Astrid Gilbert and Running Vitality

By Beau Seegmiller

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Astrid after the Chicago Marathon. In 2013, she was the top fund raiser for Team Special Olympics.

To say that running is a vital part of Astrid Gilbert’s life would not be an overstatement. When asked how running has changed for her over the years she simply says, “It’s not even an option anymore, it’s just what I do.” Throughout time, Astrid has drawn a vitality from running both physically and mentally that has nourished relationships, taught her life lessons, and, most importantly, helped her heal.

Astrid has been running since junior high, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she first signed up for a race: the Chicago Marathon. She will never forget coming through the finish line with bleachers on both sides full of spectators cheering for her as she finished with 44 seconds to spare on her goal time. She was hooked and has since run twenty marathons! She is currently training to run her first Boston Marathon in April. She had always assumed that she would never run a Boston qualifying time, and never even cared, until one of her friends qualified and lit the fire in her to go for it.

 

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Astrid running the Chicago Marathon in 2010. She has fond memories of spending time with her husband in Chinatown (the neighborhood pictured here).

“Some of the best friendships I have made have been through running.” Astrid’s friend Kimmi in particular would get her to sign up for races. While living in Florida she joined a running group and acquired running buddies to travel with and they went from coast to coast running the Disney marathons in Florida and California, the Florida Keys Ragnar, and even the Chicago marathon. “Traveling with running buddies is the best!” She has even journeyed with fellow family runners to race in places as far off as Dublin. Her husband at the time wondered if they could travel without having to race.

 

In 2009, Astrid married her high school sweetheart, Rick. Though not a runner, Rick recognized the value that running brought to Astrid’s life and gave her his full support. He was the one who encouraged her to find a running club when they moved to Florida and even rescued her mid run when caught in a downpour. Rick’s untimely death in 2015 devastated Astrid.

“I thought I would lose my passion for running. But over time, I was able to lace up my shoes again.” Having an outlet like running helped her healing process. Sometimes, during a run, a memory would come to mind and “I found myself crying while running.” Astrid continued to run and moved forward.

Astrid has also valued the mental benefits of running through the years. “I have always been the type that is constantly busy. Running is the only time 

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Astrid with her sister at her first Disney race.

that I am actually alone with my thoughts. I can solve a lot of life’s obstacles while pounding the pavement.” Running has helped her come to be in tune with her body and know when not to push it with injuries. Yet, she has also learned that persistence and dedication pay off. “I am capable of more than I thought.”

When Astrid first started running, she “used to run with a stopwatch (a little Timex)” and in baggy, cotton sweats. She remembers purchasing her first Garmin watch which was so big it was like “having a laptop on your wrist.” Now she can’t live without a GPS watch and wears quality running apparel. But through all the changes in technology and gear, running has been with her, in the ups and downs of life, adding an indispensable vibrancy to her life.

Eric Palmer and Relationships Built through Running

By Beau Seegmiller

Eric Palmer’s first time running, some friends got him to run a 10k in the Famous Potato race. He had not prepared and experienced a special sort of agony during and after that race. Years later, Eric not only values running but all of the relationships that he has found through running.

In the beginning, Eric pursued weightlifting. “I was lifting weights and injured my shoulder. I needed something to do. I didn’t want to just sit around.” Because the shoulder injury stopped his primary form of exercise, he went to meetup.com to see about other options. The Boise Area Runners (The BAR) was one of the first groups he found. Once he started joining group runs he was hooked.

Eric has a competitive personality that fits nicely with running, but the people and community he found in the BAR is what he really values. “It’s positive. It’s camaraderie. People think of running as not being a team thing…but, it actually is because we run in groups and talk.”

When I asked Eric what the high point of his running career has been he replied that it would have to be the time he proposed to his wife, Sarah, at the end of the FitOne 10k in 2016. His proposal was fitting since he met Sarah at a BAR event.

It was at Sun Ray’s Cafe after a Thursday evening run. Sarah was there with her friend, Michelle. With some prodding from Michelle, Sarah came to run at BAR events. In Eric’s words, “I ran with her a few times, and the rest is history.”

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Fast forward to the FitOne 10k and Eric is ready to propose. “I tricked Sarah into running the 10k.” It was her first 10k race. “We hadn’t even talked about marriage.” But, they started the race and Eric had the ring in his pocket. “I am obviously nervous.” As they neared the finish, Eric told Sarah that he was going to run ahead to get some photos. Eric ran down the hill and as he got to the finish he learned he had not got as far ahead of Sarah as he would have liked. Sarah had been feeling so good she decided to kick it in for a fast finish.

With little time, Eric crossed the finish line, got the ring out, got down on his knee, and turned back to meet Sarah. She missed him and ran past him. When she turned and saw him on his knee, she thought he was injured. Then she saw the ring. Running has been a big part of their life since then.

