On November 2, 2014, I ran the TCS New York City Marathon, which was the 50th and final state in my quest to run a marathon in each of our 50 United States. I thought it would be interesting to put together some “fun facts” and answers to many questions I’m frequently asked about my 50 states marathon experience.
1) How many marathons have you completed?
I’ve started and finished 56 marathons, one in each of the 50 states. The 6 extra are from multiple marathons in Minnesota and North Dakota–I’ve run Fargo twice, Twin Cities three times, Grandmas twice, and Zoom Yah Yah! indoor marathon in Northfield, Minnesota once.
2) When did you start running?
I ran my first 5k in 2007 and my first marathon in 2008.
3) How many years did it take to finish all 50 states?
6 years, although I ran one in 2008, three new states in 2009, 5 new states in 2010 and then it spiraled out of control after that.
4) Total spent on marathons to date?
$26,730.09!! That includes race registration fees and all travel costs but does NOT include running clothes, shoes, gear like water bottles, nutrition items like Vespa or Gu… that’s probably another $5k but fortunately/unfortunately I didn’t keep track.
5) How many different airports did you connect through or fly to or from?
45 different airports, only counting marathon trips, not non-marathon vacations during that time, and each airport was counted only once even if I flew in or out of it multiple times.
6) How many toenails have you lost?
ZERO, although a good chunk of my big toenail peeled off once and my right 2nd toenail grows at a weird angle, probably from repeatedly hitting the inside of my shoe.
7) How many times have you, um, you know, gone to the bathroom in your running shorts while running a race?
ZERO! Feel free to laugh, but I am asked this question SO OFTEN and the answer is no, most of us are not in it to win it and there are almost always porta potties along the course.
8) How many pairs of running shoes did you go through?
Honestly I didn’t keep track. I’ve given quite a few dead pairs to charity but based on the number of dead pairs currently in my house, I would estimate I’ve gone through about 30 pair, +/- 5 pair.
9) How many total miles have you run?
7,682 miles. That includes all racing and training mileage from the beginning of my first marathon training plan through the New York marathon state #50.
10) Are your knees messed up?
Nope, knees are fine. I’m slow, have pretty good running form, don’t run a ton of non-race miles, and promptly change into new running shoes when my knees and ankles start to get sore.
11) Are you concerned with the long-term damage to your body?
No, life is too short to worry. If I were in real pain or thought I was causing long-term damage to my body, I would have stopped. After my first race, I was REALLY sore for like 3 days. My recovery time dropped dramatically after I went paleo and started running 5 or more races in a year to the point where I’m only mildly sore the day after the race and back to CrossFit on the 2nd day (within reason… I’m not squatting heavy weight for a few more days). I did get extremely tired in fall of 2013 after running two marathons in one weekend. I took about 5 months off, slowed my pace down, and stopped trying to PR. Honestly I enjoyed the 2014 races a lot more at the slower pace because I could stop and take pictures, talk to people, and enjoy the experience more.
12) How do you train in the winter in Minnesota?
I tried my first couple years of running to run outside in the winter but it was just miserable, even with the cold weather gear, head wrap, and hand warmers. Toes and fingers would go numb, my lungs would ache from the cold air and I could only stand a couple miles. And running on ice is really quite dangerous and my priority has always been not injuring myself. So instead I started running on treadmills and then started having ITB issues (Google it). After several trips to the orthopedic specialists and a $500 pair of orthotics, we determined that my form is “funny” when I run on a treadmill. I stopped running on treadmills (boring as hell anyway) and now just run around indoor tracks at Lifetime Fitness in the winter. I count laps on my left hand and miles on my right. I actually find it less boring than treadmill running because there’s forward progress and can people watch (so many questionable outfit choices, self-designed weight training programs, and bad form to watch!)
12) Have you ever DNF’d a race (DNF = did not finish)?
I’ve never DNF’d a full marathon but a couple years ago, I signed up for a half marathon trail race as a training run the weekend before a full marathon. It was a narrow, hilly trail with tree branches and rocks and way too many runners on it. I was just pissed for like the first 6 miles and when the course passed the parking lot where my car was parked, I just walked back to the car and headed home. Not worth rolling an ankle for a race I didn’t care about. The race shirt was really nice too and I’ve only worn it a few times because I feel guilty that I didn’t finish it.
