State 49, October 13, 2013: Pennsylvania, Scranton

Run #50 in 2013, (DC and 49 states),

Sunday, October 13, 8:00 a.m.

The 18th annual Steamtown Marathon,

my first.

I did it!

I flew to Scranton on Saturday afternoon (I met a wonderful lady on the plane, Phyllis, and her sister Dolores at the Scranton airport) and just made it in time to arrive at Scranton High School to pick up my bib and timing chip.
They were closed and packing up, but since I came all the way from Texas, these two Steamtown volunteers found my running bib and packet for me.
At the beginning of the year, my longest run had been 7 miles, and that was on a treadmill. Some ask me -- and often with an ugly attitude, "Why run a marathon?" -- sometimes followed by "idiot, old man, or fool.".
Well, running marathons is the result of a confluence of 3 things that happened back in January.
1) For my 2013 50-state goal, I wanted to complete runs in both Mississippi and Alabama on the same weekend last January.I signed up for a Saturday 5K in Biloxi, but to run on Sunday in Alabama, the only available race was a half marathon in Gulf Shores. (Not many races on Sundays in the South). Although I had never run more than 7 miles, I signed up, ran and finished the half (2:08:19), but it was extremely, extremely painful, and I thought, "Not going to do this again. I will stick to 5Ks."
2) However running a half piqued my interest in qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. Turns out that for the 2015 BM, my qualifying time, when I will be 65, is 4 hours and 10 minutes, and a person 64 like me can try to qualify for the 2015 BM from about October, 2013, to September, 2014.
3) I discovered the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk method for races. Panned by some, but it works for me. (I was fortunate to meet Jeff a couple of months ago in Anchorage where I ran a half marathon for my Alaska run). So I decided back in February to train and see what I could do, since running in the Boston Marathon would be something. Since I also prefer running downhill, I researched qualifying marathons with a sizeable elevation drop, and decided my first would be today's Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA.Steamtown starts at Forest City HS, in Forest City, Pennsylvania, and runners are bussed there from downtown Scranton (my bus left at 6:15 a.m.).
This is a well organized marathon, and when you get off the bus, student volunteers escort you to a warm room in the high school where you can rest until the 8:00 a.m. start.
The starting gun is a cannon..
Four hours, thirty-one minutes, and 2 seconds later, I finished..
I found this chair 30 yards past the finish line and sat there for 20 minutes. They had the wheel chair ready.
After some food and water, I took a few pics.
So this leaves just one more state, Texas, and one more race to complete 5Ks or longer in every state since January 1, 2013.
However the last 5K will include a blood match between me and my friend Gregg. Below, we are in Saint Louis two years ago for game 2 of the World Series.
Gregg started me running a few years ago after he suggested that my high cholesterol and I did not have much time left on earth.
He provided a 5-month couch to 5K program and a lot of encouragement.

About a year and 9 months ago when I was getting faster at the 5K distance and Gregg was a little heavy, I suggested that I might be able to beat him in a 5K. He took extreme umbrage at this and said, "NO WAY." His kids were eating lunch with us, or he might have included a expletive between the NO and the WAY.So we set up a time for a 5K, but before the race, he broke his ankle playing softball.I went to comfort him in the emergency room (October, 2012), and he set a new time right in the hospital for our 5K race, about 12-13-13, in 14 months.

So in the mean time, I decided to run in every state in 2013. So far, I have completed a race in 49 states and DC since January 1, 2013. .1 marathon3 half marathons1 10K1 5-mile run1 8K1 4-mile run42 5KsIn two months, the Texas race involving Gregg will complete all 50 states and DC in 2013.Gregg is the favorite against me, but I am retired and focused, and Gregg has a 60 hour a week job, three kids and a wife, a few extra pounds that may not go away, and he severely broke his ankle just a year ago. So I'm saying, I have a chance.Scranton and the Steamtown Marathon are great. The fall foliage is super. I recommend a visit and signing up for a future Steamtown Marathon.

Completed -- in blue. Texas is the remaining state -- December 23, 7:00 p.m., The Jingle Bell Run at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas