Tag Archives: Marathons

The Best Marathon in Every State

My marathon schedule as laid out last April is already off (missed Missoula, only did half of Blerch, and 2015 is all over the place).  But the schedule was not so much about hitting those exact races in those exact years but rather seeing how long it could (would?) take to run the 50 States, and to create a list of the top races to do.  The whole goal is to enjoy this quest, so I want to make sure to pick the right races.  How can I know if I’m picking the best race?  Random internet lists to the rescue!

 

The venerable website VacationHomeRentals.com (“by Trip Advisor”) recently posted a list of the Best Marathon in Every State in the USA.  I agree with the sparse comments more than I do with the list – not that I’ve run that many of the listed races, but the fact that they included my least favorite marathon to date (Marshall Marathon in West Virginia) leads me to suspect they just randomly threw this list together.  Shocking, I know, considering what a leading runners’ resource VacationHomeRentals.com is.  Is my sarcasm coming through?  This thing on?  <thump thump feeeeedback!>

 

Since that wasn’t a reliable list, I decided to suss out (aka Google) other lists of the “Best Marathon in Each State.”  There aren’t all that many.  Interestingly enough, FlipKey.com (also “by Trip Advisor”) posted an unannotated list of the 50 “top marathons & races” in each state here (dated April 9, 2014).  Not all are full marathons, but it looks like most are.

 

The 50 States Marathon Club also has a “favorites” list from suggestions from members, but it’s unclear how many members have actually given input or how often they update it, plus it often includes more than one marathon per state.  I only found one comprehensive 50 Marathons in the 50 States list from a site that actually has to do with running – Active.com’s Top 50 Marathons to do Across America – which also includes a short description on each race.  There’s no date and no comments, so I have no idea when they put this list together.  I also hate that it’s spread across 7 pages so you have to click-through everything, making it difficult to compare this list with the others – so, I did it for you!

Best marathon in each state page 1 of 3Best marathon in each state page 2 of 3Best marathon in each state page 3 of 3In alphabetical order by state, here are the 50 “best” marathons in each state from VacationHomeRentals, FlipKey, the 50 States Marathon Club, and Active.com.  Click the images above to expand, or click here for a 3-page PDF of the compiled lists.  I also included my tentative “to do” list but did not highlight when my selections overlapped with another’s.  Someday I hope to be able to create a compact review of a race in each state myself!

 

I highlighted those races that appeared in more than one list (and bolded the races in my list I’ve completed).  It’s interesting to note that no race was included in all four lists, but several races were included in three (Little Rock, AR; Hartford, CT; Mesa Falls, ID; Boston, MA; Steamtown, PA; Myrtle Beach, SC; & Richmond, VA).  Are those 7 races the best of the best, or do those states just not have a lot of great options?  There were 10 states that didn’t have any overlap on the four lists (Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, & Washington).  Not surprising for those states that are full of natural beauty and/or a lot of runners (e.g. Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Washington, etc.), but I was surprised there were that many “best” races in Maryland and Missouri.

 

For the sake of thoroughness, although I did not include these lists in my compilation:  here’s Men’s Health’s 2012 article 11 Races to Run Before You Die, clearly written by someone who was asked to name every race that he could name off the top of his head, with a couple of randoms thrown in (if you hate the slideshow format like me, here’s a spoiler:  Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, Honolulu Marathon, Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Mt Desert Island Marathon, Indy Mini Half Marathon, London Marathon, Bay-to-Breakers, Miami Half Marathon, & Covered Bridges Half Marathon).  But it’s no worse than the TopEventsUSA.com’s list (updated Feb 2014) of the “Top 20 Marathons or Marathon Events in the USA,” presented in such a maddening non-list I can’t bother to re-create it here.  There’s also this crowdsourced list of marathons by month, but the links simply send you to comments made on MarathonGuide.com.  Finally, here’s Marathon and Beyond’s 1998 list of the top 26 Marathons in North America.  Surprisingly I think most are still being run!

 

As always, I think the best resource for information on marathons in the US is MarathonGuide.com – bless all those people who write detailed reviews – but now you have a color-coded compiled 50 “best” list, which is better than actually training for anything, right?

