What I Learned From Every Half Marathon I Ran- Part 2

If you missed part one, you can read it here What I Learned From Every Half Marathon I Ran. TLDR? I went through the half marathons I ran in all 50 states beginning with my first one in North Carolina in 2000. I briefly state what I learned at each race, since after all, life is a learning process. In my first post, I stopped at a half marathon I ran in Mississippi in 2010 so that’s where I’ll start here.

Picking back up where I left, although I was struggling with health issues at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon in November of 2010, my health continued to deteriorate for another reason. By the time of the Arbuckles to Ardmore Half Marathon in Oklahoma in March of 2011, I had full-blown anemia. This was my 21st state (and 23rd half marathon) but my first experience with anemia. I was borderline in need of a transfusion but my doctor chose to prescribe heavy doses of iron pills along with B12 and other vitamins to help with absorption. She also told me not to run. I learned it is indeed possible to run a half marathon if you don’t mind going slowly (but I certainly don’t endorse this).

At the Missoula Half Marathon in Montana I learned to be better prepared for drastic changes in weather at races. Although it was supposed to be mid-50’s at the start of the race, a cold front had moved in the day before the race so it was predicted to drop to the low 40’s that morning. For some people, that’s shorts and short-sleeve weather but not for this southern gal. I went to a running store in search of running pants but the closest they had was capris, in a size smaller than I normally wore. I bought them anyway and while not ideal, at least my legs weren’t freezing.

I learned having elite runners at a race can have its perks for everyone else. When I ran the Kaiser Realty Coastal Half Marathon in Alabama, elite runners Deena Kastor and Johnny Gray were speakers there (they didn’t run the race) and we were treated to one of the best post-race spreads I’ve ever had at a race. At the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, I learned it’s possible to have fun and not be overwhelmed at big races as long as they’re well-organized like this one. I learned just how hot it gets in Chicago in June at the Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon.

At the Amica Half Marathon in Newport, Rhode Island, I learned just how much of an underrated state this smallest of the US states is. The Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon showed me just how insanely hilly Knoxville is (one of the hilliest races I’ve ever run). I learned how amazingly scenic the islands off the coast of Washington are when I ran the San Juan Island Half Marathon.

I learned that all-women’s races have a different vibe than coed races do when I ran the All Women & One Lucky Guy Half Marathon in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The New York City 13.1 showed me how many fun half marathons (and other distances) New York State and New York City has and you don’t have to run the bigger, better-known races to have a great race (this was in Queens). When I ran the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine, I learned just how hot and hilly Maine is in July but since it’s so beautiful, it’s worth it.

The Roller Coaster Half Marathon in Branson, Missouri showed me it’s possible for someone who had never even finished in the top three in her age group before to finish first. After I ran the Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon in Maryland and learned the race director was my daughter’s teacher’s niece, I learned what a small world it truly is. The Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon in South Dakota showed me two things: 1) South Dakota is entirely different in many ways than North Dakota and 2) I love races that start at the top of a canyon and you run down it.

In September of 2015, I learned that some race directors were still not using timing chips at the Dixville Half Marathon in Colebrook, New Hampshire. At the McKenzie River Half Marathon in Eugene, Oregon, I learned just how intense runners are in this part of the country. I asked someone at the packet pickup about the hills and was told, “they’re not that bad,” only to find out the only flat portions were the first two miles and the last mile, with none of the hills going down, only up. The Boulder Rez Half Marathon in Colorado showed me what I already suspected, that running at altitude is no joke.

I learned sometimes race directors try to cram too many events into one race at the Silver Strand Half Marathon in California. In addition to the half marathon, there was a 5k, 10 miler, and half marathon for skaters, handcyclers, and wheelchair racers and the course was extremely crowded. I learned it can be so cold in Utah in February that despite wearing gloves, my fingers were still cold at the end of the Dogtown Half Marathon and my feet were numb for the first couple of miles. The Superhero Half Marathon in Morristown, New Jersey showed me how much fun it was to see other people’s costumes at a race (I didn’t dress up).

The Marshall University Half Marathon in Huntington, West Virginia showed me how cool it was to run with a football on a football field at the end of a race. The Famous Potato Half Marathon in Boise, Idaho showed me how life often doesn’t turn out how you think it will but that can be a good thing. For years I thought I’d run a half marathon in Coeur d’Alene for my Idaho race but the timing was never right so I signed up for this race in Boise and loved it. I learned it’s possible to have a not-so-unique race even in such a beautiful state as Alaska at the Skinny Raven Half Marathon in Anchorage. The course was primarily on greenways, with little water views and overall not that scenic in my opinion.

I learned it’s possible to have a blazing fast course, plenty of amazing volunteers, boatloads of food before and after the race, huge medals, and quality shirts for finishers at small races like the White River Half Marathon in tiny little Cotter, Arkansas. At the Seashore Classic Half Marathon in Lewes, Delaware, I learned running on crushed gravel is killer on the legs and a frozen strawberry daiquiri really hits the spot after a tough race. I learned it’s possible to PR at high elevation if the race has a downhill start like the Star Valley Half Marathon in Thayne, Wyoming.

The Hot Cider Hustle Half Marathon in Omaha, Nebraska taught me to tie my shoelaces better before a race. I had double-knotted them but they still came untied and that 20-something seconds it took me to tie them likely cost me a third place age group finish. At the Circle of Life Half Marathon in Lake City, Minnesota, I learned that “Minnesota nice” is real. Those were some of the friendliest and nicest people I had ever chatted with at a race.

I learned it’s possible to PR at your 51st half marathon at the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon in Iowa. This race also showed me that Des Moines knows how to put on a half marathon right, with so many little touches and big additions as well. The Albuquerque Half Marathon in New Mexico showed me life truly is all about the journey. Although many things went wrong or not exactly ideal before, during, and after this race and it didn’t end on such a high point as I would have liked, I learned running a half marathon in all 50 states isn’t just about state number 50, but the point is every single state along the way that adds up to all 50 states.

So that’s it- 53 half marathons in 21 years and what I learned along the way. Every single race taught me something, sometimes big things, sometimes smaller things but they were all lessons nonetheless.

If you’d like to read more in-depth about any of the half marathons I’ve run, check out my page here: https://runningtotravel.wordpress.com/half-marathons/

What lessons have you learned from half marathons or other races you’ve run?

Happy running!

