Becoming a Runner: A Girl Made Me Do It

By Matt Edwards

I’m standing in my corral. Some of the world’s best runners are part of the fluorescent mosh pit in front of me. The Chicago skyline shimmers in the sunrise above Grant Park. My eyes well up in reverence of the moment. Good thing I have a meticulously planned outfit for the occasion. 

My running story began in 2008 when Marianna took me for a “date” to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas track, her high school alma mater, in Parkland, Florida, for what was advertised as a “5 mile run”. Little did I know that there was a silent warm up mile and cool down mile that didn’t count toward the stated goal of 5. Afterward, Marianna said, “You’ve got a good enough stride.”

By 2009 I was married to a runner, but far from one myself. I still needed to chase a ball and keep score. I was even desperate enough to play several seasons of ultimate frisbee to fulfill my competitive desires. But my Saturday mornings were still spent reading a book and sipping coffee as Marianna left the house for a long run. I didn’t understand what compelled her to step out the door.

I’m trying not to go too fast. My watch is confused by the labyrinth of skyscrapers. It’s spitting out times that don’t make any sense! Just chill. I’ve done this before. Ride the wave of experienced runners. Listen to your breath. Focus on your stride. Let’s chuck these gloves.

The first race to sink its teeth into me was the 8.6 mile Payette Lake Race in 2012. It was significant before it even began for two reasons: One, it would become the longest race of my life up until that point. Two, I bought my first pair of running shoes. A pair of grey and orange Asics helped give birth to the obsessively coordinated running ensembles.

mattmariana.jpgI ran pretty well, for a guy who still didn’t train. But something about that experience was different. It might have been the pristine beauty of Payette Lake mirroring the pine covered mountains in the early morning sun. It might have been my oxygen deprived brain at over 5,000 ft. It might have been the taste of the post-race whole cone hops. I don’t know. But I think something about how much my feet hurt and how gassed I was at the finish line lingered as the most fulfilling part of the weekend: the feeling of truly giving it all I had. Something I hadn’t felt, or hadn’t pushed myself to, since my high school glory days. 

I’m doing math as I cross each mile marker to check my pace. The mosaic of multinational runners has been ebbing and flowing, but running wisely. I’m halfway through and only 14 seconds off pace. I’m sticking to my plan.

Early in 2013 I joined the BAR. Marianna had been going for a while, and she finally convinced me to show up to a Sunday morning run at Camel’s Back. I was greeted by friendly faces and a place in line going up Kestrel. This weekly run soon became our version of church.

I ran the Payette 8.6 the next fall, this time in New Balances. I entered the race with an experiment in mind: to see if I could imagine myself sustaining that effort for 13.1. I shaved a minute off my time, won a ribbon that reminded me of my ketchup and mustard soccer days, and left McCall knowing I could run a half marathon. 

Screw the math, I’m tired of it. I’m almost to mile 20 and pretty much on pace. Just grind it out from here, but stay chilly. You’re in good shape. A relaxed focus has got you here. Ride it out. Stay in the groove. Breath. But let’s get rid of these arm warmers.

Sure enough, first thing in 2014, Marianna and I picked a half marathon to do together. We settled on the Sun Valley half in early June. That gave us the entirety of five months to prepare. I did whatever Marianna told me to: I ran five days a week for the first time ever. Every Saturday was the longest run of my life. And believe me, my first 16 miler, in a downpour, almost ruined it for me. But, looking back, that run probably decided whether I was going to be a runner or not. The distance and conditions were relative misery, but, on top of that, I was experiencing intense stomach pain. I didn’t say anything to Marianna until we were finished because I knew she would have let me quit. My silence was fueled by my desire to not cut her run short and to avoid wussing out in anyway. And that right there has been the most valuable part about running with others. Whether with Marianna or my BAR-mates, the sense of community helps me give to others while simultaneously benefiting myself.

