ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST

Running

Giants” – Dermot Kennedy
Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith
Come Together” – Gary Clark Version
Greyhound” – Swedish House Mafia
Perfect” – Logic
August” – Taylor Swift
Till I Colapse” – Eminem
All the Way Up” – Fat Joe
Blinding Lights” – The Weekend
Sad Sad City” – Ghostland Observatory
Automobile” – KALEO
I’m Gonna Be” – The Proclaimers
Where is the Love” – Black Eyed Peas
Shotgun” – George Ezra
Magic in the Hamptons” – Social House
Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
What a Man Gotta Do” – Jonas Brothers
ME!” – Taylor Swift
Same Love” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Honey, I’m Good” – Andy Grammar
Vienna” – Billy Joel
Pompeii” – Bastille
Wild Wild Love” – Pitbull
Hard to Forget” – Sam Hunt

Runner’s Train of Thoughts

Running

A Runner’s Train of Thoughts

Diary of a Half Marathon

​As we walked back to the car after half marathon #28, the sun slowing beginning to warm the air around us, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I recalled the outrageous number of thoughts that had cycled through my mind during the hour and a half I was running. When you’re running, for any amount of time, you inevitably find your mind wandering to people, places, basically ANYTHING to keep your mind off the moment, off the negative thought train. You know, the one telling you that you’re tired, out of breath, maybe hot, probably too cold, your legs definitely hurt, your head hurts, wait, everything hurts. 

Now, that train might not be so bad when you’re running a mile, two miles, even three miles, but… when you’re running 13!? Boy. Does your mind go some funny places to avoid that taking that train. Like… really funny places….


The Starting Line


Oh God. Where do I stand? Right here, okay, cool. This is my spot. Perfect. This person is way too freaking close to me. And how does he already smell? We haven’t even started running yet. Oh wait. Is that me who smells? No. Ok. It’s not me… yet. I am definitely going to smell by the time this race is over. Ew. But. Maybe it will be worth it. Maybe I’ll win. Or not. Maybe I’ll be last. No. Ok. You won’t be last. That won’t happen. Stop thinking that. When the hell is this thing going to start anyways? And WHY IS THIS PERSON SO DAMN CLOSE TO ME AGAIN? Should I move up? Maybe I’m faster than that girl. Or maybe not. Maybe she’ll pass me and I’ll look like an idiot. Ok. I’ll just stay here. OH SHIT. HERE WE GO. 


The First Mile


Alright. This isn’t so bad. This is great! I’m not even cold anymore. I am on top of the fucking world. I might even win this whole thing. Wouldn’t that be fucking sweet? Oh shit. She passed me. Ok. Just one girl. No big deal. WTF ANOTHER ONE?! Ok. These people are NOT messing around. I need to go faster. NO. I can’t. Remember that time you completely overexerted yourself and then died at the end? Yeah. You hated that. Especially when they tried to force you into that ambulance after you made a joke about the defibrillator looking like a boombox. I mean, it did look like a boombox. Don’t do that again. You’re fine. Just run your race. It’s literally the first mile. You have 12 more to make it up. These people are so dang fast though. What the heck did they eat for breakfast? OHHHH I’m gonna pass you, HAHA! Sucker. I’m cruising now. What?! Mile 2? God I feel like I’ve been running forever. 


Miles 2-8

Alright. Mile 2. We got this. We are feeling good. Let’s just keep this going. Wait. What is that pain in my side? Is that going to get worse? Oh great. At least I have that to look forward to. No. You need to stay positive. Do not start thinking about the end yet. We literally just started. At least you’re not dying yet. Remember that race in Arizona? Yeah. Nothing is worse than that. At least I didn’t get high last night. At least I’m not high right now. Yeah. I’m feeling good! This is great. Okay. Let’s focus on our pace. Should I look at my watch and check how fast I’m going? No. Let’s just run our race and see what happens. But. Also. Maybe I should look at my watch and just check. No. No Amy. Oh a dog!! That store looks nice. I wish I had enough money to shop there. An ice cream store! Yes. I can totally afford that. What was the name? Shit. It’s gone now. Oh well. Alright. Let’s re-focus. FOCUS AMY. Just one foot in front of the other. We got this. I CAN DO IT. 