Donna

What I Learned From Every Half Marathon I Ran

Life is really just a learning process, right? If you don’t learn as you go along, you don’t make progress and grow as a person. Looking back at the half marathons I’ve run, I realized I learned something at each and every race. Sometimes the things I learned were life-changing and with others it was just minor things I probably knew already but they were re-emphasized to me.

Let’s take a look back at the half marathons I’ve run over the years, going back to the very first half marathon I ever ran, way back in 2000, up to the present day. For most of these, I’ll keep it brief but for the truly life-changing races, I may dig a bit deeper. Hopefully this will be fun, so let’s see!

My very first half marathon, the Battleship Half Marathon in Wilmington, North Carolina in November 2000 was quite a learning experience for me. The weather was crazy, with freezing rain and even snow, which is almost unheard of in this southern coastal city. By the time I finished, my arms and shoulders were so tired I could barely lift them to take my sports bra and running shirt off. I learned several things after this race but the top ones were: 1) I needed to start lifting weights, concentrating on upper body exercises, 2) I learned what a huge factor the weather can be and I knew I could run this race faster under more ideal weather conditions, and 3) I learned I was hooked on running half marathons and wanted to do more.

When I ran the 2001 Battleship Half Marathon, sure enough, I cut several minutes off my finish time and the weather was a beautiful day for a race! I learned the importance of being prepared for a half marathon with strength training and a training plan. The Gold Rush Half Marathon in Concord, North Carolina taught me that heat, hills, and humidity is a nasty combination when it comes to races and to avoid the possibility of the 3H’s at all costs when signing up for a race!

Philadelphia Distance Run (can you find me?)

The Kona Half Marathon in Hawaii (at least when I ran it) was on the same course as the Ironman running portion. It was hot and hilly (but not humid) and beautiful. I loved every second of it and I learned having great views along a course goes a long way! When I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run, I learned big races can be fun as long as they’re well-organized, which this one was.

Kiawah Island Half Marathon in South Carolina is very flat but also tends to have strong headwinds. I learned races along the beach can be difficult despite being flat because of the winds. When I ran the Valley of the Sun Half Marathon in Phoenix, I learned it’s possible to run a half marathon when pregnant as long as you follow your doctor’s recommendations and advice.

The Columbus Distance Run was a race I never should have run. I had been suffering from Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) before this race and had pain in my knee after running only a couple of miles at a time but I ran it anyway. I couldn’t run for months after the race and I learned sometimes you should DNS (did not start) a race if you’re injured.

After running the Louisville Half Marathon in Kentucky, I learned to research my races better because like the race in Columbus, Ohio, this race was just OK with nothing exceptional about it. The Naples Daily News Half Marathon in Florida taught me there are plenty of fun races in Florida besides Disney and they don’t have to cost a fortune and you don’t have to get up at 3 in the morning on race day either! Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Woodstock, Vermont taught me how much I love Vermont and left me wanting to see the rest of the New England states.

I was surprised at how stifling hot it was at the half marathon in Connecticut!

When I ran the Marathon of the Americas and Half Marathon in San Antonio, Texas, I learned the importance of working in some vacation days after a race; San Antonio is a fun city to explore. The Laughlin Half Marathon in Nevada showed me you can’t always trust the website descriptions for a race (I didn’t find it scenic at all) and packed dirt with gravel on top is horrible to try to run on. Stratton Faxon Half Marathon in Fairfield, Connecticut showed me that even the New England states can get extremely hot during the summer.

The Evansville Half Marathon in Indiana showed me that sometimes taking that leap of faith to run in small towns you’ve never heard of can be worth it (it was my fastest half marathon to date and I loved every minute of the race). Run the Reagan in Snellville, Georgia taught me it’s not fun at all to run along a freeway and even more miserable when it’s raining and cold. The Bayshore Half Marathon in Traverse City, Michigan showed me popular races are popular for a reason (this one sold out quickly when I signed up) and I loved the scenic course.

Finishing on a track was fun at the half in Traverse City, Michigan!

Kroll’s Diner Half Marathon in Bismarck, North Dakota showed me it can be tough to find a half marathon that fits in with your schedule in some states, with North Dakota being one. When I was looking for a half marathon there, I could only find a few races and to this day there are only a handful. Ole Man River Half Marathon in New Orleans showed me even a fun, quirky city like New Orleans can have plain and ordinary races like this one. The Olathe Half Marathon in Kansas showed me some race directors aren’t thoughtful at all when planning a race course and will take you through industrial areas and past neighborhoods with just ordinary houses (or maybe that was just the best they had to offer for a safe course).

The Madison Mini-Marathon in Wisconsin showed me when you run a half marathon in August, even in a state as far north as Wisconsin, it’s going to be HOT so you’d better be prepared for slower race times. I learned a couple of things when I ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon: 1) just because you’re running in a cool place like a space center doesn’t mean you’ll see actual rockets and 2) it sometimes gets cold in Mississippi in late November (I was not expecting it to be in the 30’s).

I’m going to stop here since I still have several half marathons to go and this post is already pretty lengthy. I’ll continue with the rest of the half marathon lessons in another post.

What about you? What lessons have you learned from half marathons or other races you’ve ran?

Happy running!

Donna

How I Did It

I recently reviewed Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery’s book How She Did It, which you can read here (Book Review- How She Did It. Stories, Advice, and Secrets to Success from 50 Legendary Distance Runners by Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery).

In my review, I also provided a link to their website where you can buy a copy of their book and if you go there, you’ll see it includes a reader worksheet. This is the same list of questions the authors asked everyone they interviewed for their book. I thought it would be interesting for me to post the questions on the worksheet and put my personal answers here. Here goes!

YOUR CHAPTER

Below are the questions we asked all the athletes interviewed in How She Did It.

Use these questions as a guide as you think about your own experience. Then, look at the answers from the athletes in the book. Do you notice any similarities? Come back to this page often and review how your answers change over time

What were your PR’s?

Although I ran on my elementary school’s track team, I have no idea what my times were for the distances I ran then (the mile, 800 meter, and 4 x 400 meter relay). That was the only time I ran on a school team and the only time I raced shorter distances. I didn’t start racing until I was an adult so I only have PR’s from the last 22 years. I bring this up because in the book, people had PR’s from high school, college, and beyond. Here are my PR’s: 5k- 26:53 (May 2022), 10k- 52:27 (July 2021), 10-mile- 1:27:13 (April 2022), Half Marathon- 1:51:20 (October 2021).

How did you get into running?

As I mentioned above, I started running on my elementary school’s track team. Our PE teacher was phenomenal and I believe a big part of why I’ve always been athletic is because of his encouragement. I’ve always also had a drive in me and the adrenaline rush from running has kept me going.

