Becoming a Runner: A Girl Made Me Do It

By Matt Edwards

I’m standing in my corral. Some of the world’s best runners are part of the fluorescent mosh pit in front of me. The Chicago skyline shimmers in the sunrise above Grant Park. My eyes well up in reverence of the moment. Good thing I have a meticulously planned outfit for the occasion. 

My running story began in 2008 when Marianna took me for a “date” to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas track, her high school alma mater, in Parkland, Florida, for what was advertised as a “5 mile run”. Little did I know that there was a silent warm up mile and cool down mile that didn’t count toward the stated goal of 5. Afterward, Marianna said, “You’ve got a good enough stride.”

By 2009 I was married to a runner, but far from one myself. I still needed to chase a ball and keep score. I was even desperate enough to play several seasons of ultimate frisbee to fulfill my competitive desires. But my Saturday mornings were still spent reading a book and sipping coffee as Marianna left the house for a long run. I didn’t understand what compelled her to step out the door.

I’m trying not to go too fast. My watch is confused by the labyrinth of skyscrapers. It’s spitting out times that don’t make any sense! Just chill. I’ve done this before. Ride the wave of experienced runners. Listen to your breath. Focus on your stride. Let’s chuck these gloves.

The first race to sink its teeth into me was the 8.6 mile Payette Lake Race in 2012. It was significant before it even began for two reasons: One, it would become the longest race of my life up until that point. Two, I bought my first pair of running shoes. A pair of grey and orange Asics helped give birth to the obsessively coordinated running ensembles.

mattmariana.jpgI ran pretty well, for a guy who still didn’t train. But something about that experience was different. It might have been the pristine beauty of Payette Lake mirroring the pine covered mountains in the early morning sun. It might have been my oxygen deprived brain at over 5,000 ft. It might have been the taste of the post-race whole cone hops. I don’t know. But I think something about how much my feet hurt and how gassed I was at the finish line lingered as the most fulfilling part of the weekend: the feeling of truly giving it all I had. Something I hadn’t felt, or hadn’t pushed myself to, since my high school glory days. 

I’m doing math as I cross each mile marker to check my pace. The mosaic of multinational runners has been ebbing and flowing, but running wisely. I’m halfway through and only 14 seconds off pace. I’m sticking to my plan.

Early in 2013 I joined the BAR. Marianna had been going for a while, and she finally convinced me to show up to a Sunday morning run at Camel’s Back. I was greeted by friendly faces and a place in line going up Kestrel. This weekly run soon became our version of church.

I ran the Payette 8.6 the next fall, this time in New Balances. I entered the race with an experiment in mind: to see if I could imagine myself sustaining that effort for 13.1. I shaved a minute off my time, won a ribbon that reminded me of my ketchup and mustard soccer days, and left McCall knowing I could run a half marathon. 

Screw the math, I’m tired of it. I’m almost to mile 20 and pretty much on pace. Just grind it out from here, but stay chilly. You’re in good shape. A relaxed focus has got you here. Ride it out. Stay in the groove. Breath. But let’s get rid of these arm warmers.

Sure enough, first thing in 2014, Marianna and I picked a half marathon to do together. We settled on the Sun Valley half in early June. That gave us the entirety of five months to prepare. I did whatever Marianna told me to: I ran five days a week for the first time ever. Every Saturday was the longest run of my life. And believe me, my first 16 miler, in a downpour, almost ruined it for me. But, looking back, that run probably decided whether I was going to be a runner or not. The distance and conditions were relative misery, but, on top of that, I was experiencing intense stomach pain. I didn’t say anything to Marianna until we were finished because I knew she would have let me quit. My silence was fueled by my desire to not cut her run short and to avoid wussing out in anyway. And that right there has been the most valuable part about running with others. Whether with Marianna or my BAR-mates, the sense of community helps me give to others while simultaneously benefiting myself.

