It’s All About Heart at the Back

I had the great honor yesterday of volunteering at the 2012 Race to Robie Creek Half Marathon, which is billed as the “toughest half marathon in the U.S.” The theme this year was Samurai Warrior, so my husband dressed as a  Samurai and I dressed as a Geisha to bring a little fun to the summit aid station at mile 8.4 that the local running store The Pulse puts on each year.

It was a lot of fun watching the team of volunteers at the top transform the roadway into the highlight aid station for the race! It was pretty cool to see how well the 20 or so volunteers rolled up their sleeves and got a few hundred cups filled with water and Gatorade – stacked three tiers high and got ready to hydrate and encourage the runners as they passed!

I placed myself just below the summit and as soon as I saw the front runners I started cheering and clapping and high-fiving them as they went by! It was a ton of fun to bring a smile to the very worn out racers who were fighting the relentless uphill of Rocky Canyon Road who’d been tearing it up for more than 8 uphill miles in about 90 degree heat by the time they reached us! I was very impressed by how well many of them tolerated the tough conditions! I told the runners “You are my heroes!”

I must have high-fived over a thousand runners on Saturday! I also got about a dozen sweaty hugs! You could just see how much some of them really needed to be told, “You’re doing GREAT!  You’ve got this!”  It was a really neat perspective to be on the other side of the race this year, since I ran it myself the last two years in a row. It may surprise you to know that I actually preferred cheering and helping out to running it myself. Seeing all of those grateful smiles will forever be a memory that will gladden my heart!

The highlight of my day came after the race had been going on for about four hours. The racers started at noon, so it was the hottest part of the day and the back of the packers were still toughing it out on the course, under the blazing sun, long after the front runners had crossed the finish line and joined the party down at Robie Creek on the other side.

The crowds of runners coming up to the summit had dwindled way down and I headed back down the hillside to find those who would need encouragement the most — the ones at the very end of the race.  I found them after about a mile and a half – a mother, in her fifties doing her first Robie with her college-aged son, my friend who was sitting at a search and rescue aid station, under an umbrella who had struggled in the intense heat who was making the smart choice to call it a day and another friend who was in good spirits but just needing a little more time to complete the long haul up the hillside in the heat.

I joined the mother/son team and my pal, Derek came back to help them too. It was nice! There was such a great energy at the back of the pack! The college age son kept saying to his Mom, “I’m so proud of you! You’ve got this, Mom!” And, his Mom’s eyes would well up with tears at the wonderful support and love her son was showing for her. I think Derek and I felt like we were being allowed to share in a very special time for this family. We moved along as a group, letting the Mom set the pace, encouraging her to rest when we came to shady spots along the road, offering her drinks and pats on the back as we went.

My friends, Jon, Ryan and Mike were also there, just ahead of us, offering the same support and encouragement to my friend Marcie. It was a very positive, humbling experience to watch these wonderful runners give their heart and soul out there and never give up!

The Mom and son team ended up pulling ahead a bit and I had the pleasure of staying with my friend, Marcie, with just the pace car pulling up the end of the race behind us. There was a great energy each time we passed another aid station or a person who’d stayed to cheer on the last runners!  Marcie was in great spirits, taking time to hydrate, rest or eat as she needed. There was never any doubt about her finishing! She was strong right to the last step!

The sweetest moment came when, about a mile from the finish line, our other friends walked back onto the course with her ten year old daughter, Felicity, who had ran the race herself and already had finished as the youngest runner on the course that day! What a huge accomplishment!!  Marcie had bought a special necklace that said “13.1” to give as a  gift to her daughter when she caught up to her. It was wrapped beautifully in her daughter’s favorite color – purple! I think we all got a little teary eyed as Mom and daughter hugged and the lovely necklace was placed around Felicity’s neck!

As we came around the final curve, Marcie started picking up speed, her daughter and her friends all cheered her in as she pushed the pace right over the finish line! It was a wonderful time! I’m so happy that I got to be a part of it!



Conditioned Optimism


When I read Jared Campbell’s blog this past week about training for the Barkley Marathons, he mentioned the phrase “conditioned optimism.” He was talking about seeing the weather reporting extremes like hail, blizzards, lightening or intense heat and thinking, “Woo hoo! Another chance to go running in this to train hard for Barkley!”

That phrase has been popping into my head every since I read that. It makes me smile! It gives me a new perspective on things!  So, tonight when my husband and I were in the KFC drive-through, ordering the mashed potatoes, coleslaw, chicken and big root beer I was craving and the car suddenly died and wouldn’t start back up, I didn’t get grumpy. Not a bit! I grinned at my husband and pointed to my feet. I’d gone on an 8 mile run earlier in the mountains and hadn’t gotten around to my after-run shower yet. I was still dressed in my running clothes and had on my running shoes, too!

