Vienna – Not Eating Chocolate Cake In A Bag

Made a lightning trip to Vienna,

Eating choc’late cake in a bag.

– The Ballad of John and Yoko

I love this song. I love the bounce of the song, the simplicity of the instrumentation, the fact that the only Beatles playing all the instruments on the recording are John and Paul. The only place I had not been to in the song was Vienna. I imagined eating a lush Sacher Torte, the sticky jam and rich frosting getting on my fingers as I break off each piece out of a pristine white wax paper bag with the Emperor’s sigil emblazoned upon it, walking the streets of Vienna, maybe headed to the opera. 

Unfortunately, eating chocolate cake out of a bag is not a cultural norm in Vienna. Most bakeries do not even carry chocolate cake (although they have many other delicious treats). Sacher Tortes seem to be mostly sold in fancy gift boxes for tourists except at the swankiest of of restaurants where I was quoted 12€ and would have needed to stand in line for a half hour.  As it turns out, John is referencing “Bagism”, a concept he and Yoko presented to the world (in Vienna) as an ultimate form of communication, that by placing ourselves in a bag, we expect others to focus on our message instead of our race, religion, physical abilities or other outward indicators. 

Needless to say, this was somewhat disappointing to me. I expected multiple vendors in public markets to have “Choc’late Cake In A Bag” stands. I expected to be covered in a slight hint of chocolate and apricot jam scent all week long. Instead I surprisingly got snow, sleet, and hail. The Viennese were also surprised as they had springtime weather before I arrived. I was labeled a harbinger of doom and had to settle for baked goods with other fillings. 

The Heights of the Alps, The Flatness of the Plains. 

My last week in Italy had some highs in low places and lows in high places and a continuance of an adaptation to life on the road. The two towns I visited, Riva del Garda and Alesandria, each had their own beauty, albeit one a little more dramatic than the other. 

The trip to Riva was a little crazy. I was supposed to meet my Dad and Stepmom at the Cruiseship docks in Venice, so I went to the port a half hour before the official docking time of 9 am just to be on the safe side. From the docks, we were going to get a rental car and drive up to Riva. This was one of the reasons I absolutely needed to have a cell phone in Italy, to connect with my father. Now whether because of the steel of the cruise ship or the fact that my dad rarely turns on his phone despite me getting him to promise it would be the first thing he did when he woke up, we didn’t connect and I kept getting sent to voicemail. Fun European fact – countries don’t have roaming agreements, so my Italian phone number calling Dad’s German phone number burned right through my credit just calling and leaving voicemails. Also, with heightened security, you’re not allowed in the port unless you have a ticket. So there I stood, searching every taxi driving by for my parents, outside the gates of the port, in the hot sun for over four hours. My parents in meantime, didn’t see me when they got off the ship and assumed my plans had changed, boarded a bus to the AIRPORT to pick up their rental car. They didn’t see me as they were leaving the port and I wasn’t even looking at busses.  

Right before noon, some crew members from my parent’s Costa ship were coming through the gate – not a good sign. Crew usually can’t disembark until the passengers have been cleared through customs. They confirmed that passengers disembarking were gone. At this point, I figured my sister would have been notified if there had been a medical emergency and she would have gotten me some information, so I figured I should make my way up to Lake Garda. After going back and forth between Venice train stations, I find the train which will get me 3/4 of the way where I then had to navigate local bus time tables (not provided). Ok! Right before I get on the train, my phone starts ringing. Hooray – in coming calls don’t seem to go against my nonexistent credit. My father’s photo “Secret Agent Man” starts ringing. 

“Hi Daddio, where are you?”

“At the airport! Where are you?”

“At the train station! Maybe you can come pick me up?”

Well, it’s not as easy to drive back into old Venice as I hoped. I already had the ticket so why don’t I meet them at the end point. Even though it takes a little longer by train, they haven’t eaten and my step mom’s blood sugar is always in question. I figure 2 1/2 more hours is a small price to pay for a missed connection. 

Fast forward 2 1/2 hours and my dad is not at the train station.I figure lunch probably took longer than expected. I can’t call him, but I have just enough data to text my sister and have her call him. However there is a 6 hour time difference and she is juggling my 2 and 4 year old nieces. My dad calls right after the last bus for the next 3 hours leaves the area. 

“I’m here at the station.”

“Oh shit. We couldn’t find the station, so we headed to our hotel.”

“…?!?!?”

“No worries – I’ll find my own way up into the mountains,” I may have said, many decibels above normal.

And so I had dinner at the McDonald’s across the way. McDonald’s and or Burger King seem to have bought every piece of real estate available near a bus station in Italy. And they are cheap (at least out in the sticks). I thought about the mess over high grade European fast food burger patties and espresso and a chocolate coronet. I had been “Hangry”. I had a banana that morning and now it it was 6pm. This never leads to great decisions or communication. Both my dad and I were working under technology assumptions – that I would have this awesome unlimited phone plan and my dad would have data on his phone (something that never ended up working, not only affecting communication but also his ability to navigate). One bad day. Time to reset and and make the next day great. 