What major setbacks/challenges did you face as an athlete?

I had shin splints in college that stopped me from running for a few years. At their peak, they were so painful I was in tears as I walked home from a run and that deterred me from running for a long time. I also had ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome) that I developed after the birth of my daughter when I was training for a half marathon in Ohio. I tried to push through the pain and keep running but that was not a good idea and I was forced to stop running for a few months after that race.

If you have this setback/setbacks, describe how long you were off from running competing? How did you overcome the issue?

I already answered the part about how long I was off from running. I overcame shin splints by buying better running shoes, focusing more on recovery, and just training more properly. My foam roller and deep tissue massages helped me recover from ITBS and it’s not been a problem since I incorporated both of those things into my regular practice.

What is your best race following your setback (or your best race ever!)?

My best race ever was the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon (see photo above). It was one of those races where all of the stars were aligned and I felt like I was flying on the course. In a close second (or maybe even a tie) was the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta where I had a huge smile plastered on my face for the entire 10k. Not surprisingly those were also my fastest races.

What are you most proud of in your running journey?

I don’t consider myself a “proud” person in general; I don’t go around bragging about myself or my accomplishments. That being said, I am proud of completing my goal to run a half marathon in all 50 states. It took commitment and perseverance on my part and the journey changed my life.

What did you learn and what would you have done differently?

I’m not sure if this question relates to the previous question but that’s how I’m going to answer it. I learned that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for (physically and mentally). I also learned that big goals are achievable if you make them a priority (I realize sometimes that’s just not possible so I’m not saying it’s easy to do that). I would have changed a couple of the races I ran and chosen different ones, with the Run the Reagan just outside of Atlanta high on the list as one of my most miserable races.

Who makes up your support system? (coaches, trainers, family, teammates, friends?)

My support system has changed over the years. For all 17 years of her life my daughter has been my biggest fan and supporter. She traveled with me to all but 3 states for the half marathons I ran (Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Mexico) and always cheered me on. Never once when she was younger did she complain when I told her I was going on a training run. Now that she’s older she’ll often have a cold glass of water with Nuun waiting for me after a run.

What is your favorite workout?

My favorite workout is one that incorporates quarter mile repeats. They’re over before I know it but I feel like they make me faster and stronger.

What is your most interesting/funny race story?

Believe it or not, despite running somewhere around 60 races, I don’t really have any interesting or funny race stories that come to mind. I guess maybe the best I can think of was the half marathon in Boise, Idaho where a guy was running with a pool cue balanced on a finger, trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.

If you could give other girls in sport one piece of advice, what would it be?

My piece of advice for other girls in sport would be to listen to your body to notice any changes and seek help from either a coach or physical therapist when necessary. If something feels off, figure out why that is. For example, if you have a pain on the side of your knee, figure out what’s causing that pain and work on getting rid of that pain. Don’t continue running if something hurts. It’s not worth the damage you’ll inevitably do and be forced to take time off from running.

What has been most rewarding about your running journey?

The most rewarding part of my running journey has 100% been the people I’ve met along the way. I still remember conversations I had with other runners years ago either before or after a race. Joining a running club has been one of the best things I’ve ever done and have made lifelong friends. Connecting with other runners through my blog and social media has also been one of the best parts about my running journey.

Have you read How She Did It? Did you fill out this worksheet? If you did, is there anything from it you’d like to share or discuss?

Happy Running!

Donna

Book Review- How She Did It. Stories, Advice, and Secrets to Success from 50 Legendary Distance Runners by Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery

When I heard Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery were working on a book, I was excited about reading it. Molly Huddle is a two-time Olympian for Team USA and a six-time American record-holder and Sara Slattery represented the US at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championship and was a four-time NCAA champion. Knowing this, it was interesting to see what kind of book these two accomplished runners would write.

How She Did It is different from any other book about runners that I’ve read. First, it’s only about female runners and includes parts taken from interviews the authors had with 50 prominent female runners going back to the pioneers like Patti Catalano Dillon (also pictured on the cover), Kathrine Switzer, and Cheryl Bridges Flanagan Treworgy, Shalane Flanagan’s mom and ends with more recent runners like Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sally Kipyego.

The authors’ main question was “How did you do it?” but they asked similar questions like what was their support system like, how did they overcome challenges, how did they take care of their bodies, along with the general information about personal records at different stages of their running careers. There were many overlapping stories with the athletes such as stress fractures from under-fueling.

There’s much more to this book than interviews with famous runners. After an introduction by the authors about how the idea for the book was conceived and their running stories, part one is called “The Experts.” Huddle and Slattery brought in experts to help cover what they call the four keys to being a healthy young female runner. The four areas are: physical health and injury prevention, hormonal health, sound nutrition, and mental health and sports psychology. Not only is there advice from experts they talked to on each of the four areas, there are citations of scientific articles included in case anyone wants to dive deeper.

Part two is the bulk of the book and is comprised of the athlete interviews, which I’ve already discussed. While I enjoyed reading about each of the athletes in the book, I found it did get a bit much and in my opinion some of the athletes could have been left out. I heard on a podcast with the two authors that originally the book included interviews from 80 female runners and they whittled that down to 50, so I guess they already felt like they were cutting out quite a chunk of their book.

The next-to-last section, called “The Cooldown,” is short and includes anecdotes that happened to some of the runners in the book that weren’t included in part two. For example, Molly Seidel tells the story about when her phone was stolen from a track in Ethiopia and the whole town came together to help find it. Carrie Tollefson recalls the story about how her husband proposed to her on a run.

The final section, “Favorite Workouts” includes some of the runners in the book’s favorite running workouts, as you might imagine. I found most of these extremely vague so you won’t find true workouts, at least not in the sense I think of as a workout. For example, 2008 Olympian Anna Willard Grenier states that “all-out 200s, all-out 300s, and 150s” were her favorite workouts. Four-time Olympian Coleen De Reuck’s favorite workouts are “hill repeats. I don’t go too far because I think if your form breaks down, then you lose some benefits.” It’s interesting but is less than four pages long and just has comments from ten runners.

In total, the book is 336 pages in the paperback version and it’s available on Amazon and other book sellers. I borrowed it from my public library, which I encourage others to do unless it’s a book you know you’d read over and over. For most books, I like to see if they’re available at the library before I buy them. It’s better for the environment and is a lot cheaper! Or, you can order directly from the website and get a signed copy: https://howshediditbook.com.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. I’ve never read a book comprised solely of information about female runners through the years and from this type of angle. It’s not meant to be a training guide so as long as you don’t think that’s what you’ll be getting, it’s a worthwhile read.

