Tag Archives: Planning

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

McDonald's on the Chicago Marathon route

Chicago Lottery Results

McDonald's on the Chicago Marathon route

I know it’s a corporate gimmic and mostly for the spectators, but I love that the Chicago Marathon route highlights where the McDonald’s are. You never know when you’ll need a Big Mac & McFlurry…

Whelp, I guess I’m running Chicago this year!  After waiting on pins and needles all day, I finally got my lottery email from Chicago, and unlike most college admission letters, this one said I was in!  Even though it’s only three short weeks after the inaugural Beat the Blerch Marathon, I registered, because (1) I really want to run Chicago and (2) I’m worried I won’t have such good lottery luck in the future (especially at the rate that marathoning popularity is growing!).


So for those of you keeping track (basically me, my right knee, and my left knee), I’m running Cincinnati in 3 weeks, then Hatfield McCoy 6 weeks after that, then Missoula 4 weeks after that, then Beat the Blerch a leisurely 10 weeks after that, then Chicago 3 weeks after that.  And thus will most likely conclude my 2014 marathons, unless I can’t resist St. Jude or Rocket City in December…


I actually procrastinated figuring out how many weeks were between my marathons because I didn’t really want to know (head in sand means no running pain, right?).  I have one more “long” run before Cincinnati (aiming to hit 18 this Friday, then “taper” for one week – yes, none of these numbers are ideal, but neither are my marathon performances).  I’m not quite sure what my running schedule will be in the weeks between my marathons — I’ll have to talk to some experts (aka Marathon Maniacs) for advice on that.  Either way, I’ll certainly learn a lot from running all these marathons!  At least I’ve been carbo-loading for the past 384 months.  That should do the trick.


Are you running Chicago this fall?  How many marathons have you crammed into as many months?  Do you enjoy McDonald’s?  Share in the comments!

USA Map with so many questions

How I Choose Marathons

USA Map with so many questions

So many states, even more marathons…

There are a lot of marathons out there.  Even with a goal of doing 50 marathons in 50 states, there are still a lot of choices to be made, and since my body can’t afford to repeat states (not to mention the time and money it takes to travel), I want to “spend” my marathons wisely.  So how do I choose which marathons to run?


My first stop is MarathonGuide.com – it’s an excellent website that lists just about every marathon everywhere.  You can view marathons by date or by state, and most races have a lot of helpful reviews by people who have actually run the race.  I like to skim a page or two of the reviews to get a sense of the race to see if it’s something I want to do.  Basically, I’m looking for how well-organized the race is (which is becoming more and more important as I do more races – a sloppy or confusing expo or course with poor support can add mountains of misery to the race experience), how difficult the course is (hilly, trail, elevation, open to traffic, typical weather), the value extras (which includes the medal and any other stuff like the shirt/jacket/post-race food/beer), and overall experience for the runners (which includes everything from special entertainment along the course, the spectators, the location/scenery, to general atmosphere).


If a marathon sounds promising from the reviews, I then visit the marathon’s webpage to learn more about the location, difficulty of travelling there, hotel options, etc.  And if everything sounds good, I add it to my list of potential races (or I start making reservations!).  I started with a Word doc but now I have an Excel sheet uploaded into Google docs to keep all my race notes organized.  I have the races listed by state and by month so I can see when and where I should start scheduling a race.  I have columns for name of the race, town, state, date of race, when you should register, cost of registration, website, and general notes.  (I also added columns for hotel, airline/transportation, and car rental, but that’s mostly so I can share my info with you guys to help you plan your next marathon.)


Some races fall into a special category because they are so well-known (e.g. Chicago, New York, Boston) or have some personal interest for me (e.g. Big Sur, Flying Pig) that they’ve been on my wish list for years.  I’ve already “spent” California and will probably never qualify for Boston, so I might not run my wish list, but I have multiple marathons listed for most states, which is also necessary for scheduling.  For example, I have only 2 or 3 solid potential marathons for the month of July but 12 to 17 marathons for October, so I probably won’t run all of the October races on my Excel sheet.


Finally, I try to gather reviews and recommendations from other runners I meet.  Sometimes I’ll learn about a marathon that wasn’t on my radar at all, and yet sounds so interesting it’s suddenly top on my list.  I also look at all the race ads and reviews in Runner’s World, which have sparked many a dream marathon in my mind.  I’ve also taken note of the various marathon booths at expos, and now that I’m able to join the 50 States Marathon Club, I’ll probably get even more info about which races I should be doing next.


It’s an ever-evolving process, and I’m trying to hit my “special” races and finish the Eastern seaboard first.  I’m putting off tough trail marathons and high elevation races until I improve as a runner, and I’m saving Alaska and Hawaii for my 49th and 50th states.  Sometimes my race choices make practical sense (Baltimore is an easy train ride away and knocks off Maryland), and sometimes they are a bit more random (Little Rock has a really big medal).  Regardless, choosing marathons is a fun process (often more fun than actually running them), so I encourage you to start a marathon wish list of your own, if you haven’t already.


What’s on your marathon wish list?  Share in the comments!