Miles 8-11

THIS IS TAKING FOREVER. My legs hurt. Everything freaking hurts. I feel like I am going so slow what the hell is happening here. I don’t care about that dog. Ok. Maybe I do a little bit. Aw. Look at that. A little girl holding a sign. I should give her a high five. But that would mean having to take several extra steps. I’m not doing it. But she’s so stinking cute. Ok fine fine fine, DO IT AMY. YES. So glad I did that. You are such a good person. Okay gotta get my head back in the game here. What’s my pace? Oh. Wait. That pace is actually pretty good. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m dying right now, I’d be super pumped about that. TWO MORE MILES OH MY GOSH. Ok. Let’s just slow down and then go faster for the last two miles. 


THE END IS NEAR!

I’m ALMOST THERE. I can do it. I am on fire. SHIT he passed me. I need to pick up the pace here. How much further is it? Shit I really have to pee. Okay just one more mile. I CAN DO IT. Maybe I should go faster. SHIT what is that pain in my side?! Ok. Don’t go faster. Just relax for now until you get a little closer. But everyone else around you is picking up speed, you HAVE to go faster. OH MY GOSH THERE’S THE FINISH LINE. I wonder where my mom is. I should smile. I can’t smile, I’m too tired. Okay let’s just sprint this final stretch. One. Two. Three. GO. HI MOM!!!!!!! Finally. I’m done. That was amazing. 

The BEST & WORST Half Marathons

Running

The BEST & The WORST
Half Marathons

The same question somehow seems to slide into my DM’s every single week: “so, which race has been your favorite?” There have been some INTERESTING (to put it lightly) races and places throughout my journey… but here are the absolute BEST and WORST race travel destinations that I’ve seen so far.

The BEST:

Ogden Half Marathon
Ogden, Utah

The Ogden Marathon/Half Marathon is held every May in Ogden, Utah & it was by far the BEST travel destination that I’ve been to thus far. While I have visited many big cities (Las Vegas, New York City, etc.) along my journey, Ogden offered more than any of them. Ogden is unique, gorgeous, and offers endless adventure. 

The city of Ogden itself is located North of Salt Lake City with an endless mountain backdrop lining the sky. The downtown area is a pedestrian hot-spot filled with quaint little shops, unique eats, bars, and art galleries. Right outside of town there are countless options for exploration. Here are just a few of them:

– Antelope Island State Park
– Ogden Trails
– Waterfall Canyon
– Ogden River Parkway
– Ogden Canyon Trail
– Snowbasin Resort
– North Fork Park
– Powder Mountain
– Nordic Valley

If you’re one who loves outdoor adventure – Ogden is truly the PERFECT destination for your next trip. And what about the race itself? Well, Ogden made sure that it was a perfect representation of its town. Starting at the top of the mountain in the crisp early sun, you ran downhill, between massive slabs of rocks on both sides of the street. Waterfalls slipped down into creeks as you soaked in the scenery of the beautiful mountainous landscape. After 13 miles you finished in the downtown valley, greeted by the perfect picture opportunity. 

The WORST:

Veterun Half Marathon
Summit Point, West Virginia

Well… sorry, West Virginia, but you take the cake for the worst race travel story so far. Now, nothing against West Virginia itself – the state actually has some interesting sites to see in certain cities – but not in Summit Point… At least not from what I saw. 

While the trip itself was fairly short, just a quick little road-trip weekend, I didn’t necessarily need to see anymore. The race took place at a motocross park – a never-ending road that twisted and turned into countless opportunities for half marathon chaos and confusion. And that’s exactly what happened. 

Hundreds of runners took off, twisting and turning in unison for the first couple hundred feet. Until some started leading the pack, and some started dropping back. That’s when it happened. The confusion. The chaos. The absolute disaster. The course was not marked well, to say the least, and runners had absolutely no idea which way to turn, or where the road was leading, or should be leading, us. We were all running in random directions, nobody quite sure where we had come from or where we were supposed to be going. When I finally found the finish line, I realized I was still only at 11 miles…. which is obviously a problem when you’re going for 13.1. I literally had to TURN AROUND 100 feet away from the finish line, and run back into the course just to grab another 2 miles. It was an absolute mess. Straight up madness. 