Have you read this book or heard about it? If so, what did you think? Would you like to read this book?

Happy running!

Donna

My Tried and True Half Marathon Training Plan

First a disclaimer: I am not a running coach nor do I have any running certifications or affiliations. What I am is a runner who has been running races since 2000 and I’ve run a half marathon in all 50 states (plus a marathon, 5ks, 10ks, a 10-miler, and a 15k). Over the years, I’ve used many training plans including ones I’ve gotten from books, online, and from other runners. Since I’ve run more half marathons by far than any other distance, that’s what I’m going to focus on here.

When I discovered this particular half marathon training plan several years ago, I liked it for a few different reasons, which I’ll cover in a moment, but I did tweak it over the years. At first glance, you can see there are 5 running days with an option for another. When I first used this plan I was going by the “Run Less Run Faster” training plan where you only run 3 days a week so it would have been a stretch for me to go from 3 days a week to 6 and even jumping from 3 to 5 concerned me. It turns out running 5 days a week was the perfect sweet spot for me.

If you’re not familiar, the Run Less Run Faster program focuses entirely on speed work and a long run; there are no easy recovery days. This seemed to be working for me for a while but I began to feel like I was in a running rut and I needed a new plan, hence the training plan I will go over here. I feel like this training plan needs a name so I’ll just call it “Donna’s Half Marathon Training Plan” to keep it simple, or “Donna’s Plan” to keep it even more simple from here on since we all know it’s a half marathon training plan.

I finished first in my age group with this training plan (in Missouri)!!!

In Donna’s Plan, there are both timed runs and distance-measured runs, so for example, some days you may run for 45 minutes and other days you may run 5 miles. I like this mix of both timed and distance-measured runs because I feel like if you’re only running by time all of the time it may be not give you enough time on your feet to prepare you for the race. If a training plan says to run for 60 minutes and you’re super-speedy you’re going to cover much more ground than someone who’s running 11- or 12 minute-miles. No matter what your speed is you need to get that time on your feet before the half marathon.

On the other hand, if you only run by distance, it can get to be a bit of a head game for some people. You see that you have to run 12 miles and you think, “I’ve never run that far before. I’m not sure I can do that” and you may talk yourself out of it and run for 9 miles instead. Likewise, if you see you’re supposed to run for 6 miles during the week and you work full-time and have a family and a million other things to do, it’s too easy to tell yourself it’s ok to just run 4 miles even though the plan calls for 6 miles. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like people are more likely to get hung up on the distance-measured runs than timed runs.

Having a mix of both timed and distance-measured runs seems like a good mix to give you the confidence you need as you gradually build up both the distance and time you run. Speaking of gradual build-up, it’s important to give yourself the full 14 weeks to complete the plan. You don’t want to jump into the plan by skipping the first few weeks nor do you want to cut the training plan short by skipping the last few weeks. Donna’s Plan also assumes you’ve already built up a base of at least 25 miles/week and have been consistently running at least 5 miles for your long run.

I’ll discuss some of the terms used in the plan now.

Distance Runs are timed by minutes. They’re meant to be easy runs.

Intervals are speed workouts that include tempo runs and runs at interval pace. Tempo runs are meant to be about 25 seconds per mile slower than 5k race pace. Interval pace is supposed to be close to your current 3k or 5k race pace. This could also be referred to as a VO2max workout.

Fartlek runs are divided into three parts, a warmup, then faster brief segments that are usually repeated such as 8 x 45 seconds, and a cooldown. These are timed runs in Donna’s Plan.

Long runs sometimes include part of them at your goal half marathon pace or they can be at even distance/long run pace.

One day is slated as either a rest day, aerobic cross training (such as cycling, eliptical, rowing or some other non-impact activity) or an easy 30 minute run. If you’ve never run a half marathon before or haven’t run one in a while, I suggest you take this as a rest day.

Strides are usually done at the end of a run but can be done in the middle if you need a little pick-me-up. They aren’t meant to be sprinted all-out but help improve turnover. Focus on your form; you want to be relaxed with light footfall landings, and quick push-off. These are 15-20 seconds each.

One last note, the plan starts on Monday and includes runs on Monday, Tuesday, (optional on Wednesday), Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday is a rest day every week. If you prefer to do your long runs on Sundays, you should shift everything so that you’re still running three days in a row. In this case, your day off would be Thursday instead of Wednesday and you would run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I PR’d with this plan for my 51st half marathon in state number 49 (Iowa)!!!

Week 1

Monday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 15 second strides.

Tuesday- Intervals- Warmup 1 mile easy running, 6 x 400 meters at interval pace with 1:30 jogging recovery between. Cooldown 1 mile easy. Total 5 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 35 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 2 x 3 minutes at tempo effort with 1 minute easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 35 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 15 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 5 to 6 miles at even pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 2

Monday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 15 second strides.

Tuesday- Intervals- Warmup 1 mile easy, 10 x 300 meters at interval pace with 1:00 jogging recovery. Cooldown 1 mile. Total 5 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 35 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 5-7 minutes at tempo effort with 1 minute easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 35 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 15 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 5 to 6 miles at even pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 3

Monday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 15 second strides.

Tuesday- Intervals- Warmup 1 mile easy, 8 x 400 meters at interval pace with 1:30 jogging recovery. Cooldown 1 mile. Total 5 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 40 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 3 x 3 minutes at tempo effort with 1 minute easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 40 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 6 to 7 miles at even pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 4

Monday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Intervals- Warmup 1 mile easy, 6 x 1000 meters at tempo pace with 1:00 jogging recovery. Cooldown 1 mile. Total 6 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 40 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 8 x 1 minute pickups at 5k race effort with 1 minute easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 40 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 8 mile long run. First 4 miles at long distance easy pace then last 4 miles at half marathon goal pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 5

Monday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Intervals- Warmup 1 mile easy, 10 x 400 meters at interval pace with 1:30 jogging recovery. Cooldown 1 mile. Total 5-6 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 45 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 3 x 4 minutes at tempo effort with 1 minute easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 45 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 9 to 10 miles at even pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 6

Monday- Distance Run- 40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo run- Warmup 1 mile easy, 4 x 1 mile at tempo pace with 1:00 jogging recovery. Cooldown 1 mile. Total 6 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 45 minute run. Start with 15 minutes easy, then 12 x 30 seconds pickups at 5k effort with 30 seconds easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 45 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-45 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 11 miles. First 5 miles at long distance run pace, last 6 miles at goal half marathon pace.

