Maria Perez: Building Resilience and Fighting Away the Nightmares with Running

By Maria Perez

I was not always a runner. In fact, growing up I struggled with a lack of confidence, and commitment to ever stay in one sport or activity. Name a sport and I’ve probably tried it. When things got tough, I got going! That was until, running happened.

I started running eight years ago. I was unhappy with my weight, unhappy with my loss of energy, loss of motivation and unhappy with how impatient I was becoming, stressing over the small insignificant worries in life. I worked way too much, always on the go. Sleep has always been an issue for me, a joke filled with nightmares, which kept me up at night and caused me to sleep excessively the next day. It was then that I realized the need to slow down and the need for physical health and self-care. I was helping others but neglecting myself. I was unaware then of the benefits I would reap from lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement!

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Half-marathon running with her son, daughter, daughter in law & daughter’s best friend.

Before running I joined several gyms in an attempt to fulfill my need but continued to struggle with consistency and motivation. Until one day my coworker, Bonnie, invited me to join her for a four miler. “It will be fun!” she said, “You don’t even have to run.” Along with my registration commitment entered the anxiety, the fear of even walking four miles! So I decided to bring along my brother and one of my best friends because, if I was going down, they were too!

Race day must have been one of the coldest days in San Antonio, not really but we San Antonian’s don’t do well with the cold. The roads were covered in ice and I wanted out. But it was the running ambiance, the encouragement, support from other runners, the high fives, the cheers, along with the laughs and the companionship of my brother and Bestie that warmed up the day and we finished. What adrenaline and energy! I was sold. I wanted more than to just lose weight. I wanted in on the running community. Next race, I was going to run not walk. I wasn’t too sure how, but I was going to be a runner!

Since that year, I have pushed my limits; proven to myself “Si Se Puede” traveling to many states and cities, completing four marathons, several half marathons and other races and distances. But I did not accomplish this alone. Before I became a runner, wearing everything cotton, ha! I went around sharing my experience and goals of one day becoming a runner to anyone who would listen and in hopes of finding help to become a runner. It was then that I was not only reconnected to some of my college buddies, whom are now family, but I was also introduced to the Buttercream Gang Running Group! I was not even aware that running groups existed!

BGRG, along with the amazing support of my kiddos and hubby, inspired and motivated me to push through my first half then on to my first full and they helped make running a part of me!   It hasn’t been easy, there have been a few injuries and setbacks, but it’s been a challenge, an amazing journey that has led me to so much more than words can describe! It’s my journey that I have chosen to have total commitment for and control of!

Along with the benefits running provides, follows a few running cons. Not listening to your body and wanting to push through pain, proved to be a big obstacle for me but a lesson well received. In 2014, I chose to run a full marathon with double stress fractures. And although, the race was a memorable experience I gained so much from, my poor choice to run injured led to more than six months of emotional and physical pain. I was done, or so it felt that way.

 

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Hot Cocoa 10k

More priceless than any PR or race that I completed are the runs with my friends, family, especially my son and daughter, as well as those friends who have become familia. One particular race that will forever go down in the memory books is the hot cocoa 10k, my daughter and I ran here in Idaho while she visited from Texas. Texas, you know home of the heat and humidity. It was the year of Snowmagedon and it must have been zero or below, and the snow kept a falling! Many participants chose not to run, and we didn’t understand why. We now know. After a few miles, icicles for eye lashes, and several attempts to drink frozen Gatorade at the aid stations, we thought we were done for! But nope, this momma and her girl kept a running, more like snowshoeing, but we got it done! Mission accomplished!

 

I am a runner, not an elite runner, not a competitive runner, nor do I seek the spotlight. In fact, I take pride in being a back of the packer runner! As a result of slowing down and my turtle pace, not only have I gained mental health, clarity, and peace within my inner self, but the best part of it all for me is the connection, the amazing friendships and relationships, the laughs, the tears, the frozen Gatorade, frozen eyelashes, and that positive energy that we as runners possess and share.