The Sun Valley Half Marathon came and went…great! I ran with Frank for the first time (we practically held hands for a mile), and I fulfilled my goal of running hard the whole way without losing too much steam by the end. I wore cotton socks for the last time, because of the huge blood blister I earned, I won a decorative dinner plate-thing, but most importantly, I became a runner. I was in.

That fall I returned to McCall for the Payette Lake Race, but this time for the 30k. It was the next notch in the belt, distance-wise, and it gave me great confidence that I could sustain that effort for 26.2. I mean, what’s so hard about running another 7.6 miles, right? 

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Last mile. Ignore the calves. Ignore the hip flexors. Post a time those guys have to chase at CIM. Damn, that wind almost knocked me over

The spring of 2015 brought me to my first marathon: the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon. I disregarded the advice to run your first marathon ‘just to run it,’ and instead shot for a Boston Qualifying time. I came up short that day, by a few minutes, but somewhere between the satisfaction of staying on pace through 22, feeling like I was in quicksand the rest of the way, fearing my neck would literally snap and let my head skip off the greenbelt and into the Boise River, and the tears I shed after the finish, something impenetrable and eternal happened: I became a marathoner. I did the hardest thing I had ever done, and I knew I had to do it again.

PR. PR. PR. Let’s soak this up and start thinking about New York. 

 

 

Special Order Going On Now!

Special Order BAR Jackets and BAR Long Sleeve Shirts

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Support the BAR by ordering limited edition BAR items! These jackets and shirts are ONLY available to order until December 1st. At that time we will get the items screen printed or embroidered, and shipped out to you. Even though the BAR logo only appears on the men’s long sleeve at the link below, it will be present on both front and back on all items.

 

Check out the items on our Square Store.

 

The BAR Made Boise Home Again

By Randi Walkins

When you find a community that provides you the space to be the person you need to be that day, it’s worth celebrating and supporting.

When Austin and I moved back to Boise after some time away, we knew we would need to rebuild our social circles and support network. But how? Even though we had both lived in Boise several years prior to our departure and return, we knew we’d changed and we wanted to honor those changes. While in graduate school, we had both started running and learned to appreciate the many things it brought to our lives. 

Austin and I taking our love for the BAR to the Austrian Alps.

We had found the Boise Area Runners website and were curious to join, but it wasn’t until Austin committed us to a Saturday morning run that we understood it’s value. After just a couple of events, we were hooked. We were suddenly meeting people that understood this crazy tendency of ours to run and race for fun. We began making friendships and learning about the diversity of backgrounds that were represented in the group. After just a few short months, we started hosting events and welcomed responsibility in the organization.  

Both Austin and I developed a desire to be involved in the BAR leadership team quickly. We benefited from the BAR community with that first group run and wanted to repay our debt. The BAR, being a volunteer run organization, needs committed people to keep its five weekly runs and numerous special events on the calendar. I think it’s fair to say that the BAR, and running, means many things to many people. For us, it helped us call Boise home again, and brought to our lives some transformative relationships that we would have never had otherwise. The BAR gave us the physical and emotional push we needed. Austin and I became better runners and developed friendships that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. 

As many of you know, Austin and I welcomed a baby boy to our family this year. While we will continue to run as a family of three, we have decided to step down from our responsibilities on the BAR leadership team for now. Let me just say, we already miss you all. With this, we ask that you consider volunteering your time in one of the many available leadership positions to keep the Boise Area Runners moving forward.  

What does the BAR bring to your life? Have you considered giving back?

Nominations for the 2020 elections are going on now. Please consider nominating yourself or someone else for a position using this form: ttps://forms.gle/RnmYq5AJs84H3Zfw9. The period for open nominations ends at the conclusion of the General Membership Meeting on Sunday, October 27th at the Boise Co-op at 11AM. We look forward to seeing you there!

The finish, but not the end.

Giving Back Through Leadership

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. 

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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!

Beau

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!