Thanks everyone for the support on the 50-state goal.

After reading around a little more it seems like there are indeed some crazies out there that have not only completed the 50 states in less than 20-years, but they've done all 50 states multiple times. Like Steve Boone, who's run all 50 states eight times.

Yes, eight.

That is 400 marathons.

That is 1,600 hours of racing (if you do a 4 hour marathon).

That is 10,480 miles of running.

Whoa. I mean I know we all have to be a little crazy to run for as much as we do, but people like this scare me. Now, of course, I have also said that I would be crazy to run a marathon. So I may be setting myself up here. But really, I think things like a job and a family and callouses will keep me from running 400 marathons in my life.


I am becoming America!

While wrapping up today's group run with the Super Runner's Shop (six more runs until a free pair of shoes!) one of the other runners asked me why I'm not doing the Long Branch Half-Marathon again this year. That prompted me to write this post.


Yes, you read that right. I am becoming America:

Ok, ok, not that America, but this one:

Ok, ok, becoming might be an overstatement, but let me explain.

Way back in 2005, after I ran the Boston Half-Marathon, I swore I would never run again. However, my aunt, a fellow runner at the time, decided to sign me up for Disney without me knowing, figuring that if I did a Half-Marathon once that I could easily do it again. She paid for registration and I was going to be in Florida anyway for Christmas, so I couldn't get out of it.

While Disney is in the records as my slowest Half-Marathon, and despite my complaints about the 2am wake-up call (ugh!), it probably did the most to cement my love for running. It was such a fun race and I was able to pick up the training so easily that I knew I was hooked by the end of that race. (Also the gigantic shiny Donald medal helped a lot too.)

I'm not sure what inspired me, but sometime in the months following Disney I decided I was going to run a Half-Marathon in each state. I really wish I had a cool inspirational story, something grand like: while my long-lost Godfather lay on his deathbed I promised him that in his memory I would run every state in the country fundraising to find a cure for his disease--but alas, I have no story to tell. The same way you remember to buy sugar at the grocery store is the same way this goal popped into my head.

I've had this goal for about three years now and as you can see from my completed races, I've made a dent in this union of states, amassing a total of six states (plus another three to come this year). Sure, this is a far flung goal that will probably take decades to complete, and really, if I fall shy by about 20 states I still would have achieved an impressive collection of races--so why do I stick with it? My classic argument is that many runners have the goal of qualifying and making it into Boston--which is a very noble goal. But in most cases, that goal (once you dedicate yourself to making it happen) will probably take a few years. And then what? Which is exactly why I have this multi-decade goal that will probably keep me focused on running well into my 40s.

Now you may have realized that I've already violated the whole Half-Marathon in every state bit with the Baltimore Marathon last year and the fact that I plan on running more marathons in the future. I'm doing this for several reasons: (1) I hated calling myself a Half-Marathoner, (2) I like to push myself out of my comfort distance, and (3) the same reason they climb Mt. Everest: because it's there. So to cumbersomely restate my goal: I want to run a Marathon or Half-Marathon in every state plus DC. (Although technically a Marathon is really two Half-Marathons, so I am correct in saying I want to run a Half-Marathon in every state. But that's just a technicality.)

Now, unfortunately, I know right off the bat that there at least two states that I will be doing twice. The first is Massachusetts. I already ran the Boston Half-Marathon, but I know someday I'll be back to run it's storied, significantly longer, older brother. The second is New York. I ran the Queens Half-Marathon back in 2006, but the bastards at NYRR didn't give out medals! Who holds a race longer than 10K and doesn't give out medals??? Come on. So just because of that silliness I want to run NYC's big race and get the medal I rightfully deserve. (Yeah bitches.)

This give me a grand total of 53 races to run before I'm done: 50 states + 1 District of the Colombian persuaion + 1 Mass double-header + 1 NY redux. Thus far, I've averaged two races a year, which means 26.5 years of racing, which means I'll be within earshot of 50 when I finish. (Hey Joan Benoit did it.) However, I'm trying to do three or four races a year, which will bring that age closer to 40. And like any compulsive planner, I've been building a list of races to run over the next 20-someodd years:

P.S.-I know about the 50 State Marathon Club. But I won't join for two reasons: (1) the Half-Marathon is my favorite distance and (2) I only have one Marathon down and I'm not about to start all-over because of some club says my Half-Marys don't count. Boo on them.


You walk (or run) wrong

Just read an interesting article in New York Magazine about feet. According to the article, shoes--even running shoes--are detrimental to our foot's structure and generally the whole concept of shoes (padding, cushioning, comfort) is only needed because we wear shoes. Not exactly an article you would see in Runner's World.

