How does one run 14,000 miles? One hundred steps at a time.
This wonderfully simple prescription is Dr. Tom Hallee’s recipe for a successful running career. The 68-year-old psychiatrist has made running a lifetime passion.
Since his 40th birthday, he has logged 14,000 miles, but he ran many untracked miles before that.
When he was approaching age 60, when most people would think about slowing down, he decided to undertake an almost unimaginable feat, even for a much younger person—to run 50 marathons in 50 states—and do it by the time he turned 70.
“I decided when I found out about the 50-state marathon club, I said, ‘Hey, that would be a great way to stay motivated to continue running.’”
In May, after three attempts, he finally completed his goal by running the Rhode Island marathon in 6 hours 19 minutes. Since September 2001, when he set this challenge, Hallee has run 55 marathons.
“I take on marathons because they’re a mental and a physical challenge and sometimes an emotional challenge as well,” he explains. “Even though you have trained to go the distance, a lot of things intervene: sometimes the weather, sometimes my body, and it’s just a matter of keeping it all together for the six hours more or less—my usual finish.”
Keeping it together is the simple distillation of his running philosophy, which breaks down a seemingly gargantuan task into its basic component—putting one foot in front of the other.
“It’s just a matter of keep moving, keep moving, keep moving,” he says. “If you can walk, just keep walking. ’Cause every step you take, you’re one step closer to the finish. That’s a real motivator. The finish line doesn’t move, but I do.”
He reminds aspiring marathoners that finish times are relative because they are only competing against themselves. “Where you finish in the marathon is just a number. It doesn’t matter. People say, ‘Did you win the marathon.’ Well, finishing is winning,” he says emphatically.
Hallee has the perfect lifestyle for an itinerant runner. Since his official retirement in 1997, he has worked exclusively on a locum tenens basis. One of the early adopters of the locum tenens industry, Hallee has worked 29 assignments in 13 years.
“It’s worked out very well that I’ve been able to combine locums work with marathons,” Hallee says. In addition to a sympathetic locum tenens agency, he credits his wife for being his greatest supporter. A runner in her own right, Eileen Hallee had to give up marathons due to a knee injury. But now she is happy being Hallee’s “biggest help,” crisscrossing the country with him to support his pursuit of his marathon quest. She is his fitness partner at home, joining him for critical stretching, hikes and walks. She has become his roving aid station during marathons, supplying love, ice water, M&Ms, chips, Red Bull and whatever else to help him cover the next few miles until she finds him again during these long pursuits.
Does Hallee plan on resting on his laurels now that he has managed to accomplish what only 627 other people in the world have done?
Absolutely not. Since May, he’s gone foreign—completing the Edge to Edge Marathon in Ucluelet, British Columbia, in June and the Rio de Janeiro Marathon in July. On September 19, he will run the Danube River Marathon in Wachau, Austria and a week later the Berlin Marathon, which attracts 40,000 runners. In the spring, he will run the London and Paris marathons.
—By Paula Acker, LocumTenens.com