Geovanni Velazquez: Connecting More Deeply Through Running

By Beau Seegmiller

Geovanni Velazquez’s infectious smile and warm handshake is a hallmark feature at the BAR Sunday morning trail run each week. He and his wife Brita joined the BAR shortly after moving to the Treasure Valley a little over a year ago and have made deep connections to those that they run with as well as with each other. He has even found ways to connect more deeply with himself through running.

Geo was not always a runner. “When I lived in Chicago, I was really into cycling–during the summer, that is. It’s really uncomfortable to bike during a Chicago winter. One cold Midwestern March day when Brita and I were sitting around wishing it was spring, we decided to get off our butts and go for a run around our park. It felt so good to move my body despite the cold that I was hooked.” Since that time, they have continued to run and explore the different facets of running. When asked why he runs today, Geo replies, “I run to meet new people, explore the outdoors, and push myself to be my best.”

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Geo enjoying a well deserved treat after a Sunday morning trail run with the Boise Area Runners.

As Geo has continued to run and train he has discovered important life lessons along the way. “I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to just take time for me. In the past I’ve always felt like I needed to be making money or do something to help a family member, but now I’m learning that it’s okay to do something that will just benefit me and be for my own enjoyment.” 

He recalls back to a time earlier this past winter when the first big snow storm hit. “I felt like a little kid running in the snow up 8th street, and it felt like I was flying coming down.” Through many experiences like this, his running has become the treat he looks forward to each week. “Running in the Boise foothills is a special experience for me.  There have been days when I look out at the snowcapped mountains in the distance and feel like I could run forever.” 

Running isn’t always easy or free of obstacles. “I have experienced some intermittent knee pain, but I’m trying to be smart about strength training and foam rolling to combat it. Also, I have a very physical job in sand and gravel. During weeks when the workload is very physical it’s hard for me to run at all.” But, he has successful worked through these roadblocks to keep growing as a runner.

Running tends to spill over into other aspects of our lives (hence the capacity to create connections). In Geo’s words, “Firstly, running has helped me connect more deeply with myself. I’ve become a more thoughtful and mature person as running has become more significant to me. Also, it has brought my wife and I closer together as it is an enjoyable activity that we share.  Lastly, people in the BAR were some of the first people that we became friends with here in Boise. The BAR is a big reason that the Treasure Valley has started to feel like home to us. The Sunday Morning Trail Run is always one of the highlights of my week.”

Running may be the tool someone uses to stay healthy, get fit, or lose those stubborn pounds. But, at some point, every runner discovers something about themselves and those around them through the simple act of running. Geo unearthed this connection with himself, his wife, and his fellow runners through running. Keep it up, Geo!

See you out on a run!

Tina Beans: Running for Connection

By Tina Beans

photo1I am Tina, current BAR treasurer and unlikely hobby runner. As a slow-pace, short-distance, non-racing athlete, I provide more in the way of diversity (and mad check-writing skills) than running experience to the leadership team. But despite approaching the sport a bit differently from most people I meet, I love being part of the ranks of the BAR.

For one thing, being a runner means getting to mingle with other runners, and generally speaking they tend to be awesome, welcoming people– the kind of folks who generously insist that I *am* a runner, even after seeing my best wheezy-rhino-from-Jumanji impression. Folks who will, in the same conversation, be genuinely excited that I added an extra half mile to a slow Saturday run and casually downplay the fact that they broke the sound barrier in mile 24 of their latest marathon. Runners are good people.

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Tina exploring Santa Cruz, CA through running.

Really, of all the running I do, the miles I put in on vacation are probably my favorite. Vacation runs provide a grounding bit of normalcy in the midst of exploring new places and abandoning my daily routine. Being able to get lost in the rhythm of my footfalls, regardless of the setting I find myself in is centering and like bringing a piece of home with me. While they’re not always grand and seldom involve PRs, those runs often wind up being the highlight of my trips. They connect me to locals and take me to some of the most beautiful places.