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Most recently Eric has opened R Studio. “I have always done kettlebells and functional training.” Eric has noticed that a lot of runners lack flexibility and upper body strength, both necessary components to healthy, long term running. “In the back of my mind, I always wanted to open a studio.” When he discovered non-motorized Woodway Treadmills, Eric recognized an opportunity to incorporate running and functional training. He went forward with the plan to create a space where people can develop strength and flexibility to be successful runners: R Studio. Check out the running and functional training opportunities at R Studio here: https://rstudioboise.com/

RStudio

Running will forever be a part of Eric’s life as will the lasting relationships he builds through running.

 

See you out on a run!

 

Scott Stevens and Changes in Running

By Beau Seegmiller

Scott Stevens started running of his own free will and choice in 1998. For better or worse his first experience with running was of the “forced” variety in the military. In his own words, “It was not really out of enjoyment.” In 1998, however, he began running two to three miles at a time to get in shape. Since those early solo miles Scott has witnessed and experienced many changes in running.

In that first year of running he got talked into joining a team in the Sawtooth Relay. “That was back when it was a twelve man team, Stanley to Boise.” Still very new to running, Scott did not do anything different in his training, like hills, to prepare for the distance and elevation. Needless to say, he discovered a few things about running in that race, one of which are the dangers of cotton underwear. The chafing is still quite memorable today as he recalls needing to just push through the pain for two miles in his second leg until things went numb. In spite of all this, Scott fell in love with running.

While he has had times since then when he has not been particularly inspired to run, he has discovered that if he puts a race out there, he will keep pretty motivated. Scott has completed three marathons and a lot of half marathons and 10ks. He is even considering getting into the ultra distance race scene with a 50k this year. Half marathons are his favorite. “You don’t get too beat up on the half.” In addition to racing and conditioning, Scott has also come to value “that quiet time to yourself to think about things” when on a run.

Running across the years since 1998, Scott has seen some changes. “Running has gotten a lot more popular.” The size of the running community here in the Boise area has grown quite a bit. “Back in 1998, you literally had maybe a handful of races all year long. There just were not that many to choose from. Now there are races every month of the year.”

For Scott personally he has grown to include more trail running and to run socially. He found that the scenic atmosphere running on a trail is very enjoyable. “I used to do all of my running alone. Then I joined the BAR in 2012.” Even then, it wasn’t until Monica Runningwolf took over the leadership of the BAR that the increased events and activities drew him into the social aspects of running.

“Most of my running years, I have been just a lone runner.” So, whenever he raced, there was never anybody really there at the end, specifically cheering him on. “Well, once I was a member of the BAR, you have this group of people. And they are waiting for you.” He recalls one time, in particular, when he was coming around a corner in Anne Morrison Park approaching the finish. “And totally unexpected, there was this huge group of people, ‘Scott!!’ Now I couldn’t do anything but smile and run faster.” Scott says that experiences similar to that one have happened a number of times due to the friendships and community he has found in the BAR.

I am sure there are more changes to come in running in the future, but Scott has been part of some pretty wonderful ones here in the Boise area!

The Awesome on the Other Side of the Uncomfortable

By Beau Seegmiller

It is raining outside. The cold, wet weather on the other side of my window reminds me of a drive less than two months ago late on a Friday night to get to Pettit Lake campground in the Sawtooth Mountains. I had spent the day teaching followed by coaching my middle school cross country team. I was tired and it was raining with a forecast for snow. I was traveling to complete the Alice-Toxaway Loop run the next morning. This spectacular 18.6 mile loop through some of the most stunning scenery in Idaho presented some significant challenges. The trails, far from smooth, are rocky and ascend to 9,000 feet over Snowyside pass. Snow would not prove helpful. I was uncomfortable with what the weather presented.

I do not think it an overstatement to say that we do not like to feel uncomfortable. Most of the technological developments over the last two centuries have focused on maximizing comfort while eliminating discomfort. This natural development is understandable since discomfort and pain usually indicate some very real problems that can even be life-threatening. Ironically, I have discovered that there are certain discomforts, uncomfortable moments, that are actually wondrous passageways to awe-inspiring moments that cannot be realized or experienced otherwise.

It was in a coaching seminar that I learned about the clear relationship between feeling uncomfortable and athletic performance from Joe Vigil, the famed Adams State Cross Country coach. Vigil said that most people live in a comfort zone. They seek out a state of always being comfortable and satisfied. They do not take risks. They also fail to stand out in the pursuits or tasks in which they engage.

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Pyramid of Performance – Joe Vigil

He continued by describing the next level up the pyramid of performance. This group of people are willing to make commitments. They have aims and objectives for which they are willing to get occasionally uncomfortable in order to achieve.

The next level involves high performers who are more willing to take risks and get uncomfortable in order to reach their goals. Vigil stated that this group approach being uncomfortable more often than they are comfortable.

The top level performers, the peak on this pyramid, are constantly pushing the envelope beyond being uncomfortable. In Vigil’s words they actually become comfortable being uncomfortable.

