A Brief Biography of Not-So-Brief
I began running in tenth or eleventh grade, just for fun, and kept at it pretty consistently through college. During grad school I began training for the New Orleans Marathon. Knee problems sidelined that pursuit. After grad school I worked almost a couple of years in north Alabama before I moved to Miami in June 1983. Two months later, as I rode my motorcycle to work, a car hit me and broke both the tibia and fibula of my right leg. Several surgeries failed to bring about healing. Early in 1984 I decided to have an elective amputation, which took place that autumn.
Some months after my residual limb had fully healed, in 1985 I tried running but found that I could never get more than a mile without feeling significant abrasion. I'd blister my stump if I continued. I tried repeatedly over several months and always had the same discouraging result. Finally I gave up.
Sometime in 1986 or 1987, I noticed the "racewalk" category on a 5K application. I figured I could probably do that without blistering. Sure enough, it gave me a re-entry to the sport. Over the next few years I steadily rebuilt my cardiovascular and pulmonary capacity as I improved my racewalking ability and strength. South Florida weather let me participate in as many as 30–40 races per year.
As I built up to 10K's and 15K's, I began revisiting my marathon goal. A November 1991 half-marathon went well enough that I registered for my first Miami Marathon in January 1992. Completing it left me so excited that I wanted to do another. That came about three weeks later in Tallahassee, where I finished five minutes faster, on a slightly more difficult course. That August I completed Miami's Tropical 50K (which did create terrible blistering) and then New York City in November. I was hooked.
As I took part in several more over the next few years, I began noticing people wearing "50 & DC" shirts. At the time I had no particular interest in pursuing that goal, because:
And so on. But when I began conducting workshops across the U.S. and Canada for the Peace Education Foundation, I also accumulated points in frequent traveler programs that would cover much of my expenses for airfare, hotel, and car rental. So I kept doing one after another, typically three or four a year. Eventually I noticed: Hey, I've done several states—why not just keep at it like this? So what if it does take 10, 15, 20 years? Or if for whatever reason I can't complete the goal? I'll have had a good time along the way, seen much of the country, met some nice people, and built up a collection of cool shirts. So I established my 50 & DC goal.
Drawing on race calendars from Runner's World, Marathon Guide, and other resources, I tediously compiled a database of marathons and ultras across the nation. This made it easier to get an overview of events coming up on any specific date or in any time frame. It also allowed me to compile lists of events by state, so I could concentrate on finishing those with fewer events available.
For several years I kept knocking off another marathon every three or four months on average. After the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, I decided I'd better start registering for, say, one a month—on the assumption that future attacks would probably wreak havoc on travel plans. Already registered for Chicago in October 2001, I made comparable plans for San Antonio, Texas in November, and Kiawah Island, South Carolina, in December.
Three months, three marathons, and they all came off pretty well. I found that, given my extremely slow pace, I don't need much recovery time. So for the next couple of years I completed one typically every four to six weeks. Sometimes I pushed beyond that. Over eight weeks from late April to late June 2003, I packed in five marathons, including Omaha just eight days after Delaware's grueling, muddy Trail Marathon.
I completed my 50 & DC circuit on Saturday, May 15, 2004, at the Brookings Marathon in South Dakota.
Thanks for visiting!