Hazelnut chocolate wafer candy bar

And for a bonus candy review – the candy pictured above was one of the new candies I got in Houston.  It’s super delicious, like a delicate Kit Kat with chopped hazelnuts on top.  The wafer is airy, the chocolate and hazelnut flavors are good, and the chopped nuts go perfectly with the wafers and chocolate.  I could easily eat 50 of these things in every US State.  Too bad I have no idea what this candy is called, even though I’m looking directly at the wrapper.  (Ion Chocofreta?  It’s all Greek to me!)

 

Do you have a list of the top 50 marathons by state, or a list of races you’d like to do?  Do you have a list of the 50 best candy bars?  Which list would you rather research and compile?  Share in the comments!

NaNoWriMo vs Marathons – A Comparison

NaNoWriMo Winner 2014 Image

I finished!  I “won.”  I wrote a novel in a month – 50,001 in 30 days – and boy are my arms tired.  Again, for those of you who haven’t heard of this novel-ing monstrosity, National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) is when you pound your head against a keyboard until you hit the space bar enough times to reach 50,000 words in 30 days (November 1-30).  It teaches you to turn off your inner editor and to use three words when you could have used one.  50,000 words averages out to 1,666 words per day, because that’s how the devil likes it.  It’s free to participate, it’s on the honor system, and if you reach 50,000 words you win bragging rights (see image above) and the satisfaction of having written 50,000 words.  So basically, it’s a lot like a marathon, because the reward is in doing it (and then telling people you did it…).

 

All month I’ve been wondering – which is harder, finishing NaNoWriMo or finishing a marathon?  To help the none of you who are trying to decide between the two, I’m going to rank the difficulty of each using as many numbers and statistics as possible, while remaining completely unscientific and wholly biased.

I updated my word count more times each day than I'd like to admit.

My personal NaNo stats.  I updated my word count more times each day than I’d like to admit.

 

NaNoWriMo vs Marathons – Which is More…

Physically taxing?

While there are many late nights and many bags of M&Ms consumed while writing, finishing a marathon requires covering at least 26.2 miles on your feet.  I mean, c’mon.

Winner:  Marathon

Mentally taxing?

Everyone says running a marathon is mostly mental.  Those people are wrong.  If you want to hate yourself and hate everything that has ever come out of your head and wonder how you can even function as a human being when you can’t even form a sentence that makes sense or sounds good, then do NaNoWriMo.

Winner:  NaNoWriMo

Time consuming?

While running 26.2 miles only takes a few hours, (proper) marathon training goes on for months.  NaNo, by definition, only lasts a month.  NaNo seems like it takes a long time because there is almost no moment during that month that you don’t feel like you should be writing.  Even if you’re writing, you feel like you’re not writing enough.  While training for a marathon, you might feel like you’re slacking sometimes, but you never think you should maybe go for a run at 2 AM because you didn’t already do enough running that day.  But still, training for and running a marathon ultimately takes more time, if only because it’s more spread out.

Winner: Marathon by a nose

Exhausting?  (i.e., How quickly could you do one again?)

After my first marathon, I was tired, but I immediately wanted to sign up for another marathon (and I did).  After I completed my first NaNo, I didn’t look at what I had written for 6 years.  For literally 6 years I did not open that file again!  And I didn’t make a serious effort to finish another NaNo until 9 years after my first.

Winner:  NaNo

Difficult to complete annually?  (i.e., How many people finish it every year?)

In 2013, 541,000 people completed a marathon in just the United States (although one runner can count for more than one of the finishers, like me!).  In 2013, about 310,095 people participated in NaNoWriMo worldwide, but only 42,221 finished it (a 14% completion rate).  Also in 2013, 50,740 people started the NYC Marathon and 50,266 finished (a 99.06% completion rate).  I couldn’t find a good average completion rate for marathons worldwide, but it’s safe to assume it is many, many times higher than NaNo’s completion rate.

Winner:  NaNo by a landslide

Difficult to complete ever?  (i.e., How many times might a person complete it?)

NaNo started in 1999 with 20 participants.  In 2011 they added Camp NaNoWriMo in April & July, so there are now three time periods that are “official” NaNo months, but that’s still only 24 times the event has ever been “held.”  Marathons made their modern debut in 1896 and there were over 1,100 marathons held in just the United States in just 2013.  It’s numerically a lot easier to have done multiple marathons than to have done multiple NaNos.  And of course, since the ultimate important factor is how many times I’ve done either, I’ve finished 14 marathons and only 2 NaNos.  (It’s worth noting that you can “do” NaNo in any 30 day period you’d like, just like you can run 26.2 miles any time you like, but neither is nearly as satisfying as doing it during the prescribed time and/or place.)

