Running 4 Your Life


Trail Running in Idaho

Rouge-Orleans Solo Ultramarathon – Many Miles to Go

February 21st, 2012

“The key to success is to set one big goal, then pay any price, overcome any obstacle, persist through any difficulty…until you achieve it.” – Brian Tracy

Rouge-Orleans…If you’re not from the South, it takes you a minute to realize the significance of the name. But when you tell someone from, say … South Dakota or Idaho … that you’re running from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, even without any frame of reference, their first reaction is, “Dang, how far is that?” The same reaction comes from most Louisianians – folks who have only driven from Baton Rouge to New Orleans (and who are not especially fond of the drive).

Then…when you tell them that it is 126.2 miles and that you have 42 hours to do it – after they get past the “Are you nuts?” look – their next question is, “Do you sleep during any of that?”

I live in Boise, Idaho, now, but I spent the first 34 years of my life in Shreveport, Louisiana. So, when I found out about this race, I knew I had to do it. Plus, I told my husband Mark, “Since I’ve already run a couple of 100s, this is the next logical step.” We had a few discussions about the word “logical,” but to those of us who love to do these things, we understand perfectly the logic of it. You can’t succeed beyond your wildest expectation unless you have some wild expectations to begin with. I think this race qualified.

So, I signed up, assembled my crew (friends from Idaho, Ohio, Indiana, and South Dakota), and taught them all how to say “Laissez les bontemps rouler!” One of my friends – Joan, from Indiana – also signed up for the solo event, so our crew was in for double duty.

In addition to never having run this far before, neither had I ever started a race at 8 pm. While there was some degree of anxiety about running 126.2 miles, the main stream of anxiety stemmed from the idea of running through 2 nights. This was definitely going to be an adventure. But…I told myself that everything is hard before it is easy. However, on this occasion, it ended up being the other way around.

John Steinbeck defines traveling is “the urge to be someplace else.” But in this case, true traveling was starting out at 8 o’clock at night, knowing the miles ahead would be brand new and consist of people, places, and experiences unpredictable and unknowable.

And so it began at 8 pm on Friday … What a bizarre beginning to a weekend that got crazier by the hour.

Joan and I had decided to stick together for the first night, and we kept our pace at regular intervals of run 10 minutes, walk 2. That worked for the most part except for the sections where the levee was apparently being worked on, and we had to run on the sloped sides. Joan managed to stay on both feet, and I only slipped down once, hitting my face on my watch and getting a fat lip.

“Fall down 7 times, get up 8.” – Chinese proverb

The first night seemed to go by rather fast, and as it is with other events where you run through the night, the sunrise rejuvenated us. A couple hours after sunrise, Joan and I split up to do our own thing. That was the last I saw of Joan until she crossed the finish line, but I was getting regular updates on her progress.

The day was cold and windy, but beautiful. And, again, it doesn’t seem like 10 more hours have gone by when you’re out “in it.” Everything up to this point had been going pretty smoothly – and rather uneventful. Lori made sure that she worked her Ki-Hara magic on me every 4 hours, and I was feeling good. Just out there running, eating, drinking, talking to other runners, and stopping every 4 hours for my treatment.

At one point during the day, I decided I would call my son Daniel – I think I was around mile 65. I told him that I was past the halfway mark, but I had many miles to go. His immediate response to me – simply the reiteration of something I have said to him for SO many years – was, “How do you eat an elephant?” It came out so naturally that it seemed he had been waiting for the perfect time to give it back to me. His “one-bite-at-a-time” reminder came back to me over and over in that second half – especially in that never-ending trek around the park to the finish line.

Then the 2nd night fell, and the game changed. It was dark and cold, and I was getting tired.

Still…I kept telling myself: Once you make an unequivocal decision to cast off mental limitations and put your heart into accomplishing a goal, your success is guaranteed. As long as you don’t quit.

I rolled into the 80+ mile aid station around 6 pm where Sparkle, my pacer, was ready to go. Lori worked her magic – again. By this time, it was getting really cold, so I added a few extra layers, ate some warm food, and headed out for ONLY 46 more miles.

