"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.


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.