Winner: NaNo by another landslide

Verdict:

NaNoWriMo is more difficult than a typical marathon.  Thank god they don’t have an option to do one in every state.

 

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?  Which would you rather have to do – run a marathon or write a novel in a month?  Is there another tortuous endurance event you recommend?  Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail perhaps?  Share in the comments!

All the many room service and candy things I ate post-Baltimore Marathon

Marathon Recap – Baltimore Marathon – October 13, 2012

Found it! Baltimore Marathon Finish Line (the day before the race).

Found it! Baltimore Marathon Finish Line (the day before the race…).

The Baltimore Marathon is coming up this weekend, so I thought I’d be super timely and post my recap from 2012 now. Good luck, runners!

 

Running a marathon is hard.  Whether it’s hard during training, when you slog through hundreds of miles to condition your body, or hard during the race because you didn’t train properly and counted on past experience to carry you through (cough cough), covering 26.2 miles in a minimal amount of time is really, actually, kind of hard.  At least for me.  I continue to hear stories about people who breeze through a marathon without any training (including one recent story in Runner’s World Magazine [2014 ed – I searched but could not find the article I referenced here]), but those people are not me, and also I hate them.

 

For all my fears before this race (mostly about my feet becoming bloody stumps since I recently developed a problem with blood blisters on the bottom of my feet, yum!), it actually wasn’t the hardest on my body, but on my mind.  At mile 15, I just wanted it to be over.  I was tired, but mostly irritated.

 

I was irritated much of the race, first by the endless miles of concrete which battered my body in a way even asphalt does not, and then by the endless miles of walking half marathoners (and even walking relay racers – don’t get me started on those people who sign up to relay a marathon and yet can’t even run 6 miles) and even irritated by the terrible food I had eaten the day before in Baltimore (how you make a club sandwich unappealing is beyond me, but not beyond Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant) not to mention the little aches and pains my body was throwing at me, and all the while I was foolishly hoping to beat five hours, and when I realized I wasn’t going to, I was irritated all the more.

 

To top off the irritation sundae, something got in my eye and stuck to my contact lens, so everything was cloudy through my left eye after mile 20 – a new race irritant I did not see coming (no pun intended, unless you’re my sister, in which case, pun!).

 

But all-in-all it was a beautiful day (there was frost in the morning but it warmed up to about 50 with clear, sunny skies – perfect running weather), I had a 26-mile tour of a new city, and I finished with a surprisingly small amount of toll on my body (I’m sore, but not devastated, and no bloody stumps).  I’m very glad I did not skip this race as I thought I would a couple weeks ago.  It also renewed my fitness goals, and I’d love to shave 30 minutes off my time for my next race in January, if only so I don’t have to run an extra 30 minutes [2014 ed – I totally didn’t, and I’ve only gotten slower since then].

 

Lest you think I did not prepare at all for this race, I did watch 8 episodes of The Wire in the days and nights before the race, hoping to recognize the various locations as I ran through Baltimore (“where them low-rises at?  Orlando’s?  Any of the cops on the course McNulty?!”).  Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize anything.  But when I started up the episode I was watching from the night before, I immediately recognized the Domino Sugar sign I ran past near the waterfront, and I’m pretty sure I’ll run into McNulty tomorrow.  Mos def.

 

All the many room service and candy things I ate post-Baltimore Marathon

All the many room service items (including the cake & ice cream) and various candy things I ate post-Baltimore Marathon.

Also, I finally ate the first truly delicious food in this city after the race – a dark chocolate molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream, a shockingly good rendition of the dessert from the same hotel restaurant that so disappointed me with greasy gnocchi the night before.  Plus, I got a nice, heavy medal and can cross Maryland off my list. Seven down, 43 to go!

 

Time – Over 5 hours, at about a 12 minute-per-mile pace.  That’s a really long time to be running, or doing anything really, besides sleeping.  To put in perspective just how long that is, I heard Gangnam Style twice during the race and it was completely new, fresh, and exciting both times.  Yes, I even did the horse dance on the course. Don’t judge me.

 

Did you know?

 

  • Baltimore residents shout “O!” during the National Anthem at “O say does that…” to show their support of the letter “O.”
  • Baltimore paints its fire hydrants Oriole orange.