Outside of the race being a natural disaster in itself – the town itself didn’t necessarily offer too much more to see (sorry, Summit Point). We actually had to drive out of the city limits to find somewhere to eat/to fill the car with gas. So. Not that I’m saying you SHOULDN’T visit this West Virginia town – but, I’m just saying, it’s not quite gonna make the list of places I’d go again. BUT WHO KNOWS. They could build a Dairy Queen and change my mind. 

South Carolina

States

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

State #30

​Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Half: BEACH RUN
Date: June 4, 2020
Finish Time: 1:43
Pace/Mile:
7:40/mile
Who’d I travel with? Nick
Pre-run meal? Pasta, pizza, some red wine, and a shit ton of Moscow Mules

Guess I’ll Just Make My Own Damn Race…

Just a few months ago I had my shit together, man. I had races planned for nearly every single month of 2020 – new places to travel, exciting races to participate in, bigger goals to achieve… and then… Corona Virus. Covid had such an unforeseeable impact on so many – and I refuse to complain about something like my races being cancelled when I compare those races to the life changing damage done to so many others. So, instead, I decided to continue my journey anyways.

Running wasn’t cancelled. Road tripping wasn’t cancelled. Exploring wasn’t cancelled. So, I decided that instead of participating in those now-cancelled races I had registered for, I would simply make my own. I would still travel each month to different states and run my own 13.1 miles in each one. I decided that I will still explore new places and spend precious time with people I love... Starting with…

SOUTH CAROLINA

And guess what?! After 9 hours of being trapped in a car together… he STILL LOVED ME. I know, pretty amazing. After a long car-ride and a bit of a mishap with the lock at our Air B&B, we were finally settling into what would be our home for the week. When it comes to Nick & I, I have to admit that we’re a bit of a competitive couple.. Okay, we’re an extremely competitive couple. So, when we saw that our place was right next door to several putt-putt courses – well, it was pretty obvious where we’d be spending most of our vacation.

In case anyone was wondering… I won (well, I won at least one game out of four). The remainder of our vacation was split between relaxing on the beach (where I forced Nick into listening to the remainder of our true crime podcast), eating LOTS of food (where Nick gently encouraged/forced me to try oysters), and playing soccer with a volleyball in the sand (where we both completely embarrassed ourselves by pretending we still had the same touch on the ball that we had when we played in college).

Let’s pause for a moment here to talk about South Carolina’s race preparation – or rather, the lack thereof. Due to the fact that this vacation was FREAKING AMAZING – I wasn’t overly concerned with strictly preparing myself to run. Life isn’t just running. Life is spending all day long at the beach, drinking Moscow Mules and playing corn-hole and mini-golf in the afternoon sun, ordering Hawaiian pizza at 9 p.m. because Nick and I got lost in a crime podcast once again while drinking a bottle of wine on our patio. Life is so much more than trying to be “good” at running, or trying to always do your absolute “best.” Sometimes, other things are simply more important. And, you know, that whole lack of preparation thing likely would have been fine… had it not been for Nick’s suggestion (or challenge, rather) to run my 13.1 South Carolina miles on the beach. But hey, at least my emotional tank was full, right?

Morning came, and…well…Nick and I slept in a little later than we had planned (classic). Sometime around 9 a.m. we finally stumbled down to the beach for my “race” to start. Nick dragged a stick across the sand to create my starting line as I continued to panic about the race (who knows why, but I was still my normal pre-race nervous-Nelly self even without an actual race). See evidence below.

Eventually, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was about to run 13.1 miles in the sand – so, I waved goodbye to Nick and took off down the beach! Let me be clear here: RUNNING IN THE SAND IS THE HARDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. I am not kidding. I have experienced many terrains during my 29 states – the hills, the heat, the humidity – and yet NOTHING compares to the challenge of running in the sand. Nothing. It feels like you’re putting all of your effort into each and every step, yet you’re somehow just still moving so dang slow. For the first 6-7 miles, I simply tuned the world out and enjoyed the scenery as I bobbed and weaved between beach-walkers and sand-castle-makers – simultaneously trying to avoid the approaching tide. And although it was hard as hell – it was also incredible. It was a once in a lifetime type of run – the type of challenge I wouldn’t have thought to try, or even have had a chance to, had it not been for the change of plans this year.

