This week on the AMR podcast, Sarah and I talked with three mother runners who, like me, are on a quest to run in all 50 states. We discovered some of us are more organized than others. For example, Penny has a firm plan. At best, I have a loose organizing principle. 

Assuming my ability to comfortably (for reasonable definitions of “comfort”) complete a half marathon lasts into my 60s, I have about 15 years to snag the remaining 40 states I need. If I’ve done the math correctly, if I can knock off three or four a year, I’ll get to all 50 states before my body says no masIn 2019, the three states I checked off were Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Arizona. I’d been toying with squeezing in the Rehoboth Seashore Half on December 7 but wanted to see how all of the downhill in Tucson felt before I committed to a race just a couple of weeks later. 

After running down Mt Lemmon, I felt pretty good, all things considered. That quickly morphed into feeling kind of terrible once the endorphins wore off but a decent night’s sleep and some ibuprofen propped me up by Sunday morning. I wouldn’t say I wanted to run 13.1 more miles right then. I could, however, imagine the possibility that I might want to in a few weeks.

That morning, shortly after watching the NYC marathon with BRF Lisa, I flipped my laptop open to register for Rehoboth. Which, I discovered, was full. The half holds less than 2000 runners — and the race is a popular one, made even more so by being voted a favorite in the state. Rather than spend time kicking myself for not jumping in sooner, I added my name to the waiting list. The fates would decide if I’d be running it this year.

With 114 people in front of me, I figured I’d never make it off of the waiting list.

I promptly forgot all about it, what with re-entering my actual life after three successive weekends away. While I was galavanting around the country, our household routine hit its usual late fall level of chaos. My husband was in weeks worth of evening rehearsals, as was my daughter, who was Juror #2 in her high school’s production of Twelve Angry Jurors. At my actual job, I had to get a print publication into the proofing stage. My son … well, I’m never sure what my son is up to. He’s 14. He seems to be fine.

I laced up and ran through it all, because that is what I do. Every single one of those runs was decidedly meh, especially after the really cold weather moved in. Maybe, I thought, Tucson took more out of me than expected. After a tedious Saturday six miler, I decided it was a good thing that Rehoboth was full. The idea of doing twice that distance plus a little made me want to cry a little, then barf.

You can guess where this is going.

Most of my runs have looked like this lately. Just enough snow to be irritating but not enough to be worth running inside.

Shortly after that terrible, very bad, no good six-mile run, I got the email letting me know that my number had come up. I had 24 hours to decide if I wanted the spot or not. My first inclination was “not.” Hauling myself to Delaware and back again to run for a couple of hours didn’t seem like fun. I texted my husband to let him know I was 85 percent certain I would not be making the trip.

Then I started to poke around the race’s website. Since there’s also a full marathon, both it and the half have a seven-hour time limit, which I’m pretty sure I could manage even if I walk the whole way. Heck, I might even be able to stop for a real lunch. The maps showed how much of the course was either along the shore or on trails. Trails are my favorite. Plus the shore in December shouldn’t be too hot.

Even with all of that on its side, I still wasn’t sure I could work up any enthusiasm for the actual running. In search of guidance, I opened my dilemma up to Facebook, which might be the closest our age has to consulting an oracle. Most commenters said to just do it because the fates decided for me. One sage pointed out that, with striving toward 50 races, a few of them will be run when I’m not totally feeling it.

Because of that last suggestion, I pulled the trigger and paid my money. Barring last-minute weirdness, I’ll be in Rehoboth on Dec. 7. And if the fates are feeling truly kind, running friend Marianne will be there with me. Once she found out about my last-minute plan, she put her name on the waiting list, too. May the odds be ever in her favor.


Question of the week: have you left a race entry up to fate?