2017 World Championship 24-Hour Run, Belfast, UK

FAQ about running across the USA

Q: Why am I running across the USA?

A:My run is driven by gratitude for the beauty of this country, and the freedom it affords to dream big, work hard, and achieve goals. One of the values that we hold dear in this great country is the equal right of every citizen to vote. Gerrymandering -- when politicians redraw voting districts to ensure their own reelection -- is a fundamental thread to our democracy. Through this run, I am fundraising for MGGG, a non-profit, non-partisan group of mathematicians who are developing algorithms and advocacy to fight gerrymandering and ensure the right of every citizen to equal representation in our government. Please consider donating on my Facebook page @runjennyrun2019.

Q: What is the world record for running across the USA?

A: The men's record is held by Pete Kostelnick:
https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/fastest-crossing-of-america-(usa)-on-foot-(male)
He ran 3,067 miles from SF city hall to NY city hall, in 42 days, 6 hours, 30 minutes, during fall 2016.

The women's record is unofficially held by Sandra Villines (Guinness is still officially verifying, but we all know she did it right!)
https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-news/sandra-villines-north-american-transcontinental-world-record/
She ran 3,127 miles on a very similar route to Pete's, in 54 days, 16 hours, 24 minutes, during fall 2017.

Q: Am I going for the world record?

A: Of course! But I have tremendous new respect for the trans-con runners before me. It's not just about running the miles every day - it's navigating all the extra challenges like impassible bridges, narrow shoulders, big trucks that blow your hat off along with all your ice that was keeping you cool in the desert, winds that literally blow you off the road, lack of cell service & miscommunications, ... and I'm sure 100s more that I haven't encountered yet but will ...

I'm also registered on the FKT site ("fastest known time"):
https://fastestknowntime.com/

Q: Why don't my mileages match up?

A: I'm carrying 2 devices:

(1) Garmin Forerunner 945 watch, which is recording position whenever I change directions, up to every second as necessary, with accuracy 3 meters when out in the open. It also automatically pauses if I stop briefly (e.g. for bodily input or output), so it doesn't get extra position jitter if I'm not really moving. Aside from my first few miles in SF on the first day, when surrounded by tall buildings that limited the GPS accuracy, I think the Forerunner is the most accurate measure of my distance. I've tested it a against the mile markers on the highways, and against Google map distances, and it's been within a fraction of a percent since the first day.

(2) Garmin Inreach tracker. This device records every 30 seconds, but it beams up only 1 location every 10 minutes (these are the blue points you see on my mapshare site). There is some way to Bluetooth all the 30 second points over to my phone and then beam them up too, but I haven't figured it out yet. Even so, the total Inreach distance won't be quite as accurate as the Forerunner because it will miss some turns within the 30s intervals. Out here in the desert where the roads are pretty straight, the 2 devices agree to within a percent, but when there are lots of right angles (e.g. day 1) they can differ by up to 10% or more.

All of my Forerunner measurements (the frequent, accurate ones) are also synced to my Strava account, so whenever I have cell service at the end of the day, you can see the accurate tracks and distances there too:
https://www.strava.com/athletes/37580841/training/log

So far, I think my totals are:

Day 1: ~74 miles (Forerunner says 78.2 miles but I don't trust the measurements of all those city miles, so I'm going with the Google map distance)
Day 2: 66 miles
Day 3: 63.25
Day 4: 60
Day 5: 61
Day 6: 60.3
Day 7: 20
Day 8: 63.8
Day 9: 3.45 miles (at which point, my watch helpfully told me that I am "detraining")
Day 10: 58 miles
Day 11: 61 miles
Day 12: 63 miles
Day 13: 64 miles
Day 14: 60 miles
... TOTAL as of Day 26: 1544 miles
Daily average: 59.4 miles/day

Q: What is my full route?

A: Pete Kostelnick (my teammate at the 2017 World Championship 24-Hour Run in Belfast) has been very generous in offering me advice for this journey. So far, I'm largely following his route here:
https://share.garmin.com/peterkostelnick
We'll probably make some modifications in the midwest, since he swung north a bit to pass through his hometown of Boone, Iowa. But it's challenging to find a good route that travels on moderate roads (not interstates that disallow pedestrians, but not rutted jeep farm roads that peter out). Finding pedestrian-friendly bridges to cross the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers will also be a challenge. My husband Daniel and crew Phil McCarthy (who ran across the country himself last fall, in the 5th fastest time ever, just under 50 days) will work it out, and eventually post the rest of my route ahead of time on my mapshare site.

Q: Can I meet up & run with you?

A: Yes, I would love company! Eventually my full route will be posted, and you can message my crew Phil McCarthy or Dean Hart on Facebook to figure out the best way to meet up with me. You can always find my approximate current location here:
https://share.garmin.com/runjennyrun
But be warned that it lags at least 10 minutes behind real time.

Jenny's 2019 Run Across the USA

On Sept 11, 2019, I will begin a run across the United States of America from San Francisco to New York. My run is driven by gratitude for the beauty of this country, and the freedom it affords to dream big, work hard, and achieve goals. I will post daily updates on my facebook page, and more substantive reflections here, including a series of fun analogies between my love of running and my day job as a quantum physicist, so please subscribe to both!

Running and Quantum Mechanics

In my day job, I'm a physicist. So I thought it would fun to draw an analogy between running and quantum mechanics. Even if you haven't officially studied physics in school (or if you did study it, but hated it), your real-life experience makes you an excellent experimental physicist. So bear with me, as I try to explain quantum mechanics in terms of running.

Mechanics is the study of how macroscopic (big, tangible) objects behave as they move, or as forces are applied to them. From your own life as an experimental physicist, you have a pretty good intuition for "classical mechanics" – i.e. the trajectory of a baseball when you throw it, or the effect on a car when it smashes into a wall. You know that throwing the ball harder gives it more "momentum" ($p$), which makes it harder to hit or catch (i.e. harder to change the direction of motion). You know that driving the car faster gives it more "energy" ($E$), which makes it crumple more when it hits the wall (i.e. the extra energy can deform the metal more). Quantum mechanics describes the motion of microscopic objects, like the atoms and electrons that are the basic quantized building blocks of the world around us. The catch is that when particles are really tiny, they act like waves as well as particles, which is outside the realm of our daily experience. But I'll give a simple running example to show how this works.