My Airplane Double (a.k.a Two Windy, Miserable Marathons)

I just completed marathons in my 47th and 48th states. It was another double marathon weekend, and my first “airplane double” meaning that I had to fly in between races. It may have seemed strange to pair Indianapolis with New Hampshire, but my other options were to travel an additional weekend this fall (and I wanted at least a couple weekends at home), or to wait until next fall (there aren’t really any marathons in New Hampshire in the spring). So, I did it. And I’ll be honest: while my non-running time was spent with friends, my running time was largely spent solo and was very miserable on both days due to the weather.

My weekend medals and my updated states map; just need Oregon and New Jersey
On Friday I flew direct from DC to Indianapolis and met up with Abbi, who had already picked up my race packet for Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. We checked into the Westin and realized we wouldn’t be able to make the 50 States Marathon Club reunion meeting. Or if we did, we’d pretty much arrive while everyone was leaving. So, we relaxed for a short time and then went to Palomino for dinner with friends. What started out as a 6-person table quickly grew to more than a dozen as more Marathon Maniacs tagged along. We had a satisfying meal and then enjoyed Shawn’s homemade mimosa cupcakes for dessert.

Indianapolis Monumental pre-race dinner
We knew the weather was going to be cold and windy for our race the next day, but it was disheartening to leave dinner and walk back to the hotel in the snow flurries!

I'm walking back to the Westin in the wet snow after dinner
Abbi and I had trouble deciding how to dress in the morning. She was planning to run the half marathon, so she’d be running at a faster pace and would finish hours before me. I had to think about being comfortable for the entire day. I’d had a tough double two weeks ago in Kansas City and DesMoines, so I needed to go easy in order to finish both Indianapolis and Manchester City (the following day in New Hampshire) in one piece. We dressed and went out to the frigid starting area just outside the hotel. There, we met up with Jen, Jen and Robert, and collectively we missed the Marathon Maniac photo (again).

Bundled up! Robert, Jen, Abbi, Sandy, Jen (two Jens are better than one!)

Huddled runners before the start

Early in the race we ran past the Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Very quickly, I knew this was going to be a tough race. Although the course was relatively flat, the cold and the wind were my enemies. I was uncomfortably cold the entire way. I ran my first few miles alone, except for a short stint with Kate, whom I’d met at Beat the Blerch. Then I met up with Abbi and Larry. I stayed with them only a short while and then pushed ahead (but not for long). I leapfrogged with Larry a couple more times, and also with another Maniac named Joe, who was from Massachusetts. I ran a decent enough half marathon, but after that my pace and my motivation were shot.

Selfie with Abbi and Larry before the half split

Beer drinking selfie with Joe and Kelly - local beer from Sun King Brewery

The Indiana State Fairgrounds; Maniac Joe in the green jacket on the left
I really had trouble keeping up my pace in the cold air with the wind blowing, and I walked more than I wanted. I had to face the reality that I don’t perform well in cold weather races. My muscles just don’t warm up enough and my body has no efficiencies whatsoever. The best I could do was just keep moving forward. The good news was that there were interesting things to see on the course.

Abstract basketball court art

Love and foliage at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Veterans Memorial Plaza on the way to the finish
One thing I didn’t like about this race was the single loop course. I definitely like a course that shows me new scenery, but I also like when there are out & back sections so you can run past both faster-than-you and slower-than-you runners. It’s when I’m able to see my Maniac and 50 Stater friends on a race course that I find some additional motivation. No such opportunities on this course, and even if I did pass a Maniac or they passed me, it was difficult to recognize people because we were all bundled up.
That said, the race was very well organized, and I certainly can’t blame them for the weather. The support was good, and the swag was too. In addition to our participant shirt, we were presented with the following at the finish line: a nice medal, an embroidered finisher stocking cap, and a recovery jacket. My finish line experience was enhanced because Abbi came out to run in with me, and I saw some familiar faces after I crossed.

Abbi and me with our medals

With Bill

With Frank
Due to a much appreciated late check-out at the Westin, I was able to enjoy a hot bath to warm up my chilled-to-the-bone self. I could have stayed in that tub forever, but there was only so much time to catch my flights to Manchester. Abbi dropped me off at the Indianapolis airport, where I grabbed a burrito and then hopped on my first flight. I had been upgraded to First Class, and I had the cabin to myself on my Indianapolis to Philadelphia segment. The flight attendant saw my medal and told me that I had earned my in-flight Dos Equis.

I really did drink a Dos Equis, no kidding
My next segment was Philadelphia to Manchester where I also enjoyed First Class seating. Barb picked me up in Manchester and took me to the hotel where she had already checked in. It was 10 PM, but because of the one-hour “fall back” time change, we got plenty of sleep.
The next morning was another wardrobe conundrum. Manchester was also going to be cold, and even windier. In addition, the course was going to be quite hilly, thus making this the more difficult day of my double. We bundled up even more than I had the day before in Indy, and drove into town for the early start. I was very thankful for the early start, which was recommended for marathoners expecting to finish in over 5 hours. That was me…and several others.
Manchester City early start Maniacs keeping warm in the ATM vestibule

Emily (in left background), Kerri, Barb, Sandy
Off we went, with no fanfare at all. I started out in the cold New England air on feet that were still sore from the day before. I was uncomfortable from the start. Even with all my layers, my muscles were cold, and every jarring strike of the pavement sent pain throughout my body. Anything that jiggled hurt. I honestly considered quitting before I even got to Mile 1. I could not envision spending several hours feeling that awful. It didn’t help that I had one of my tension headaches and the medicine hadn’t yet kicked in. I ran through scenarios in my mind. What if I decided to take the half marathon split? What if I just decided to save my body and my sanity and go for coffee instead of running? But then, I’d need to wait until next fall to complete a New Hampshire marathon, and what if it wasn’t any warmer even then? What would I tell everyone after announcing my plan to finish my 50 states in Oregon in May?

The starting line before the early starters lined up

Intense, cold selfie; I was not happy with the freezing wind
Eventually, things improved a bit for me, but I cannot say that I ever felt good during this race. I mentally committed to finishing in spite of the pain, the winds that gusted up to 40 MPH, and the icy air that kept my body cold and uncomfortable. I kept going even when I ran my worst 10K ever, then my worst (non-trail) 10 miler ever, and then my second worst (non-trail) half marathon (Groundhog Day was worse). I kept going when the lead pack passed me after 10K even though I had an hour head start on them. Yeah…it was that bad both physically and mentally. And just like Indianapolis, this was a looped course, so I would never see my fellow early starters, who were mostly all ahead of me; I would never see another Maniac unless they came up behind me, said a quick hello and then jetted ahead of me. It was another tough marathon spent largely alone.

House/barn (?) with ginormous pumpkin

The leaders coming through and passing me
And on top of the loneliness and the bad weather, it was unfortunate that the course was open to traffic. In most cases, there weren’t even traffic cones separating the runners from oncoming cars, so many of us ran on the sidewalks for safety. But the sidewalks, as many of the roads, were often uneven, potholed and crumbling. So, there was the additional mental and physical challenge of staying safe from traffic and safe from tripping. The one good thing about the course was that it was well-marked, and there was a volunteer or a police officer at every major turn or dangerous intersection.

I loved how well the course was marked, including here at the entrance to the trail

The dirt trail was excellent, and someone had marked all the roots and rocks with bright orange paint
Very bundled up running around the lake
In the final miles, I did share some of the course with 50 Stater Mike from Maine. I had seen him two weeks prior in Kansas City. He had run this race every year, and was able to describe the remaining few miles as mostly flat (and they were, except an awful climb between Miles 25.5 and 26). He said that it used to be even MORE hilly.

Crossing a bridge over the river with about 2 miles to go, and just wanting to get to town NOW
Coming in for the finish - finally!
Eventually, I finished. I received my medal and a mylar blanket, and grabbed a couple snacks before meeting up with Barb. We needed to leave right away because of her flight time. I didn’t even have time to change until we got to the airport. I congratulated Barb on earning state #25, signifying her halfway point in her 50 states quest. And then we parted ways, not even thinking to get a post-race pic together. I flew home on a direct flight (but not in First Class). It was nice to have Scot pick me up at the airport, to grab carryout from Chipotle, and to come home to cats who wanted to snuggle.

In the Manchester airport with my Manchester City medal before I hit the airport bar
The whole weekend happened so quickly. Well…the running didn’t happen quickly, but all the other weekend events seemed to occur so fast. There was little time to stop, breathe and relax in between flights, drives and meals. There was no room for error in this logistically challenging “airplane double”. I have to send major appreciation and thanks to Abbi and Barb for taking care of picking up my packets and chauffeuring me in Indianapolis and Manchester, respectively. I could not have done it without their amazing support!
I am so relieved that I am finished with double marathons. And I am finished with picking out marathons just because they are in new states that fit into my calendar. My next two states are planned well in advance, are races I want to do on their own merit, and are places where I will have friends supporting me. Looking forward to a lighter race schedule before New Jersey in April and Oregon in May.


  1. Very nice recap... hate running alone too. You are very welcome. I enjoyed the company and look forward to your 50th in OR! :)

    1. I don't mind running alone if the other conditions are good. But I was just so miserable for both of these races. Good to see you, though!


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