Nadia Guimont, 35, of Bowie, MD, has been a MilestonePod fan from almost day one. We first met Nadia when she used her Pod to run the Miami Marathon on her treadmill after a January 2016 blizzard cancelled her travel plans. (And even though Miami Marathon sent her a medal, that feat did not count in her 50 state tally so she headed back to FL in November for the Space Coast Marathon).
We have had so much fun watching Nadia travel around the country checking off each state – always with a smile and always surrounded by friends she has met on this incredible journey. We were lucky enough to have Nadia answer our burning questions about what it’s REALLY like to run a marathon in all 50 states. The interview below is in Nadia’s own words, with minor edits for clarity and space. Enjoy!
Milestone Sports: Why did you decide to try for 50 states?
Nadia: In 2014, I made a trip to North Carolina to see my sister and new nephew. I thought it would be an added benefit to be able to run a race while I visited, which I did. When I got back home, I looked into the requirements for becoming a Marathon Maniac and 50 Stater, and decided to formally declare my goal to run a marathon in every state. My original timeline was to finish by 2020.
MS: Tell us about your running history.
Nadia: I served in the U.S. Army on active duty for 10 years. During that time, we were required to run a few times per week and to take a bi-annual fitness test that included a timed two-mile run. I never had a desire to run outside of that. It wasn’t until I entered the reserves that I found someone who inspired me to run.
MS: Some of your states came back to back on one weekend. How does that feel?
Nadia: The first double that I completed was in January 2016. It was fun for me, as I paced with my boyfriend Halbert, and was able to reserve my energy for later on in the race. Due to his help, I actually achieved a faster time on the second marathon.
My second double was taxing enough that I wanted to quit. It was the “Mittens Challenge,” back to back marathons in Wisconsin and Michigan. The first race was chilly, hilly and sandy. It was so challenging to run in those conditions. After completing the first race, I overslept after attempting to take a nap, and didn’t eat dinner the night before the second race. I also didn’t re-hydrate or roll out my muscles. I was not mentally or physically prepared for Sunday. I remember cursing a lot, and walking during the first mile. I really wanted to quit and just try again on another day. Thankfully, I was running with my boyfriend Halbert and good friend Alicja. They both cheered me on and refused to let me quit. That was a valuable lesson for running through the discomfort, and also a reminder to take care of my body.
My last double went well because I ran both races with two pacers, Breanna Waldrup and Andrew Olsen. They have completed over a hundred races together, many as pacers. They were very helpful and provided encouragement, stories, and a nice distraction. Breanna and Andrew made a huge difference in my mood, and increased my desire to keep running instead of walking. I finished both races with good times (for me) and felt pretty good afterwards. Pacing yourself for the race you’re running sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to let that fly out the window if you’re feeling better than expected.
MS: Speaking of Halbert, we hear you found love on this journey! Tell us about that.
Nadia: Yes! One of the great things about running as a hobby is that you meet like-minded people. I met Halbert through the Marathon Maniacs Facebook page. I began adding people who seemed to be consistent runners, and active in the marathon community. I sent Halbert a friend request, and he accepted. He says he tried to catch up to me on a couple subsequent races, but I guess I was running too fast. Ha ha! One day I posted about missing the packet pickup for the Route 66 Marathon. He offered to help, as he was already at the expo. From there we kept chatting and became great friends. Months down the road, we began scheduling races together. Halbert lives in Kentucky, while I reside in Maryland. During the weekends when we didn’t have races, we met in the middle (West Virginia), a five-hour drive for each of us. We have many tendencies in common, and it really helps that we share a hobby that takes up so much of our time.
MS: You work full time. How do you make the time for planning and travel? Seems like running might be the easy part!
Nadia: Halbert worked with me to plan my race schedule a year in advance. I told him that I wanted to complete the Marathon Maniacs’ highest level of achievement: Titanium. It can be attained if in one calendar year, you complete 30 marathons in 30 different states, 52 marathons total or 20 marathons in 20 different countries. I wanted to reach Titanium via the 30 states route, but also complete a marathon in every state with no repeated states. Halbert and I created a spreadsheet of existing marathons for each state and sorted by date. From there, I selected the ones that sounded the most interesting. Then the hard work of logistics began. We were sure to build in flexibility. It was a lot a work initially, but it really paid off to do the scheduling upfront. It helped tremendously to have this plan in place, especially when I had to skip a race.
MS: The cost of this journey seems like it would add up quickly! How do you plan your budget?
Nadia: One awesome thing about being part of the Marathon Maniacs is that you make a lot of friends with similar goals and shared interests. That being said, you can coordinate with each other to share the costs of your trip. Another important thing that I did was to plan for price increases in registration fees. The most expensive aspect of this goal is the cost of flying. There’s no way around it. You just have to buy your tickets early. The good thing about this hobby is that it’s just that: a hobby. It’s not mandatory, it’s not my job, and I can live without it. I haven’t gone into debt as a result, and I don’t plan to. I have a personal rule of living within my means.
MS: What has been the hardest part of reaching 50 states?
Nadia: Dealing with overuse injury. My training really suffered once my racing ramped up. There were numerous painful marathons that I endured over the year. I suffered through new injuries that I hadn’t experienced before. Doctor visits resulted in a diagnosis of overuse. Running through an injury is not something that I recommend.
MS: Time to play favorites. What event has been your favorite marathon and why?
Nadia: The Louisiana Marathon was my favorite. I was born in Louisiana but had not been back for a long time. This race had a pretty course lined with large, ancient southern live oaks with Spanish moss. We ran through LSU, along a waterfront with numerous pelicans, through rich neighborhoods where families handed out mimosas, pieces of king cake, doughnuts, etc. The post-race party was exactly that – a party! There was a zydeco band playing music while we noshed on gumbo, jambalaya, strawberry-lemonade daiquiris, and beer. To top it all off, it occurred on my birthday weekend. They also had great SWAG.
MS: Tell us about your 50th state!
Nadia: My 50th state will be the Maui Oceanfront marathon in Hawaii on January 15, 2017, my 35th birthday. I originally wanted to finish in Washington state, but became antsy when the ideal race there wouldn’t occur until May 2017.
A lot of people finish their 50 states journey in either Alaska or Hawaii, but I wanted to be a little different. Plus, I lived in Hawaii for four years when I was in the military, so visiting wasn’t a huge deal for me. It was Alicja’s idea to finish in Maui on my birthday. Ironically, she will be Hawaii at the same time, attempting her second 100-mile race, the HURT 100.
MS: After your 50th state is checked off, then what? Do you have a “next” running goal?
Nadia: I’ve already made a goal to complete my first 100-mile race at the Yeti 100 in September. I completed my first 100k soon after my 49th state, and felt amazing. I feel confident that if I pace myself and fuel myself properly, I can finish.
In addition to running a 100-miler, I also want to become faster. I have less than half the number of races on my schedule for this year. I know that burnout and injury is a threat to my success, so reducing my number of races and shifting to structured training is my plan for 2017.
MS: Good luck, we will be cheering from afar!
Nadia: Thank you!