Thursday, June 25, 2009

Free Gifts

I was still catching my breath from our fifteen-mile run last Sunday when someone commented on the ear buds dangling around my neck. They’re blue, with earpieces that are sort of elongated — not round like the ones Apple sends out with its iPods. I prefer them on account of they fall out less when I’m running.

“Where did you get them?” my fellow trainee wanted to know.

I thought for a minute, and then laughed at the irony: They were actually a gift of the Parliament cigarette company. I quit smoking back in October after ten years as a smoker and one long summer of fits and starts. [Full disclosure: I’ve actually fallen off the wagon a couple times since May, but these were momentary indiscretions and regrettable.] Parliament used to send me all kinds of crazy free gifts. Earbuds, cool cigarette cases, CD organizers. Once they sent these flashing blue electric LED lights shaped like ice cubes. I’ve never actually been to a party where I thought carrying a glowing blue beverage would up my cool factor, but they work really well for lighting a dark tent.

I always told myself that I’d quit smoking when it started affecting my ability to do the things I like to do. Which is pretty moronic, when you think about it, because how would I know? Not long after quitting, though, I found myself doing things with relative ease that used to be a lot tougher — things like biking all the way up Pattee Canyon and tasting my food. So training for the half-marathon seemed like the next logical step. Of course, it’s since become much more for me than just another non-smoking challenge — it’s the culmination of months of work, as well as something convivial, a kind of big aerobic street party celebrating a town that I love.

I do miss the periodic monthly surprises from my peeps at Parliament, though. Finding an unexpected, icy blue package in the mail every couple of months was always a nice surprise. To console myself, a short list of fun things I’ve acquired thanks to my marathon training:

* Sweet Run Wild Missoula shirt, upping the number of non-cotton articles of running-wear in my possession to two.

* Boxer briefs. As a lifelong boxers man, I’d never before shimmied myself into a pair of these bad boys until running-shorts season came around. It’s like having an Ace bandage wrapped around your crotch.

* Blisters. I’ve always said that it’s good to really toughen up your feet early in the summer — lay down that nice, thick layer of calluses. At this rate, I’m gearing up to walk across a bed of hot coals sometime this August.

Not a bad haul, all things considered, and I’ve still got a couple of weeks to go. Maybe next year, Run Wild Missoula will consider handing out ear buds.

- Brian Kevin

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Missoula Marathon Takes Big Strides In Becoming A Greener Race

The Missoula Marathon, since its inception, has tried to be conscience of the environmental impact is has on the communities through which its routes pass. For this year’s race, those efforts of becoming a more environmentally friendly race were drastically increased.

Being already the largest Marathon in Montana, the Missoula Marathon, even as it grows larger, will continue to improve on its carbon footprint and the environmental impact a race of such a magnitude can create.

We are working diligently to make improvements, and this year, we proudly introduce true, ECO friendly, high-end, technical shirts for our finishers made of bamboo charcoal and/or recycled polyester. The bamboo was grown and the t-shirts were dyed and printed in the U.S.A. So, as a fun fact, instead of finding your plastic bottles in the landfills, you now will be able to wear super soft, “10 2-liter plastic bottles” during your next training run or race. We didn’t stop there. The dye for the shirts and the ink for the print are environmentally friendly as well; they are water-based, non-toxic, lead-free, and contain no heavy metals.

The same applies to our official posters and fliers; those were printed on 100% or partially recycled post consumer waste paper, and printed with soy-based inks.

Also starting this year, we will separate garbage from recyclable materials at: the Expo, the Half and Full Marathon Starting Lines, throughout the courses at every aid station, at the finish area, the food area after the finish, and at Caras Park, at which the Medal Ceremonies and other post-race activities will take place.

A big thank you goes out to our post-race food provider, The Good Food Store, by providing: cups, plates, bowls, and any other plastic or paper ware that is made out of bio-degradable corn-based plastic and/or recycled paper.

Our race bags are also made out of partially recycled plastic and are re-usable.

The three leaders of the Half and Full Marathon will be accompanied by bicyclists, not motorized vehicles.

All of the port-a-potties which you’ll find before, during and after the races are free of formaldehyde, and provide an ECO friendly hand sanitizer.

The Runner’s Edge is starting a recycling program for your old running shoes. This program not only takes your shoes so that they don’t end up in the land fills, but will also benefit great causes by either recycling the materials for various projects or by distributing the shoes to individuals in need of a running shoe.

We will not give out plastic bottles which cannot or should not be re-used. However, we will provide filtered and treated drinking water at the Expo, before, definitely during, and after the races. We encourage you to bring your own re-usable water bottle/s to the Expo to stay hydrated.
Our volunteers will be provided with “green” shirts, similar to the finisher shirts, and with re-usable drinking bottles – made out of recycled plastic and are PBA-free.

Be so good and do your part of making the Missoula Marathon an enjoyable and green race experience for yourself and those around you. Please dispose of any gel wrappers, bottles, or any other garbage you may want to shed yourself of during the race at any of the many aid stations throughout to race. Keep in mind, volunteers will pick up your garbage, and it will become more than cumbersome if the volunteers have to collect those items farther than in their immediate areas of the aid stations. Also, we are privileged to be able to run through many neighborhoods, so let’s not trash the front yards of those friendly people who will wave at and cheer for us and have their water sprinklers running for us.

We hope you’ll enjoy our efforts of creating a more environmentally-friendly Marathon race experience for you.

The Missoula Marathon is wishing all of you runners, friends and families a fantastic race and a fun-filled marathon weekend, and is certain that you’ll leave with many great impressions of our beautiful state and city.

