End of Year Recap (2009 – 2011)

Since this is my first annual recap but my third year as a distance runner, I want to go back a bit and reflect on how my running has progressed over the years.  In order to do so, I will provide a brief recap of the years 2009 and 2010 with a few stats that reflect what the year was like.  So, though I took my first steps in an actual training regimen in 2008, I will start with 2009, which is beyond a doubt where it all began.

2009 Recap

States Completed (1): Illinois

Half Marathons Run: 3
Fastest Finishing Time: 1:47:58 (13.1 Chicago Marathon)
Average Finishing Time: 1:49:32

Marathons Run: 1
Fastest Finishing Time: 4:03:21 (Bank of America Chicago Marathon)

Number of Fellow Runners: 53,169
Best Medal: Chicago Marathon
Worst Medal: Chicago Spring Half Marathon

When I ran my first half marathon in May of 2009, I had no intentions of going crazy.  I was tired, winded and in desperate need of replenishment.  My legs hurt, my face was salty and my lungs felt like they were on the verge of collapse.  Later that year, I would run two more half marathons and my first marathon, all in the great city of Chicago.  At the time, it felt like the culmination of a long process, one that ended with a respectable 4:03 finish in the bustling streets of the Windy City.

However, it was only the beginning of something much more exciting.  Something snapped in my head and my nascent hobby for distance running became an integral part of my lifestyle.  With this greater passion, I set out to run ten half marathons to commemorate the year 2010 and decided to do seven of those outside Illinois.

2010 Recap

States Completed (7): Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Massachusetts, California, Arizona

Half Marathons Run: 11
Fastest Finishing Time: 1:32:06 (Tucson Half Marathon* – all downhill, not my official PR)
Average Finishing Time: 1:43:02

Marathons Run: 1
Fastest Finishing Time: 4:05:22 (Bank of America Chicago Marathon)

Number of Fellow Runners: 149,526
Best Medal: ING Miami Half Marathon
Worst Medal: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

2010 was an incredible year for me.  I decided to focus intently on the half marathon distance, running only five short-distance races to keep things exciting.  I pushed myself harder and faster than I thought possible, breaking 1:40 for the first time in Disneyland.  Overall, I was thrilled with my progress – my average finishing time was almost five minutes faster than the previous year’s PR.  I also stepped outside of my comfort zone a few times, running warm weather half marathons in spite of my low heat tolerance.

But along the way, I got to spend time with a lot of friends from Chicago, college and even high school.  It made me realize that these races are a great excuse to reconnect with people that I don’t normally talk to on a regular basis.  In more than one case, I even managed to convince them to run the race as well, which requires more than the average amount of convincing.

I loved the experience of seeing new cities and catching up with old friends so much that my ambitions naturally expanded.  At the end of the year, I came up with the much bigger idea of running at least a half marathon in all fifty states.  And lucky for me, I had a head start with seven already under my belt.

I also set a time limit: to cross the finish line of the last state before my 40th birthday on November 5, 2022.  That meant that I’d have to do around 3.6 states a year to reach my goal right on time.  After making that calculation I thought, that’s doable.  Once I commit to this, I’ll be able to do 3, maybe 4 states every year and not go hungry trying.  A reasonable person with limited means like me would budget accordingly, prioritize and pick the most sensible states and stick to it.

But any avid runner knows that just visiting a race website is enough to plant a very persuasive seed.  Simply knowing a race is out there in a new state, with new splits, bibs, and medals is enough to get the ball rolling.  So it was with that impulsive drive that I began scheduling the great challenges of 2011.

2011 Recap

States Completed (9): Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, South Carolina, Mississippi, New York
Countries Completed (1): Costa Rica

Half Marathons Run: 9
Fastest Finishing Time: 1:37:18 (Holiday Half Marathon, PR)
Average Finishing Time: 1:43:57

Marathons Run: 4
Fastest Finishing Time: 3:40:59 (Traverse City State Bank Bayshore Marathon, PR)
Average Finishing Time: 4:00:56

Number of Fellow Runners: 141,649
Best Medal: Flying Pig Half Marathon
Worst Medal: Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon

This was a great year for my racing career and one of many firsts.  I broke four hours at the marathon for the first time in Michigan, ran my first trail race in South Carolina, experienced for the first time a race above 5,000 feet in Colorado, ran my first international race in Costa Rica and learned the pains of running three marathons in nine weeks.

