Voices From The Readers – December 31, 2021

Voices From The Readers – December 31, 2021

50-State Marathoner

Offers Inspiration

Editor:

While we all hoped that 2021 would be a welcome change from the COVID disaster of year of 2020, it appears that our hopes were dashed. Although vaccines are readily available for those who want it and severe illnesses are being curtailed thanks to new precautions, we are now under the Omicron variant and it seems as if the nightmare will never end.

Let’s all hope 2022 will deliver the hopes for a healthy year that 2021 did not totally deliver. Even through the pandemic and endemic or whatever it is officially right now, life does go on. I wanted to share my story of the completion of a goal that took nine years to complete. I share it not to brag, but rather to give encouragement to others and also remind everyone what a great place Ocean City is.

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I live in a very competitive household. When my significant other ran the Marine Corp Marathon back in 2005, I knew it was not if I would run a marathon but rather when I would run it. I could not let her have bragging rights all to herself. So, although I hated the idea of even running around the block, I began a training plan and got set for my first marathon. This was in January of 2012 and it was in Miami.

The course was full of spectators and the route took you right through the famed Ocean Drive on South Beach. Crossing the finish line was an incredible feeling. No longer would there just be one marathoner in the house, there would now be two of us. This was satisfying for a bit, but I soon wanted more. I eventually decided that as I was getting older, it would be important to stay in shape. So, if I ran a marathon in Florida, why not set a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states? Crazy for sure, but what an experience to stay healthy and to see our beautiful country at the same time. So I registered for my second marathon in Pennsylvania in May of 2012. The challenge was officially underway.

For the next nine years, there was always a marathon on the calendar. While each race is a constant 26.2 miles they are all quite unique in their own right. There was the freezing rain and ice in Virginia Beach, the snowcapped mountains in Denver at the start of the race that led to a finish line with 98 degree heat at the bottom of the mountain. There were the seals on the beach in Delaware and the mating whales putting on a show as I struggled up the Maui hillside in Hawaii. There was the dreaded St. Louis marathon where I was sick and chugging Pepto Bismol at aide stations instead of water and there was the emotional St. Jude’s Marathon in Memphis, Tenn. where you are greeted along the course by dozens of young cancer patients who cheer you along as you pass the hospital. The final state was Alaska where I crossed the line in August of this year in Anchorage and felt an accomplishment that is indescribable.

I want the readers of The Dispatch to know that if I can run a marathon, anybody can. It is a time-consuming ordeal but the rewards are worth it. And maybe if not a full marathon, go ahead and try for a half marathon, 10K or even a 5K. Set yourself a reasonable goal, stick to it and you can do it. Again, I promise you that if I can do it anybody can do it.

I would also like to say that many of the hundreds of miles that I spent training for my runs were done right here in Ocean City. Late nights and early mornings on the Boardwalk and random back streets in town when the boardwalk gets too crowded. On one very hot day, I started much too late and had a long run scheduled. As I was running in circles around a neighborhood, a concerned neighbor took notice of my rough looks and saw me struggling in the heat. He offered me a drink of water and gave encouragement. It turned out to be former Ocean City Mayor and State Senator Jim Mathias. These things only happen in Ocean City. Many of the early morning runs started on the deserted boardwalk in the dark. To watch that amazing sunshine rise from the ocean with each lap on the boards is incredible.

No matter what you may do the rest of your day, if you start with an early run on the boards and witness the sun rise it will be a good day no matter what. Even on the occasional day when I slept the entire remainder of the day after a long run, I still felt productive. I can honestly say that after running 26.2 miles in all 50 states that we have one of nature’s most beautiful areas right here in town. And to mix it up, I would also frequent Assateague Island for my runs where the horses could sometimes make the path an obstacle course. Where else can one experience such a thing?

In closing, running is time consuming and painful at times. However, the rewards of the accomplishment are second to none. Set yourself a reasonable goal, lace up the sneakers, and go get active. Find a favorite training route and stick to your plan. Absorb the beauty that our area has to offer during your training and the finish line may soon be calling your name. Happy running and Happy New Year.

M. Scott Chismar

Ocean City