 

Addendum – Sunday was sunny in the 70s, and I thoroughly enjoyed strolling along the inner harbor, getting splashed by dolphins at the National Aquarium, and stuffing my face at the Cheesecake Factory, so I’m leaving the city on a positive note for sure.

 

 

Baltimore Marathon Swag

All the “free” stuff from the Baltimore Marathon (some included in packet, some collected while walking around the expo).

Thinking of running Baltimore?

 

Don’t.  Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t all that well-organized (the packet pick up was a zoo) and I really disliked how the course was laid out with the 20,000 half marathoners joining in at mile 16, two hours after the race began – weaving in and out of walkers is exhausting not just because of the weaving but also because their lack of energy brings yours down.  The best part about the race was the free stuff at the expo (free ice pack! free rubber watch!) and the proximity of the hotels to the start/finish (running through Camden Yards was pretty okay, too).  The shirt is nice but an unfortunate shade of green [Update 2014 – I actually love the shirt and wear it quite often.  Under Armour was a sponsor and they made the shirt.].  Also, they ran out of Blue Moon beer after the race and I had to settle for Miller Light.  Curse my slow legs!  We lucked out on weather, and the mile by the harbor was beautiful, but otherwise the course was an aesthetic disappointment (the section through the zoo was pretty but you couldn’t see any of the animals save for a few birds the handlers trotted out) and too hilly for the distinct lack of scenery (while I didn’t recognize any specific locations from The Wire, we ran past enough ramshackle housing it could have easily doubled).  I don’t know if Maryland has a superior race for the none of you who hope to run the 50 States, but Baltimore was just okay.

 

All categories on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.  Also note that unlike the recap above, these ratings were written in April 2014, so I had to rely on my spotty memory for the below.

 

  • Getting There (Transportation & Walkability) – 9/10 – From NYC, it was very easy to take Amtrak down to Baltimore, and the hotel was incredibly close to the start and finish, plus decently close to Inner Harbor for sightseeing the next day.
  • Staying There – 8/10 – The hotel was fine, but the restaurants in and around the hotel were not so great (think of typical places next to football and baseball stadiums and you’ll get the idea).
  • Cost & Registration – 7/10 – I can’t remember any difficulties registering, and you do get a very wearable tech shirt by sponsor Under Armour, so that’s nice.
  • Organization – 6/10 – Expo had a cool location (inside the Raven’s football stadium) but it was a zoo otherwise, with shirts and packets at opposite ends and nobody seeming to know what was going on.
  • Course – 6/10 – You get to see Baltimore in all its unscenic glory, I guess.  I’ve never seen so many crushed rats during a marathon before.  I jumped over more crushed rats than I thought would be possible in my wildest crushed rats dreams.  Crushed rats.
  • Crowd – 5/10 – I don’t remember the crowds except for the actual runners/half marathoners, who were annoying because they did everything short of linking arms and walking 5 abreast.
  • Other Factors – 6/10 – Is there a better race to do in Maryland?  Yeah, so, 6, I guess.
  • Overall Rating – 6/10 – If you run one marathon in your life, don’t make it Baltimore.  If you must run one marathon in Maryland, might as well do Baltimore.

 

Have you run Baltimore?  Do you think I judged it too harshly?  Share in the comments!

Running Vermont City Marathon 2013 in rain

Marathon Recap – Vermont City Marathon – May 26, 2013

Local paper coverage of the Vermont City Marathon 2013

I experienced 2 of these 3 things at the Vermont City Marathon.

I still have a couple old recaps to post but I’m posting this one out of order because it’s coming up this weekend!  (I ran it one year ago.)  Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

When I arrived in Burlington on Saturday afternoon it was raining buckets and windy as heck, with a 28 degree windchill.  The local paper’s headline was calling it a 100-year flood, and the local news said the area got almost 8 inches in the past week.  I went straight to the expo from the airport, picking up not only my race bib and shirt but also some extra warm running clothing (which turned out to be a godsend) and even a waterproof jacket.

 

The second most striking thing after the cold, wet weather was how fit everyone at the expo looked.  Now, this wasn’t my first marathon, but the people here made other marathon runners look like lard buckets.  Everyone had that wirey “New-England-fit” look to them.  You know what I mean.  A kale and carrot shake (made from ingredients from their own garden) would be considered an indulgence.