Easily done around Lake Garda. The location is idyllic with breathtaking mountains surrounding a pristine clear lake. I had a great and flexible host. My dad and I were able to connect devices to wifi. We got some hiking in as planned. We had some wonderful Italian food and gelato. I got in a good run. My host took me to his period dance class where I leaned to do a couple fancy dances from the 1800’s.  A petty good time, even though it ended up being the culmination of a couple busy and stressful weeks. 


The comparison to the Easter weekend couldn’t have been more different. Many friends and complete strangers have asked “Why are you going to Alessandria?” This is not a big town or a UNESCO heritage site. It was exactly what I needed. I was traveling there to see hosts that I had stayed with 24 years ago while I was in a cast of Up With People. Although I lost their contact information in a flood 20 years ago, Franco and Francesca had tracked me down on Facebook a couple of years ago, wishing for a reunion. I couldn’t be traveling in Europe without saying hi. However, even they apologized for not having the time to leave their own city. “I wish we could make time to go to the coast or another big city you haven’t been to”. As if their city didn’t have enough to entertain me. I explained they were the sole reason I came and if we played cards in the basement all weekend long I would be just as happy. 

But Alesandria is in Italy and by nature, looks beautiful to me, with it’s old buildings and beautiful design and wide open shopping and eating districts. I had time to get in a couple of long runs and relax and get some work and correspondence done and we got a lot of time together, eating and telling stories, and watching photos. Clearly 24 years had past but there was still an amazing pride at having affected each other’s lives so long ago. After 3 weeks of mad, hectic dashes over the Italian countryside, I truly felt I got some rest and focus and energy from peope who continue to care for me – first my dad and then some friends that proved that time is an illusion to the heart. 

Hanging With The Cool Kids In Venice


Walking down the streets of Venice can be difficult at the best of times. Regular tourists, cruise ship passengers, vendors, beggars, school children, delivery men with hand carts piled twice their height all jostling for space on these crowded streets all seem to part way for the guy leading our pack. A cross between a WWF wrestler and ‘The Dude’, he clears a path not only with a loud “Ciao” and the occasional clasped hand but also his purposeful walk and intense stare. Following behind in her tattoo sleeves and Magenta hair is the better half of the dynamic duo, making sure the group sticks together, has time to take photos, pointing out occasional architectural oddities, making sure nobody is hitting the wine bottle too heavily. They are the masterminds behind Venice Bites Food Tours and if they are taking you on their #1 ranked food Tour in Venice, Italy, they are also your new best friends. 

Why am I writing about Adam and Maya Stonecastle when I’m in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? Because Adam and Maya are Venitians of the Heart. In the city of Love and Dreams, they are lovers and dreamers, both for themselves and for their city. Five years ago when they met online, Adam had a final line to his profile “I want to live in Europe.” Maya’s was much more specific “I want to live in Venice”. How many people put those sorts of comments in their profiles and then never move out of MiddleAmerica City, USA? However, these statements were deal breakers. After a quick trip when Maya introduced Venice to Adam (she has been coming to Venice for 20mmpmmm years), they returned for a month to see if this was possible – that two Americans (Maya does have Irish dual citizenship) could be accepted in this tight Italian, even more exclusive – Venetian, community. The resounding answer from all the locals they talked to was “YES!” 

The Venetians are excited to have people who are so enchanted and enamored with their city that they will drop everything and move there to be a part of it. Venice has a resident problem. The city loses 1500 people a year, the old and the young. One of the problems is that with it being such a huge tourist destination, it’s more lucrative to rent rooms on Air B&B per week than to residents on a lease for a month. Check out the 1000s of listings on Air B&B. Despite that challenge and still having two homes back in the states, Adam and Maya set a goal of moving to Venice in 8 months. Not just with some luggage. Oh no, they doubled down. They brought dogs. They shipped furniture. They ended careers. Just days before leaving they signed a lease, sight unseen, of their new apartment in Venice. With that, they’ve never looked back. 

Two and a half years and they are going strong. After a slow start, where they may have been second guessing their life choices, they finally accepted that they had a great product, that they were an amazing experience and started allowing reviews on sites like Trip Advisor. Things took off from there.  They now live a dream life in the City of Love, the envy of Expats everywhere. They are my new heroes and friends and if you are ever in Venice, take one of their tours your first day, so they can coach you on the finer points of the city they love. I took their tour and I’ve included  my review from Trip Advisor below. 

Venice Bites Food Tours

www.venicebitesfoodtours.com

818-303-9175


Trip Advisor Review

Where ever you go on this tour, you will see that all the locals know and treasure Maya and Adam. It’s the rare street you walk down without hearing “Ciao Adam!” or see a quick embrace with the kiss on each cheek for Maya. Your two tour guides are Venitians of the Heart, Americans still on their honeymoon with the city of their dreams – Venice. As such they take nothing for granted, showering you with beautiful views and local lore alike.


This is not a quick in and out, tagging only the biggest and most convenient. We visited 9 locations eating and drinking our way over two miles of the city in establishments stilled owned by families who have run these businesses for generations and continue to do so in a city being engulfed by corporate Disneyfication. A block a half from where you meet, you start off with “Coffee Corrected” with Grappa and a sweet Coronet, Italy’s answer to the Croissant. With this, and at every location, comes lessons in etiquette and cultural behavior which will serve you well at any of the establishments you visit during your stay. How to approach ordering, how to not get cursed out from the nonna’s for a lack of respect. A variety of establishments follow with an assortment of Venice’s little bites which define the drinking and eating community here. Most places have a variety of choices so even if you have allergies or foods you avoid, there is always something pleasing to the palate. All sourced local. All produced locally. A large sit down lunch which fortunately our group loved seafood because we had a phenomenal pasta with all the luxuries of the sea piled on top. Two dessert places – gelato (which locals consider more like a coffee break) and a pastry place. A final perfect people watching cafe on the grand canal with a “spritz” and a gorgeous view. 


Sure there are more generic, corporate tours that will hustle you in and out as a huge herd. Take this tour if you want to intimately have this city lovingly interpreted by two passionate Americans who have entwined their lives with the most romantic of cities.


Pretty Little Pictures of Firenze, Italia

Originally, this year’s European trip was supposed to be slow travel. I started off planning 12 countries over 8 months and was thinking it would be a leisurely slow roll through some of the most historic and majestic cities in the world.

Fast forward to me hustling along cobblestone streets with a 40 lbs back pack (yes dedicated readers, I got rid of 5 lbs of extra clothes this week) and a 15 lbs man purse slapping my leg and my hip while the strap somehow keeps unbuttoning my shirt. Hustle hustle hustle. 3 and a half days in a city isn’t enough time to soak, it’s hardly enough time to dip. It’s been a week and I am a little exhausted. Culture shock? Marathon? An added 25-30 miles of walking in a week?

As I said, three days in Florence is not enough time to enjoy one of the great cities of the world. A World Preservation site, every church, square, building, cornice, brick has a story that could be turned into a six part epic mini series. It is also the ideal tourist city. It feels like the landmarks are laid out like the smorgasbord you find at the city bars during Appertiva, the most amazing foodie Happy Hour on the planet. You buy one drink and a amazing array of food designed to get you to order another glass is yours, laid out like cities conquered by the Romans.


The photo at the top of the page was taken at Piazzale Michelangelo. You cannot take a bad picture from this scenic hill overlooking the entire old city. Point the camera in any direction, click, automatic living room material.  As you follow the street down the mountain, maybe not every street leads to redemption but most lead to churches and many lead to the Duomo. Any street with the dome centered in the center will probably win you that local photography contest. 

A note about the people, I thought the style was all in Milan, but is it possible to get tired of looking at beautiful people? Even though midday reached mid 70s, everybody dressed for the mornings low 50s which means they dressed for winter.  Ladies wearing full length wool coats or fur lined attic parkas. The men however wear 5 stylish layers – shirt, vest, sweater, suit coat, over coat. Commitment to style. Barbers were on every streets and very affordable. 

Don’t be surprised to be ignored in Florence. Despite Italians well earned reputation for hospitality, if they don’t know you, you are nothing. This means you need to be aggressive ordering at a counter or getting on a train. If you pause you lose, because I believe they truly don’t see you. No matter how you are dressed they have spotted you as a tourist from a mile away. 

Milan Marathon


Milan, you will now always hold a special place in my heart. My first marathon in Europe, a true spring race, romantic scenery, and a fight to the finish guarantees you a place in the memory books.

Italian hospitality is renowned the world over. When I wrote the race directors to let them know I would be racing and wanted the opportunity to volunteer before the race, a member of the race organization, Alessia Andretto personally reached out and made me feel welcome and answered questions, but demurred my assistance as a volunteer. When I was at the expo, I could see why. It was a huge expo showcasing sponsors, products, other races, charity organization, and a new Italian Track and Field School based in Milan. They had a ton of volunteers and although lines for bibs were a little long, they moved very quickly. With my lack of Italian language, I probably would have been in the way.

The best thing Alessia told me about was a local running group Urban Runners Milano. I had asked because I like to meet all kinds of runners and do a shakeout run before the race. As it turns out, this is the group that also provides the pacers for the race. When I stopped by the pacer booth, they were very excited that I had come all the way from the states and they were grateful about my excitement for 5:30 and 6:00 pacers.