The Sun Valley Half Marathon came and went…great! I ran with Frank for the first time (we practically held hands for a mile), and I fulfilled my goal of running hard the whole way without losing too much steam by the end. I wore cotton socks for the last time, because of the huge blood blister I earned, I won a decorative dinner plate-thing, but most importantly, I became a runner. I was in.

That fall I returned to McCall for the Payette Lake Race, but this time for the 30k. It was the next notch in the belt, distance-wise, and it gave me great confidence that I could sustain that effort for 26.2. I mean, what’s so hard about running another 7.6 miles, right? 

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Last mile. Ignore the calves. Ignore the hip flexors. Post a time those guys have to chase at CIM. Damn, that wind almost knocked me over

The spring of 2015 brought me to my first marathon: the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon. I disregarded the advice to run your first marathon ‘just to run it,’ and instead shot for a Boston Qualifying time. I came up short that day, by a few minutes, but somewhere between the satisfaction of staying on pace through 22, feeling like I was in quicksand the rest of the way, fearing my neck would literally snap and let my head skip off the greenbelt and into the Boise River, and the tears I shed after the finish, something impenetrable and eternal happened: I became a marathoner. I did the hardest thing I had ever done, and I knew I had to do it again.

PR. PR. PR. Let’s soak this up and start thinking about New York. 

 

 

Special Order Going On Now!

Special Order BAR Jackets and BAR Long Sleeve Shirts

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Support the BAR by ordering limited edition BAR items! These jackets and shirts are ONLY available to order until December 1st. At that time we will get the items screen printed or embroidered, and shipped out to you. Even though the BAR logo only appears on the men’s long sleeve at the link below, it will be present on both front and back on all items.

 

Check out the items on our Square Store.

 

Giving Back Through Leadership

By Beau Seegmiller

As many of you know (because I talk about it incessantly), I will be racing in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, September 29th. This upcoming event has given me pause to reflect on my journey as a runner and as a competitor in the marathon. Berlin will be my twenty-second marathon. I remember it taking me over a decade to be able to run my first marathon. I also remember that the key for me successfully completing the preparation necessary to finish that first marathon happened because of a running club and the leadership a wonderful set of coaches provided. 

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I suffered from post-concussion syndrome through my early twenties. While in that condition I wasn’t able to run much at all; however, I remember when some of the symptoms (headaches, extreme fatigue, and general body pains) started to recede I began to train and run more intensely. When I could run four miles without any negative effects, I set my sights on a half-marathon. I trained and had a great first half marathon in Logan, Utah. While at the finish area of this small race, I noticed a big to do over a runner who had qualified for a particular marathon (I don’t remember which one). I recall that being the first time I considered running a marathon myself (at the young age of 24). 

I am not sure when I first decided to start training for a marathon, but I do remember buying The Complete Book of Running and following the wisdom and training plans it held. I decided to try the intermediate plan and soon injured my knee. I couldn’t even bend it for a week. A few years passed and I had moved to Shoshone, Idaho when I attempted a second time. I got a little further along that same plan when I suffered from an inexplicable bout of joint inflammation that sidelined me again. A few years later, while back in Logan, Utah for graduate school, I made the attempt again. This time I got to the 16 mile long run and within 10 weeks of the race when hamstring tendonitis put me out. At this point I accepted that I would run for health and well-being. So much so that I started to focus on power lifting and became a gym rat until the itch to run that 26.2 mile race surfaced again in my consciousness.

This time around I thought I needed to find a way to circumnavigate those seemingly inevitable injuries. By 2005 the internet was in place, so I used Google and discovered that coaching and clubs can be invaluable resources to preparing for a race like the marathon. Living in the Phoenix metropolitan area I had an array of choices. I settled on Phoenix Fit which had about a hundred members, five coaches, and a basic training plan that would get me ready for the PF Chang’s Rock and Roll marathon the following January. All for a cool $90 (I even got a shirt)! The club met once a week for Saturday long runs and had informational seminars on various running topics the half hour prior to the run. 

