Saturday, August 19, 2006


I've heard of runners who have a lifetime goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. I've read of runners who have run a marathon in all 50 states in the course of one year. But what about running 50 marathons in all 50 states in 50 consecutive days? Well, two runners are on a quest to do just that.

Sam Thompson wrapped up his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days in his home state of Mississippi today. Since Sam embarked on his 50-in-50-in-50 challenge to bring attention to the relief efforts still needed in the Gulf Coast, it's only fitting that Sam's final two runs took place yesterday in New Orleans and today in Mississippi, nearly one year after Hurricane Katrina struck the region.

On a similar note, ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, who has before covered 300-plus miles on a single run, is beginning his own 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days quest in September. He's calling it
the endurance 50. Since most marathons are run on weekends, Karnazes is recreating the courses of marathons in certain cities during the week, and running in some regularly scheduled marathons on the weekends. Interestingly enough, I'll get to join Karnazes on his quest. One of the regularly scheduled marathons Karnazes is running is the the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C., which I'll also be participating in.

Like Thompson and Karnazes, I have a personal goal to run a marathon in all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.), but unlike them, I don't think I'll do it 50 consecutive days. I do, however, like their play on the number "50." So I think I'll add my own little twist. How about 50 marathons in 50 states by the time I turn 50? (Technically, it's 51 marathons in 51 states since I'm adding D.C., but 50 has a better ring to it.) That means I'll need to average three marathons a year from now till I turn 50. That sounds challenging enough for me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mission Man Traithlon Race Report

On Saturday, July 29th, I participated in the Mission Man Triathlon at Lake Cammack Park and Marina in Burlington, N.C. It was a sprint distance event -- half mile swim, 15 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. I'd prefer to call it a "mini-Ironman." Following is a lengthy (and belated) race report, recapping my first "tri" at a triathlon.

I never thought I'd ever say that swimming is a contact sport. No amount of swimming in the pool could have prepared me for swimming in the open water with about 80 other people. I felt like I was in a washing machine on spin cycle with bodies and limbs tumbling over me all around. Getting into a rhythm with my stroke was difficult, and sighting the buoys was also a challenge. I consider myself a decent swimmer, but I seriuosly considered dropping out of the race out of frustration of getting knocked around by all the other swimmers. But I said a quick prayer and pressed on. I consider myself a decent swimmer, but I definitely underestimated how challenging the swim would be. I finished the swim in 19:58, 29th out of 41 in my age group.

Transition 1
I took a lot of time in the swim to bike transition. While most competitors wore specially-made triahtlon shorts that could be worn on all three legs of the event, I wore a regular pair of swim trunks. (This probably cost me lots of time on the swim too because of the drag my swimsuit least I can believe that, can't I?) But wearing swim trunks meant I had to change into my running shorts, so I wrapped a towel around me and changed. I was so afraid that I would drop the towel and flash everyone, but thankfully that didn't happen. Still changing shorts and putting on my socks and running shoes took up a lot of time. I spent 4 minutes, 3 seconds in the transition area, which was the second-slowest time in my age group, and the fifth slowest transition time out of a little more than 400 competitors.

My expectations on the bike were low because I knew my time would be slow. The bike I used was a hybrid that is more like a mountain bike than a road or triathlon bike, and therefore, it is wasn't as efficient as everyone else's. During the bike portion, I was getting passed by men, women, young people, old people, skinny people, fat people -- you name it and they passed me. I did pass one person on the bike leg and I felt kind of bad in doing so, because it was a girl who was riding a bike similar to mine. My bike time was 1 hour, 3 minutes and 56 seconds, slowest in my age group and sixth slowest overall.

Transition 2
Transitioning from the bike to the run didn't take as long as going from the swim to the bike. All I had to do was change shirts and rack my bike. Still, I spent a bit longer than I anticipated in the transition area, 1 minute, 33 seconds.

I didn't know what to expect on the run. I had been experiencing some knee trouble in the month or so leading up the triathlon, so I hadn't done any running or other type of training for that matter in the two weeks leading up to the event. And my training had been limited in the two weeks prior to that. So, I wondered if my knee would hold up on the run. I didn't push or go for a fast pace on the run, which was a 5K, out-and-back trail course. The result, however, was better than I expected. I finished the run in 27 minutes, 56 seconds, which was right at my normal running pace. And the best part was that I didn't experience any pain.

Final Results and Analysis
My cumulative time for the event, which includes time spent in the transition areas, was 1 hour, 57 minutes, 24 seconds. I finished 39th out of 40 finishers in my age group (one dropped out after the swim so it would have been 39 out of 41), 249th out of 267 male finishers and 367th out of 421 overall.

My goal entering the event was simply to finish, and I thought I would do so in the neighborhood of 2 hours. I was pleased to check in just under that, especially since my training had been severely limited in the month leading up to the event. Honestly, I had a love-hate relationship with the training all along because I tried to keep my running at marathon training levels while adding in the swim and the bike. That just might have been too much and led to my knee trouble.

Although, I'll probably stick to running as my primary form of exercise and endurance event, the triathlon is certainly growing on me, and I think I may try to do one per year. If I do, however, I'll probably make some adjustments to the training. I'll also probably invest in a pair of triathlon shorts and maybe even look into getting a road bike eventually. All in all though, I'm glad I gave it a "tri."