Texas

States

San Antonio, Texas

State #19

Location: San Antonio, Texas 
Half: Rock and Roll San Antonio Half Marathon 
Date: December 2, 2018
Finish Time: 1:38
Who’d I travel with? Mom
Pre-run meal? Carbonara 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Y’ALL 

I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO TEXAS. No joke though. For some reason, I have always wanted to go there, and for a while, I even wanted to move to Texas (despite the fact that I had never actually been there). And guys, Texas did NOT disappoint. For real, San Antonio now ranks pretty high on places I’d love to live. Prior to my trip, when people said, “you should definitely go see the Riverwalk,” I was thinking there was a cute little river that you could see from the city, like seeing the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I didn’t know that the river literally IS part of the city, running right through it and offering it’s own underground downtown. San Antonio reminded me of why this adventure is so amazing – because I get to see, and explore, places that I never may have known existed. 

The first day of December – usually a pretty chilly day in my experience (between Wisconsin and Ohio). But the first day of December in Texas? 75 and nothing but sun. It was love at first sight that morning – between the weather and my first walk down the river, I was nothing but smiles. If you’ve never seen the riverwalk, please see the pictures below, because it doesn’t do it any justice when describing the shops and restaurants lining both sides of the river, the cobblestone paths and bridges that twist and turn with the waters edge, the trees and shrubs which stretch over and across the water. Being December, the trees and restaurants were strewn with ornaments, lights, and tinsel, giving you the feeling of Christmas in July. 

We walked down the paths, stopping only for tacos and margaritas. And because we could, because it was DECEMBER and now approaching 80 degrees, we decided to lay out by the pool for hours. Nothing feels better than being poolside in winter. I stretched my legs and rested my mind and muscles in preparation for the race the next morning. But, being Amy, something is always left unprepared. Honestly, I am the most disorganized “serious” runner ever. Refusing to get new shoes for far too long, the day had finally come when my shoes were literally tearing at the seams. There was no possible way that they were going to last another 13 miles without falling apart, or causing an injury. So, of course, I do the ONE THING that they highly recommend you NEVER do the day of the race – try out your brand new running shoes. 

But come on, they were tie-dye rainbow running shoes… WHO COULD BE WORRIED ABOUT TIE-DYE RAINBOW SHOES? Not me. The night before the race we got all dressed up and went out for a beautiful Italian dinner. Honestly. It was beautiful. They filled our water glasses and then brought over a freaking plate of cucumber, orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit slices – offering to flavor our water. Like what the heck? Hell yeah I’ll take some cucumber and lime water. And our waitress offered us some local advice – that we needed to go somewhere called the “Pearl.” After dinner, we walked to the Alamo, which, if you haven’t seen, is pretty unbelievable. I admittedly didn’t know much about the battle before San Antonio, and it was honestly extremely humbling and moving to see where so many individuals lost their lives defending the people of our country. It’s these small things, these places I never considered I would see or explore, that make this journey with every single step.

The race was UNBELIEVABLE. Honestly. It was the absolute perfect running weather – 65, sunny, no wind. I was in my pink tank top and tie-dye shoes (which, worked extremely well btw), and I ran my own race at my own pace without a worry in the world. And more than that, I did well. I ran as fast as my legs could go that day. And my finish time ranked somewhere in the middle of my overall times. 

Afterwards, obviously, my mom and I explored every place in San Antonio that could offer us an after-race drink. Following the advice of our waitress, we sought out the place she had suggested – the Pearl. It was its own little nook of shops, restaurants, and greenery which all encompassed the Pearl brewery. It was beautiful. A large grass area where you could sit and sip your mimosas, shops which you could explore while enjoying your craft beer, ice cream and food which we probably would have tried, had we not gotten a bit distracted. I’m not sure how all of this escalated, but I do know that it started with two small dogs wearing boots, sunglasses, and football jerseys.

These two dogs had been adorably attached to their male owner as we watched and laughed about their little boots. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that these dogs went absolute ape-shit when another, larger, dog walked by. Honestly. They attacked this dog so fiercely that their boots flew into the air. The owner of the larger dog couldn’t help but burst into laughter with everyone else as these dogs surrounded him and his pup. After the battle was finished, the two guys approached us with their dog to share in the laughter of the entire scene. They asked us where we were from/what we were doing/the normal stuff. And then offered to show us a few more local spots on our walk back down the river. As we walked with them, they stopped to show us two hidden gems – a brewery with swings that overlooked the river, and a Veterans bar which offered music and a historical feeling to our trip.