The olympic cyclist, Kristin Armstrong reflects Vigil’s words when she said, “I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because it isn’t easy. I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

 

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Morning sun on the Alice-Toxaway Loop

I drove on in the rain that night, eventually arriving to the campground where my lovely girlfriend, Sara, had a warm meal ready for me, the tent set up, and my down sleeping bag laid out. I slept very comfortably that night and woke up to cool, clear weather. The foreboding forecast of snow never materialized and I ran along streams and lakes in the brilliant morning sun. The light in the mountain air lit up the stunning granite peaks. As I breathed in the clean, crisp air, I reflected on how ideal the conditions were for such a run. My run that day proved to be a profound experience of awe and replenishment that sustained me for weeks. In the end, for this weekend, the only discomfort I experienced had been in the anticipations of a worried mind.

Looking out the window at the rain still falling, I know that with the turning of the seasons uncomfortable weather will be inevitable and unavoidable. The question in my mind is where will I be on the performance pyramid. Can I become more comfortable with being uncomfortable? Will I be able to discover the awesome on the other side?    

See you out on a run!

Zen Running

by Todd Mahoney

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve (seemingly) endless waiting at finish lines at various running events.  So boring when you’re 7.

My dad was a running fanatic, he joined “the cult” shortly after getting out of the Marine Corps. Growing up, I remember stacks of running magazines and the endless fascination with shoes.  From 1979-1987 he ran this crazy race every year called The Race to Robie Creek – his favorite.  Occasionally we would have tailgate picnics on Shaw mtn road while we waited on Dad to finish a training run. We (my mom, younger sister and I) all thought he was certifiably nuts.  I tried some running in middle school but I found going in circles around a track uninspiring.

Karate was my thing.

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Todd running the 2017 Race to Robie Creek.

From age 10 to 18 I would get sweaty and bruised every week in a karate gi. Because of that,  I developed a healthy interest in some of the eastern philosophies our Sensei incorporated in our class.  It helped me pin down this connection between my physical self and nature I’ve felt. I’ve always found being in the great outdoors a spiritual connection – part of my youth was spent growing up in the Ketchum/ Sun Valley area.  My version of “church” involves mountains, trails, rivers and pine trees. 

Fast forward to 2014.  After a year of suffering through the run-three-miles-nonstop obstacle, I had just completed my first “race” – the FitOne 5k.  It was fun. I was hooked.  As I was recovering (you would think I just ran 12 miles!) I came across this group of runners hanging out under this canopy with “The Boise Area Runners” logo on it.  One of them introduced herself to me and we chatted briefly.  She handed me a card and told me about their group runs.  From day one I found this group to be welcoming and friendly.  They are a valuable resource of running knowledge and encouragement.  It’s nice to have people you can share your victories and failures with over a beer. People who “get it”. Over the years some of the faces have changed but the vibe is always the same. 

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Todd and Andre after the Turkey Day Run.

Every runner has their reasons for lacing up and heading out.  I actually don’t do it for fitness, though it is a nice side effect.  I’m not into medals and the only person I compete with is myself.  I run for this zen like experience I get out on the trails with the critters and trees.  Sometimes I might catch a glimpse of the ghost of my younger self when I’m running up Rocky Canyon.  I love that I have a great location and a  great group of people to do this with.  

Cheers!

~Todd

Running’s Many Things

My first attempt at running was extremely short lived. I was a freshman in college at the time, and unfortunately, far more taken with the idea of being a runner than actually running.  

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Amy with one of her daughters after the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon.

My second attempt was a little more successful. By that time, I’d had my first baby and was wanting to shed the last of my extra pregnancy weight. I needed something I could do with my little one in tow. So, I got a jogger stroller and started doing laps around the country roads out where we lived at that time. And it worked! And then I gave it up. Until I had my second baby. And then I ran that extra weight off, too. At that point, it was a means to an end for me and nothing more. When I was done shedding pounds, I was also done with running.

My third attempt, years later, I turned to running as a way of relieving the stress of transitioning from ‘stay-at-home-mom’ to working full time. It definitely helped turn my anxiety dial from ‘overwhelming’ to ‘more manageable.’ Also about that time, I made a new friend who happened to belong to a running group. She kept inviting me to join them on a group run, but as someone who had only ever run alone, I was super intimidated by the idea. It took a while, but once I finally built up the nerve to show up I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and welcoming everyone was.

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Amy with the Boise Area Runners during the Spring 2017 Running Retreat.

Not to mention, helpful! And this is true, not only of that first group I started attending (almost 10 years ago!), but of every other running group I’ve since had the pleasure of being involved with. As runners, it’s so nice to have a place to ask questions and to get the tips and advice we needed to help us improve and meet our goals. We ‘get’ each other. And the sense of appreciation we have for one another, for the effort we put into our training, and for the sport itself, runs deep.

It’s true running’s many things to many people. But perhaps an even more beautiful aspect of that truth is how it can also be many things to the same person. At least that’s been the case for me in my life.

Amy P.