For those keeping score of my 50 half marathons in 50 states journey, this past weekend’s Gulf Beach Half Marathon in Milford, Connecticut, is number 17.

More numbers for you: yes, I am well aware that I have 34 more to go, which is a lot. Like, a lot a lot, especially since I am 51 years old. But I am an eternal optimist and hold out hope that my body and enthusiasm will make it.

I am also a pragmatic realist who is not terribly goal driven. The whole endeavor is a system to visit new places rather than a well-considered mission to reach an end. It’s the running equivalent to one of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut quotes. “We are here on this Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

Adrienne in a Pittsburgh hat looking apprehensive near the shore

Is it really a race if you don’t spend some time thinking about what a bad idea running is?

An upside to running upwards of 25 halfs — I ran a bunch in New York and Pennsylvania before sharing my love across the country — is that I can half-ass my way to the start line. I’ll jam three or four Gus in my pockets, make sure I have a water bottle, and feel prepared enough to make it work. I also know that I’ll question all of my life choices in the hours before the gun and seriously consider just going back to bed.

The race will unspool like this: The first three miles will be fantastic, if only because I’m doing something other than perseverating. The next few will be adequate, if dull. Miles 8-10 will be a dark time where I’ll ponder why I continue to do dumb things, like a 13.1 mile run, sure, but also every life choice I’ve ever made ever. Then it’ll be a reasonable 5K to the blessed finish. Someone will hand me a medal and a dry bagel and I’ll forget all of the misery and be ready to sign up for the next one. 

Beach at sunrise

Could it be any more scenic?

And, yes, the Milford run happened pretty much like that, except for a few clutch details that made all the difference. 

  1. I can usually get a couple of double-digit runs in before the taper. This summer has been bedlam, however, and I was lucky to manage 12 miles two weeks before September 10. To say my training has been uneven would be would be an insult to odd things. I jammed runs in where I could and hoped that any residual fitness I might have would be enough. I gave up any expectations I might have had for the run.
  2. The only goal I had was the one imposed by the race itself. The course would close at 10 a.m. The official start was a 7 a.m. A three-hour half marathon felt like it would be tight, given number 1. Fortunately, those of us who want to maximize our dollar/minute ratio could start at 6:30. I will always take the early start option, if only because cuts down on the time I spend ruing signing up for a race in the first place. 
  3. The course itself was dang pretty, especially the parts on the boardwalk. The weather was co-operative, given that it was the second week of September in the northeast. It was sunny and not overly humid — and we were done before the heat set in.
  4. The Shoreline Sharks are solid race organizers. Everything from bib pick-up to post-race snacks was what it needed to be. Nothing fancy, mind, but dependable.
  5. And the most clutch detail of all: opting to run 13.1 with Marianne. 

I’m solo runner by pace and disposition. One of the reasons I like running is that I don’t have to talk to anyone. Long runs by myself are perfect for going deep within to solve all of the world’s problems, like what should I make for dinner and how can we ameliorate extreme poverty and is there cake at home?

But Marianne is the one person I want to run with, especially if I know it’ll be more of a mosey than a run. She’s cool with 13 minute miles. Or 14 or 15. We can talk about deep subjects or nothing at all. Best of all, she can do fancy pace-related math in her head at mile 12 that I couldn’t do without a calculator at mile 1. 

Two women in running gear

I am the goober on the right.

I’m not sure what I bring to the partnership. I’m amusing, I guess? I usually have snacks? And I don’t balk at running in a nor’easter?

So, no, my Connecticut run wasn’t one for the record books. It was something better: an opportunity to run next to Marianne, hang out with a couple other mother runners, and color in a new state on my map. Which is all I want for the foreseeable future, even if I don’t finish this 50 state odyssey. The best part truly is the friends I’ve made along the way. 

Four women runners on the shore

Get that bling, yo.

Adrienne Martini’s book, Somebody’s Gotta Do It: Why Cursing at the News Won’t Save the Nation but Your Name on a Local Ballot Can, is available where ever books, ebooks, and audiobooks are sold. It also received a rave review in the New York Times.