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.

Julie Ford Keeps Running Vibrant

Julie Ford ran for twelve hours last March as a competitor in the Pulse Endurance Runs around Eagle Island State Park. In that time she completed 53 miles and placed fifth overall despite some brutal, wet conditions. Those of us who know Julie were not surprised by her stellar performance. What may surprise many is that Julie took up running relatively recently. More importantly, in that time, she has made running a vibrant, natural part of her life.

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Julie in the middle of a marathon. Smiling and having fun!

In her own words: “I used to do a lot of biking…I rode across the country on my bike back in 1996. I mean I strictly, only did rode biking.” Not a run mixed in there until she moved from Ohio to Boise in 2007. While Ohio had miles of farmland roads that were ideal for bicycling, Julie found Boise’s set up more difficult: “Here it is just harder to get out and get miles.” Plus, with cell phones and texting she didn’t feel safe on a bicycle on the road anymore. Many cyclist friends of Julie were having accidents caused by inattentive drivers. Add in the many other outdoor activities, like the hiking and skiing available in Boise, and “biking kind of fell away.” Julie felt like she needed something. Enter running, but not right away.

Julie’s first race was in May of 2008 when she completed the Race for the Cure 5k. Her words: “I hated it.” It wasn’t until spring of 2010 that at some level she knew she needed that outlet lost from bicycling. Michael, her husband, started getting into running and had signed up for a race. Julie thought she could take on the 10k, then she eyed the half marathon, and then, next thing she knew, she signed up for her first full marathon: the Columbus Marathon. Facing her first big race, Julie put her training plan on a calendar and discovered that as the mileage built up and she checked off training run after training run, she could see very clearly her progress and growth as a runner. She felt a great sense of satisfaction in training for and finishing that first marathon.

Since then Julie has not let up. To date she has completed 17 full marathons, 2 ultra marathons, and 14 half marathons. She is in pursuit of completing the 50 state challenge to run a marathon in all 50 states. “It is just a neat way to see different places. It is typically only the day of a marathon where a major city is going to shut down. Where you can run through a major downtown.” She explains the joy of visiting a place she would normally not think a desirable place to visit only to discover a great city with great food, like a recent marathon trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She loved it!

The high points of her running have centered around the varied and diverse running goals she has set for herself. The twelve hour race on Eagle Island was such an experience. “It challenged me. It got me to do more than I thought I could do.” A year ago, she set out and became a Marathon Maniac by running three full marathons within 90 days. Next year, there will be something else. She is not sure what, but maybe she will complete two back to back marathons in two days. Julie believes that running should be a routine but also diverse. “I think that is when people burn out, when they are always doing that same route. Over and over again.”

Julie also strives for a healthy balance in her running social life. Running provides that needed alone time. “I love running with the BAR (Boise Area Runners), but on my long runs, I got to do it by myself. I need that time to completely zone out.” Yet, the BAR and social media have also been very important in keeping running vibrant “because, if it wasn’t for BAR, then no, I don’t think I would be doing this.” She has met so many people that provide inspiration and “everyone in the BAR is so supportive of one another.” Social media also adds to this motivation because she is aware of what others are up to and wishes them well. When someone is competing in a race, she can track them and look up their results. Running is a living part of her community.

Julie’s advice to others: “Anyone can run. Everyone doesn’t have to run a marathon. Everyone doesn’t have to run a half marathon. It’s just about enjoying it.” Words that she lives by as running has become a part of her daily life.

 

See you out on a run!

Corum Hughes Exploring Running

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Corum competing in the 2017 YMCA Famous Idaho Potato Marathon.

Corum Hughes has explored many aspects of running across his life and has come to the stage where when I asked him what was the most significant peak of his running he said, “I think I am in my high point.” Corum recently completed his second marathon this last May in the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon with a 3:37:09 after training consistently through Boise’s most brutal winter in years. He has learned many lessons and experienced many aspects of running; his story goes all the way back to his childhood.

Running started in the fourth grade in Fredericktown, Missouri. The intermediate school he attended had an old dirt track next to it. For PE class all the kids would run laps around the track and collect a straw for each lap completed. Most kids walked and socialized as they went. Corum collected the most straws out of all his classmates. His PE teacher encouraged him and later told his parents that he had a lot of potential as an athlete in life.

When Corum reached high school he ran the two mile in track. He liked the challenge and that few others were willing to run that event even though he would consistently get lapped in races. Corum was a lineman on the football team in the fall, so it was no surprise when, in Corum’s words: “Coach came up to me and said, ‘I don’t think running long distance is your thing.’” Corum finished out high school track with some successes throwing the shot put and discuss.

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Riverside, CA 5k with Molly.

It wasn’t very long before Corum was inspired to run again when he became interested in an attractive cross country runner. He ran with her, and he ran outside of running with her, so that he could get in better shape and impress her more. It must have worked since she later married him!