After dodging their attempts to flirtatiously continue into the evening together, my mom and I went our separate way for dinner. We ended our trip with an amazing dinner on the river. Sharing a bottle of wine, we reminisced on all of the places we had been together, and all of the places we have left to go. It’s nights like these, conversations and experiences like these, that I will always look back upon with a full heart. It fills you up, reminds you of why you’re here in this world, why you’re so lucky to do life with the ones you love. It shows you how much you have, and how much is yet to come. 

Tennessee

States

Nashville, Tennessee

State #12

Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Half: Nashville Best Buddies Half Marathon
Date: Saturday, September 2nd, 2017
Finish Time: 1:42
Pace/Mile: 7:39
Who’d I travel with? Emily Alestock and Sunny Smith
Pre-run meal? Veggie primavera pasta, lots of bread, and a Caesar salad 

ONE DOZEN DOWN!

State #12 was completed in Nashville, Tennessee on September 2nd, 2017. Since this particular place in Tennessee just so happens to be one of the top party places in the USA, and it was also happening on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend (a long weekend); I decided it was the perfect race to do with the support of my two best friends: Sunny and Emily. Sunny and Emily are two of my best friends from college, we all graduated together from Ohio University and taught together in our early childhood placements. It was the perfect opportunity to see each other, catch up, and drink like we were still in college.

We traveled to Nashville on Friday afternoon: Emily drove in from Cleveland, Sunny from Dayton, and myself from Athens. As I made my 6-hour drive, I tried to remember to hydrate and nourish my body with fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbs for race day the next morning. One of the hardest parts of running in each of the states is the effects of traveling on my body and health. It’s always harder (for me at least) to eat well, maintain hydration, and sleep well when I’ve been on the road for several hours (especially since heavily hydrating leads to making a million stops to pee). Anyways, once I arrived I checked in, relaxed, and waited for the other girls to get in. They got in around 10, we caught up briefly but then decided to turn out the lights pretty quick in order to get some rest for our early morning on Saturday.

My alarm went off at 5 a.m. because unfortunately I had missed the packet pick-up time the night before (evidently I made one too many stops to pee). So I had to wake up and get to the race about an hour early to get my packet; not my favorite part of this trip, but it did give me some time to prepare for the race – both mentally and physically, which is something I don’t always make time for myself. I stretched, hydrated, listened to some pump-up music, and (not so patiently) waited for the race to begin. Sunny and Emily found the park about 10 minutes before race-time, just in time. They grabbed my sweatshirt and keys, took a quick pre-race photo, and sent me off to run with their good luck wishes.

As I began to run, I tried to focus on maintaining my pace (which is crazy, because pacing is something I can just never seem to successfully do). Going into half #12, I knew I wanted to slow it down a bit for this race. I have been finishing about one race/month for the past 4-5 months which has been really hard on my body, my legs have been in some pain, my shoes are worn out, and I need to keep my body strong. So, with this in mind, I knew that my pace for this one wouldn’t be as quick as it was in March or April, and that was more than okay with me; especially because I had a longggggg weekend of celebrating with my friends ahead of me.

The race was absolutely beautiful; in fact, it was probably my favorite course so far. I ran down the streets of Nashville, starting and finishing downtown in Bicentennial Park. We ran a few miles out of the city, passed the Titan’s practice fields, ran through a small local park, and then finished the race by running along the river back into the city. It was pretty flat with the exception of about 2-3 long, but not too steep, hills. It wasn’t even a “down and back,” THANK GOODNESS (especially after Georgia) and it had a lot of twists and turns to keep things interesting. It was great, and the flat course made focusing on my pace somewhat easier to achieve.

I maintained a pace of about 7:40 per mile, beginning the race closer to 7:45 per mile and getting a little quicker as the race progressed. I found my “flow” around mile 8 with a pace of 7:39. As I got closer to the finish line I began to text the girls: 3 MILES LEFT, 2 MILES LEFT, I’M ALMOST THERE. My last message: “Wboutvyo fijish”…. I suppose it was supposed to say “About to finish,” but I knew they would understand, and I didn’t exactly have time to correct it. I sprinted the last 200 feet, grabbed my metal, and was greeted with hugs and congratulations from both of my friends (regardless of the sweat-drenched shirt I still had on). It was the perfect race, ONE DOZEN DOWN!