Being able to take running with you anywhere anytime is also a plus! Anywhere you go you will almost always find an amazing running community! I mean when we moved from Texas to Idaho, which is a whole other story, running in snow wow, I had BAR picked out before I even had a job or home! Priorities! BAR has not only helped push me outside of my comfort zone, helped me make lifelong friendships, but has also made my transition from Texas to Idaho such a sweet experience. Each running group I’ve come across has become my own little running familia.

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Running with family

Today, for me, running not only keeps me connected to meaningful friendships and helps push me out of my comfort zone, but lacing up my shoes and pounding the pavement and trails helps fight away the nightmares, the negative energy, the exhaustion, the grumpy mood, the anxiety and the fear of commitment and challenges. Instead of running away, running helps me feel confident that I have total control of my day and as a result empowering others today is much more rewarding. Running has taught me self efficacy, taught me to slow down, soak in the here and now, think clearly and push through any stress, sadness, chaos and confusion that I may have inherited from a day’s work. It’s my self-medication, highly recommended!

Teresa Harder: Times and Seasons for Running

There is a time and season for everything, even running. We all move and run for different reasons. For Teresa Harder those reasons have gone through many transitions to meet her life’s circumstances and enrich the many aspects of her life.

20180317_133903.jpg“First, it was to stay in shape and run with my college buddies.” While she attended Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona at the 7,500 foot elevation level, she loved being able to travel to the Phoenix valley or to the coast and feel like she could run forever.

“Later, I ran with a jogging stroller to get both myself and my daughter outside.”

Then, in 1998 her brother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. “I ran to relieve stress and because the stress level was high, I was running A LOT.” In fact, she ran a 13-14 mile loop on a regular basis out the Coronado Strand in California.

She recalls one particularly memorable run from this time period: “One day I remember running from the Burbank Hospital while we were in ‘wait mode’ after one of several surgeries my brother endured. I went straight into the ‘running zone’ and realized I had run much too far and was in a neighborhood that was much too dangerous and it was getting late.” She may have set a personal record that day but will never know since they didn’t have any GPS watches at that time.20180101_095136.jpg

After moving to Idaho, Teresa jumped into some races in order acclimate to the new environment. “My first Idaho race was the Sawtooth Relay in 1999 when I was very new to the state. While I was running at a decent 9 to 9.5 min/mile pace, I was super-under prepared for the experience. I showed up in my running shorts (had never been to Stanley) with a banana for a snack – that’s all. Again, set a PR that night running in the dark by myself along the edge of the highway.”

As the years have passed, Teresa has come to appreciate her running community here in Boise. “It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I run today for the social aspect. I love the BAR group and have really pushed myself to do more and venture out on some destination runs with friends.”

Teresa’s most recent adventure out of her comfort zone was the 30K Payette Lake Run earlier in September. “It was the longest race I have ever completed. And, I have decided after that experience, I would rather work on quality shorter half-marathons and 10K’s” than pursue longer distances.

20170107_143042When asked about running in this current time and season, Teresa says, “I can’t even imagine my life without my BAR friends now. I’ve made lifelong friends and we get together for lots of events outside of running now. Runners are generally happy and fit people with a pretty optimistic outlook on life – my kind of people. If you surround yourself with happy runners, life is good. And, the race time is only a very small part of running for me. The race experience and the social time with friends is the key motivator.”

Teresa keeps inspiring all of us who know her and how she makes running a big part of her life regardless of the time or season.

 

See you out on a run!

Mike “Shu” Shuman: Running with Heart and Soul

One of the BAR’s longstanding supporters has been Mike Shuman, owner and operator of Shu’s Idaho Running Company. Year after year, he has contributed to the BAR from goody bags for our holiday party to a scholarship for a runner to participate at our Spring Training Camp to a discount on shoes for BAR Tenders. He is far more than just a generous business, he is a runner with heart and soul who has overcome the many challenges life has thrown at him. Enjoy this guest contribution to the BAR Stories Project. See you out on a run!

– Beau Seegmiller

 

IMG_3148Mike “Shu” Shuman has an enthusiasm for life that makes shopping at Shu’s Idaho Running Company an experience you’ll never forget. You’ll hear stories, get advice and you’ll even get dark chocolate delivered to you. Winning the 1993 Big Sur Trail Marathon, running many marathons as well as various other distance races, he has come to be considered to be the heart and soul of the running community here in Boise.

