Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Birthday 49 Challenge 3: 50 State Update

Greetings from Alaska!
This is challenge post 3 of 5! Read the first and second, and please consider supporting my fundraiser. Thank you to those who have already been so generous. We’ll be matching every dollar donated. We passed $13,000 today and that is pre-matched.

Today’s challenge post is about one I put out in my 50-50 post in 2011. Back then I declared I would run a series of three 50 related questions. The first which I finished in November 2012 was a 50 mile race - the JFK 50 in Maryland.

The third is to run across the 50 States from the west coast to the east coast. That is still in my plans, and I’ll have more on the multiyear prep for this in tomorrow’s and Friday’s blog posts.

Miri and me at a marathon
So, today, we’ll look at the middle goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. My friend Miri first seriously put my mind towards running a marathon every state in the union. She invited me to join her running in Fargo in May 2012. She did the half, and another friend, Heather, and I ran the full. I think I had been planning to run at least a 10k in every state, but North Dakota (my 7th state) gave me the bug. Shortly thereafter in July 2012, I declared my 50/50/50 goals.

Going into Saturday’s marathon here in Alaska, I am sitting at 40 completed states. This year has only had me find time for 3 so far. That’s what happens when you ship consumer virtual reality devices to the world. With now under 12 months, I still need 10 states. But I have a plan!

As you know if you have been reading this weekend, states 41 and 42 (Utah) are planned for July. I then take August off (not many marathons in August) and look after Wyoming and South Dakota in September. Right now, it looks like those will be followed by New Mexico, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. Hawaii has always been planned to be last as the 50th state is a favorite for people to finish their quests. No reason that should be different for me.

Team L in Denver: Lyndsey & Laird
But what’s the point of all this flying and running around? I’ve never really had a marathon I severely Mad Marathon in Vermont) and supposedly flat piece-of-cake ones that sucked all my energy (Turkey Swamp 50k in New Jersey). Yet in each case, I can think back to an interaction on the course or prior to the race that made each one special. For example, I ran the Spinx Marathon in South Carolina with my friend Thomas. He landed a PR! How awesome is that - I got it all on my iPhone as we finished. Or finding a place at Churchill Downs in Louisville to get a good shot with the spires and helping a fellow runner do the same? Or running with my awesome Fort Collins buddy Lyndsey on a number of races in two different states! And I didn’t mind seeing “Laird Street” when running in Omaha.
disliked. Rain, sun, wind - I’ve run in it all. But the change in scenery and people is worth it. Sure, there have been courses such as in Portland Oregon that I thought were going to be prettier. And there have been hard hilly races that turned out easier than expected (

Thomas and his PR - just after finishing the Spinx Marathon together
Cordova, home of the Copper River Wild Festival and the King Salmon Marathon will be interesting. Only 40+ people ran the full marathon last year. I’m ok with small races - I run ones with as few as 5 although never to complete a state. However, I think being in the town for it’s annual celebration of fish could only be fun. I will be slightly disappointed if I don’t get handed salmon in some form on every block.

Some marathons take you off the urban highways
Ultimately, running events are a great way to see cities. You run through a big portion of them. 26 miles is a lot of ground to carry in most urban areas and in rural ones you get a lot of countryside thrown in. And you meet fellow runners often from the local town but often fellow road warriors like myself.

Do I have any worries about finishing up the 50 states in a year? I feel this is totally doable, and barring crazy things like races being cancelled do to weather or some other such thing, I should be ok. Even then, other than Hawaii, I think every state I am doing has another marathon between my target date for each state and me turning 50. In other words, I have back up plans! The key will be staying healthy and able to manage the travel while still doing my new job.

Here’s the state map (I showed this on Monday’s post) - this time with the expected order of finish.

Click for a bigger version
See you on Laird St, Omaha NE!