I got another chance to practice my new positive mental attitude right then, too. We were still sitting in the drive-through with several other cars behind us. I happily opened the car door and hopped behind and started to really put my strong legs to work by PUSHING the car (with my husband still inside since we were parked so close to the ordering speaker he could not open the door!) I thought it was hilarious! And, I felt like a beast!!! Just a few short years ago, I was overweight and out of shape. But, today, I was happy to put my muscles to good use and help my husband out (and of course all those nice people behind us in the drive through that we were keeping from their fried chicken!!!!)

We pushed the car to a parking spot and headed into the restaurant to eat our food. We laughed and joked about what a funny night it had turned into. The car – our little white Escort wagon is a clunker. It’s got about a zillion miles on it and we paid a whopping $350 for it a couple of years ago!  It’s been a good car in that time and has taken us so many places without breaking down! I’d say we got our money’s worth out of it even if we can’t justify whatever it’s going to cost to fix it back up again.

We finished our dinner then headed into Fred Meyer for the garden hose attachment we’d actually been to town to get and then started running home together with our purchase.

Though it had been a really hot day with a temperature of about 90, the sun was setting and it was cooling down to a perfect evening. The spring blossoms on the cherry and apple trees along the route smelled heavenly! The Boise Foothills looming to our left were breathtaking to see! It was fun! We had a great time, enjoyed some chitchat and each got another 4 miles done today!

I’m excited to see in what other ways I can start making lemonade out of lemons!  I encourage you to do the same! The next time things go wrong, find a way to see the positive side of it! And, I will keep working on my “conditioned optimism” too!



Beat Coach Pete 5k

I have been hoping to do this race for a few years. Boise State University football Coach, Chris Peterson does this 5k each year to help raise scholarship money for the college. The idea is to try to run the event faster than the coach so you can earn one of the coveted “I Beat Pete” t-shirts to show off to all your friends. If you don’t beat Pete you get a shirt that says, “I’ll beat Pete next year” which is pretty fun! I’m a BSU alumni, so this was on my “must do” list!

There were over 2500 entrants this year! The mood was festive and fun at the start. Wayne and I got a picture with the BSU Bronco mascot. I also bumped into quite a few pals and got to mingle and say hello. The temperature was chilly but perfect for a race. There was just a slight breeze, it was sunny and beautiful.

I tried to get placed somewhere towards the front – maybe 8 rows back, but once the start happened it was mostly a push/shove shuffle and then really difficult to find room to stretch out and get to my pace for the entire first mile. I kept thinking it would spread out, but there were little kids, strollers and even a motorized wheelchair right in the front pack to get around. I had my shins and shoes stepped on and I accidentally almost knocked a man over as we all tried to move ahead to our own pace. I ended up just easing back since there was no real way to get ahead since even the grass on both sides of the greenbelt was totally wall-to-wall people. By mile 2, things had spread out some and I was able to settle into the pace I’d intended (around 7:25-7:30). That felt good!! It was fun to be running with a nice group at that point all going about the same pace and I enjoyed myself a lot.

By the time we came off the greenbelt and I could see the Bronco stadium, I was pretty excited. BSU is famous for it’s blue “Smurf Turf” football field and I was excited that the race finished inside the stadium. I was surprised to see the finish line so soon after we entered. I’d assumed we still had a ways to go and would have to make a loop around the track, so I didn’t get into full sprint mode before the finish line, but it was still a lot of fun. I was super pumped when one of the volunteers wrote a black X on my hand signifying I had in fact, Beat Coach Pete and was deserving of the prized t-shirt! Wooo hoo!!!!

Fun day!!

Finish time: 22:40  Pete’s time? Not sure, but pretty sure it was something around 30 minutes. I heard he high-fived those who finished after him! What a great guy!

Elevation Gain: 58 feet (just two bridges -everything else was flat.) Average HR: 167 Max HR: 240!!! The interesting thing is that my average heart rate for mile 3 was only 129, like my body had adjusted to the faster pace. Sweet! I’m even more excited since this is exactly 3 weeks to the day of my 100 mile race! I guess I’m recovered!

When I got back home, the kids were excited to hear I’d accomplished my goals for the day (to beat Coach Pete and to run a 5k in about the time of my McMillan Predictor for being on pace for a BQ in the fall – which was 23:03.) I heard my 9 year old son say as I walked outside, “That is soo cool our Mom can beat the BSU football coach, huh?”  That made my whole day!


