On to the Next One
I had been a member of the Marathon Maniacs for a year when my dad, Rob Young, decided to become an official member. He joined with 4 stars at the Iridium level. At that time I had 5 stars at the Ruthenium level. Stars and levels are obtained by running a certain number of marathons in different states or countries in a given number of days. At the end of 2010, after dad joined, he decided to run 13 marathons in 13 states in 365 days to obtain the 5 stars. I said lets run 3 more states so I could move up a level as well and we would have 6 stars. Dad’s reply was, “If we are going to run 16 states, let’s just add 4 more to make it an even 20 states and we’ll have 7 stars!” Titanium with 10 stars is the highest level and there is not a 9 star level, so 8 stars is right below 10 stars. Can you guess my reply? Three more states would give us 8 stars at the Platinum level. That’s 23 states and we would have to add 7 more states to reach Titanium. We tried to work 7 more states into our schedule, but with work and family obligations, it did not look possible. The following is an account of our 23 marathons in 23 states in 365 days that made us Platinum. *Wrote this prior to our decision to run 30 in 30: Titanium… read on.
February 26, 2011 – Post Oak Lodge Challenge 50k – Tulsa, Oklahoma: Our maniacness starts today! We drove to Tulsa after work on Friday so we could run on Saturday and drive back. This was dad’s first trail run and first ultra marathon at 31 miles. The course is rated 7 out of 10 for difficulty. It’s a 25k loop run twice with the second time reversed. We decided to take the early start with about 15 other runners. It was wet from the rain a few days earlier, but we were having a good time running through the woods. We had a great time talking and running the first half with another maniac, Larry Macon, who had run over 700 marathons. The toughest part was a 200 foot climb in about 1 km of the course that we had to run twice. Dad fell three times but wasn’t hurt and, along with other runners, we got off course a few times and had to backtrack. Lyle Robertson, a maniac from that area, said he fell a couple times and it was his first trail 50k as well. After the first 15 miles other runners were saying they felt like they had just run a marathon. A lot of them were only doing the 25k, but we had to turn around and do it all again. Going back the second time was painful. We were pretty much at a very slow jog the rest of the way back. It took us a long time to finish, but we did it and that’s what counts! Dad finished his first, and he says only, ultra marathon.
March 6, 2011 – Little Rock Marathon – Little Rock, Arkansas: Yesterday my daughter, Kedran, finished her final mile of the Little Rockers Kids Marathon along with another Saline County Strider, Monica, and several other friends from Caldwell Elementary. Thank you Striders for your support in this event! This was my third year to run the Little Rock Marathon. Dad and I started the day off by meeting many other Maniacs for a group picture an hour before start. There were over 100 Maniacs in Little Rock and I got to meet several of them on the course. I ran with dad for the first 6 miles then caught up to a fellow Maniac, James Norris, and ran with him from mile 15 to the finish. Little Rock is a tough course because of the hills. Miles 8 – 11 are almost all uphill and miles 14 – 17 are all uphill. My wife, Jana, had a swollen knee but ran the Half Marathon anyway and still managed to score a PR. Dad finished in under 5:30 and I finished in 4:22 which was a course PR for me. Our friend Leah won the women’s marathon and lots of other friends had great runs. I was reminded how serious marathon running can be though. Another good friend from Little Rock had to be taken off the course at mile 23. I had seen her stop at about mile 22 to rest but didn’t realize the severity of her condition. After the race I found out she had been taken to the ER and pumped with fluids due to dehydration and nausea. She turned out to be just fine, but it’s always scary when something like that happens to such a well trained runner. Aside from that everything went great and our home state was completed.
March 20, 2011 – Wrightsville Beach Marathon – Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina: My sister had a baby the day before so dad had to miss this one. We’ll have to work in another state for him. I drove 16 hours over and slept about 5 hours before waking up to head to the start. It was a point to point course so I caught the shuttle from the finish, which was right outside my hotel, to the start a few miles away. The first 30 minutes was in the dark and we ran over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway a few times. The rest of the race was through really nice neighborhoods with lots of people in their front yards cheering on the runners. The course was mostly flat with only a few minor hills. It reminded me a lot of the Soaring Wings half marathon in Conway. I had a good race finishing under 4:19 and running the last mile in 8 minutes. I had to use KT tape for my Achilles tendon which had been bothering me since the Post Oak 50k, but it didn’t seem to hold me back any. After cleaning up in the lobby restroom of the hotel and getting weird looks from the hotel manager, I ate a bacon cheeseburger at 5 Guys and Fries and started the 16 hour drive back home. I was planning on stopping somewhere on the way to sleep but was able to make it all the way home without a hotel stop, arriving at 3:30 in the morning. These drives may be tougher than the marathons, but since I made it back in time for work the next day, it opens up a whole set of new options. Titanium? And welcome to this world Auden Knox Mangum!
April 2, 2011 – Martian Marathon – Dearborn, Michigan: My grandmother, dad’s mom, passed away this last week and her funeral was scheduled for the day of the race. We missed the funeral but my family had a private visitation for her before we left. I liked it better this way because it didn’t seem as sad as most funerals. We were able to see her and talk about all our memories of her. Dad and I didn’t miss the race and, more importantly, we got to see our new family member! This was a great race because it was 30 minutes away from my sister’s place and baby Auden so I got to run and see my 2 week old nephew. We couldn’t have planned it better! Dad and I drove 15 hours up on Friday barely missing an accident and a speeding ticket (unrelated to the accident). The marathon was right outside of Detroit. It had an alien theme and Martians were abundant throughout the course, some of them holding up the mile markers. Dad even witnessed an alien abduction! The course was an out and back along a highway with rolling hills and little scenery, but they had the road closed to all traffic which made for a pleasant run. The last few miles were on a paved trail through the woods. The half marathon started 1 ½ hours after the full so there were only about 400 runners at the start. We met another maniac, John Leighton, who was going for Titanium this year! I ran and chatted with a guy from Chicago for over half the race. At one point he told me we were running an 8:45 – 9 minute pace so I knew if I could keep it up I would have a good finish. I ended up running it in 4:08:41, very close to a PR! Dad was consistent as always finishing in 5:30. That night we ate dinner with my sister and her husband. The next morning we had Dunkin Donuts and coffee with them, said buy to Auden and headed home. The best part of this trip was getting to see my new nephew. Knox Rocks!
April 9, 2011 – Andrew Jackson Marathon – Jackson, Tennessee: We left at 2 a.m. Saturday morning for this marathon. It was a very small field with just over 100 runners. Tala, Lisa, and Stacey are three good friends from Arkansas that were running this one as well. It started off in the low 70’s and by the end it was low 90’s, which was unusually hot for this time of year. I ran a good pace to mile 15 with Lisa, and then I had to start taking walk breaks. The sun was out with no clouds and the wind was blowing hard which caused problems staying hydrated. There were lots of hills and it was a pretty course, but hard to enjoy with the heat being as it was. I caught back up to Lisa and another Maniac at mile 20 and we death marched the rest of the way in finishing in over 5 hours. As I set down on chair at the finish area, I talked with several runners including another maniac, Josh Holmes, who was going to run a 40 mile race in a couple months that I had signed up for as well. Many of the runners were saying it took them 30 minutes to 1 hour longer than their usual marathon time. One guy I finished with said he had a sub 3 hour marathon the week before and this was his first 5 hour marathon ever. Dad finished shortly after the 6 hour mark, which was his first 6 hour marathon. Lots of PR’s in the wrong direction! But we did finish and that’s what counts. The volunteers were great as were the police and motorcycle dudes that came by every 5 minutes or so to make sure the runners were safe. The 2 angels that drove by handing out ice at mile 17 were wonderful as well! It was a tough race but all told was a good day.
