Today was another one of those perfect days. There is something so absolutely wonderful about the way the air feels after a storm has moved through. 15 degrees cooler, with a nice crisp breeze, and the sun twice as bright as you remember it being. Almost like a warm autumn day. A world apart from the weather yesterday.
As I left this morning from Reform, I realized again how incredibly lucky I am to be doing this and to be meeting so many kind people along the way. After a while, I think you start to get used to any sort of lifestyle, and I think at this point, the “run all day, visit club, sleep in a new place every night” thing has almost become routine. Last night I was writing in my journal and I caught myself writing a reminder to not take these last several weeks for granted, to continue experiencing each day with curiosity and interest. It is sort of an odd place I’m in right now- – I’m excited to reach my goal, to jump in the ocean, and to see my family and friends, but I’m nearly overcome with sadness when I realize that reaching the ocean means that this adventure will soon be over. I think I need to copy that topic in an entire post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
I was saying that I felt incredibly lucky this morning. I woke up at 7, had coffee and oatmeal with the Criswells, and then we drove back down to the gas station where I had finished two days earlier. We took some pictures and said goodbye, and as I ran away I was struck by how much I had enjoyed my visit with them and how close I felt to them even after just a day or two. And I think that’s what I will remember the most about this trip. The people I’ve met and the connections I have formed that have a sincerity that it’s hard to find in even normal everyday friendships.
It’s an odd thing, spending all day out on the road, all by yourself, and then being thrust really quite intimately into a stranger’s life. While running, I’ve grown accustomed to and fond of the sound of silence and my own thoughts. Upon finishing each day, the environment becomes a completely different one- meeting new people, having new conversation, hearing their stories and experiencing their lifestyles. It still takes me a couple minutes to transition every afternoon. When I first started running, I thought I’d be spending far more time alone – days and nights alone, running alone, dining alone, etc. But instead I have had the amazing experience of meeting some of the kindest, most compassionate and supportive people across the country. And at this point I can say I am beyond glad that it’s worked out the way it has.
I’ve met ministers, teachers, cattle ranchers, mayors, sheriffs, fire chiefs, police chiefs, farmers, students, pilots, Boys and Girls Club staff, runners, rock climbers. And I’ve developed friendships with so many people along the way, keeping in touch with them as I run along. And on the home front, I’ve been continually motivated by the support from my family, friends, and the Maine community. I’ve connected with my Spider comrades- students and alumni from the University of Richmond, many of whom I never would’ve known if it weren’t for this run. I’ve virtually met dozens of fellow runners, transcontinental trekkers, and other adventure-conspirators and shared words of wisdom and encouragement with them.
Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to experience American hospitality and human kindness, nor can I say enough how important all these experiences have been and will continue to be for me.
So thank you to every single person who has helped me along the way so far, with lodging, food, words of encouragement, donations, blog comments, Facebook motivation, music recommendations, etc. All of it has helped make this journey way more than just a run.
And please consider yourself invited to my finish-line festivities. It would absolutely make my year to see some of the people I’ve met along the way come out for the finish and meet my Maine family : ) If all goes as planned, I will finish 3 weeks from today, May 7th, in Charleston, SC. Feel free to shoot me an email, phone call, or text for more details! Or if you’re in Maine, you can also contact my parents.
Ok, goodnight all!