If you stretch your vision just a bit, you can devise ways to add a little extra something-something to your overall running experience -- like trying to log miles in as many different states or countries as you can.
I was surprised and shocked at how understanding the guard was about my request. I can’t imagine this specific request had come up before. But the guard smiled and was about as accommodating as he possibly could be.
I had a lay-over in Colorado on a flight to and from Las Vegas two years ago. Colorado is one of the states in which I have not yet run any miles. My return flight to Philly had a two-and-a-half hour lay-over and if I could just figure out how to get outside of security AND get back in without a lot of muss or fuss, Colorado would be state #34. The guard instructed me how to get out, how to get back in, and even where to safely run six miles. PERFECT!
Unfortunately, it didn’t materialize. My return flight was delayed, shortening my lay-over (a dream for most travelers). And the Denver airport has no lockers – a result of the post 9-11 world security. I had nowhere to stash my small carry-on bag. That was one thing with which the guard could not offer me assistance. And I had even come dressed to run!
Since then, I have collected state #34 (Kentucky, in December 2012) but my travel has been curtailed here of late. I “own” at least six miles in every state on the East Coast except Maine. I also have multiple miles in the two states some would deem the hardest to collect: Alaska and Hawaii. I’ve raced in Alaska, Minnesota, Kentucky and Rhode Island. I’ve raced twice in Vermont but didn’t finish either time. I won’t be going back.
States in which I have only run once include South Carolina (10 miles) and Rhode Island (a 10k). I have no real idea how many miles I’ve run in New Hampshire, since all three times there was as a part of a 12-person, 200-mile relay team and who really knows how far my 3 a.m. relay legs were. I’ve also collected miles in the likes of Texas (64 miles), Nebraska (21 miles), Louisiana (80 miles) and Nevada (35 miles).
Should you think this obsession of mine is unique, I assure you it is not. Many runners I know love to collect similar “markers” (think of a dog marking his or her territory). It might be races in a beach series, it might be state parks, or it might even be as a part of the 50-state marathon club. I’m not aiming for the marathon club, but it is kinda cool to recall runs in places that are not “the norm” – the levee in New Orleans, the Saratoga Battlefield in New York and the Appalachian Trail that borders both Tennessee AND North Carolina (starting at 5,200 feet by the way).
Which state do I own the most miles in? Pennsylvania is the leader, with Delaware a distant second and Virginia not far behind DE. Maryland is fourth – thanks to frequent beach vacations and races.
I do own a few miles in three four other countries: Canada, Iceland, Bermuda and Aruba. But that’s about as far as my international experience goes. Oh, and Canada was a one-and-done run (12k). Someday I’d like to run in Kenya and maybe New Jersey. Oh… never mind. Been there and run there (Jersey, not Kenya).
There are lots of ways to keep your running from being mundane and uninteresting. Even the heartiest of runners can sometimes view running as a bit “un-novel.” But if you stretch your vision just a bit, I bet you can devise ways to add just a little extra something-something to your overall running experience. I mean, isn’t the purpose of running more than just… running?
My next trip anywhere near Colorado I will make it a point to get those requisite six miles in the books. But if my flight goes near Vermont, forget it.
Former Lock Haven University stand-out runner Andrew Shearer is the Middletown Athletic Club secretary/treasurer.