It was somewhere around 27 or 28 hours that things started to get a little crazy. My brain started telling me that people are just not supposed to stay up 2 nights in a row. The caffeine would work for about 20-30 minutes after I drank it, and then I would feel like I was sleepwalking. Sparkle was telling stories, talking, and keeping me awake. But after awhile, she also started feeling the effects of sleep deprivation.

She had never run through the night before, nor had she ever gone over 43 miles! She had run 6 miles earlier in the day with Joan, so she was definitely going to get her PR on this trip.

The combination of sleep deprivation, general fatigue, the “devil wind” and the tricks of the lights all made for a sort of crazy, fun-house experience. The wind especially was relentless. Earlier that week, I had read in one of Brian Tracy’s books: “In any new or difficult venture, the roads are all uphill, and the wind is always in your face.” Ha! Five days earlier it was a metaphor – that night, it was both literal and figurative.

Sparkle ran just a ways ahead of me and would turn around every few minutes to make sure I hadn’t wandered down the side of the levee into the river. The lights were playing tricks on me, and though not true hallucinations (I realized I didn’t know what I was looking at, but I knew it wasn’t what it looked like – make sense?), I was seeing all sorts of strange things.

I saw exotic animals (that is, animals you don’t see along the Mississippi River) like elephants, lions, and bears – which turned out to be hedges in front of a building. (I still think they were topiaries, but Sparkle says no.) I saw little animals skittering across the running path, but the only animal we actually saw was one possum…and he took the stairs down to the water – which was a little weird. (We both saw that so I know it was real.) I also thought I saw my husband Mark, but as it turned out, it was a tree with a light pole behind it. It did look like a person…

It was around 2 am when we thought we saw Mark…and, all of the sudden, Sparkle runs across to the other side of the path and says, “Did you see that man run and jump in the river?” I thought, “Oh, Boy, my pacer is losing it.” Clearly, no one jumped into the river, but that laugh kept us awake and going for quite awhile.

About a half hour later, we’re running along, being rather quiet, and Sparkle says, “How do they keep that balloon suspended in exactly the same place without it moving?” Yikes! Another “moment” for my pacer: It was a water tower!

Night finally turned into morning, and once again, we were renewed. Just as darkness gave way to light, sleepiness turned to wakefulness, and everything just started to look and feel better. Thank goodness that everything in life goes in cycles of up and down, better and worse, progress and regress. Nothing continues indefinitely in the same way.

Sleepwalking gave way to general fatigue, and my singular focus was to get to the finish line. I was going to finish this thing – with plenty of time to spare. Even as we entered the park, nature provided one final “persistence test” just to see how much I really wanted it … I had to practically PASS the finish line and go – I don’t know how far – on that seemingly “never-ending” path to the finish line.

Our crew had been with us from the beginning – some 38 hours earlier. Mark was waiting at the finish line; Sparkle was still with me and had been all night; Mike, Karen, and Lori were still out there with Joan. All the course volunteers, the race director, and various other folks had been available to aid us in any way they could. Although no one can run your miles for you, no one does an event like this alone.

I never doubted that I would finish; however, I also never imagined how hard it would be. Ultimately, nature is kind to us – she never lets us see too far ahead. If we knew what was coming, we might never embark on such an undertaking.

Crossing the finish line, I felt joy, satisfaction, relief, and gratitude. All the bits of wisdom and sayings and words that I strive to live by on a daily basis had come to me in various forms in the past 38.5 hours. All the things I tell other people came to me in the precise moments when I needed them.

Leap and the net will appear. Failure is not an option. Act as if it were impossible to fail, and it will be. It’s not the events, but your reaction, that determines the quality of your life. What is the opportunity in this? Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. Never wish for things to be easier – wish to be stronger and better. How you do anything is how you do everything. It doesn’t have to be FUN to be fun. And, of course, how do you eat an elephant?

It was truly a triumph for me to cross the finish line. The more important thing, however, was not the triumph, but the struggle. The triumph lasts but only a few seconds; the struggle lasted for 38.5 hours.

Every test we pass prepares us for something harder. Difficulties never end – they only change and get tougher as we grow. To succeed in the face of a difficult task, we must become someone we’ve never been before.