Failure Isn’t Fatal or Final

Every single peak performing human being, every single high achieving man or woman, has been a person who has thrown off the natural tendency to play it safe and stay within the comfort zone, and has continually tried to exceed their previous levels of accomplishment, has continually moved forward into the risk zone, to try something more and bigger and better and more important. Every single accomplishment in the history of man, has come from men and women who have had the courage to take the risks, to step out even though they had no guarantee or assurance of success…

In studying the lives and stories of the most outstanding men and women of all of history, we find that every single one of them has been a great failure. People do not understand the importance of failure in achievement. The fact is that it is impossible to succeed without failing, that failure is an indispensable prerequisite for success, and that all great success is proceeded by great failure. Every single person who has tried to accomplish something outside the ordinary has suffered setback and obstacle and defeat and adversity and disappointment and heartache over and over again as they have moved toward their goal. There is no record of anybody ever having achieved any kind of success without having failed over and over again. The only difference is that the winners continually pick themselves up and carry on knowing that ultimate success is inevitable as long as they keep on going on.”
– Brian Tracy

Sometimes it’s easy to look at those who are more accomplished and assume that they are more gifted than we are, that maybe the things they can achieve are impossible for the rest of us “ordinary” humans, but that’s not the case!  Ask anyone you admire about their journey to achieving something great and you’ll usually be surprised at the long path and the ups and downs it took for them to get there.

Four years ago, I couldn’t run a block without a side ache! Three years ago, I had never, even ran a half marathon. Two years ago, I failed at my first attempt at my first ultra marathon, having stomach issues that caused me to drop out at 23.33 miles. I came in last place when I tried again a few months later (and once again had stomach issues) – but I finished! Less than a year ago, I was pulled on a time cut off at my first 50 mile race at mile 32. One week later, I proved to myself and everyone else that I COULD run 50 miles and do so in the time limit! I didn’t quit! I didn’t give up! I learned from my mistakes, I got better and I kept trying! That’s what it takes! You have to believe you’re capable of more than you’ve done, that you have greatness inside of you! It takes an awful lot of hard work, hours upon hours and hours of running and working out in every kind of weather and past every kind of excuse to skip training to strengthen your body and your mind for the challenge – but in the end — you CAN achieve your goals!  They are within your reach if you want them badly enough to do the work!

Running my first 100 mile race two weeks ago was such a surreal, amazing experience. It was life-changing for me! Achieving that dream took years, but I never gave up, I never settled for what I was because I knew I was capable of MORE!  Most of the time it was not glamorous, though I admit that a passion and a love for running really helped. I actually LIKED the training – even the hard parts, most of the time. But, there was also lots of sweat, tears, injuries to overcome, falls on the trails and times of lacking motivation. But, in the end, the hard work was so worth it!

I have one bit of bad news for you. Even if you reach your “Out-of-this-world” goal — you can’t camp there and call yourself done!  It doesn’t end in Glory Land. That’s really just another step up the ladder of life and if you keep pushing yourself, challenging  yourself to greatness, to seeing where your limits lie – you’ll find insane amounts of confidence, a boatload of adventure and (if you’re lucky like I am — a ton of cool friends to join you along the way!) In my opinion, that just means you’ll have a life that was well-lived at the end – a collection of great stories to tell your grandchildren and so much contentment that you didn’t just waste your life away – taking the safe, well-traveled road – but instead lived your life like every day was your last – with vigor, courage, vitality and JOY!

So get out there and go for your crazy dreams! It doesn’t matter if you fail along the way! Who cares?! Get back up, dust yourself off and keep trying until you achieve it! I’ll be rooting for you!


Run Free Caballo Blanco


“If I were to be remembered for anything at all, I would want that to be that I am/was authentic. No Mas. Run Free!” — Micah True

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post in honor of Micah True also known as Caballo Blanco, an ultra runner who became something of a living legend after the book Born to Run was published that documented this free-spirited runner’s life living among the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s Copper Canyons.  He founded the 50 mile Copper Canyon race, that helped raise funds for corn to help feed the Tarahumara giving back to the people he’d grown to care for and run alongside.  My friends, Dennis and Lynette ran Micah’s race in March of this year, calling it a life-changing experience in one of the most remote, beautiful places in the world.

I had the pleasure of meeting Micah just once, about a year ago when he came to Boise to give a speech. Afterwords, he joined my friends and I for a birthday party celebration for my friend, Dennis. I found him to be a very humble, kind-hearted good man. The world would be a better place if there were more people who lived as he did — authentically, purely and with an appreciation for the natural world, running and his fellow man. He will be dearly missed.

Micah is in the background in his festive party hat at Dennis’ birthday bash!

My friends will be honoring him with a trail run this Saturday. We’ll stop at the water fall and share stories about him and pay our respects to a dear man who left this world much too soon.  Run free, Micah!!!!