Valley of the Sun Marathon and Half Marathon, Arizona-5th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Arizona was my 5th state.

This was the turning point in my life where I started to think about all of the half marathons I had run and the fact that I had run in a few different states. I had heard about other people running a marathon in all 50 states, and I knew about people who ran a half marathon in half of the states, but that just didn’t seem right to me. Why only run half of the states? I thought maybe I could run a half marathon in all 50 states.

I was planning a work trip to Colorado in 2005 and wanted to extend my trip out another week and go to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona for a vacation afterwards. While I was planning all of this, I saw there was a half marathon in Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun Half Marathon, so I signed up and came up with a plan. I was to fly to Colorado for a week then from there fly to Phoenix, where my husband would meet me and we’d spend a week in Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Everything was all set.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Oh boy. What to do? I asked my doctor and she said since I had a strong running base to go ahead and run the half marathon but to listen to my body and not go out for any PR’s but go easy. I would only be a few weeks pregnant at the race and there were no complications in my pregnancy so she said everything should be fine. I had been having morning sickness all along my pregnancy and the day of the race, I felt queasy as usual but nothing I couldn’t control. After some crackers and ginger ale, I was good to go.

All of the runners for the race were bussed out to a park surrounded by cacti. Even though it was pretty cold waiting for the sun to come up, it was beautiful and even a bit surreal for someone like me from the east coast who had never been to Arizona before. The course was pretty flat and since we started so early, it didn’t get too hot. I made sure I never got out of breath and went slower than if I hadn’t been pregnant but I felt really good during the whole race.

The course only had a couple of hills, although one was a long one that seemed to go on forever. We finished on an outdoor track, which was fun and still a novelty at half marathons for me. I received a bright yellow short-sleeve cotton t-shirt and a cute medal with a red chili pepper on it at the finish. The finish area had the usual foods and water. At this point, races were still pretty low-key compared to what they’re like now.

My finish time for the Valley of the Sun Half Marathon was 2:06:50.

Sedona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I highly recommend going here. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Phoenix to Sedona and the Grand Canyon is about another 2 hours from Sedona. The Grand Canyon is one of those places everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

From what I can tell, the last year for this race was 2010, so I can’t add a link to the race site. There are however, many half marathons in Phoenix so I’m adding a link to these plus others in Arizona here.

Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon, South Carolina-4th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. South Carolina was my 4th state.

At this point, I still hadn’t set the goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states. The whole reason I was going to Kiawah Island in the first place is because I got a good deal on a place to stay on a condo in the golf course community of Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Of course, I checked to see if there were going to be any half marathons in the area when we’d be there, and (surprise!) there was, so I signed up for the 2004 Kiawah Island Half Marathon.

I knew someone who had ran this race and she said she set a personal record (PR) on the course, so I was excited about the possibility of that for myself. I knew it would be pancake flat and the weather would most likely be good since it was in early December. The biggest unknown factor was the wind, since the course is notorious for strong winds. The winds that day turned out to be extremely brutal, up to 20 mph that morning.

The race course went primarily past huge beach houses in private neighborhoods and was extremely flat. Despite the extremely strong winds, I still set a PR (personal record), breaking the 2 hour barrier that plagues so many runners who want to finish under that time. When I ran it in 2004, there were an estimated 1200 people running the marathon and 2300 running the half marathon.

My finish time for the Kiawah Island Half Marathon was 1:58:54.

Kiawah Island is a small community about 45 minutes from Charleston, South Carolina with huge homes in a private gated community, the Sanctuary Hotel, as well as the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. It is a quiet, relaxing family-friendly place perfect to relax after running a half marathon or marathon.

This area is known for its white sand beaches with palm trees, marshes, and maritime forests. If you’re running the marathon or half marathon, there are packages available with discounted rates on accommodations the weekend of the race. This is a nature-lovers paradise with fishing and paddling tours, bike rentals, a nature program, walking tours and much more.

Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon


Philadelphia Distance Run, Pennsylvania-3rd state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Pennsylvania was my 3rd state.

I decided to go to Philadelphia because I saw a great airfare there and since neither my husband nor I had been there, we thought it would be a fun long weekend trip. I also thought I could squeeze in a half marathon while there, as it just happened there was one when we were planning our trip. I still didn’t have the intention of running a half marathon in every state at this point.

