"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It Truly is a Marathon (Not a Sprint)

It was two years ago this week that a question posted by a complete stranger led to a crazy thought. That thought led to an online search. That search developed into a crazy, bucket list caliber goal. That goal is not only still on track, but has already provided a lifetime of experiences and memories (and I'm only 14% complete!).

We were just about to call it a night and head upstairs.  I had finished reading the most recent edition of Runner's World and was thinking about the upcoming training plan for the Marine Corp Marathon.  Having completed my first marathon a few months earlier in Orlando, this one was more of a reunion / challenge race with my brother, who also had a single marathon finish to his credit; Chicago in '09.  The kicker is that our times where within :06 (seconds) of each other.  I honestly had no plans to continue running marathons after this October race.  I had checked it off the list and would get back to local 5 & 10k's and the occasional half.

So, on my final email and facebook check of the day, I happened to see a question on the Marine Corp Marathon page.  It was from a runner asking if the MCM was considered to be a Virginia, Maryland or D.C. marathon.  He went on to say that he was hopeful it was Virginia as he still needed that state.  Wait, what? "Still needed that state?"  Hmmmmm, that got me thinking.  Are there runners that complete a marathon in every state? Well, to Google we must go ....

Unbelievable! Not only are there "50 state runners", there is a full-fledged 50 state club: http://www.50statesmarathonclub.com/  And of course, as I read the information, the more interested I became.  Is that possible? I know I'm on a runner's high and all, but realistically, can it be done? Walking up the stairs, I calculated that if I did 3 per year, (that seemed like the most feasible number of events that I could attend and train for), it would take me another 16+ years.  In other words, I would wrap up number 50 in the fall of 2027 at age 59.  So YES, it can be done. 

The next few moments are still extremely vivid.  I marched confidently into our bedroom, looked at my wife and told her, "Hey, I'm going to run a marathon in every state. I should be done in about 16 years." Her response, "Okay. Sounds like you've set your mind to it. I'm sure you will do it."  Am I blessed with an awesome wife, or what! Supportive, encouraging and understanding, (of course, I may have also mentioned something about Hawaii being number 50, which didn't exactly hurt my case for this pursuit.) 

Fast forward to present day.  So far, so good.  Along with an understanding wife, I have been blessed with good health and a great extended 'running' family.  I have stayed to the plan, have seven marathons completed to date and look forward to the next training cycle to begin July 11th.  I need three more to become eligible for membership into the 50 State Marathon Club (requires a minimum of ten states completed).  There are 3,100 members and I hope to be included by April '14.

One of the reasons for this post is to create some off-season self motivation that seems to be necessary every May - July, the longest stretch of the year that I'm not training. Recalling the genesis of this endeavor helps, as does recalling the various events, each unique and each incredible in their own way.  I cannot imagine what the next 43 will provide.  Hopefully, and most importantly, there will be more road trips with C, runs with good friends and the opportunity to cross paths with even more great runners along the journey. The Lord willing, this silly old man will keep pounding the pavement and seeing the sights across this great country, 26.2 miles at a time.

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