Medal arrangements

August 18, 2018

One last little tidbit for the day.  I was planning to bring all my medals to the Wyoming, so proper “reflection and analysis” could happen amongst the multitudes of family members that are apparently coming to help me conclude this quest.  I have never come up with a way to display my medals.  For a while, I would hang the medals over the edge of the mirror in our bathroom, but then the bunch got too big, so I had to stop that.  For the past several years, they have been in a drawer of my bedside table. So I still need to come up with a plan for all 50 medals.  But in the meantime, as I started packing them up, I tried a few arrangements.  Not sure what makes sense…

Taper running

August 18, 2018

I usually do a 20 mile run three weeks before a marathon, then I taper down, meaning shorter long runs, to the race.  Usually I do about 12 miles two weeks before, then 6 or 8 miles the week before.  My Wyoming race was no different, although I accidentally ran 22.22 miles three weeks before.  I did 13.1 miles two weeks before, and it seems all systems are go.  One thing I noticed a little more this time, is that I really have a great place to run.  Not only is Seattle a moderate climate where one can run year round, I happen to live near the Sammamish River Trail which follows the Sammamish River and all the scenery that comes with that.  It also connects to the Burke Gilman Trail, which heads from Bothell towards downtown Seattle,  and beyond.  A lot of the Burke Gilman parallels Lake Washington.  Mile markers (mostly), water fountains every 2-3 miles and adjacent dirt trail (mostly) make this trail a perfect place to run.  I am so lucky.  🙂


2 weeks to 50

August 17, 2018

Two weeks from tomorrow is my 50th state!  Yippee!

A few interesting tidbits…

The conclusion of this marathon adventure In Wyoming has prompted a Griffes family reunion.  My wife Laurie and daughters Ellen and Katie are coming, with their peeps.  Two of my dad’s sisters and a lot of their kids, with peeps, will be coming.  Many of my other Griffes cousins will also be coming, with their peeps.  It appears to be somewhere over 40 people are planning to be there.  Several of these peeps are planning to run either the marathon, or the half marathon.   We have only planned two official reunion events- dinner the night before the race, and dinner after.  Otherwise, we are going to wing it on activities and get togethers.  Stay tuned to the blog for the complete story.

We also designed a tee shirt for those who like tee shirts, like me.


The other day, I stumbled across something upstairs that I hadn’t thought of for a while.  Back between 1999 and 2008, the US Treasury issued state themed quarters.  Something inside of me said, “I should collect all 50 states!”  So I did!  I even got a nice 50 state coin holder thingy to keep them in.  I wonder if I have some sort of 50 state gene inside of me, trying to tell me something.  Or I might just be interested in finding a path towards something and keeping on that path for a while.  I also collect ticket stubs, playing cards, books, etc. etc. etc.   Hmmm…

Altitude training

August 12, 2018

As my last marathon is coming up in Jackson Wyoming, I have felt the need to incorporate a little altitude training into my plan.  Jackson is at elevation 6200, and they say the air is thinner up there.  When I ran the Denver Marathon, elevation 5280, I did a little altitude training, as my only altitude running was a 6 mile run up at Snoqualmie Pass, elevation 3200.  I guess that seemed to work, as I finished Denver with not a lot of difference in how I felt or my time.  So.  For Jackson, being a little higher, I planned to go up to Snoqualmie again, and hopefully I will get up to Mt Rainier for some time before Jackson.

My run up at Snoqualmie went great!  It was a perfect day, and I was able to mix in some trail running with some road running for a total of 7 miles at a pretty good pace.  Extra hydration and some nice music made it very enjoyable.


Orcas running

July 22, 2018

We try to go up to Orcas Island in the San Juan’s every year, usually around Laurie’s birthday in July.  And while I have not tried to do a real long run up there, I usually look forward to a few shorter runs.  On our trip this year, the weather was perfect, and I was able to get two 6 mile runs in.  I really like scouting out running routes in new places, and also really enjoy going back to the same place with some regularity, such that I can repeat or modify previous runs I had done there.  On Orcas, I have a basic 6 mile route, with the possibility of a few interesting variations when it makes sense.  Orcas is a small island, and it has a good mix of sidewalks, road shoulders, trails and paved paths.

Six weeks to go until state 50 in Wyoming!