And now for the fun part: the after party… Oh boy. This trip was definitely one of the most memorable (or least, depending on how you look at my intoxication level for the majority of the visit). We went back to the hotel, showered, got ready, and the after-party began. By 11 a.m. we were back downtown and beginning our day with bottomless mimosas at a brunch place called City Fire (highly recommended). When you start the day with 13 miles and bottomless mimosas, can you really go wrong? The answer is no, no you cannot. The rest of the day was perfect: we got pizza, finished about 4 mimosas each, went to a concert in the park, met up with Sunny’s aunt at the concert (who led us to the Tito’s tent for a drink), walked around downtown and watched lots of live-music performances while we continued to day drink our Saturday away. We danced, we laughed, we took really ridiculous photos, we drank some more, and finally landed ourselves at the Wildhorse Saloon for dinner.

Now, the Wildhorse Saloon looks like it’s a tiny bar from the outside, much like many of the surrounding bars located on the crowded streets of Nashville. But when you walk in it opens up to a HUGE dance floor, hundreds of tables on various levels, balconies, its own gift shop (whaaat?), and a large stage with huge video screens displaying a close-up of the performer. It was incredible. We ordered some more drinks (shocker) and some dinner and then hurried out to the dancefloor to learn how to square dance.

The best part about the Wildhorse Saloon wasn’t any of the surprising aspects of its atmosphere, it was our departure. Sunny and Emily had ordered huge Coronaritas (Coronarita: a margarita with a corona sticking out the top of the glass). After a long day of day-drinking, they couldn’t quite finish their drinks, but also didn’t want to waste them. “Amy, you should get a to-go box for your food,” Sunny requested, as her and Emily continued to devise a plan for taking their nearly-full drinks with them. “My mom does it all the time,” she said, as she poured her liquid drink into a cardboard to-go box (I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same thing). To nobody else’s surprise but her own, the box began to leak as soon as we stood up to leave. As we walked out, Sunny left a trail of Coronarita all over the Wildhorse Saloon floor. We walked back into our hotel room around 6:30, “I’ll set my alarm for 7:30 and we are going to go back out!” Emily said as we all closed our eyes for a quick nap… we woke up around 8 a.m. the next day.

“I just want a bloody mary,” Sunny and I were on a mission, 10 a.m. Sunday morning, to find a place with Bloody Mary’s. I’m pretty sure we found the closest possible one too. We went to the Opryland Mall and sat down at the bar of the Aquarium Restaurant, which, IS AWESOME by the way. There were huge aquariums all around us, a glowing blue light throughout the entire restaurant, and of course, there were Bloody Mary’s.

After a few Bloody Mary’s and a quick shopping trip we drove down to Sunny’s Aunt’s house for the remainder of the afternoon. We had some watermelon vodka slushies, some snacks, and a lot of great conversation. We chatted about work, boys, school, anything and everything that we needed to catch up on. As the drinks continued to flow, our chatting became mostly giggling, then it led to singing, and terrible piano playing, and before I knew it I was trying on her aunt’s wedding dress (nope, not kidding). It was a complete girl’s day, but soon it was time for us to make our departure, we had missed our “late night out on the town” on Saturday night when we passed out around 7 p.m. so tonight was the night.

Makeup done, hair finished, shoes strapped, outfits on, pictures taken: we were finally ready for our night, ready to soak in the Nashville night life. If I can say one thing that sums up how much fun we had on Sunday night it would be the fact that when it was time to leave, I threw an absolute temper tantrum. The live music, everyone singing and dancing, the streets bursting with people having a great time, girls looking ridiculous in their bachelorette party accessories, it was absolutely incredible. Nashville is a one of a kind place to visit (especially if you happen to be over the age of 21).

As the trip came to an end, I reflected on how thankful I was to be able to visit this place, with two of my absolute best friends, and also finish a piece of my running adventure. State #12 was one for the books. 

Pennsylvania

States

IDK, Pennsylvania

State #5

Location: Buttfuck nowhere, Pennsylvania… no but seriously, the middle of absolutely no where.

Half: Ghost Town Half Marathon (fitting, I know)
Date: ​April 30th, 2016
Finish Time:
Pace/Mile:

Who’d I travel with? Mom 
Pre-run meal? I don’t even know where to begin… Italian, I think?

FIRST FEMALE FINISHER! (Spoiler, sorry)

So, state #5… a very interesting adventure. I signed up for this race because it was convenient. It was a quick, easy, trip and one more state to knock off the list. I had no idea where this place was, and I knew this couldn’t be a “big” race based on the previous year’s results, but I was still excited to go somewhere new, race somewhere new.

