Running The Empire

50 States For Sole is up and running!

The Empire State has been added to my list of states that have been run and done.


7 states down ~ only 43 more to go.

It’s funny to have run 21 Marathons in my life…but to only have 7 of them count towards my mission to run 26.2 miles in every state for Girls With Sole. I suppose that’s the price you pay for running so many marathons close to home, and in the same state.  Oh well, that’s what makes this a challenge and an adventure.

My body is well trained, but I’m not kidding myself – 50 States For Sole will put my mind, body and soul to the test- and it won’t be easy.  I would be lying if I said that this goal didn’t scare me a little or feel a bit daunting.  But the aching muscles, fatigued feet, and buckets of sweat (hoping for no blood or tears)  are nothing compared to what some of my girls (and I) have been through in our lives, and are well worth it if pushing through the tough stuff on each race course can help me further Girls With Sole’s reach.

A peek into my crazy mind might be fun- and possibly a little scary- so I thought that since Halloween is only a few days away, something scary would be quite timely.   The method to my madness with this mission looks a little something like this:  The goal is to complete 50 States For Sole in the next 5 years….by the time I’m 50.  By that time, Girls With Sole also plans to be a national organization…or at least very close to it.

If you would like to take part in this adventurous mission that can help empower more girls to  “Lace Up for a Lifetime of Achievement” please pick a race, fund-raise and run with me! I will be running Full Marathons in every state, but folks who join in on the fun can opt for Half Marathons or Full.  All are welcome to help raise funds and awareness for Girls With Sole!

If you simply plan on reading about this mission on our Blog…that’s great too….but ya better get used to hearing about “Tattoo Liz” right from the start.  Tattoo Liz isn’t my alter-ego, but she is a good friend who has committed to running as many of the 50 States with me as possible.

She has already completed the Akron Marathon and the Empire State Marathon with me – and we are just about equally matched when it comes to our levels of crazy.  We have a lot in common and even share the same name. Since we are both named Liz…..and since she has upwards of around 9 or 10 tattoos, and I only have one tattoo….some mutual friends of ours decided long ago that a good way to differentiate us is to refer to me as Liz and to her as Tattoo Liz.  It works, and it stuck…so there you go. Tattoo and I left Cleveland in the morning on October 19th to head to the land of crazy Indian names like Cheektowaga and Onondaga. I was used to these names, since I grew up in Rochester, NY and the name of my hometown is West Irondequoit. Our first pee stop was in Pennsylvania…Presque Isle to be exact. Tattoo and I also share in common the fact that our bladders are pea-sized and can hold about a thimble full of liquid. We tend to pull over at rest stops quite a bit. I have no idea why, but I’m enthralled with Amish people. I find them so intriguing and often giggle to myself as I try to figure out just how quickly I would have been shunned, had I been adopted into an Amish family as opposed to the folks that made me part of their family when I was two. I don’t know if Amish people adopt. My guess is that they don’t…but whatever…I think about it regardless. I know it’s a world I would have never fit into. I found it hard enough to fit into the non-Amish “English” world.

Tattoo and I stepped out of the Presque Isle version of the Simpson’s Kwik-E Mart with snacks in hand and relieved bladders, just as a large white van pulled up in the parking space next to my car. The door slid open and a good-looking young Amish man got out with a little girl who looked to be around two or three years old. She was adorable, and of course, I told him so. He was happy to engage us in conversation as two women and what seemed to be a clown car full of children stepped out of the van and created what seemed like a procession into the gas station store.  I asked the guy, “How many kids do you have in there?!” He laughed and said that he was travelling with his wife and kids, as well as his brother, sister-in-law and their kids. Between them they had seven children, the oldest of which looked to be about seven years old. We finished up our chat, although it seemed he would have stood there and talked to us all day. His brother, on the other hand, sat in the van and stared at us with a creepy smile.

We smiled as we pulled away and continued East on our journey to Syracuse and our pursuit to find the race expo so we could get our race packets before checking into the Maplewood Inn Suites in Liverpool, NY .

The day before any marathon is a miscellaneous collection of activities and emotions ~ a grab bag, if you will, from which you must decide the what, when, where, why and how. This includes (but isn’t limited to) logistics of hotel, race expo, and race day; dinner; pre-race nerves; pre-race clothing decisions; what to eat in the morning; where will morning coffee and toilets be located – and a myriad of other details, large and small.

One of these details being the task of killing time until it’s time to try to go sleep.  I don’t know what I have a harder time with…falling asleep the night before the race… or getting up at the ungodly hour necessary to do the race. Jury is still out on that one.  But I do know it can sometimes be quite a challenge to kill time in a strange town the night before a marathon.

I also know that once I’m out on the race course I’ll completely forget about any of the little things that bothered me on the way there.

The joy of running, and doing it for Girls With Sole, takes over and the irritations and discomforts evaporate.