Also, the photographs they used are really cool and make you do a double take.


A reminder that we're mortal

Wifey got to work on Monday and found out that one of her co-workers passed away over the weekend. She was on a motorcycle on the FDR and lost control of the bike. Even though they operated on her for five hours and were successful in reviving her, they could not stabilize her. She was 33, had a permanent smile, and sweet. Sweet, not in the sense that she was overly nice or cute, but rather that she was very warm, endearing, and curious.

I didn't know Celina very well. Honestly, I only met her a handful of times at wifey's office functions. However, she was a vivid part of the stories wifey would bring home from work every night. "Can you believe what Celina said during this presentation?!" "Celina and I were brainstorming for a new project..." "...and Celina just looked at me and said 'you worry too much.'" She was a big part of wifey's work family, so I do feel connected to her by association.

When we finally went to bed on Monday night, wifey curled up in my arms and cried. She sobbed, wondering why Celina had to race with her boyfriend down the FDR, how this could have happened to someone who so innocent, why God made the cruel decision to stop her life short. She couldn't understand it; there was no reason for Celina to die, no cause to make her a martyr of. It was random and senseless and unnecessary.

In my head I was saying "you can't make sense of it." You just can't. There are much greater things at play than what you or I can see. You have to find the lesson in the sadness--that life is too precious and can be taken too easily--and take that lesson with you. And unfortunately the only way to truly understand this lesson is through pain.

The day left me with a strange feeling of my own mortality, because, like wifey said, it really felt senseless--maybe not senseless as much as brief. That life can be taken away with such great ease in the blink of eye. It also brought back every time that I've been out running and didn't look before crossing the street or didn't stay off the bike path. I realized that death can come very easily to anyone.


Where did I put that anniversary?

I completely missed my blogoversary. April 4 marked one full year of blathering about running and sometimes other things. Anniversaries are a time for restrospection, a time for reflecting on the past year's events and mulling accomplishments along with the failures. And while I was going to put together a play-by-play of what has happened in the past year, let's be honest: it is 8pm on a Sunday night and there is a new Simpsons on. I am not going to do this. And really, if you skim this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this, you'll basically get all the good stuff.



Likes and Dislikes

  • Dislike: people who use running clothes/shoes as regular clothes/shoes
  • Like: cherry blossoms in Central Park during a run
  • Like: 63 degrees, a light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky
  • Dislike: chaffing nipples
  • Like: remembering to put Body Glide on nipples before leaving
  • Like: getting one run closer to a free pair of shoes
  • Increasingly liking: trail runs
  • Increasingly disliking: the media
  • Like: Eating pancakes, eggs, and home fries after a long run
  • Like: having said breakfast during said weather in favorite local diner's patio
  • Dislike: getting hash browns instead of home fries (although I ate them all the same)
  • Like: finally using the cooking class gift certificate that wifey gave me for Christmas to sign up for "Truffles, Truffles, Truffles" at the Institute of Culinary Education
  • Like: "Truffles, Truffles, Truffles" falling on June 28, one week after Fairfield--nothing like using food as motivation
  • Dislike: every single New Yorker being on the streets due to said weather
  • Like: buying a much needed second pair of Converses
  • Dislike: not being able to find a new pair of jeans, due in part the 50 million European tourists flooding all the stores
  • Like: meeting up with friends tonight
  • Like: wifey coming home from a week long business trip
  • Dislike: having to give up free reign of the bed


Whoa, whoa, whoa

I went out for what I intended to be an easy 30 minute run this morning.

I did my normal loop from my apartment to Astoria Park and back. I was really excited to go out because the weather is finally warm enough to run outside before work. I was also had a new playlist and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Now I don't know if it was the music or the withdrawl from this route, but I managed to finish at an 8:15 pace. Um, what? I mean that's not super fast, but my easy pace is usually over 8:45 when I'm on the treadmill. I double and triple checked, and yes, that was my pace. Holy crap! When did running become easy?

Who knows, maybe my goal of an 8:00 pace for Fairfield is actually a reality.


Magic weekend long run (a day late)

I was really excited to hit the roads today. Besides finally being able to do long runs again, I had mapped out a route through the parks along northern Manhattan--which is the one part of the island I have yet to explore.

I woke up this morning and hopped on the bus into town. Twenty minutes later I got off at 125th and Amsterdam. Five seconds later I discovered that I didn't load any music onto Liam (my iPod Shuffle) and realized that I would have a silent run (which I tend to avoid).

This route took me along some of the back streets of West Harlem on approach to the Greenway. Thankfully, it was daytime--otherwise I would not want to be there. Some of the places I passed were straight out of CSI. I did happen to pass by the gold standard of NYC BBQ: Dinosaur BBQ. Now that I know where it is, I might go there...but not at night.