Less than 50% of the people who started the solo Rouge-Orleans did not complete the 126.2 miles. Yet no one failed. Success has many faces – all who started the race succeeded in doing whatever it was they were meant to do on that given weekend. They succeeded in running 50 miles or 95 miles or even 110 miles. We all achieved success when we toed the starting line.

Cajun Coyote 100K

December 14th, 2011

When I decided to run the Cajun Coyote 100K in Ville Platte, Louisiana, I figured it would be good training for the Rouge-Orleans in February. I had run the Louisiana Trails 50K in Keithville, Louisiana, last fall, and it had its share of roots and small ups and downs, but no mountains or miles of ascent which I’m accustomed to. So, I thought Ville Platte must be similar to that. I was partially correct: there were roots and ups and downs – just a lot more of everything – and way more technical.

The trail was spectacular – pine forests and swamps with Spanish moss-covered cypress trees – this was classic Louisiana. Only thing missing was alligator sightings – not that I didn’t look for them. I did, however, see about a dozen armadilloes.

Technically speaking, I felt it was a challenging course. With the tons of fallen leaves, it was sometimes tricky to follow the trail. Thank goodness the trees had orange blazes to mark the trail. Without the markings on the trees, it would have felt MORE like I was in the middle of nowhere. There were also flags marking confusing intersections or turns. The course was well-marked for sure.

At night, following the trail was a little more tricky. I had to use a headlamp to watch for the blazes on the trees and a handheld light to watch for roots. Watching for roots was not easy in the day with all the leaves, but it was even harder as it got dark. However, by slowing my pace, I had only one fall in the dark – compared to three falls during the daylight hours.

Speaking of falling down, I managed to make it through the whole first loop without falling – my first spill came around mile 21 or 22 shortly after I had left the aid station. A root was the culprit – I went flying and the side of my hand landed hard on another root. Falling always gets the adrenaline pumping, but this fall also got the swelling going. My hand immediately started to swell, and in the next few miles, it was swollen almost double. I thought I might have broken it, but there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point. I didn’t help it by falling on the same hand two more times in that loop!

So, I decided that I would look at the bright side: 1 – it wasn’t my foot, and 2 – the pain in my hand took my focus off the pain in my legs. Plus, I had something to think about for the next 41 miles besides other common ultra-associated aches and pains.

This little hand episode also gave me a chance to practice 2 of my favorite mantras:

  • What is the opportunity in this?
  • Remember: It doesn’t have to be FUN to be fun!

The night was beautiful in its own way. I love running in the dark, and this was no exception. I use the word “running” loosely – it was more of a shuffle on my last loop. My goal going into this race was to use it as a long training run for the Rouge-Orleans in February, so I hoped to finish between 14-16 hours. I knew I could take it really slow in the last loop and still finish under 16 hours, so I took my time and enjoyed the night. I do have to admit, however, that I was very happy to be finished, and the thought of going out for another loop in the dark on those roots was not that appealing to me.

Race Director Chris Scott, aka the Cajun Dip, and all his helpers put on a terrific event. The aid station volunteers were super. Oh, and the pre-race dinner was the best!

About a week after I got back home, the swelling and bruising on my hand was nearly gone, but it was still bothering me. As it turns out, I did break the 5th metacarpal – that’s the bone on the side of my hand just under the knuckle below my little finger. My hand doc said it was a nice, clean break so no intervention was necessary. His advice to me: “Stay on your feet and off the ground.” Always good advice.

Orcas Island 50K

February 13th, 2011

32.76 miles. 23 miles. 20 miles. 10.7 miles. What do all of these have in common?

They are all tremendous accomplishments by some amazing trail runners.

Last weekend, a gang of Boise area trail runners (from Nampa, Meridian, Middleton, Boise – even Missoula, MT) took a road trip to Orcas Island, Washington, to run a trail 50K. About 1/2 of the folks in our group had never run a 50K before. Some ran the entire distance; some did not. But each of us ran what we were supposed to run for that particular day.

The course was hard as you can see from the elevation map.

But the difficulty of the course did not deter us. It did, however, slow us down a tad – so much that a few did not make the cutoff. Check out that climb from miles 13-15! But we were out there to have fun, and I can’t think of anyone in our gang who didn’t have some fun.

