Running in all 50 states
When I travel, it's easy to get lazy and stay in that nice hotel bed instead of getting outside for an early morning run. So, to remedy that, I hereby start keeping track of runs of 10K or more in each state (that's a minimum of 6.2 miles), with the long-term goal of running in all 50.
And we start with a run I just completed in Topeka, Kansas.
1. Kansas. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012: Ran 9.2 miles, from Best Western Hotel on Fairlawn Road into downtown on 6th Street to Kansas State Capitol, then back on 10th Street. Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. Weather: Sunny & dry, light breeze, temps in 60s.
2. New York. Saturday, March 17, 2012: Ran 8.3 miles, from Holiday Inn in Liverpool through northern suburbs to Syracuse Airport, then back a different way. Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. Weather: Ridiculously unseasonable, sunny, dry, temps near 70.
3. California. Sunday, April 1, 2012: Ran 8.0 miles, more or less, from Howard Johnson's Express Inn in San Bruno north, then east to grounds of San Francisco International Airport, then south and west through Millbrae, then back north to hotel. Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes. Weather: Sunny, cool with brisk wind from northwest, temps upper 40s.
4. Maryland. Saturday, June 9, 2012: Ran 8.1 miles from Days Inn in Silver Spring, down Philadelphia and Maple to the Sligo Creek Trailway, which I then followed all the way to the Beltway; then across to Route 97 south and back under the Beltway for the trip home. Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes. Weather: Brutally hot mid-day sun, but slight breeze and lack of humidity saved it. Temps mid 90s.
5. Colorado. Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012: Ran 6.3 miles (just over the 10K minimum) from Days Inn on Tower Road near Denver Airport. Classic "unfinished grid" landscape, with complete neighborhoods next to completely empty lots. Headed south on Argonne Street, which turned into a dirt path for part of the way. Worked over to Dunkirk Street and got as far south as 53rd Street before feeling I'd reached turn-around time. Came back in part by cutting through undeveloped prairie land, complete with big anthills. Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Weather: Hot and dry, high 80s with bright afternoon sun. High altitude (5,200 feet) and lack of sleep prompted caution, so didn't push it too aggressively.
6. Missouri. Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012: In Nevada, Missouri (pronounced "Ne-VAY-duh"), ran 6.5 miles from America's Best Value Inn on East Austin Blvd.; eastbound into farmland, then north on "South 1800 Road" along the perimeter of Nevada Municipal Airport, then southwest on Route 54 back into town. Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. Weather: Nice, cool early morning, no breeze, a few high clouds, sun getting intense near the end. Temps 50s. Overall, felt pretty good; minimal issues with feet or either Achilles tendons.
7. Arkansas. Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012: This system really works because if it weren't for this 50-state quest, I would never have gotten up in the pre-dawn darkness and run for nearly two hours through the streets of Fayetteville, Ark. Starting at 4:53 a.m., headed downhill from University of Arkansas, through Dickson Street (past Waffle House, where gal who served me late supper at 10 p.m. was still on duty) and to the old town square, right through a live shot for the local TV news. Then all around darkened streets until returning at 6:43 a.m. So 1:50 to run 8.9 miles, and felt pretty good. Cool but not cold, sunlight coming in only the last 20 minutes or so.
8. Illinois. Monday, Oct. 8, 2012: A wool hat discarded by a Chicago Marathon runner on Sunday morning, followed the next day by a cool windy morning. It must be fate, so I had to get up and do a long run in downtown Chicago. Did a clockwise loop, starting from Embassy Suites on North State Street, out to the end of the Navy Pier, then south along the waterfront to the Museum of Natural History. From there, I headed west on Roosevelt, under the El and over Amtrak, then made a left on Canal and began heading back. Zigzagged through downtown at height of morning rush hour. Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes. Distance: 8.9 miles. (Long!)
