Above All Else, Bob Mueller Enjoys Running

You can find Bob Mueller’s warm smile and joyful demeanor at many BAR runs. Bob’s pure enjoyment of running for running’s sake is the secret behind that glow.

“I never was and never have been a competitive runner.” Bob didn’t run or train in high school. “I didn’t get really serious about running until I turned forty.” Now, he has been running well over twenty years, has completed over sixty marathon/ultra marathon races, and is just fourteen marathons away from completing the fifty marathons in fifty states challenge.

It all started when Bob changed jobs, and a guy he was working with was a big distance runner. This coworker claimed that anyone could be a runner through training at long slow distances. So, Bob started adapting those principles on his own. Then, his friend gave Bob a marathon training schedule. “The first time I ever had a bib number on was when I ran a marathon.” After completing that first marathon Bob thought he was done with running.

Wisconsin friends who ran city of trees in 2014, out for a visit, all 50 staters

Months later, Bob started to feel the itch to run another marathon. He had trained all on his own for that first race. He then thought training would be better with a group. He joined up with a marathon focused running group in Wisconsin where he made lifelong friends who paced with him, helped him grow, and got him interested in the fifty states marathon challenge. Running has become his favorite form of exercise. “I really value the benefit of a group more than anything else.”

Marathon Medals

When Bob moved to Boise, he found the BAR and joined the group. He loves seeing new members and helping new runners. “In every other sport you are competing against other people.” If there are people who don’t feel they are good enough to run with the group, “they just need to look at me. I am happy with where I am at; I don’t mind being at the back of the pack. Everyone is good enough to run.” Bob brings a pure enjoyment in running for all who participate in BAR runs to draw from.

The joy of running is of the utmost importance to Bob. “It was only eight years ago that I ran a 3:40 marathon to qualify for Boston and this year I couldn’t break six hours in Alabama. And, you know what? To me, I am equally satisfied with both ends of the scale…Wanting to improve is always there, so I wouldn’t want to imply that I am complacent. But, I enjoy running too much to get discouraged with where my performance level is at. Because then that ruins the whole thing. The day I can’t go out and say I enjoyed the run I was on and I worry more about the time I had, then I have taken all the joy out of the sport.”

Join Bob at our next BAR run and take part in the joy of running with him.

See you out on a run!

2016 Sawtooth Relay with Josh, Sarah, Kallie, Courtney, we didn’t know each other before event, permanent friends afterward.

Beer and Running

The relationship between runners and beer can run deep. A friend of mine was asked about beer and running. “Doesn’t drinking beer hurt your running?”

His response: “The only problem with drinking beer and running is you might spill some!”

There seems to be something special about runners and their beer. The drink is common fare at post-race celebrations and some of my happiest memories involve a pint with my friends after a run. Of course, for the performance minded runner, consuming beer should always take place after a race.

There are exceptions of course. Every year the Boise Area Runners – The BAR – holds a brewery run here in Boise that appeals to the runner and beer lover inside me.

I remember showing up to my first brewery run with a mix of curiosity and anticipation. I came prepared with my $10 in cash to give to Woody, (the run host). He explained the route we would follow coursing about six miles through the Boise area.

Twenty or so runners, we ran the mile to our first stop, 10 Barrel Brewing. Woody purchased two or three pitchers and announced the choice of brew. A stack of taster glasses in hand, we all joined in getting familiar with some of Boise’s best micro-brewed beer.

The comfortable autumn weather provided an ideal context for discovering the beauty of Boise’s cityscape and the talent of our local brewers. A little taster at The Ram, Boise Brewing, Woodland Empire, Cloud Nine, and Highlands Hollow gave me a deep appreciation for the quality and variety of craft beer available in the Treasure Valley.

In the last mile a few of us decided to get after it and run “fast” to our final destination. While my head swam from the previous drinks and the exertion to try to keep with the group I gave up in a fit of laughter and joy at being with such great people taking part in two of my favorite activities: running and drinking beer.

You have a few opportunities to join in a brewery run. The BAR’s first this year will be Sunday, March 19 for the Boise Pub Run (details here). A pub run will also be part of the Running Retreat on Saturday, April 22 in McCall (details here). Last, on Sunday, October 15 we will cap the fall weather with a Boise Pub Run (details here). Hopefully you can join us!

