I got this idea once I did my first ‘destination’ race.
I went with a charity team to Nashville, and loved that I combined something I loved (running) with something else I love (traveling). People always ask me why I run marathons, and pretty simply I say I miss the nature of competition that high school sports gave me oh-so-long ago. I love to always be on the go. I’m always looking for the next challenge. So, since I wasn’t getting that in my life from a physical fitness standpoint, I needed something to work towards. At the time of the decision, I was living in Florida, so running outside seemed like the most conventional solution to my problem. My goal was to do either 13.1 or 26.2 in every single state. The rest is history.
Illinois – Fall of 2016, I bit the bullet and ran the Chicago Marathon. Let me preface this by I didn’t prepare, at all. I was really lazy when it came to training. It was a huge turning point for me – which I would never go into another race ill prepared. The whole point of me tackling these distance races was to get in shape and challenge the best version of myself. So, by just not training and eating crap, I was just torturing myself. And boy, was it torture. I was SO sore afterwards (obviously) and felt even worse about myself than I did before – frustrated I let myself be that lazy and that obviously, my time was NOTHING to brag about. I resolved right there and then I’d never get to that point before a race ever again.
Kentucky – Outside of running in each state, another checkpoint on my bucket list was going to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Marathon. The Derby Festival Marathon was an amazing event (despite crappy weather – it poured rain the entire time). We even ran around the track right along horses and jockeys warming up for opening night (SO COOL). Afterward, there was a carnival and enough mint juleps to go around. The medal was awesome too – you can see it on my about me page.
Tennessee – Of course, Nashville was the destination in this case. I love country music and the warm weather didn’t hurt either. They had some of the stars of the show Nashville perform the post-race concert (in true Rock & Roll fashion). The course also ran under and ended right next to Nissan Stadium – being a big sports fan, which was huge for me. It really showed you the culture of Nashville – from the college campuses to the small music studios on each corner, it was a really cool course for someone who didn’t know much about the town. Fair warning – it was WAY hillier than I expected. Never knew Tennessee had so many rolling hills – but, guess I could’ve listened to a country song to figure that out…
Nevada – I love Vegas. Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love Las Vegas. It’s like Disney…for grown-ups. My boyfriend ran the full marathon (which I heard was terrible – taking you way off the strip where the street lights end) while I ran just the half. It was also surprisingly cold. Once I wrapped up my race, I went into the Cosmopolitan and literally sat at the electronic roulette just to have a place to warm up. In my full marathon garb and still wearing my medal, people MUST have thought I was nuts. Be prepared for the weather here – it was clear some people thought Vegas was super warm, year round. This event also takes place at night, which turns the chill down a bit, as well. I did love the half marathon course – it was the first time I had seen Old Vegas in all its glory.
California – Formally known as the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, the NikeWomen Victory Tour has seen a complete rebranding overhaul since I ran the race in 2013.. These were the infamous bi-annual races in San Francisco and DC with a Tiffany necklace and local firefighters at the finish line instead of a medal and a banana. Nike always put on a show, but with the new format, they not only omitted San Fran from their list of stops, but the Tiffany necklace reward too. Let’s be real – I probably wouldn’t have made it up Golden Gate Park’s mile ten complete incline if there wasn’t bling at the end. I’d be interested to see if people have taken part in the new Victory Tour events. It does look like, now, they are all outside of the US and are all over 21K distance.
Florida – I was living in Florida right about the time I started my adventures in marathoning, I did quite a few around the state. I covered mostly all the Disney options, but the Wine & Dine Race was my absolutely favorite. I love the night runs, and similar to Vegas the post-race was the best part! Of course, in true Erin’s Luck fashion, it poured rain the entire race and all the while we walked around through Epcot afterwards. I would love to do this one again in a better situation. Disney is known for their tremendous production of every event…ever. So, their races never disappoint. They are extremely crowded though, so be prepared to arrive early and wait…especially at the start line.
Massachusetts – My all-time favorite race to this day was the Boston Marathon in 2015. My slow ass had to run for a charity team because there was no way I was qualifying. The experience alone was tremendous, though. I think it’s hard to explain to someone who 1) hasn’t run the Boston Marathon before or 2) someone who isn’t from Massachusetts how instrumental the BM is to running culture. The Marathon and Patriot’s Day is an institution – and I’m pretty certain every kid growing up in Massachusetts dreams of crossing that finish line one day. Everyone had the day off and would go to the race – it’s just what you did. Or, you watched it on TV. It’s like a big election or a Patriots Super Bowl (we watch a lot of those too). This was the one and only time I was emotional after a race, and the first time my Mom got to see me cross a big-time finish line.
My next state will be Rhode Island – my goal this summer will be to tackle a lot of states around my hometown of Boston, so I can travel a bit to the further destinations in 2018. I’ll be running Rhode Island April 15th.
Check out the run club to join and follow my journey even closer here —>