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.


The Laminator said...

I KNEW IT! I figured that's what you were doing when you mentioned all these half-marathons you did at all these random places. Seriously, I think it's quite an admirable endeavor. Your ambition is contagious. I might have to tag along on your running crusades in the future.

Anyway, it was great to run with you again today...even if I didn't get "credit" for it...free shoes will have to wait one week longer!

Jess said...

Start your own club.

Marcy said...

Dude, doing NY twice is no thang. It's your home state so you gotta represent *throws up East Side gang sign* LOL

chia said...

If you start your own club, I'm so in. Noble cause, love it.

sRod said...

Marcy--I was laughing so hard that I almost spilled my coffee over the keyboard! I should know better than to read anything written by you while I'm drinking coffee.

Nitmos said...

The Flying Pig has a cool medal too. That's on my horizon for 2009. What, pray tell, do you plan to run in Michigan? If you want to spend some money...do the Turtle Race on Macinac Island. www.runmackinac.com

Steve Stenzel said...

That's a great goal! Good luck in the next 20-odd years!

Robert W. said...

I was thinking about doing something like that too, although I just turned 40, so it'd take me until I was pretty old. (Or all of my vacations could be very short and very tiring.)

One thought I had: you should probably save your 50th race for a nearby state. That way your friends can all come out and cheer for you as you cross that final finish line. Better than telling everyone to come out to Boise for your triumph. (No offense intended if you're from Boise.)

You could still save the far-flung ones for big milestones. I personally fantasize about #25 in Alaska.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Multi DECADE goal into your FORTIES?? What are you, like 4 years old? And I had just started feeling bloggy again. Damn you.


Topher said...

I'll join your 50-state Half-mary club if you start it, too. Show them elite-ist marathoners what you've got.

Laura said...

I just decided to try to run a race (any distance, 5ks count) in every state before I'm 30. I think I only have five ticked off so far. Good luck!!!