Dr. J on Running

My 50 States in Numbers

21 December 2014

I ran my first marathon in 1997 at the Marine Corps in VA, and it took me 10 years to run my second in Rochester, NY in 2006 and third at Green Mountain, VT in 2007. With 3 marathons under my belt, I started my quest for the 50 states on 10/10/10 in Scranton, PA and completed it on 12/14/14 in College Station, TX.

My wife joined me at 12 marathons, and she ran several of them. My son joined me at 6 marathons, and my daughters joined me at 3 marathons each. My entire family gathered at only 2 marathons: my PR in 1997 in VA and my PW in 2012 in WV.

From my home in Pompey, NY, I traveled over 113,000 miles round trip to run 1,310 miles. I drove to 13 marathons and flew to 37. The closest marathon was 108 miles away in Rochester, NY, and the farthest was 4,881 miles away at the North Shore of Oahu, HI.

The longest recovery between two marathons was 9 years between VA and NY, and the shortest recovery was 7 days between Hatfield McCoy, KY, and Charlevoix, MI. My notable streaks included 8 marathons in 19 weeks over the summer of 2014, 14 marathons in 11 months in 2014, and 47 marathons in 50 months from October 2010 to December 2014.

I registered for 60 marathons. I DNS’ed (Did Not Start) 9 of them due to injuries and travel disruptions, and DNF’ed (Did Not Finish) 1 due to thunderstorms at Otter Creek, KY.

My Timex GPS measured my longest marathon at 26.65 miles in Hartford, CT and my shortest at 25.88 in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Since GPS watches tend to round-off by 1 to 2 percent, I consider Hartford a 27-mile ultra.

Only 3 courses were truly out-and-back, 16 were point-to-point, 5 were double loops and 26 were all over the map. Of the 16 point-to-point courses, Aspen Valley, CO, started at the highest elevation of 8,000 feet, but Crater Lake Rim Run, OR, had the largest net elevation drop of 1,600 feet. Only Missoula, MT, had a net elevation gain from 3,200 feet to 3,350 feet.

I ran my PR of 3:51 at the Marine Corps Marathon, VA, and walked my PW of 6:48 at the Freedom Run, WV, three months after breaking my 5th metatarsal. For the 50 marathons, mean time coincided with median time at 5:24.

Speaking of injuries, I suffered only 3 disruptive injuries in the past 5 years – a pulled calf after marathon #6, a broken foot after marathon #22, and a kidney stone three days before marathon #50. I did not consider chronic ITBS, plantar fasciitis, piriformis, SI joint inflammation or shoulder injury since they did not force the cancellation of any marathon.

I weighed 200 pounds before the start of the quest, and 150 pounds at the end of the quest. My GPS claimed that I burned about 3,500 calories per marathon, which translated into a 1-pound weight loss per marathon, so the math added up quite nicely. In the process, I went from 22 percent body fat to 14.5, 38-inch pant size to 32, and 42-inch shoulder width to 38. The 50 new race shirts gave me a new wardrobe.

Crater Lake, OR, had the smallest number of finishers at 96, and the 1997 Marine Corps was the largest at 13,929. The median number of finishers was 455 runners. Only 12 marathons had over 1,000 finishers.

The lowest bib number that I wore was #2 at Omaha, NE. I wore 3 bibs with a single digit, 4 bibs with two digits, 34 bibs with three digits, and 9 bibs with four digits.

Sundays accounted for 26 marathons, while I ran the remaining 24 races on Saturdays.

I received short-sleeve T-shirts at 25 marathons, long-sleeve T-shirts at 22, sweatshirts at 2 and a jacket at 1. Of these, 7 were finisher shirts, and 2 marathons - Oz, KS and BCS, TX - gave both registrant shirts and finisher shirts.

I received finisher medals at 49 marathons: Capital City Marathon in Olympia, WA, awarded a 4x4 finisher ceramic tile. Little Rock, AR, gave the largest medal, 7 inches in diameter and a pound-and-half in weight, while the Run for the Troops, IA, gave the smallest, a 1x2-in dog tag that weighed a quarter ounce. Of the 49 medals, 31 were round-ish in shape, and all but one were made of metal – the Crazy Horse, SD, medal was made of plaster.

My best finish was 85th at Crater Lake, OR, and my worst finish was 3,623 at Marine Corps, VA, which was also my best relative placing ahead of 74 percent of the field. My worst relative placing was at Charlevoix, MI, where I finished in the bottom 2 percent.

The highest entry fee that I paid was $113 for a race that I did not start. The lowest fee was $0 at BSC, TX, which refunded my entry as the first registrant from my state. Otherwise, IMS Arizona’s $39 was the lowest. The mean and median entry fees concurred at $75.

I ran 6,000 miles in the past five years that included the last 47 marathons, and I went through 20 pairs of running shoes. I wore New Balance 903 for the first 20 marathons, and New Balance Minimus Road MR10 for the last 27 marathons. New Balance stopped making both models.

Dr Kamal Jabbour is enjoying a long-awaited well-deserved break from running. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphins call.

© 2014 Dr Kamal Jabbour