On race morning I thought I had plenty of time before the race, but there was a delay on my metro line and security at the entrance was very tight. After coming out of the metro and walking a couple of blocks, we were routed back down into the subway tunnels and as we came out, volunteers were checking bibs and bracelets. That took much more time than anticipated, plus there was a huge line at the post race bag drop off. However, I got to my starting corral with plenty of time to meet all the pacers from the later times and snag a start line photo!

Milan is a beautiful city and you get to see a wide sampling of it. Some locals complained that you don’t get to see enough of the historic buildings, but I was pretty happy with my view, even if there was more of the modern architecture on display.it is also a very flat course with a small bridge towards the beginning and a small dip under an overpass later on. Also right before 35K there’s a foot bridge. The incline on all these Allred pretty inconsequential.

There were quite a few differences from many of the big American city marathons I’ve run. There were not a lot of spectators. Certainly people had their own support teams on the sidelines (especially the charities) and one of the sponsors – Huawei, had cheer teams with signs every 10k or so, but the city as a whole didn’t seem to care too much for the marathon. It was not unusual for locals and tourists to burst across the street right in front of runners. In one section, I thought some company may have paid runway models to walk across the the street, the long legged, lovely ladies were so prevalent and dismissive of the runners barreling down the street towards them. Clearly the crosswalks are the runways of the city. Runners are also strangely silent. I know that I am loud and obnoxious even for an American, but the Italian runners’ silent pursuit of excellence was a little disquieting. However, their personal graciousness is apparent throughout the race. Even at the best of time I run and walk during the race. I have never had so many people grab me by the hand or tag me on the shoulder while I was walking, encouraging me to join them. I may not have understood all they said but their meanings were clear. “Run with me”, “Let’s go”, “You can do this” translated easily with their gestures.it seems this year they were trying out music along the route. The performers were really good but their selections were a little less than inspiring. I don’t think the “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel is on anybody’s top 10 running playlist.

I did not have such a great race. Those who have been following me know I have had a less than stellar training cycle. I gained weight, missed milage targets, and suffered more than my usual aches and pains. I also got some blisters on my feet walking around the city in the days before. This seems like a small detail, but it snowballed. I went out too fast. My first hour was close to 5 1/2 miles when I had been training under 5. I lost the 5:30 pacers just after the 10K. On the plus side, the 6:00 pacers didn’t pass me until after the Half Marathon mark. By that point I was wiped and finished. My left leg had cramped up terrible at Mile 10 and it took about 15-20 minutes to unfreeze my leg (with some help from Hyland’s leg cramp tablets. Wow! They really worked and worked fast). During that time, my lower back started cramping and that never really went away. The only reason I didn’t quit at the next relay switch station was because I didn’t see where the dump bus was and was too ashamed to ask. I figured I could do another mile. Eventually the dump bus will pick me up. We’ll one mile led to 4 and once you hit 18 you are going to need to force me to quit. Then when I texted my host that I was going to be much later than expected he offered to walk back to me. Well now it was a challenge. However at 30K, the final pace van starts following me, literally on my heels. I just ignore him. When the road widens, he pulls up beside me and says “Bus” and points behind us. I say “Marathon Fin” and point ahead of me. He says a bunch of Italian I don’t understand. “Io capito” but I know what he means. But by this point we’re practically at Mile 20. He points at my bib. I start jogging. They will pry my race Bib from my cold dead hands is what I am thinking. My host finally catches up (back) to me. I tell him, if I stop now they’ll load me into the bus. So we keep moving. Enter the new love of my life, Grace. Grace catches up with us. She is the last of the relay and it’s her first race. She says “All the volunteers are gone.” I say, “That’s because they are closing the course.If you want to quit, the guys in the van behind us will take you to the finish line.” “I want to Finish!” She says. “THEN FOLLOW ME!”
We eventually crossed the finish line. They counted Grace’s time. My time is the same as the last person to cross but it’s other my name and I guarantee you there was nobody in front of me, so I’m thinking there might have been some chip screw up. Whether they count it or not, this was another race where I proved quitting is a choice. It was a choice I wanted to mentally make multiple times during this race, but my body wasn’t having any of it, so finally my mind got on board. I’m paying the price today. Both of my feet are shredded and bruised. Every muscle in my legs feels strained and my back doesn’t feel so great either. But that doesn’t compare to the sense of resilience and confidence that this finish gives me. I’m on my way to Florence.Look for photos on Facebook and Instagram.

Day 1 – Milan Italy


Sensory overload! Somehow I forgot about jet lag. I essentially got 6 hours of sleep over 2 days of travel and couldn’t understand why I have a massive headache and equal irritability. Still, stepping out into Milan is a breathtaking experience. Immediately you are surrounded by a mix of ancient and modern, in the same way many advertisements mix Italian with choice America English phrases. It can be jarring and magical. I have learned that just because I hear someone insert and English phrase in their sentence, it doesn’t mean they speak English. 