The last few miles were by far the most challenging. My calves felt like they were going to explode (I don’t recommend trying to run 13.1 miles the FIRST time you ever try beach-running). My body simply wasn’t prepared. I’ll spare you some of the details, but, essentially, I added a bit of additional mileage to my race due to the fact that I had to keep running up and down the beach to the garbage cans (that whole pizza and wine combination ultimately didn’t go so well). I was freaking EXHAUSTED as I approached the final stretch. But. The moment I saw Nick standing there, my spirits rose. I was so excited to hug him, to celebrate with him, to share the entire experience with him. I crossed the home-made finish line he had prepared while I was running and collapsed into the sand. Armed with water in one hand and alcohol in the other – he congratulated and hugged me (despite the extreme amount of sweat being inevitably transferred to him).

After a quick splash in the ocean, it was time to celebrate! We spent the remainder of the day drinking, laughing, exploring, and social distancing, of course. State #30 was so unique – sure, my time wasn’t great, my preparation was… welll, there was no preparation, and my body wasn’t necessarily equipped to run that far in the sand – but you know what? It was absolutely perfect. I had challenged myself to do something I had never done before, and I did it. I ENJOYED myself without stressing the whole time about my performance or my time. I took a road-trip and vacation with someone I love. And even though there wasn’t an actual race…

I had still run 13.1 miles in my 30th state!

.

Wisconsin

States

Green Bay, Wisconsin

State #2

​Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Half: Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon
Date: September 21st, 2014
Finish Time:
Pace/Mile:

Who’d I travel with? Melissa, Cliff, Rob, Mom, Marsha  
Pre-run meal? Pretty sure it was fast food of some sort…

Alright… Maybe Just One More…

​So, half marathon #2… not as glamorous. It was basically out of convenience. There happened to be a half marathon that my cousin Melissa’s husband was running in Green Bay, and this happens to be where 99.9% of my family members live. We travel back and forth from Ohio to Wisconsin at least 4-5 times a year to visit my siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, you get the point. But anyways, we were back to go on our annual apple-picking trip with the entire family. And it just so happened that there was also a half marathon this weekend, so, I ran.

My training wasn’t as exciting this time; I barely even remember if I did train. I’m sure I did because my time improved. I can’t recall what I had to eat the night before, or nearly anything except for one thing: I slept on the floor of my sister’s house, with 2 cats (I’m allergic to cats), and was just unpleasantly surprised by mother nature’s gift for the month. I was less than thrilled, but I was ready to run.

It was actually a beautiful course. It’s funny how you’re running for 13 miles yet you can usually only recall bits and pieces of the run. Like what the hell was I doing that I didn’t take in the surroundings for 8/13 of the miles? But I do remember running through a few parks, running by some water, and the fact that I hadn’t yet faced my first “there and back” (I actually didn’t even know there was the potential for such dreadful things in a race of this length). It was a beautiful run, and it left me ready to keep running. 

West Virginia

States

Somewhere in, West Virginia

State #15

Location: Somewhere in, West Virginia
Half: Veteran’s Half Marathon
Date: March 3, 2018
Finish Time: 1:34
Pace/Mile: 7:10
Who’d I travel with? Mom, Kristen, and Mike
Pre-run meal? Uh. Dairy Queen I think? Oh and Pies & Pints! 

Uh…What Just Happened? 

I mean… at least I only have to do West Virginia once, right? So maybe #15 wasn’t necessarily the MOST exciting of steps in this journey; but hey, 15 is one one step closer to 50 right? Plus, it wasn’t all bad. 

Or wait. Maybe it was.

But. At least West Virginia is just a stone-throw from Ohio, right? Well. Of course, ya girl picked the absolute southeastern most part of West Virginia to run my race… strike 1. But the weather must have been mild in West Virginia right? Well, evidently West Virginia isn’t necessarily any warmer than Ohio in March… strike 2. And strike 3? Well. Strike 3 requires a little bit of an explanation. 