 

Seeing as my longest training run for this marathon had been only 13 miles [2014 note – some things never change!], and my carbo-loading had been going on for months (if not years), I began to get a little nervous.  I’d like to say my fears washed away in the rain, but it was probably just my body heat and mental capacity.  On the morning of the race, after much internal debate on what to wear, I opted to leave the waterproof jacket behind and slipped a garbage bag over my head instead.  I had thought I would ditch the bag after a few miles, but the rain really never let up, and any brief moment the rain did subside was followed by more wind and rain, as if Mother Nature were reminding you “b*itch, you in New England now.”  If you’re deranged enough to run a marathon in the cold rain, you might as well wear a garbage bag for 26 miles.

 

Running Vermont City Marathon 2013 in rain

Wearing my fashionable garbage bag & panda ears – poor image quality, I know, but you can still see the raindrops splashing on the asphalt.

Despite the weather, the first 4 miles were downright fun, the next 5 miles totally tolerable, the next 4 miles oddly long, the next 5 miles okay, and the next 6 miles were pretty dang tough.  After that, the next 2 miles were sheer willpower.  I had set a goal to break 5 hours, which is disheartening in itself considering my marathon times only a couple years ago in NJ and OR, but it’s really disheartening when you’re totally exhausted and realize you kind of have to push out those last two miles or you won’t make it.   [2014 note – but 5 hours seems fast now!]  So I (quite literally) gritted my teeth and slogged down the bike path to the finish, tearing off my garbage bag when I was 200 yards from the finish line.

 

Since there wasn’t much training for this race, the real story began after I crossed the finish.  I was so spent and hungry I kept resting my hands on my knees in that half-bent posture that looks like you’re about to puke.  I wasn’t feeling nauseous, just incredibly tired.  After standing in a long line to get some food (excellent food, though – bananas, apples, oranges, yogurt, granola bars, PIZZA, bagels, chips, lemonade, and ice cream – with a re-usable bag to carry it all), it started raining really hard again, so I skipped the free beer (egads!) and went straight back to the hotel to warm up and finish eating.  I can report that the cheeseburger and fries served at the Marriott Burlington were far superior to the other post-race burgers and fries I’ve had.  In fact, all the food I ate in VT was pretty astounding.  I keep raving about the butter and the chocolate, and the pulled pork sandwich I had on Monday was crazy delicious, with a perfect slaw and a nice side salad.

 

Beautiful Lake Champlain Vermont 2013

The beautiful Lake Champlain the day after the race – snowcapped mountains in the distance.

I was normal-sore immediately after the race (doing my typical ice & rest routine), but super-sore the next day.  After a 5 minute walk down to the lake I had to sit on a park bench like a 95-year-old who had just run a marathon.  [2014 note – I still vividly remember how bone-tired and stiff I was the following day.  Obviously pushing to beat 5 hours really took it out of me.]  But I was able to explore the town and eat a lot of good VT food before I flew back home – a very short visit for me.  I was lucky the weather was absolutely gorgeous the next day, and I can see why people like to vacation in the area.

 

Thinking of the running the Vermont City Marathon?

 

Vermont City Marathon 2013 swag shirt free stuff

The shirt and all the other free stuff from the expo.

I would definitely recommend this marathon if you’re looking for a marathon in Vermont.  The expo was surprisingly large and enjoyable, with a lot of good sales compared to other expos (I even won a pair of socks but you needed to be present to win & unfortunately I had already left).  The course doubled back on itself a bit much, but it was fairly scenic and fairly flat, went through a lot of neighborhoods, and would have had a decent amount of shade if it had been needed.  The crowd support was phenomenal considering the weather!  The aid stations were plentiful and well-managed, and the volunteers and police were great.  The shirt and medal are both fine, but the food at the finish was quite good (despite the line).  The weather can be all over the place (some years they’ve had hot sun and in the 80s), so you do have to be prepared for that, but the town and area are nice to visit.  Overall, thumbs up, VCM!

 

PS I ran as a panda, but had a lot of people cheering for “cat,” “bunny,” and “Mickey” as well.  Someday I will find the perfect marathon costume that leaves no confusion… Someday…

 

All categories on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.  Unlike the above which was written directly after the race, I wrote the ratings below in 2014, so they are subject to faulty memories and general disrepute.