It is spring here and the grass is green and flowers are in bloom everywhere in stark contrast to the snowy residues of Mud season back home. Even with such beautiful temperatures, I see people bundled up, only taking off their heavier leather jackets at the full height of the sun. Nobody wears shorts here and I’m sure I would stand out more if I did. I am glad I brought a suit jacket because it is very common on men in both business and casual wear.


Although there is a great deal of material published in English and the language is apparent throughout everyday media. Less people speak the language than I would have expected, however those who do are always enthusiastic to converse and help me. All announcements are in Italian of course and as I stop by booths at the marathon expo, the panicked look of a dreamer who is naked in front of their high school math class flashes across people face. There is always a lot of excitement when you tell them you came from the states to run the marathon.

I am going running at 7pm with a local athletic group. People who have run with me know how I feel about running in the evening, but it should be a beautiful sunset with a group very dedicated to improving their runs and growing a supportive group. They are the folks providing pacers on Sunday and they have pacers for 5:30 and 6:00 so I am grateful for their support.

The Eastern Grand Tour

Phase 2 – Global Domination is under way. GloboRun is headed to Europe, in fact I am finishing this post in the Lisbon Airport, waiting for my shorter than expected layover to Milan. Why all the secrecy, why all the mystery about this trip? Mostly because it is nowhere near as well planned as my 50 state tour last year. The 50/50/50 theme was a cohesive package which tied everything up in a nice, neat package. Global domination won’t be quite so pretty. There are many holes in my schedule. I have marathons planed for Milan, Dubrovnik, Skopje, and possibly Kristianopel, half marathons in Venice, Bucharest, and  possibly Berlin and a 10k in Krakow. I plan on running and talking to runners where ever I go, talking about my dream of a year long coordinated, international marathon race series. I will also be catching up with some of my European Up With People family as well as my little sister from college who has been on mission in Poland for 7 (?) years, and if that wasn’t enough, I did receive a scholarship from Angloville for their TEFL program with three weeks of hands on teaching instruction in Poland, Czechia, and Hungary with a a total of over 240 hours of instruction – something that costs upwards of $5000 in the states and takes a whole semester to get the teaching hours in. Whew. I’m tired already. It could be the 50 lb ruck sack I decided would be my everything this trip as I travel from town to town mostly by bus and local transport.

Expect many little updates like these throughout the week. Sign up for my emails on this site and make sure you like GloboRun on Facebook and @derekzardus on Instagram.

This is a rough sketch of my trip. Please try to contact me before you surprise me in a city and whoops I decided to take a detour that week.

March 29         Milan, Italy

April 3              Florence, Italy

April 7              Venice, Italy

April 9              Riva del Garda, Italy

April 13            Allessandria, Italy

April 18            Ljubljana, Slovenia

April 21            Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

April 25           Dubrovnik, Croatia

May 1               Podgorica, Montenegro

May 4               Skopje, Macedonia

May 10             Bucharest, Romania

May 18             Kraków, Poland

May 22            Warsaw, Poland

May 27            Prague, Czechia

June 2              Berlin, Germany

June 9              Poznan, Poland

June 15            Budapest, Hungary

June 23-July 20 Norway, Denmark, Sweden
 

 

 

From $0 to $60 – Frugal Marathons

 

wp-1486424248902.jpg

Remember when you got into running because it was a low cost sport? All you needed was a pair of sneakers and nowadays some people run with bare feet! I already have feet, so I should be all set! $200 for Running Shoes, $80 for a Fuel Belt, $60 Compression Socks, $90 Compression Pants, $20 head band, $50 Sunglasses, $100 Wicking Wind Breaker, $40 Phone Case, $300 Running Watch, $60 Tribe Shirt, Gels and Glide and Sunscreen and Race Fees makes a Marathon Medal and a Banana priceless! We could all use a break on some race fees right?

There are many ways to lower race fees.  Joining a race organization like The 50 States Club or Marathon Maniacs will get you 10 or 20% off at some races.  Knowing where you want to race, you can sign up for notifications of sales or contests. Many races have extra special sales on the first day of registration or on their actual race day for the following year. Black Friday and holiday sales occur in the race world too. You can also buy race series at a discount. There’s other ways to lower or eliminate a race fee which we’ll cover in another article.

It has been argued that the race fee is a small price to pay in your over race weekend trip. Especially if you are traveling, you have your lodging, gas, flight, parking, restaurants, tolls, and other costs that dwarf your regular $100+ race fee. I do not expect people to plan a huge trip on the merits of these low cost marathons because some of them are out of the way, so time and money will add up quickly. However, some of these races may be in your back yard.  Maybe your sister or college roommate lives in one of these towns.  This list is for reference as a quick check.  There’s currently 4 FREE races on this list. Another 7 of the marathons are under $35.