How was it that we all ran what we were supposed to run if the race measured 32.76 (on my gps, that is)?

Let me give you an example. Take the list of numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. What is missing? A normal response would be 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. But I say…nothing is missing. What is there, is there.

So, whether it was 10.7 or 20 or 23 or 32.76 miles, what was run, was run. Nothing was missing.

For those who didn’t go the full distance, I know it is a bit of a disappointment…at first. No one wants a DNF. But rather than “Did Not Finish,” I prefer to go with “Did Nothing Fatal” instead. Every race and training run are opportunities for us to learn, to gain experience, and to use that knowledge to make adjustments.

I “DNFed” in my first 100-mile attempt. Was I disappointed? Yes – for about 30 minutes. Then, after an appropriate, but short, personal pity party (b/c I felt embarrassed and that I let other people down – both which are irrational AND crazy), I was amazed and happy that I had just run 88 miles! Ok, so it wasn’t the full 100, but dang, that’s a long way.

The same holds true for any distance – 10.7 miles out of 32.76 on hilly, rocky, muddy terrain is no small feat, and it should be viewed as a huge achievement.

I believe that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Some may say that if you don’t run the whole distance, then you’re a failure. I say, if you run 20 miles of 32.76 that you didn’t FAIL to run 32.76 miles – you SUCCEEDED in running 20 miles.

So, congratulations to all the Boise Ridge Runners (and one stray) for whatever miles you ran on Orcas Island. Now it’s onward to the next adventure!

Dick Beardsley Marathon Running Camp – Living Life Deliberately

September 15th, 2010

On my way home to Boise from Dick Beardsley’s Marathon Running Camp in Waubun, Minnesota, I captured some thoughts about this year’s camp while they were fresh on my mind. For me, it’s easier to “process” the experiences at camp when camp is over rather than while it’s happening.

One of the first things that comes to me – as a way to describe the experience – is that at camp, we “live deliberately.” I know that quoting Thoreau is cliché, but maybe there’s something about staying in a cabin by a lake that initially makes me think of Walden (even though Thoreau’s “cabin” was about a mile from where he grew up).

And, living deliberately is what we do at camp.

Because we are in such a remote place, we have spotty cell phone coverage, limited wi-fi, and no cable tv in our cabins. We are not totally cut off from the outside world, but for 6 days, we are pretty much unconcerned with what’s going on outside Rainbow Resort.

We immerse ourselves in the actual experiences.

Our first run of the week was an easy 4-mile jaunt through the woods on a grassy trail. It had rained the night before, and there were still a few puddles in some low spots. Our first inclination when we encounter a mud puddle is to try to avoid it. I remember thinking as I plowed through the mud puddles – you don’t really experience the puddle unless your feet get a little wet. And, as I felt the water seep through the toe of my shoe, I actually felt a little more energized.

Later, that night, we were treated to “Dick Beardsley In Concert.” Although Dick probably won’t be taking his concert “on the road,” he writes and sings songs from his heart; and courageously, he shared some deeply personal experiences with us as we sat and listened … totally immersed in his music.

Our second run was a “quality workout” with Coach Bill. Although not an “active” Marine, Bill will tell you that there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine. And, his workouts remind us of his point. Warming up with lunges, squats, pushups, and hovers (to name a few things), we then head out to a flat stretch of road where we warm up again with stride outs before running a timed mile. But that’s not all. After the timed mile, we jog down the road about a mile and a half to “learn how” to and practice hill repeats. Talk about “sucking marrow from the bone” – Thoreau would definitely approve of Coach Bill’s workouts.

Thank goodness for the principle of hard-easy workouts. Our next run was a recovery run – it was back on the serene trails for an easy fun run. You might think that with a group of runners – who “paid” to come to a running camp – that it would be a little difficult to run easy and take walk breaks and chat with their new running partners. But there’s something about being surrounded by people who, like ourselves, not only love to talk about running but also love to experience it. And, I think that even some of the hardcore runners were able to “experience” their runs more deeply in our easy group trail runs than they had before they came to camp.