Thank you for choosing the Missoula Marathon as one of your races this year!

Vo von Sehlen
Director, Green Efforts
Missoula Marathon

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

HuHot Mongolian Grill and Referee Photo Team Up to Provide Photos for Missoula Marathon

The Missoula Marathon, HuHot Mongolian Grill and Referee Photo have combined efforts to provide a free photo to every finisher of the 2009 Missoula Marathon coming up Sunday, July 12.

“We wanted HuHot to become a sponsor of the Missoula Marathon because the corporate headquarters are here in Missoula and we view this as a healthy event for the community,” explained Mary Halloran, VP of Creative Development and one of several partners in the family-owned company. “We wanted to do something creative that the athletes would appreciate – something that fits and is unique to the Missoula Marathon.”

Rick O’Connor of Referee Photo had the idea of providing a photo to every athlete that finishes the Marathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay or Kids Marathon. “All we needed was the right sponsor,” said Jennifer Straughan, Race Director. “I was very hopeful when Mary called and said she wanted to find a way to work with us that the photos might be a possibility.”

When athletes cross the finish line they will have the option of stopping at the HuHot photo booth. Referee Photo takes the photos and has the ability to print them out right there on the spot, so the athlete can take the photo at that time. Marathon and Half Marathon participants will receive individual photos, Marathon Relay teams will have a team photo, and Kids Marathon participants will have photos taken in groups.

Athletes will also have the option of purchasing any other photos from Referee Photo as they are posted on-line after the event.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Missoula Marathon Registrations Span 5 Countries & 42 States

The Missoula Marathon will have runners and walkers from 42 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a couple dozen runners from Canada and one each from Belgium, Bermuda, and England (Cambridgeshire, to be exact).

As you might expect, the majority of entrants are from Montana, but Washington has at least 175 entered, and other western states are well
represented: Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado.

Interestingly, several states, including Illinois, Florida, New York, and Virginia, all have more runners entered - at this point - than closer states like Colorado.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Time Do the Walkers Start?

Not surprisingly, there is some confusion as to what time the walkers start for both the Full and Half Marathons. This is the first year we’ve done Marathon Walkers on the full course, so it’s added a little twist to things. I’ll tackle it one at a time and see if it helps.

Half Marathon Walkers start at 6 am just like everyone else doing the Half Marathon. There is no early start of any kind for the Half Marathon. You don’t even need to register as a “walker” for the Half Marathon because everyone starts at the same time. Everyone in the Half Marathon has 6 ½ hours to finish the course.

Marathon Walkers start at 5 am. Marathon Walkers MUST REGISTER as Marathon Walkers because that’s how we know you’re starting at 5 am. Why do you care? Because if you don’t register as a walker, and you start at 6 am like everyone else, and you finish in 7 ½ hours which is 1:30, the finish line will be closed… shut down… gone… and you won’t get an official time. When you register as a Marathon Walker, you will need to be there right at 5 am because whether you start at 5 or 5:10 or 5:20, you will be marked down as starting at 5 am.

We are very excited about having the course open long enough for the full marathon course this year, and are thrilled to have so many trainees and people participating as walkers, whether it be the Half Marathon or the Full Marathon.

Thank you for walking the Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brian's Blog: Dead Air

A terrible thing happened to me last week. Because of a month-long Wednesday night commitment, I’ve been running our Wednesday distances all by lonesome on Thursdays. I’d gotten a late start, and I was running on the bike trail towards a killer Missoula sunset when suddenly, my whole world ground to a halt. My iPod shut off. Silence. No batteries. No music. No blinky blinky.

I can’t remember if I stopped or just slowed to a crawl — it’s all kind of blurry now. I don’t think I cried, but I began hyperventilating almost immediately. Oh my god oh my god oh my god, I thought. What do I do now? There’s no way I can keep running. Is it even physically possible for one to move one’s legs in a jogging motion without the Hold Steady blaring in one’s eardrums? Will a person’s footfalls actually coalesce into some kind of steady and predictable pattern without Yo La Tengo cranked up to eleven and setting the pace? I had heard these things were possible, but the reports always seemed to me about as credible as a Bigfoot sighting.

When I talk to friends and acquaintances about marathon training these past few months, I’m repeatedly asked, “What’s your pace? How fast are you running?” Answer: My pace is exactly as fast as the song currently playing on my iPod. When TV on the Radio pops up with an uptempo number, I speed up. When the shuffle gods give me Aimee Mann, I slow down. Once I accidentally dialed up a Bonnie Prince Billy ballad, and I almost had to sit down in the middle of the Kim Williams Trail.

Music is absolutely essential to running, as far as I’m concerned. Actually, one of the things I like most about our Sunday morning run is that it gives me a couple hours each week where I can really concentrate on listening to music. When everything’s clicking — when I hit the zone on mile seven or eight and things are going really great — then running feels less to me like an athletic pursuit and more like linear dancing. I sing along — mostly silently, I think. I play air drums. Shamelessly. Music, as far as I’m concerned, is as essential a fuel as carbohydrates, water, or that neon slime that comes in the tiny, bright envelopes.

What I learned last Thursday is that A) it is indeed technically possible to run without the Hold Steady, but it’s not much fun and I wouldn’t recommend it, and B) I make some terrible and disgusting noises while I’m running. My god. Never again do I want to hear all that panting and snorting and whatever the hell that was I was doing with my throat. I’m repulsive! So no more leaving the iPod in the car. No more forgetting to plug the dock in the night before. The French composer Claude Debussy said that music is actually the silence between the notes. Obviously, Debussy was not a runner.