For the third time this Spring, I covered 13.1 miles running in preparation for my first official half marathon on June 13 in West Yellowstone. Sure, you’re supposed to build up to the race day distance, but I find it much more satisfying to be prepared for what lies ahead.

Besides, training led me to the first half marathon distance at the end of March. No need to hold it off! And now that I’ve reached this mark, I’ve seriously considered going much farther.

running helena montana dirt road

The more I hit the trails and gravel roads, the more boring it becomes to pound the pavement and sidewalks. There’s just something about getting lost in the trail and changes in terrain and climb that makes me enjoy the challenge.

This week we’ve finally warmed up to the point of staying in the upper 40s at night and I’ve been getting easy 5ks in before heading to work. The Valley has turned very green this week. It’s been raining most nights which makes the morning run that much more relaxing.

Running in a desert

But by raining, I mean just enough to drip off the roof. Heavy rains here in Montana are defined much differently than in the South. And the Helena Valley continues to be much drier than other parts of the state.

A desert is defined as receiving 10 inches of annual moisture or less. The northern end of the Helena Valley averages just over 11 inches each year. There’s no telling how many storms I watch roll through the south end of town and completely miss us, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number be lower for my house.

That’s probably why everything is just a patchwork of largely sagebrush and cactus where the irrigation fails to fall. But that’s kinda what I like about this place. The longer dirt roads on this end of town just let me take off and run, with no traffic.

The only thing that concerns me is when I start running into the tree line as my runs get longer… how close do those wolves get to town at night?

Running gives me too much time to think…


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