Week 7

Monday- Distance Run- 40-50 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1-2 miles easy, 4-5 x 1 miles at tempo pace with 1:00 jogging recovery. Cooldown 1 mile. Total 7-9 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 40 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 10 x 30 second pickups at 5k race pace with 30 seconds easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 40 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run- 13-14 miles at easy even pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 8

Monday- Distance Run- 40-50 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1-2 miles easy, 3 miles at tempo pace with 5 minutes jogging recovery, 1 mile at tempo pace. Cooldown 1-2 miles. Total 6-8 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 45 minute run. Start with 10-15 minutes easy, then 10 x 45 second pickups at 5k race pace with 45 seconds easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 45 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-45 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run 12 miles. First 6 miles at easy long distance pace, last 6 at half marathon goal pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 9

Monday- Distance Run- 40-50 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1-2 miles easy, 2 x 2 miles at tempo pace with 2 minutes jogging recovery. Cooldown 1-2 miles. Total 6-8 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 45 minute run. Start with 10-15 minutes easy, then 8 x 1 minute pickups at 5k race pace with 1 minute easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 45 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-45 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run 13-14 miles at even pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 10

Monday- Distance Run- 40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1-2 miles easy, 3 miles at tempo pace followed by 2 miles easy, followed by 2 x 1 miles at tempo pace with 1 minute rest between. Cooldown 1-2 miles. Total 8-10 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 45 minute run. Start with 10-15 minutes easy, then 4 x 1:30 minute pickups at 5k race pace with 1:30 minute easy between then 4 x 1:00 minute pickups with 1:00 easy + 4 x 30 seconds pickups with 30 seconds easy. Cooldown easy to reach 45 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-45 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run 11 miles. First 3-4 miles at long distance pace then increase last 7-8 miles to goal half marathon pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 11

Monday- Distance Run- 40-50 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1-2 miles easy, 4-5 x 1 mile at tempo pace with 1 minute rest between. Cooldown 1-2 miles. Total 6-9 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 40 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 10 x 30 second pickups at 5k race pace with 30 seconds easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 40 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30-40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run 13-14 miles at easy pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 12

Monday- Distance Run- 40-50 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1-2 miles easy, 6-7 x 1000 meters at tempo pace with 1 minute rest between. Cooldown 1-2 miles. Total 6-8 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 45 minute run. Start with 10-15 minutes easy, then 8 x 45 second pickups at 5k race pace with 45 seconds easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 45 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run 11 miles. Run first 3-4 miles at long distance pace then increase final miles to half marathon goal pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 13

Monday- Distance Run- 40 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1 mile easy, then 3 miles at tempo pace. Cooldown 1 mile easy. Total 5 miles.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Light Fartlek- 40 minute run. Start with 10 minutes easy, then 8 x 30 second pickups at 5k race pace with 30 seconds easy between. Cooldown easy to reach 40 minutes.

Friday- Distance Run- 20-30 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Saturday- Long Run 7-8 miles. Run first 3-4 miles at long distance pace then increase final miles to half marathon goal pace.

Sunday- Rest Day.

Week 14

Monday- Distance Run- 30 minutes + 6 x 20 second strides.

Tuesday- Tempo- Warmup 1 mile easy, then 4 x 1000 meters at tempo pace. 1 minute rest between. Cooldown 1 mile easy.

Wednesday- Rest day, aerobic cross-training 30-45 minutes, or easy 30 minute run.

Thursday- Easy short run 30 minutes + 6 x 10 second strides.

Friday- Rest day.

Saturday- Easy 20-30 minute shakeout run.

Sunday- RACE DAY!

That’s it! That’s Donna’s Half Marathon Training Plan. It’s worked well for me because I was able to PR using this plan for my 51st half marathon in Iowa, my 49th state last October. I like the plan because it’s challenging enough but not so overwhelming that I’m not able to hit my goal times or run the specified distances.

What about you- do you have a tried and true half marathon plan you use for races? Or would you prefer to just wing it and run by feel on race day? Do you feel too “locked-in” or are you just too busy to follow most training plans?

Happy running!

Donna

Bucket List Running Goals and Motivation

Most people that regularly follow my blog know that I had a big goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states and I ran state number 50 in New Mexico last November. What you probably don’t know is since then I’ve been slacking off quite a bit when it comes to my running. Since my half marathon in November I’ve run a couple of races, Catching Fireflies 5k- My First Night Race! in May and Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in April but that’s it. I was supposed to run a race in February but it was postponed until next February.

The major reason I haven’t run that many races or started working on another big goal for myself is my daughter has been going through a serious health situation. It’s not cancer or anything like that but a chronic condition she’s had since she was 9. She’s under the supervision of some incredible doctors and we hope she’ll be through the worst of it soon and her life will greatly improve by the time she goes back to high school in late August.

It’s been extremely stressful for me as her mother, and I’ve had to take her to multiple doctor visits and stay in the hospital with her around the clock multiple times sometimes for more than a week at a time. Of course it’s been even harder for her. She’s supposed to be having fun with her friends and just enjoying life as a teenager, not being in and out of the hospital for months on end.

I realize you may have seen the title and thought I was going to announce a big bucket list running goal, but I’m not. While I did say at the beginning of the year that I would like to start running a half marathon in all of the Canadian provinces in my running resolutions post in January (Running Resolutions and My Word for 2022), that’s not going to happen any time soon. When I wrote that, I thought it would be possible to run a couple of half marathons in Canada this year but since then things have changed and there’s no way that will happen. Maybe next year.

Taken on a run with my daughter back in 2020

In hindsight now I can see when I had the goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states, that definitely gave me motivation to run. I know not everyone needs a big goal to keep them motivated but for me it certainly helps. Even running local races hasn’t been possible for me since late spring. I just haven’t had the time to devote to training for much of a race other than possibly a 5k. Plus, once the summer heat and humidity kicked in here in late May, there were less and less races so my options dwindled.

Although it took me 21 years to complete my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, I never doubted it would happen. It was always about the journey for me anyway. I’ve never been the type of person to run a race just to check off a box (not that there’s anything wrong with that; to each his/her own). But I always wanted to spend at least a few days, preferably more in every state to get an idea about what the state was like, or at least the part or parts of the state I was in, try the local foods, and talk to the local people.

