Monday, February 19, 2007

50 States and 100 Marathons Finished!

I made it! After 2,620 miles of running, 100,000 miles of flying and thousands of dollars, I finished! 100 marathons and 50 states completed---on the same day!
If you think about it, this is a very unusual combination as most 50 State Club runners wouldn’t run an extra 50 marathons on the way to their 50.

Unfortunately, for me I was in denial for about 20 of my first states. I always thought how crazy it would be to fly to Bismarck, ND for a marathon with 50 people when it would cost less to go to Cancun for a week! Somehow on my marathon a month schedule, I crossed over to “dark side” of marathoning and was hooked!

As I had been going to so many marathons, I have plenty of running friends, one more extreme than the other, so it’s not difficult to imagine how back in February, the idea came to me to finish the states and my 100th marathon on January 1, 2007. Not only would I accomplish both of those goals but be the first one of the year to do it.

As you may not realize, this not only takes a lot of running but a lot of planning!

I needed to study the schedule very carefully, shop around for flights, find willing traveling companions, and of course do a training run once in a while.

This is not an easy task. In the spring my schedule had me running 3 marathons-Fargo, Vermont City and South Bend- in consecutive weeks; one “extra” non-state marathon-Rio- in June, another new state, Maine, in July, then not another marathon until September, Tupelo; then one every other week in the fall Rhode Island,-Twin Cities, Detroit, Outer Banks, Maryland and Las Vegas.

Somehow after some minor setbacks such as getting closed out of a race for not registering in time, nearly missing a flight or 2 and walking for 7 or 8 miles to finish when I was too sick to run one more step, I found myself at the starting line in Kingwood, Texas on January 1st!

As you may have guessed the Texas Marathon is by no means going to give the
Chevron Houston Marathon any competition!

First of all, who what want to give up their New Year’s Eve plans to run a marathon the next morning? Runners, of course! The race directors, Steve and Paula Boone are board members of the 50 States Club. Steve has run over 300 marathons and Paula is almost up to 200. They know what runners want and need in a marathon. You won’t see many complaints about their marathon from anyone.

First of all, Steve spent the day working on the mile markers and even though the course winds it’s way through trails in the middle of woods, Paula posted bright pink arrows along the course and marked the path with chalk in Xs and arrows, so there would be no way for anyone to take a wrong.

The course consists of 4 out and back loops on perfectly flat greenbelt trails past Lake Houston. Great scenery, however, out in the woods, with the exception of a few locals walking their dogs-no spectators! Not a problem, everyone had their name printed on to their race number. After passing each other for a few times we were all on a first name basis!

The weather was bit chillier than I had expected-40s at the start, 50s during the race, with very little sun breaking through the trees and NO WIND: Actual ideal marathon weather!
Finishers received a long sleeve shirt-cotton with a cow logo on it. A shiny cow medal and a stuffed cow tagged with your finishing place number. The finish-line food was more of a picnic. Sodas, cookies, crackers, and pizza delivered hourly so that the slower runners wouldn’t have to eat cold pizza.

I arrived at the marathon a bit later than I had planned. As it’s a small race, less than 250 runners, there was no need for packet pick up prior to the race. However, I still needed a few extra minutes to get my number, “50” of course, pinned on to my shirt, tie my hair back and decide on whether or not to wear a throw-away shirt.

During the pre-race instructions, Paula called me and another fellow, Richard up to front and introduced us – When she announced that Richard was running his 100th marathon everyone cheered, then she announced that not only was I running my 100th marathon but it was my 50th state as well and everyone went crazy.

As I went back into the crowd, one of the runners came up to me and introduced himself as Rob. It was Rob who made my 50 State finish possible—he was the one who gave me his entry into Outer Banks, NC when I got closed out. I hugged him and quickly told him how he was my favorite person.

As the starting gun went off I realized I had already started my watch—trying to fix it only made matters worse. I gave up and figured I would just settle for taking my split times. Without a clock on the course-not even at the finish line, I could only surmise that I was doing pretty well. No aches or pains, cramping, blistering and I only had a couple miles over 10 minutes.

The last couple miles were getting tough and as in most small races-the field had spread out so I was by myself. I was about a mile from the finish when I saw Steve-not only running the race but running in it, too! “Hey, Steve” I called out to him. He replied;
“You’re getting your trophy in a few minutes!”

Hearing that was all it took for me to hang on for that last mile. I couldn’t believe I was that close. As I crossed the finish line, I just couldn’t imagine that I was finished. It had to have been one of the easiest marathons I’ve run. I went over to the timing officials and asked for my time-4:05:52! 10 minutes faster than the marathon I ran in November that I thought was a good time. No better training, and even less sleep. It was amazing.

Paula gave me a special “Congratulations” plaque from the Texas Marathon. It takes a month or so to get the official 50 States Finisher trophy, so I still have that to look forward to. Until then –my plans are to just run the marathons I like, maybe go back to my marathon a month schedule and work on my next goal –The Continents, after all I already have 3!

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