AUGUST 18 & 19, 2018

Running to Alaska: Stacy Bolyard

by BWLR Team

My First Year as a Runner

In college I was a traveler, adrenaline seeker, and had a goal of hiking the Appalachian Trail before I got ‘old’. Post college, I was a passionate soccer player for eight years on three adult recreational teams, and had too many ankle and knee sprains to keep count. With the amount of time spent on ‘injury’, my weight bounced up and (not so) down 10-15 pounds a season. By October 2013, I was 75 pounds heavier than I was in college. My teammates and I had completed a half marathon the year before as good off season training. Our evening runs usually concluded with pizza and beer which were a ton of fun, but I knew something needed to change. I could sprint 50 meters on the pitch against any guy or girl. Anything longer wasn’t necessary and running a mile or further was pointless to me.

October 19, 2013 the ladies on our team met up for a local half marathon. The previous weeks had been spent recovering from a sideways blow to my back. I could only run ¼ mile and no faster than 13:30 minutes per mile. I went home and decided A) I was not allowing myself to live like this anymore. B) I was going to get back in shape, be strong, and be happy. C) I was going to accomplish something ridiculous to kick off the ‘new me’. Rock and Roll Arizona was not far so I challenged myself to “0 to Marathon in 90 days.” I was motivated and insane from the beginning!

Stacy Bolyard and running friends

October 20, 2013 I officially started moving with a purpose. I studied running form, nutrition, cross training, and strategy. I followed my hand written training plan with a 6:35 goal time and put my body (and knee) through hell. A couple long runs resulted in knee pops and tightness so bad I limped back to the car in tears. Each time I thought to myself “How bad do you want it?” and that motivated me enough to keep fighting for more. I ran for 1 minute, walked for 4. Eventually the ratio changed, and the speed got a little faster. I was going to do this – there was no B goal – only the A goal – FINISH!

January 19, 2014 I completed my first marathon. I took it easy not knowing if my knee could handle the full distance and finished in 6:17:17. February 2, 2014 I traveled to the Surf City Marathon. A speedy friend (and Marathon Maniac) was doing the full and I had registered for the half. I found the race director at the expo and convinced her to let me enter the sold-out full to qualify for Marathon Maniacs. My friend caught me and said “Stacy – did you just sign up for the full?!?!” He had a slight concern to his voice but the biggest smile on his face. He knew just as much as I – the marathon distance is a journey that cannot be mastered. There will always be something to focus on, change, improve, or fine tune. It’s a beautiful balance of so many intricate parts and I was addicted.

The next two months were full of training harder, becoming smarter, and living more like an athlete. Being around other runners was the best thing I did – having a network of support and information really stepped up the game. I stopped playing soccer so I had the weekends (and energy) to train. The injuries disappeared and I was able to put forth more effort in each stride. I joined a women’s triathlon group (Tucson Tri Girls) and started cycling with some of the most amazing women I have ever met. A new track group formed (Tucson Runners Project) and I didn’t miss a single session. I was the slowest but learned valuable tips. The work was hard, the nutrition required dedication, and if I got lazy on any part of conditioning, it quickly showed. I made such improvement but had much further to go.

In March and April I ran 5 races in 4 weeks (three half marathons, a 17k, and a 5k) to push my limits. I was running faster and longer than before and I was ready for another marathon! May 4th I ran the OC Marathon with a finish time of 5:52. I had dropped 25 minutes in 3 months. A month and a half later, I finished Rock n Roll Seattle in 5:38 and dropped another 14 minutes. Three months later, and a downhill course, I finished the Cottonwood Marathon in 5:28. I’m not fast, I’ve had some hot and hilly races in-between, but hard work and dedication show long term results.

July 19th I said farewell to Tucson, AZ and hello to Denver, CO. It’s been a wild three months settling into a new career, house, elevation, running group, cycling routes, and lifestyle – but I am ecstatic to be living in such an amazing city. October 19th I celebrated my first ‘Runniversary’ by completing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon. I took a few photos with the Marathon Maniacs and Achilles International groups I belong to. I also said hello to members of my run club –Rocky Mountain Road Runners – at the mile 11 water stop. From the industrial construction mess to Washington Park’s tree lined paths - every beautiful mile of the course was a reflection of my year long journey of becoming a runner, an athlete, and the ‘me’ I want to be. My life is enriched beyond measure thanks to running and the friendships, destinations, and lessons along the way.

I still take my soccer cleats on the pitch for pick-up games, though I’m a little more cautions. I have a long term goal of hiking at least 5 of the 14’s (mountain peaks above 14,000 ft. elev.). To date I have lost 65 of the 75 pounds but am more focused on being strong, and at a weight my body performs best. I have dropped almost 12 minutes off my 5k and 30 minutes off my half marathon since March. My one mile time trial in January was 13:30, August 10:08, and October 9:35. I’ve logged over 1400 miles of training. None of this is easy, but all of this is worth it!

This winter I plan to focus on quality miles, building speed over a longer time threshold, and continue to grow my friendships that have changed my life for the better. January 18, 2015 I will run The Louisiana Marathon to celebrate 1 year as a marathoner. If all goes as planned, this will be marathon #20. My goals for 2015 include ‘racing’ a marathon for a new personal record, running a 5k in <30, training for a trail ultra, and continuing to support the running community.

To anyone out there – find your passion, your dream, your goal, and GO ALL IN! Whether you want to run a mile, or take an art class, or bake the best chili at the county fair – do what makes you happy and LIVE YOUR LIFE. Surround yourself by those who do what you want to do. They were beginners as well. To anyone hesitant of taking a leap into the unknown (and amazing potential), just ask yourself “How bad do you want it?”

2014 – My First Year of Running January 19th - Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon (1) February 2nd – Surf City Marathon (2) March 15th – Irish 17k March 23rd – Oro Valley Half Marathon March 29th – Force 11 Trail Half Marathon April 4th – Redneck Run 5k April 19th – Peoria Half Marathon May 4th – OC Marathon (3) May 17th – Sedona MS150 Mile Cycle challenge with Team LemmonHeads, Tucson, AZ June 1st – Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon (4) June 21st – Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon (5) July 27th – The San Francisco Marathon (6) August 10th – Beaver Creek Trail Half Marathon August 17th – Revel Rockies Marathon (7) August 30th – Pocatello Marathon (8) September 13th – Cottonwood Marathon (9) September 20th – Run Then Wine Marathon (10) September 27th – Monument Marathon (11) September 28th – Snowmass Trail Half Marathon October 12th – Chicago Marathon (12) October 19th – Rock n Roll Denver Marathon (13) November 2nd - The New York City Marathon, guide for Achilles International (14) November 8th – Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon (15) November 15th – Revel Canyon Azusa Marathon (16) November 16th – Rock n Roll Vegas Marathon, my first double (17) November 23rd – Route 66 Marathon (18) December 7th – Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon (19) January 18th – Louisiana Marathon (20) – One year of Running

2015 Athletic Schedule includes Louisiana, Miami, St. Louis, Casper, Missoula, and State #30 - Alaska.

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