My mom and I took to the road and began our trip to Pennsylvania. When we arrived we decided to stop in at the packet pick-up to eliminate the need to wake up 30 minutes earlier the next day. As we drove around in circles searching for the park where we were supposed to pick up my packet, we realized that we were truly in the middle of absolutely nowhere. There were no major streets, a few houses here and there, no promising places to eat for dinner later, and to top it all off: there was no sign of life at this park where we were supposed to be receiving my packet. So, we decided that maybe we missed the pick-up, and drove to our hotel.

Our hotel was shockingly beautiful. It was right on a scenic golf course, had a hot tub (YES!), and turned out to be a great spot to stay for the night. However, as I mentioned, there were absolutely no restaurants to be seen yet. We drove around forever looking for somewhere to eat and we finally stumbled upon an “Italian diner.” As the waitress brought us our meals, my mom prepared her fork to dig in. After she took her first bite the waitress returned. She said, “Oh I’m sorry I brought you guys the wrong food” and took my mom’s plate right from the table (remember, she had already taken a bite). She then hand-delivered this plate to a gentleman sitting across the restaurant. Obviously he hadn’t seen my mom dig in, because he took a big bite and continued eating his (or my mom’s?) meal. It was unbelievable, a memory I will remember forever.

So, the race. That morning we arrived at the park, picked up our packet finally, and then I was told to get on the bus. Evidently this was not a down and back or a 13-mile loop, this was a straight 13.1 miles. We piled onto the bus, drove 13.1 miles away, and got off. We lined up on the paved path which led into the woods, found our spot in the 50-100-person group, and took off.
As I started to run, I realized that I was quickly passing most of the people around me. I was now very close to the front, just a few males in front of me. The group started to thin out as some sped up and some slowed down. I had been running for a few miles, and I could see just one other person now, a guy about 300 feet in front of me. At mile 6 I saw my mom standing on the side of the street, shouting. I took out a head phone and heard, “YOU’RE THE FIRST GIRL KEEP GOING!” Easy for her to say, when she doesn’t have 7 more miles to uphold the position. But I was so excited and motivated from hearing that, my legs pumped harder, my heart sped up, my hands tingled. I COULD FINALLY WIN FIRST FEMALE.

I did it!! I won first female. My reward? A growler, a beach towel, a beer from a random man I didn’t know, a tank top, and a beer glass. Yes, you heard that right. I received a shit-ton of random gifts, but no medal. I am a medal snob. I get so excited to finish and receive that medal, hang it with the others, and add to my collection. I was crushed. However, I didn’t let that stop me from getting what I earned. I took the red, white, and blue ribbon that I had tied around my shirt during the race and untied it. Then I bought a penguin’s bottle opener at Walmart (classy, I know, but it was the only thing with a Pennsylvania symbol). I put the ribbon through the keychain on the bottle opener and there it was: my medal. FIRST FEMALE. 

Ohio

States

Columbus, Ohio

State #3

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Half: Columbus Half Marathon
Date: August 8th, 2015
Finish Time: 1:47:33
Pace/Mile: 8:11
Who’d I travel with? Mom 
Pre-run meal? Uh… I had barbeque dipped fried chips, a Caesar salad, pasta, and dessert 

What the actual fuck…?

​Oh boy… this one, yeah, this one was interesting. First things first: DO NOT GO FOR YOUR PERSONAL RECORD THE DAY BEFORE A HALF MARATHON.

Also… DO NOT RUN 6 MILES THE DAY BEFORE A HALF MARATHON.
Also… DO NOT EAT FRIED FOOD LESS THAN 12 HOURS BEFORE A HALF MARATHON.
Lastly, DO NOT SIT IN A HOT TUB THE ENTIRE NIGHT BEFORE A HALF MARATHON.

​Anyways, if you follow those basic rules, you won’t have as much trouble as I did during half marathon #3. Unless, of course, you realize that it’s a down and back shit-storm of a half marathon around mile 6.5. Then you’re pretty much just as fucked as I was (pardon my language, but come on).

So, not my best performance. But it was a race, and I am ever-thankful for each step I have traveled on this journey. But on a serious note, what was I thinking? There’s unprepared, and then there’s completely fucking yourself over (yes, that’s where I was). I am known by all for being somewhat air-headed and slightly unprepared, but I was a complete mess for this one (also, I had signed up for an 8-hour shift of serving which began approximately 4 hours after I ran this race). But hey, each race teaches me a little something new.