By Beau Seegmiller
As many of you know (because I talk about it incessantly), I will be racing in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, September 29th. This upcoming event has given me pause to reflect on my journey as a runner and as a competitor in the marathon. Berlin will be my twenty-second marathon. I remember it taking me over a decade to be able to run my first marathon. I also remember that the key for me successfully completing the preparation necessary to finish that first marathon happened because of a running club and the leadership a wonderful set of coaches provided.
I suffered from post-concussion syndrome through my early twenties. While in that condition I wasn’t able to run much at all; however, I remember when some of the symptoms (headaches, extreme fatigue, and general body pains) started to recede I began to train and run more intensely. When I could run four miles without any negative effects, I set my sights on a half-marathon. I trained and had a great first half marathon in Logan, Utah. While at the finish area of this small race, I noticed a big to do over a runner who had qualified for a particular marathon (I don’t remember which one). I recall that being the first time I considered running a marathon myself (at the young age of 24).
I am not sure when I first decided to start training for a marathon, but I do remember buying The Complete Book of Running and following the wisdom and training plans it held. I decided to try the intermediate plan and soon injured my knee. I couldn’t even bend it for a week. A few years passed and I had moved to Shoshone, Idaho when I attempted a second time. I got a little further along that same plan when I suffered from an inexplicable bout of joint inflammation that sidelined me again. A few years later, while back in Logan, Utah for graduate school, I made the attempt again. This time I got to the 16 mile long run and within 10 weeks of the race when hamstring tendonitis put me out. At this point I accepted that I would run for health and well-being. So much so that I started to focus on power lifting and became a gym rat until the itch to run that 26.2 mile race surfaced again in my consciousness.
This time around I thought I needed to find a way to circumnavigate those seemingly inevitable injuries. By 2005 the internet was in place, so I used Google and discovered that coaching and clubs can be invaluable resources to preparing for a race like the marathon. Living in the Phoenix metropolitan area I had an array of choices. I settled on Phoenix Fit which had about a hundred members, five coaches, and a basic training plan that would get me ready for the PF Chang’s Rock and Roll marathon the following January. All for a cool $90 (I even got a shirt)! The club met once a week for Saturday long runs and had informational seminars on various running topics the half hour prior to the run.
I ran and trained. I discovered that I loved running with people. I hadn’t run with people since high school cross country. The coaches were very informative and so supportive. Yet, those injuries started to come back. This time both knees and my right soleus became inflamed and angry. I thought I was doomed. The difference this time? I was surrounded by people and coaches who had been through these injuries before and knew treatment approaches: icing, stretches, and strength exercises that worked. It wasn’t long before I was running the first few miles of my first marathon way too fast and high on the joy of being in a race I had failed to reach in over a decade. After completing the last 6 miles of hell and in pain I had never experienced before, I relished the feeling of having completed a marathon.
As I celebrated reaching this lifetime benchmark with my running club in the finish area, my thoughts went back to that first attempt at training for a marathon over ten years earlier. I felt that I was finally home. I had become the person I always wanted to be, the person I actually had been all along, just now in full bloom. I was a runner.
What was the difference? In one word: community: a community that would not have been possible without the organization and leadership of those in the Phoenix Fit running club. The club was open to everyone and discoverable to strangers like me. Running is interwoven into the very fiber of every aspect of my being. I run to become who I am. Without Phoenix Fit, my journey would have been very different.
Fast forward to my move to the Boise area. First item on my agenda was to find a running group. The BAR was the first group I discovered and the last that I considered (Five group runs a week! Who can beat that?). After a year of involvement, the BAR was in need of new leadership. It was time for me to give back, to pass on the gift I had been given by the Phoenix Fit running club.
Serving as the president of the BAR for almost four years now has been one of the great joys in my life. As a non-profit organization the BAR depends on volunteer leadership to function and provide the services it does (those five group runs and the like don’t happen on their own). I have been privileged to see the many contributions other BAR members have made in that time. I have also received as much or more than I have given.
As we begin accepting nominations for the 2020 leadership team in the BAR, I invite you to consider giving back through taking on a leadership role in the BAR. You can nominate yourself (or get a friend to do it) here: https://forms.gle/RnmYq5AJs84H3Zfw9. Consider the different positions and offices where you might fit best. The period for open nominations ends at the conclusion of the General Membership Meeting on Sunday, October 27th.
More importantly, please take a moment and consider what this BAR tribe has meant to you and your running. How can you pay that forward to the next runner? What contributions can you make?
With that, I sincerely hope to see you out on a run!