After the marathon we drove to St. Louis for the Go! Marathon, which was going to be our first double. (In Maniac terms, “double” means back to back days of running a marathon). We started the marathon along with 17,000 other runners and at mile 10, where the half turnaround was, we were directed to finish the half because the marathon was shut down due to the “extreme heat”. It was in the mid 70’s when they closed it. Very disheartening since we had done one in the 90’s the day before. I have lots of other issues with the race director’s call to shut it down and how it was handled, but what’s done is done. Thankfully, two of our Strider friends were able to complete the race! Sassy completed the half with some issues of her own while Charles was able to finish the full. We all ate lunch at a great Pizza & Beer place, then dad and I drove home with only 1 medal each instead of 2. Somehow we will need to find another Missouri marathon to work into our schedule.
April 16, 2011 – The Oz Marathon – Olathe, Kansas: Determined to put St. Louis behind us, dad and I left Friday after work and drove to the Garmin Headquarters parking lot where the marathon would start the next day. This state was not one of the original 23 we planned. We have added 7 more states to the list (and one for dad in North Carolina as a makeup) to go for Titanium! We’ll see how it works out. We made it to the Garmin HQ around 1 p.m. and had planned on spreading out blow up mattresses in the parking lot, but it was rainy and windy so we slept in the car instead. With only 3 hours of car sleep we woke at 5 a.m. and started getting ready. There were lots of runners dressed like Dorothy, the Wicked Witch, and all the other Oz characters. We said hi to Dave Mari, another Maniac, and lined up. It started off cold with 27 mph winds! The course took us through the city, neighborhoods, and the last half was on a really nice trail. I stepped in a deep puddle at mile 17 and my right foot was soaked. I finished in just under 4:30 and dad under 5:30. We ate chicken sandwiches and drank beer at the finish line, then headed home. The Gonzo Imperial Porter we picked up on the way home helped out with the soreness the next day. Looking forward to next weekend off!
April 30, 2011 – Derby Festival Marathon – Louisville, Kentucky: With the Flying Pig Marathon scheduled the next day, this was the start of our 2nd attempt at a first double so we decided to take it easy and hope none of them would be cancelled. (Yes, we still have a chip on our shoulder about Go! St. Louis.) This trip we got to hang with Arland and Annette Blanton, two Maniacs from Cabot, AR, who were also running their first double. Dad and I ate at a really good Irish Pub the night before the race, fueling with Guinness, muscles, and salmon. I started the race with dad at a nice slow pace. A mile or two into it Arland caught up with us and we all ran together for 19 or so miles. Around mile 8 we ran through the Churchill Downs and got to see several horses running on the track getting prepared for the Kentucky Derby races the next weekend. A few miles before the half we entered Iroquois Park and ran up several steep hills. It was a really pretty area and we enjoyed the shade. We also met up with Sherry Ricker, another Maniac running this double, and ran with her through this part. After the half and on the way back to the finish we ran by the Louisville Slugger Field. By this time the sun was out and without the shade it was getting hot, but after a few more tough hills we made it to the finish. I made it right at 5 hours and Arland was shortly behind. Dad finished not long after and Annette not long after dad. It was a good race to start us all off on our first double. After the race we drove to Cincinnati because it was on to the next one!
May 1, 2011 – Flying Pig Marathon – Cincinnati, Ohio: With pizza and more beer the night before we couldn’t go wrong. Especially with a Whiskey Stout brewed in Louisville, KY where we were just at! We had to get up early because the race started at 6:30 and it was a long walk to the start. Arland and Annette were coincidently staying at the same hotel so we walked the 2 miles over the Ohio River Bridge to the Paul Brown Stadium where the Bengals play. It was dark and started raining on us before we made it to the start. As all the Maniacs were gathering for Dave Mari to take a group picture there was a loud bang of thunder and lightning. I could just see this race getting cancelled too. However, it might have thundered one more time, but it was mostly just a light rain and we were able to start the race on time. I met several maniacs at the start and saw a few familiar faces. A lot of them had run the Derby the day before. Among others we saw Kevin Brosi, Josh Holmes, Wayne Sherman, John Leighton, and Lyle Robertson. This was a big marathon and it was crowded throughout most of the first half. We started off running over the Ohio River and then through downtown Cincinnati. There were lots of people out cheering us on. There were several bands along the course as well, some of them playing in the rain. I started off at a slower pace but felt good so I picked it up after the first couple miles. Mile 5 is the start of a 3 mile 350 foot incline. I managed to run a lot of it, but it slowed me down. The rest of the course had some tough hills as well. I loved the crowd support which we had almost the whole race including lots of little kids wanting to give high fives. Patrick Finney, a Maniac I met last year, was pacing the 5 hour group and I ran with them some of those last miles in the teens but at mile 22 I had to slow down a bit more. I ended up sprinting to the finish from half a mile out because another runner challenged me. He did beat me but he hadn’t run a marathon the day before and it was only by a few seconds. I ended up finishing right at 5 hours again. I was happy to be done, but dreaded the 3 mile walk back to the car. I had to stop several times to rest. If you walk 2 miles to the start, run 26.2 miles, and walk 3 miles back to your car, does it count as an ultra? Anyway, Arland, dad, and Annette finished shortly after I did. We had all conquered the double and dad earned his 5th Maniac star! It was an exciting weekend, but I was ready for some rest, which we got… after the 10 hour drive back home.
May 7, 2011 – Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run – Wartrace, Tennessee: Yes, I already ran one in Tennessee, and this race did not count toward Maniac status. Leah Thorvilson talked me into running this one earlier this year and I couldn’t turn it down. It was the longest distance I have run so far. Dan Belanger drove us down in the van and him and Jana crewed for Leah, Steven Preston, and me. This was the 33rd year for Strolling Jim and I was told it is the 2nd oldest ultra run in the South next to a 50 miler in Atlanta. Just over 100 runners started the race at 7 a.m. We started off uphill and continued to go up and down throughout what felt like all of Tennessee. The course was all on asphalt and went along beautifully green fields, old farm houses, and lots of other scenic parts. I met 2 other runners, Philip and Bjorg, and ran with them almost the whole way. Philip and I finished together and his wife, Lisa, also helped crew for us. Jana met me at mile 15 and ran the next 10 miles with us, then hopped in the car with Lisa and helped crew. Leah finished with a time of 4:44 becoming the only female to run a sub 5, breaking the females course record, and coming in 1st overall! Steven had some issues with breathing and may have had an asthma attack but finished just in front of us despite his near death experience! Philip and I kicked it on in the last mile and finished in 8:08, which was under 12 minute miles. I couldn’t have done this without such a great crew team. Jana, Dan & Lisa really made a difference. That night we ate a ton of fried food and drank 40 oz of OE. “Fowty for a fowty” as Leah says.
May 15, 2011 – Colfax Marathon – Aurora, Colorado: Well, I guess this settles it. We must be going for Titanium. This marathon was not on our original 23 states list. But after driving back from Wrightsville Beach I figured we could handle the drive back for this one without missing work. And we did! I am now officially declaring this article “Going Titanium”. (*The article has changed a few times over the course of writing it. Originally it had been “Going Platinum” and later changed to the current name). Dad and I left Benton on Friday just before midnight. Dad drove 6 hours while I slept and then we switched. It was a 15 hour drive and we made it to Denver in time for the Expo. We ate a light dinner at Hard Rock and went back to the hotel to watch a movie and go to sleep. The marathon started at 6 a.m. the next morning. It is called the Colfax Marathon because most of it is run on Colfax Avenue which is a 26.1 mile street running through Aurora and Denver. This street has a history over 100 years old. Playboy magazine has called it “the longest, wickedest street in America” due to its association with prostitution, crime, and a dense concentration of liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries. The cartoon, South Park, has referenced Colfax in several episodes. At the start I met a maniac, Amie Durden, who was planning on running the same marathon in Alaska we have planned for later this year. We started off in City Park and made our way through Urban Denver and onto a trail that ran along what looked like a sewage ditch but the website called a river. For me the best part was running alongside Broncos Stadium at Mile High. We ran a long uphill stretch on Colfax and through some neighborhoods and then back down Colfax, along the sewage ditch/river and downtown Denver to the finish back in City Park. Denver has an elevation of over 5000 feet and I was told I would feel like I was working harder to run. It didn’t seem to bother me but dad said he noticed a difference. I finished in 4:15 plus change and dad finished just under 5:45. The course had a 6 hour time limit, but around mile 23 a police officer must have been misinformed because he was making runners that were ahead of the 6 hour time limit move to the sidewalk. Dad and the others had to then fight traffic at the rest of the downtown intersections. Also, at one of those intersections, dad saw where the course turned but no one was there to tell them to turn. Other runners had kept going straight. Dad made the turn and as he got close to the finish a race official told him how upset the director was because several runners missed that turn and were lost on the course. Apparently there was supposed to be a police officer there to direct runners, but that officer had left early. At least dad was able to finish under 6 hours and get his medal even through the mishaps at the end. After a short rest in the car we drove the 15 hours home. We arrived at 4 a.m. on Monday and got ready for work. A little after midnight on Monday morning I got to tell dad Happy 60th Birthday and he got to congratulate me being married for 7 years. So far Jana has been a great wife putting up with me being gone these past few weekends. I am glad she has signed up for a few of the marathons later this year! I’m looking forward to this next weekend off so I can chill with my family.