See you out on a run!

Frank Z. Racing on a Whim

I played sports growing up—wrestling, soccer, and baseball—and always ran as a part of these activities. But I never considered myself a runner. It was always a chore, and painful one in that. I’ve had asthma since as far back as I can remember and running always seemed to flare that up. So my running was limited. It was a means to an end, having enough endurance for specific sports, but nothing more.

It wasn’t until Spring of 2013 when I went on my first proper distance run. Mike, a coworker I had been on a few hikes with, threw the idea out there. Apparently Mike was under the impression I was a runner. He was wrong. But regardless, I said I was in. We ran a route up 15th Street and then looped through Camel’s Back. I had that all too familiar sensation most new runners have: I thought I was going to die. My lungs screamed at me to stop and my legs burned. But I pressed on, made it through, and we finished the route at Mike’s place. Hands on my knees, gasping for air, I asked, “How far was that?” Mike replied, “Probably about 3.5 miles.” I was ecstatic. “That’s the furthest I’ve ever run!” Mike looked at me with a funny look, “You mean like ever?”

Yes. This was the beginning. I began running once a week with Mike and eventually started to mix in a few treadmill runs per week as well after lifting at the gym. We slowly extended the length of our runs and by the end of summer, we were running around 8 miles a pop. Mike threw the idea out there about jumping in a race. I asked what some good options would be and he suggested the City of Trees (COT) Half-Marathon. I’d never been in a race, had only recently learned the distance of a half-marathon, and was skeptical how running in a race would be any different from a training run. I decided against it.

Mike moved away and I continued to run a few times per week. And while I enjoyed (and still do) my solo runs, I missed the conversations that ensue when training with a partner. I searched the web for Boise running groups. This is when I found BAR. I came out for a Thursday evening run at Camel’s Back. I spotted a motley crew of unmistakable runners forming a circle. I went up and chatted briefly with a few people. We all exchanged introductions, talked about the potential routes, and then we were off. Up Kestral. This was my first legitimate trail run out in the Boise Foothills.  I still remember the peaceful feeling I had while cruising down Red Cliffs, watching the sunset over Downtown. This BAR group seemed to know some good running spots.

I continued to run with the group over the coming weeks. Late September rolled around and we were gathered in the Griddle after a Saturday morning run. Breakfast talk turned to upcoming races. Someone turned to me and asked what I had coming up. “We’ll I’ve never done a race, but I had thought about the City of Trees Half . . . .” I trailed off, failing to mention I had decided against that. My response was met with enthusiasm and encouragement. My cohorts quickly convinced me to give it a shot and see what happened. So I did.

Race day, COT 2013. I still didn’t have a watch. Or proper running gear for that matter, other than my pair of Saucony running shoes. Race day seemed cold, around 40 degrees or so. So I wore a cotton undershirt along with a long sleeve thermal. And basketball shorts. I still didn’t really think of myself as a runner at this point. Racers lined up and I found a spot near the middle of the pack. Someone asked me what my goal time was. “About 1:40.” In reality, I hadn’t thought about this very much. I didn’t even know what pace I would need to run a 1:40. I knew Mike ran low 1:20s and figured an extra 15 to 20 minutes seemed about right.

The gun went off. I went out at a brisk pace that still seemed comfortable. A few miles in a joggler passed me. I didn’t know the term joggler at the time. And for those of you who may still be unaware: joggling is the “art” of running while juggling. Simple enough. Except this joggler was beating me. Competitive instincts kicked in and I made sure the joggler didn’t pull away from me. This meant picking up the pace and stepping outside my comfort zone.

I kept with the joggler until mile 7 or 8 when he slowed at an aid station for water. I continued pushing, determined not to be passed at this point. I turned into Julia Davis Park for the final 5k (on the old COT course). I started to struggle pretty bad here. I was in uncharted territory, with my longest run to this point being 9 or 10 miles. Two runners passed me and suddenly I found a second wind. I grinded through the last few miles and the finish line came into site. I kicked with what I had left and saw the clock as I passed through the chute. 1:39:38. Grinning ear to ear, I knew I was hooked.