I have so much to write about! Gah!! What a crazy couple of days, and with my head full of thoughts and my heart full of feelings. I am a bit tired again tonight, woke up at 5:45, but I’m going to try to get everything down here.
Wednesday: I left Childersburg, AL early in the morning after an interview with the local paper. Headed out under a sky full of dark clouds and within minutes it was raining. Had prepared already and put on the stroller rain cover before I left- first time I’ve used it all trip. Two miles later I come up over a monster hill, the rain is picking up, I’m lost in my Joe Rogan podcast, and out of the skies above a lightning bolt strikes the powerlines about 50 feet ahead of me. I heard the thunder almost before I realize lightning had struck. I made a quick decision and sprinted across the highway clearing to a gas station about a quarter of a mile down. Scarryyyy! Waited out the storm for an hour or so in the gas station and headed back out, with 6 miles to the next town and then 19 miles of National Forest.
I can’t explain the feeling that day in the forest. I was physically and mentally scattered- physically the hills were and are incredibly hard for me. When I trained for this I used to run hill repeats for hours every Thursday, religiously. I guess it helped but running them with a stroller just feels like a lot of stop-and-go. The killer is that it’s just as hard going down them- I have to hold on to the stroller, forces me to lean back a bit, and stomp my heels down on the pavement. Not good. Anyway, back to the day in the forest. It took me 4 hours to get through it. It was raining, sticky, buggy. I had a hard time getting lost in the zone, but towards the end I finally felt like I got there…It’s a weird thing how you can still save a run, still transform it at mile 21. Your mood starts to turn around, your legs are kicking, and you start to realize that dinner is on the horizon.
So I finally finished around 630 with 31 miles for the day. I stayed with couchsurfers Lynwood and Gina, and had so much fun. Interesting conversation, two heaping servings of spaghetti, and the best part of all-I got to play a few songs with them out in their woodshop after dinner! It was awesome. Lynwood played the accordion and sang, his wife played an instrument they made out of a laundry pan, wood and thin rope(?) And I played a scrub board. For the second song we called my music master Dad up, got him on speaker, and he joined in on the harmonica. What a way to end the night : )
Thursday: Merciless hills. Seriously. They go on forever. Ran 30 miles to Wedowee, and stopped by the picturesque towns of Ashland and Lineville. In Ashland I stopped at Lynwood and Gina’s favorite cafe, High Points, where they had called ahead of time to arrange for a lunch stop, their treat. I tried a Chicken Salad sandwich, which was rated one of the 100 foods you must try in Alabama before you die. Check. It was delicious. Moved along to Lineville and stopped at the newspaper HQ for a quick interview…should be out this weekend, for anyone in Ashland/Lineville area!
Finished 10 (!)hours later, where Onas and Barbara Brand met me, treated me to dinner, and brought me to a hotel that the First Baptist Church had set me up with. Again, not a bad ending after another tough day!
Friday: Today started early. Had to be up at 545 to get a head start on running so that by 8:00 I could be indoors in a quiet place for a telephone interview WCSH in Portland, ME, my hometown : ) For the first few miles, I was able to leave my stroller with Onas, and I felt light as a feather. Flying over the hills and rediscovering the joy of running without 70 lbs constantly attached to my arms.
The interview went well and I headed back out, straight into two of the biggest hills this week. Good grief Eastern Alabama! I woke up after a few miles and picked my speed up and was going along another absolutely gorgeous landscape when a strange sight greeted my eyes. Up ahead 15 meters, a horse-drawn buggy, led by a beautiful grayish mare. As the driver of the buggy, a man in his 70s, got closer, I asked if he minded if I took a picture. We got to talking and it turns out this Mr. James Newton has been zig-zagging across the USA for the past two years, in his buggy, built by hand and full of camping gear, spare food and clothes, and even his pet dog. Incredible! A modern day Quijote! Completely made my week.
A few miles later, I crossed the state line into Georgia, although I could only guess I had, because there was no sign or anything!! But around the time I was thinking I’d cross, one of my favorite songs came through my headphones- a song by the artist Cee-Lo, titled “Georgia” So I decided that that was where I crossed into Georgia. It’s a weird feeling- I swear I nearly started crying at that moment. So many happy/ sad thoughts and feelings going on. I remember listening to that song on a particularly beautiful run just outside of Safford, AZ, and dreaming of reaching Georgia and thinking about how utterly far away that felt, like a dream. And now that moment I had in Arizona feels like a lifetime ago, but I can remember it with such clarity.
So now I am on Eastern Standard Time- also a moment I could only dream about just a few months ago.
I made it 30 miles to Franklin, GA, where I was met by yet another kind host, Myra, who took me to dinner with her friends, where I got to eat one of my favorite foods- Tofu stirfry! First time in a long time…Mom if you’re reading this, maybe you know what I’m subtly requesting here? ; )
And now I am sprawled out on the bed, giving my legs a break- these hills are beating them up! Tomorrow it’s on to Peachtree City where I am hoping to eat some good southern peaches even if they aren’t quite in season.