May 29, 2011 – Memorial Day Marathon – Lenox, Massachusetts: This was my birthday present from dad and my first marathon in a new age group. We left after work Friday evening to make the 23 hour drive. Dad and I took turns driving all night and the next day. We drove through Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. Our hotel was in Albany, NY and we arrived Saturday night and drank microbrew at the old Albany Pump Station. The next morning we drove in to the Berkshires, MA for the race. It was misting before the race as we stood around and chatted with a couple of other maniacs. After the race started, the temp got warmer which made the first few miles humid and hard to breathe. Dad and I ran the first few miles with maniac Diane Bolton. The course was gorgeous. Dad said he thinks it’s the most scenic so far. We ran along green mountains and a flowing river, abandoned railroad stations and big old houses. Lots of different smells like rotting pine and honeysuckle were abundant throughout the race. The course was challenging with lots of hills and a total climb of 1483 feet. It started getting hot toward the end when the sun came out behind the clouds but there was plenty of water and ice at the aid stations. We received personalized dog tags as finisher medals. Dad ran some of it with maniac Wayne Sherman who stuck around for his finish. After we finished we immediately drove 23 hours back home. Based on our current marathon scheduled, this is the longest distance we will travel by car. And we didn’t even miss work! On to the next one.
June 5, 2011 – Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon – Deadwood, South Dakota: It was a 19 hour drive to Deadwood. Dad and I took turns again and slept on and off. We stopped just outside of Deadwood in Rapid City to grab some lunch. We had seen lots of advertisements on the way up for Firehouse Brewing Co. so we figured a beer or two would be nice. They had a really good Stout and good buffalo burgers. The Black Hills offered very pretty scenery and were nice to drive through. We got our packets and checked into the race hotel. It was kind of like a Super 8 with a lot of slot machines inside although neither of us gambled. The town of Deadwood has some history behind it. We had some time to kill so we went to Mt. Moriah Cemetery and saw where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane were buried. We also went to the historic downtown area where all the Saloons are and saw where Wild Bill was shot. Because the course was point to point we had to get up early the next morning to catch a shuttle to the race start. The shuttle dropped us off between two of the Black Hills where there was no sunshine except at the top which made the hour wait till start a bit cold. We chatted with some other Maniacs and then climbed the mountain/hill so we could warm up in the sunshine. The race started on a paved road and after about a mile we hit the Mickelson Trail and ran on it the rest of the way. The trail is actually an abandoned railroad with a surface of “packed” gravel which was sometimes not so packed. The first half is a 1% uphill grade and the last half is all downhill. The gravel made it hard to get any traction on the uphill part and a lot of energy was wasted. Dad and I ran separately but both felt exhausted after the first 10 miles and knew we were in for a long marathon. There was plenty of shade throughout the course but lots of places without it, especially during the last several miles when the sun was out and shining bright. It was very scenic running around the Black Hills, through a tunnel, and old railroad crossings. A nice bubbling creek ran along most of the trail. At times it was very tempting to just jump in and let the water flow over you. Eventually we both made it to the finish, but this was a challenging new experience running on gravel. Our hotel had left a room open for runners to use to clean up. Dad and I showered and got ready for the 19 hour drive back home. On the way back we stopped by Mt. Rushmore. We drove at night through the grass lands of South Dakota and picked up more bugs than I have ever seen. We had to make several stops just to clean them off the windshield. It was so bad it sounded like rain hitting the car.
June 11, 2011 – Marathon to Marathon – Storm Lake to Marathon, Iowa: The drive was only 13 hours this weekend so not too bad. We stayed in Storm Lake Friday night and Saturday morning we ran from the Storm Lake High School to the Community Center in Marathon. Both were really small towns. The course was mostly flat with a few gentle hills. I’m glad I brought my music along for this one because the whole time we were running by fields and farm land with the smell of manure that would almost choke you. At least there was plenty of support on the course. We were told that the temp for this race is usually in the 80’s but for us it was in the 60’s with cloud coverage most of the time. We both finished better than the last 2 weeks and we now have a few weeks off before the next one. Time to recover! The way back home was riddled with gravel roads, closed interstates, bridges out, and detours. Can’t say I want to go back but those were some neat little towns to run through.
July 9, 2011 – Grandfather Mountain Marathon – Boone, North Carolina: Another repeat of a state, but this marathon had been on my to-do list for a while. It is dubbed “one of America’s toughest marathons” for a good reason: you run uphill most of the way. It does have a few sharp downhill miles that will blowout your knees, but you always have to go uphill again. It starts at Kid Brewer Stadium at Appalachian State University and ends at a stadium on top of Grandfather Mountain where the Highland Games are being held. The Highland Games are the 2nd largest Scottish games played in America and there are anywhere from 10-15,000 spectators in the stadium. If you finish in 5 hours you get to run the gravel track around the field in front of all the spectators. I stayed with a friend that lives close to the start and we had some good Italian food the night before. The race started at 6:30 AM. The temp started in the 60’s and ended in the low 80’s, but there were clouds out most of the time and lots of mountainous shade which made for good running weather. However, after the first 5 miles of the steepest uphill I ever ran I was soaked. This continued for another 21.2 miles until I finally finished under 5 hours. I felt sick as I was running on the finish track and had to make a decision: stop and walk in front of the 10,000+ spectators, or keep running and puke in front of them. I took a very short walk break then ran to the finish holding it in. I made it without letting go of the watermelon I had at mile 22. I really enjoyed the views on the course whenever I could actually catch a breath and pay attention to what was around me. I met a couple more Maniacs and one of them, Daniel Lieb, tried to convince me to run a marathon the next day with him and 11 others. I probably would have done it if I didn’t have to leave the next day. I’m glad I did this one and would like to do it again. Dad didn’t go on this one but he has decided to do one in Canada next week!
Dad ran the Friendly Massey Marathon in Ontario, Canada on July 17, 2011. He is the first of us to run one in a different country! I was very jealous but glad he had a good time. He went to Michigan to visit his daughter and grandson. As always he looked for a marathon around the area before he left and found this one a few hours away. It should make up for North Carolina, which he missed earlier in the year. We are now both at 12 states out of 30 for Titanium status… closer to halfway there!