Anyway, I ran the 2004 Philadelphia Distance Run and it was the largest race to date for me with almost 7300 runners that day. Hurricane Ivan had just rolled by and portions of the course were flooded the day before causing officials to devise an alternate route. However, the day of the race, the weather was great for running- no rain and nice temps but a bit warm by the finish.

This was a fun, mostly flat course along some famous icons of Philly and the river. And if any of you that are familiar with Philly are wondering, yes, we ran past the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There were amazing volunteers and the energy from the crowds was probably the best I had ever experienced. I also received one of the coolest, most colorful race shirts to date.

This was the first half marathon for me where all runners received a medal for finishing (that matched the race shirts). For my first few half marathons beginning in 2000 Battleship Half Marathon and Gold Rush Half Marathon, North Carolina-My first half marathon (and third and fourth)Kona Marathon and Half Marathon, Hawaii-2nd state medals just weren’t handed out to all finishers, but by 2004, it had become standard.

My finish time for the Philadelphia Distance Run was 2:00:31.

Philadelphia is a fun city to check out for a weekend or long weekend trip. Of course everyone that goes to Philly must see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (it’s free, too) and my husband and I definitely did that. We also went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and that was nice. Philadelphia is also world-renowned for their cheesesteak sandwiches so we had at least a couple of those while we were there. It’s a nice walk-able city so we were able to burn off the extra calories pretty easily with all of the walking we did.

As far as I can tell, the Philadelphia Distance Run no longer exists.  There is now a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in its place.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Philadelphia



Kona Marathon and Half Marathon, Hawaii-2nd state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Hawaii was my 2nd state.

Over the years when I’ve told people I’m running a half marathon in every state, they usually would ask, “Have you run one in Hawaii yet?” Hawaii was actually the second state I ran a half marathon in, before I even had the goal of running one in all 50 states.

I just happened to be planning a vacation to Hawaii and saw somewhere there was a half marathon in Kona, which is one of the places I was going to be, and it was during my time there, so I thought, what the heck! At least it will be a scenic race! And boy was it ever!

Even though it was way back in 2001, I still vividly remember that race. There was an early morning start so I got to watch the sunrise over the ocean and I remember thinking how lucky I was to be there as I gazed at the pink, orange, yellow, and red streaks across the sky.

The 2001 Kona Half Marathon course was out and back along the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The start was 0.2 miles from the Keauhou Beach Resort on Alii Drive, where the finish also was. The course included some hills and was along some of the same portions as the Ironman triathlon.

My half marathon in Hawaii was the first half marathon I traveled to so I made it into a racecation and stayed for about 10 days in the beautiful state of Hawaii. If ever there was a race to turn into a racecation, this is one! I had a great time in Kona for a week after the race. I’ve since been back once and would love to go back again. I highly recommend Kona and the big island of Hawaii.

In 2001, medals weren’t given out to every finisher after half marathons including this one, so I didn’t even receive a medal at this race. I did get a short-sleeve cotton t-shirt and fantastic memories, however.

My finish time for the Kona Half Marathon was 2:02:06.

Battleship Half Marathon and Gold Rush Half Marathon, North Carolina-My first half marathon (and third and fourth)

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. North Carolina was my 1st state.

I’m not even sure why I decided to run a half marathon. I had just run my first 5k and that was the only race I had ever run as an adult. Most people don’t run their first 5k then start training for a half marathon but I felt compelled to do it. I chose the Battleship North Carolina Half Marathon in Wilmington and I checked out a book with training plans from the library and combined that with some online training plans. Since the race was at the beach, I thought it would be flat and relatively easy, at least as far as half marathons go. Indeed it was mostly flat except for running up the bridges. I hadn’t thought about the bridges.

The morning of the race, November 2000, a storm came in and it rained and was very chilly the entire race. It was even snowing in the area as we were driving back home that day, which was crazy because it almost never snows on the NC coast. But back to the bridges. Running on the grated bridges was new to me and since it was raining, I was worried about slipping and falling but fortunately that didn’t happen and I finished cold but satisfied I had done my best.

My finish time for the 2000 Battleship North Carolina Half Marathon was 2:20:04.

Determined that I could do better based on the poor weather conditions and the fact that it was my first half marathon, I decided right then that I would run that race again the next year. The following year, the weather was ideal (warm and sunny) and I cut almost 16 minutes off my previous finish time. However, my second Battleship North Carolina half marathon actually followed a couple of other races, namely a 15k and a half marathon in Hawaii Hawaii-2nd state.