I thrive on the positive spirit and energy I draw from the race and the other runners. It oozes through me and infects me with joy.  When darkness tries to take over my mind and the miles begin to take their toll on my body, I use that joy to reinforce my spirit of unbreakable determination to reach the Finish Line.

It’s a destiny. And wouldn’t you know it…so is the mall in Syracuse where Tattoo and I decide to kill some time on the night before the race. “Destiny USA” is a booming mall in Syracuse located about a block away from the start and finish area of the Empire State Marathon.  The first thing I noticed about it as we pulled into the parking lot was the huge Merry Go Round in the upper-level window.  I’m drawn to Merry Go Rounds like a runner to a Port-O-Pottie before the start of a race.

As a kid I loved them all, but was especially fond of those that included the added challenge of reaching for the gold ring. Everything about the Merry Go Round had its own brand of excitement. I liked waiting in line anxiously for the rope to be dropped so I could run up onto the carousel and quickly pick the perfect horse or animal to ride. It was an added bonus when the one I got didn’t stay static, but also went up and down as we twirled around in circles and I waved ecstatically at my father each time I passed him and saw that he was smiling and looking up at me.

Getting the gold ring every time I passed it was very serious business for me back then. It was a goal I set for myself that gave me a special thrill of accomplishment and achievement every time I reached it.  Even as a kid, I loved the “finish line feeling”.

Well, by the time Tattoo and I reached the Merry Go Round…it was like Wally World…closed.  (Sorry folks, but the moose out front should have told me.)  But, much like Clark Griswold, I’m not easily deterred, and decided to ride the display horse in the middle of the mall while waving my invisible lasso overhead.  We laughed so hard that tears streamed down both of our faces.

Oh the things we do to entertain ourselves before the movie starts, while killing time on the night before the race.

Tattoo and I walked out of the mall after the emotionally charged  movie Captain Phillips (I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.) to a dark, windy, cold and rainy night. Thoughts of race day reality reared it’s soggy head, as we began to wonder just how miserable it would be to run 26.2 miles with 23 mile per hour winds in the rain and cold. You never sign up for the race thinking that the weather will be horrendous. The pictures on the race website are always bright and shiny with nary a garbage bag donned runner in sight.   No matter what the day brings we know we will make it through. (But I’ll be honest…I never hope to me more uncomfortable than I have to be.)

Way too early the next morning, we woke up to windy and slightly cold weather – but no rain! Our coffee, potty and morning bagels were all conveniently located in one place en route to the starting line at Tim Hortons, where we sipped our coffee in the nervous and jittery way of spastic runners before a marathon.  We watched as a few runners came in to the restaurant to use our bathroom…but not as many as one would think- causing us to consider the fact that the race was pretty small with fewer runners that we were used to in other marathons we have done.  Since both Tattoo and I have the navigational skills of a headless running chicken, we considered the fact that we might get lost on the course with runners too few and far between to follow.  Another factor that we wouldn’t waste energy on unless we had to, we put it out of our minds and hoped for the best….and we got it!

Aside from how badly my body ached at the end of the race, I have absolutely no complaints about the Empire State Marathon! The start of the race was chilly but fun, complete with a dance troupe performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I knew it would be a happy day when just before the starting gun went off, I got to pet a matching set of tall and gorgeous Irish Wolf Hounds that made me think that someone should fashion a handsome set of bookends in their likeness.

If I could describe the rest of the race with one picture…this would be it:

The course ran out from the NBT Stadium parking lot and continued along the beautiful Onondaga Lake Park Trail.  The sun came out as we ran through Onondaga County, Syracuse, Liverpool, and Baldwinsville, along a dazzling backdrop of Autumn colors, sparkling bodies of water, and charming country landscapes.  It was windy, and there were a few hills, that I felt in my hips, butt and my knees ~ but the awesome spectator and volunteer support kept me going.  One of the spectators was a young woman on a bike who rode to various points on the course in order to cheer for and support her friend who was running. Normally this back and forth by a person on a bike would get on my nerves, especially as I begin to fatigue.  However, this time I found it endearing and it made me laugh because every time she passed us by on her bicycle she would slow down a bit, turn her head towards us and with the hugest wide open smile a person could manage. All I could see when she passed us by in slow motion was Fozzie Bear.  She may as well have yelled ” Waka Waka” during each pass.

After crossing the Finish Line I was happier than Miss Piggy after a marriage proposal from Kermit.

It wasn’t the easiest finish I have ever earned, and I think I felt every inch of that course in my hips…but that’s what makes it so rewarding!

After a bottle of chocolate milk, shower and Subway sandwich, I felt like a brand new woman again.  Tattoo and I happily drove home knowing we did something great for a great cause.

Next Up…….Harrisburg Marathon in Pennsylvania on Sunday, November 1oth! I wonder if they have a Merry Go Round?

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