New Balance Running ShoesLast year I became a bit more dedicated to my running interests. Living in Helena provides plenty of opportunity for my feet to hit the pavement (and dirt). Even though Helena is the capitol city for Montana, traffic is relatively light and I’ve laced up the shoes after work and have run from one end of downtown to the other (usually 5-6 miles). We have an extensive and growing trail system, hills in town and mountains surrounding the Valley. There’s a city park downtown (Mount Helena City Park) that’s a good 1,000 feet in elevation climb that makes the perfect getaway after work with a great view over the entire city and valley. There’s not too many cities that offer that opportunity.

People who don’t run often think I’m a bit crazy for pursuing the activity. I’m no champion runner, though I did win my class in a 5k race last year. For me, it’s an opportunity to clear my head, to balance having a desk job and working on the road. Seeing how few steps I normally take during a day at the office (thanks to my new Jawbone UP24) is quite the motivation to get moving after work. It’s also a great opportunity to see the landscape in perspectives that you’d never see it otherwise (unless of course, you are horseback).

In 2014, I participated in my first 10k races (ran up Buffalo Jump near Ulm, and trotted up the steep mountain just outside of Pony). There was a fun 5k through the hills just south of town (Prickly Pear Land Trust Don’t Fence Me In Run) and joined in my first ever Relay Race in the 205-mile Ragnar Relay in Napa Valley. A wreck in June certainly set me back on my goals, but this year show promise for more great runs.

I’ve already registered for my first half marathon. The second weekend in June is the Yellowstone Half Marathon in West Yellowstone. The course is mostly trail and has one good climb. Though I’ve never completed a 13.1 mile route, I’ve keep up the miles on the treadmill this winter and feel confident I’ll be ready by the time June gets here. It should make for some great trail scenery.

Running in Helena provides quite the view just minutes from Downtown.
Running in Helena provides quite the view just minutes from Downtown.

I already have a few other races on the calendar as well. I plan to do the same May race here in Helena, but I’ll go for the 12k route after doing the 5k last year. And I’ll plan on doing another Ragnar Relay with Team Beef. This year, the Montana Running Ranchers team has picked the Northwest Passage event in Washington to attend in mid-July. That’ll definitely be fun seeing and I’ll get to check another state off my list.

So, I have races pegged for May, June and July. We’ll have to see if I can fill out the calendar with a few more races, keeping them as budget-conscious decisions. Any suggestions for keeping up the motivation or some new Montana routes I ought to try out?