Eventually I got to the point where the Greenway starts up again at 135th Street and was happily surrounded by greenery...and the Amtrak, which runs parallel to the Hudson all along the westside. Fortunately there seemed to be no train service today, because I was within 20 feet of the tracks for the next two miles.

Fort Washington Park, it turns out, is a beautiful park. Lots of fields, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball courts---but they were mostly empty. I probably saw a total of 30 people on this leg of the run, which was nice--I didn't have to worry about dodging people or bikes like I normally would in Central Park. And this park had amazing views of the George Washington Bridge and the New Jersey Palisades. I figure the only reason this park was empty was because of the difficulty of reaching it (and the gray overcast).

As I went further North along the Hudson the park changed and I could tell I was getting to the older parts of the park, the parts that aren't well tended to. I ran across a Greek loggia called "the Greek Temple" that I later found was originally "built in 1925 as a destination for pleasure drivers on the old Riverside Drive." It was quaint and out of place, setting up the next landmark around the bend.

The s-curve revealed a gigantic arched gallery built into the granite boulders that make up Manhattan. Honestly, with the weathering, over-grown ivy, and ironic location (along Riverside Drive in Manhattan) the masonry looked as if it were natural--as if the columns were part of Manhattan's skeleton. It was eerie and surreal, and the gray weather only helped the atmosphere. This is the best picture I could find of the thing, back when it was part of an estate in present day Ft. Tryon Park. You can only see one arch here (the south side of the gallery), but it has about five arches that run along the street to the left (present day Riverside Drive). Trust me, it is impressive in person--I promise. I also found this NYT article, and oddly enough this one too, dated 1913.

At the end of this park I went crosstown along Dyckman Ave (pronounced "dikeman," yeah, lots of jokes in there) and turned south along the Harlem River. The Bronx made for less beautiful views than the New Jersey Palisades. The coolest thing about this part of the run was the High Bridge Park to my right and the stacked view of the Washington, High, and Hamilton bridges straight ahead.

I wrapped up the run on 155th Street at the southernmost point of High Bridge Park, caught a subway to the bus and went home. It was the first time in a very long time that I didn't want the run to end. It was also the first time in long time that I could describe a run as magical.

Surprisingly when I logged my time at home I realized that I was cruising at an 8:30 pace--which is great considering that this is the longest distance I've done since December, I had no music, and I thought I was taking it slow. I guess it was magic after all.


Third time's the charm

After three years of saying it, I am finally doing it! I just signed up for the Fairfield Half-Marathon.

Every year I manage to have an excuse to not run this race and it usually sounds something like this list: I'm too tired from my last race and I won't get enough training in before the race.

Well, thanks to my IT Band, I haven't had a race so far this year--so I'm not tired from any other training. Also thanks to my IT Band I was off the road for the first 2.5 months of the year--so I'm eager to get back into training. So that gets rid of both excuses.

There's always the financial issue. When I ran the Long Branch Half-Marathon last year, the whole trip totaled to almost $1000 between hotel, car, registration, eating out, etc. Yes, $1000 to run a race two hours away. However, this race is going to be cheap: registration was just $33 (odd price, I know), it's so close that we're going to drive there and back the same day (there are showers provided for runners), and we're renting the car through Zip Car--which means my max car related expenses will be $73.

Training begins on Monday with...a rest day, which is awesome. Unfortunately, the rest of the training plan indeed calls for running, unlike some other training plans.

Now I'm off to eat leftover dessert from yesterday to celebrate the start of training.


I'm it--watch out

Ted tagged me on his website to do the six-word bio that is making it's way through the running blog circles. Here are the rules:

(1) Write your own six word memoir.
(2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
(3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogs-universe.
(4) Tag at least five more blogs with links.
(5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

This is going to be an interesting exercise in conciseness for someone that is usually verbose. I could go the running route. Or the college sweetheart route. Or the lived up and down the east coast route. Or even the advertising route--uck, I think I'll ignore that. Or the really, really, really enjoy food route. The possibilities are endless, but the words are limited.

While I like "I'm faster than my better half," I think that would be a one-way ticket to the couch tonight. Then I thought of "Eat today. Run tomorrow. Work a lot." but I really didn't really like how that one ends on a sour note. Then I finally got one that worked for me. So without further adieu, here is my six-word memoir:

Eat, run, work, laugh, sleep. Repeat.

And my tags are:
1. Jon
2. Nitmos
3. Moon
4. Steve
5. ...um, crap, it seems like everyone else I know has already done this. Um. Um. I'll tag wifey and let you know what her six-word memoir is.