Many aspire to run a marathon. Paula Bell Longhaul aspires to run a marathon in all 50 states!
I had the privilege of sitting down with the one and only Paula Bell Longhaul of Charleston, South Carolina, to talk about all things marathon-related. Paula Bell, as she is most commonly referred to as, is not an elite runner. Instead, Paula Bell prides herself on being an average runner who runs for fun, who takes in the experience and stays injury-free. To date, Paula Bell has completed 32 marathons in 32 states. She plans to finish the final 18 states within the next six years, before her 40th birthday. The big question is, “Can she do it?!”
- What inspired you to run a marathon in all 50 states?
Answer: As a flight attendant, my life is lived “on the go”. When I can, I try to plan my schedule around my races. This, however, is not always possible. During one particular long layover in Sacramento, California, I got the crazy idea to run the Napa Valley Marathon. I knew that I was physically ready to run a marathon, so I signed up at the last moment, rented a car, and ran the marathon! It was an amazing, last-minute experience (filled with lots of wine of course)! This is what sparked the idea to run a marathon in all 50 states.
- You mentioned that you were marathon ready. Were you training for anything in particular at that time?
Answer: I had recently completed the Charleston Marathon in my hometown a few weeks prior, so I knew that my body could physically carry me 26.2 miles. I, by no means, am a fast runner. Instead, I pride myself on being in it for the long haul. There’s nothing I love more than taking in all of the sights, sounds, smells, and people within a marathon course, especially when it’s in a new location. How can I pass on the opportunity to run amongst the well-known Napa Valley vineyards?
The Road to Marathoner
- Have you always been a runner?
Answer: No, absolutely not! If you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be on a quest to run 50 marathons in all 50 states, I would have laughed in your face! I had a co-worker who was an avid runner and signed me up for my first 5k in 2011. Even the thought of running 3.1 miles terrified me. Slowly, over the course of a few months, I completed the couch to 5k program in between my shifts as a new flight attendant.
Even after completing the training cycle, however, I wondered how race day was going to feel. I’m proud to report that my friend and I successfully completed the 5k with huge smiles on our faces. I loved the high of crossing that finish line. From there, I was hooked!
- What’s your trick for staying in marathon shape year-round, allowing you to complete marathons at the spur-of-the-moment?
Answer: Two things. Consistency and hydration. I am consistent with my runs, regardless of where my job may take me. I run on tracks, on the treadmill, on roads, on trails, etc. This is the beauty of running. You can literally do it anywhere at any time! As for hydration, I always make sure to stay properly hydrated. Many people underestimate the importance of proper hydration.
Hydration for a Marathon in All 50 States
- Do you have a go-to hydration source for your long runs?
Answer: Yes! My go-to hydration source is Ultima Replenisher. I’m absolutely in love with their newest mocktini-inspired flavors; Coconut Pina Colada, Appletini, and Peach Bellini. Although all three flavors are amazing, my favorite has to be Peach Bellini.
I love that these Ultima stickpacks are easy to open, provide my body with the electrolytes it needs without the sugar, and keeps me feeling my best! As a flight attendant, it’s important for me to consume added vitamin C and Zinc to keep me healthy. These Ultima stickpacks contain these important vitamins and so much more!
I can not say enough about how much I love my Ultima Replenisher hydration! It’s clean electrolyte powder sweetened with organic stevia leaf and made with real fruit flavor extracts that taste delicious! If you haven’t given it a try yet, you’re missing out!
- Do you have a running mantra? If so, what is it?
Answer: Oh, you know I have a mantra! My go-to running mantra is, “Sugar, slow and steady wins the race!“
- Once you run a marathon in all 50 states, what will you focus on next?
Answer: This is a great question and one that I’m still sorting out. If you were to ask my parents, they’d tell you that I should be focused on “settling down”. I, however, am having too much fun! I’m a butterfly and you can’t cage a butterfly.
Some ideas that have crossed my mind are to train for an ultra-marathon or possibly complete the world marathon challenge. This challenge includes running a marathon every day for seven days on all seven continents! Doesn’t this sound like fun?!
Advice From a Marathoner
- If you could give a piece of advice for those who may be training for their first marathon, what would it be?
Answer: Have fun. Don’t take your training too seriously, yet don’t show up to the starting line ill-prepared. There’s a delicate balance necessary between listening to your body and trusting your training plan. If you’re in pain or just not feeling like running that day, walk instead. With marathon training, it’s about logging time on your feet.
This is where I have an advantage as a flight attendant. From walking at the airport and walking around the plane, I spend a lot of time on my feet.
Which reminds me, it’s also important to wear proper shoes. Go to your local specialty running store and get fitted for a proper pair of running shoes. These could possibly be your most important running “accessory”.
Finally, remember that marathons are all about endurance, not speed. Ok, perhaps elite runners are in it for speed, but for the average runners such as myself, we’re in it for the long haul. Take in all sights and sounds. Enjoy some post-race or post-long run beverages. Smile and remember to have fun. By doing all of this, you too can run a marathon in all 50 states!
A Special Note About Paula
Disclaimer: Paula Bell Longhaul is a fictional character I created as BibRave Pro Creator and ambassador. This fictional character was inspired by Ultima’s newest mocktini-inspired flavor Peach Bellini. When given the task to create a persona inspired by Peach Bellini, I first researched the traditional Peach Bellini drink. I’ll confess that I’ve never tasted a traditional Peach Bellini. After reading that it’s made with peach puree and Prosecco, I knew that it is absolutely a drink that I’d want to try.
Once I sipped on Ultima’s newest mocktini-inspired flavor Peach Bellini, I began picturing the persona of this beverage. My mind immediately went to a southern bell and Paula Bell Longhaul was born. She, as you read above, is charming, a social butterfly, and enjoys the long, slow and steady runs. I will confess that my knowledge of the southern lifestyle is limited. It was fun, nonetheless, to transport myself from my west coast lifestyle to that of the east coast.
Ready to give Ultima’s newest mocktini-inspired flavors a try? Head to ultimareplenisher.com to shop the new mocktini-inspired flavors and all of their other amazing products. Remember, Ultima Replenisher is for everybody! Whether you’re participating in a sport, hungover, sick, traveling, pregnant, or nursing, you’d benefit from the hydration benefits of Ultima Replenisher. It’s simple and super for on-the-go! You simply add powder to water, shake or stir, sip, and smile. You’ll find that it tastes great, and makes you feel great too!