It’s been a busy Spring putting in the miles, both on the trails and pavement. I’m right at a month from my first marathon and so far so good. The events surround a race day (of any distance) and camaraderie at the start/finish line are a great opportunity to meet new folks and often start a few new conversations triggered by my Team Beef jersey. This also makes it difficult to say no to participating in a local race just about every weekend. A 10k next town over? Sure, why not!? (This is part 1 of 2. Come back tomorrow for the second half.)

Run to the Pub Half Marathon – Bozeman

The streets of Bozeman were filled with green for the Run to the Pub!
The streets of Bozeman were filled with green for the Run to the Pub!

This early season race is a popular event for several thousand runners – new and experienced – to gather in the Gallatin Valley and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The weather can be a little dicey in Bozeman in mid-March, but this year was great with plenty of sun and temperatures in the 60s. I completed the half marathon and was doing a great job of pacing toward a PR through the first half. Then I ran into the wall of 10k runners/walkers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad to see so many people turn out for their first 10k with motivation to get moving outside. But the Half Marathon and 10k start times could have been a bit more spread out. I was easily in the top 15% of finishers and ended up encountering an entire wall of 10k walkers trotting side by side across the entire road. At least have the awareness of basic race etiquette if you’re going to walk 10-wide down the course and faster people are trying to pass and treat aid stations like a hangout at the local pub crawl. Just be courteous of others trying to move along swiftly.

That being said, the crew always does a great job of putting on the Bozeman series of races and did a fantastic job of managing this crowd that filled the streets of Downtown Bozeman at the finish line. Runners were provided a quality swag bag (shirt, socks, pint glass, coupons for local businesses) for this large race. Overall, I’d say this race turned out well. I’m becoming much more comfortable with the half marathon distance and being able to enjoy the race and camaraderie with fellow racers along the course. I finished the Half Marathon (my 5th) in 1:43:41 (7:55/mi).

Expedition 12k Trail Run – Lewis and Clark Caverns

Tobacco Root Mountains as seen from the Expedition 12k course
Tobacco Root Mountains as seen from the Expedition 12k course

I love the trails. Let me say that again – I love running on trails, getting lost on dirt, in the trees and racing down hillsides on fast switchbacks on technical terrain. Sometimes that rush of adrenaline comes back to bite me in the form of road rash after rocks and roots jump out to get me. But I still love it.

This race, hosted by Bozeman Running Company, is a low-key trail run which takes place at the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park near Cardwell, Montana. I expected a decent climb on rocky trails – that’s exactly what we got. Even though it snowed the day before the race, the trails were still dry and the snow-capped Tobacco Root mountains made an awesome backdrop for this event capped at 100-runners.

I know I shouldn’t be pushing it leading up to a marathon, but it was great to get out on the trails (not killing myself on the uphills) and enjoying the downhill just enough to end up with a few good scrapes at the end. It was a great small-crowd atmosphere with some strong trail runners to learn from and a giant pot of chili at the finish. I’ll definitely be signing up for this race again in 2017. I finished the 12k in 1:21:00 (10:48/mi – 1,600 feet elevation change).

Superfun(d) Run 10k – Bonner

Team Beef representing at the finish!
Team Beef representing at the finish!

Up to this point, I had never paced with someone during a race. A rancher from White Sulphur Springs who will be joining our Montana Running Ranchers relay team in Hawaii this year, asked me to join him on this run near Missoula. The Superfun(d) Run is hosted by Run Wild Missoula (my first race with them) and made for a good Saturday morning run in a new place. Until it started raining.

The run takes place on the bike path starting from the small town of Bonner. Being part of Earth Day celebrations, it seems like the perfect spot to sport a few Team Beef jerseys. The course is a fairly flat and easy out and back. Light rain fell steady throughout the race and we were soaked by the finish. While there, we met some great folks and I had a good time pacing with another runner for the first time. I’m normally a solo runner, but definitely want to do that again! We finished the 10k in 53:14:42 (8:35/mi).

That’s just the first few runs to get me through the month of April. Be sure to see my next post tomorrow as I lead up to the final month of marathon training and run into Montana’s Governor on the trails during a race in Helena.

By the way, if you want to learn more about Team Beef, visit the national Team Beef Facebook page or contact your state’s Beef Council office. Of course, we’d love to have you as part of Team Beef Montana. And you can follow our Montana Running Ranchers relay team on Facebook.

The Team Beef is funded by the Beef Checkoff. My expenses for the Marine Corps Marathon and related Team Beef activities in D.C. are covered as part of the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative. As always, my thoughts are my own and I’m proud to be supported by programs I strongly believe in. #TeamBeef #BeefFuelsMCM

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