Just Two More States Left!

As I type this post, I only have two states left in my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, Iowa and New Mexico. Both races are close to each other so in less than a month, as long as all goes well, I will be finished with my quest. Honestly, it feels surreal to say that before the end of 2021 I will have run a half marathon in all 50 states.

It will have taken me almost exactly 21 years since my very first half marathon, the Battleship Half Marathon in Wilmington, North Carolina (Battleship Half Marathon and Gold Rush Half Marathon, North Carolina-My first half marathon (and third and fourth), on November 19, 2000 to finish this quest. Life is funny how things turn out. It was 44 degrees that day with a cold rain that later turned into snow. For the coast of North Carolina, it’s almost unheard of to see snow especially in November so it was definitely crazy and unexpected weather.

I knew that if I were to run the same race the following year it would almost definitely be better weather. That was my hook. I wanted to see just how I could do in a half marathon given better weather and of course better preparation that would inevitably come from another year of running. Had it been sunny and in the 50’s, who knows if I would have felt the drive to run that race again or any other half marathons for that matter.

When I ran the Battleship Half Marathon in 2001 it was sunny and 51 degrees and I shaved off almost 17 minutes from my finish time. At this point I had run several other races including the Kona Half Marathon in Hawaii (Kona Marathon and Half Marathon, Hawaii-2nd state). Not only was I hooked on running half marathons, I was hooked on traveling to half marathons although I didn’t have the goal of running one in every state at this point. Still to this day, I haven’t run a half marathon anywhere close enough to my home that I didn’t have to stay in a hotel the night before.

This was taken after my recent 14 mile training run

They say with children you should get them used to your lifestyle from the beginning so it becomes second nature to the child. For example, if you enjoy traveling and plan on bringing the child along with you, you should travel with the child from the start so they become accustomed to traveling and it’s just a “normal” part of their life.

I believe how you approach running and racing is a bit like that. If you start out running 5k’s near where you live and continue doing that over several years, it would be a much bigger barrier of entry to suddenly travel to a race. But if you’ve traveled to races very early in your racing history, it’s second nature to you and not traveling before a race would seem strange to you. At least that’s how I feel about racing.

The few local races I have run don’t stand out in my mind nearly as much as the ones I traveled to. Sure, I enjoyed the Color Run I ran with my daughter (Color Vibe 5k), a local 5k, but it did seem strange to sleep in my own bed the night before the race and drive back home after the race. Part of the difference could be that it was a 5k and you can’t fairly compare a 5k to a half marathon because of course it’s going to be a wholly different experience. Still, I have run a local 10-miler, almost as long as a half marathon and at this point in my life I have absolutely no desire to run a local half marathon and most likely never will run one.

For me, part of the draw to running a half marathon is the travel aspect and visiting a new area. I know for some people the mere idea of traveling to a race makes them so anxious they would never do that. Then again, I believe travel in general makes many people anxious and I understand that.

There are so many moving parts involved with traveling to a race including just getting to the city where the race is being held, whether it’s flying or driving, finding a hotel or other place to stay at least the night before the race if not afterwards as well, renting a car if you flew to the race, eating and finding suitable things to eat the night before the race so it doesn’t upset your stomach, getting to the race start, and on and on. I know for some people, the thought of planning all of these things is overwhelming and I believe this is why some people are drawn to the companies that have popped up that basically take care of everything for you if you’re traveling to a race so you just have to sign up and show up. A popular one is Vacationraces: https://vacationraces.com/.

Back to my half marathon in Iowa, state number 49. This race is full of firsts for me. It will be the first race where a family member won’t be going to a half marathon with me. This is also the first race where I won’t be traveling to other parts of the state once I get there. In fact, I’m not even going to rent a car but will be relying on the local transportation and ride shares. A friend of mine who lives in Iowa is also running the race so I won’t be totally by myself but for a majority of my time there I will be by myself so I’m calling it my first solo travel trip.

I’m not anxious at all about any of these first times. On the contrary, I’m very much looking forward to traveling by myself and seeing what solo travel is like. A travel podcaster I follow has said before that he thinks everyone should experience solo travel at least once in their life and I’ve heard other people say how much they enjoy traveling by themselves and the many positive things to come of it.

I will be sure to let you all know how the race goes and what I think of solo travel!

Happy travels!


Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

17 thoughts on “Just Two More States Left!”

  1. I also have never run a local half, but I have run locally everywhere from 5-15k & many are fond memories.

    My story is a lot like yours, I was hooked after my first half (which also wasn’t good weather), & it took a few years before I decided to try to run a half in every state, too. I had gotten not quite halfway through when the pandemic hit (not quite 10 years after the first one) & that has pressed pause for me for a long time (along with other things going on in my life).

    I have traveled solo, although not often. It can be really nice to do what you want, when you want, not gonna lie. It’s also nice to have a Sherpa. 😊

    In fact, I traveled to my second half myself, although it was Austin so I had friends there & also an online friend running the race I met for the first time there. I was there several days by myself & my husband (who had a work conference) flew out that night after the race.

    I’m really excited for you Donna! Can’t wait to read all about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I cannot wait to hear how it goes!! Both the run and the solo travel! A friend of mine traveled solo to Bali and my first thoughts were, “is it safe for you alone, why wouldn’t you want to go with family, and you didn’t even have one glass of wine on vacation?!” Haha but just hearing her experience taught me I still have so much to learn! About myself and the world. Have a great time!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great quest you are on and soon to complete.

    I run most of my races within 50 miles of my home.
    But I have travelled to a few states for marathons and dream of running a marathon in all 50 states.
    As I get older that goal may drop to a half or even a 5K in each state.

    Enjoy your runs and good luck!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely am a closer to home racer and if memory serves correct I’ve only stayed overnight in a hotel once for a race. All the things you listed about the logistics play a factor but I think the main thing is that Jason and I like our vacations to be a break from working out. That said we have ran and biked on trips, and we do a TON of walking.

    Good luck and have fun in Iowa!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So excited for you. Now ONE more.

    I have run 52 half marathons…many local ones but I prefer to travel. I have been only to maybe 10 states but it is cost prohibitive at this point to fly to race and also I have limited time off from work.

    Most of races will be in Fl and NY but I’m excited next Oct to add Maine to my list. I also need to add Conn and my drivable states may be done.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m travelling solo right now! I’ve been in Phoenix for four days and the husband won’t join me until tomorrow night. This is our first time doing a “hybrid” trip (part solo, part together). It just worked out that way because of his work schedule, but I really like it so far, plus I’m looking forward to him arriving. I did my first solo trip (to Tucson) maybe 4-5 years ago and it was great! It’s a real confidence-builder. Just before I left for this most recent trip, a colleague said she could never travel solo – she doesn’t have the confidence. I think that it’s something everyone should try. They might not like it and that’s fine, but fear shouldn’t stop people from trying it. I think people often get hung up on the “eating alone at a restaurant” part. I think they feel everyone is looking at them. I say that between their digital devices and their own dining companions, nobody’s paying any attention to you. And even if they are, they aren’t judging you (heck, they may even be admiring you). And even if they are judging you, who cares? Anyway, I hope it’s a great experience for you, and good luck with the race!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea of part solo, part together. That seems like the best of both worlds. I think travel in general is scary for many people so the idea of doing it by yourself would be overwhelming for them. You’re absolutely right about eating by yourself at restaurants. Most people are so into their own heads with their thoughts they don’t pay any attention to anyone else. I hope you have a great time in Arizona!

      Liked by 1 person

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