And the feeling of solidarity when meeting other runners hasn’t been limited to my experiences in Boise, where people just tend to be over-the-top friendly. When I travel, running is a surefire way to plug into the communities I visit. I love finding out about local running haunts, and area runners are always remarkably generous in sharing their favorite routes.

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Tina exploring Oahu, HI through running.


Here’s to getting outside and putting in the miles, however many miles and at whatever pace that may be!

Rob Hancock: In Memoriam

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Photo by Eric Palmer

 

Beau Seegmiller

In this month’s BAR Story a number of Boise area runners share memories of Rob. Rob died December 28, 2018, just a month ago. My own thoughts turn back to so many amazing conversations I had with him while running. I can’t help but feel that he was the best of us. He trained with passion and determination when focused on a goal, but he was very capable of just chilling at a pace comfortable for the person he was talking to. His humor and warmth was most evident when supporting and celebrating others. I remember finishing my first marathon as a BAR runner at the 2015 City of Trees Marathon and Rob was there. He hadn’t run; he just came out to cheer on his fellow runners. As I limped around the finish area, he checked in with me repeatedly to ensure that I had everything I needed. It was a sweet motherly side of him I hadn’t seen on training runs. Rob was a stalwart supporter of the BAR organization and gave freely and generously of his resources to make the BAR strong. He will be missed.”

 

Denise Penton

“Rob and I worked in the same office building.  Within a few days of meeting him, I knew he was a runner.  So many of our conversations centered around running, races, how far and how fast we ran, how I jogged and he ran…. I met the same Rob that everyone else knew – entertaining and  wickedly funny. And when he ran, he was in his happy place. I had been following the BAR runs for about 2 years before I decided to go to a meeting. The first time I went, I was super nervous, anxious. I am a slow runner and I was afraid I would be running on my own.  I pulled up to Whole Foods and almost immediately saw Rob pulling in. He bounced over to talk to me with his funny gait and his big infectious smile. Because I am not often nervous meeting new people, he immediately started making fun of me while he introduced me to other BAR runners.  I know it was a huge sacrifice for him, but he was nice enough to run with me that day. I was normally at a 10:30 pace and he was so much faster. But we ran about 6 miles that day. It was the longest fastest run I had ever been on at that point. But because he was so entertaining, I didn’t notice how fast we were running or how far. Just that we were having a hilarious time.”

 

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Payette Lake Run 2017 – Photo by Eric Palmer

 

Tom Sarty

“I have lots of memories of Rob all mainly due to the nickname Monica gave us when we ran together: “The Rob and Tom show”.  Rob and I had a back and forth banter during our runs that kind of passed the time making a 20 mile run seem like a 3 mile run.  Rob had a special talent to taking one aspect of a story and dragging it along in such a humorous way. Those runs should be remembered as The Rob show.  One of those runs out near Barber Park with the Bar crew, Rob picked up a snake we ran by knowing I had a phobia of snakes. He literally scared me to death when he placed the snake on my shoulder.  There was never a dull moment with Rob on any run. Besides being a great running partner, Rob was a true friend always offering running and personal advice. He truly cared and was as compassionate of a person I have ever known.  I will miss him dearly. RIP Rob Hancock.”

 

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Payette Lake Run 2017 – Photo by Justin Carter

 

Randi Walters

“If you were running with Rob, the outcome was predictable. At some point, you’d be laughing so hard you’d be doubled over trying to catch your breath.

My last run with Rob was a Sunday Morning Trail Run with the BAR. I had decided to run the Red Cliffs loop and was fortunate enough to have Janelle, Jeff, and Rob to run with that day. We talked about many things on our run; life balance, strength training, and yoga, among other things. While running along the Chickadee trail, Rob made a remark about some people being egotistical in their athletic endeavors. Immediately after, Rob said “I personally never feel like I need to be the best in a group” and quickly passed us all with big, proud strides and without so much as a sideways glance at any of us. Everyone was laughing. I was doubled over, trying to keep up and lucky to not trip on the trail. There are few people who can make me laugh as easily as Rob could.

“In addition to Rob’s humor, I was reminded of his generosity over Labor Day weekend of 2018. As is typical, a large contingency of BAR folks were in McCall to run and/or celebrate the Payette Lake Run. The morning of the run, Sara, Rob, and I had decided to do a hike in Ponderosa State Park and do yoga near the finish line of the race while our BAR family worked their way toward another year of Payette Lake Run victory. The entire morning Rob was funny, thoughtful, and generous. He bought Sara and I coffee after our hike and I remember feeling that tinge of guilt that I often get when someone spends their hard-earned money on me. Sara and I insisted that he didn’t need to buy us coffee, but he refused and so comfortably treated us. It’s amazing how far those little gestures go, and it was clear that Rob understood the statement he was making by showing his gratitude through purchasing his friends coffee. This is an example of one small act Rob committed, but there are many more. Rob didn’t save his generosity for special occasions. They just seemed to be a part of his existence as a person.”

 

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Race to Robie Creek 2017 – Photo by Eric Palmer

 

Sara Fry

“Rob made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. His impersonation of the crazy honey badger narration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg) was priceless. He had this ability to build on positivity and laughter, creating an inescapable vortex of joy. He also was considerate, thoughtful, and generous beyond belief. My heart is overflowing with the pain of missing him and gratitude for having been lucky enough to know him.”

 

Sheryl Whitus

“Rob was very welcoming when I first joined the group. I found him to be positive and funny. I noticed immediately that he shared the same dry sense of humor as I have. He always would stop for a few minutes to run at my slower pace just to see how things were going for me. I believe he did this with everyone on the run because he genuinely cared about everyone feeling like they belonged.”

 

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Rob after a BAR run – photo by Eric Palmer

 

Matt Edwards

“I’ll never forget Rob’s advice to me on becoming a father. It resonates because it’s equal parts funny and wise. A small pack of us were in the middle of a long run on the south side of the river, heading west towards Boise State. Rob asked me if I felt ready to be a father. I responded with some version of “I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” Rob said something like, “Let me tell you this: my kids came out completely differently and I had nothing to do with it.” His insistence that you can’t dictate what your children become and that you should learn early on to let go of the idea of complete control was solid advice, with both short-term and long-term perspective in mind.

“Heading east along the river on a Saturday morning in Eagle, sun turning Rob and a few others into running silhouettes. Rob was describing the euphoria of running the Boston Marathon. “You’re running with the greatest runners in the world, thousands of people are cheering for you the whole way. You cross the finish line; there’s no describing the feeling. It’s better than sex.” I said, “at least it lasts longer, huh?” Rob said, without missing a beat, “I should qualify that statement, because sex with me isn’t that great anyway.”

“And I won’t forget what I think are the last words I heard Rob say, in response to seeing Elia, my son, running across the grass at Camel’s Back after a Sunday morning run this past fall. He said, “It should be illegal to be that cute.” I include this, not to gloat about my son’s relative cuteness, but that unnecessary compliment from Rob shows his genuine kindness and affinity for others. It will surely be missed.”

 

See you out on a run!

Maria Perez: Building Resilience and Fighting Away the Nightmares with Running

By Maria Perez

I was not always a runner. In fact, growing up I struggled with a lack of confidence, and commitment to ever stay in one sport or activity. Name a sport and I’ve probably tried it. When things got tough, I got going! That was until, running happened.

I started running eight years ago. I was unhappy with my weight, unhappy with my loss of energy, loss of motivation and unhappy with how impatient I was becoming, stressing over the small insignificant worries in life. I worked way too much, always on the go. Sleep has always been an issue for me, a joke filled with nightmares, which kept me up at night and caused me to sleep excessively the next day. It was then that I realized the need to slow down and the need for physical health and self-care. I was helping others but neglecting myself. I was unaware then of the benefits I would reap from lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement!

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Half-marathon running with her son, daughter, daughter in law & daughter’s best friend.