 

After high school, Corum ran a lot more and lost a lot of weight. “I liked the challenge of running from one town to another.” The idea of competing with himself on runs began to take hold. He enjoyed seeing how far his body could go. The high point at this stage was to run all 16 miles to a neighboring town.

His first inspiration for running a marathon came from an English professor who was in the middle of pursuing a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. Corum learned from her that a marathon is a technical distance (26.2 miles) and the seed was planted. Later, while attending school in Chicago, Corum signed up for the Chicago Marathon. Woefully underprepared, Corum did complete the entire marathon but everything from mile 16 to the end was agony. He swore he would never run another marathon without adequate preparation.

Eight years later and a move to Boise, Corum joined the Boise Area Runners – The BAR and discovered the power of a community of runners who hold similar goals. Marathon training is much more effective when done with others with similar paces, sharing different phases and stages of a training cycle. “A lot of the lessons I have learned about running have been slowly learning how to do it correctly.” Whether that be the idea that shoes matter or overstriding slows a runner down, Corum has drawn a lot from the runners around him.

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Running in 3 degrees F during the 2017 Boise winter with the dependable BAR tribe!

Today, Corum still runs for the health benefits and to see if he can do that next marathon faster yet (he is signed up for the California International Marathon in December). But, he is also running more in the now. Instead of focusing on what will happen in the next minute or when his run is over, he takes each moment and struggle in to make the most of it. Running consistently and feeling the improvement his body makes through conscientious training, Corum is pleased to say, “I am a runner.”

See you out on a run!

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.

Beau Seegmiller “Running Makes the Best People”

Anyone who has seen Beau Seegmiller arrive at a BAR event with his characteristically joyful smile knows that Beau loves being part of a running community. He joined the BAR six months after moving to the Treasure Valley, and immediately found rewarding personal connections.

Beau founded a running club in eastern Idaho, and was part of a club when he was in graduate school in Arizona, so he had high expectations when he showed up for his first BAR event. “Runners are the best people. It’s the people that make running so joyful.”  The BAR lived up to his expectations, and within a few weeks of coming out to group runs, Beau was hooked. From the training benefits of running with others, to the nearly immediate friendships running allows him to form, Beau is dedicated to the group and enjoys supporting others as they stride towards meeting their running goals through the BAR.

In addition to running for the social benefits, Beau is committed to marathon training. He explains, “Nothing captures my sense of self and meaning like running. The marathon itself has come to be the quintessential metaphor for a life journey and all of its challenges.” Beau balances his dedication and work ethic with a willingness to adjust and back off if fatigue or precursors of injury warrant.

The day before his 18th marathon (Onward Shay, October 30, 2016), Beau reflected that he doesn’t run to be healthy or keep his weight under control. “I definitely don’t run because it is convenient (it isn’t). I realized recently I would be running just like I do even if it was bad for me. There is something about the transformation that takes place in a build up for a big race that is intoxicating. And then, running a race, truly running a race to the limits, brings me smack up to the edge of my very existence. Sometimes I have been able to peek over the edge into that abyss of nothingness and it thrills me. Running, it is the stuff of life and death and I can’t help myself.”

Beau appreciates how running enriches his life, and he has a compelling desire to support others in pursuit of their running goals. He coached middle school track and cross country athletes in eastern Idaho for six years, and found tremendous joy in helping youth experience the physical and mental benefits of distance running. No coaching positions were available where Beau currently teaches, and he was considering trying to do some freelance coaching in the Treasure Valley in order to contribute to the running community. The opportunity to run for a leadership position with the BAR in 2015 came at just the right time to provide Beau with a meaningful way to make a contribution to the sport he loves.

Over the years, Beau has had many experiences that deepened his appreciation for the communitarian nature of running. One particularly memorable event was in 2007, while running his third marathon and first Boston Qualifying time. Somewhere between mile 17 and 18, he hit the infamous wall and his legs felt like lead. He turned a corner and found himself running uphill and into the wind. His mindset went from bad to worse, and he momentarily fantasized about lying down on the street to sleep. Then a group of four runners who were cutting through the wind in a makeshift V-formation came along side him. They were taking turns in the most difficult position while the others got a respite from the brutal headwind. One of the runners said to Beau, “Tuck in behind me.” When Beau didn’t understand the directive, the runner repeated, “Tuck in. We will take you in.” Beau was able to stay with them for 6 miles, set a smashing PR and his first BQ. He never saw the V-formation runners again, yet he will always remember their kindness. Such supportive acts are not random at all, but rather part and parcel of the long distance running community. Being a part of maintaining and expanding that sort of compassionate community is one of the powerful motivators that helps Beau love running.

As Beau says, “Running makes the best people.” See you out on a run!