mini floats/rolling kegs and mostly drunken–and some naked–revelers, the race has become known as one of world’s best.

A true Mardi Gras for the west coast. Although this year they tamed it by banning alcohol and floats.

Bay to Breakers: Running Down a DreamBubblebutt Betty.

San Francisco Bay to Breakers birthday cake costume with meHappy 100th Bay to Breakers birthday cake.

After the hill Bay to Breakers San Francisco with me runningThe Full House house–The Painted Ladies–My old street.

Back to my cab ride…

“So where you heading?” college boy cab driver asked.

“San Francisco … I’m running a race this weekend,” I replied.

“So you’re a runner?”

“No, no. Not a runner.”

“But you just said you were running a race.”

“Yeah, but I’m not a runner, like I don’t do marathons or anything.”

“Well how far you runnin’?”

“12 kilometers.”

“Well that’s more than I could ever run, so I would say you’re a runner.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not really a race. More of a party through the streets of San Francisco. Anyone can do it.”

That’s my problem. I play small–all the time. I act like my accomplishments are no big deal and that somehow I am not worthy of them. I downplay my awesomeness, and I know you do, too.

Another example straight from my mouth is:
“Well, I did do a triathlon, but it doesn’t count because it wasn’t the full length one.”

Again, I don’t think what I do is ever good enough.

Then, a little voice inside me bitch slaps me.

“What do you mean it doesn’t count?! Swimming half a mile in freezing Lake Michigan, not dying of hypothermia, pedaling in circles for miles fast enough to dry off from the swim, then carrying my tired body to the finish line by way a running, all one year after reconstructive knee surgery! Doesn’t count? Katie, you are awesome!”

Bay to breakers u=anwsome signMy favorite sign and spectator.

Then the other dueling voice puts in it’s two cents.

“There’s a lot of other people out there who do marathons and triathlons all the time. They are better than you, and your lame triathlon attempt will never measure up. Why do you even try? Just give that medal to Goodwill.”

Thankfully, I choose, at least some of the time, to listen to the good voice. And when you do, you live your best life. You see the silver lining and you make the most of what you’ve been given.

Two years ago, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and mcl. Prior to that injury, I was a year-round competitive athlete through my schooling years who never suffered more than a broken nail. This injury shook my world.

One day I was playing on every Chicago co-ed sports league. The next day I couldn’t walk. I was devastated. But when I was down on my luck after surgery, sitting in my bed for hours and watching a machine move my surgical leg for me, I dreamt a dream.

I promised myself that when I could move my leg without aid, I would never took my movements for granted. I would cherish my physicality in every way I could, which meant, I would enjoy it, as opposed to struggling or pushing myself through it.

I thought, if I am going to prove myself through physical feats, I’m going to find the most fun ones I can.

Enter the Bay to Breakers

bay to breakers finish line at the pacific oceanHello, Pacific. Heading towards the the breakers, the finish line.

And enter my personal motivational motto and blog at the time–Yes Knee Can.
yes knee can in the bay to breakersIt has gotten me this far and it has brought me to another dream: to continue to compete at the world’s most beautiful and fun races while enjoying my new-found athletic freedom.

Bay to Breakers might not be a serious race, but to me, it counts. There was a point in my life when I had to retrain my neuro-pathways and muscle memory to walk again. From that day forward, I have built my body, health and spirit stronger than it ever was.

If I can do it, so can you.

100th anniversary bay to breakers medalMy medal. My battle scar knee.

What’s your Bay to Breakers dream in your life now? Or your personal mantra?


  • Katie – congrats on the accomplishment! That was such a fun event when i did it – and I love it when that inner voice gets up and manages a bitch slap in there!

    Thanks for the great post – H

  • Katie Eigel, Travel & Wellness coach

    Thank you all so much! It’s a really confidence boost. I’m sorry I didn’t post more naked runner pics. I have them, but they are not pleasant. :/

  • Lisa

    Awesome post Katie. Yes, YOU are awesome – you you you! :)))

    And I loved this: “That’s my problem. I play small–all the time. I act like my accomplishments are no big deal and that somehow I am not worthy of them. I downplay my awesomeness, and I know you do, too.”

    I have been working on this for *years* (training myself to listen to “the good voice”!) and while I’m mostly kinder to myself these days, that “bad voice” still chimes in sometimes… The “You Are Not Enough No Matter What You Do” voice. Really??? I don’t believe it! I don’t think any of us should anymore! Enough of the “you are not enough” voice!!!

    Great post that is a great reminder to ALL of us (especially women!) to play up and celebrate our accomplishments, NOT downplay them.

    So – I’m proud of you! Great accomplishments! you’ve come so far! You go girl! :)


  • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

    I cant believe it was a year ago that 4 of us did the b2b and Rayne was our live reporter…emailing her naked/non naked photos and giving her status updates so she could post them real time. Finishing was awesome, and 2 weeks later I totaled my car and broke my foot – it’s been nothing like a torn acl – my gosh, but I understand and appreciate one day living a normal life, the next day not walking at all. Changes you, in more ways than one. Beyond that shared experience, thank you for this post. I deal with the voices every day! Remember we are strong powerful giving women, and we deserve the incredible outcomes we get! I am thrilled for you Katie and next time you are out here, please spend an extra day or two so we can meet up with you ok?? xox Rem

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  • Rayne

    I love this post! This is a topic a lot of us need help with. Life just isn’t hard enough – – we have to belittle ourselves as we try to do cool things. What is THAT? Your story will help others recognize when they are cutting themselves down. It will help us to recognize that bad pattern, question it, correct it. Congrats on finishing B2B. Next year, more naked photos, please.

  • It was hard last year but I loved every minute of it (okay except for the last minutes trying to get over that damn finish line). I think I laughed for the first hour and a half and my favorite part was going up the hill — the music, the people, the bystanders — such fun. I still have my B2B race tag on my tennis shoes. I refuse to remove it. It’s like my badge of honor that says, “Before I turned 50. I competed and finished the Bay To Breakers.” It was not easy. When I was done, I felt like I could do anything. It’s a wonderful experience and the nude runners are a riot.

    Congratulations B2B sister!