Mike ran one of his most memorable marathons after he was cleared from cancer to start training. His first two marathons were Twin Cities and Portland. He was running very well, but learning at the same time to do things differently since he no longer had saliva because of the radiation treatments. Using gels was also proving to be a bit difficult. On one of the marathons, he took the gel and there was no water at the aid station, luckily there was a little boy that offered him a cup of water close by, which Mike gladly accepted.

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Right before Mike’s cancer diagnosis, he grew tired of the corporate life and wanted to be at home more. Hence, the start of the running store, which he has owned and operated with his wife for the last twenty-one years.  

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After cancer he was very enthusiastic about giving back to the community because of the outreach of support he received while going through treatments.  He still loves to give back just as much now as he did twenty years ago when he was diagnosed!

He is a cancer survivor of twenty years and has developed many different hobbies over the years from motorcycles, to horseback riding, skiing, his fur babies (Annie and Tucker), to being a first time Grandparent and just loves life itself!  He is definitely an inspiration to all of us.

– Leone with Shu’s Idaho Running Company

Jessica Savre: Running is a Life-Changer

By Beau Seegmiller

Jessica Savre started running only a year and a half ago at the age of 43, yet it has changed her life in so many ways. In her own words, “It has opened up a new part of my life.” Through running Jessica has discovered new levels of physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

It all started in August of 2016 while vacationing in Minnesota. She was visiting her mother-in-law who was training for a half marathon. After walking with her during that time Jessica felt inspired to add walking to her lunch routine at work. “After a couple of months it became boring and I wanted to go further so that meant go faster. I had admired runners and how easy they made it look, so I wanted to try.” She added little run segments into the walks. “Over time it became easier, and I liked how much better it made me feel emotionally and physically.” She remembers well the first day that she ran an entire mile without stopping. She can easily run five miles on that same lunch hour now.

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Jessica with Bob – a fellow Boise Area Runner.

Two months after she started running that Fall, she looked for others to run with and found the Boise Area Runners (the BAR). “My first BAR run was a Whole Foods evening run of three and half miles. I ran with Vickie Stieha, and I felt so unqualified to run with her. I had lung burn, an awful side ache, but Vickie was so welcoming and patient.” Jessica kept coming each week and then on her third BAR run she ran with Bob Mueller. “We ran ten miles and I was so proud, my longest distance yet! He was so kind and encouraging in helping me with my side ache issue by using the run seven minute/walk one minute method.”

Bob and Jessica have been training together ever since and Bob inspired her to race the Famous Potato Half Marathon and then the City of Trees Marathon within only twelve months of starting running. She has since run several half marathons, including Race to Robie Creek, and is training for the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon in June. “Since running and joining the BAR, I have learned no distance is impossible. I now love long distance running and the feeling of accomplishment it gives me.”

When Jessica first started running and joined the BAR she was dealing with a lot of stress, depression, and anxiety. “I was looking for ways to alleviate that in my life and running was the answer.” She has found BAR members to be so encouraging and the social get togethers after the runs enjoyable. “My favorite runs are the Saturday morning long runs when I can get together with BAR friends and put in the miles.”

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All smiles at the end of successful run.

Jessica has learned to cope with stress through running. She can have stress at work and feel like she should work through lunch to solve it. Instead, she goes for a run and comes back and sees her way through the problem. “If I have a bad day now, I go for a run.” When her father passed away unexpectedly in March of 2017, she discovered that “time out running helped me work through my grief and anger.” She wishes that she had found this tool much earlier in her life.

In her own words: “Running with the BAR has been a life changer for me, in some ways a life saver actually. I feel like a different person since I joined. It has helped me be a happier person, deal with my social anxiety by getting out and meeting new people, doing new things like track and hills. I now realize that I love distance running.”

For Jessica the key factor is running with friends. “It makes all the difference, as we mentally hold each other up as the miles get tougher.”

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Running with friends can make a long run feel surprisingly short.

See you out on a run!