It was finally the moment that I had waited for the entire race – the final mile. As I rounded the last corner of the course and the finish line finally came into view, I could see my mom and my sister among the spectators lining the last stretch. I was so close, I could hear them screaming to sprint the last leg – and that’s when it happened. That’s when I turned around and started running… in the opposite direction – away from the finish line. The look of dismay on my mom’s face at that moment – she looked as though she might jump the barrier, stomp out there, and carry me across that line herself. But I was determined, determined to finish this race. 

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well. This race was held on a Motorsports Track, and couldn’t have been marked any worse. Essentially, once you started running, you were now a rat, running around in a maze, praying you made it to the finish line at some point. I couldn’t even keep track of the amount of times that I got lost. I was running in circles out there, just trying to find my way to 13 miles. So, when I finally did find that finish line, I checked my phone and saw that I had only run 12 miles… So I did what any dedicated runner would do – I turned my ass around and kept running (making sure not to stray too far from that finish line – or it would be another 13 before I found it again). Anyways – long story short – strike 3 was my inability to navigate anything larger than a preschool playground. 

But hey.. it’s definitely a finish I’ll never forget. 

Washington

States

Seattle, Washington

State #23

Location: Seattle, Washington
Half: Mud and Chocolate Half Marathon
Date: April 15, 2019
Finish Time: 1:36
Who’d I travel with? Brett
Pre-run meal? Chocolate. Just kiddingggggg. But honestly… I don’t know, probably because I had too much chocolate. 

MUD AND CHOCOLATE (LOTS OF CHOCOLATE):

From Louisiana, to St. Louis, to Seattle. Three months, three races, three states, three adventures. Seriously. At this point, I was banging out 13 miles left and right and hopping on and off planes as if I knew what I was doing, or knew how to actually navigate an airport. Seattle, Washington – state #23. I was traveling with Brett, and, since he’s quite the planner (thankfully, because I am not), we had a ton on our agenda already – he had already looked up the best places to eat, to drink, to play games – we (he) had everything planned out. Until approximately 10 minutes before landing; at which point, we realized, Seattle, Washington has legalized some things recreationally that, well, aren’t necessarily legal elsewhere. 

NOW. I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE ENGAGED IN THIS TYPE OF RECREATION. GOSH. WHO DO YOU THINK I AM. Also, not sure if you read my post on my Arizona adventure already (if not, check it out for a better understanding) but, again, I will say that I really, really, enjoyed Seattle’s fine chocolate and gummy bear selection. And again, I consumed WAY TOO MANY FREAKING GUMMIES AND CHOCOLATES. I’m just trying to live my best life here, okay guys? Anyways, as I was saying, we had everything all planned out. Until we found chocolate. And gummies. 

We were Air B&B-ing it again this trip. So we found our place, settled in, and ate chocolate till we passed out. When we woke up, it was finally time to explore Seattle. But first, a 5 mile run through the Seattle forests. This trip was unique because, for this particular race, there were two races: a 5 mile race on Saturday, and the half marathon on Sunday. Brett really wanted to do the 5 mile race. So, like the supportive girlfriend I am, I ran it with him on Saturday before my own race on Sunday (did I mention there was MORE free chocolate at the end of the race? I mean, it wasn’t quiteeeee like the chocolate we already had back in our room, but it was still some damn good chocolate). It was pouring out, but underneath the tall trees you couldn’t feel a single raindrop. We were completely sheltered by the forest canopy, and I couldn’t get enough of it, any of it. It was absolutely unbelievable– the trees, the paths, the leaves and pine needles all over the ground. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to be able to explore 7 more miles of it the following day. I got first female in the race – scoring myself a nice coffee mug and some more free chocolate (chocolate seemed to be the theme of my Seattle trip). After our race, we finally showered and got ready to explore the city of Seattle (but first – another piece of OUR chocolate —– bad idea in hindsight). 

Guys. Don’t get me wrong. Seattle is absolutely unbelievable. But. I’m not going to lie here. This day will go down in the history of my life as one of the funniest days I have ever experienced. I mean. Here we are. In this city that neither of us have ever been to. On the furthest reach of the US. Completely confused and lost. And laughing at literally everything. Except the guy who we thought was a security guard at the Space Needle – he wasn’t funny until after we realized that he wasn’t going to arrest us for anything, but rather, was just going to point our dumbasses in the correct direction to go up it. We explored everywhere (I’m not sure how we navigated our way around the city, but the picture evidence says that we made our way around pretty well). We went to the Gum Wall (who knew that was there???), the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market. At the end of our day-long adventure, we got some food and finally made our way back and crashed to recharge for my race in the morning. 