Many of these races came from an informal poll taken in some online forums. Thank you to everybody who contributed! I did take the time to look up and link all of the races listed here. Some of these prices may have already expired. Look at the dates of the lowest price and save it in your calendar. This list will be updated if you leave comments, however the list will be updated faster if you include a link that shows the price. Only races that are $60 and under will be listed (not including taxes and fees). We needed to draw the line somewhere. If you are suggesting races in the notes PLEASE DO NOT LIST ONE DAY OR HOLIDAY SALES OR DISCOUNTS FOR AMBASSADORS OR ORGANIZATIONS. Prices should be as they appear on the most recent registration schedule for the race.

We are still looking for low cost options for 13 states, highlighted in red: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Alabama

Dizzy Fifties Trail Run 50k and 40&50 Miler – Huntsville, AL. $26 Early Entry

Alaska

King Salmon Marathon – Cordova, AK. $50 Marathon Early Entry

Arizona

SP Crater Marathon – Flagstaff, AZ. $35 Early Entry

Arizona Marathon – Glendale, AZ. $60 Early Entry

Arkansas

LoVit Trail Marathon – Mount Ida, AR. FREE!!!

Midsouth Marathon – Wynne, AR. $40

California

Charlie Alewine Racing – Long Beach, CA. $55 Multiple Races. 5th Race Free.

  • Colorado

Connecticut

Roxbury Marathon in Roxbury, CT.  $15

Oh Boy Marathon – Waterbury, CT. $50 Early Entry

  • Delaware

Florida

Florida Marathon – Melbourne, FL. $60 early entry

Georgia

Thrill in the Hills Trail Run – Winder, GA. $50 early entry

  • Hawaii

Idaho

Mesa Falls Marathon – Mesa Falls, ID. $60 Early Entry

Pocatello Marathon – Pocatello, ID. $60 Early Entry Special Rates first 3 days.

Illinois

Rockford Marathon-Rockford, IL. $50 ($25 for the first 200 entrants this year)

Indiana

Hayes Arboretum – Richmond, Indiana. $45 Early Entry.

Circular Logic Marathon – Lafayette, IN. $33 Early Entry

Veterans Marathon – Columbia City, IN. $50 Early Entry

Iowa

University of Okoboji Marathon – Arnolds Park, IA. $50

  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana

Maine

Millinocket Marathon & Half – Millinocket, ME. FREE!!!

Maryland

Seneca Greenway Creek Marathon & 50k  – Gaithersburg, MD. $35 Early Entry

George Washington Birthday Marathon – Greenbelt, MD. $50 Early Entry

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Trail Race – Falmouth, MA. $55 Early Entry

Michigan

First National Bank of Wakefield Marathon – Wakefield, MI. FREE!!!

Kal-Haven Trail Run 50K-Kalamazoo,MI. $50

Minnesota

Mankato Marathon –  Mankato, MN. $49 Early Entry

Run for the Lakes Marathon – Brainerd, MN. $55 Early Entry

Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon – Duluth, MN. $35 Early Entry

Mississippi

Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon – Gulfport, MS. $35 Early Entry

Missouri

Heart of America Marathon – Columbia, MO. $50

  • Montana

Nebraska

Nebraska State Fair Marathon – Grand Island, NE. $55

  • Nevada

New Hampshire

Ghost Train Trail Race (30,45,60,75, 90, 100 Miler) – Brookline, NH. $50

  • New Jersey

New Mexico

Sierra Vista Trail Runs 50K – Las Cruces, NM.$50 plus a used pair of shoes for donation.

Shiprock Marathon – Shiprock, NM. $50 Early Entry

New York

Presidential Inauguration International Marathon – East Meadow, NY. $25 Early Entry

Dick’s Greater Binghamton Marathon– Vestal, NY. $35 Early Entry

North Carolina

Tobacco Road Marathon – Cary, NC.$55 Early Entry

North Dakota

Harmon Lake Trail Festival -Bismarck, ND. $10 First 20 Entries. $50 Next 25. $60 Next 30.

Ohio

ORRRC Marathon – Xenia, OH. $35 Early Entry

  • Oklahoma

Oregon

Timberline Marathon – Timothy Lake, OR.$60 Early Entry

Pennsylvania

Naked Prussian Marathon and 50K – Leesport, PA. $35 Early Entry

Veteran’s Day Marathon – Indiana, PA.$26.20 Early Entry

Lt. J.C. Stone 50K – Pittsburgh, PA. $60 Early Entry

Rhode Island

Black Goose Marathon – Seekonk, MA. $45 Early Entry

South Carolina

Altamont Marathon – Travelers Rest, SC. $48 Early Entry

South Dakota

River Rat Marathon – Yankton, SD.$55 Early Entry

Brookings Marathon  – Brookings, SD.$55 Early Entry

Swan Lake Marathon – Viborg, SD. $55 Early Entry

  • Tennessee
  • Texas

Utah

Morgan Valley Marathon – Morgan, UT. $60 Early Entry

Logan View Marathon – Logan, UT. $55 Early Entry

  • Vermont

Virginia

Virginia Creeper Marathon – Abingdon, VA. $15

Washington

Green River Marathon – Kent, WA. FREE!!!

