Introduction

My name is Dan and sometime in September of 2008, I was bitten by the running bug.

My Medals as of June 11, 2011

I can’t say I was addicted from the beginning.  There was nothing particularly magical about that the first time leaving the living room to go for a run.  I wasn’t even hooked after my first official 5K.  Knee pains prevented me from getting too ebullient upon the completion of the 2008 Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chicago, Illinois and the idea of running longer distances was too daunting to even contemplate.

So what happened prior to September of that year that changed my life?  From the vast array of circumstances and causes, it’s difficult, but not impossible, to narrow down what might have been the primary cause for my sudden desire to hit the pavement.  Maybe I felt like I had put off getting in cardiovascular shape for too long.  Perhaps it was due to a disillusionment with the ‘real world’ after a few unsuccessful career pursuits, which motivated me into improving my health over my office.  Or maybe it was simply that I had just moved into a very nice residential neighborhood whose sidewalks were perfect for mapping out runs of any distance.

Pick any of those three reasons and you get a composite “cause” for my surge in physical activity.  Prior to this Cambrian explosion of running, my longest recorded distance was 5 miles.  Slowly, but surely, I increased that distance with weekly runs until the 2008 Trick or Treat Trot 10K in late October.  To make a long, predictable story short, over the next year I would run three half marathons and my first 26.2-mile run, the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  With endorphin levels at celestial highs, it was impossible to rule out future marathons so I set off to carve out a running program for 2010.

On September 12, 2010, I finished that program, which included ten half marathons in seven different US states.  Along the way, push came to shove came to full-on bar brawl and I figured, let’s do something crazy.  One glance at the blog’s subtitle and you’ll know the result of this whimsical moment of insanity: I am aiming to run at least a half marathon (13.1 miles) in every state, including Washington, DC.  I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m planning on being done before my 40th birthday on November 5th, 2022.

But let’s retreat from the hyperbole for a bit because I’m not the first person – probably not even the thousandth – to try and run a half marathon in each of the 50 states; in fact, there’s even a club for it (www.halfmarathonclub.com).  Better, bolder athletes have run full marathons in all fifty states.  Famed ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes ran fifty marathons in all fifty states in fifty consecutive days.  What’s so intriguing about a relative amateur tackling a lesser challenge?

Well, if you’ve read this far, then surely there’s something worth discovering about this endeavor.  As of this writing, I have already started the journey, having completed seven out of fifty states.  Fortunately, I documented all of them as they happened, so I will begin my back log of races with the next post (and for simplicity’s sake, I will ignore the first three that I ran in 2009, which were all in Chicago).

Feel free to drop me a line (dan.solera@gmail.com) – I guarantee you I’ll respond.

Onwards!

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About Dan
Running a marathon in all 50 states because there's no better way to explore the world around you than on your own two feet, for as long as you can, until you hate yourself and everything around you. Then you stop, get a medal, and start over.

12 Responses to Introduction

  1. I went through a quarter-life crisis the year before I turned 20. Actually, I’m still trying to overcome that crisis, 3 years later (that’s a different story, though.) One of the things on that list is exactly: “run some sort of race in every state.” I’m not sure if it’s actually going to happen before I’m 30, but it’ll happen before the day I die, that’s for sure. Biggest issue? Time and money. Any sort of magical advice you have as to how you’re accomplishing your dream thus far, feel free to share =)
    -Christina

    • herrsolera says:

      Thanks for stopping by and browsing through my adventures. There isn’t much in the way of secrets, but here are a few tips:

      Pick a race 4-5 months out (assuming it’s not the kind of race that sells out 3 days after registration opens) and get their early-bird special rate, which is usually in the $50 range. Then, start monitoring flights. Yapta (www.yapta.com) is a great website for keeping tabs on plane fares.

      If you’re renting a car, use priceline.com’s Name-Your-Own-Price feature and lowball the hell out of whatever company you can get. I typically get cars for $12 a day, which is bananas. This will vary slightly by market (though it will swing wildly for such cities as New York and San Francisco – you’re out of luck there).

      If you have friends in the area who will let you crash with them, do it. Hotels inflate the budget for these things so much, so if you can avoid it, do it. If not, convince a local friend to run with you. That way, you have a buddy AND someone with whom you can split the hotel and rental car. Speaking of hotels, pick a chain and join their loyalty program. If you do enough out-of-state races, you’ll eventually rack up free nights. Hotels.com also does this. The point is: try and stick to one network and use their rewards.

      Similarly, pick a popular nationwide airline and hoard the hell out of their miles program. I started this with United in March and have gotten five free flights out of it. When each of those flights price at around $300, it’s a ton of cash you’re saving.

      If you want to go even farther in securing a low-budget trip, bring your own food. I sometimes bring my own pasta and cereal to out-of-state races just to avoid having to drop $10 on breakfast and another $15 on lunch.

      Finally, and this is something I have yet to do, double-up on races. If you can find two nearby races in neighboring states, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, double-up and save yourself the hassle of having to plan two separate trips.

      Hope this helps. Good luck!

  2. MedalSlut says:

    Those are some sweet medals! Thanks for the links, and if I’m ever in Texas during one of their halfs, I’ll bag me one of those!

  3. staceypalms says:

    LOVE THIS. What an awesome goal. And my envy meter shot up at your medal pics. Hope the weather holds out for you tomorrow!

  4. michelleong says:

    Wow, pretty amazing quest you’ve set yourself and some great race times too. Good luck and look forward to reading about all 50 runs!

  5. Thank you for your comment on my post again. And, as an Oklahoman, let me recommend some races. There are only two big Marathon/Half Marathons in Oklahoma. The Route 66 run in Tulsa in the fall and the Oklahoma City Marathon in Oklahoma City in the Spring. Both were really amazing experiences.

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the recommendations. I actually already have my flights for Route 66! I haven’t signed up yet, but that’ll come with time. Thanks for reading!

  6. Love, love, love the description of your running history as a “Cambrian explosion”! I might steal that. The geologist in me just adores it!

  7. NixieTale says:

    My birthday is Nov 5 as well! 🙂

  8. Laszlo says:

    Hi Dan, great intro!

    I think running a Half Marathon in every state is a great goal. It is great that you even set a target date by when you want to have it accomplished. From now I will follow your progress through your quest.

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