9. New Hampshire. Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012: Ran the Manchester City (Half) Marathon today, 13.1 miles in about 2 hours and 30 minutes, an effort worthy of my home state. Nice bright day, temps about 40, but northwest winds so never really warmed up. Modified course from last time I ran it in 2007, seemed easier. Came away with really bad chafing (just like in Illinois, same shorts) and next morning really sore Achilles tendon. Exciting to join in because of so many refugees from NYC Marathon cancelled due to recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
10. Florida. Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013: Ran 7.3 miles around the suburban sprawl just north of Orlando's airport in the pre-dawn darkness, enough to bag the Sunshine State. Warm and nice (a big change from bitter cold New England), with temps in the low 60s. Clear skies above, but copious ground fog, adding a Stephen King atmosphere to the whole thing. No injuries or serious problems, although feet began their usual protest after about 6 miles. Finished 7.3 miles in 1 hour, 37 minutes, for net rate of 13:12 per mile.
11. Connecticut. Wednesday, March 13, 2013: Stopped in Windsor Locks next to Hartford-Springfield Airport and ran 8.1 miles through town streets and open countryside. Sunny but brisk afternoon; temps in the low 50s, sun playing hide-and-seek with clouds. McDonald's was home base; ran two miles to town center, saw Amtrak shuttle zip through. Then north and into the fields, thinking I was lost for awhile, but then back to Mickey D's on four-lane state highway. Slow but steady: 1 hour 49 minutes (partial walk the last mile), so net rate of 13:40 per mile.
12. Texas. Tuesday, April 16, 2013: Included a long run on a one-day business visit to Dallas/Forth Worth. Bad luck in that the only time I had was early afternoon, when temps were in the high 80s and the sun was withering. Had to keep stopping for water at convenience stores, etc. Good news: saw Trinity Regional Express passenger train along Rock Island Road. Finished 7.5 miles in 1 hour, 50 minutes; net time of 14:36, due to several stretches where I had to walk for safety.
13. Ohio. Friday, May 3, 2013: A silent film performance at the Carnegie Center gave me the chance to run in Cincinnati, which I did the next day. Great run that took me on a long loop through several distinct parts of town. Unfortunately, it had to be done during the hottest part of a warmer-than-normal day, prompting the first time where I was charged for water. (Actually, 35 cents for the cup.) Tough run: 8.3 miles in 1 hour, 47 minutes, or a 12:54 pace. Slow, but included a couple of stretches of walking.
14. West Virginia. Sunday, May 5, 2013: A very satisfying early-morning run on the way drive back to N.H. from Ohio. Out before dawn, through downtown Wheeling (startling a guy carrying his laundry across the street) then up along the Ohio River on Route 2 to the Warwood area, then back. Cool, satisfying, lots to look at in town and country. Last-minute decision to go as far as the McDonald's sign made the run just barely long enough to qualify. Distance: 6.4 miles. Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, or 12:30 miles. Felt good only two days after long Ohio run.
15. North Carolina. Tuesday, May 14, 2013: A one-day visit to Charlotte (nickname: "The Queen City," just like Cincinnati, Ohio and Manchester, N.H., the sites of two other runs) provided a chance to get in a very satisfying and lengthy run in the suburban area south of downtown. Sunny but cool, a few moderate hills with no shade, but didn't have to stop. Did 8.2 miles in 1 hour, 45 minutes, for a pace of 12:48. Still slow!
16. Virginia. Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013: Murderously hot afternoon run in suburbs of Richmond, Va. Starting from Comfort Inn on Airport Square Lane, headed north on Oakleys Lane (no sidewalks), then left on Pleasant St. (where the clouds dissipated and I began to roast), then left on Nine Mile Road, all plaza and parking lots. Saved from broiling only by water at McDonalds. Finally left on South Ladburnum Ave., where pharmacy clock said 97 degrees, then back to hotel. Distance: 6.3 miles in 1 hour, 35 minutes, or a pace of 14:24. quite slow, but not bad considering hot day, lack of recent training, and very old running shoes.
17. Pennsylvania. Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015: Mild December morning enabled long loop through the streets of Coraopolis, Penn., in rolling country between Pittburgh International Airport and the Ohio River. Cool and damp, perfect for the up-and-down route i mapped out along Thorn Run Road to downtown Coraopolis, then back via Maple and Coraopolis Heights Road. One miscalculation: the extremely steep drop down to the river and then murderous climb back out. Got stuck on Main Street and asked postman where Maple was; had to run along cemetery to find it. Distance: 6.9 miles in 1 hour, 31 minutes, for pace of 13:12.
18. Kentucky. Friday, Dec. 11, 2015: Continued mild weather prompted long loop through urban landscape just south of Cincinnati. Two bridges over Licking River brought me in and out of Newport; rest of run in pleasantly old-fashioned Covington. Few grades, very pleasant run, looped down to Meinken Park then back up Madison Avenue and through downtown, which looks like North Topeka on steroids. Distance: 7.5 miles in 1 hour, 45 minutes, for slow pace of 14:00 per mile. Must have been fatigued by back-to-back runs.
19. Vermont. Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016: Mild day allowed for impromptu run in North Bennington, Vt. while traveling back from N.Y. Drove route of 8.0 miles, too long, so cut back without measuring and hoped for the best. Loop up by Bennington Depot, along Vermont Railway to Shaftsbury, then down 7A to Overlea Road, then other streets around Bennington College (with monument visible in distance) and back to start. Overcast, just over 40, with cool air coming off snowpack but still nice enough just for shorts. Later found route to be 6.6 miles, done in 1 hour and 22 minutes, meaning 12:25 pace per mile.
20. Nebraska. Friday, Feb. 26, 2016: Cold early morning as I hopped across the border from Kansas to run in Falls City, Nebraska. Navigated a figure eight loop of 6.3 miles around this small town. Total time: 1 hour and 19 minutes, meaning page of 11:40 per mile, more or less. Would not have made the minimum distance of 6.2 miles if not for detour to check out town's main commercial street and also down a road to see a Union Pacific freight rumble over a grade crossing.
21. Rhode Island. Thursday, March 31, 2016: Unseasonably mild weather plus a business trip to Rhode Island provided the chance to keep the streak alive, but just in time. Ran a loop of 6.3 miles in rural area pierced by Amtrak's high-speed Northeast Corridor line, where the trains run at 150 mph, the fastest in the nation. Took 1 hour, 28 minutes, meanings slow pace of just under 14 minutes per mile. But then I haven't been training very regularly, either.
22. Massachusetts. Saturday, April 23, 2016: Used the Bay State's proximity to keep the streak alive with a glorious 7.8 mile-run along the Charles River Esplanade, from the Museum of Science all the way to Harvard University and back. Unfortunately, I returned to my parking spot off Kenmore Square to find my car had been broken into, and then the cops had had it towed! Lost wallet, cell phone, business checkbook, and some other things. Whoever did it went right to Macy's, which declined the credit card they tried; I've since cancelled or changed everything. Had to walk 1.6 miles to police station, but then got driven way out to Brighton to pick up car ($129 fee!), which was driveable despite a missing passenger side window. Back to the run: Left at 4:05 p.m., got back at about 5:45, meaning a pace of of 12:49. It really was a great run, despite the way it ended. No one was hurt, anyway.
23. Nevada. Friday, May 6, 2016: A quick visit to San Francisco provided the chance to bomb out to Reno, Nevada in I-80 to squeeze in a run and claim another state. Ran through grid of residential streets in Sparks, Nevada, just northeast of Reno itself, primarily east-west on York Way and Greenbrae Drive. Great weather: mid-60s, scattered clouds, no wind at first, but things picked up and clouds rolled in toward the late afternoon. Distance was 7.4 miles; time was 1 hour, 49 minutes, meaning a pace of just over 12 minutes, not bad. Really felt sore for the last mile but otherwise did okay and recovered quickly. Notable local site: rows of video slot machines in 7-11. So that's now six months in a row that I've been able to claim a new state. Hoping to keep the streak alive...
