A River Ran Through It – 11-Mile Montana Run

North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando

I can get anxious before training runs. Add a strange location where I don’t know the route; add 90-degree heat, gusty wind and smoke from distant forest fires; add an altitude of 4000 feet and a schedule of events with lots of other people that require I get the run done at a specific time. My obsessive psyche goes a little nuts with each possibility. This was the scenario weekend before last for my 11-mile training run during a trip to Montana for Paul Porte’s 50th birthday.

Paul grew up in Helena and chose the town of Ovando, about an hour west, for his birthday encampment and Blackfoot River flotilla. 40 pals or so in tents around an old farmhouse.

I should learn from this. All my pre-run anxiety was unnecessary. It was one of my top five best run experiences ever, not just for the spectacular vistas, but the fact that nothing (heat, fuel/drink, altitude, or physical issue) caused much, if any, problem.

The Worries, Dispenesed With:

These guys ran up to check me out.

Route. I’d worried about it being hard to know how to map out 11 miles since I didn’t know the roads. I didn’t want to run on a highway. There was no cell phone reception so I couldn’t map the way with my phone. What if the terrain turned out to be mountainous? Well, thanks to Greg Morris for dusting away all those baseless fears. The road by our encampment ran for 30 easily rolling miles through the picture of big sky pastures and foot hills. For a mile or two I ran alongside and then over the Blackfoot itself.

Heat. Though afternoon temperatures did get up to 90, I got out at 7am and it was mid-60s. I was sweating by the end, but it just made me welcome the mounting breeze.

Gusty Wind. See above. It was welcome.

Smoke. There was none. It blew away.

Altitude. I thought for sure this would zap me since I’ve felt weak running at 3000 feet. Maybe it’s the combination of altitude and heat, and since I beat the heat by going early, I could handle the former.

Halfway point 5.5 miles

I returned to the birthday village blissed out, stretched and had some frittata and melon. And immediately began worrying about my upcoming 13-miler in Kansas City.

Run done, I return to the Ovando farmhouse and tent village
Run done, I return to the Ovando farmhouse and tent village