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Well, I’ve made it through 5 half marathons in 5 days AND 5 recap posts in 5 days!!! I feel pretty darn proud of BOTH accomplishments. Ha!

If you want to read my previous recaps for the Center of the Nation Series just use these links:

Part 1: Mt. Rushmore and North Dakota race
Part 2: South Dakota race
Part 3: Wyoming race
Part 4: Montana race

This brings us to our final marathon/half marathon in Chadron, Nebraska.
We drove straight to Chadron after completing our marathon/half marathon in Montana and checked into a glorious Hampton Inn with some desperately needed FREE WiFi and a nice little restaurant next door called the Country Kitchen (where I had my one and only serving of pancakes the entire trip!). It’s the simple pleasures!

After a good night’s sleep we were off to Chadron State Park which was just about 10 minutes away.


This was our first “loop” course of the week. Many runners initially were worried that we wouldn’t get to see as much of each other as we did with the “out and back” courses which had become one of the best parts of the week. But then Clint, the most fabulous race organizer said we could switch directions! How awesome is that?! And so our big happy family still had multiple opportunities for cheering each other even as we ran at different paces, directions and lengths.

A couple of pre race photos:


Getting ready to run the final 13.1 (Hey that rhymes!)


Mike and Lisa

Let me go back to Wednesday for just a moment. After completing their 26.2, Mike and Lisa took their shoes off and planted them into an ice bath that had been set up using a child pool filled with ice and water.

a lovely ahhh turned into a horrific AHHHH

a lovely ahhh turned into a horrific AHHHH

All of a sudden Mike realized he had a very big blister on his toe right under the toenail. OUCHIE! It was so bad that he actually went to the medical area where an EMT tended to it and gave him some gauze.


He later added duct tape to his arsenal of “dressings” as he was told that it is a great way to protect compromised skin and good thing because there were more than just the 1 blister. After further examination he had more of those little suckers. So now fast forward 2 days (and about 50 miles later) and with less than 3 miles to go the pain got so unbearable that he decided he just HAD to remove his shoe. We were all in AWE that not only did he run with one shoe off and one on for the last couple of miles, but we couldn’t keep up!

minimalist running shoe: AKA the duct tape thong

minimalist running shoe: AKA the duct tape thong

Roger, Mike and Lisa were ahead of me after the first loop but waited at the aid station for me so that we could run together for the final day. I am so glad that they did. This course was very hilly! I mean we’re talking Mt. Killamanjaro steep! (ok slightly exaggerating). We walked up the hills and then ran everywhere else. The course went through a wooded area that we called “the enchanted forest”

The Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest

At the top of the big hill we got to see our “turnaround crew”. Lisa gave them a hug on her final loop to thank them for all that they had done to help.

Finally! The "turnaround guys" (AKA the "ice guys")

Finally! The “turnaround guys” (AKA the “ice guys”)

I finished my half with the same time as the day before (2:38) and then went to collect my goodies….


and this time i am REALLY FINISHED!


HAPPY GIRL! 5 half marathons in 5 days COMPLETE!


a bumpersticker…

65.5 miles done!

65.5 miles done!

and the final state medal as well as a bonus crystal medal for completing all 5…

Nebraska....finish time....state medal...crystal medal

Nebraska….finish time….state medal…crystal medal

oh, right, and my celebratory cupcake…

I love sweets!

I love sweets!

When the rest of my team was coming up on their last loop (the loop that Mike ran with his duct tape thong) I jumped in and joined them for their final miles. I ran ahead to get some really great finishing photos…


Roger, Lisa and Elvia DONE! 131 miles in 5 days…they are DA BOMB!


this hug says it all!


Elvia and Lisa with their new friend Clyde


They DID IT!!! 5 FULL MARATHONS in 5 states in 5 days!

Duct tape thong. The new trend for next summer!

Duct tape thong. The new trend for next summer!


that’s a long medal!


the fancy shmancy crystal finishers medal

There was one last thing to do before driving back to our cabin to pack…


all done….lay down dead and head back to South Dakota


Nebraska was a great day!

We returned to the cabin, drank some champagne and packed up. What a sense of accomplishment!

a toast to reaching our personal goals!

a toast to reaching our personal goals!


