Patricia Rosa at race

Member Story – Patricia Rosa

A Q&A with FCRC Member Patricia Rosa who completed a marathon in all the states last December.

How long have you been running? 

I dabbled in running a little bit during college, but didn’t actually join a training group until 2002. But I have consistently run since then. 

What got you started on marathons? 

I first trained for a half-marathon with my friend. We had such a good time that we decided we should try to train for a full marathon. My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon. When I first started running marathons I had not heard of the 50 States Club, so it definitely wasn’t an immediate goal. There was another woman in my running club who was also doing the 50 states and she wanted to finish before her 60th birthday. We figured out that we had run a similar number of states left and our birthdays were both in December, so we decided to finish at the same marathon. 

How did you settle on your goal of running a marathon in all 50 states? 

I got serious about finishing my 50 State journey about six years ago. Up to that point, I was only running one or two marathons a year. But, I realized at that point, it was going to take me forever to complete the states and the marathons weren’t getting any easier and I wasn’t getting any younger! 

How did you come up with the order of states that you ended up doing? 

I didn’t really have a set order for completing them. I started out by looking at the states that I had done and looking at which states I had left to complete. When I committed to the goal of finishing them by the time I turned 60, I had to run six marathons a year. So the order was dictated in part by which states had marathons in the months that I wanted to run. 

Share about any ‘doubles’ (2 marathons in 2 states in 2 days) or periods where you ran multiple marathons in a short period of time. How did that go?

I did not do any true doubles, but there were two times this past year that I had to run marathons on back-to-back weekends. I was concerned because I had not done that before. But, I was surprised as I felt great during both races on those back to back weekends. 

Patricia Rosa at finish lineAlong the way, what additional marathons did you do (that didn’t count towards your 50 states) and why? 

As I mentioned, my first marathon was in Chicago in 2002. I enjoyed that marathon so much that I ran it a total of seven times. So, needless to say, those other six times didn’t count toward my 50 states journey. I also repeated some states a few times, so those other marathons also didn’t count. I have run a total of 61 marathons, so I have eleven “extra” marathons. 

Did you ever think about abandoning your overall goal? If so, how did you overcome that? 

No, I never thought about abandoning my goal. There were certainly challenges along the way, (like a broken arm and the COVID pandemic), but I never once thought about abandoning this goal. 

Did you make a big deal about any of your marathons along the way such as #10, #25, or #40 or how did you celebrate the mini-milestones along the way? 

No, I didn’t really celebrate any of the mini milestones. I was just focused on getting to State No. 50. 

Share the highlights about your 50th state marathon experience. Finishing my 50 state journey in Kiawah this past December was extra special because I was able to share it with my good friend who was also finishing her 50 state journey. It was incredible because so many of our family and friends were able to be there with us to help us celebrate. It was truly something that I will never forget! 

How did it feel as you ran that final mile and also when you saw that finish line for the 50th and final time?

I felt so full of gratitude as I ran the final mile and approached the finish line of the marathon. Gratitude to my family for putting up with all of the training and travel that this goal required over the years, gratitude for my friends for traveling to Kiawah to celebrate with me, gratitude for a wonderful coach who helped me reach this goal and who never once questioned whether I could do it. Gratitude for my good health so that I could complete all these marathons. 

What were your favorite marathons and why? 

The Boston Marathon in 2010 will always be my favorite marathon. I tried so hard to qualify for that race and had fallen short several times before. But I decided in 2009 that I was going to run the Kansas City Marathon and run with a pacer. The pacer was able to push me over the finish line with eight seconds to spare! Back in those days, you thankfully didn’t need a cushion of several minutes in order to qualify. Because I had to work really hard to get there, running Boston was truly a dream come true. 

What was your largest and smallest marathon (estimate the number of runners for each)? 

The largest marathon that I ran was in New York City in 2022 and the smallest race was in Oklahoma City. It was a very small marathon that only had about 88 runners. 

Any crazy weather or terrain that you had to deal with?

I’ve had two really crazy weather races. The first was in Wichita in 2018. The race was in mid-October and the weather that time of year is usually pretty good. But that day there was rain in the forecast. It started out as just a gentle rain, but at mile 3 the sky opened up and it poured constantly for the next 23 miles. Also, as the day wore on the temperatures which had started in the mid 50’s began dropping and the wind picked up. By the time that I finished the race, I think I had hypothermia. It was the most miserable race I’ve ever run! 

I also encountered some pretty crazy weather this past April when I ran Big Sur. We encountered a sustained headwind of 20 mph with 35 mph

gusts of wind. They also have some pretty crazy hills, so I felt like I was fighting the whole way to make any forward progress. But, the scenery was spectacular, so that definitely helped! 

What were the most challenging marathons to run and why? One of my most challenging marathons was South Dakota. The race advertised that they would have Gatorade and snacks including fruit at all the aid stations, so I just packed my normal Gu’s. However, there was a miscommunication between the race director and the aid station coordinators and there was absolutely NO gatorade the entire race. They didn’t even have any at the end of the race. It was also pretty warm that day, so I was sweating a lot. It taught me that it never hurts to take your own electrolytes with you. 

What advice would you give anyone wanting to do 50 states? I would advise someone just starting out to: 1) Join the 50 State Facebook group. They are an amazing community of people and have really good suggestions and recommendations on races to run or to avoid and all sorts of helpful suggestions regarding travel and logistics; 2) Figure out how many marathons you would like to run a year, make a schedule and set a deadline. 

What now? Please share any upcoming racing goals you may have. Now that I have finished the states, I am going to work on finishing the World Marathon Majors. Joe and I were fortunate enough to have our names drawn through the lottery for the Berlin Marathon this coming fall, so that is the next goal. I hope to finish the other two (Tokyo and London) in 2026 if I am lucky enough to get entries to those races.


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