Five more states off The Bucket List — 2018 Update Part 2

9 07 2019

2018 started with me having run a race in 37 of the 50 states (plus Washington DC) over a period of nine years.  When I first hatched the crazy idea that I was going to race in every state, I gave myself a time limit of “before I turn 65 years old” in December of 2020.

States at Beginning of Year

This has meant taking trips specifically to do a race as well as finding one in a state I happened to be traveling for another reason (like a work conference or family vacation), and over the last few years has included multiple states in the same visit to save time and money.

The first destination race of 2018 was a February 5k in Scottsdale AZ where I happened to be attending an education seminar related to my job.  The Stride for Sight was a nice run on a warm day when it was very cold at home, and I was happy to be out running in the sunshine instead.  As usual, I wasn’t very fast but I had a good time.

2018 Stride for Sight Scottsdale AZ

Next up was the 5k portion of the Rock-n-Roll Nashville marathon series in April.  I had originally planned to do a half-marathon but my Achilles tendonitis flared up and I ended up dropping down to the shorter segment instead.  The trip was a joyous one because I got a chance to meet a cousin I hadn’t known about until we were matched through the Ancestry DNA test.  We’re now pretty much BFFs who chat on Facebook every day and it was great to spend some time with her as well as run the streets of Nashville.

2018 Rock Roll Nashville 5k

Following that came another trip in June which was a two-races-in-two-states-in-one-weekend trip to the Washington DC area.  First came the Mechanicsville, Maryland, Spartan Sprint which I talked about in the previous post.  Even though I hated the mud, I mostly liked that race.  Like I said before, I’m a beast when it comes to carrying heavy stuff.  I’ve been a weight-lifter for decades and I have a disabled dog who weighs 70 pounds that I’ve lifted in and out of the SUV for years, so the heavy-lifting obstacles were not a big challenge for me.  I cannot pull up my body weight so I didn’t even try the rope climb or swinging from various rings and rods, and I skipped the spear throw because of my bad right shoulder.  But I rolled under the barbed wire, scrambled over a bunch of walls (a couple of times with help), slogged through endless mud pits, and scaled ladders plus cargo nets, along with running or walking between obstacles for a total of something over 4 miles.  I knocked out dozens of penalty Burpees but that was okay; everyone seemed pretty casual about form and count and nothing that day had to be perfect.   2:45 minutes after scrambling over the first wall at the starting gate, I finished.

Spartan Finish

Then I draped towels around the open car doors of my rental for cover and gave myself a water bath with a gallon of water bought from a 7-11 before changing clothes right there in the parking lot.  I threw away everything but my gloves (a nice way to get rid of old clothing) and headed off to the next location — Fairfax, Virginia — with every intention of checking into the hotel and having a well-earned burger and beer before hitting the shower and falling into bed.

Results

About halfway there however, I was cruising down a one lane country road in the middle of nowhere when a deer suddenly jumped across the road from the right and bounced off the hood of my car then landed somewhere to the left.  My first thought was “oh shit!” then looking at the windshield that was exactly what I saw:  deer hair and deer poop and a wrecked hood on the car that didn’t belong to me.

Deer WreckThere was no lane to pull over, a rear-view mirror check showed a line of cars all behind me so I couldn’t stop in the middle of the road, and a glance at my cell phone showed no bars in the upper left corner.  So I said a silent prayer and kept driving.  I shut off the air conditioning in case the radiator was damaged because I didn’t want to overheat the car, rolled down the window and drove on, listening for untoward sounds with each rotation of the wheels.  Fortunately, the damage seemed to be cosmetic rather than functional because nothing worse happened.  Eventually I made it to a town where I pulled into a gas station and called Hertz.  After a long conversation with the customer service rep, we decided that the car was still driveable and it would be okay for me to keep it another day rather than try to exchange it at Ronald Reagan airport right then.  What an adventure!  It’s one I’d rather not repeat.

The following morning, Father’s Day actually,  I drove the raggedy car to the Run with Dad 5k where I had originally planned to mostly-walk the race because I expected to be worn out from the Spartan.  But once I got going I ended up doing a lot more running because it was a cool and cloudy day in a woodsy venue which inspired my tired legs to move, so I finished at my usual snail’s pace rather than even slower and had a good time doing it.

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MLK visitAfter the 5k and a hearty breakfast, I had some time before my flight so I drove back into Washington DC to pay my respects and visit the monument dedicated to the hero of my childhood — Martin Luther King Jr.  It was a beautiful day for a lovely walk, and  I have to say that when I rounded the corner to find him standing there, like a colossus of ancient times hewn from granite, my heart swelled and my eyes filled with tears.  How I loved him  –fiercely and secretly — when I was a mixed race child living with a white family during the Civil Rights Era!  He wasn’t popular with the people around me but he was the only one to tell me I was worthy back then, and it was the best lesson I could have had.  And I love him still.

The final running trip of 2018 took me to Boise, Idaho, for the Freakin’ Fast Half Marathon on July 21 which is another “run down a mountain” race like I’ve done once a year for the last few summers.  It was a fun event but the race wasn’t particularly freaky and I sure wasn’t fast.  But I did find it amusing to tell myself at one point “I guess it’s time to hit the dusty trail” when I saw that street sign.

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That was probably the last half marathon I’ll ever do that gets me bused up a mountain before daybreak and there is something so bittersweet about those, I know I’ll miss it.  The race always seems like a fine idea when I sign up, until waking at 3:00 am to drive to the pick up point finds me grumbling about why I’m doing it.  Milling around in the predawn chill, trying to stay warm, shoving food in my mouth that I’m not hungry for yet but know damn well I’d better eat — these are the vignettes that live in my memory as “least favorite.”  But there is something both humbling and breathtaking about watching the sun rise above the trees to enfold the earth and us, its animals, with the life-giving warmth we can’t live without.  Then to stampede down the mountain surrounded by a pack of kindred souls — its a rare form of blissful lunacy that your crazy fellow runners understand and your family shake their heads at.

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So that’s pretty much the summary of 2018.  Five more states off the bucket list brought me up to a total of 41 plus DC having been run and only nine left to go.  I’m pretty sure I’ve written about all of them here over the last 10 years.  After that, it will be time to branch out into the other continents but that’s another blog post for another day.

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