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January 2022-Theresa Lewis

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)

A: I grew up on a farm outside the small town of Walhalla, ND which is about 5 miles from Canada. I have 3 amazing kids who I usually refer to as the wildlings or one of their many nicknames. Brayden is 17, Ella is 12, and Logan is 9. I’ve worked as a nurse for 16 years, and at my current job for 15 years.

Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?

A: I really started running in 2018 but my first “race” was the Deadwood Mickelson Half in 2017 with my brother, now sister-in-law, and friends. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since I occasionally walk-jogged about a mile around my house. I had no idea what I was getting into and afterwards felt like I barely survived to tell the tale. Somehow, I went with them again the next year and by some miracle walk/slogged my way to an improved time and decided to keep running from there!

Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?

A: Both. Running has become therapy for me and it is so nice to be out on my own letting my thoughts run with me and not feel stressed about pace. My favorite running partner is my daughter, who many of you know as Ella Ice Cream. I also enjoy running in a group though and am usually in the back (shout out to the BOPs) so it’s a lot of running by myself and then breathing heavy when I catch up to everyone waiting for me, but there’s great conversation before and after the run! All jokes aside, I really like the comradery of group running and some of my best memories these last couple years have been made while running with friends.

Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?  

A: Trails! I joined my first BHRC weekend group trail run about a month or two after I started running. I still didn’t really think “running trails” meant they were actually going to run. It was the summer they were doing the entire Centennial Trail in increments, and I was in way over my head, not only with elevation gain, distance and how technical the trail is, but really, I was up to my knees in mud and creek crossings. There was even a warning on the trail head to enter at your own risk. I am reminded on occasion that I shouted, “You do this for fun?!”. For some reason, I showed up for the next weekend run and Dan Bjerke gave me a Disciples of Dirt top and I’ve been in love with trails ever since! The beauty you see and peace you feel when out on the trails in the Black Hills is unbelievable.

Q: What is your favorite distance or race?

A: So far, the run that stands out is my unofficial BH100 50k distance. Unofficial because I ran it in 2020, when all the races were cancelled. I saw friends on the course running different distances that day, and gathered together after, but I ran from Dalton Lake to the Sturgis Park, and it was amazing (and got so very hot!). Dan Bjerke was with me for most of it and at the park to cheer me in when I finished. My time wasn’t anything close to setting records, but it was my best and I loved (almost) every minute being out on the trail. Something about that day stood out and pushed me towards an Ultra running journey.

Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

A: Go to a group run; make plans with friends to hold myself accountable; find a series on Netflix that I only watch if I’m running. 

Q: If I didn’t run I’d ………..

A: …sleep in on the weekends!

     …need to eat less tacos, pizza, and treats!

     …save money on shoes!

Probably do more hiking, hang out with my kids and the other stuff I do now, just without the running.

Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?

A: The people I have met and friendships I’ve made. I have a great running family (whether they claim me or not) that has been one of the best parts of my running journey. Challenging myself to complete new goals that I didn’t think were even possible. Watching others achieve their goals too. My daughter has been running cross country and track. Watching her set goals and push herself and the self-accomplishment she is finding is very rewarding. My youngest ran his first 5k last year and was so proud of his medal he even wrote and drew about it in school. 

Q: What are some of your favorite running memories?

A: So many…

  • The virtual race series with my daughter.
  • Seven summits and the Cool Van Crew. The butterflies.. so many butterflies, on the way up Bear Mountain (still my nemesis summit). 
  • A “why not” road marathon from Mount Rushmore to Canyon Lake with friends. 
  • So many icy cold Spring Creek crossings and just sending it through the water and the group sock change and walk that came after.
  • The 30k that started in the dark, following glow sticks and rope lights on bridges, and watching the sun shine on the frosted trees and grass as it came up. 
  • The feeling I get in any distance run when I realize that I am actually going to finish.

Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual?

A: I try not to refer to them for myself as races and instead call everything a run (less pressure!). While there isn’t a specific ritual, it includes picking head to toe clothes out the night before while going back and forth between checking and double checking the weather app and that all my alarms are set, eating something the night before and morning of that *cross my fingers* won’t end up with me needing to use a side trail during the race, usually switching out the clothing that I was sure of the night before, a little stress and anxiety mixed here and there, bathroom trips, excitement (and many times dark/sarcastic humor to mask nervousness) waiting at the start with running friends.. something like that.

Q: What are lessons you have learned from running?

A: I am stronger than and have accomplished more than I ever thought possible and still sometimes don’t believe. Hydrate! It’s always good to have toilet paper along. Strength training is important-still learning this. Even if I’m the last one to finish, I still ran the same distance and gave it my all. And… sometimes it does make sense to wear gloves with shorts and a tank top.

Q: What is a fun running story?

A: Billie and I showed up to carpool to a 15-mile group run in Black Elk Wilderness on a hot day in June. We pull into the parking lot and saw the only people there were 4 of what I refer to as “elite trail runners” and we considered just driving straight through and back onto the highway but sucked it up and went along instead. After falling on my handheld water bottle a couple miles into the run -yes, all I had was one handheld, and yes, I actually fell flat on the bottle- most of the water sprayed out but at least cooled off my face. The trails were beautiful but brutal and somewhere along the way, found out the 15-mile run would be about 20. We made it around to Sylvan Lake but the store was closed (2020) so to Jeremy’s disgust, we filled our water bottles in the outside bathrooms so we could continue another 5-ish miles to the cars. We made it back and it ended up being my longest trail run at the time.

Q: What are your running goals for the future?

A: Keep going! I want to keep challenging myself whether it’s showing up at a weekend group run, being brave enough to go on a trail run by myself (especially in rattler season), signing up to run new distances, or just set a new PR along the way.  My daughter wants to run her first Half Marathon this year so my goal is to be by her side while she crosses that finish line!

Q: Who inspires you most?

A: So many people. My kids inspire me every day. They are wonderful little humans, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. My brother has been inspiring me for years with his ultra-running and it meant a lot that he and my sister-in-law were at the finish of my 30k and 50 mile runs to support me. Watching my running family crush their goals inspires and impresses the hell out of me. People who are out there running their first race or new distance and are overjoyed with finishing. The kids I’ve seen at XC meets the last couple years giving their all while also supporting and cheering on their teammates, no matter their place. Those who take the time to run or talk with someone new and make them feel welcome and included. 

Overall, people who are positive and always encouraging others inspire me. 

Q: What advice do you have for new runners?

A:  Have fun! Be patient and don’t compare yourself to others. Start slow; set a goal and take your time to get there. Not all runs are going to be great, there will be lows. Keep moving on from there. There are no right or wrong speeds or distances, if you run, you are a runner. Find your running family, people who inspire and encourage you. Mostly, find what sparks joy for you! 

Happy New Year everyone!