West Virginia

Barnum Rail Trail Marathon – Keyser, WV. $55 Early Entry. First 10 people take 50% off!

Wisconsin

Minocqua No Frills Marathon – Minocqua, WI. $45 Early Entry

  • Wyoming

 

 

Canada

Quebec
– “Marathon des Érables”, end of April, $57 (rural setting, maple taffee on snow on the course, approx. 30-40 minutes south-east of Montreal)
– “Marathon SSQ de Longueuil”, May, $46 (Montreal South Shore)
– “Marathon des pompiers de Laval”, June, $35 (Montreal North Shore)
– “Marathon de Rimouski”, early October, $38 (flat out-n-back along the St-Lawrence river, which is quite wide and beautiful up there, but 6h drive north of Montreal)
– “Marathon de Magog”, October, $50

 

 

50/50/50 – Done/Done/Done

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” – Steve Prefontaine

50 marathon routes in 50 states in 50 weeks. 25 marathon routes run by myself with limited support, no competitive edge, and no medal – just the self satisfaction the comes with completing a worthy task. Just over 34,000 miles driving around the country and 2 flights, one to Hawaii, one to Alaska have given me views of our country you couldn’t believe. I ran just under 1900 miles for the year, averaging a little more than 38 miles a week?  I feel great. I feel accomplished. I feel on top of the world.

Even with all these amazing experiences, I still get asked many of the same questions. I thought today I would address the most common things people ask.

1. How are your knees?

The #1 question every time. This is a persistent myth about running – running ruins the knees. I believe I have seriously disproven this (even if you want to ignore all the medical and scientific research that does so). Even overweight, even undertrained, even with poor form my knees, hips, and assorted running parts survived intact. That doesn’t mean I’m not tired and worn, but a couple weeks of recovery have worked wonders.

2. Seriously, how are you?

Sorry, I’ve answered the knees questions so many times it feels kinda fake. Really though, I’m good. I damaged both of my knee caps this year in stupid accidents (not from running). My feet are always a little sore. Certain parts of my body are stronger than ever. Other parts feel strained and weak. I’ve been really tired since I stopped running but that has gotten better over the last week.

3. What was your favorite race?

I maintain the two most beautiful marathons in America are Big Sur and MDI. The California coast has drama; the Maine coast has more consistent breathtaking views.

4. Who was your favorite host?

I could never pick a single host as my favorite. I’ve had so many amazing experiences with individual hosts – great runs, beautiful tours, rope dojos, moonlit kayaks, backyard barbecues.

5. Are you writing a book?

Yes. Tentatively titled 51 Lefts Make A Right, I plan to have the book published this year. I’m focusing on the lessons I learned this year and the stories that affected me most.

6. Are you going to keep running?

OF COURSE! The marathon is still my favorite distance, but I plan on spending some more time building strength and speed and I believe rest is a major component of that training. I expect to run 10-20 marathons in 2017.

7. How did you do it?

I just said I was going to do it and I did. I didn’t do it fast (though I got pretty fast for me at one point). It wasn’t perfect. I just put one foot in front of the other and didn’t quit. Sure, I run/walk. I stretched and did roller exercises. Ice baths were a key component for much of the year. I got massages. I was also supported by a ton of positive intentions and prayers and remote reiki. However, at the end of the day, I laced up my sneakers each weekend and didn’t stop until I was done.

8. What have you learned?

Read the book!!! Ok, #1 lesson – run the mile you are in. Be present and aware in that mile. Do your best in that mile. Accept the people and conditions in that mile.

9. What was your biggest surprise?

I will say the biggest surprise this year was when my friend and UWP Castmate Dan Hickey culled Karen Flint and Angel Alvarez into a mini cast reunion and cheered me on at the Atlantic City marathon. There were so many twists to the plot, I was left always guessing and it truly came as a huge surprise in the end.

10.What’s next?

Europe! I will be coordinating international race series all over the globe and first off will be across the pond. Updates will roll out soon!

Marathon Route #26: Run4Troops Marathon – Dubuque, IA

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Black Flag – The last thing a slow runner, any runner, wants to see during a race. “Extreme and Dangerous Conditions”, the Black Flag usually also denotes the cessation of the race as it did at the 2016 Vermont City Marathon (though not at 2016 Grandma’s Marathon, held a week earlier). This year, the majority of Black Flags and those mentioned above have been flown for excessive heat. After 103 degree temperatures the week before when I unofficially ran the route of the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, Kansas, I was not looking forward to running in such oppressive temperatures again. What would have been more frustrating would have been running for 4-6 hours only to be told that the race would not count due to cancellation. I brought these concerns to the Race Director of the Run4Troops Marathon in Dubuque, Iowa and she did not let me down.