Since we had a half marathon coming up on Saturday, we didn’t schedule a Friday run. However, in a rare historic event, Joe Henderson led a group of campers on a truly special early morning run.

Friday was especially fun as we had Kathrine Switzer, pioneer and champion of women’s running, spending the day with us. Kathrine was the “legend” this year at the “Running with the Legends” Dick Beardsley Half Marathon.

Race day dawned, and the constant rain from the day before gave way to blue skies and cool temperatures. Campers and coaches all piled into cars and drove 45 minutes to Detroit Lakes for the Dick Beardsley Half Marathon and 5K. We had runners in both events – with one camper running his first half marathon and one running his first race ever! Uplifted by a week of positive energy, camaraderie, and good health, we all “experienced” a gorgeous run around the lake. As each runner finished, we gathered at the sideline to cheer on every single runner who crossed the finish line.

As it came time for camp to end, we started feeling the pull of reality. Six days in the Minnesota woods is a perfect amount of time to spend at a running camp, but it was time now to go home to jobs, families, friends, and running in our own town. Amid hugs and farewells, we know we’ll see each other again this time next year.

One of our former campers aptly said of Dick’s camp…”We came to camp to become better runners; we left camp better people.”

WIFKER/WIFMER – Wild Idaho 50K and 50M Endurance Runs

August 10th, 2010

What has 16,000 and 10,200 feet of climbing, snakes, deer, bears, and 30+ people crazy enough to get up on a Saturday morning in August … to have some fun in the Boise National Forest?

That would be the Wild Idaho 50K and 50-Mile Endurance Runs. Nothing wimpy about these races! WIFKER/WIFMER was the brain child of wild man Trail Thrasher Ben Blessing. And Ben was counting his “blessings” as race day weather turned out perfect. You can check out the official results along with photos of the runners at

I didn’t run it this year, but I arrived on the scene around 3 pm to start my shift at the Skunk Creek Road Aid Station. This was the turnaround for the 50K runners before they headed back DOWN the mountain to the finish line (7.5 miles away). The 50-milers got to come to our station twice, once around mile 33.5 and again around mile 43. Although they looked great the first time we saw them, they were even happier the 2nd time because they only had 7.5 miles more to go.

The climbs can only be described as “heinous,” but the scenery made it worth the climbs. (I can say this because I’ve run the 2nd half of the course – I’m sure the first half was quite beautiful also.) The scenery may not have been much consolation as the runners were dog tired on the climbs, but they all agreed at the finish line that it was indeed a spectacular course, in every sense of the word.

Next to actually running the race, I love working an aid station. I have done enough trail ultras to know how the runners feel, and sometimes, they just need someone who understands.

Ben did a super job as race director. An ultrarunner himself, he created the event from an ultrarunner’s viewpoint – ok, a crazy ultrarunner, but an ultrarunner nonetheless. He recruited family and friends to help support the runners…and by the time the race was over, everyone – runners, their families, and the volunteers – was part of the “family.”

With 30 runners, you know there were many stories. I didn’t get to see all the runners pass through our aid station, but I saw a lot. My friends Donna (with pacer Sparkle) and Heather finished their first 50Ks, and my friend Sam finished his first official 50-miler. Veteran ultrarunner Lynette used WIFMER as a training run in preparation for her 2nd 100-miler, the Bear (rated by Marathon & Beyond as the 5th hardest 100 in the US). Another crazy man, Dennis, rode his bike 90 miles to the race, was the Sweeper for the 50-miler, then rode his bike back home the next morning. Paul and Emily were additional support sweepers helping other runners – both also ran the whole course.

Although I didn’t know all the runners personally, I “know” who they are. They are the folks who keep going when they would really like to stop. They are the folks who believe that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. They are the folks who stop to help a fellow runner who is struggling. They are the folks who fall down 7 times and get up 8. They are the folks who “dial in” a distance and have the perseverance and heart to reach their goal. They are ultrarunners.

Congratulations to ALL the runners in the WIFKER & WIFMER.

Trail Running in the Colorado Rockies

August 3rd, 2010

Last weekend, I went with two friends (Joan and Sparkle) to a trail running camp for women in the Colorado Rockies. We arrived with 2 friends; we left with 15 more. Spending 3 days running trails in the mountains with 17 other women is a definite bonding experience.