Back at the cabin and after a glass (or two or three) of champagne I started to do a cheer routine until I realized I’ve never been a cheerleader. LOL!





a vignette of memories

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the week. I laughed. I cried. I reached personal goals and I was inspired by so many. I made new friends and found out more about the amazing friends I traveled with. With just 5 weeks to spare before turning 40 I squeezed in seeing Mt. Rushmore which was on my bucket list, and proved to myself that I AM an endurance runner. Not just a recreational hobby but a deeper thread that makes me who I am. It’s taken a while to get here. Always felt like I was impersonating a runner. But now I truly feel it. I look forward to many more wild and crazy journeys.


Question: Do you like adventurous vacations or more relaxing ones? How many State line signs have you had your picture taken at? Bucket list items?



First, I have got to share this video. If you run marathons you’ll probably get a laugh:

OK, now onto my recap of Day 4 of the Center of the Nation Series, which was Montana I ! But of course if you’ve missed Part 1 just go here. For Part 2 go here and for Part 3 go here.

After another early morning wake up call (I think about 3:30am), the team got ready and packed up for the day (we actually needed to pack an overnight bag as we would be driving directly to Nebraska to a Hampton Inn after we were done running in Montana.)

The night before was the harvest full moon:

havin' a howlin' good time

Taken from the deck of our the cabin

And when we arrived at the Montana course, it was just before sunrise and the moon was still out:

Me and the moon

Me and the moon

The course was situated on a ranch in Albion, Montana where an old schoolhouse remained. This course was my FAVORITE of the courses for a few reasons.

1. The weather starting out was great! Cold and windy but invigorating and the sun arose to give the most beautiful lighting. Everyone looked like they were glowing!. (It actually got to be overcast and so ridiculously windy that it became a challenge about 5 miles in and I really did feel for the full marathoners who had to fight it way longer than I did) But I always focus on the positive right?!


Photo courtesy of Timothy Nohe and thank god for him because this is the only real running shot of me and I’m glowing.

2. The scenery. Coming from New York City, it isn’t often I see vast open skies and cattle (or bison or buffalo i’m not sure).


3. The course length. Instead of 6 complete laps of 2ish mile out and backs (12 for the full) we did 4 complete laps (with the full doing 8) on a course that was probably just more than a 5k. Psychologically this made the run go by so much faster (although my finish time was not fast. Ha.)

There was really one challenge for me and that was the terrain. The loose gravel road sloped a lot so that you were running at times with one leg much higher off the ground than the other. And if you wanted to pass someone you had to step over into the looser gravel which felt like you were running in sand. But again, I wasn’t passing many people and I wasn’t out there as long as the full marathoners so this wasn’t too much of a challenge for me.

Mike's got the glow too!

Mike’s got the glow too! Photo courtesy of Timothy Nohe

But you can see from these next few pics how windy it got and how cold some of the runners were. One speedy runner actually chose to keep his blue jeans on for warmth!

Elvia the mayor and her new friend Dave

Elvia the mayor and her new friend Dave

Zoro! No wait, that's just Elvia keeping warm.

Zoro! No wait, that’s just Elvia keeping warm.

Roger with a smile

Roger with a smile

I like to call this the Mona Lisa Landscape

I like to call this the Mona Lisa Landscape

Again, there was lots of great support from the turnaround crew and so many inspiration people to watch including this couple who ran all 5 full marathons:

the couple that runs together stays together! so adorable!

the couple that runs together stays together! so adorable!

And the aid station and volunteers just continued to be top notch! I finished in 2:37:52 and went into the van to get warm and change and then I walked some of the course with Lisa here and there and cheered people on while binging on a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips! Soon the full marathoners were finishing. Mike finished up first, then Roger and Lisa and Elvia.


Mike taking off the well earned rubberbands from lisa’s carabiner. She did it. All the full marathoners realized on this day that they had just finished over 100 miles so far.


This cold and windy weather rocks….for 5 minutes and then it’s bone chilling….where are the keys to the van?!

We took a few post race pics and got back into the warm van to make our way to Nebraska, but not without a celebratory photo op at the Montana state line.


The Dicks Sporting Goods #runfor alum!


Tim the Great with his favorite Dicks Sporting Goods #runfor “celebrities”




another slow run….but super happy about the sunshine….and the state sign….and of course the bling!

Tomorrow I will be posting the last in this series of recaps. It’s kind of sad. But there are so many more races on the horizon. And I think I might have more to say about this trip after I’ve reflected some more.