13) Marathon PR? (PR = personal record, a.k.a. my fastest finish time)
4:29:37 at the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, Michigan. Everything clicked that day… training, weather, the mental game, flat and fast course, etc.
14) Marathon PW? (PW= personal worst, a.k.a. my slowest finish time)
5:54:42 at the Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon in Rachel, Nevada. As the name implies, it started at midnight. It was a really unique and nicely-organized race but with the midnight start I hit a wall around 2 am and walked most of the second half.
15) Have you ever qualified for or run the Boston Marathon?
No. The bane of my existence. You have to qualify to run Boston and the qualifying time for my current age group is a finishing a marathon in 3:35. See my PR in #11 above. Not even close. I’ll have a blog post up about that someday soon.
16) Which marathon is your favorite?
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, of course! Not just because it’s the hometown race, but it is beautiful with great crowd support and very well organized. Honorable mentions are Big Sur International Marathon (CA), New York City, Ogden (UT) and Mount Desert Island (ME)
17) Which marathon is your lease favorite?
The 2009 El Paso Marathon. Even with my parents there to cheer me on and my brother running it too… it sucked. 6 late race miles along the Ciudad Juarez border, windy, dusty, hot.
Other forgettable marathons I’ve finished: On the Road for Education in Iowa (boring and poorly marked course… I was convinced for like 2 miles of solitude that I’d gone off-course), Wilmington Delaware (not a great course, open to traffic and downright dangerous in some spots), Melbourne Florida (oh the humidity! I was sweating balls by mile marker #1 and Casper Wyoming (not a bad race at all but the altitude literally almost killed me). None of my least favorites were because the marathon or the state was bad, mostly just bad conditions or bad memories.
18) Which medal is your favorite?
Mississippi Blues Marathon glitter guitar medal complete with strap and pic. Tell me that isn’t the best medal you’ve ever seen:
19) What is the best race swag you’ve ever received (besides shirts or medals)?
The fleece poncho from New York City marathon I got for not checking a bag. Really nice quality poncho, although I’m sure where I would ever wear it again. I have tons of bags, hats, keychains, and glassware but that’s my favorite.
20) Which was the worst race medal?
On the Road for Education (IA)–pretty sure they bought their medals at a party store and put a sticker on the front with the race logo.
21) What are you doing with all the shirts, medals and race bibs?
The shirts I’m going to have made into a 50-states quilt (I’ll send it off to a company like this… I can barely sew a button). The medals I’m going to display on a wall somewhere in my house but we need to design and build a rack for them. The race bibs I’m going to string together using safety pins and hang up on the wall of my office.
22) Which was the most expensive marathon?
TCS New York City Marathon. The race registration was $260 plus I had to enter the lottery in 2012 and 2013 before I was grandfathered into the 2014 race.
23) Which was the least expensive marathon?
As far as lowest registration fee: King Salmon Marathon in Cordova, Alaska at $30. The travel costs to Alaska are a bit steep though so it wasn’t the least expensive overall. Cheapest overall were the local races (Twin Cities & Zoom Yah Yah where I only have to pay the registration fee and little to no travel expenses). Out of state, the cheapest was Run For the Ranch Marathon in Springfield, Missouri. My parents drove me there so I had no travel expenses 🙂
24) How does it feel to be done?
Depressing, actually. I have no races on the calendar. I’ve always said my happiest is the evening after a race and my most depressed is the day after a marathon, which is when I usually book the next race. Endorphin addict? Probably. I’ve been exercising an extreme amount of self-control these last two months and haven’t booked another race, mostly because I love my boyfriend and my mother and they really want me to be done. And I need to replenish my savings account.
25) WHAT’S NEXT?
Oh you know, the 7 continents, qualifying for Boston, running all the world marathon majors (I’ve run 2 of the 6, remaining are: Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin)… maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll never run another marathon again. I’m liking yoga a lot lately. And sleeping in. Stay tuned!
“I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now“
Have more questions? Ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!