I ran and trained. I discovered that I loved running with people. I hadn’t run with people since high school cross country. The coaches were very informative and so supportive. Yet, those injuries started to come back. This time both knees and my right soleus became inflamed and angry. I thought I was doomed. The difference this time? I was surrounded by people and coaches who had been through these injuries before and knew treatment approaches: icing, stretches, and strength exercises that worked. It wasn’t long before I was running the first few miles of my first marathon way too fast and high on the joy of being in a race I had failed to reach in over a decade. After completing the last 6 miles of hell and in pain I had never experienced before, I relished the feeling of having completed a marathon.  

As I celebrated reaching this lifetime benchmark with my running club in the finish area, my thoughts went back to that first attempt at training for a marathon over ten years earlier. I felt that I was finally home. I had become the person I always wanted to be, the person I actually had been all along, just now in full bloom. I was a runner. 

What was the difference? In one word: community: a community that would not have been possible without the organization and leadership of those in the Phoenix Fit running club. The club was open to everyone and discoverable to strangers like me. Running is interwoven into the very fiber of every aspect of my being. I run to become who I am. Without Phoenix Fit, my journey would have been very different.

Fast forward to my move to the Boise area. First item on my agenda was to find a running group. The BAR was the first group I discovered and the last that I considered (Five group runs a week! Who can beat that?). After a year of involvement, the BAR was in need of new leadership. It was time for me to give back, to pass on the gift I had been given by the Phoenix Fit running club. 

Serving as the president of the BAR for almost four years now has been one of the great joys in my life. As a non-profit organization the BAR depends on volunteer leadership to function and provide the services it does (those five group runs and the like don’t happen on their own). I have been privileged to see the many contributions other BAR members have made in that time. I have also received as much or more than I have given. 

As we begin accepting nominations for the 2020 leadership team in the BAR, I invite you to consider giving back through taking on a leadership role in the BAR. You can nominate yourself (or get a friend to do it) here: https://forms.gle/RnmYq5AJs84H3Zfw9. Consider the different positions and offices where you might fit best. The period for open nominations ends at the conclusion of the General Membership Meeting on Sunday, October 27th.

More importantly, please take a moment and consider what this BAR tribe has meant to you and your running. How can you pay that forward to the next runner? What contributions can you make? 

With that, I sincerely hope to see you out on a run!

Beau

Tina Beans: Running for Connection

By Tina Beans

photo1I am Tina, current BAR treasurer and unlikely hobby runner. As a slow-pace, short-distance, non-racing athlete, I provide more in the way of diversity (and mad check-writing skills) than running experience to the leadership team. But despite approaching the sport a bit differently from most people I meet, I love being part of the ranks of the BAR.

For one thing, being a runner means getting to mingle with other runners, and generally speaking they tend to be awesome, welcoming people– the kind of folks who generously insist that I *am* a runner, even after seeing my best wheezy-rhino-from-Jumanji impression. Folks who will, in the same conversation, be genuinely excited that I added an extra half mile to a slow Saturday run and casually downplay the fact that they broke the sound barrier in mile 24 of their latest marathon. Runners are good people.

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Tina exploring Santa Cruz, CA through running.

Really, of all the running I do, the miles I put in on vacation are probably my favorite. Vacation runs provide a grounding bit of normalcy in the midst of exploring new places and abandoning my daily routine. Being able to get lost in the rhythm of my footfalls, regardless of the setting I find myself in is centering and like bringing a piece of home with me. While they’re not always grand and seldom involve PRs, those runs often wind up being the highlight of my trips. They connect me to locals and take me to some of the most beautiful places.

And the feeling of solidarity when meeting other runners hasn’t been limited to my experiences in Boise, where people just tend to be over-the-top friendly. When I travel, running is a surefire way to plug into the communities I visit. I love finding out about local running haunts, and area runners are always remarkably generous in sharing their favorite routes.

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Tina exploring Oahu, HI through running.


Here’s to getting outside and putting in the miles, however many miles and at whatever pace that may be!