To be continued…

Welcome to Part 3 of my recap of the Center of the Nation Series. Of course if you’ve missed part 2 just go here and if you missed part 1 just go here.

In my last post I covered off on South Dakota’s race. That brings us to our Wednesday in Wyoming! I’ve got LOTS to talk about for hump day.

First, let me start off by saying the course in Wyoming was breathtaking.


Sunrise on the ranch is what I call morning glory!

It was an out and back course on a family ranch (thank you Jensen family). Terrain was loose gravel and dirt, mostly flat with one hill leading up to the turnaround. This was where we first got to experience the “turnaround crew” or as others called them the “ice guys” (photo to come for Day 5 recap) . They were 2 of the many amazing volunteers. These 2 guys spent countless hours at the turnaround cheering everyone on and offering water and ice (it was a HOT HOT day). They gave out free hugs too.

The morning started with a speech from Roger. He had asked that this day be “Boston Day” and that people wear blue and yellow. He was ponying up $5 for every person in blue and yellow up to $500. Long story short, Roger lost over a hundred pounds and he did it for the main reason that he wanted to run the Boston Marathon because his dad had run it. And simultaneous to that he wanted badly to raise money on behalf of his niece Julia who’s been battling with Cystic Fybrosis.




Boston Day!


Red Sox in support of Boston worn by none other than Clint our amazing race director!


Good morning!

Because the course was made of loose gravel and dirt, I opted to wear these lovely zebra print gaiters that my friend Shishaldin made. (She made them for all 5 of us. And two different patterns too!)

Gaiters made with love. Thanks Shishaldin!

Gaiters made with love. Thanks Shishaldin!

So the only teensy weensy problem on this day was my tummy…..not sure if it was the fast food we had the day before or nerves or what but I was REALLY uncomfortable for the entire run. And there were times were I had no choice but to walk and pray for the “urge” to pass. Thankfully I made it to the finish before heading over to the lovely “powder room”.


At least my $11 blue capri pants purchased the night before from Walmart were a success!

Between Roger’s speech in the morning and then feeling physically ill, my emotional state became compromised for sure. I think it was at about mile 12 that I started to cry. But it wasn’t really a bad cry. It was a GOOD cry. I had that moment where I realized how lucky I was to be able to travel and run and experience life.

There were a few more highlights of the day….a new friend Daniel was closing in on the finish line for the half just as I was closing in on it too….only I still had to complete 2 more laps. But Daniel was struggling those last few minutes and I picked up the paced and supported him and cheered for him and got him to the finish. Of course then I gave him a congratulatory hug and went back out for my final 4 miles. (This was my slowest day. 2:43 finish time.)


Daniel wore superhero shirts every day and came in first place for all 5 halves. All were between 1:42 and 1:55. Amazing!!!

Another highlight was getting to know two really inspirational guys. Meet Grant and Aaron:


These guys are working towards completing 50 marathons this year, raising money for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for spinal cord injury research. You can find out more about their efforts and donate here. There was also another runner who had a graphite prosthetic. I didn’t know his story until just today when someone shared this article.


Slow time….fun gaiters… favorite state sign of the trip….and more bling!

With Wyoming complete, we headed back to our cabin but not before making a stop at the state line for a photo op:


To be continued.

Question: If you could only see one would it be a sunrise or a sunset? Ever had a runner’s trots issue?


Welcome to Part 2 of my recap of the Center of the Nation Series. Of course if you’ve missed part 1 just go here.

So we’ve covered off on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and the first of 5 marathon/half marathons which was in North Dakota. Tuesday we ran a course in the geographical center of the nation: Belle Fourche, South Dakota.

Center of the Nation Belle Fourche South Dakota

Center of the Nation Belle Fourche South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Lisa

Before I go on about the race itself I wanted to tell you about a really cool connection that happened partly because of this video and this video and partly because of Belle Fourche being the location. A local resident of Belle Fourche, Tim was getting back into running after some time away from the sport. He saw a few of the Dicks Sporting Goods “Run For” videos (that Lisa, Roger and I had been a part of) and even shared them with friends and family after being inspired. Shortly after, while looking for races on he noticed 3 in a row that had Belle Fourche listed as the location. It intrigued him and so he emailed the race director Clint. Next thing you know, he came on board to help scout out some courses for the middle 3 events of the series and also participate in the half marathon on Tuesday (and volunteer on Wednesday and Thursday). On Facebook we had a special group for participants of the series and Tim spotted Roger’s name in the group first. Well, after some conversations we finally got to meet Tim just as soon as we landed at the airport. Tim is a pilot and was actually on Roger’s plane coming in.