July 30, 2011 – King Salmon Marathon – Cordova, Alaska: Jana, dad & I flew out Wednesday. That night we arrived at the Seattle airport and tried to sleep till our flight to Alaska which didn’t leave till 8 am. These trips have taught us the best way to sleep if the car or ground is going to be your bed. Find the most comfortable position you can arrange yourself in and don’t move. Even when you are cramping and multiple limbs are going numb, don’t move. Eventually your brain will shut itself down. You may not exactly be asleep, but it’s the closest you will get. Finally 8 am rolled around and we took off for Cordova with stops in Juneau and Yakutat. In Juneau a crated and tranquilized grizzly bear was loaded onto our plane. Apparently it had attacked someone and they were taking it to Fairbanks to study it. We arrived in Cordova on Thursday and got a ride to the Reluctant Fisherman Hotel. Cordova is a very small fishing village surrounded by glaciers and mountains. It’s an island and there are no roads leading into Cordova so their motto is “No Road Cordova AK.” The hotel was right on the harbor next to Prince William Sound and the Copper River where the Salmon are plenty. We found a small place that served Halibut and chips to go, grabbed a 6 pack of Alaskan Amber and headed for our hotel’s deck that overlooked the harbor. The next few days we ate lots of Salmon & Halibut and drank lots of Alaskan beer. At night the sun goes down for about 3 hours then returns, so there is not a lot of darkness and the temps range from mid 40’s to low 60’s. The race started Saturday morning. A bus shuttled 29 marathon runners to a spot 26.2 miles out of town. We started on a gravel road surrounded by snow capped mountains and green mountains. This was Jana’s 2nd marathon and I ran it with her. Part of the time we were surrounded by a huge green forest and other times it was open mudflats and occasionally a glacier off in the distance. After 15 miles of gravel road we finally reached the “real” road. Dad had been running at a good pace just in front of us up to this point. After we made it out of the most unpopulated area where the Grizzly’s were napping several yards into the forest he felt safer and could then hang back. The paved road lasted 11 miles and took us back into Cordova. We passed rivers and lakes and lots of pink and purple fireweeds which lined the road. The first 18 miles had unattended water stops every 3 – 5 miles, but a fire truck went back and forth past the runners to make sure everyone was alright and offered water as well. Grizzly bears and moose have been known to come out on the roads we were running on so it was also nice knowing the fire truck offered somewhat of a safe haven. We didn’t see a grizzly but I did see a black bear come out of the woods onto the road then back into the woods several yards in front of us. Finally we made it to the finish. There were no medals at the finish line but they did give us certificates. We found out later that day that we had to go to the Salmon Festival Jam to receive the medals. It was a mile walk up Ski Hill. Dad made us go while he slept. It turned out to be well worth it because we got the medals, but also had fresh grilled salmon and Alaska beer. The next day we flew out of Cordova to Anchorage where Jana and I hung out with one of our friends and dad caught an earlier flight out. Chris Davis picked us up from the airport and gave us a tour of Anchorage and the surrounding area where we saw a moose in the middle of the road. A few hours later we were on the flight back home.
August 27, 2011 – Eisenbahn Marathon – West Bend, Wisconsin: Another marathon mostly on gravel that covered a railroad trail. At least this one had more compacted gravel than the others so it wasn’t as bad. We left work early on Friday so we could drive the 13 hours to West Bend and make it in time for the 4:45 am departure of the bus that would drive us out to the start line. Dad and I only got a couple hours of sleep before the start and I felt it around mile 14. The first 6 miles were on the trail, and then we ran a few miles on paved roads with lots of hills and corn fields and back to the trail. We ran off the trail one other time through a neighborhood. The last 12 miles were all on the trail. It wasn’t a very memorable course, but the volunteers were really good. It was really hot for that time in West Bend and several runners had heat issues. One guy went down in front of dad around mile 24. Luckily there was a medic cart close by, but the guy was all dead weight and dad had to help load the guy in it. He woke up during this and said, “I don’t know where I am” and then was back out. He ended up being ok, but it’s got to be upsetting to get to mile 24 and not be able to finish. After I was done I went to dad’s car to get a drink. When I checked my shoe pouch that holds the key I noticed it had come partially unzipped and the key was gone. I figured no big deal because dad would have a spare in the car and he runs with the clicker to unlock it. Turns out he had given the spare to my mom while they were on vacation. We could open the car but had no way to start it to drive home. Dad called AAA and they said a locksmith would be sent out to make a key but it would be a few hours. While we waited, dad and I laid out blankets on the only shaded grassy part in the near empty parking lot. A short while later the locksmith called and said he couldn’t make the key because it had an older version of the computer chips in it. To make a long story short, we went back and forth with David Hobbs Honda in Milwaukee about how we could get home. They were extremely helpful working with us and eventually they sent out a tech to use a break code to start the car. The only problem was that we couldn’t turn off the car. If we did it wouldn’t restart, so we drove the entire way home with the car running even when we stopped to fill up with gas. This trips lesson: don’t leave for a race without a backup key… or don’t lose the only key that starts your car!
September 4, 2011 – Tupelo Marathon – Tupelo, Mississippi: The first of another double and this one was going to be a logistical challenge! Jana, dad, and I all rode down to Tupelo for one of my favorite marathons. I ran the Tupelo Marathon in 2008, the year I started running that distance, and have done it every year since. This was the 4th year for dad and me to run it. Dad originally wanted to skip Tupelo this year and run one the next day in Roswell, NM because that would give us a new state and it’s where my mom lived as a teenager, but I wanted to run Tupelo. I couldn’t miss it because Leah Thorvilson had designed the tie dye shirt and skull. So of course we compromised and decided to do them both. The race starts at 5 AM and is an out and back course. The first hour is in the dark which I love. The first few mile markers are marked with glow sticks and many runners wear them also. Typical Tupelo weather this time of year, with the exception of the “freakish fifties” from last year, is in the high 90’s by the time we finish with humidity being extremely high at the start. This year there was a light mist which lasted on and off with cloud coverage the whole race. Towards the end it started to pour down and we got soaked but had fun playing in the puddles. Jana, Becky Humes, Jared Friemel, and I all ran together most of the race. Jana finished not only under 5 hours which was her goal, but knocked 37 minutes off her PR coming in at 4:44! We cleaned up the best we could in the restrooms at the finish and wolfed down some BBQ sandwiches before dad finished. Then we hopped in the car and took off. Dad had to clean up in the car but I’m sure the Guinness helped. Jana dropped us off at my car in North Little Rock where I had left it at the Garrett’s apartment and dad and I took off for Roswell.
September 5, 2011 – Turtle Marathon – Roswell, New Mexico: The 2nd of the Labor Day weekend double. It took 4 hours to get from Tupelo to North Little Rock and GPS said it would take 13 hours to get from there to Roswell. We left Tupelo around 11 and made it to NLR by 3 PM. This is where it gets tricky. With the hour difference we were planning on arriving in Roswell by 3 AM and the race starts at 5:30 AM. Dad and I took turns driving and sleeping which we had become accustomed to so we were able to get a little sleep. Driving at night with no traffic and staying a little heavy on the pedal we managed to arrive in Roswell at 2 AM and got a little extra sleep before the start. It started in the dark on a 2 mile trail through a park then we did an out and back along Highway 70. It was neat seeing desert for miles on both sides of the road. I was expecting a flat course but there were several tough hills which was nice because it kept different muscles working. After the first several miles the stiffness in my legs worked itself out and I was able to run easier. Then I noticed it felt like I had something between my toes so I wiggled them to get it out but felt pain. I realized it was a big blister that had formed on the inside of my big toe. I had to run the last 10 miles with a blister the whole length of the inside of that toe… not fun! Dad ran the whole thing with Rick Franks, another Arkansas Maniac. I think Rick really helped him through it. I found out that at one point on the course we were about 10 miles out from where the first nuclear bomb had been tested. Also, we were not too far from the UFO crash site! I even saw a few aliens on the course and around town. At the finish we received a ceramic hand crafted turtle instead of a medal. Again we had great temps in the 60’s instead of the usual 90 – 100’s which Roswell had been having the past several months. After the marathon we cleaned up at the hotel and drove by my mom’s old house just a few blocks down the road. After catching up on some much needed sleep we drove back the next day. This was the 16th state of 30 so we are over half way there. I also got 7 stars today for running 20 marathons in 20 states in 365 days (this is counting some of the ones from last year that wont end up counting for the 30 we are doing this year starting in February… confusing, I know). Next weekend off, then we be back in business!