Race Review

I want to start off by giving Race Director, Connie Hodge and her entire team a standing ovation for a job well done. She was at packet pickup the day before the race, enthusiastically greeting and conversing with runners and relay team captains and took the time to listen to my concerns about the heat and the possibility that the race could be cancelled. She reassured me that her team was already looking at additional ways of supporting the runners and ensuring a safe and enjoyable race. As a self proclaimed “military style” marathon, their website talks us about being prepared as runners since they would be providing limited support. However, her team went from 6 water stations noted on the course map to over 16 water stations on the trail. What an amazing show of support by local volunteers mustering to help. Not only was there additional water – it was COLD! Only at one of the water stations did I get “tepid” water. Many stations also had ice despite the heat. Truly, this was an amazing feat not really duplicated at other summer races I ran. This was also, by far, the best reception I have ever received from volunteers after crossing the the finish line. As a back of the pack runner, sometimes I consider it lucky at smaller races for somebody to even acknowledge my accomplishment. As soon as I crossed, multiple volunteers converged on me, removing my timing bracelet and placing a medal around my neck, placing ice bags on my head and neck, covering my shoulders with ice soaked towels, offering me cold water or electrolytes. I have never felt so appreciated and cared for as I did that day.

The course itself is a little on the boring side. You are essentially running a local trail from Dyersville to Dubuque in Iowa with exactly the sort of scenery you would expect to see – cornfields and forest. There are buses to get to the start line and from the finish line back to your car. You start at the Trailhead of the Heritage Trail in Dyersville.  You run along a paved road for a loop of a little over .75 of a mile before getting on the trail and heading down to Dubuque. After that you have a slight uphill climb for about 3 to 4 miles, this is also where you are most exposed to the sun as you run along lush corn fields. It is nice on a hot day to get those out of the way early in the day.Most of the rest of the race is set at a slight down hill where the only struggle appears at street crossings where the trail might sharply crest to meet the road and then drop back down to its previous level. There are some scenic little bridges that span the cricks and creeks and left over ruins from the days when the trains passed by with more local fare, but for the most part, this is a trail which invites introspection as you monitor your body and how it handles the heat of the day and the humidity that streams off of the trees. Although this is a trail, this is mostly like running on narrow, well packed, dirt road. Even when there is gravels, it is light, little stones that are comfortable to run on.

Lessons Learned

Earphones Block Out Sounds That Aren’t Only Dangerous to You:

About 8 miles in I came across a young lady who seemed to be really struggling.  What I first noticed was that her breathing was ragged and erratic, something I wouldn’t have noticed if I had had my earphones in. She was also weaving a bit and looked physically distressed, but otherwise looked kitted and physically prepared as a runner.  Turns out she had run the race twice before and approached the heat a little over confidently for the day’s heat.  She had a Camelback on but hadn’t really been drinking from it and hadn’t been taking advantage of the cold water at the rest stops.  I was glad that we started talking because when I started my walk cycle, she asked if she could join me.  I offered her cold water from my belt to pour on her head, and talked about fueling at the water stations. I’d like to think I saved her from a really bad afternoon after I heard her unspoken call for help.

Sweat Is The Same As Rain To My Shorts

I use BodyGlide for chaffing. I sweat throughout most races, but I feel like I have found the right balance for most races. On days like this, I sweat twice as much and I pour water on my head and neck to cool myself off. That liquid makes its way down to my shorts and washes away my lubrication.  I need to bring my own petroleum jelly on hot days like I do in the rain.  Even with support, I can’t count on even the medical stops to have lube – by the time I got to the medical tent they were out.  Another important tool in the utility belt.

Physical Review

Feeling pretty strong after trudging through two weeks of massive heat.  I had already taken the precaution of changing up my summer map by dodging north and south through the Midwest races, so I was looking forward to some cooler temperatures in Minnesota the next week.  The ice baths that I recently started doing were good for my muscles and joints and had the added benefit of cooling my system down and improving my circulation. My finishing time of 6:06:13 was only a little disappointing.  Once again, I felt strong in miles 20-24, but my pace didn’t match the positivity of my outlook. I was feeling my oats around mile 22 and passed a number of people slowing down at that point, but those final two miles were dense with a jungle like heat.  I feel like many of the lessons from the previous week got me through this course and I look forward to finishing such a race faster in the future.  Thanks again for following these posts, intrepid reader.  Next week I will writing about my greatest challenge of the year both mentally and physically.  I hope you’ll join me.  In the meantime, I always welcome your comments and questions.

event_alert_system