Have you ever wondered why someone would run a marathon? Or where a marathon originated from? The length of an Olympic marathon was not precisely fixed at first, but the marathon races in the first few Olympic Games were about 40 kilometers (25 mi), roughly the distance from Marathon to Athens by the longer, flatter route. The exact length depended on the route established for each venue, for more on the history of Marathons visit this cool site – Athens Marathon.
Personally, I have participated in only ‘one’ marathon, the Chicago Marathon, which happened October 10th, 2010 — 10/10/10 – Pretty cool! It wasn’t a perfect ’10’ for me by mile 3 my back cramped up and it wasn’t till Mile 14 it loosened up, by that time the damage was done. It probably didn’t help that I just completed a Half Iron-Man two weeks prior as my body didn’t get much rest.
After I completed my first Marathon I thought no more, that was the hardest thing I ever did! So you could imagine my surprise when I learned about the various marathon groups that existed, such as the 50 States Marathon Club– which is a group that basically has a bucket list to run in every state. Their club has roughly 3,768 members in all 50 states, DC, and 13 foreign countries! Their members have run a combined total of more than 229,000 marathons! ‘WOW’. I came across this club three blogs ago, it started from my conversations with Scott Alexander with the Nolensville Run Club where he told me about Todd Oliver the event director for the Carmel Marathon, who belongs to this club. So I wanted to learn more.
So I reached out to Lois Berkowitz who is the President of the 50 States Marathon Club. She told me the club incorporated in 2001. She was an amazing lady to talk with as she had some pretty amazing stories. I could’ve spent the whole day chatting with her. I asked her when she started running, Lois replied ‘I started running October 26, 1978. I was unmarried, living in Toledo. I had a boss that ran 5 miles a day and I was looking to do something. I got in an argument with a neighbor and I stormed out the door – running and I didn’t look back. Within six months I was running 10 miles a day,’ Lois replied. ‘I didn’t start racing till the 80’s and my first event was a run put on by a small hospital in the community. I also joined the Toledo Roadrunners Club – which has 1500 members (some are walkers).’ Lois said.
I asked Lois what she did for a living, Lois replied ‘I worked at a Mazda plant in Flat Rock Michigan. I was in HR, recruitment and then moved into training. I met people there that were runners, and one went with me to run the Glass City Marathon, which I completed in about 4:20. Glass City was my first marathon and I ran in three more that year. I started to average 14-16 marathons a year. While in South Bend, IN to run the Sunburst Marathon in the early 90’s, I met Bob Schimmel, one of the original 50 & DC members, and that is how I heard about running in all 50 states,’ Lois stated.
‘By 1995 I had completed a marathon in 20 states, which was a requirement to join the 50 & DC Group. The 50 States Marathon Club formed in 2001, started by Steve and Paula Boone of Houston, TX. I was a founding member of that group and did the newsletter for the club, which we put out 3-4 times per year. I became part of the board for the club, which is a non-profit. We also have a sub-group within the 50 states club, which tries to complete marathons in all 50 states with sub 4 hour times. Some of our members have completed marathons on all 7 continents. We also have three 50 States Marathon Club members who have completed over 1,000 marathons – Jim Simpson, Larry Macon and Henry Rueden.’ Lois replied.
So I asked Lois how she prepares herself, Lois stated ‘ Recently the side of my legs aren’t as strong, so I have been working to strengthen the hip area. I do a lot of cross-training to keep my legs strong. I do about 1 ½ to 2 hours per day of aerobic exercise. On average I do about 20 miles per week but I have never kept track of my mileage. I would just go out for an hour run,’ Lois replied.
‘The funny thing is the only exercise I previously did prior to running was jumping rope. I started running because my family had a history of strokes and I didn’t want to repeat that history. It was a form of exercise that was mine and I didn’t have to compete with others. I’ve done three Boston Marathons and one 50 miler. One of my favorite events was the New Mexico Ghost Town 38.5,’ Lois went on to say.
So I asked Lois if she felt running helped her professionally, Lois stated ‘ When I completed my first marathon I was given a mug. So I walked in and showed it to my boss – it was immediate confidence, plus it helped me build friendships. I have friends all around the world that run from the very young to much older runners – an example is Don McNelly who is in his 90’s. My friends come from all backgrounds, medical to teachers, airline industry to military,’ Lois replied.
So I went on to ask Lois what advice she would give to someone new to running, Lois replied ‘I met a guy that never ran on the road before, we got to talking and we talked about how these events are yours, nobody else. I told him to figure out his limits, everybody is different and set your goals, don’t adjust toward someone else goal,’ Lois stated.
Some great advice about the accomplishments of running as it relates to personal confidence and people skills. So keep running or walking as its your journey to new places and great friendships!
Thank you so much for spending time with me Lois as you truly are an inspiration and I am now thinking about my next marathon – only thinking ;-).
Be on the lookout for my next blog about the Toledo Road Runners Club as I continue my journey in bringing you inspirational achievements from great people.