Roger, Lisa, Tim, Sally and Elvia. Photo courtesy of Tim

Never did I personally think that the video I was part of would reach and inspire so many. I was actually just excited to share my story of how I got into running. But meeting Tim, who says he felt like he was meeting celebrities, made me realize that those videos were pretty darn impactful and successful! (you can also check out this other video of Roger that is pretty darn amazing too.) And what a total pleasure it was to meet Tim. Nothing better than to meet super nice people all over the country who share similar interests.

Ok, on to the course. The course was situated right at the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce center. It was mostly narrow concrete sidewalk with one stretch along a paved street that was also an out and back course with the full marathoners doing 12 laps and half marathoners doing 6. (the only difference was that the start was sort of in the middle so you went to the right and back to center and then to the left and back to center.


It’s Marathon Man


the bulk of the course was just like this. (more on the handcyclist in my next post!)

I really loved this course. This is where the realization came that the week would feel way more like a family get together than a week of races. (I think on day 1 I was still anxious about how I would really be able to run 5 straight double digit runs and I wasn’t as chatty.) There were runners and walkers of all ages (i think even in their 70s!) and paces which, combined with the course lap repeats left ample opportunity to smile and cheer for others. The biggest cheerleader was a marathoner named Alicia. She didn’t miss a beat, with our names written on our bibs, she was right there chanting “way to go Sally!” I’d nod and give her a thumbs up or sometimes just blurt out “ditto”. I’m terribly awkward and can’t get sensible sentences out when i’m running =)

Most often when I travel with my friends and they are signed up for the full while I run the half we basically say goodbye at the start and I see them later on after they’ve finished so I was really excited to see them every couple of miles. I was so impressed with not just the volunteers and organizers of the event, but the participants too. Everyone seemed to lend a hand picking up trash. Some half marathoners turned into cheerleaders or aid station volunteers when they finished their running. I found myself being the “paparazzi” and taking lots of pictures. I finished the half in 2:29 but have to say I really took it easy and was quite relaxed compared to Monday where I pushed hard. And by the end of this day I officially had conquered something new….back to back half marathons.


Half Marathon Finishers! Photo courtesy of Tim

Half Marathon Finishers! Photo courtesy of Tim

On this particular course it was almost 90 degrees by the time my friend Lisa was about 22 miles in and she was trying hard to stay cool. Even pouring cold water on her running tights. (someday i’ll post about how I think marathons are THREE times harder than half marathons but temperatures can really cause those last 10 miles of a marathon to be extremely difficult. It was about 20 degrees cooler when I finished my half.) Mike immediately went over to Lisa and started to walk along with her and then called me over. We walked for a while together and I think that helped distract Lisa from the heat. It felt like our training runs where we’d chit chat. And I discovered that I hadn’t really experienced Lisa in the final few miles of a marathon. She was funny! Reminded me of a happy drunk! It might have been dehydration and sun stroke but I noticed it for the remaining days as well. Roger is a numbers guy. With this event being 5 marathons in 5 days in 5 states he thought it’d be cool to finish each day in 5 hours. And so after finishing Monday technically in less than 5 he waited a few minutes before crossing the finish line to get an official time of 5 hours. And so Tuesday, he did the same. Elvia was really enjoying her time on the course. She was like the mayor, just striking up conversation left and right.

ironic that the 4 full marathoners matched?!

Just before the start. Ironic that the 4 full marathoners matched?!

Once we were all finished we piled into the car, made another quick trip to Walmart for a few more groceries and I also picked up a pair of blue running capris for the following day’s run. (Yep, I broke a cardinal rule of wearing something new on race day. I’m a rebel! More on the reason I needed blue pants in the first place in my next post!)

We then headed back to our lovely cabin and I cooked dinner for everyone. This is actually quite funny as I’m not a big cook. And the meal was a hit! I think that right there is a huge PR!


That’s potato, egg and cheese that I’m whipping up. A great pre-race meal. Photo courtesy of Lisa

family dinner

Family dinner! Photo courtesy of Lisa

Another successful day! Another run was done! And off to bed we went because we had another 4am wake up call to get ready for our Hump Day run in Wyoming… be continued.