Sunday, June 24, 2018

Introduction for BigBearRunning

Before my transformation.
My name is Steve Bowling and I am a beginner trail runner pushing boundaries; and now, pushing myself harder and further has not only become something that I do, it's become a way of life.

To begin this epic tail, we need to backup 3 years to a day in January 2015 when I looked in the mirror and though to myself "what have you done?" I couldn't believe I had let myself go that far, I stepped on the scale and it read "err." I pushed on the counter a bit and the scale fluttered back into a readable range of 330.  My fast food, fast pace life had finally got the best of me and I thought to myself now is the time. Now, there are a couple things I should clarify, my weight has gone up and down a lot over my life with times of working out where I could take myself down to a just above average size and then usually fall back into the beer and pizza phase and put most of it back on. I was always active, but my poor diet usually got the best of me. I have always been big, I probably never had a BF % under 25 even when working out, but it never bothered me much, until now that is....

My first 10km
I was done, now was the time. I've always known the basics to proper diet, but usually ignored them for the most part because, lets face it, pizza is delicious!  The first steps were small, switching to eating 6 times a day,  healthy foods, going to the gym, doing lots of cardio and before you know it the first 30lbs had fallen off [more on this in a future post]. I was starting to get positive comments from people and this inspired me to continue, so I downloaded a calorie counting program. Next thing you know I was down around 245lbs which is where my running career really started, with my little sister and her husband (Leap Frog and Little Fox) convincing me that I should train and run the Vancouver Sun Run.

I went down to the running store and got myself some runners and some shorts and a shirt and started trying to run. It was pretty hard at first with my longest run at about 2- 4 km, but I had signed up for the race and I was determined to do it. Somehow I kept pushing on until next thing you know I was running 10 km runs. I went down to Vancouver and had a great weekend and ran my first race. It was such a fun time I wanted to go further so I signed up for the Kelowna half marathon at thanksgiving, finishing that at just short of 2 hrs. I was feeling pretty happy with myself for how far I had come. Little did I know that my life was about the change...... forever......

My first half
Now this would be the time that I was told about trail running. It was described as a beautiful scenic way to run, being just like running on the road but through nice mountain trails around a lake. With a description like that and a love for the great outdoors who could say no? So we all signed up for the Around the Lake Give'r Take 30 km at Cultus Lake. This was going to be the longest distance I had ever gone in my life and further than I had ever envisioned myself coming - but here we were.
After my first trail race

Race day was a cold wet morning, I was wearing street running shoes, regular shorts and a running shirt. With a borrowed race pack stuffed with all kinds of bars and candies that had come from my sister's running stash, I had no idea what to expect. All I could think about was the nice mountain trails and how fun it was going to be. As the race started everyone sort of funneled through the chute and the park and out onto the road, thinning out before the trail head. I felt good and had a good pace, until the first climb that is. I watched people pulling themselves up the first section using trees and branches as the trail was wet and muddy. The first hill seemed to go on for miles. My body was sore as I wasn't used to any kind of real elevation change yet, my running shoes had horrible traction in the mud and I was slipping and falling all over the place, thinking to myself what have I gotten myself into? Somehow I managed to push on and make my way to the backside of the lake where there was a well stocked aid station with lots of delicious food. My legs ached by now, my feet were cold and wet and it was starting to rain. I grabbed some yummy candies and headed on up the next climb, which also seemed to drag on forever. By now the pain had started coming into my core which also was not used to this kind of torture. I climbed and climbed and climbed wondering whether my heart was was going to give up first or my legs. I was grumpy, I thought "this is nothing like the description, why would my sister tell me this was a good idea?" I marched on, pushing up the hill I finally saw a man at the top. He started clapping and cheering and as I crested the hill there was a table with a whole bunch of mini cups filled with beer. The volunteers told me that I was at the top of the last climb and it was all downhill from here. Every part of me was sore, I had nothing left. I drank a couple oz of beer and continued down the trail. I somehow managed to get down to the beach and cross the finish line where my sister laughed and said "Sorry, I forgot how hilly this course was". At the time I was not amused, but looking back now I see the humor in it.

Hiking the Chief
I went down to the store shortly after and bought a pair of trail shoes and started finding trails to run. I wanted to run all the trails and all the mountains. Somehow out of this crazy race experience I had found a true appreciation for the sport of trail running. I found myself googling course profiles and picking races that looked fun. I went on to complete a marathon distance trail race (Wandering Moose), a couple half marathons (Hallow's Eve, Phantom) and 27 km trail races (Dirty Duo,and brigade), a 50km trail race (Kal Park 50) and most recently, my first 50 mile trail race (Tenderfoot Boogie). I'm currently training for the FatDog 70 miler in August.

Chris (LittleFox) and Jenna (LeapFrog) have been my inspiration through all of this, helping with gear, food, training plans, and trail tips and tricks. They have probably forever changed my life, and now I have been added to their trail running blog! I look forward to sharing all my race reports and gear reviews so hopefully everyone can run their best run!


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