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!

 

Justin Carter: Running and Friends

By Beau Seegmiller

Justin has run for many years and, like many runners, has found a great deal of enjoyment from it. As we visited it became clear to me that, from his first run through today, many of his most memorable and peak runs have involved friends.

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Justin running the Shamrock Shuffle in 2015

Justin started running his senior year in high school. He had a friend on the cross country team who kept saying, “You should come out and run!”

“Finally, my senior year he got to me, and I decided to do it.” Justin was so excited when he ran his first whole mile without stopping that he told his friend, “Dude! I ran a mile!” His friend’s response: “Okay, now do two more.” And Justin did just that. He was fast enough to be on the varsity team and saw big improvement that year. “It seemed like in every race I would go a minute faster.” That pestering friend introduced Justin to the joy of tasting the fruits of consistent training.

Once in college, Justin fell off of running and didn’t start again until he graduated and went into graduate school. Running on his own in Michigan winters he didn’t have or know about technical clothing. “I was that guy out there wearing sweatpants and a hoodie.” He was running enough to be in shape to run an “accidental” half-marathon though. “I took an ATV trail and ran to the end and back.” When he looked at the map later he realized he had basically run to the next town and had run around 14 miles without water or gels. “It was a mistake…It was a good run. I look back on that run very fondly.” He eventually fell off running until he moved to Boise to take a job after earning his graduate degree.

New to the area, Justin realized he needed to meet some people and make some friends. A friend recommended meetup.com and that is where he discovered the Boise Area Runners and thought, “I always wanted to get back into running.” He went to his first run and met John Stieha. They ran together about a mile and a half out and back. “I was dying the whole time,” Justin recalls. “John stuck with me and I was hooked.” That was back in 2013 and Justin has been running with the BAR ever since as well as volunteering as the group’s treasurer.

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Justin celebrating after the Run 4 Luv with his pacer and fellow Boise Area Runner – Samantha Allen.

It was here in Boise that Justin got back into racing for the first time since high school. One of his most memorable races was the Run4Luv half marathon a couple of years ago. “I ran that race with Samantha Allen. I hadn’t planned on getting a PR (personal record) that day. I was just out to do it.” Sam had been running a larger training run and included the half marathon as part of her training. She had already run seven miles. “She paced me for that race. I was so dead, but she had so much good encouragement throughout the whole thing…I just remember crossing that finish line and being like, ‘I did it!’” Justin enjoyed setting that personal record and rediscovering the power a positive friend can have on running performance.

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Celebrating at the finish line of the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back event in 2014.

Relay races have also provided Justin with some incredible memories. The Wasatch Back Relay (in the Ragnar Series) stands out in particular. “Seeing everybody running. We had two teams and we were leapfrogging the other van and they were leapfrogging us. It was pretty fun…I think there is something special about being crammed in a van with five other people for a day and a half…Everybody just totally reeks at the end…and nobody cares.” Justin also enjoyed participating in the Ragnar Trail Series at Zions in Southern Utah. There runners stay at a base camp and run different trail routes. “Between your runs there is so much stuff you can do.” The Sawtooth relay is also a favorite. Anytime friends and running get together, Justin is eager to participate.

At the moment Justin is facing the bane of all runners: running injury. “It really takes a lot of wind out of your sails.” The challenge of this ankle injury keeps him from planning things out because he doesn’t know if he will be able to do it. In spite of this, he keeps active with climbing and stays connected with the BAR so he will be able to create more memories and set new PR’s running with friends.

See you out on a run!

Astrid Gilbert and Running Vitality

By Beau Seegmiller

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Astrid after the Chicago Marathon. In 2013, she was the top fund raiser for Team Special Olympics.

To say that running is a vital part of Astrid Gilbert’s life would not be an overstatement. When asked how running has changed for her over the years she simply says, “It’s not even an option anymore, it’s just what I do.” Throughout time, Astrid has drawn a vitality from running both physically and mentally that has nourished relationships, taught her life lessons, and, most importantly, helped her heal.

Astrid has been running since junior high, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she first signed up for a race: the Chicago Marathon. She will never forget coming through the finish line with bleachers on both sides full of spectators cheering for her as she finished with 44 seconds to spare on her goal time. She was hooked and has since run twenty marathons! She is currently training to run her first Boston Marathon in April. She had always assumed that she would never run a Boston qualifying time, and never even cared, until one of her friends qualified and lit the fire in her to go for it.

 

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Astrid running the Chicago Marathon in 2010. She has fond memories of spending time with her husband in Chinatown (the neighborhood pictured here).

“Some of the best friendships I have made have been through running.” Astrid’s friend Kimmi in particular would get her to sign up for races. While living in Florida she joined a running group and acquired running buddies to travel with and they went from coast to coast running the Disney marathons in Florida and California, the Florida Keys Ragnar, and even the Chicago marathon. “Traveling with running buddies is the best!” She has even journeyed with fellow family runners to race in places as far off as Dublin. Her husband at the time wondered if they could travel without having to race.

