Monday, March 11, 2013

Groshek’s journey: Runs half marathon in 25 states (5/20/09)


Groshek’s journey: Runs half marathon in 25 states

Kim Groshek is a native of Plymouth, graduating from Plymouth Comprehensive High School over 2 decades ago, her parents continue to live in the area. She thought it would be inspiring to tell her story. In 2007, Kim Groshek set a goal to run a half marathon in half of the U.S. states.  Two years later, after running the final half in Nebraska, state number 25, the Jefferson woman has run in more than 39 half marathons and 2 marathons.

“I realize how much I gained,” noted Groshek. “Accomplishing my goal was the richest experience; a deep-rooted journey that will stay with me for a lifetime.”

“Through this experience, I developed new friends, gained cultural experiences, tried new things and increased insights,” she added.
The states, in order, where Groshek ran are Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, California, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, New York, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Vermont, Missouri, Kentucky, and Nebraska.

In her travels, Groshek met and ran with people doing a half marathon for their first time, experiencing the emphatic joy, satisfaction and misery of the experience. Runners she has met along the way include:

  • Tim Borland, who having a gift for running, he raised an awareness of A-T by running 63 marathons in 63 days.
  • An ordained pastor, who accepted conversation with Groshek as it was, willing to share with others in her community without pretense or expectation.
  • A tugboat Ocean Master, who flies out of the city to work on the boat seven days nonstop, and then has a week to be with his family in Wisconsin. “His experiences living and working on the water inspired me to learn more about the Great Lakes Alliance and the Urban Ecology Center.” Said Groshek.
  • A retired army colonel, who is living in the moment because she put in her years.
  • A retired art teacher, who travels from Colorado to Wisconsin once a month to take care of her aunt, who just needs someone there to talk.
  • A restaurant owner at the Tuscan, Inn, who generously helped Groshek find a place to stay and welcomed her back with an unforgettable pasta dinner.
  • Natasha Bedingfield, an artist who is in her final revisions of illustrating and writing her book with the premise that it is OK to be an individual who is different. Bedingfield sums it up, “Different people are the same, each reveals a meaning.”
  • A group of ladies who support each other by meeting during their lunch hour to run every day. Each was responsible for a leg on the relay team for the Hogeye marathon in Arkansas.
  • Jared Kramer, the Subway spokesman, who stated that “sticking to it with persistence and determination is significant.”

Traveling to these different places, Groshek learned a lot about geography, culture, and history. While she doesn’t feel that she’s an expert, she shared some of her geographical and cultural insights.

Atlanta, Ga., has a deep-rooted history in the civil rights movement. “It gave me a chill to ride around the city, on a Segway (which also was a new experience), and realize how much each person, especially Martin Luther King Jr., had to go through to send the strong message,” she noted.
“It was amazing to see that some of the restaurant buildings still had white and black bathrooms labels above them. Of course, this is left there to instill the message of what strength each person had to stand for. I keep a special place in my heart for Atlanta, Ga.,” Groshek added.

  • New York City has extraordinarily nice and helpful people, contrary to the impressions of many. “This was a special race because I met helpful people who were just there in the minute with me, during our conversations. It is a tight-knit community who open their arms wide to outsiders,” Groshek said of the Big Apple.
  • San Francisco is beautiful. “This was a breathtaking scene, with Muir Woods, the history of Alcatraz, Lombardi Street, Coit Tower,” said the runner. “And of course, I cannot go without talking about the Golden Gate bridge, which, by the way, is inexplicable hitting the fog running at 6 a.m.
  • New Orleans which was a surprise to Groshek who arrived with little expectations but jazz music and found nothing of the kind. “So many people there are cynical of the government and themselves. It was sad to experience with gloom hovering over the city, when all it takes is stepping up and taking accountability. On the positive side she found that the surrounding parks, such as Audubon Park, were beautiful and worth seeing.
  • The winding roads and morning haze hanging in the mountains at Allison Park, Pa., were breathtaking. “I will definitely go back to experience more of the Pennsylvania area during the summer and fall months,” she added.
  • Seattle offered so much to see like the tantalizing haze over the peaks of Mount Saint Helen, standing 50 miles away. “It was like I was fixed at the bottom of the mountain, taking in the deep fog in every breath,” she observed.
  • Each Midwestern state has divergent, deep-rooted characteristics. The heterogeneity of the Midwest has a distinct friendly, energetic and considerate feel.
  • “Ah! Colorado!” were the words that summed up Groshek’s experience in the mountain state. “The mountains give me a sense of solitude, relaxation and time to think. Running at the 5,688-foot elevation makes it difficult to breath, but it was a story to tell once I finished. Everyone I met seemed to be a health and fitness ‘nut’. I felt right at home here and love going back at every chance.” She noted.
  • Of her home state of Wisconsin, Groshek said “Green Bay is the most nostalgic because the last mile is in the Lambeau Field Stadium. The cheering in the stands were incredible.”

Groshek’s running goal also provided her with many adventures:

  • Riding a Segway. “I recommend everyone try a Segway Once mastered, it is a blast.”
  • Hiking the mountains at the 5,000-plus mile altitude to watch the sunrise in the early morning gave Groshek time to hear beautiful songs created by the wind blowing in the trees.
  • Sitting inside a hollowed-out redwood tree, which provided her with the realization of how small she was.
  • Running a beautiful route in Central Park along with local New York runners, seeing people sightseeing along the route and a local bike race looping the course several times.
  • Running in high humidity and heat. “In Florida I ran in over 100 percent humidity. I mustered enough energy to run along the oceanfront, cutting through the thick humid air,” said Groshek. “In Louisville, I ran in the dry 86-degree heat, only to surprise myself by cutting my time by 6 minutes.
  • Driving more than 3000 miles solo, driving as far as Arkansas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
  • Writing the first draft of her children’s book, which is on the road to be published and distributed. “An 8-year-old was so excited once I read him the story in a local café overlooking Lake Champlain.” Noted Groshek.

Along the way, Groshek also learned lessons about herself including that “running is a gift that heals my soul.” She learned to enjoy each moment, experiencing the high and low moments and taking enough time to listen and learn the messages.

From her two-year experience, Groshek said, “I became familiar with the nation by being a participant rather than an observer.”

“It was a wonderful opportunity to see different places and meet diverse and interesting people.”

“This life illustration is something I will cherish forever. While my goal to run a half marathon in 25 states has been accomplished, my journey has just begun.” “Who knows, maybe I’ll set a new goal, to run in the remaining 25 states,” she concluded.

PHOTO by: LM Groshek

Photo Caption: Pictured above, Wisconsin runner, Kim Groshek poses with the medals she has won in front of the map showing the states in which she has participated in half marathons. In 2007, Groshek set a goal to run a half marathon in half of the U.S. states. Groshek met many interesting people and learned a lot about the U.S. and herself while on her journey. “While my goal to run a half marathon in 25 states has been accomplished, my journey has just begun. Who knows, maybe I’ll set a new goal, to run in the remaining 25 states,” she noted.

Note: My hopes are to inspire others to strive toward their dreams with creativity, authenticism and resiliency.

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