My finish time for the 2001 Battleship North Carolina Half Marathon was 2:03:51.

A note on race “bling.”  Back when I ran the half marathons in North Carolina such a thing as race bling didn’t even exist. Medals weren’t given out to every finisher and about the most you got for your entry fee was a cotton t-shirt. For the Battleship Half Marathon both years, I got a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt.

My third half marathon in North Carolina, The Gold Rush Half-Marathon in Concord was pure torture. The race began and ended at Reed Gold Mine and was one of the most low-key races I had been in. At the time, it was also easily one of the hardest races I had run. By this point, I had run a 5k, three half marathons, and a 15k, so I had a few races under my belt, too. Rolling hills turned into huge uphills only (no downhill) toward the finish. Since it was a point-to-point course as opposed to an out-and-back course, we didn’t get to run down the same hills we ran up. It was a combination of the dreaded three H’s for a race:  hilly, hot, and humid. I was surprised that I finished in the time that I did; I expected to do much worse given the circumstances. We received a cotton t-shirt and there was just fruit and water at the finish. My finish time was 2:05:37.

Battleship Half Marathon



Why I travel

As a child, I remember going on a few vacations with my parents and later, after they divorced, with just my mom and brother.  On one of our few vacations as a family of four, we went to Myrtle Beach for a few days with another family of four.  At one point or another during that vacation, someone from both families either had an earache, kidney stones, a cold, or motion sickness.  Needless to say, it was not a fun vacation.  During a vacation with just my mom and brother to Virginia Beach and Colonial Williamsburg, my mom kept complaining about how expensive everything was.  At least we weren’t sick during this vacation, but still, it wasn’t exactly a fun time either.  These are the memories I have from family vacations as a child.  I do have some good memories involving vacations as a child as well, but given my history it wouldn’t be surprising if I never wanted to travel as an adult.  The funny thing is, I can’t seem to travel enough to scratch the travel bug I developed as an adult.  When I was in college, I won a trip to the Bahamas, which was fantastic given that I was a poor college student paying my own way through school.  This was my first time outside the United States and I loved it.  I knew then that I wanted to travel more and see and do all I could.  Unfortunately, that was hard to do on my meager student wages so travel would have to wait.  Since finishing school many years ago, I’ve managed to travel to more interesting places and finally start to feel like I’ve dipped my big toe into traveling the world.  I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface as far as the places I’ve been compared to what’s still out there for me to explore, but I’m slowly but surely seeing the world.  So why do I travel?  Not to impress my friends by name-dropping exotic places.  Most of the time I don’t even post the photos on Facebook.  I think it’s more to see new places and try new things.  I know some people don’t like to get out of their comfort zones and go to new places, but I love it and can’t imagine my life without travel.  I certainly wouldn’t be the same person I am today if not for all of the places I’ve visited and things I saw and did there.

Why I run

I’ve been running pretty much since I can remember.  I remember running on the track team in grade school and how my lungs would ache on those chilly mornings in West Virginia.  I remember the sheer thrill I would feel as a kid when running with our dog through our neighborhood and how happy our dog looked.  I remember running to stave off the freshmen 15 in college.  Then I remember getting shin splints during one run in college and almost crawling back to my apartment, followed by the agonizing pain I felt when all of my leg muscles seized up in the shower.  I decided to take some time off running at that point and I did not run again for about four or five years.  Then I realized how much I missed running and I decided to train for my very first 5k.  The race I chose was on the 4th of July in North Carolina.  Being young and naive, I didn’t even think twice about running through the heat and humidity that envelopes the North Carolina summers.  Fortunately, the race was in the evening, but I remember it was still extremely hot and humid even after the sun had gone down.  It was during that summer that I remembered why I run.  It’s not to stay in shape or lose weight. It’s not so I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight.   When I run, I feel free.  I feel alive.  Sure, there are times when it’s painful and not much fun, but I know when I’ve finished a run, I will feel satisfied that I’ve put my all into that run and I have done my best.  I run because I love it, quite simply.

As I stood on the ledge of the cliff overlooking the ocean blue

full of life’s infinite possibilities,

I turned around and looked at you.

I asked, “Are you going to take the leap

of faith along side me?

Or are you going to just sit there and enjoy the view?”

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