Running Across the States

Personal goal: to run a race in every state and DC

This moment! — April 27, 2015

This moment!


Have you ever had this moment on your run  when you body kicked in a whole new gear on its favorite terrain and you felt like a wild animal flying through the trail?!

It is my absolutely most favorite part of trail running, this moment when you feel that you are running with your heart, when the clock stops existing and it’s just you and the earth beneath your feet. When I have this moment on my run, it makes every effort that took me to get there worth it. The five hours spent on the road to run less then two, the lungs that are burning from the bronchitis you are still recovering from, the nausea  –  it all disappears, it all makes sense, you feel a part of the woods and it reflects in you.

As I was running the single track of Michaux Forest, the trail race that made me completely and fully without a doubt fall in love with trail running a year ago, I felt exuberant to recognize the creek crossings, the grueling ascents, and the serene beauty this place struck me with. But THIS moment was waiting for me at mile five where the trail became technical with rocks and roots, mud, and puddles. That’s when, suddenly, my body knew how to make a safe passage, where to place my quick foot, how to balance on the narrow edges of the grey stone. I caught myself flying through ankle twisting trail with ease as if it was a field of wild flowers!

In that moment, lasting for about a mile of this twisting passage, I knew why I was on this trail again a year later, driving hundreds of miles to run this nine mile race with bronchitis that was holding my chest captive, not letting me take breaths of air deep enough to quicken my pace, exhausting my energy, and causing nausea every time I pushed myself.

That’s when I knew I got what I came here for and that I’d be back next year!


Beautiful Colorado — April 24, 2015

Beautiful Colorado

When thinking of running in Colorado, I imagined trotting along a trail tucked away between beautiful snow covered mountains, and looking up at the giant pine trees and crystal clear blue skies, but when you are in Colorado on a ski trip and are not sure when you may be back, you just take what is available and make the best out of it. That is how it happened to be the Run the Dam road 1/2 marathon in Denver the morning of our scheduled flight back to NJ.

On the way to the 1st of 51 races I committed to doing in 40 months, I was doing mental inventory.

After 3 days of skiing and little running in the last few weeks, I felt slightly under-trained. Luckily, the altitude sickness I suffered from during the first few days seemed to fade away and my body finally adjusted. I felt so very grateful for the strength it had been showing and its ability to adapt. However, I knew my lungs would be put to a test that day.

If just going up the stairs made me feel like my heart was ready to leap out of my chest, running 13 miles  5,000.00 feet high could turn out to be quite a challenge. However, it also would become a great determiner of my abilities to do future races at higher elevations. I decided to go with the later and use this experience as a benchmark for future training. I needed to remind myself to relax, forget about the clock, and just breathe. One mile at a time.

Once we started moving, I felt at ease.  I knew the distance was not a problem. It was just a two hour run. It felt great moving my legs again after a week’s break.

My buddy Jon ran with me. I kept up with him for the first 5 miles, but we got separated after I had to stop at the PP. If I could pick one super power, it would be the ability to run for 100 miles without having to pee!

On mile 12 the fatigue began creeping up on me. My hips were getting uncomfortably tight. I tried to push it the last mile, but immediately felt cold shivers trickle down my spine. Signs of dizziness urged me to slow down. Fainting at the finish line was not how I wanted to end the first of 51 races. Last 10th of the mile was a struggle, but once I had a small break and a stretch, I was back to normal (as normal as it gets after running a 1/2 I guess). Naturally, finishing the race made me jump for joy.


We were celebrating with some delicious Colorado brewed beer  when we received the notice that all flights back home were cancelled till Tuesday, but that’s a beginning of another story.

Happy running!

Time: 2:12. Pace: 1st 5 miles low 9, 2nd 5 mile 9.5, last 3 miles :10. Lots of water stops, 3 gels. Temperature: low 20s,  little wind.

Running Transformation — April 23, 2015

Running Transformation


“Badass!”, is something we say to each other among my running friends to acknowledge a new achievement, show encouragement, and just to have some laughs.
A few years ago, if you asked me to write about myself, I’d struggle locating the words that would fit my identity. Today, I know exactly who I am and what I need to do to bring out that radiant person in me that I believe we all have.
I am a single mom, a full time educator, and a runner. I love each part that forms my identity and brings many joyful smiles. At the age of 36 I feel grateful to be where I am today.

Running played a significant role in this transformation. Now, the trick is to keep all these wonderful things balanced and enjoy life.

How did it all begin: never being much of a runner, one day, when feeling incredibly frustrated, I put on my old sneakers I owned for years (that’s how little I used them) and went for a run. My body protested with aching and complaining of the massive discomfort I was putting it through, but my mind proved to be stronger.

The frustration eased up with every run and I began looking forward to getting to the park after work to complete my “Couch to 5K” training plan. As time and miles went on and I build stamina for longer runs, life didn’t seem to be so serious any more, things didn’t seem to get to me as much, and my mentality began a transformation to positive thinking. Things in life started falling into places without me having to control anything. All I had to do was go for a run.

Running became a form of companion, a way to express myself, and a place of contentment where my thoughts and my legs could run wild and free.

5Ks turned into 50Ks, roads switched to trails, and I owned more running shoes. I joined local running clubs, met some amazing people, and ran at some beautiful places.

I am grateful for the friends I met along this journey: parents, who inspired me with love and dedication for their children, educators who became wonderful role models and thoughtful colleagues, and runners who showed me what a crazy, determined, and stubborn breed of our own we were.

This season, about a year and a half since the start of this “running phase” that doesn’t seem to phase out, I am setting a new personal goal: to run a race in all 50 states and Washington DC. I feel that running somewhere new creates a special personal connection to that place, allows to meet runners from other areas and visit old friends, and gives me an undeniably good reason to travel to a new destination.

This blog will be dedicated to this new journey, state by state, race by race, friend by friend. I find it that for me personally, running is so much more than just another race.

Truthfully yours,

Irina D.