It was the morning of the race and we were in the middle of the forests of Seattle…completely soaked. It was raining from the moment we got to the registration table until the moment they blew the whistle for us to begin racing through the mud to the finish line. Luckily for me, once I start running, everything becomes background noise. From previous experience, I decided it might be a good idea for me to start near the front of the pack to avoid bobbing and weaving around people as I passed – this ended up being a very good idea. As I started running, I realized that I was quickly ahead of the pack – the whole pack. Literally. I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, and nobody had passed me yet.

This race was a 4.5 loop, which means I had to run the same route three times before finally detouring to the finish line. As I started my second loop, the man at the water counter shouted, “KEEP IT UP YOU’RE IN FIRST!” And in that moment, I decided, I was going to win the damn thing. I was flying through the woods, cutting corners, weaving between trees, conquering hills and speeding down the slopes. With just a mile left, I knew I was still in first place, and I wasn’t going to stop now. I kept going, maintaining my pace and my focus, until the finish line was in sight. And when I saw it, I sprinted through, shocking everyone because a female had won the race (WOOHOOOOOO!). It was my first overall win, and I couldn’t have been more proud, or more excited; because, like I said, there was free chocolate at the end of the race, and I got first dibs. 7:30 minute miles, 1:36 finish time, first female, first overall finisher, YES. 

I shoved chocolate of all kinds in my face as my body finally started to calm down from the rush of excitement. After a few more cupcakes, it was definitely time to celebrate. After a long shower to get the mud off, we drove back into the city to explore, and continue, our adventure. We went to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (SO. FREAKING. GOOD), got a sundae at Shug’s Soda Fountain (because I really needed more chocolate)and played connect 4 as we watched the sunset at a little wine bar in Pike Place. It was absolutely perfect. State #23 will always be remembered for it’s first place finish, mud, and-of course- the chocolate. 

Virginia

States

Lynchburg, Virginia

State #6

Where? Lynchburg, Virginia
State?  #6
Date?  July, 2016
Race?   Lynchburg Half Marathon
Finish Time?   1:50:00
Pace?   8:20/mile

HOT, HUMID & HEADPHONES

State #6, otherwise known as I’M MORE THAN HALF WAY TO 10! #6 was in Lynchburg, Virginia. Who knew Lynchburg was hilly? Not me when I signed up, that’s for sure. Who knows Lynchburg is 98 degrees with 95% humidity in the middle of summer? Not me, that’s for sure. But like I’ve said before, every single state is an adventure and an irreplaceable step in this journey.

This was also the first half marathon that my mom wasn’t able to come to (cue the sad music). My boyfriend at the time agreed to come be my cheerleader for this race. He lived in North Carolina, so we met in Lynchburg. In addition to being the first half marathon that I traveled to alone, this was also the first hotel room I had ever rented on my own… and probably the last that anyone will ever let me rent on my own. He got to the hotel first and called me in horror, “Amy, what the hell were you thinking?” I didn’t see the problem… it was just for one night. While checking into the hotel, the lady at the front desk asked us if we would be using the fridge or T.V. I must not have been hiding my confusing because then she explained how “they cost extra”. I didn’t even know hotels could charge you extra to use the fridge. Anyways, not the best hotel I’ve stayed at during this adventure, but it probably won’t be the worst either.

One of the absolute best parts of each and every trip: dinner. Where? OLIVE GARDEN. As you can probably tell, I love Olive Garden. Nothing says pre-race meal  like free breadsticks and a big ass bowl of pasta. Not to mention the bottomless salad. Our waiter introduced himself as “Batman.” No, I am not kidding. We ate 3 baskets of breadsticks, 2 bowls of salad, and I got spaghetti and meatballs. I’d say I was efficiently carbed up and ready to run the next day.

That next morning, I woke up, had some caffeine, put on my race bib, and walked outside to see how it felt. It was HOT. I’m talking the kind of hot where everything feels disgustingly sticky and damp, where your hair sticks to your neck, the kind of hot where you can barely make any movements without sweat dripping down your back. PERFECT (yes, that is sarcasm).