July 6, 2018

Throughout this crazy marathon quest that I have done, I have had the pleasure of having many people either run these marathons with me, or come support in some way.  My friend Kenneth gets the award for running the most states with me.  He ran my very first marathon with me and my cousin Jim, back in November 2000, and continued to say yes when I asked him to join me on 7 more states.  He did say no a couple of times, but still- 8 is a lot of marathons!  Kenneth is also an architect like me, and we actually worked together for several years in Seattle before he moved back east where he is from.  For a long time during our running time together, I figured that he would be faster and in better shape than me because he is 19 years younger than me.  But it turns out just because you are younger, doesn’t mean you are in better shape.  🙂

Below is a map of the states that he ran with me, noting which marathon state number it was for me.  (The orange state he ran the half marathon while I ran the full Knoxville Marathon.)

State #1- Washington- 2000

My first marathon was the Seattle Marathon, which is run on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  When I asked around at work if anyone was up for running it with me, Kenneth was the only one who said yes.    Kenneth and I trained together, mostly on weekend runs, less often on weekday runs.   As the marathon approached, he traveled back home to South Carolina for Thanksgiving, then came back the day before the race, and was probably not in the best of shape after the holiday.

My cousin Jim also ran with us, and we all ran together for the first 10 miles, then Jim gradually moved ahead while Kenneth and I slowed down a bit. We did say beforehand that we would run together for as long as it worked for everyone, but if someone wanted to run faster or slower, we were okay to split up.  I was needing to slow a bit, but Kenneth was fading faster than me.  We were planning to see Laurie and Ellen and Katie at Leschi which was at mile 18.  Kenneth finally “hit the wall” at mile 14 or so, and he said, “When we get to mile 18 and see your family, I’m done.”.  So we walked for a while and gradually ran a little but mostly walked for 4 or 5 miles up to 18.  When we saw Laurie, he was a little better, and said he was going to finish.  So we ran together for a few miles, then he was still spent, and said he was going to finish but he was going to walk, and told me to take off.  So I did.  We both finished in our own times.

State #2- Minnesota- 2002

My friend Joe lives in Minnesota, and I had heard that the Twin Cities Marathon was a pretty good race.  I asked Kenneth if he would like to join me, and he said yes.  We ran together for a while, but then I must have speeded up, and pretty much left Kenneth in the dust. 🙂

State #7- Virginia- 2005

By this time Kenneth and his family had moved to Washington DC, and the highly regarded Marine Corps Marathon was an easy one to run with Kenneth.  I also ran this with my brother Doug and his son Andrew.  On this one, we pretty much all ran our own race and barely even started together. So Kenneth and I didn’t run together, but it turns out I left Kenneth in the dust on this one, too.

State #21- North Carolina- 2010

Laurie joined me for this marathon, along with a group of others.  In addition to Kenneth, who drove down from DC, my friend Howard and his wife Mary Lou came from Savannah, and Laurie’s brother Jay and his wife Sonja came from Norfolk, VA. Howard ran the half, and Jay ran the 8K.  Kenneth and I pretty much ran together for the whole race, and then when we got to “the hill” at mile 23, Kenneth took off and left me in the dust.  That was a fun marathon with the whole group, and also because this was my first “gauntlet.”  After this marathon, we drove up to Philadelphia and I ran the Philadelphia Marathon the next weekend.

State #29- Maryland- 2013

I decided to run a small marathon in Maryland rather than the big one in Baltimore.  The Lower Potomac Marathon in Piney Point fit the bill, and it was practically in Kenneth’s back yard.  This was the first one where Kenneth pretty much took off after my first walk break.  I guess he didn’t need to walk?  I gradually started reeling him in, as we saw each other at one point where the course doubles back, and he said he was slowing down, and that he went out too fast. Maybe I could catch him?  Kenneth fits the Hare role perfectly, while me- I am Tortoise all the way.  And we all know who eventually wins the race between the Tortoise and the Hare, right?  But this race he still ended up finishing 5 minutes ahead of me.  One of the memorable things about this marathon was having crabcakes and raw oysters the night before the race.  It didn’t make much of a difference in my performance, so I think this was the start of me trying new things the night before instead of the traditional pasta loading fare.

State #37- New Jersey – 2015

Kenneth picked me up at the Philadelphia airport and we drove a couple of hours down to Cape May for the Ocean Drive Marathon.  It was pretty cold at this race, and it was even snowing at the start. I hadn’t brought enough cold weather running clothes, so I ended up buying 4 extra race shirts at the Expo and wearing all of them at the start.   Luckily we were able to hang out in one of the historic hotels in Cape May before the start, and eventually we warmed up as we ran.  This race started out as a repeat of the Maryland race, with Kenneth taking off after my first walk break.  This one, though, the Hare ran out of juice, and the Tortoise passed the Hare at about mile 20.  When I passed Kenneth, I asked how he was doing and he said had a terrible headache, and was not feeling too well.  I ran with him for a while, but after a bit, he said go ahead, he would be fine.  So I did. Left him in the dust, again. 🙂

State #42- Delaware – 2016

We drove to Wilmington, to do the Wilmington Marathon, one of the few marathons in Delaware.  The course was 2 laps around Wilmington, which was not bad, and was actually a nicer course than I expected.  On this one Kenneth said he was going to stay with me no matter what.  I think he might he said he hadn’t been training and was finally going to trust in my system of run/ walking.  He pretty much stayed with me the whole way, and I “let him” run ahead of me at the finish line.

State #46- West Virginia – 2017

This one I flew into Pittsburgh and picked up my friend Ford, who drove us down to the hills of West Virginia, for the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon.  Kenneth met us there after a long drive from DC.  Again, Kenneth said he would stay with me, and I think he was wanting to make sure this old man he has been running with didn’t keel over in the middle of the race.  So my “little brother” was looking out for me. What a nice guy.  We had a good run together, over a very hot and hilly course deep in the bowels of West Virginia and Kentucky.


Final Tally

For the record, it looks like I am “faster” than Kenneth.  So does that mean I am the Hare now?  🙂

In all seriousness, I couldn’t imagine a better running partner. We could talk about anything, and did.  Work (both architects) and family (he and his wife Ashley are raising 3 upstanding young boys) and sports (he went to Clemson and of course follows most Clemson sports, and he follows most sports in general) are all easy topics for us.  Or we could be fine without talking.  We are both interested in distance running, and we mostly run the same pace.  What’s not to like?  Thanks for joining me along the way, Kenneth!

July 4

July 4, 2018

The morning started with a great trail run at St Edwards State Park, then Isla joined the neighborhood 4th of July Parade.  Good day!  Only 8 weeks to Jackson Hole.  All systems go!

Trail run in St Edwards

Isla at the parade

49 down, 1 to go!

June 24, 2018

Okay, I am almost done with my quest.  Just have Wyoming left to do.  Plans are set to do the Jackson Hole Marathon on September 1.  I think we will have a lot of people joining us for this one, so hopefully everything goes okay.  I am ramping up my training, after a comfortable recovery from the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April.  I find myself reflecting back on this marathon quest a little bit more recently, and anticipate that I might share some of my reflections here on this blog as Wyoming training continues.   I am also ruminating on what will come after I reach this quest.  No solid plan yet, besides continuing to run, and occasionally run an interesting marathon or half marathon, but not any structured “quest” right away. I anticipate that I will continue to write on this blog, and reflect on the quest and other running related thoughts or activities that happen…stay tuned!

Kentucky Derby running

May 5, 2018

Today was the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  One week ago today, I ran the Kentucky Derby Festival marathon, for state #49.  Luckily, the weather was a lot better last week than it was today.  They said this was the rainiest Derby ever, while last week, it might have been my most perfect weather for a marathon- clear, sunny, and about 50 degrees with a little cooling breeze.  While today might have been “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” last week was a pretty darn good 5 hours and 20 minutes of my marathon career.  Very pleasant run, including a half a mile through the infield of Churchill Downs, which was very cool.

Today it was Justify in 2 minutes 4 seconds in the mud


Last week was sunny and more than 2 minutes


My running store – Sound Sports

April 5, 2018

Ever since I started running marathons, I have been going to Sound Sports to buy my shoes and other related running stuff.  I bought my first pair of shoes there in 2001.  Their store is on Madison near First Avenue in downtown Seattle, which has always been convenient to my work, but more importantly, owners Cindi and Ben have become friends and advisors on any running related issues that have come up for me over the years.    When I started buying shoes, they were able to guide me to the best shoe for me and my running style, although as it turns out, I have a pretty neutral gait and could wear most any shoe.  After a while, the Brooks Adrenaline became my favorite shoe, and I have been running in that shoe ever since the Adrenaline 5 in 2003. I eventually figured out that I need to replace my shoes about avery 250 miles or so, which translates to about 3 or 4 shoes a year for me. So that’s 15 years of Adrenalines, which translates to about 45 pair of shoes!   There have been occasions when I have bought my Adrenalines at the Brooks Outlet Store, but for the most part I have just gone down to Sound Sports and asked Ben or Cindi to “shoe me.”  I also stock up on my GUs at Sound Sports, and about once a year I replace my running socks- No blisters, guaranteed!

Sounds Sports rocks, you should stop on by sometime!