24. Delaware, Thursday, June 16, 2016. On my way the annual Mostly Lost film identification workshop at the Library of Congress, and squeezed in a 6.6-mile run through the suburbs and stylish downtown of Dover, Delaware, putting me one state short of the half-way point and keeping the streak alive at seven consecutive months. Used CVS on Saulsbury Ave. as base of operations; headed north, then did wide figure eight across wide area. Time: 98 minutes, or a pace of 14:50 per mile. Slow! But could have been worse if the weather wasn't overcast. Was raining upon arrival but then it held off for most of the run. Route highlighted by upscale area of nice 19th century homes on North State Street and somewhat intact colonial downtown.
25. New Jersey, Saturday, July 2, 2016. Swung down to New Jersey to keep the once-a-month streak alive. Perfect summer weather: warm and dry, sun and clouds, strong breeze off the Hackensnsack River, which smells like basil at low tide. Circumnavigated the community counter-clockwise south of Route 440, running 7.1 miles in 1 hour and 43 minutes, or a pace of 14:30. Bayonne looks a lot like Kinsley Street in Nashua, on a much larger scale. While searching for an entrance to the Hackensack Riverwalk, came across a family on a side street that had just gotten a new puppy. Young child let go of leash, and puppy darted in front of an oncoming car. Yours truly was in just the right place to stop the vehicle, thank you very much! With with New Jersey, I'm half-way there!
26. Wisconsin, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. The monthly streak continued via a single-day swing out to Milwaukee, where a completely quadratic 7.1-mile run around the perimeters of Mitchell Airport was completed in exactly 90 minutes. Flat, and sidewalks virtually the entire way: amazing! Hot but not bad for August; dry, in the 80s but with puffy clouds and a SW breeze making it bearable. Stopped at about Mile 5 by 121-car U.P. freight barreling across College Avenue. Left Clarion Hotel at 12:35 p.m., returned at 2:05 p.m., for net pace of 12:40 per mile. Route included two underpasses beneath active runways and taxiways of expanded airport, but little mid-day plane action.
27. Maine, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. With rain looming for the rest of the week and the month running out, I played the Maine card, using the last "close by" state to keep the monthly streak alive. This was done in the form of a 6.6-mile circuit from downtown Ogunquit out into the backroads and then looping back to civilization. Route took me from Main Street due west on Berwick Street, out and over Interstate 95/the Maine Turnpike, then south on North Village Road until hitting Clay Hill Road. Then a left and back over I-95 until emerging onto Route 1 south of town. Final return to downtown Ogunquit marred by clueless driver not aware that pedestrians have the right of way. Fine early fall day, cool and sunny, with great road surfaces, so thought I did better than 1:33, or a pace of just over 14 minutes per mile. Guess I'm not 22 anymore!
28. Michigan, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. Ran 6.8 miles through industrial parks and suburban neighborhoods adjacent to Detroit/Wayne County International Airport to claim State #28 and to keep the monthly streak alive. (It's now up to 11.) Rather warm for late October, about 70, but with dry air and a nice breeze, not a problem. Surprisingly, about one third of the route I picked had sidewalks. Highlight: most of the run offered fine views of aircraft on final approach. Lowlight: double-tracked Norfolk Southern line was quiet throughout the run. Began at 1:34 p.m., finished at 3:09 p.m., meaning a 13:54 pace. Gad, I'm slow.
29. Oregon, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Election Day began at 3 a.m. with a 7-mile run through dark and quiet streets of Portland Southeast prior to catching a 6 a.m. flight back east. Time was 1:25, meaning a fast pace of 12:10 per mile. Ideal conditions: flat, well-lit, perfect temp (cool but not cold), with light breeze at my back for last three miles. Almost didn't happen due to ankle soreness from 8-mile hike on Sunday, but waited until last minute to give time to heal. Only hurt during final mile. Only company was garbage truck following me from client to client. Route was basically out SE Stark St. from 100th to 162nd Ave., then back along E Burnside St. with its tram line active at 4 a.m.! Milestone: This completes one full year of running in a new start each month.