Even though bucket list running goals are a huge motivator for me, it’s OK that I’m not working on any big running goals now. It’s OK that my motivation to run has dwindled. And it’s OK that my overall running has slacked probably more than it has in over 20 years. Obviously my daughter comes first before anything else.

Honestly, it’s not like I’m not motivated, either. That’s not truly stating how I feel. I would love to be able to train for half marathons and travel to run them. The timing just isn’t right for me at the moment to be able to do that. It’s more like my motivation to run local short distance races has waned a bit. But then again, I never was motivated to run local short races other than the 5k I ran in May, so that’s nothing new.

I have no doubt things will improve with my daughter and once that happens, I can jump back into things. Well, I should probably ease back into things and not overdo it. Still, I know this isn’t permanent and eventually I’ll be able to start on my bucket list goal of running a half marathon in all of the Canadian provinces. Until then, I’m going to continue running when I can and be content with that.

What about you? Have you had a bucket list running goal you’ve had to put on hold for something other than covid? Do you have a bucket list running goal/s or does that not appeal to you and you’d rather just see what races pop up?

Happy running!

Donna

How My Motivation for Running Has Changed Over the Years

I started thinking about this some time back when I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about how their motivation for athletic activities they do has changed over the years. For example, one person was talking about their motivation for doing triathlons and the other person was talking about their motivation for running. When I started running what I would call in a more regular way in my late 20’s (I phrase it this way because prior to this point I would just run whenever and wherever with no real plan or intention and no races), my motivation was simply for the sheer joy of running, truthfully.

I didn’t need to lose weight or get healthier nor did a friend talk me into running with them. In fact, my boyfriend at the time was motivated by me to run and we would often run together. He ended up doing a sprint triathlon but shortly after that he ran less and less. His heart just wasn’t in it and it was obvious he was just doing it to spend time with me but he had no real motivation to run.

No longer with a running partner, I ran by myself and eventually trained for and ran my first 5k and gradually built up to a half marathon then eventually I ran a marathon. I enjoyed the solitude of being alone with nature and I liked how I felt after a run- accomplished and satisfied. My motivation to continue to run eventually became seeking out more half marathons. It was about more than just running the race, however; all of those training miles became my new normal and a part of who I was.

One thing that helps with motivating me to run is having beautiful places like this to run

Many years ago after I had run a half marathon in several states and I made the decision to run a half marathon in every state, that became my goal and my motivation. Never once did I doubt if I could make it happen. I knew I would eventually get there, no matter how long it took me.

It was definitely always about the journey for me and just enjoying myself along the way. I always made it a priority to spend at least several days in a state, usually more, preferably after the race and take in as much as I possibly could. With only a couple of rare exceptions did I not care for a place I visited. Some places were just OK, as well, but the majority of places I went to far exceeded any expectations I might have had.

Speaking of expectations, one thing I’ve learned over the years but still have to work on is to have zero expectations. This can be about a place I’m going to, about a race, about a person, or about anything coming up in my life. I’m a realist and optimist by nature so it doesn’t work for me to have really low expectations for a place or person but I’ve found if I go into something with no expectations at all, that usually works out well for me. But back to my original topic.

Now that I’ve finished my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, my motivation has once again changed. After my final race in November 2021, I was asked by many people, “What’s your next big goal? A marathon in all 50 states?” or other similar questions. I always just laughed and said, “No. For now I’m just soaking it all in and trying to enjoy the moment.”

After my half marathon in November 2021, I needed a break from running so I took two weeks off from running completely and only went on walks and hikes. Historically when I was still in the midst of my 50 states quest I would almost always take two weeks off from running after a half marathon to let my body heal completely so that wasn’t unusual for me. What has been unusual is for the first time in a couple of decades, I don’t have a half marathon in sight and I’m perfectly OK with that.

I’ve found myself going back to my roots, if you will, when I ran for the sheer joy of running. There is zero pressure for me to find another race to train for, at least in the near future. I had signed up for a local race in February that would have involved something entirely different for me but it was made into a virtual race with the option to defer to 2023, which I did. I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run in Washington, D.C. in April, (Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run) and loved it. For now, I’m just seeing what races seem interesting and going with that.

What’s your motivation to run/cycle/hike/swim/multi-sport/other? Has it changed over the years?

Happy running!

Donna

Answers to Ask Me Anything

Thank you so much to everyone that asked questions in response to my post Ask Me Anything! It was a success and you all asked some thought-provoking questions. If you missed that post, I thought it would be fun to have people ask me questions related to my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, which I just finished in November 2021.

I’ll type the questions in the order received and put my answers after. Here goes!

Q: When you first set your 50 state goal how long did you think it would take?

A: Although I ran my first half marathon in 2000, I didn’t set my goal to run a half marathon in all 50 states until some time after that. I believe it was somewhere around state number 3, when I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run in 2004 when the idea to run a half marathon in all 50 states began forming in my mind. That same year I ran the Kiawah Island Half Marathon in South Carolina and had signed up to run the Valley of the Sun Half Marathon in Arizona when I found out I was pregnant. Since I had been running half marathons for a few years and had no underlying health conditions my doctor said it was fine to run the race in Arizona, plus I was only about two months pregnant then. I didn’t run another half marathon until 13 months later when I ran the Columbus Distance Run in April 2006 but at this point I definitely had the goal to run all 50 states. Knowing I could run 3 or 4 half marathons a year (but most years it was 3), I knew it would take several years for me to finish and I was fine with that. At that point I estimated it would take another 14 years to finish, which would have put me finishing in 2020. Then the pandemic hit and that pushed back all of my races a year so I ran my last race in 2021, 21 years after I ran my first half marathon.

Q: Did you set aside some time to actually see something of all the states? What was your favorite non-running find?

A: From the beginning, I always wanted to incorporate as much time as possible into seeing some of the states I was running a race in. I knew that would mean I wouldn’t be able to run as many states a year but it was important to me to not just check off the boxes. For most states I tried to spend a week in the area, preferably after the race and sometimes I spent more than a week in the state. I was lucky enough to spend an entire three weeks in San Diego when I ran the half marathon there, which is the most I spent in one place when I went there for a race.

My favorite non-running find is a tough one. There were so many little towns I went to that I never would have discovered if not for the races I ran there. I absolutely loved Woodstock and Quechee in Vermont but also Newport, Rhode Island and the nearby little towns, and tiny little Thayne, Wyoming not to mention Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota. I guess I’d have to choose Rhode Island. It’s the smallest of the United States but is filled with such beauty and is an undiscovered gem in my mind, although I hear the summers are filled with New Englanders. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who told me they were going on vacation in Rhode Island unless they had family there, which is a shame given what a cool place it is and so many people have never been there.

