Laughlin Half Marathon, Nevada-11th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Nevada was my 11th state.

A death march through the desert. That’s how I would describe the Laughlin Half Marathon in Nevada. I ran the Laughlin Half Marathon in March 2008. I had thought about running another half marathon in Nevada- the Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Half Marathon, but wasn’t sure about running through all of the tunnels. I thought it could go either way- either it would be terrible because the runners get bottle-necked around the tunnels or it would be novel and fun.

Ultimately I chose the Laughlin Half Marathon, and I have to say this race was one that was pure torture from start to finish. They really should have started it much sooner than 8 am because the sun was out in full force beating on us runners and by the end, I was simply exhausted from the heat.

The description of the race from their website includes comments such as “Enjoy the river as you run along the Colorado River… enjoy panoramic views of the Arizona and Nevada mountains,” but honestly I didn’t think the view was that nice when I was running. But then again, all I could think about was the stifling heat and the wind beating down on us on the way back.

The course was also on what they called packed dirt with a gravel overlay but I really had problems getting my footing on the gravel.  In some places the gravel was so thick and uneven I had to slow down so I wouldn’t fall or twist an ankle. I see they now have a 7 am start time, which is a good move. An hour earlier would have made a big difference when I ran it.

At the finish, there were bananas, oranges, and bagels. This was definitely one of the smaller post-race spreads I’ve seen. The medals were small (not much bigger than a silver dollar) but cute. We also got white short-sleeve cotton t-shirts with the race logo. My finish time was 2:07:06.

As it was when I ran the race, the Avi Resort and Casino is the official host hotel for the race. The best part about staying there is the proximity to the race start/finish. Just about the only thing I really liked about the Avi Resort and Casino other than location to the race is they do at least have a pool, which my daughter loved. Not being gamblers, my husband and I didn’t visit the casino but it’s definitely low-scale compared to most of the mega casinos in Las Vegas. To drive from Las Vegas to Laughlin is a little over an hour and a half.

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I have to admit, looking at the website for the race now, it looks like many things have changed about this race, including the course, and even the fact that it’s now in December instead of March. With all of the changes, maybe it’s not as bad as when I ran it. I would hope all of the changes were for the better because it couldn’t have gotten much worse!

Laughlin Half Marathon

 

 

Marathon of the Americas and Half Marathon, Texas-10th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Texas was my 10th state.

For my Lone Star State race, I chose the 33rd annual Marathon of the Americas and Half Marathon. When I ran it in 2007, there were 2481 half marathon finishers. I thought Texas in November should be a nice time of year for a race and I was right.

San Antonio is a popular tourist destination with scenic areas such as the River Walk and the Alamo. It also has five missions of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, including the Alamo. The race began at the Alamo, which was beautiful in the early morning light, and the course continued past some of the other missions (missionary buildings). The volunteer stations were well-manned, quick, and efficient. We finished inside the Alamo Dome, a stadium used for football and basketball games and is also home to the UTSA Roadrunners.

My finish time for the Marathon of the Americas and Half Marathon was 1:59:19.

San Antonio has a lot of character and history; if you’re a history buff, you’ll love it here. My family and I stayed after the race for a few days to do all of the touristy things. One of our favorite areas was the Riverwalk, where we took a boat tour, walked along the shops, and ate at some of the restaurants.

As far as I can tell, 2007 was the last year for this race so I can’t put a link to the site here.

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Naples Daily News Half Marathon, Florida- 8th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Florida was my 8th state.

I  know a lot of people may question why I didn’t run one of the races in Disney World for my half marathon in Florida. Honestly, I purposefully didn’t choose a Disney race because the huge crowds at their races and super-early start did not appeal to me, plus they’re crazy expensive. I think Disney is fine for family vacations just not for a race, but I know plenty of people love their races so I may be in the minority on that one.

I ran the Naples Daily News Half Marathon in January 2007. I chose this race for my one in Florida for a couple of different reasons. At the time, my mother-in-law and step-father-in-law had recently bought a winter house in Naples and had invited us down for a visit. Also, we (my husband’s parents and my husband, daughter, and me) were all planning a vacation together in Hawaii the following fall and would be bringing our daughter who would be almost 2 when we flew to Hawaii. I wanted to see how she would do on an airplane before we flew all the way to Hawaii. Since this race was in January, it would be a nice respite from the cold weather where we lived.

There was an early start to the race to beat the heat. The course was flat and went through wealthy neighborhoods with enormous multi-million homes and views of the water. There was a priest in front of Trinity-by-the-Cove Episcopal Church blessing runners going by with holy water, which was a first for me to see at a race. Our finisher’s medals were cute and of good quality, as were the short-sleeve technical shirts we received. My verdict: the Naples Half Marathon was a fun, not overly-crowded race in a perfect location for those from colder climes looking for a break from winter weather.

My finish time for the Naples Daily News Half Marathon was 2:01:09.