Elinor Fish, editor of Trail Runner magazine, was the camp director, as well as an accomplished trail runner herself. In fact, she is running her first 100-miler in a few weeks at Leadville! Nothing like starting with one of the hardest 100s around (I would know a little about that). She had two additional people on staff: Tam, a personal trainer and Xterra champion; and Wendy, a yoga instructor and trail runner. Elinor and her “team” did a spectacular job of planning and executing the camp.

The women at the camp represented 7 states – Idaho, Colorado, California, Washington, Kansas, Nevada, Indiana – and all came with different backgrounds, experiences, and inspiring stories. Many of the women had never run at altitude like we encountered in the Rockies. Our first run was a little challenging, but by day 2, we had somewhat acclimated, and our run was much more comfortable (or at least manageable).

The scenery was breathtaking (and not just because of the altitude), and the comraderie was uplifting. We had healthy meals, yoga sessions, massages, and amazing trail runs – indeed, a magical weekend retreat.

As we all became friends, we already have plans to meet up at trail runs across the country and open invitations for places to stay as we travel to run.

Thanks to Elinor, her team, and to all the other campers for a great mountain trail experience.

Mores Mountain – Definitely Offered “More”

July 11th, 2010

With temperatures soaring into the 90’s today in Boise, Mores Mountain was a pleasant 59 degrees when we started our mountain run. Sparkle and Randy joined me on our run around the backside of the mountain – Randy decided to go 5+ more miles when we “finished” our run to get in a longer run in preparation for his upcoming (first) 50-miler.

I wish that there were a way to capture the scent of the sage and other flowers that carpeted the mountain side. As we ran through waist-high vegetation getting wet from the dew still on the leaves, we inhaled the freshness of the plants. You can capture the scenery in photos, but the smell is something you obviously have to experience.

Originally, we had planned to just run the 9-mile loop, but we took a little detour and added a few miles in the middle to the top of Shafer Butte to take in the even more spectacular views.

I’ve run on the trails at Bogus Basin a number of times, but this was my first trek around the back side of Mores Mountain. I know I sound like a broken record, but we are so fortunate  to have trails like this practically out our back door. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

To my trail running friends…Thanks

July 6th, 2010

In a span of 8 days, I ran 4 different trails with 4 different groups of people…all within 2 hours of Boise. The cool thing about that is that we had all ages, all speeds, all running “together.”

It started out a little over a week ago when my friend Christie proposed that we go for a long trail run to support Randy who is running his first 50-miler in July. She posted it on Facebook, and about 8 of us got together for a run in the nearby Boise foothills. Our only “live” meeting for some of us was a couple of months ago when we all ran the Weiser 50K. Prior to that, most of us didn’t even know each other. This was the first time this particular group had ever run together…and what a great run it was. The speedier ones ran ahead and waited at various spots while the rest of us caught up to them. This was not a race – it was a group trail run – so no one was truly concerned about time.

Later that week, my friend Donna who is training for the WIFKER (Wild Idaho Fifty Kilometer Endurance Run) asked me if I wanted to drive up past Crouch, Idaho, and run part of the WIFKER trail. Sure, I said, so we recruited Sparkle, and the 3 of us headed out about 430 pm and drove 2 hours to do a 9.5 mile run. We were lucky enough to see a rubber boa on the trail within the first 5 minutes and got its picture. We later learned that this a seldom seen snake – and the sighting was something very cool.

My next run for the week took a hardy group of 6 of us up to the Boise National Forest NE of Idaho City…about a hour an a half from Boise. What a spectacular run it was. We climbed 2 summits up to the Fire Tower lookouts – for a total of 4000+ feet of climbing in about 18 miles. The views were unbelievable (as you can see from the photos).

And, finally, as is tradition of the 4th of July, the Boise Y Striders get together for a trail run up to Stack Rock above Bogus Basin. About 20 of us hit the trails above Boise and trekked 8 miles to see Stack Rock.