30. Tennessee, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ran 6.2 miles on a wet and windy December afternoon in the rolling hills near Nashville International Airport. Hotel Preston as base camp; ran loop with several serious inclines through suburban neighborhoods and commercial development. Lacking sidewalk for part of the way, but not too bad. Route: down Karen, then up steep hill on Patricia, right onto Massman to Elm Hill Pike, which had another major hill to Norfolk Southern railroad crossing. Then south to long stretch on U.S. 41 to Thompson Place and then up two more really steep hills to Patricia and then back. Time: 1:35, or pace of 15:19, not bad for non-level route. Great December temps for running. Finished strong up last hill on Karen Drive. Distinguishing characteristic: people standing in bus shelters smoking, plus ethnic restaurants on U.S. 41.
31: Iowa, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Unseasonably warm temps inspired a 6.6-mile run along the east bank of the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers in Sioux City, Iowa. Took it slow after cardiac scare in London the week before, but all went fine. Time: 90 minutes, or pace of 13.38. Slow, as I'm also suffering from a sinus infection. Great riverside trail system but access hampered by I-29 construction, so had to search out a path to reach. Once found, well-maintained path through narrow strip between river and highway. Lewis & Clark went right through here. Interesting fact: opposite bank of Missouri is Nebraska, and opposite bank of Big Sioux is a little strip of South Dakota, making three states visible for much of the route. Sad news: monthly string was broken by nothing in January due to busy schedule plus illness. Starting again!
32. Indiana, Thursday, March 2, 2017. On the way to Cincinnati, took a detour across the state line to Richmond, Ind., a town on U.S. Route 40 (the old "National Road") to bag the Hoosier State. Parked at a park in downtown, where police and fire sirens seem to blare constantly. Ran a big rectangle: down Route 27, then east on L Street/Hodgin Street out to 37th, then west on Bsckmeyer/E Street and back. 6.2 miles in 1 hour, 20 minutes for a pace of 12:54. Rolling hills with setting varied from old inner city blocks to open country; cold west wind brought clouds and snow squalls, including severe one near mile 5 with horizontal blowing snow getting in my eyes. Not the most pleasant run in this series.
33. Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Best. Run. Ever. Time: 1:34. Distance: 7.1 miles. Pace: 13:14. But none of that was the reason. What made it the best run ever was the route: a big loop completely around Boeing Field, the airport just south of Seattle, original home to the Boeing Co. and still an active airport and Boeing production site. The airport is bordered on one site by the busy BSNF main line into Seattle; within 10 minutes, a southbound "Cascades" passenger train screamed by, and then the prototype Boeing 787-10, which made its maiden flight just five weeks ago, came in for a landing directly over my head. This went on the whole time, culminating in running by the original wood-frame Boeing factory (preserved on Marginal Way as part of the Museum of Flight) and the giant open air hanger housing the original 747, the 707 that served as Air Force One from Kennedy to Reagan (and which Nixon flew to China on), and a British Airways Concorde on loan. Wow! Perfect weather: mid-70s and sunny/breezy, then clouds moving for the second half.
34. Oklahoma, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Time: 2:00. Distance: 9.3 miles. Pace: 13:03. Early morning ramble through older industrial areas and marginal neighborhoods of northeast Tulsa, a bigger city than you think. Perfect weather for a long run: cool, overcast, with intermittent Prairie wind. Highlights include long stretch on Dawson Ave. paralleling BNSF main line (but no action); also large companies devoted to brick-making, steel fabrication, and pipe-bending. (One company yard totally took over Dawson Street, forcing me to detour along tracks.) Many loose dogs but no trouble; one very scary underpass with no drainage that was flooded by accumulated water. New stretching routine has improved knee endurance, but after run felt very sore in left Achilles. Need to work on that! Personal note: coincidentally, Jon Greenberg (formerly of NHPR) and Politifact are in Tulsa on outreach; tried to connect so that my run could be fact-checked, but no dice.