September 18, 2011 – Erie Marathon at Presque Isle – Erie, Pennsylvania: What a great marathon with about 500 runners! We saw John Leighton again at the start, and he introduced us to another maniac, Andrea Spohn. The half marathon started 30 minutes after the full. Dad and I both put this on the top of our list of favorites. This was their 38th year and they knew how to put it on. We really couldn’t think of a single thing wrong with this one. Dad got his 7th star for Maniacs. The course was a half marathon distance run twice on the Isle surrounded by Lake Erie. It was probably the flattest course I have run. There were plenty of trees for shade and the scenery was great: yellow flowers, the lake with sailboats in the distance, picnic tables on the sand dunes, well manicured landscaping, etc. We had an entire lane to run in and the little traffic on the Isle was very respectful of the runners. The aid stations were very well managed and were exactly every mile with actual park restrooms all along the course. Shortly after the first half I started talking to another maniac, Ryan Westin. Turns out he was from Arkansas, but this was the first time we had met! Funny how that works. The finish line had plenty of fruit including bananas, watermelon, apples, oranges, and plums. Also they had Subway sandwiches, cold sodas/drinks, chips and cookies. And all of that was available even for the very last runner, which was NOT dad this time! There was a lot of spectator support and the volunteers were great. The weather was almost perfect. The race director even got all the hotels to agree to a late 2:00 checkout for runners, so we were able to clean up before we headed home. I highly recommend this marathon to anyone. It’s a fast, easy course so it would be great for a BQ, PR, or even a first time marathon.
September 25, 2011 – Honest Abe Trail Marathon – Lincoln City, Indiana: The course is run through Lincoln State Park and is a loop run 3 times for the marathon and once for the 14k. It’s mainly run on a double-track trail giving you a nice wooded tour of the park. Their website says, “It is a fast and forgiving course with rolling hills and a couple notable climbs.” Those “notable climbs” consisted of a 2500’ elevation gain! Also, anyone finishing after “7:00:00.00” would get a DNF in the official results. Even though dad hadn’t had much trail experience I was sure he could do it as long as he didn’t break anything along the way. We left late Saturday night and drove to the start located in the park and slept a couple hours in the car. There was a light rain before the start, but the RD said he ran the loop before the race and it wasn’t muddy. (Yeah, right!) We started in the parking lot and once we got to the trail it had been raining harder and many parts of the trail had become muddy. It continued to rain the entire time and the course got worse after each loop. I ran the first half with dad and then sped up some. I was shocked he had not fallen because some of the steeper downhill sections were filled with mud and he would charge down them at full speed with what seemed like no control but would always manage to keep his balance. He would laugh like crazy as he went plummeting down a hill slipping in the mud every few leaps! I think that was the highlight of the run for me. We even raced and beat a train before it went over the tracks in front of us. There was one steep hill that was filled with mud. After I got to the top of it I looked back and saw dad a little ways down spinning out in the mud like you would imagine a cartoon character doing. I had to grab a tree and reach out to help pull him out of the rut he had created. The whole time we were laughing and having a blast. Some of the bridges at the end of the loop zig-zaged and were really slippery with rain, mud and leaves. I finished just under 6 hours and was really hoping dad would finish in the next hour. I saw John Leighton finish and figured dad would be a little ways behind. I knew it would be close, but with about 15 minutes to spare he came through the finish! I found out he had taken a nasty spill, slipping on a railroad tie that I had also almost crashed on earlier. He came down hard but didn’t hurt himself too bad and was able to get up and keep going. Mud and all, we got in the car and headed home in time for work the next day. At some point on the way home I remember dad saying as he was in and out of sleep, “Do you think it would be ok if I amputated my toes?”
October 2, 2011 – Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota: I had to do this one solo because it filled up before dad could register. It’s a 14 hour drive from Benton to Minneapolis and I did it without missing work. After the long drive up I went to the Town Hall Brewery and had 3 pints of beer (Oatmeal Stout and the best Octoberfest I’ve ever had) with Fish & Chips, then wondered around Minneapolis. The marathon started in front of the Metrodome in Minneapolis and ended in St. Paul. There was no half marathon but there was over 8500 marathon runners. With all the runners it was very crowded for the first several miles. At mile 6 you could reach out in all directions and touch the runners around you. Some runners were still weaving through the crowd. It never really thinned out much, but around mile 10 a small amount of space opened up. The course was very nice and crowds lined the whole course cheering on the runners. There was no place along the 26.2 miles where crowds were not there yelling for the runners. I grabbed a few snacks including some much needed ice cold chocolate milk at the finish and caught the bus back to the start which was a few blocks from my hotel. I showered and started the 14 hour drive back home. After two 5 Hour Energies, some chocolate espresso beans, lots of Dr. Pepper, with Notorious BIG, 8ball & MJG, Metallica, Rob Zombie, and Fear Factory blasting my speakers, I finally made it home to catch 2 hours of sleep before getting ready for work. Big YAWN!
October 9, 2011 – Chicago Marathon – Chicago, Illinois: This was the largest field for marathon participants that dad and I have been in. There were 45,000 registered marathon runners and 35,670 finished. This one was more crowded than Twin Cities! The finish was as crowded as the start of many races I’ve done. One article reported there were 1.7 million spectators. Now that is crowd support! The temp got up to 77 around the time the majority of the finishers came through, so it got warm, but not too bad. There was plenty of water on the course unlike in 2007 when they had to shut the race down. Still, 54 runners had to be transported to the hospital. We had another reminder of how dangerous long distance running can be. A 35 year old firefighter collapsed 500 yards from the finish and died a short while later. It’s scary, but we know it happens. Statistics show that 1 in 100,000 – 120,000 marathon runners die during a marathon, usually somewhere in proximity to the finish. The winner of the marathon, Moses Mosop, set a course record finishing in 2:05:37 and taking home $150,000! The U.S. star runner, Ryan Hall, finished shortly after coming in 5th. Also, Little Rock’s very own Leah Thorvilson finished in 2:46. It was fun knowing I was following their footsteps. Another interesting story was that a pregnant lady started the marathon knowing she was close to the due date. Almost immediately after finishing she went into labor and had her baby. As for dad and I, we both finished in our typical fashion and made it back to the hotel to shower in time for the late checkout and headed back home. Couldn’t miss work on Monday… no rest for the wicked!
October 15, 2011 – Baltimore Marathon – Baltimore, Maryland: We left late Thursday and drove 18 hours to Baltimore. For a large city the expo was fairly small. We stayed at the Hilton Baltimore which was right by Camden Yards where the start and finish line was. That night we met a work friend who had just moved to Baltimore at the Pratt Street Ale House and ate some excellent crab dip and fish & chips along with a few pints of fresh brewed Porter, Stout, and Brown Ales. The next morning we walked outside the hotel right next to the start. The start for the full marathon was at a different location from the half which also started about 2 hours later. This was a fun course but it was challenging with lots of hills and winds that reached 20+ mph. Early on I saw a guy with long white hair wearing a 50 Sate Club shirt and a Texas hat. I figured it had to be Steve Boone, the guy that founded the 50 State Marathon Club and was the president for a long time. I talked with him for a while then he took off and I never saw him again. The finish was through Oriole Park at Camden Yards and right up to the Raven’s football stadium. I got my 8th Maniac star today! Twenty-three marathons in a year, but 2 of those were based off the tail end of last year’s marathons and won’t actually count for the 30 this year. We had a late checkout so I was able to clean up but dad was a little late past checkout time getting back. He was able to sneak in a shower before we were noticed though so all was well. We drove a little more than an hour to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania and rode several roller coasters before making the 18 hour drive back home. A marathon and roller coasters all in a day’s time. All marathons need roller coasters at the end. Dad says that’s how true maniacs do it!
October 23, 2011 – Rock n Roll St. Louis Marathon – St. Louis, Missouri: Our second attempt at running St. Louis this year was a success. We planned on taking my car this time, but at over 200,000 miles the 10+ year old PT Cruiser broke down on Friday. It needs a new transmission which was priced more than what the car is worth. Anyway, we ended up taking dad’s Prelude again. We met some old friends at Tigins Irish Pub and had some more fish and chips and Guinness. We have found that is good pre-race food! The marathon course was ok. It was fun to start off running toward the Arch. The highlight for me was running by Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play ball, especially since they are in the World Series at this time! Too bad they are playing in Texas right now. There were a lot of “Go Cards” cheers from the spectators and other runners. The worst part of the course was where there were some folks outside of their homes that apparently did not want the marathon to go through their neighborhood. Signs in front yards read, “26.2 – no one cares” and “You ruined my morning”. This along with some children lined up giving high fives, but as you went by they pulled back their hands and yelled “Go home!” all with the approval of their watching parents. Another lady in a car yelled at dad to “Go home, you’re not welcome in St. Louis”. And a really fat shirtless guy in a lawn chair with some short shorts and legs spread apart drank beer and smoked a fat stogie as he blew the smoke in the runner’s faces as they went by. What a crappy, one bad apple neighborhood. For the most part the rest of the crowd support was nice. Lots of burned out warehouse districts that we had to run through. It was a very tough course with all the hills, but I like a good challenge. I love the city, but I wont be back to run a marathon there… too many bad experiences with marathons in St. Louis.
October 29, 2011 – Spinx Run Fest Marathon – Greenville, South Carolina: Another solo race. Dad is running one in SC when I’ll be running one in Houston, so I am getting SC out of the way now. I left work at 2pm Friday and drove 11 hours to the start line in Greenville, arriving at 2 AM their time. I slept for about an hour or two in the car and woke up to some of the race crew getting set up. I talked to a couple guys including the Vice President of the Greenville Running Club and then tried to sleep again, but couldn’t. After a while I got up to get my race packet. The marathon had less than 500 runners. The weather was nice for running and the course started off with some tough hills in the downtown area, but then it was flat for a few miles on a paved trail through the woods. The trees were golden yellow with reds and browns which made for a pleasant run. Once we got off the trail we hit the neighborhoods with lots of hills. We ran like that for a while, and then got back on the trail that took us back downtown to the finish in a baseball stadium. I ran with Steve Boone again for a little ways and talked to him about some other marathons. I grabbed a sandwich and fruit at the finish line, changed clothes in the car, drank a Five Hour Energy, and headed home. I made it just past Birmingham before the front right tire blew out. Luckily I was only 5 miles away from Wal-Mart so I threw a spare on and headed that way. They were able to replace the tire in less than 2 hours and I was back on my way home. My daughter was having a Halloween party with about 13 other girls staying the night, so when I got home just before midnight I was required to read scary stories to them till 2 in the morning. Then, finally, I was able to sleep!
November 5, 2011 – Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon – Savannah, Georgia: The first of two this weekend! Our 3rd and final double for the year. Dad gets his 8th Maniac star! We left early Friday to drive to the expo on an island in Savannah. The expo closed at 7pm. Traffic was backed up for a mile over the only bridge going to the expo. It took us an hour to go that mile and another 1 ½ hours to finally get parked, get our packets and back on the road. By this time it was 6:30 and the traffic was still backed up over the bridge. Not sure all the runners made it in time but they did have to leave the expo open past the closing time. Not well planned. This was an inaugural event so we’ll cut ‘em some slack here, even though Rock ‘n’ Roll has been doing this for years. Shuttles were supposed to take us from the Savannah Mall to the start line. Start was at 7:30, shuttles started leaving at 4:45. We arrived at the mall at 5:00. Around 20 busses were lined up and about 200 runners were in line waiting to board. We got in line. About 10 minutes later the line had at least doubled. A few minutes after that the doors to busses close and they all start to leave… no runners on board. Someone says they were told these busses were not going to the start line. Someone yells, “Get to your cars! We have to follow the busses!” A mad dash of runners running to their cars. We stopped a bus and asked the driver what was going on. His response: “I’m just the driver. I don’t know where I’m going, but we were told we are in the wrong place.” Turns out we had to walk 10 minutes to the other side of the mall to catch the busses that just moved down a block. The mall was 15 miles from the start. It took us 45 minutes to go in circles while following other busses in front of us. The drivers were lost. Finally we got to the start and lined up. The first few miles took us straight out of downtown Savannah and into the industrial district which smelled like crap (paper mill) for the first 7 miles. I ran into Carol Earle, another crazy Maniac from Arkansas. She was irate! They apparently got to the mall at 6:00 and when they finally left at 6:30 there were thousands of runners still waiting for busses. Her driver was lost as well and they didn’t arrive till after the race started. She made it to one of the last corrals before it went through the start but she barely made it. What happened to those thousands of runners behind her? Who knows? The course didn’t take us through any spectacular parts of Savannah, but the one good thing to be said about this race was the volunteers and locals. Wow! From the run down projects to the nicer neighborhoods, folks were out on their front porches yelling for us! Savannah hospitality was incredible. This was the first time we ran on a freeway which they had apparently closed off. Finished and caught a shuttle back to the mall. Waited at McD’s for dad and then we were off to the next one. Dad got to run with Chuck Savage. If you haven’t heard of the “Savage Seven” look it up. He’s the responsible party for that craziness! Other runners told stories about busses taking them to the expo instead of the start and to the mall after the race instead of the airport. Many locals said they had to give the drivers directions because the drivers didn’t know where they were supposed to go. In my book the Inaugural RnR Savannah Marathon was an epic FAIL!
November 6, 2011 – Marshall University Marathon – Huntington, West Virginia: We immediately left Savannah and drove 9 hours to Huntington. Woke up in the morning and drove to the Marshall University football stadium for packet pickup and start. We received a really cool Brooks running jacket for signing up early! Well worth the $60 entry fee. Temps were nice for running. The course was a half marathon run twice. We started off running through campus then along the river and out into the downtown area. We ran on a gravel trail for a few miles then back on streets and along the river, through campus again and repeat. I ran most of it with Andrea and Emily, two other Maniacs. We talked the whole way which took my mind off the pain in my legs, back, and feet. At one point I remember thinking mile 15 should be coming up, but when I looked up the 18 mile marker was in front of me! My favorite part was coming into the finish. About a mile away we were handed a flower which we carried through campus and placed on the memorial for the 1970 Marshall football team that died in a plane crash. (See movie: We are Marshall). We then ran into the football stadium and at the 100 yard line were handed a football to carry 100 yards to the finish line. Really cool! I would definitely run this one again. Hamburgers and hotdogs at the finish. There was a 6 hour time limit and dad came in at 6:02. The RD was a nice guy and left it open for all the finishers to come through. While waiting for dad I was able to make use of the Rec Center’s showers so I could at least be clean for the ride home. Dad smelled but I forgave him. Dad got to down a Hobgoblin beer before I got to start the drive home without downing a beer. I did not forgive him. I have very large blisters on the insides of both big toes. One of them is the 5th blister in the same spot in the past 10 weeks. Hurts to walk. But it’s all downhill from here! Countdown coming soon. On to the next one… next weekend.
