View from the Back

BOP, BOP, BOPPin’ Along!

When asked if I would write an article about my BOP experiences and was told it should be 300-400 words, I thought that just naming all the people that I met during these experiences would take up that many words. If I have left you out of this article, please know I have not left you out of my thoughts.

First, a little background…after last year’s Missoula Half Marathon, I showed up for a Sunday morning run outside of the Runner’s Edge. I met Connie and Glenn. They wanted to go 13 plus miles. They were doing the Galloway method of Run-Walk-Run. I was in no way prepared for a 13 plus mile run and only had a paltry bottle of water with me, but I decided to give it a try. If I had known they were going to run that far, I would not have shown up. The run turned out pretty well and it was the farthest distance I had ever attempted and completed. I liked it, but was not going to become a RWRer as I considered myself a run-runner.  On the drive home I reflected on the happy accomplished feeling that we shared following the run. At this point I was really a BOP-er and did not realize it. I continued my run-running and did not think too much about RWR for quite some time.

Then in October, someone posted on Facebook that the Kalamazoo Marathon was looking for a runner from Montana to fill their 50-state challenge. If you were first from your state to sign up for the full marathon, you got a free pair of shoes and your entry fee reimbursed. The idea of being first at something was quite appealing because I knew my running abilities would not get me that particular prize. So I signed up. I do not know what I was thinking because moments after finishing each of two half marathons, I said that a full marathon was out of the question. However, the free stuff had too much power over me. I signed up and yes, I was the first (and maybe the only) participant from Montana.

I knew I needed a group to run with in order to train for this May marathon. Eva and Tim suggested that maybe the Galloway training class would work for me. The timing of the class was a little later than I had hoped. I started on my own in December, joined the training class at the end of January and my Galloway transformation began. Following every training run, I thought about my new mantra: leave no one behind, it’s a journey not an event, and finish smiling.

The Kalamazoo Marathon was a resounding success for me with many family members in attendance to help me reach my goal. After having such a great experience with 26.2 miles, I decided to sign up for the Pengelly Double Dip. If I could do 26, I certainly could do 13 with a little bit of elevation thrown into the mix. Then, I acutely remembered a group trail run in January where we did part of the PDD. When we finally got to the Crazy Canyon Road section, I announced to everyone that the answer to the burning question of would I do the PDD was successfully answered and the answer was, NO! That was before Galloway and before a marathon.

We returned to Missoula the first week of June and I had a few days to prepare before race day. The morning was crisp and beautiful. I saw many of my fellow Gallowayans in attendance. The gun went off and so did we. Right at about mile 6, almost at the same point where I declared I would never do the PDD in January, I told my running buddies that I was not going to finish. My friend, Sam, did not even try to talk me out of it so I must have looked like I needed to quit. Sam, does not let anybody quit. Then a relatively easy half mile on the route, helped me change my mind. I was thinking many things. What would Heather do (eat hills for breakfast)?  What would Jeff do (smile and keep on keepin’ on)? Also, if I did not finish this year, then I would have to sign up again next year and I was already almost halfway done. I thought about the RWR and knew that it was okay to slow down and take walk breaks. The pressure was off as I was already last at this point.

While going up University Mountain, I modified the RWR to WSW (walk sit walk) and used my interval timer set to 30:30. I took my sitting breaks as opportunities to take pictures of all the balsamroot in bloom. Finally, I reached the highest point in the route and had a much appreciated ice cold libation from three of the friendliest aid station folks ever. They asked me if I wanted some water. My answer was “No, I came for the margaritas” and that got a good laugh out of them. My attitude was really good at this point. Being last is not so bad and there was no other option.  After a friendly chat for a few minutes, I took off for the rest of the run. The sweepers had caught up with me and I knew I should get going. The back of Sentinel was a piece of cake. I was able to keep up the RWR for the rest of the race. I got to the Kim Williams Trail and knew that I would finish. I was feeling quite elated at this point. I always like to run-run at the end when I see the finish line inflatable. I knew I should be seeing it, but alas it had been taken down. I did see the timing mats though and they were still working. The finish line was empty, but I was not. The guy that came in before me (by about 20 minutes), came over with two of his friends and congratulated me. The timing gal printed out my time sticker. Kevin filled my water bottle. Pam presented me with the Last Best Finisher medal the next day.

The view from the back was quite an uplifting experience. I am so glad that I did not quit. Without the positive confidence building experiences of the Galloway training class, I would never have attempted the Pengelly Double Dip. It remains the physically hardest thing I have ever done and probably will for some time to come or at least until next June.

by Amy Lewis

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