 

In 2009, Astrid married her high school sweetheart, Rick. Though not a runner, Rick recognized the value that running brought to Astrid’s life and gave her his full support. He was the one who encouraged her to find a running club when they moved to Florida and even rescued her mid run when caught in a downpour. Rick’s untimely death in 2015 devastated Astrid.

“I thought I would lose my passion for running. But over time, I was able to lace up my shoes again.” Having an outlet like running helped her healing process. Sometimes, during a run, a memory would come to mind and “I found myself crying while running.” Astrid continued to run and moved forward.

Astrid has also valued the mental benefits of running through the years. “I have always been the type that is constantly busy. Running is the only time 

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Astrid with her sister at her first Disney race.

that I am actually alone with my thoughts. I can solve a lot of life’s obstacles while pounding the pavement.” Running has helped her come to be in tune with her body and know when not to push it with injuries. Yet, she has also learned that persistence and dedication pay off. “I am capable of more than I thought.”

When Astrid first started running, she “used to run with a stopwatch (a little Timex)” and in baggy, cotton sweats. She remembers purchasing her first Garmin watch which was so big it was like “having a laptop on your wrist.” Now she can’t live without a GPS watch and wears quality running apparel. But through all the changes in technology and gear, running has been with her, in the ups and downs of life, adding an indispensable vibrancy to her life.

Eric Palmer and Relationships Built through Running

By Beau Seegmiller

Eric Palmer’s first time running, some friends got him to run a 10k in the Famous Potato race. He had not prepared and experienced a special sort of agony during and after that race. Years later, Eric not only values running but all of the relationships that he has found through running.

In the beginning, Eric pursued weightlifting. “I was lifting weights and injured my shoulder. I needed something to do. I didn’t want to just sit around.” Because the shoulder injury stopped his primary form of exercise, he went to meetup.com to see about other options. The Boise Area Runners (The BAR) was one of the first groups he found. Once he started joining group runs he was hooked.

Eric has a competitive personality that fits nicely with running, but the people and community he found in the BAR is what he really values. “It’s positive. It’s camaraderie. People think of running as not being a team thing…but, it actually is because we run in groups and talk.”

When I asked Eric what the high point of his running career has been he replied that it would have to be the time he proposed to his wife, Sarah, at the end of the FitOne 10k in 2016. His proposal was fitting since he met Sarah at a BAR event.

It was at Sun Ray’s Cafe after a Thursday evening run. Sarah was there with her friend, Michelle. With some prodding from Michelle, Sarah came to run at BAR events. In Eric’s words, “I ran with her a few times, and the rest is history.”

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Fast forward to the FitOne 10k and Eric is ready to propose. “I tricked Sarah into running the 10k.” It was her first 10k race. “We hadn’t even talked about marriage.” But, they started the race and Eric had the ring in his pocket. “I am obviously nervous.” As they neared the finish, Eric told Sarah that he was going to run ahead to get some photos. Eric ran down the hill and as he got to the finish he learned he had not got as far ahead of Sarah as he would have liked. Sarah had been feeling so good she decided to kick it in for a fast finish.

With little time, Eric crossed the finish line, got the ring out, got down on his knee, and turned back to meet Sarah. She missed him and ran past him. When she turned and saw him on his knee, she thought he was injured. Then she saw the ring. Running has been a big part of their life since then.

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Most recently Eric has opened R Studio. “I have always done kettlebells and functional training.” Eric has noticed that a lot of runners lack flexibility and upper body strength, both necessary components to healthy, long term running. “In the back of my mind, I always wanted to open a studio.” When he discovered non-motorized Woodway Treadmills, Eric recognized an opportunity to incorporate running and functional training. He went forward with the plan to create a space where people can develop strength and flexibility to be successful runners: R Studio. Check out the running and functional training opportunities at R Studio here: https://rstudioboise.com/

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Running will forever be a part of Eric’s life as will the lasting relationships he builds through running.

 

See you out on a run!

 

Scott Stevens and Changes in Running

By Beau Seegmiller

Scott Stevens started running of his own free will and choice in 1998. For better or worse his first experience with running was of the “forced” variety in the military. In his own words, “It was not really out of enjoyment.” In 1998, however, he began running two to three miles at a time to get in shape. Since those early solo miles Scott has witnessed and experienced many changes in running.

In that first year of running he got talked into joining a team in the Sawtooth Relay. “That was back when it was a twelve man team, Stanley to Boise.” Still very new to running, Scott did not do anything different in his training, like hills, to prepare for the distance and elevation. Needless to say, he discovered a few things about running in that race, one of which are the dangers of cotton underwear. The chafing is still quite memorable today as he recalls needing to just push through the pain for two miles in his second leg until things went numb. In spite of all this, Scott fell in love with running.