November 13, 2011 – Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon – San Antonio, Texas: Jana, dad and I drove down the day before the race. This was Jana’s 4th marathon giving her 4 states! Not that she is trying to join a club or anything. We ate on San Antonio’s Riverwalk at Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub that night. Several Guinness, more fish-n-chips and a piano player that ended our stay by playing Rocket Man was a nice way to finish the night. Race morning was very humid but at least there was some cloud coverage. Jana and I ran together with dad a little ways behind us. This was dad and my second time to run this course and I wasn’t a big fan the first time. But Cody Jones of the Striders talked me into running it again earlier this year. Cody was running his first marathon. A few other Striders were running as well. Michael Storey was running his 2nd marathon in 1 week to qualify for the Maniacs. Alice Jones was running the half marathon and Leigha Jones was running with another friend, Spenser Watson, to complete the half relay. After the first hour the clouds went away and it started heating up fast. By mile 15 we were covered in sweat and sunburns. Temps were up in the 80’s. Lots of runners were dropping and the sounds of ambulance sirens wailed every few minutes. But Jana pushed us on. Somewhere on an out-and-back we saw Storey running hard in the opposite direction. He was running a sub 4, no problem. Finally around mile 20 we decided we had to start walking more than we were running. The sun was miserable with no shade anywhere around, unless you count the shadows of power lines. Jana was turning into a lobster and I was worried when she said she was starting to feel tingly. Then she decided to run the next mile. Ok… sure… no problem. Except I’m all out of breath too and so I have to stop us a little ways in to take another walk break. We finally made it to the Alamodome where the finish was, but have to make a circle around it and then run the last part uphill to the finish line. I hate finishing uphill! But we made it. Dad was just a little ways behind and Cody not too far behind, running in to finish his first marathon! Saline County represented in San Antonio and everyone of us made it through the heat. Proud of my running buddies. This concludes my longest streak to date of 10 marathons on 9 straight weekends. Now for a much needed 2 weekends off. I’ll finally be able to watch some football and drink beer all day long on a Saturday.
Dad ran the North Carolina Marathon in High Point on 11/19/2011. My mom went with him and they stayed in Old Salem. Dad said the course was like Soaring Wings run twice but with lots more hills. At mile 17 he told a traffic cop that his plan was to let the front runner build up a big lead and then catch him on the back half. Without missing a beat the cop replied, “The first part of your plan is working!” Dad said he laughed the whole next mile. He is now only 1 state behind me in our quest this year which he’ll make up in South Carolina in January.
December 3, 2011 – Baton Rouge Beach Marathon – Baton Rouge, Louisiana: With a couple weeks off I felt better about this one. Dad and I drove down at night and slept a couple hours in my new (Jana’s old) car at the start line. This was a smaller race with around 250 marathons and a lot more running the half. The course was a half marathon run twice. Several miles of each loop was through the LSU campus. We ran by the Tigers stadium where, under my breath, I called the Hogs. It was a good course with a few hills. The last 3 miles of the loop was around a lake which is where the “Beach” part comes from. I met and ran a couple miles with Richard Carrol, another maniac and high school teacher from Texas that was also going to be at the Houston Marathon in a few weeks. I told him about Leah running in the Olympic trials and he seemed really excited to be able to cheer for a maniac running the trials. I had a good run till mile 23 then had to put some walking in. The post race food was amazing! There were at least 20 ice chests with beer, sodas, etc. The spread included all you could eat fried fish, chicken, fries, cheese sticks, 3 different kinds of beans and rice some with sausage, some with gator bites, and of course fruits and other typical race food. And right by the car was a Geaux Yo truck with frozen yogurt for sale. After a plate of all the fried stuff, gator bites, and beer I still couldn’t resist getting a chocolate shake while I waited for dad to finish. I watched Larry Macon come through to complete his seven hundred and something marathon. And Kevin Brossi, another Maniac, finished his 30th marathon in 30 states this year right before dad came through. I found out dad had a horrible first half due to a stomach virus. He said the second half was better but he still didn’t feel well. We toweled off and left for home. Another one down, on to the next one.
December 18, 2011 – Jacksonville Bank Marathon – Jacksonville, Florida: After my work’s Christmas party Friday night, Jana drove us to Tupelo and the next morning I drove us to Jacksonville. My daughter, Kedran, and her friend, Monica, were with us. We met my parents at a brewery on the river and had a couple beers before retiring to the hotel for the night. Jana ran the half marathon and ended with a PR. I ran till mile 8 with her where the split was. The course was mostly shaded and very flat. The weather was nice as well. We ran through several neighborhoods and along a few busy streets. There were several police on motorcycles that seemed more interested in driving their bikes really fast going by the runners rather than controlling traffic. I was shocked when one traffic cop let a car go when there were runners only a few feet away. The finish was on a track along the high school football field. After I finished I waited in the bleachers for dad but then got hot and found some shade away from the finish area. Jana had already gone back to the hotel and took the girls and my mom to St. Augustine. My experience with the race was ok, but not one I would really consider doing again. Dad’s was not so good. The race website had clearly stated the course would be closed based on a 6 hour finish time, or 14 minute miles. Dad finished in just under 6 hours, but several miles back they had closed down water stations and traffic control had vanished practically stranding the runners on the sidewalks. At the finish line dad felt “a bit woozy” thinking he might actually need some medical attention, but the only people in the finish area were the photographers. He looked around for someone who might be able to help if he were to pass out but nobody was around not even to give him water, not that there was any left anyway. Another runner came through and saw dad was a bit out of it and kindly checked on him. The other runner found some medals sitting on a table and brought one to dad. He was feeling a little better at this point and one of the photographers made a joke about all the volunteers leaving an hour ago. The other runner points out that they were still under the cutoff time but no one was working the finish line. Apparently the Race Director was close by and overheard these statements. He came storming at dad in a threatening way calling him a liar and hollering that there were volunteers there. Dad, still a bit dazed having just finished a marathon, pointed out that there were no volunteers around and that they had even begun abandoning the aid stations an hour and a half earlier. The RD said they had left water on the course which was true, but had a runner been in distress there was no one at the aid stations to help. The RD then called dad a “wimp” and said all he wanted was to have someone handing him cups of water. I think he missed the point here. At no time did the RD offer dad any assistance, water, medical, a medal, etc. No apologies, just a “you’re a liar and a wimp” said to dad even though his own photographer had made the comment about volunteers leaving the finish area an hour ago. I found dad after this unbelievably rude (insert bad words) RD left and we drove back to the hotel. If a website says the course will be supported for 6 hours then the last runners should expect the same treatment the front runners get. If they will not receive that kind of support the time limit should be changed. I recommend staying away from Jacksonville Bank Marathon, not to be confused with the other Jacksonville Marathon early in the year. I have heard good things about that one. Anyway, we stayed another night and drove the family to Walt Disney World the next day and met my sister and Auden. We stayed in WDW for a few days, had a blast, and drove home. Another state down and last marathon of 2011. Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
January 8, 2012 – First Light Marathon – Mobile, Alabama: Dad and I left late Saturday night and drove 8 hours to Mobile. We got there around 2 a.m. and slept in the car at the start line again. The start was downtown so we had lots of drunks yelling and stumbling around the car as we “slept” most of the early hours of the morning. The race started at 7:30 with warm weather and a chance for showers, although it never really rained. We chatted with a few Maniacs before the race including Wayne Sherman, Larry Macon, and Mark Cato, a Strider I knew but had only met for the first time at this race. We also saw John Leighton (who seemed to be a pretty common runner we would run into in different states), who was just a couple marathons away from Titanium! One of our maniac friends from back home, Jacob Wells, significant other appeared out of nowhere. Jaynie was running the half marathon and Jacob was running the full. The course was nice and we ran through several neighborhoods. Some of the roads were rough with uneven or pocked pavement and there were several hills in the middle but we enjoyed the course. They had lots of oranges and bananas on the course and the traffic was well controlled. The finish area was stocked with BBQ sandwiches, beer, and homemade ice cream. I took advantage of all 3 while I waited for dad to finish. Then we toweled off in the car and drove home. This was state 29 of the 30 for me and 28 for dad. A maniac friend, Tony Nguyen otherwise known as Endorphin Dude finished Titanium a couple weeks ago. Tasting Titanium!
