"You’re always nervous. You think 'Am I going to make it today? Am I going to finish?'" photography by Billy Surface

Marathon Woman: Angela Tortorice

She ran 70 last year, more than any other woman in the nation.

Q: When did the marathon thing start?
A: My first one was in November of 1997 in San Antonio. Before that, I had been running regularly, like 3 miles every day for about three years. And then about six months before that first marathon, I started ramping up the miles.

Q: So you complete your first marathon. And from there, you’re addicted?
A: Well, at first you think “I’m never going to do this ever again as long as I live. What was I thinking?” You kind of cry when you cross that finish line. But then a couple of days pass, and you’re out running again, and you think “Okay, what’s next?” I did White Rock that December.

Q: When did you decide to run a marathon in all 50 states?
A: It wasn’t immediately, but I ran Chicago, New York, and a few others. Then, while I was in Tupelo, Mississippi, I met a man who was in the 50 States Marathon Club. He said, “You’ve already run seven states, and all you need to join the club is 10.” So off I went.

Q: How much does it cost to run 70 marathons in one year?
A: I have a spreadsheet, but I haven’t exactly totaled it up. It’s cost somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000. The credit card is hurting. It has an overuse injury. I’ve definitely gone through a lot of savings.

Q: How many marathons are you running a week?
A: I’m running about two on average right now, so I am still logging 52 miles in a week. But I’m doing weight and cross training during the week, trying to baby myself because the goal is pretty extreme.

Q: Any injuries?
A: Nothing major. I’ve been really, really fortunate. I fractured my ankle in 2000, but that’s the only major injury that I’ve ever had. Recently, I’ve had some edema on my knee, so I’m just kind of walk-jogging these days.

Q: What’s your average time?
A: My normal time is about 5:15, but because I’m walk-jogging, my time now is 5:40. But if I see friends walking, I’ll walk with them. I don’t care if it takes six or seven hours.

Q: Do you know the woman who ran the second most marathons last year?
A: I don’t really know her personally. I tried to Facebook friend her, but I think she’s a very private individual. I tried to do that way before we were even competing.

Q: Do these races ever get boring?
A: You know, they don’t. You’re always nervous. You think “Am I going to make it today? Am I going to finish?” But there’s always somebody out there new you can meet, and there are old friends that are out there. You can have a great time entertaining one another. We tell the same old jokes or make up new ones. We’re just having a great time.

Q: What do you do when you’re not running?
A: I work [as an accountant at Luminant]. And I prepare for the next race. I do my laundry and repack and try to start looking up directions for the next race. I always train at lunch, but sometimes I go in the mornings and evenings also.

Q: Is 2013 the year you become a couch potato?
A: I think I’ll continue on. I’ve always wanted to get faster. Qualifying for Boston is definitely a long-term goal [at her current age, 44, she would need to run a 3:50]. I also want to run 52 marathons in 365 days for three years in a row because you get a special qualification, the Marathon Maniac’s Hall of Fame. You actually get voted in.

Q: Do you win a million dollars?
A: [Laughs] If I could just get the credit card paid off, I would be happy, but I think you get a trophy.

This interview was conducted in December, when Tortorice still had nine marathons to run. But we have confidence in her.

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