One of the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island

Q: What resources did you use to pick the races?

A: Over the years I’ve used many websites to pick the races I ran. Ones that I found myself returning to over and over include: Running in the USA https://www.runningintheusa.com/, Halfmarathons.net https://www.halfmarathons.net/race-calendar/, Race Raves https://raceraves.com/, Half Marathon Search https://www.halfmarathonsearch.com/half-marathon-calendar and Bibrave including the Bibrave 100 https://www.bibrave.com/thebibrave100/2020.

I also ran some races after speaking to people I knew who ran them or reading blog posts on them. Those that come to mind are the Shamrock Half in Virginia Beach, Kiawah Island in South Carolina, Missoula Half in Montana, and Bayshore Half Marathon in Michigan. These all lived up to the hype and were indeed great races (plus cool towns which made them perfect racecations).

The huge Poseidon statue near the finish of the Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon

Q: How did you train for the different conditions (ex: hills, races at altitude, humidity)?

A: Living in central North Carolina gives me some variety when it comes to weather and running conditions. We have hills, heat, humidity, and even ice in January when we inevitably get freezing rain. The only thing we don’t have that was mentioned above is altitude.

One of the first things I would do when deciding on a race was check the course. If there were going to be substantial hills I made sure to incorporate hill repeats in my training. If there were going to be rolling hills I would run my long run where there were rolling hills. I ran several races during summer months where it was hot and humid. Since the heat really kicks in here in May, for those summer races I had been running in the heat for long enough for me to have acclimatized for those races (typically it takes a couple of weeks to acclimatize to the heat). I personally feel like I never really get used to the humidity and the only thing I can do to prepare for that is to make sure I run with fluids and am fully hydrated in the hours before I even step out the door to run.

When I was choosing half marathons in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming or any other state with high mountains one of the first things I looked up was the elevation in the cities where the races were. I purposefully chose races that were in cities with some of the lowest elevations in those states. I also read that it takes most people at least a few days to acclimatize to high elevation so I would fly into those states a few days before the race.

Almost as soon as I landed I started drinking water like my life depended on it since water helps with getting used to high elevation. One of the hardest half marathons I ran was in Boulder, Colorado even though it didn’t even have the highest altitude (around 5400 feet vs. around 6000 feet in Thayne, Wyoming). I think the difference was the course in Boulder was around a reservoir and was relatively flat compared to the course in Wyoming that had a fast downhill start for the first few miles and leveled off after that.

After the finish at the Star Valley Half Marathon in Thayne, Wyoming (right beside Afton, WY)

Q: How did you balance being a mom, working, having a social life, et cetera with a regular training plan over so many years? How did you keep up your motivation to train even when you felt too busy or tired?

A: Ah, the old life/balance question. I’ve always had a full-time job since I graduated from college and I’ve been a mom since my early-30’s so there was only a brief period where I didn’t also have to work and take care of my child in addition to getting my training runs in. Honestly, I don’t think most people can achieve a perfect 50/50 balance if you’re pursuing a huge goal. The best that most people can hope for is to have what I’ve heard referred to by others as “seasons” in life. For most people it means you have periods where you focus on your goal and other periods when you cut back on your goal a bit and focus on family and work. For me this literally meant spring, summer, fall, and winter where I would be training for and then traveling to a race during the spring, summer, and fall months then I would take most or much of winter off to rest, recover, and catch up.

All of this doesn’t mean I just ignored my work and family obligations because I was training for a half marathon but I did make running a priority in my life or it never would have happened. From the start I made it clear to my boyfriend who later became my husband that running wasn’t just something I would do occasionally but it was a huge part of my life. If he would have had a problem with me going for a run, we never would have lasted more than a week.

Likewise with my daughter, she grew up watching Mom go for a run and it was just “normal” life for her. She also traveled to the majority of my races with me, even when she was a baby, so that also became “normal” for her. She thought all moms traveled all over the United States for half marathons and ran for an hour or two on the weekends with other runs throughout the week. I know this because when she was in grade school, she told me all that. She said she had recently realized most moms didn’t do this and most moms she knew weren’t like her mom when it came to running and travel. When she was old enough she began running races too, working up from the 5k to the half marathon.

My daughter and me after the Circle of Life Half Marathon in Lake City, Minnesota

Like I mentioned earlier, by making running and specifically running a half marathon in all 50 states a priority in my life, I always had the motivation to train even when I felt too busy or tired. It helped that I also knew how much running helps my mental state and I’ve always come back from a run feeling better than when I started, even if I was tired when I started. Finally, I’ve always given myself some grace when it comes to running. If I had to miss a 40 minute run because I had to take my daughter to the doctor or I had to work late at work and was exhausted I knew in the grand scheme of things, it would be fine to not run and I wouldn’t suddenly lose all of my fitness. If it would have ever happened where I was consistently missing runs (that never happened), I would have had to take a good look at what was going on in my life and re-evaluate if training for that race was truly a good idea or maybe I should push it back to another time.

Q: What made you choose the half marathon distance vs any other distance?

A: I’ve always felt like the half marathon is the perfect distance for me. It’s just long enough that it’s a challenge and keeps me in good shape but not so long that I am utterly destroyed afterwards like with the marathon. Plus training for a half marathon is much more manageable than for a marathon. I’m also not a big fan of 5k races because if I’m going to truly race them, they’re HARD! I do like the 10 mile distance even though I’ve only run one 10-miler but I am signed up for another 10-miler this spring.

Q: Did you do specific training when you planned for races in western states with higher elevation?

A: No. As far as I could tell when I looked around online about this there really is no way to prepare yourself for running at higher elevation unless you can spring for a hyperbaric tent to sleep in beforehand. I would arrive at the races a few days before the race and drink tons of water, like I mentioned above. I also should have mentioned I lowered my expectations of any finish times for those races and was pleasantly surprised when I finished much faster than I would have predicted at some of them.

Q: Did you ever miss a flight?

A: Yes, but since I always worked in at least one extra day before a race it always worked out. I remember when I flew to one race (I forget which but it was a western state), there were severe thunderstorms that caused major airline delays and cancellations. I was supposed to have a layover in Denver and arrive at my destination that evening but all flights out of Denver were cancelled that evening so I had to stay in a hotel and fly out the next morning. Because of my buffer, I still made it to the packet pickup on time and everything was fine, other than missing some time in my destination.

