So, what exactly am I trying to do?
My ultimate goal is to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) in each state. My goal grew out of a passion for running that developed after my first half marathon in Chicago, Illinois. I ran this race in 2013, and I ran it both with purpose & with passion…
I ran in Illinois for my cousin, Scotty, who had passed away from cancer at a young age. His sister, Melissa, and I ran together in support of Children’s Cancer Research. My training for half marathon #1 was less than ideal, I had to push myself to get to “running shape” from “my life-long soccer-player-only physique.” But every time I felt like quitting, I brought myself back to the memories of my cousin. I brought myself back to the fact that he didn’t get to see the places he wanted to see, he didn’t get to complete the things he dreamt of doing, he didn’t get to live the life he should have been able to live. Everyday that we are given is a gift, and I needed to remind myself to embrace that. Since the training and completion of my first race, I have turned to running as a way of life, as a way to be free, to find myself, a way to push myself as far as I can go, a way to count my blessings in a world where tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and today is a precious gift.
For me, running isn’t just a release, it has given my life meaning.
When did I decide to add the insane travel component?
My second half ended up taking place in Wisconsin (which is where nearly all of my family lives). My third half was then in Ohio, where I live. So, after three half marathons in three different states, I stopped and thought: woah man. How lucky am I? To have seen and traveled 39.3 miles between three different states by foot. After that, I decided to sign up for a half marathon in Indiana, and that’s where this dream truly came to life. That’s when I had decided that this was something I was actually going to accomplish. From that point on, I have been determined to see and experience 13.1 miles in each state by foot. To explore places that I otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to, or a reason to, go. A chance to fill my life with wonder, with adventure, with purpose.
How do I keep myself motivated?
People often ask me how I keep running. Or how I keep myself interested and motivated in running each and every day, training each and every month, racing each and every race. I believe the key lies in the fact that I don’t see running as something I have to do, and I never force myself to do it. If I am supposed to do an 8-mile run according to my “training plan” and I start the run feeling like, “Uh I don’t really wanna run 8 miles today,” well, then… I just don’t run 8 miles. I might just run 2, or 3, or 6, or I may decide all of a sudden that I do kind of want to run 8 miles and then I might just keep going and run 10 instead. The point is, I do it my way. If my body is tired, I stop. If it’s not, I keep going. Running isn’t something I have to do, it’s something I get to do. In this crazy world, it’s my own space and I do it at my own pace.
What about the races?
For my first half marathon, I was averaging about an 8:40 mile, it took me nearly 2 hours to finish. Since then, my times have steadily improved, all the way down to a 1:37 finish time (which is about 7:25 mile pace). Those are my highs and lows, and I’ve also been everywhere in between. I don’t force myself to try and reach a certain time. I do have goals, I couldn’t do this without some sort of game-plan, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t reach them. I know that I will continue to grow, and I will have some finish times that are better than 1:37, and I may even have some that are worse than 2 hours (I mean, come on, how am I truly supposed to train for the thin western state air?) The point is, who knows which races I will run, what pre-race meals I may over-do (which tends to happen a lot for me), or when I will just have an off day. What I do know is that regardless of my pace, I am undeniably lucky to be running each and every race.
How do I get to each place?
So far, I’ve driven to every state besides California. My travel companions have varied for nearly every race. My mom has been to nearly all of them, with the exception of three. My younger sister has been with me during two. My older sister has been to two, and her whole family supported me in Michigan. My boyfriend has been to one (granted, we’ve only been dating for 3 of them), and most recently, my friends came to celebrate the completion of #12. So, it’s been a lot of hours and miles on the road, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had during this adventure for anything. When it’s race time and I feel my heart pumping and my legs tingling, when I think about the fact that I’m about to see 13 miles of California, or Georgia, or North Carolina, it’s worth any drive that it may have required to get there. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to travel all over the place? I mean come on, someday I’m gonna HAVEEEE to go to Hawaii.