So, it was hot. 98 degrees to be exact. On top of that, add 95% humidity as the cherry on top. But, like usual, my “it’s fine” mentality pretended that everything would go exactly as planned, I’d run my usual time with ease, finish another state, and smash some pizza afterwards. WRONG.

I was cruising along, got past mile one, got past mile two, and then my headphones started to slip out of my ears. I put them back in, they fell back out, back in, back out, in, out, in, out… WHAT THE HELL. Yes, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “well…. what did you expect when it’s 95% humidity and you’re sweating like a pig?” Moral of this disaster: BUY HEADPHONES WITH EAR HOOKS IF YOU ARE COMMITTED TO RUNNING IN ANY TEMPERATURE WHICH MAY INDUCE MASS SWEATING. For real though, I had to finish the race by listening to music out loud (sorry everyone).

The other major memory from this race: the elevation (which I did not mentally prepare for whatsoever). The race was flat for the first 3-4 miles, perfectly paved path with a few twists and turns, beautiful bridges….and then it happened. A massive, wrap-around, mountain of a hill. I’m talking the kind of hill that goes on so long that it wraps around and around and around, and you can’t see the top until you’ve finally reached it. When I got to the top, everyone around me had started walking. I tried to keep going, tried to keep my momentum… but I had to slow down. I didn’t stop, not quite yet at least, but I slowed down considerably. I ran miles 5-9 SLLLOWWWWWW. I’m talkin like fake-jogging at some points, the kind of jog where you’d be better off walking because you’re going to damn slow. But I FINISHED. It might not have been pretty, but it was #6.

TAKE AWAYS:

  • BUY HEADPHONES WITH EAR HOOKS
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
  • Maybe a massive pasta, bread, dessert type of dinner isn’t the best pre-race meal????

Utah

States

Ogden, Utah

State #16

Location: Ogden, Utah
Half: Ogden Half Marathon
Date: May 19, 2018
Finish Time: 1:37
Who’d I travel with? Mom, Kristen and Nora
Pre-run meal? Italian! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

The best gift I’ve ever received? A trip to Utah with my absolute best friends – my mom, sister, and my niece, Nora. What makes it even better? I got to run a half marathon through the mountains. Granted, Kristen initially put the half marathon registration and flight ticket in a water bottle, so it took me a while to realize the gift was much more than something to drink from. 

I’ve never been to Utah; but my mom told me it would be one of my favorite places – and she was absolutely correct. This half marathon definitely won the prize for the most beautiful scenery thus far in my half marathon journey, despite the high elevation and guaranteed breathing difficulty. 

Before race day, we got a chance to see a little more of Ogden’s beautiful landscape by exploring Antelope Island State Park. I swear, this place looks like something straight from Star Wars. It’s a combination of beach, flat land, mountains, boulders, and a beautiful stretch of open water. Also, and this may not be as appealing as the above mentioned sightings, but there was literally buffalo shit everywhere and yet somehow we couldn’t find a single buffalo. 

On race day, my family drove me through the mountains to drop me off at the starting line with the other runners. Then they joined the cheering section at the finish line 13 miles away. Right before the race started, I got nervous, which is something that doesn’t typically happen to me before a race. But I was worried about the altitude, the course, the amount of people running. I was worried that somehow I wasn’t going to “perform” my best. This is one of the races that ended up showing me the reason I run – not for my time, not for praise or compliments, I run for me. I run because I can. I run because I like to explore new places and see new things. I run because it gives me space, time, and freedom to clear my head and be in my own world. I run because it is what I love. I had a huge realization before this race – that running because you love it is enough.

As I ran, I stopped and took pictures of the picturesque waterfall running down the side of the cliffs, a sight that I’ll never forget seeing during a run. I listened to songs by Eminem and rapped out loud despite the interesting looks I was getting from those around me. Throughout the race I remained in my zone, running my own race, and not worrying about anything else except the joy and thankful feeling I had to have my family there at the end, no matter what, no matter how I performed, no matter what place I took. They were there for me and with me, no matter what. 

Thank you Kristen, for the most wonderful gift I’ve ever received! 

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.