While he has had times since then when he has not been particularly inspired to run, he has discovered that if he puts a race out there, he will keep pretty motivated. Scott has completed three marathons and a lot of half marathons and 10ks. He is even considering getting into the ultra distance race scene with a 50k this year. Half marathons are his favorite. “You don’t get too beat up on the half.” In addition to racing and conditioning, Scott has also come to value “that quiet time to yourself to think about things” when on a run.

Running across the years since 1998, Scott has seen some changes. “Running has gotten a lot more popular.” The size of the running community here in the Boise area has grown quite a bit. “Back in 1998, you literally had maybe a handful of races all year long. There just were not that many to choose from. Now there are races every month of the year.”

For Scott personally he has grown to include more trail running and to run socially. He found that the scenic atmosphere running on a trail is very enjoyable. “I used to do all of my running alone. Then I joined the BAR in 2012.” Even then, it wasn’t until Monica Runningwolf took over the leadership of the BAR that the increased events and activities drew him into the social aspects of running.

“Most of my running years, I have been just a lone runner.” So, whenever he raced, there was never anybody really there at the end, specifically cheering him on. “Well, once I was a member of the BAR, you have this group of people. And they are waiting for you.” He recalls one time, in particular, when he was coming around a corner in Anne Morrison Park approaching the finish. “And totally unexpected, there was this huge group of people, ‘Scott!!’ Now I couldn’t do anything but smile and run faster.” Scott says that experiences similar to that one have happened a number of times due to the friendships and community he has found in the BAR.

I am sure there are more changes to come in running in the future, but Scott has been part of some pretty wonderful ones here in the Boise area!

The Awesome on the Other Side of the Uncomfortable

By Beau Seegmiller

It is raining outside. The cold, wet weather on the other side of my window reminds me of a drive less than two months ago late on a Friday night to get to Pettit Lake campground in the Sawtooth Mountains. I had spent the day teaching followed by coaching my middle school cross country team. I was tired and it was raining with a forecast for snow. I was traveling to complete the Alice-Toxaway Loop run the next morning. This spectacular 18.6 mile loop through some of the most stunning scenery in Idaho presented some significant challenges. The trails, far from smooth, are rocky and ascend to 9,000 feet over Snowyside pass. Snow would not prove helpful. I was uncomfortable with what the weather presented.

I do not think it an overstatement to say that we do not like to feel uncomfortable. Most of the technological developments over the last two centuries have focused on maximizing comfort while eliminating discomfort. This natural development is understandable since discomfort and pain usually indicate some very real problems that can even be life-threatening. Ironically, I have discovered that there are certain discomforts, uncomfortable moments, that are actually wondrous passageways to awe-inspiring moments that cannot be realized or experienced otherwise.

It was in a coaching seminar that I learned about the clear relationship between feeling uncomfortable and athletic performance from Joe Vigil, the famed Adams State Cross Country coach. Vigil said that most people live in a comfort zone. They seek out a state of always being comfortable and satisfied. They do not take risks. They also fail to stand out in the pursuits or tasks in which they engage.

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Pyramid of Performance – Joe Vigil

He continued by describing the next level up the pyramid of performance. This group of people are willing to make commitments. They have aims and objectives for which they are willing to get occasionally uncomfortable in order to achieve.

The next level involves high performers who are more willing to take risks and get uncomfortable in order to reach their goals. Vigil stated that this group approach being uncomfortable more often than they are comfortable.

The top level performers, the peak on this pyramid, are constantly pushing the envelope beyond being uncomfortable. In Vigil’s words they actually become comfortable being uncomfortable.

The olympic cyclist, Kristin Armstrong reflects Vigil’s words when she said, “I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because it isn’t easy. I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

 

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Morning sun on the Alice-Toxaway Loop

I drove on in the rain that night, eventually arriving to the campground where my lovely girlfriend, Sara, had a warm meal ready for me, the tent set up, and my down sleeping bag laid out. I slept very comfortably that night and woke up to cool, clear weather. The foreboding forecast of snow never materialized and I ran along streams and lakes in the brilliant morning sun. The light in the mountain air lit up the stunning granite peaks. As I breathed in the clean, crisp air, I reflected on how ideal the conditions were for such a run. My run that day proved to be a profound experience of awe and replenishment that sustained me for weeks. In the end, for this weekend, the only discomfort I experienced had been in the anticipations of a worried mind.

Looking out the window at the rain still falling, I know that with the turning of the seasons uncomfortable weather will be inevitable and unavoidable. The question in my mind is where will I be on the performance pyramid. Can I become more comfortable with being uncomfortable? Will I be able to discover the awesome on the other side?    

See you out on a run!