The following post was written just after my 44th birthday, on November 9, 2009. I repost it here to explain the genesis of my decision to run a half marathon in all 50 states.
I went up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire last weekend for a half marathon. It was part of a commitment I made to myself last year that I would run a half marathon every three months until I die. (If you’re going to do something, you might as well go whole hog, right?) Since the promise, I have run the Missoula (MT) Half Marathon twice, the Monson (MA) Memorial Half Marathon, the LOCO Half at the Hamptons (NH), and Boston’s Run to Remember Half Marathon.
Sunday was a beautiful day, so as I waited for the race to start I sat outside stretching in the grass behind Portsmouth High School. After a while I noticed an older woman standing not so far away and, because talking to strangers does not come naturally to me, I made myself walk over and start a conversation with her. Her name was Nancy and she was running the Seacoast Half Marathon as the final leg in her goal to race a half marathon in each of the fifty United States.
We talked for twenty minutes and her story impressed the heck out of me. She didn’t once talk about her times or her pace. For her it was all about being in the race. My conversation with Nancy ended when we got the “ten minutes ‘til start” announcement. We wished each other luck and shortly after, I lost sight of Nancy. Based on the fire and zest for life she showed during our conversation, I am sure she finished and made good on her goal.
While I was running through Portsmouth, my wife, Erica, was jumping out of a perfectly good airplane three times. These jumps were part of a commitment she has made to get licensed to jump on her own anywhere, anytime. (Talk about whole hog!)
After the race, during the 200-mile drive home, I got to thinking about Nancy and about Erica and about going whole hog. And I made up my mind right there on the spot—right where I-95 gets onto I-495 up in the northeast corner of Massachusetts—that I am going to do the same as Nancy. I am going to run a half marathon in all 50 states. I can’t yet put a timeframe on the deal, but I am going to do it.
I have four states down already, if you include the full marathon I ran in Corning, New York in 2002. If you don’t count the Wineglass Marathon, then I have three states down and 47 to go. [I guess this is one of the many technical decisions I will have to make along the way. Nancy was explaining that several of her halfs went through more than one state. She had to decide if those races counted as one state or more. (She decided to count those multi-state races as only one state.)]
Well, what the heck? Here goes nothing. I hereby commit to running a half marathon in every state in the union before I die. So help me, God. I think I will call it going “half hog.” I will keep you posted.
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