January 15, 2012 – Houston Marathon – Houston, Texas: Dad ran one in Charleston, South Carolina on the 14th, and said the course was good and he had a good time. That made 29 states for him! I already had one in Texas so this didn’t count toward the 30 states, but I went to support Leah Thorvilson in the Olympic Trials the day before. Jana, Becky Humes, and I followed Jesse and Kristin Garrett down after work Friday night. We got to our hotel in Houston at 2 a.m. and slept a couple hours before getting up and ready for the Trials. There were probably around 200 of us that came to support Leah and we all had these green “Team Zoey” shirts to wear. Everywhere you looked you could see the green. We started off cheering the runners on at the start, and then made our way farther down the course which consisted of a 2 mile loop followed by an 8 mile loop run three times. We found some other Team Zoey folks that had a great spot to cheer from and hung with them for the rest of the race. It was really amazing to see how fast the fastest of the fastest runners in the U.S. were. We got to see Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, and Abdi Abdirahman place 1st, 2nd and 3rd for the men and Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila, and Kara Goucher place 1st, 2nd and 3rd for the women. Leah finished 55th overall with the amazing time of 2:42:09. It was an incredible accomplishment to even make it to the trials. Just to throw some stats out there… The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the U.S. had a population of 156,842,733 females in 2010. Running USA's Annual Marathon Report of 2011 reports that 207,870 females finished a marathon in 2010. That’s only 0.13% of the female population. Now, of those female marathon finishers, only 196 (or 0.09%) qualified for the Olympic Trials and 152 women ran and finished. It was an honor to be able to support and cheer for one of them! The marathon the next day was a different course. A lot of the Arkansas support crew ran the next day as well. The course was alright, but a lot of it was on concrete which took a toll on the legs. I got to run the first few miles with Amie Durden. Her husband had won the Houston Marathon about 30 years before. Jesse Garrett had an awesome PR and a lot of other folks had good times as well. I got tired around mile 16 and had to walk a lot of the rest of it even stopping for a doughnut at mile 24. Jana and Becky ran part of the course in reverse to cheer for everyone so I got to see them around mile 12 when I was still having a good race. That evening we all met at the Flying Saucer and had a great time. The Green Machine invaded H-town and took over for the weekend.
February 19, 2012 – Lost Dutchman Marathon – Apache Junction, Arizona: Well, this is it. 30 marathons/ultras (+3 extras) in 30 states in less than 365 days! Dad and I left after work on Friday and drove 20 hours to Leah Thorvilson’s dad’s house in Scottsdale, AZ. The drive was not too bad. There was lots of desert scenery once it started getting light in New Mexico and many miles out of Flagstaff we started climbing to an elevation of over 6000 feet. We saw lots of snow and pine trees in that area until we dropped back down a few thousand feet to the Phoenix area. We met Leah at her dads and immediately cracked some beers and cleaned up. Donn, Leah’s dad, is a huge baseball fan and had tons (literally) of baseball memorabilia on every (literally) wall of the house. Autographed photos, bats, paintings, cards, bobble heads, gloves, you name it he had it. However, the best parts were all the framed articles about Leah throughout her running career hanging on the walls. For dinner, Isabel, Donn’s significant other, drove us to meet the rest of the crew at a pizza/pasta place. The crew from Arkansas included Michael Harmon, Josh Drake, Annette and Arland Blanton, Chris and Tina Ho. We went to bed early that night because we had to wake up at 3 AM to drive to the finish area where we caught a bus to Superstition Mountain where the race started. It was still dark when the bus dropped us off. There were several dozen small fires with carpet squares to sit on in front of them. We found the rest of our crew and huddled around one of the fires. As the sun came up the mountains and geography became clearer. We were surrounded by many different types of cactus and the mountains were silhouetted by the blue morning. After the maniac group picture we lined up at the start. The first 6 miles were on a wide dirt trail with the beautiful desert scenery all around us. The trail wound its way through fields of cactus and rocks with Superstition Mountain always in the background. There were even bulls out on the course. Arland, dad and I started off for the first couple miles together, and then Arland took off in front. I figured since I started this quest with dad I would finish with him and planned to run the whole race with him. After the first 6 miles on dirt we came to a paved road. The plastic rocket pack dad, aka Rocket Man, wore on his back got many comments as we worked our way through the rest of the course. We ran on some highways and through neighborhoods but the desert setting never changed with the cactus and Superstition Mountain always visible. Annette caught up to us around mile 17 and told us Leah had finished in about 2:47 and set another course record, which was incredible as she always is! Annette made the rest of the race more enjoyable because she stuck with us to the finish. It was probably the 2nd best finish ever! (The first being in Vegas holding hands with Jana as she finished her first marathon). Two miles out: We had been on a straight stretch for a while and could see a ways in front of us. This cowgirl shape materializes in the distance and is running toward us. She has a hat and chaps. She looks familiar. Like maybe an outlaw I met in Tupelo once. As she gets closer I can see her black hat has skulls on it. Lo and behold, it’s winner of the women marathon! Leah shoots by Annette and me and gives dad a big hug. She walks right beside us as we run the rest of the way to the finish. (Notice that she “walks” as we “run”). Arland meets us as we turn a corner at mile 26 and can see the finish. I see Josh and Michael too. Josh is taking pictures. At one tenth of a mile out we all hold hands and start to skip to the finish. I see two people (could it be Chris and Tina?) standing on both sides of the finish line holding what looks like yellow tape, and yes, it has 10 red stars on it! Those are Maniac colors. The race announcers are saying “…they ran 30 marathons in 30 states in 365 days…” As I let go of dad’s hand and break the tape I can only think of all the other marathons it took to get here and all the memories they made and the wonderful friends and family I have… and dad. It was truly one of those great moments in life I will keep with me forever. After all the congratulations and picture taking we took a bus back to the car. We found a picnic table and broke out the beer. Dad and I got to enter the race for our Maniac status and see those 10 red stars pop up on the Maniac website. We were the 97th and 98th Maniacs to become Titanium. We made the top 100! Chris and Tina let us use the shower to clean up back at their hotel room, and then we celebrated at the Hitching Post with more beer and food. Dad and I headed back home after that. It was a great weekend spent with great friends.
Well, it’s all over. After traveling 42,793 miles by car and roughly 7,000 by air (only flight was to Alaska) we finally got our 10 stars. Crazy you think? Why yes, we’re not called Titanium Maniacs because of our sanity. But I’m glad it’s over. I’m not sure about dad, but I would do it again… just not for a few years. We’ll work on finishing the 50 states first. Thinking back over this past year I have a ton of memories. I think even the bad memories from racing, such as Go! St. Louis that was cancelled at mile 10 and the race director calling dad a wimp at the Jacksonville finish have even turned out to be good memories. After all, this quest was done for an experience and we got a wide range of them, which made for an even better experience. A few thoughts and thanks: On this quest I taught dad to use an iPhone and Facebook. He taught me through my observations how to gracefully fall on your face without getting hurt. Lucky for me, I never had to use this knowledge. With the marathons Jana ran this year she was so close to becoming a Maniac. But she told me she wasn’t even a marathon runner and didn’t want to be a Maniac. Well babe, you may not be a Maniac (yet) but you are most definitely a marathoner! One of the best parts of this quest was meeting a lot of other Maniacs and runners. I saw several of them frequently over the weekends. I think it’s one of the only things you can do and have such good friends in different states, but only see them in other states hundreds of miles away from the places where you both live. I look forward to seeing them again and I know I will. I had a great time at several of the races with my Arkansas runner friends! I love it that I was able to do it all (except the 3 separate races) with dad. He is 60 years old and can still do this. It took him longer to finish some marathons this year than the past years (mainly to not get hurt during this quest), and he may be a “wimp” to one (idiot) director, but to most of the rest of us, the ones that count anyway, he is freakin’ amazing! Before I end this monstrous race report I must say thanks to my mom, Jana, and Kedran. Mom made us peanut butter cookies for almost every race. The best race fuel around. She also helped a lot with getting Kedran places when Jana had other things that needed done. But most important, she allowed dad to go along with me. Jana and Kedran, thank you both for dealing with things while I was gone all those weekends. And for putting up with me when I got back and was too tired to do anything but lay down. And for the constant support and encouragement. I couldn’t ask for a better two than you.
“And now what?” you ask me. What’s next? Maybe a triathlon, maybe a 100 miler, maybe I could come up with $16,000 and run the North Pole Marathon. I really don’t know. But I do know one thing… It’s on to the next one!