Randi Walters’ Journey Through Running

We all run for different reasons. What is interesting for Randi Walters is how the reasons and character of her running has taken on additional aspects through the years.

Randi was active in high school. She participated in the team sports and even tried out a Cross Country practice once but decided it was not for her. It wasn’t until she was in graduate school in California that she watched a close friend finish a half marathon. This friend had always told Randi that anyone could run. So, Randi gave it a try.

She jumped right into running at the half marathon level. She ran a three-quarter mile run for her first training run and built from there. The more she ran, the more fit she became. She found that running complemented her graduate studies in that it gave her something else to focus on, to balance out her time. There is so much that feels out of control in graduate school; running became a space where she could see more immediate results. “You can finish a half marathon a heck of a lot faster than you can finish a master’s degree.” Completing her first half marathon is still one of the high points in her life.

Randi soon discovered another aspect of running.  “The more I did it, I started noticing…my fitness was increasing, I just felt better, I felt clearer, like my mind was clearer. I felt happier. It was one of those things where there were just too many pros to not run.” As she kept at it, she joined communities of runners and got better. The better she got the more she wanted to keep doing it. “I started to feel more competitive. I started to place in my age group for events, and I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I am not too bad at this.’”

The drive to compete soon became another component of her running. “It’s not that I felt competitive with the people I was racing against, but I started feeling more competitive with myself.” She began pushing herself and seeing results. As the results of improved times continued, she figured, if she keeps pushing herself, who knows what kinds of results she might see.

Running communities have also added a significant layer to her running. While in California she ran a number of Ragnar Relays and experienced the joy of being involved in team competition running through the night. A highlight of the last Ragnar Relay she ran was taking first place in the open women’s division.

When she and her husband, Austin, decided to move to Boise, they looked up the Boise Area Runners (the BAR) on meetup.com before they even arrived. The BAR has been a big part of her running since relocating. It was at a BAR run where the idea to train to qualify for the Boston Marathon was planted. She trained all summer, running a number of fast laps with the BAR on the Boise High track, and completed a Boston Qualifying time at the Sunriver Marathon this last September. Her training for the Boston Marathon in 2017 begins this coming January.

As Randi reflects on her journey through running and the added dimensions it has taken on, she says, “I still feel at my core I am running for the same reasons, but now it’s like there is this added challenge of trying to do it a little bit faster.” And that is why Randi will be out there running for years to come! See you out on a run!

Rob Hancock Running Boston

“I get it now, this Boston thing,” says Rob Hancock after he finished the Boston Marathon in 2009. “Still the pinnacle running experience” of his life, Rob’s peak race highlights the long journey it takes to master the marathon.

He ran his first marathon in Los Angeles in 1998 with a “just finish alive” effort of 3:59:21. Nine years later he caught the racing bug again, dropped 30 pounds, and attempted to qualify for Boston in the 2007 City of Trees Marathon in Boise. He bonked horribly with a 3:35:38 and 17-minute positive split. In 2008, he ramped up his training, and qualified on the same race with a 3:17:48, and 1:40 negative split. Boston bound he followed the same training plan – Pete Pfitzinger’s 18 weeks, up to 70 miles per week – through the cold Idaho winter leading up to Boston.  What time to shoot for? “After much deliberation, I settled on an ‘A’ goal of sub-3:10.” A personal record that is not only ambitious but a Boston Qualifying time run in Boston.

Boston is more than just a race, it is a gathering ground for many notable runners as well as friends from across the country. The days in Boston leading up to Monday morning’s event provide Rob the opportunity to chat with Jack Fultz in an elevator (1976 Boston winner), visit with Dick Beardsley (see 1982 “Duel in the Sun”), and connect with an online “nemesis” to trade jabs. After the expo and even a “Duck Boat Tour” of the city, Rob made it to bed the night before. He remembers thinking, “strangely, I’m calm.” A good sign.

The morning of any race is a special time. “I wake up on my own at 4:30 (that’s 2:30 A.M. my time – gulp!). My first order of business is to check the weather. Still predicting high 30s to high 40s throughout — that’s good. But the flag atop the adjacent Copley Square Hotel is flapping wildly and pointing directly west – a strong direct headwind. That’s bad.” The mixed weather report notwithstanding Rob makes his way to the buses next to the Common and rides to Hopkinton, some twenty-six miles away.

There at the Athlete’s Village, Rob grabs a snack, waits for the time to start at the home of a friend of a friend, and then checks his bag at the bus as he walks the quarter of a mile to his starting corral (#7). The wait is almost over. Everything goes in quick succession now.  “The seven thousand runners down the hill behind me are a sight to behold. Flyover. National Anthem. Gun. Holy crap. I am running the Boston Marathon. I am alive.”

Rob pursues his goal, mile by mile, staying in control of his pace. On his first mile, there is a “steep downhill, but the throng of runners keeps me from going out too fast. I’m grateful for that, and right on pace.”

Of the many memorable things along the course, the people that come out to cheer have to be at the top. Rob recounts, “I high-five another little guy…and I hear his dad say ‘You’re slapping hands with people from all over the world!’” Rob continues, “Of course, I’d heard how great the spectators were, but I was completely unprepared for their enthusiasm. I expected the usual polite applause and shouts of ‘Go runners!’ or the occasional cowbell. Oh no, this is something entirely different. All you have to do is point at the crowd or raise your hands, and you’re greeted with this deafening roar more befitting a winning three-pointer or touchdown. I find this new power intoxicating, and I start using it frequently.”

By the halfway point Rob is right on pace with a 1:35:36. 7:21 pace. The remaining question he asks himself: “Can I do a 3:10? With the hills looming? We’ll see.”

Rob continues to run just a few seconds below his target pace for each mile. After mile 20, when the challenge of a marathon can truly begin, Rob recalls, “The crowds continue to grow. As I’m approaching the third hill halfway through the split, an older gentlemen yells out. ‘Ya just gawt this little one, and then Hahtbreak, and then it’s awl downhill from theah!!’ I bet he’s been doing this for years. This little bit of inspiration makes me pick up the pace, attack the hill with vigor, and log a split 23 seconds faster than I’d planned.”

Rob conquers the Newton Hills and then clicks off the remaining miles still running just a few seconds below his target pace. As he runs within the last half mile through a deafening roar of cheers he thinks, “I want to be done, but I don’t want it to end. I glance at the Garmin just as it turns from 3:07 to 3:08. I smile, knowing sub 3:10 is in the bag. But man, 3:08 sure sounds a lot better. I give it all that’s left, and cross in 3:08:53.

I stop and grab my knees. A few paces past the line a guy next to me is doing the same thing. He makes eye contact and nods. I say, ‘Man, wasn’t that something?’

‘Unbelieveable,’ he says with a thick accent.

‘Where you from?’ I ask.

‘Holland.’ We share a quick man-hug and high five. I’ll never see that guy again. But I’ll bet we remember each other forever.”

As Rob makes the long slow walk to get his medal and check bag he thinks back to all that led up to that moment. All those winter training miles. The sacrifices his wife and boys made. His folks, now gone, and how very proud they would be. At that moment, “I look around, relieved to see I’m not the only one choked up.”

“Whenever I hear other runners talk about Boston, it’s always in superlatives: The best crowds, support, organization, course, etc. They say you won’t understand until you experience it. I wondered if all those veterans were just maybe a little loony. Could it possibly really be all of that? Oh, yes. It can. That, and much more. I get it now, this Boston thing.”

Look for Rob out on a run with the BAR!