35. New Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. Time: 1:28. Distance: 6.4 miles. Pace: 13.45. Pre-dawn circuit around Albuquerque, covering downtown and the University of New Mexico to the east, including a long stretch of the original Route 66 (now Central Avenue) through town. A tad cool (mid 40s) but no wind made it bearable. Great sidewalks and street detailing, although highest curbs I've ever seen: some came up almost to my knee! Strange that so many streetlights weren't working, although it might have been because of new fixed-route bus line being installed through area. Central Ave. showed its Route 66 vibe most strongly east of the University, with lots of roadside funk. (Lots of tattoo parlors, too.) Down Los Lomas Boulevard to Second Street, then long (and gradual uphill) up Central Avenue out to Carlisle, then back on Campus Boulevard and Los Lomas Road. Last stretch through residential neighborhoods with almost no lawns: all desert garden landscaping.
36. Arizona, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Time: 1:50. Distance: 7.7 miles. Pace: 14:17. A pre-dawn run probably gave me the wrong impression of Phoenix: it was cool (in the low 60s), and much of the flat-as-a-pancake landscape west of Sky Harbor International Airport was filled with a post-apocalyptic mix of industrial pipe storage yards, drainage ditches, and vacant lots. But with bike paths and a streetcar line! Thus the paradox of a city in an inhospitable desert: wonderfully landscaped streetscapes along large empty blocks, but dirt paths along developed properties. Adding to the weirdness was low Interstate highway numbers (I-10 and I-17) and high exit numbers: Exit 148 instead of, say, Exit 3. Headed west at first, chasing a setting full moon as it fell from high in the sky to nothing more impressive than a Denny's sign as it sank into the gloaming; then ran into growing daylight on my way back to the Econolodge on East Van Buren. Went right by Chase Stadium, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, an immense and fully enclosed facility worlds away from rickety Fenway Park in Boston. Scared by one guard dog, and had to negotiate flocks of chickens roaming residential streets near the end. God, what can this place be like when it hits 120?
37. Utah, Saturday, May 5, 2018. Time: 1.35. Distance: 6.6 miles. Pace: 14.18. Sparkling morning with dry air, cool temps, and the sun just poking over the eastern snow-capped peaks to light up the western snow-capped peaks. Ran in the industrial flatlands west of the city, mostly on "5600 West," which took me over Interstate 80 (linking New York City with San Francisco) and as far south as the Union Pacific main line and the throat of an enormous transloading yard. Hotel area was brand new America, with grassy medians and bike lands and ponds filled with geese. But the main road was pedestrian unfriendly, with little to no breakdown lane and strewn with random industrial junk: a mangled grappling hook, a bent skid plate, pieces of an auto bumper. Saving grace: virtually no traffic early on a Saturday morning. Salt Lake City itself shimmered in the distance, as well as it might. And so one more piece of the Inter-Mountain West gets filled in.
38. South Dakota, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. Time: 1.25. Distance: 6.2 miles. Pace: 13.42. Hot but dry: 90 degrees on the rental car dash as I headed up Route 105 in North Sioux City, South Dakota to bag another state. In nearby Sioux City, Iowa for music gig so dashed across the border for evening run. Dry but no wind and no shade, so near my tolerance level until sun began to close in on the horizon. Once Route 501 leaves town, there's little on the road, but you're accompanied by a BSNF freight line and the thrum of Interstate 29 nearby. Only adventure was passing an isolated ranch house with dogs barking; a short while later, something prompted me to turn around and there was a Scottish terrier trotting behind me, not too happy with my presence. I told him to go home and he did, but only when the first truck in 15 minutes is barreling down the road right at us! Made sure he got safely across. Frustrating note: last month I was supposed to get Minnesota, and on this trip I was supposed to get Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana as well as South Dakota. None of that happened due to changes in my non-running life, but at least I have South Dakota. Total of 12 more states to go.