For things to do, there’s the Naples Zoo, which is especially good if you have younger children; the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a fantastic place for viewing wildlife in the area; and if it’s warm enough there are some beautiful beaches.  One of the best beaches is Loudermilk Beach with powder white sand, perfect for long walks after you’ve ran your race.

www.napleshalfmarathon.net

Louisville Half Marathon, Kentucky-7th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Kentucky was my 7th state.

Lucky number seven? No, not really. By this point, I was starting to feel mostly back in the swing of running post-baby and post-ITBS. I chose this race because I had never been to Louisville, Kentucky and I thought it would be a fun city to check out and since it’s along the Ohio River I knew it should be a flat course. I also thought the weather should be nice here in October, and it should be ideal running conditions.

As far as I can tell, the Louisville Half Marathon I ran in 2006 doesn’t exist any longer but there is The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville in October, which sounds way cooler than the race I ran to be honest. The Louisville Half Marathon I ran was similar to the Columbus Distance Classic, Ohio- 6th state in that it was unexceptional in almost every way.

Race morning was on the chilly side and overcast but it warmed up quickly. Part of the course went past the Ohio River and was mostly flat, but it wasn’t much to look at. The course, t-shirt given out, and medal were all just ho-hum and ordinary. I was able to get my finish time back down close to where I wanted, so that was good at least.

In return for my race entry, I received a long-sleeve technical shirt of pretty good quality and a nice but simple-looking medal. This was the first race I ran where they were giving out shirts made of technical material. Given that it was such a small race and this practice of handing out shirts made of moisture-wicking technical material was just beginning to take off in popularity, it was a pretty big thing then.

My finish time for the Louisville Half Marathon was 2:00:29.

For things to do, I missed the boat on that as well. We didn’t really do much in Louisville, partly because I had a cranky infant who didn’t want to be cooped up in the car after such a long car ride, but partly because I just wasn’t in that mind-set at the time for planning things to do after the race. It was still relatively early in my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states and I was still learning as I went along. If I were to go back to Louisville, I would definitely check out the Louisville Mega Cavern which sounds awesome and Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.. When I was a kid I went to see the Kentucky Derby with a friend of mine’s family and that was pretty exciting, even to me then. If you can’t swing that you can always go to the Kentucky Derby Museum.

 

Columbus Distance Classic, Ohio-6th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Ohio was my 6th state.

When I ran the Columbus Distance Classic in 2006 it was on April Fool’s Day, which I thought was ironic given my circumstances, which I will get to in a bit. The race was 13 months after my previous half marathon Valley of the Sun Marathon and Half Marathon, Arizona-5th state but a little over 6 months since I gave birth. I had run through about 7 1/2 months of my pregnancy but once it became too uncomfortable because of the pressure on my bladder, I switched to the elliptical trainer for the duration of my pregnancy. At my post-delivery 6 week checkup with my doctor I was given the go-ahead to run again, and I was thrilled to be running after having some time away from it.

Then I discovered all of the little ways a woman’s body changes during pregnancy, some of which don’t go away once you give birth. For instance, my hips were incredibly tight and that probably led me to develop Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), which consists of inflammation and tightness along the outside of your thigh from your hip to your knee. Most people feel pain along the outside of their knee after they’ve been running a few miles or so. My knee pain didn’t start until I had built up to running 5 or 6 miles, then it flared up with a vengeance. I tried to run through the pain but ultimately would end up hobbling back home.

I had started seeing a massage therapist before I had gotten pregnant but she had moved out of the area so now I had to find another one to help me deal with my ITBS. Fortunately I found a wonderful therapist who was able to work on my leg but unfortunately not in time for the half marathon I had signed up for.

The morning of the Columbus Distance Classic, I limped to the start (Happy April Fool’s Day to me but the joke was on me). Limping to the start of a half marathon is certainly not something I would recommend anyone do, but I was determined to run, walk, crawl, or do a combination of all three to finish this race.

The course description stated that we would be running past the Ohio State University football field, but we literally ran past the closed off outside without so much as a glimpse inside so it could have been any other college football stadium for as much as I saw of it. The course was about as boring and uneventful as they come for a race. I would pay dearly for running this race with an injury as well, as it took me quite some time until I was walking without a limp and even longer until I could run without pain.

I didn’t like anything about this race. It was too cold at the start and an overcast dreary day (although overcast is good for racing) but the worst part was the complete lack of scenery along the course. There was not a single thing about this race that was exceptional or even what I might call “pretty good.” It was also difficult to find my family (some of my extended family even came for this race) at the finish because of the confusing setup.

My finish time for the Columbus Distance Classic was 2:06:39.

Although there are tons of fun things to do in Columbus, I only went there for the half marathon and to see friends and family so I didn’t do any of the touristy things.  There is a Botanical Garden that looks really nice, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and I’ve heard the Center of Science and Industry is a fantastic science museum. If I ever go back to Columbus I will definitely check out COSI and the Botanical Gardens.

The Columbus Distance Classic doesn’t seem to exist any longer, so I can’t put the link here. Hopefully it has been replaced by a better race than the one I ran! You can find all of the half marathons in Columbus here.

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.

http://konamarathon.com

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