50 races in 50 states
May, 6 2012
Time to make the donuts
This morning I decided to run my lazy 3.5 mile route though the neighborhood backwards. It is a pretty simple little loop with not a lot of turns or twists. Or so I thought. I usually dip off the main drag on my way back and run along the first street south that runs parallel. However going backwards I ended up sliding down two streets and ran along side the golf course. No biggie, just one extra block.
Then when I hit 7th Avenue and turned right I ran a bit and turned right on a side street. I am not sure why but dismissed it since my four mile loop usually includes this little extra jaunt. However, I missed that little extra jaunt by 5 streets when I reemerged back on 7th Avenue rather than being deposited on Encanto as I was expecting.
This got me thinking – running is supposed to be about freedom. You lace up the Asics (ugh, hate them, so glad I am about to retire them) and head out the door. But this morning I realized I am bound by certain routes, habits and routines. I have a specific route for each distance and good God if I should ever do anything as crazy as head out without a specific mileage, planned pace goal specific purpose. I can’t remember the last time I just went and ran. Even if I decided to “just run” I am sure I would at least need the comfort of a set time. So back to my thinking.
I realized run, repeat, run, repeat methodology of my training extended to races as well. Every year I circle the same races and select one new marathon to run, two if I am doing the local PF Chang’s Rock and Roll (which in my robot-like behavior I have participated in seven times – 4 marathons and 3 halves). When talking about future races I even discuss going to run Detroit, Pittsburgh or Marine Corps Marathons again.
Summer Series 5Ks, Race for the Cure, I-Did-A-Run, Fiesta Bowl 1/2, ARR Turkey Trot 10 Mile, etc. etc.
My 2011 looked like i Xeroxed my 2010 calendar, which looked not surprisingly like my 2005. And guess what? My 2012 is shaping up to look the same again with the exception of Philly in November. My running has become the equivalent of that old Dunkin Donut guy – “Time to make the donuts.”
So on my run this morning I decided it is time for a new perspective.
The New and Improved Perspective
I started thinking about things I could do to shake it up. Of course I could accomplish this through my blog and writing about different things. But I needed a new plan, a bigger plan. When I hit finally actually arrived at Encanto I had my new bigger plan.
I decided I am going to run a race in all 50 states. I started thinking about the 50 State Marathon Club and while it is a very noble accomplishment, but that is too rigid for my new perspective. Why limit to just 26.2 milers? I needed freedom and flexibility. I have run two marathons in California, but the race I have always want to run is Bay to Breakers up in San Francisco – a 12K with a measly hundred years of tradition. Of course a lot of that tradition is runners in crazy costumes or no costumes at all, as in running naked. Why would I want to exclude this opportunity to only run in a marathon?
Other states have great shorter races as well. Do I really want to skip the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, the countries largest 10K that had to cap participation at 60,000 and and a lottery to their entry due to its popularity just to run the Publinx Georgia Marathon? Other great races around the country such as: Bolder Boulder 10K in Colorado, the Utica Boilermaker 15K in the Mohawk Valley of New York, and The New Haven Road Race with its history of world class athletes participation.
There are quirky races I probably would never run in, but would certainly not forget if I did. This is my opportunity to run in in races like the Impossible 5k in Kennesaw, GA that starts at 1:50 am on the day that daylight savings kicks in at 2:00 am, allowing runners to end up with a negative finishing time. Or how about the Krispy Kreme Challenge 5K in North Carolina that requires you to polish off a dozen donuts before the finish line. The Crystal City in Missouri is a 5K in an abandoned underground sand mine. Everyone knows I hate running in the cold, but there is the Freeze yer Gizzard in International Falls, MN in January where the average temperature is -8 degrees. And even though I barely drink these days, I could run the 2 mile Beer Belly Run in Green Bay (where else?) that has beer stations every half mile.
So today I decided I am going to compete this task, provided of course I don’t die prematurely. I am not sure if there is an official group like the 50 States Marathon Club or not (if there is, please let me know) for the adventure. I am 45 now and I would love to say I will do the symbolic gesture of completing it by the time I turn 50, but I am also a realist so I will just go out and say I will complete this while I am in my 50s!
I can check off Arizona (too many to name), California (RNR 2x and Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh Marathon), Michigan (Detroit Marathon, Cranbrook Fall Run), Florida (Jupiter Turtle Trot), Oregon (Hood to Coast) and I need to figure out how to claim Marine Corps Marathon.
I invite everyone to join me on their own journey to run a race in every state. Just curious, how many states have you completed a race in?