12 marathons in 12 states. For an asthmatic, ex-smoker who always has some sort of failing diet in place, it’s weird typing that out.
Pre sign-up for the 2006 Chicago marathon, I was trying to quit smoking. I had gained weight. I had also gone through the final breakup with the guy I moved up to Madison for after years of on-and-off-dating. Shortly after, at the gym on a lonely treadmill, I tried to run. I made it only a half mile before I turned purple and had to jump up and off the moving belt, with a death grip on the handles.
I was so embarrassed. I had just turned 25 and couldn’t make it through even a 5 minute run! A couple of days later, a friend asked me to sign up and run the 2006 Chicago Marathon with her. So I did. And I trained. Each and every workout. And I read everything I could about marathons. And I finished what I will always think of as the greatest marathon in the world. Several weeks later I found myself running the 2006 Las Vegas Marathon with another friend. Smart? Maybe not. But I finished both within a minute of each other. However it was 25 miles into the Las Vegas Marathon, in pain and cursing a broken iPod, when I decided this trip needed to count for something. With 1.2 miles left to go on my 2nd marathon, I decided I was going to complete a marathon in each and every state.
There have been many times when I have second guessed this goal. To start, it’s expensive. Then there are the physical and mental aspects of it. Many times I get burned out from the training. Sometimes, I absolutely love running. Other times I hate it. There are times when I’m injured. Other times I feel amazing. It’s a welcome distraction, an endorphin high. It’s a burden, a time-consuming activity. Running becomes a best friend and a worst enemy all at once. But, I love to travel. I want to visit every state. I want to complete a marathon in every state. Somehow, this has become my “thing.”
It’s no secret I wasn’t well trained for marathon #12 in Indiana (which is not something I recommend). I was coming off of an injury and dealing with both frustration and plain old laziness. I ran, but not each and every workout. Before I knew it, I found myself driving towards Indianapolis. My friend Jeff and I arrived and waited for Farrah and her husband, as well as my friend Nicole M. from Chicago. We accomplished some touristy sight-seeing around the capital building before heading off to the expo and then to dinner. A stream of last-minute race outfit changes, night-before rituals, and day one in Indianapolis was quickly over.
Five a.m. alarms, pre-race nerves, perfect weather, a few pictures, and an emotionally charged starting line filled the beginning day two. About .75 miles in and all I could think is “this is so cool!” We were running a marathon! In Indiana! My 12th State! How did I get here?!
On course, around mile 6
During the entire run, my ankle gave me zero problems. The weather, although windy, was brisk. My knees and shins were great – the physical therapy had paid off! And it was pretty in Indiana. So, so pretty. The state park we were running through, the changing colors on the leaves, the cool residential areas. For the first 10 miles or so I felt the best I have ever felt for a marathon After the first half was done, nothing bad happened – I just slowed down, which I expected. I saw Jeff and Farrah on course several times which was motivating. I played LMFAO more times than I’d like to admit. And after Nicole M. was done with her half marathon she arrived on course to run a few miles alongside me, which was a huge pick-me-up.
Running solo again at mile 21 and I started to hit the wall. Mile 23 and it was a full-on wall. There’s not a lot you can do here but grin and bear it and run/walk/shuffle on. So that’s just what I did, through a very lonely forest. But I made it. And my friends were cheering for me at the end as I slowly made my way through the finish line.
Six hours and 17 minutes after starting, I was done.
Of course, we celebrated. Dinner, wine, and downtown Indy that evening. A quick stop by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race track the next day, complete with pictures in race cars. Because I love traveling. I love my friends. I’m in love with marathons. And I can’t wait until State #13: Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN.