I began writing this blog in December 2007 under the title “Absolut(ly) Fit.” I chose the name to reflect a belief that I had then (and still have today): the best way to live a healthy and happy lifestyle is to maintain balance. Of course it’s good for your body to work out and eat healthy food most of the time, but it’s also good for your spirit to eat the foods you enjoy. Perhaps you want to set an ambitious goal like training for a marathon – but in the pursuit of that, you don’t need to give up everything else in order to succeed.
I didn’t always have this philosophy of balance. Growing up, I preferred musical theater to sports, and never understood how someone could do both. In my mind, you were either artsy or sporty – but never both. I began to challenge this and other assumptions while doing a college internship in Sarasota, Florida. Finding it difficult to make friends in a strange place, I told myself that I could either be miserable and have a terrible summer, or I could make the best of it and spend the time trying to improve myself in some way. I decided that I was going to do two things I had previously thought impossible: learn to cook and learn to run.
The cooking was easy; the running was a bit harder. I had defined my goal as being able to run one mile without stopping, and lacking any better running equipment, I drove my car in a loop around the neighborhood until the odometer read one mile – that was how far I needed to go. For two months I pounded the pavement, working my way up to running more and walking less of that distance. By the end of the summer I had not only been able to run my one mile “course ” without stopping, but I also completed a 5K race (though that was with plenty of walk breaks)! I was so proud of myself, and told everyone I knew. But after running one mile, I wondered – could I run two miles? How about three?
I gradually increased my distance, completing a 5 mile race, then a 10K (6.2 miles), and eventually a 10 miler. In December 2007, shortly after starting “Absolut(ly) Fit”, I decided it would be my New Year’s resolution to complete a half marathon by the end of the year. I smashed that resolution before the end of the month when I ran the Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park. I was shocked that I had been able to complete it – I thought for sure I was pushing my limits further than I could go. But I did it, and now I wondered – could I somehow complete a full marathon?
I started adding more miles on to my “training sessions” (which were actually just early Saturday morning attempts to burn off the calories of the alcohol and late-night pizza/tacos/etc I had consumed with my friends the night before). I didn’t follow a real training plan, but typically tried to add five to ten minutes onto whatever I had done the last time I went for a run, and that gradual increase helped me to progress injury-free. I didn’t worry about how fast I was going, and instead focused on enjoying the gorgeous views and surprisingly quiet calm of Manhattan on a weekend morning.
But while it wasn’t too hard to do just another five to ten minutes than I had done the week before, the extra mileage was adding up – until one weekend morning, I ran 22 miles! Although I hadn’t been following a formal training plan, I had read enough to know that most marathon training plans stopped around 22 miles… so it seemed that I was ready to go the full distance. I signed up for the Vermont City Marathon a few weeks later, selecting it in large part because it was sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s and promised free ice cream at the finish. If anything was going to get me to run 26.2 miles, it was ice cream!
My mom and my best friend came to cheer me on, holding signs that said “run to the ice cream, Laura!” That motivation certainly helped – whenever I saw their signs, you can bet that I ran a little faster! Of course I had some soul-searching, “why did I sign up for this” moments in the last few miles (what first-time marathoner doesn’t?), but within a few minutes after the finish line, the memories of the tough times were completely replaced by pride of accomplishment. I did it!
In fact, I was so elated that instead of wanting to stop there, I decided to run another marathon. And another after that. To this day, no matter how many marathons I’ve run, there is nothing like that feeling of conquering the impossible I get when I cross a marathon finish line. It never gets old!
I set a new ambitious goal for myself – to run a marathon in each U.S. state by my 25th birthday – and completed it on June 6, 2010, just two years and one week after I completed my first marathon. In doing so, I broke the world record as the youngest woman to run a marathon in all 50 states. I didn’t stop there, though – in November 2013, I ran my 100th marathon to become the youngest member of the 100 Marathon Club. As of this writing (December 2014), I’ve run 105 marathons in 50 US states, one US territory, and six countries.
While I was working toward my “50 marathons by my 25th birthday” challenge, I picked up the 50by25 moniker – and now that I’m a bit older and perhaps not quite so focused on college drinking games and the NYC bar scene, I thought rebranding my blog to 50by25 would make more sense. Yes, I’ve already completed the 50by25 goal and want to move onto new challenges. However, I think the short-and-sweet 50by25 phrase is a great example of how to set a goal, break it up into manageable chunks, and achieve it. It’s quantifiable, it’s timebound, and for me, it provided something inspiring enough to work toward that I didn’t give up even when things got tough. 50by25 is a huge part of who I am today, and a reminder that I can do the “impossible.” Of course I hope to accomplish more in my life and not just rest on my laurels from here on out, but 50by25 was really the perfect quest and serves as a great template for future endeavors.
Though I still run marathons (and write about them on the blog), you’ll find that my blog now focuses a lot on goal setting, productivity, and travel in addition to the usual health and fitness topics. I think mastering these activities is the best way to enjoy life and attain true happiness, and I’m eager to learn and share as much as I can about those topics! If you’re not sure where to start, check out my top posts page that I put together for new visitors.
Thanks for coming by, and if you have any questions, always feel free to leave a comment on a post or contact me anytime :)