The Road to 50 States
by Amy Reed
I've run 26.2 miles eleven times. On purpose. Yes, with my two feet. Yes, I said "on purpose."
My infatuation with running began innocently in the year 2000. A friend starting training for a 5K, and, not to be left behind, I started jogging behind him. Within a month, I had started to shed my sedentary lifestyle and ran my first 5K. I kept running about 2 to 3 miles several times a week. Within a year, thanks to my new hobby, I had not only shed my sedentary lifestyle, but I had also shed 50 pounds...so I kept on running.
In November 2005, I decided I needed a challenge and registered for the Hospital Hill 1/2 Marathon, which was in June 2006. In order to tackle the distance, I joined the Runner's Edge of Kansas City, one of our local training groups. Before I had even run my first half marathon, I was hooked, and I signed up for the Kansas City Marathon, which was in October. I really looked forward to the camaraderie of training with my running group on Saturdays. In addition, as a chemical engineer, I seemed to respond well to the regimented training schedule, and I began to look forward to crossing off training runs on my schedule. I even created a spreadsheet to track my mileage and how far I ran in what pair of shoes. It was perfect for my Type A personality. I love goals and goal tracking. My first marathon was the Kansas City Marathon, one day before my 31st birthday.
Not to be swayed by the physical and mental challenges of completing my first marathon, I decided to run the St. Louis Marathon with two of my running friends (Marcus and Stacie) during Spring 2007. During that marathon, the idea of running a marathon in all 50 states was placed in my head. I still remember this portion of our conversation vividly: "you only need 10 states to get in", "yeah, only." At the time, it was just a seed that had been planted and was temporarily forgotten. After the St. Louis Marathon, I burned out on distance running and switched to cycling for a year.
In December 2008, I felt the passion burning within me to return to distance running, and I signed up for the 2009 Country Music Marathon. Between 2008 and 2010, I decided to return to the challenge of running in 10 states, so I ran the Country Music Marathon (TN), Twin Cities Marathon (MN), Little Rock Marathon (AR), Lincoln Marathon (NE), Chicago Marathon (IL), and the Gobbler Grind Marathon (KS). In the first quarter of 2011, I completed the Goofy Race and a 1/2 Challenge (FL), the Oz Marathon (another KS), and the Flying Pig Marathon (OH). (That's 11 marathons in 9 states if you lost count.) I've also finished 15 half-marathons in four states. Within the last year, I've qualified to become a member of the Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs but it is the 50 States Club that is the carrot that continues to dangle in front of me.
With each state I check off my marathon list, I find myself more and more infatuated with checking off another state. A lot of runners train intensely to qualify for the Boston Marathon. While I've chipped over 45 minutes off my original 5:37 marathon time over the last five years, I've accepted that Boston might be a slightly overzealous goal for me at the moment. Getting into the 50 States Club by running in 10 states is my Boston.
"But why 26.2 miles?", people ask me. All. The. Time. Two words. Race bling. I love adding a new finisher's medal to my collection. Seriously, though, there's just something about 26.2 miles. It doesn't matter how many marathons I run, the distance is always challenging. Each marathon has its own personality and obstacles. Maybe it's a hilly course. Maybe Mother Nature is going to wreck havoc on my time goals by delivering a cold 20 mph wind on an April day or, worse, a humid sunny 90 degree day in October. Maybe my stomach isn't going to agree with my nutrition. I just don't know what will happen in those 26.2 miles, and the excitement of the adventure is thrilling! Running marathons has simply captivated me. Even at Mile 18 when my knees start to throb, or at Mile 22 when my quads have cramped so badly I have to walk and I swear I'm never running another one, I run those final 0.2 miles to cross another finish line and the magic of the marathon wisks it all away.
As I write this, it is two weeks and five days after the Oz Marathon and five days after the Flying Pig Marathon. I can finally walk down stairs normally again, but I'm still pretty tired. However, I am ready to go again. The day after Flying Pig, I started to think about registering for the Missoula Marathon. Two days later, I kind of fixated on it and shopped around for airfare. Four days after the Flying Pig Marathon, I registered.
Why Missoula? I have traveled a lot in the United States, but I have never been to Montana. What better way to see a place than to run it? In addition, Missoula has been on my "must do" list since it was written up in Runner's World as the best overall marathon in 2010. As I continued to research it, I also discovered it's flat with one hill. (You cannot argue with only one hill.) Finally, of course, Missoula is incredibly scenic.
It should be noted that running so many marathons in such a short time frame does wreck some havoc on the body, so I train as intelligently and safely as possible. I know I couldn't have made it this far without the help of Eladio Valdez (my running coach), Toby Scott (my chiropractor), and Barb Rinne (my massage therapist).
I'm incredibly excited to experience the scenery and people of Missoula on July 9 and 10. It only seems appropriate that I will run my 10th state within months of my 5-year anniversary of running marathons. Who better to share a 5-year runniversary with than the Missoula Marathon?
Cheers! Happy running!
Monday, May 9, 2011
2011 Missoula Marathon participants in their own words: Amy Reed
Posted by Rye at 2:47 PM