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.
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!
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.”
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.
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.
When 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.