 

  • Getting There (Transportation & Walkability) – 6/10 – A $308 airline ticket from NYC (so close and yet so expensive!), followed by two cab rides (one from airport to expo, another from expo to hotel), did not make this the most conveniently accessible race.  However, the hotel(s) near the marathon start/finish in Burlington are also right next to Lake Champlain & only a few blocks from the cute “downtown” area with shops and restaurants, so it’s easy to sightsee after the race.
  • Staying There – 8/10 – At least two nice hotels right next to the start/finish area, but they were a little spendy ($232/night at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor, for example).
  • Cost & Registration – 8/10 – I know I registered for the May race after the WDW Marathon, so no more than 4 1/2 months before the race (probably even later), so that was nice.
  • Organization – 8/10 – The expo and course support were great, but the line for food at the finish was dreadful and crazy (the line didn’t even move so you were just standing there as your legs turned to lead).
  • Course – 7/10 – Fairly scenic, with stretches along the lake and through a bike path/park area, and not very hilly.
  • Crowd – 9/10 – While there weren’t an overwhelming number of spectators, there were waaaay more than I expected, especially considering the rain!  There were so many people out there with umbrellas, cheering for hours, even for us back-of-the-packers – it definitely felt like the town supported the marathon (a sharp contrast to the Marshall “ghost town” Marathon in Huntington, WV).
  • Other Factors – 7/10 – There’s nothing particularly special about this race,  and although it’s right on Lake Champlain, it’s too cold in May to really enjoy the area.  But the local food is great and if you get a sunny day the overall location is beautiful.
  • Overall Rating – 7.5/10 – Despite the crazy weather, I have fond memories of this race, and I’d definitely recommend it if you need to cross off Vermont.

 

Have you run Vermont City?  Did you notice how many people managed to BQ on this course?   Share in the comments!

Dork who finished Flying Pig Marathon

Marathon Recap – Cincinnati Flying Pig – May 4, 2014

A very literal flying pig statue at the Cincinnati airport, wearing a slightly larger version of this year's marathon medal.

An airplane-themed flying pig statue at the Cincinnati airport, wearing a slightly larger version of this year’s marathon medal.

I finished the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon last Sunday, knocking off Ohio and my 12th state.  My goal was to finish strong and not completely devastate my body, since this was only the first of 5 marathons in the next 6 months for me.  I’m happy to report that I met that goal, as by Wednesday I’m practically not sore anymore, just a little tired and recovering from some new blisters and (oddly) bruised toenails.  With that, let the recap begin!

 

THE TRAVEL – BRINGING HOME THE BACON

 

Planes turning in sync ahead of us on the runway at Chicago

Planes turning in sync ahead of us on the runway at Chicago.

The trip had an inauspicious beginning – my direct flight from Newark into Cincinnati was both delayed and oversold.  But then the gate agents announced they needed one volunteer to give up their seat for a $500 travel voucher and a connecting flight through Chicago, which would ultimately arrive in Cincinnati about 2.5 hours later than the original (now delayed) flight.  I decided to snag the offer since 2.5 hours wasn’t that much later, plus I didn’t have any immediate plans besides visiting the expo that Friday.  I was pretty psyched about the voucher since I’m obviously flying a lot for the 50 States and the flight to Missoula alone looks like it’ll cost about $650.  But when there were mechanical problems with the plane in Chicago and I was delayed yet again, I thought that perhaps I shouldn’t have tempted fate considering what happened when I tried to fly to my last marathon.

 

Luckily, they found Continue reading

Packing for Cincinnati Flying Pig

Prepping & Packing for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon – Gear & Expectations

Packing for Cincinnati Flying Pig

All my stuff for Cincinnati – can you spot the two *handcrafted* flying pigs?

 

I’m getting ready to go to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon this weekend, and as usual my preparation is focused on packing and costumes instead of actual training.  These past two weeks have been a bit alarming, as some lower inside shin pain has aborted a few of my runs (so basically my “taper” has been “totally not running at all,” which is not a good thing).  I’m hoping there will be an actual flying pig at the race that I can ride to the finish line.

 

Instead of focusing on my fitness, I spent a good 45 minutes Continue reading

8 Years of marathons for the 50 states

A Schedule to Run the 50 States

To finish a marathon in each of the 50 States, I’ve had the vague idea that I’d run about 4 marathons a year and finish in about 10 years, give or take a few years.  That’s not to say I haven’t been doing research on how to accomplish this.  In fact, I’ve spent countless hours reading reviews of marathons, listing races in a Google spreadsheet, making notes, and choosing my favorite(s) for each state — but I’ve never written out an actual schedule.  I knew that I wanted to finish in Hawaii (with, ideally, some friends & family to celebrate), and I also wanted to save Alaska for the end (ideally as the 49th state but knew that might be difficult with scheduling).