Before running I joined several gyms in an attempt to fulfill my need but continued to struggle with consistency and motivation. Until one day my coworker, Bonnie, invited me to join her for a four miler. “It will be fun!” she said, “You don’t even have to run.” Along with my registration commitment entered the anxiety, the fear of even walking four miles! So I decided to bring along my brother and one of my best friends because, if I was going down, they were too!

Race day must have been one of the coldest days in San Antonio, not really but we San Antonian’s don’t do well with the cold. The roads were covered in ice and I wanted out. But it was the running ambiance, the encouragement, support from other runners, the high fives, the cheers, along with the laughs and the companionship of my brother and Bestie that warmed up the day and we finished. What adrenaline and energy! I was sold. I wanted more than to just lose weight. I wanted in on the running community. Next race, I was going to run not walk. I wasn’t too sure how, but I was going to be a runner!

Since that year, I have pushed my limits; proven to myself “Si Se Puede” traveling to many states and cities, completing four marathons, several half marathons and other races and distances. But I did not accomplish this alone. Before I became a runner, wearing everything cotton, ha! I went around sharing my experience and goals of one day becoming a runner to anyone who would listen and in hopes of finding help to become a runner. It was then that I was not only reconnected to some of my college buddies, whom are now family, but I was also introduced to the Buttercream Gang Running Group! I was not even aware that running groups existed!

BGRG, along with the amazing support of my kiddos and hubby, inspired and motivated me to push through my first half then on to my first full and they helped make running a part of me!   It hasn’t been easy, there have been a few injuries and setbacks, but it’s been a challenge, an amazing journey that has led me to so much more than words can describe! It’s my journey that I have chosen to have total commitment for and control of!

Along with the benefits running provides, follows a few running cons. Not listening to your body and wanting to push through pain, proved to be a big obstacle for me but a lesson well received. In 2014, I chose to run a full marathon with double stress fractures. And although, the race was a memorable experience I gained so much from, my poor choice to run injured led to more than six months of emotional and physical pain. I was done, or so it felt that way.

 

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Hot Cocoa 10k

More priceless than any PR or race that I completed are the runs with my friends, family, especially my son and daughter, as well as those friends who have become familia. One particular race that will forever go down in the memory books is the hot cocoa 10k, my daughter and I ran here in Idaho while she visited from Texas. Texas, you know home of the heat and humidity. It was the year of Snowmagedon and it must have been zero or below, and the snow kept a falling! Many participants chose not to run, and we didn’t understand why. We now know. After a few miles, icicles for eye lashes, and several attempts to drink frozen Gatorade at the aid stations, we thought we were done for! But nope, this momma and her girl kept a running, more like snowshoeing, but we got it done! Mission accomplished!

 

I am a runner, not an elite runner, not a competitive runner, nor do I seek the spotlight. In fact, I take pride in being a back of the packer runner! As a result of slowing down and my turtle pace, not only have I gained mental health, clarity, and peace within my inner self, but the best part of it all for me is the connection, the amazing friendships and relationships, the laughs, the tears, the frozen Gatorade, frozen eyelashes, and that positive energy that we as runners possess and share.

Being able to take running with you anywhere anytime is also a plus! Anywhere you go you will almost always find an amazing running community! I mean when we moved from Texas to Idaho, which is a whole other story, running in snow wow, I had BAR picked out before I even had a job or home! Priorities! BAR has not only helped push me outside of my comfort zone, helped me make lifelong friendships, but has also made my transition from Texas to Idaho such a sweet experience. Each running group I’ve come across has become my own little running familia.

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Running with family

Today, for me, running not only keeps me connected to meaningful friendships and helps push me out of my comfort zone, but lacing up my shoes and pounding the pavement and trails helps fight away the nightmares, the negative energy, the exhaustion, the grumpy mood, the anxiety and the fear of commitment and challenges. Instead of running away, running helps me feel confident that I have total control of my day and as a result empowering others today is much more rewarding. Running has taught me self efficacy, taught me to slow down, soak in the here and now, think clearly and push through any stress, sadness, chaos and confusion that I may have inherited from a day’s work. It’s my self-medication, highly recommended!