Sunday, October 16, 2011

50 States Half Marathon Challenge: What...WHAT?

I've decided to take up the 50 States Half Marathon Challenge. Read about the challenge itself at Half Marathon Club and follow my exploits here. This post will describe the beginning of my odyssey.

As many of you know, I took up running a few years ago. By accident, really. I mean, I used to be in the Navy's 3 Mile Club, meaning I would force myself to kind of run a mile and a half twice a year for their Physical Readiness Test (PRT). Back in 2003, however, I signed up for my first MS Challenge Walk, which was 50 miles in 3 days to benefit Multiple Sclerosis. Just so happens that the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon took place the weekend prior to our walk, so my friends and I decided to walk it as our last training event. It was fun to see all the local bands playing great music at intervals along the route.

When the 2004 event rolled around, we signed up again. We got to Mile Marker 1 just as the Kenyan Track Club was clipping past Mile 8, but whatever. At that point, I had what I call my "Forrest Gump moment" where I just "felt like running". I didn't have anything with me like water or Gatorade though, so I decided to take walk breaks at the water stops and see how far I got. Lo and behold, 2.5 hours later, there I was on the Va Beach boardwalk, thinking "Who's feet are these?" and "What could I do if I really tried?" This is me on the morning of the 2003 race:

In 2005, the Shamrock Marathon was my first full length marathon. Here is one of the few pix I've ever had taken of me while running that I actually liked. Since I'm still smiling, it's clearly before the halfway point of the race:

I moved to MN not long after that, and completed the 2005 Twin Cities Marathon in October. That's the race that made me decide that I prefer the half marathon distance, and since then I've completed a total of 10 half marathons.

My 11th half will be this coming Saturday, October 22, 2011, when I run the Mankato Half Marathon. Though I've completed multiple half marathons in MN, this is the one I'll be counting towards the 50 States Challenge.

Why a 50 States Challenge?
Well, frankly, I need something to do to stay active and motivated. Also, given the expenses involved in traveling to each state, I'll probably only be able to swing 2-3 trips per year if I'm lucky, so this is also a long term activity plan, which will hopefully keep me healthy and help with overall weight maintenance, at least through retirement. Every day I go to work, I see what happens to people when they fail to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and financially. This challenge is part of my plan to Age With Attitude. :-)

I have a vision of my 50 States completion certificate in a frame surrounded by all my finisher's medals. How awesome is that going to be?

Why the ChipIn Page?

As you might imagine, taking on a 50 States Challenge isn't exactly cheap. The average race fee is at least $75, plus plane fare, hotel, rental car, gas, food, etc. I love my job, but it barely pays enough to live on and fund a modest retirement, much less big extras like this. I'm going to need luck and help.

I'm hoping that people who read this blog as I go forward will be inspired to make a contribution in the name of setting an example for staying active and healthy as you age. Besides, I have pretty much everything I need as far as birthday and Christmas gifts are concerned, so I can be pretty tough to shop for. I've been telling my family for years to just get me gift cards to stores I like, but now I'm using this. If an occasion arises where you feel the need to bestow giftage upon me, please use the ChipIn button, which should appear below if I've done it right. You have my word that any donated funds will be used ONLY to support my 50 States Challenge. If you have a couch or spare bedroom where I can crash when I come to cross your state off my list, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I will be bringing Minnesota themed goodies.

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