 

Last night I finally unleashed the hyper-planner in me and mapped out exactly which races I could do in which years, and how fast I might be able to cram the approximately 40 necessary marathons into the next several years.  You can see my schedule below.  The marathons that are in bold simply indicate races that I’m particularly keen on doing for one reason or another (could be because of location, or race reputation, or just something stuck in my head probably because I saw some commercial somewhere).

 

8 Years of marathons for the 50 states

 

It turns out I can cram all my needed marathons into 8 years, assuming I run 5 marathons each year for 8 years in a row, which is a huge, GIANT assumption, especially with my tendency towards injury.

 

On paper, my biggest hurdle was Continue reading

running route 66 marathon Oklahoma

Marathon Recap – Route 66 in Tulsa 2011

Tulsa Convention Center, site of the expo

Tulsa Convention Center, site of the expo

For “Throwback Thursday,” here’s my recap of the Route 66 Marathon from the fall of 2011 (my 6th marathon).  This was written well before I started this blog and at a time when I could apparently run a marathon over an hour faster than I can now.  Sigh.

 

Surprise!  Yesterday I ran the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I didn’t really tell anybody I was doing it, partially because I didn’t want them to feel obligated to cheer me on in any way, or worry about me, and partially because I think you all think I’m crazy for doing marathons anyway, especially so close together (I didn’t really train for this one, just tacked on a couple long runs and did a taper, aka did not run), and somehow it’s less crazy if it’s something I’ve already run.

 

I flew out on Saturday morning, arriving in Tulsa about 17 hours before the marathon.  The moment I stepped off the plane I was struck by how warm it was – sunny and in the 70s.

 

I hopped in a cab for a short ride downtown.  I had booked a room at Continue reading

Cancelled flight means no marathon

Cancelled!

Cancelled flight means no marathon

The winter from hell has cancelled my entire weekend.

I knew this weekend would result in a story – I just didn’t know it would be so soon, nor so brief.  My flight this morning was cancelled, and United couldn’t re-book me on a flight that got in on time to make the expo to pick up my bib, so after some scrambling trying to figure out another way to get to Little Rock in time and realizing there was no way, I had to pull the plug on the whole weekend before it even started.

 

So now it’s 4:30 am, and I’m supposed to be on my way to LGA, but instead I’m staring at my packed luggage in frustration and relief – but mostly frustration.  Since I had decided to attempt the marathon I was in it whole hog, and was excited to see what 26 miles of wet suffering would teach me about marathoning and this crazy 50 States quest I’m on.  I could taste that 2.5 pound medal and all the guilt-free chocolate and Pop Tarts that would follow.  Instead I’m up in the relative middle of the night, sitting on my couch, writing a post about how the winter from hell cancelled my chance at misery and glory in Little Rock.  Does this mean I have to start training for my next marathon (Flying Pig on May 4th) now?  Yes, yes it does.  But just not right this second.

 

What are you doing this weekend?  Wanna hang out and complain about the weather?  Share in the comments!

Packing List for the OCD Runner in You

Packing for Marathon

Admittedly a slightly bizarre staging of my luggage for Little Rock – don’t worry, those granola bars are definitely going in my small hand-carry.

 

As you know, I’m more gear-focused than actual-running-focused, and I basically started this blog just so I could post packing lists.  That’s why I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to post a “Running Travel Packing List” for out-of-town races.  This list includes everything you want and a lot of things you might not need, but it’s meant as a packing checklist that will hopefully alleviate some of the stress that is inevitably attached to any big out-of-town event.

 

It’s in PDF format for easy printing, and there’s a section at the bottom to check before you head out the door for the race (I’ve had to go back up to my hotel room a couple times because I forgot my sunglasses in the pre-dawn darkness).  Yes, it looks like a lot, and it’s maybe a little overwhelming (and includes items that many of you don’t need or use), but I assure you that even if you packed everything it could still fit in a rollerboard that you don’t have to check.

 

Do you think I forgot anything on my list?  Will I see you in Little Rock?  Will I ever get home what with the NYC forecast calling for a foot and a half of snow on Monday?  Share in the comments!