Q: Does your work have an unlimited vacation time policy?

A: Not unlimited but it is generous. I’ve been at my job for 21 years and I now get 5 weeks of vacation. After I hit 15 years I got bumped up from 4 weeks to 5 so I’ve always had plenty of vacation days. Plus I get 11 days off for holidays that I can use as flex time. On top of all of that, I can roll over something like 30 days of unused vacation time by the end of December to the next year. With all of that being said, I’ve always eventually used every single day of my vacation time and not lost it at the end of the year even during the beginning of the pandemic when I wasn’t traveling, thanks to being able to roll over time to the next year.

That’s all of the questions I received. Thanks again to everyone who submitted questions. That was interesting for me and hopefully to you all as well!

Did anyone forget to ask a question you’d like to ask now or did you miss my first post? Feel free to ask here.

Happy running and travels!

Donna

Ask Me Anything

I realize this could go one of two ways, either fun and interesting or poorly, so I’m depending on all of you who read this (no pressure) for it to go the former way. My idea is this: everyone who regularly follows my blog knows I just finished my quest of running a half marathon in all 50 states, with my last race in Albuquerque, New Mexico in November of 2021. If anyone is new to my blog, now you know too. Many of you regulars, especially the long-timers (and a HUGE thank you if that’s you) probably already know or think you know many other things about my quest. However, I’m guessing there are still some unanswered questions out there that you may be curious about.

This is your chance to ask me absolutely anything and everything you ever wondered about what it was like for me to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Really, nothing is off-limits, too nosy, too trivial, or too silly. If you’re wondering something, someone else may also be wondering the same thing, and even if you’re the only person in the world with the question, it’s still a valid question.

What I would like is for everyone to ask some questions below and if all goes well, I’ll write up a post to answer the questions, rather than just answer them below; that way I can expand on anything that might need more than just a sentence or two to answer. If someone else has already asked your question but yours has a slightly different spin on it, ask it again in your words. That will also clue me in on the more popular questions that need more explanation than others.

Your questions can be broad such as running-related or more specific like half marathon-related, or they can be travel-related, logistics questions, race bling questions, traveling with kids or family, state-related, specific race-related, etc. These are just some examples but certainly not meant to limit you just to these. Questions like favorite/best/worst/most scenic are all fine as well. Creative questions are highly encouraged.

OK. Let’s see how this goes! Thank you to everyone who asks questions! If you never see a follow-up post with the answers, well, we all know what that means, but I’m confident that won’t happen.

Happy running!

Donna

Running Resolutions and My Word for 2022

Although I always write up some running resolutions for the new year, I usually don’t do a word for the year. This year one word in particular seemed to call out to me, a word that I certainly could use more of in my life and I’d venture to say most people would say the same. After I go through my running resolutions, I’ll explain why I chose my word for the year.

First, let me see how I did with my running resolutions for 2021. In my post, Running Resolutions for 2021, I only had two running resolutions and those were: to be more spontaneous when it comes to races and to incorporate more walking into this year. So how did I do? Pretty good with the walking. I definitely walked more than I did in previous years and made it a fairly regular habit to walk for an hour on one of my days off from running. On my other day off from running I would also go for a long walk but it wasn’t always for an hour.

During a walk in Minnesota

Looking back at the question if I was more spontaneous when it came to races, I would say for me, I did a pretty good job at that as well. You have to consider the source for this one, meaning for so many years I would only run half marathons in states where I had never run before so I could work on my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. For me that meant running four half marathons a year in the beginning years and three half marathons a year in the latter years. It was rare if I even ran a 5k on top of those three or four half marathons, although I did run one with my daughter when she ran her first 5k and I ran a color run with her a few years ago.

It was entirely spontaneous when I entered both my daughter and myself into the lottery entry for the Peachtree Road Race, a 10k in Atlanta in July. Much to my surprise, we both got in and that race was one of my most memorable and fun races for the year. I also signed up for another race completely out of my wheelhouse the same day that I ran the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon in Iowa, the Krispy Kreme Challenge. If you go to the website, it says it all on the front page: 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour. You run 2.5 miles, eat a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and run 2.5 miles back to the start. There is a no-doughnut option but what’s the fun in that? I may throw up and I may feel absolutely terrible after running this one, but I won’t know until I do it in February. Stay tuned for how this turns out.

After running Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta

Now on to my running resolutions for 2022. I would like to incorporate more hiking into my off days. Although I’ve always loved to go hiking, this was probably pushed to the forefront when I went backpacking in Yosemite in August of 2021. Unfortunately I don’t live anywhere near Yosemite so I can’t hike in mountains like that but I’ll just have to work with what I have. There are some state parks within a day’s drive from where I live that I’ve never been to and I’d like to try them out and see how the hiking is. I also have a great state park close-by that I can certainly explore more than I have.

For my second running resolution, I’d like to run different distances than the half marathon and just see what I’m capable of at this point in my life. I’m already eyeing a 5k in May and have entered the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April. I may run a 4-mile race in March, depending on the timing of it. Before anyone asks, no, I’m not considering running a marathon any time soon. I never say never but I have no plans to run a marathon this year.

That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped running half marathons, however. My final running resolution is to start running half marathons in the Canadian provinces. Because of COVID, this one may prove to be difficult this year since I would have to travel internationally. They’re kind of on the wait-and-see list for now but I have a couple of races in Canada I’d like to run this year if possible.

Finally, to my word for the year: FUN! I want more than anything to just have fun when I’m running, whether I’m on a training run, spending time with my running group, running a race, or none of the above but am just on a run, I simply want to have fun! I’ve always enjoyed running and I’ve always said if I ever reach a point where running isn’t fun any longer, I’m not going to run anymore. I did go through a couple of points in my life where I was in running ruts but I figured out how to mix things up to make running enjoyable again. Fortunately I’ve never dreaded going on a run, partly because I know how great I’ll feel afterwards.

Part of the reason why I chose the Krispy Kreme Challenge and some of the other races I’d like to do this year go along with my word, fun. I’m trying to choose races that sound fun to me, or at least have the potential to be fun if nothing else with a fun post-race party. I know not everyone’s idea of fun is stuffing down a dozen doughnuts after running and then running again after that, but it sounds like it could be pretty entertaining to me. That race is also for a great cause, the UNC Children’s Hospital, where I have a personal connection, so what could be more fun than supporting a great cause and making a fool of yourself while running?

Do you make resolutions (running or otherwise) for the year? Do you choose a word for the year? Care to share yours?

Happy running!

Donna

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