So what’s the big deal, you wonder. They’re just trail runs. Yes, the scenery was some of the best Idaho has to offer close to Boise. But it was the people who made the runs special. It wasn’t about who was the fastest, or who can run a 3-hour marathon or a 6-hour marathon. We are all just folks who love running on trails, and in every instance that is what brought us together.

Sure we had some fast runners, but no one cared who ran or walked, and people who might not ordinarily run together were running on the trails side by side…stopping to take pictures and marveling at the sights.

Although I love solitary running, last week was one of the best weeks of running I’ve ever had in a long time.

To all my trail running friends – Thanks.

“Good Morning!” on the Boise Greenbelt

June 29th, 2010

The Boise Greenbelt is about 25 miles of asphalt path along the Boise River – more than that really if you add up the distance on both sides of the river. Winding under streets, it’s great because you never have to get on the street at all. Although trail running is my preference, the greenbelt is 1/3 mile from my house, and I enjoy the river and the shady spots the greenbelt provides.

When I’m out on the trails in the foothills alone, I rarely run across other runners – I usually see more mountain bikers than runners. But when I do, I always say hey or some other greeting, and rarely do I greet someone without some response.

So, yesterday morning, since I hadn’t run the greenbelt in awhile, I decided I’d say “Good Morning” to every single person I saw – kids, bikers, runners, walkers. And, I saw a bunch of folks.

I’m happy to report that the response was good – even better when I threw in “Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” I would estimate that about 90% of the people I spoke to responded. There were a few with headphones on who might not have heard me – although I know they saw me because we made eye contact, and I waved. And, there were a few kids on bikes who flew by me and didn’t respond.

There was one group of high school kids (probably a cross-country team) running in small groups (some with headphones), but every one of them said “Good Morning.” Even a couple of guys who appeared to be homeless (they looked kind of like they were drunk, too) said hey when I passed them.

I have to believe that the people who didn’t respond probably didn’t hear me or were in a “zone.” Otherwise, my greetings were hard to ignore, and in my fantasy world of making people’s day a little brighter with just a “Good Morning,” maybe they passed along the good cheer to someone else.

Mike’s RAAM Journey – How you do anything is how you do everything

June 14th, 2010

Before RAAM, we read books, we watched videos, we read blogs of other RAAM riders.
Before RAAM, we studied elevation maps, we studied the terrain, we studied reports on hydration, nutrition, muscle fatigue, and sleep deprivation.
We thought we knew what RAAM was.
We thought we knew how hard RAAM was.
We thought we knew what we were getting into.
We knew nothing.

There is a reason this is considered “the toughest bike race in the world.” I have seen some really tough folks, but Mike is by far the toughest person I’ve ever known. Mike gave this ride everything he had and then some.

You’ve heard people say, “You just had to be there.” I gotta tell you – This is one of those times – You just had to be there. Even the elevation maps that look impossible don’t tell the whole story.

A fellow RAAM rider commented on one of Mike’s blog posts that the way you train for RAAM is by trying it. Another said that his trek of 743 miles was his RAAM training ride. Will Mike attempt RAAM again? Maybe. We are all more enlightened…we all know a little more. Every day, every night, every minute at RAAM is an education for the rider and the crew.

Mike didn’t finish RAAM, and in the official stats he is listed as a DNF (did not finish). In my book, that stands for “Did Nothing Fatal.”

Some people might say Mike “failed” to finish RAAM. Technically, that is true. But he finished his own first RAAM…all 743 miles of it…and that was just part of his successful RAAM ride.

– Mike was a success when he raised $30,000 for the Sanford Cardiovascular Research Center and the Dick Beardsley Foundation.
– Mike was a success when 13 people who believed in him and his cause were honored to join his crew.
– Mike was a success when he was waiting on that podium in Oceanside at the start – before he pedaled his first stroke.
– Mike was a success when he rode 743 miles.

How you do anything is how you do everything. Mike rode RAAM like he lives his life.

Jack London wrote, “I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Mike gave 100% on every inch of those 743 miles.

It was an honor to serve Mike on this piece of his journey. Should he decide someday to go back to RAAM for another attempt, I will be the first one to sign on as his crew.

Thanks, Mike – we are all better people for having been on this leg of your journey with you.