But more importantly, I got to experience the following for the first time: the varied tastes of Texas’ wine country, the inauguration of Costa Rica’s new fútbol stadium, the feeling of shooting a semi-automatic shotgun, the delectable morsels and thrilling rides of the Disney Food & Wine Expo, the diverse characters of all five of New York City’s boroughs, the empty slopes of Beaver Creek’s spring ski season, what it feels like to run in pitch darkness (more than once), and many, many delicious burgers.  None of these would have been possible without the hospitality and generosity of my friends and family.  I’m extremely glad to have found an activity that lets me explore the country, stay healthy and rekindle friendships with amazing people.

So now that the year is ending, I look forward to 2012 with great excitement.  It is going to be another year that goes above and beyond the 3.6-state minimum required to reach my goal on time, almost guaranteed by my new mini-goal: to be halfway done before getting married in late September.  As of this writing, I have signed up for three new states and have picked out races in the remaining five.  Though it will certainly be packed with enough running to keep me on my toes (figuratively and literally), I will definitely need to exercise prudence to avoid going overboard.  For one, escalation always comes with increased risk of injury.  But more importantly, every race I plan is a weekend away from home, which is not only a potentially costly expense, but time away from my close friends and loved ones in Chicago.

So I guess that means I have to start converting all of my friends into fervent runners.  It seems that’s my only option.

Onwards to the New Year, with expectations high and shoes laced.

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.

13 Responses to End of Year Recap (2009 – 2011)

  1. Pamela says:

    Wow! 2011 was great! Check out BR Beach Marathon and Half (Baton Rouge) and the Louisiana Marathon and Half. 2012 might be your year to check Louisiana off the list.

  2. Laura says:

    What a great post! I’m so glad I was with you for your FAVORITE medal & for many of the delicious burgers. You talk a big game about travelling and reconnecting with friends… Can I start researching races in southern Africa? I found a good post-race burger in Nampula this week: a “Caju” burger with chicken, steak, paloney (which I skipped) an egg & delicious spices. Well, at least I know I’ll be checking in with you at the halfway point in September 🙂

    • herrsolera says:

      Haha, maybe once I’m done with the states I can focus on hitting up the seven continents. I do hope you run at least one race while you’re out there though. And if you do, I demand a full, detailed recap!

  3. run50states says:

    Hey! I really like the map that you have on your site and how you’ve tracked your half and full marathons!! I think that’s a great idea and have been trying to figure out a way to color a map like that for my running blog. Can you tell me how you colored the map online or what software you used? Many thanks!

    • herrsolera says:

      Thanks for visiting my site! I wish I had an easy answer for you, but I shade in that map with Photoshop. There’s probably a much easier way to do it, but I prefer total control.

      • run50states says:

        thanks for the advice! Right after I commented I had a lightbulb go off and tried something that had totally slipped my mind the past four days I’ve been trying to figure it out. I just found a website that I can color the states and than took a screen shot of my screen and saved it to my desktop than put it into my blog. worked like a charm! *don’t know why I didn’t think of that before! it’ll have to do until I can figure something else out. Thanks!

  4. How do you get around?! Fly or drive?! And do you make trips just to run in these other states?!

    • herrsolera says:

      If it’s under a five-hour drive from Chicago, I drive. Otherwise, I fly. So far there has only been one state (Mississippi) where I flew in exclusively to run, with no other plans. All others I’ve either brought friends along or met up with friends, thus turning the experience into a weekend getaway with a race thrown in for good measure.

      Moving forward though, because I don’t know people in every state, there will be several other races where I’ll fly in for a night, run, take a little bit of time to see the sights by myself, and head home. Thanks for asking!

  5. Elliot says:

    Wow, coolest running blog I’ve seen in a while. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  6. Wow, that’s some impressive racing you’ve been doing! I think it’s fantastic and after reading, I’m positive you’ll reach your 50 states goal before your 40th. (PS, that Flying Pig medal looks so good I might have to go get one myself one of these days!)

  7. Megan Wilson says:

    Love your graphics! And awesome job on the average times for Halfs. My ultimate goal is to try to get under 2 hours… that would be a miracle 😉

  8. Pingback: Race Schedule & Results « Dan's Marathon

  9. Pingback: End of Year Recap (2014) | Dan's Marathon

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