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50 by 50

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 11.01.57 PMAs a part of my marathon training, I was challenged to publicly post about my spring goal race. I do have a spring goal race, but I thought I would go ahead and extend the challenge a little bit to include my (slightly) bigger goal.

My spring goal race happens to be a part of my bigger goal, which is to run a marathon in each of the 50 United States by age 50. With that in mind, I have had to be very selective about where I chose to run an official marathon.

In September 2017, I ran my first marathon in Holland, Michigan. I met my goal and finished that first race with a Boston Qualifying time. Unfortunately, even though I “qualified” to run Boston, I was not “accepted” (it’s weird how it all works, I know). I planned to qualify again the following spring with a finish time of 3:05:00 in my second marathon, the Kentucky Derby Marathon. I was killing it through 12 miles, but then I began to cramp uncontrollably in my calves unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I was forced to slow my pace down to just around the threshold of cramping, and I kept running. I missed my goal by 10 minutes, and finished with a time of 03:15:00. During that second marathon, I seriously injured myself by running through the pain. #WorthIt!

It has been a long road of rehabbing and relearning how to run… and to run fast (well, my fast, anyway).

I tried to pretend that I was not injured, but the reality is that I couldn’t even put my pants on without cringing in pain. I could barely lift my right leg off of the ground. When I ran, I felt like my right leg was just dragging along behind me, and moving it at all sent a constant jolt of pain from my knee all the way up through my spine. This pain lasted for months.

I finally had to face the fact that I was injured. I tried to just take time off, and I took an entire month off from running. It didn’t help. The pain was so intense that it would wake me up in the middle of the night. After taking a full month off, I started running again, but I was depressed to find out how much stamina and speed I had lost.

Everything was so much harder than it used to be. It was like I was starting over. 

So… I started over. I started with some very slow (for me) 5ks, and eventually worked up to running a 10k. My first 10 mile run on my “new legs” felt like a death march… but I was making progress.

I went from 0 miles per week to almost 10 miles per week. Then 20… Then 30… I am currently averaging over 40 miles per week. In the last couple of weeks I have noticed myself getting stronger and I have been running with very minimal pain (mostly just experiencing low-grade pain in the first mile).

At the beginning of February, I ran 17 miles at an average pace of 8:06. It was hard, but I did it. The next week I ran 20 miles at an 8:20 pace. I was intentional about going slower and finishing stronger. The 20 mile run was actually not nearly as difficult as the 17 mile run I had finished the previous week. This past week I ran 16 strong miles at an average pace of 7:51 -and I felt great!

I feel like I am able to run again! After the Kentucky Derby Marathon, I wasn’t sure how I would ever be able to run a full marathon again. Now I know that I can.

I pushed my spring race out a little further because I wanted to have enough time to feel fully recovered. I want to run strong! At the same time, I want to run smart. My goal race for the spring is the “Nutmeg State Marathon” in Connecticut on May 17. It will be my third official marathon in my bigger goal of “50 by 50”. I plan to have a modest finish time of 03:30:00. I just want to run, have fun, and finish strong. Then I want to use that strong finish to move me towards a Boston Qualifying finish in the Pennsylvania Erie Marathon in September. A couple of weeks later I plan to run as a “Pacer” in the Akron Marathon in Ohio. By the end of 2019, at the age of 37, I hope to have 5 of my 50 marathons completed.

I plan to continue my march towards 50 states in early 2020 by running the Walt Disney World Marathon (Orlando, Florida) in January and finally running the Boston Marathon (Boston, Massachusetts) in April.

I plan to complete my “50 by 50” challenge by running 3-5 marathons each year. My hope is that I will be able to add several marathons to the front or back end of my ministry travel dates. (If you are a ministry or church leader and are looking for someone to sing, speak, or train in your area near the time of a marathon in your state… let me know!) Beyond that, we will continue to plan fun, family trips around specifically chosen marathons (like we are doing with the Connecticut marathon). And, in case you were wondering, the answer is yes. I will be wearing my G.O.S.P.E.L. shoes for each and every race.

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