Joy.

Well, I did it. Still doesn’t seem real. Honestly, when I first got back to my house, it felt like it could’ve all been a dream. Maybe it was the exhaustion setting in – I had run 30+ mile days for 15 days straight before my finish, and had gotten half as much sleep as usual because I was so excited and full of adrenaline every night.

But I don’t know…it still feels a bit unreal. Like a long dream I just woke up out of, back in my own bed, next to my alarm set for a 7 o’clock training run. I’m trying to get away from that, because I don’t want it to feel like a dream. So I start to allow myself to get lost in the thoughts and reflections of this journey. And each time I realize how many parts and pieces there are to the puzzle. All the people I met, the landscapes, lifestyles, physical challenges and accomplishments, things I’ve learned, thought, or felt. Things I’ve already written here, and things I don’t know how to write.

And when I think about it all, I get the feeling that I’m reminiscing about a really great movie or something. And that’s when I realize that I have to write a book about all this. Not just that I want to write it, but that I NEED to write it. There are too many characters to this story, too many sights, sounds, conflicts and resolutions, developments and climaxes in this story to possibly record them all in one final summarizing blog post. Impossible.

What makes it more impossible is that things continue to happen each day, as if this run has a momentum of its own and it’s carrying itself through beyond the finish line. Since I’ve been home, I’ve had interviews with the Huffington Post, news channels 13 and 6 here in Portland, signed up for my first ultra (50 miles! May 28th in Maine). Discussed potential bike/running tour across Europe, as well as a relay across the USA with fellow transcontinental runners. I found out yesterday that, according to John Wallace III (www.seejohnrun.com) and his well-researched website compiling all transcon USA treks on foot, I am the first female ever to do it unsupported! Nice! Others could turn up, but for now I’ll celebrate : )

My point is, I wanted to write a book and now I’ve come to find out that I must. I want to keep writing this blog and I will, and hopefully it will soon be outlining another adventure. However, there is still a lot to be said about this run and it deserves to be recorded. There are many thoughts and emotions and I want to give proper space to all of them, so I’m going to post a 4 part blog post over the course of the next week – kind of like a book preview : ) And, I would like to get my Mom and Dad to guest-write a post for me, giving the parents’ perspective on a journey like this — I think their work was harder than mine!

So for tonight, I’m going to summarize why I did all this running and how I feel about it — both in this 4-day-old-retrospect, and how I felt everyday as it was happening. I’m borrowing a quote here, sent to me by a good friend, because I think my own words don’t do the run as much justice as these borrowed ones. They hit a chord with me, and I think with a lot of runners, because we tend to have this sort of post-race depression after a big event, where the adrenaline rush is all over and we go back to square one and if we let ourselves get too carried away, we might start wondering why we did all this in the first place. Why go through all of it, just to be left with the flatness of ‘re-entry’ into normal life afterwards? And even though I see this quote through runner’s eyeglasses, I think it can apply to many instances in life. Instances in which you feel so consumed and fulfilled that when you come tumbling out of them, the slap of “ordinary” existence is almost caustic. The words in this quote hit me so hard that I don’t think I’ll be allowing myself to fall down the post-race-depression rabbit hole. On the contrary, they are a celebration of what this journey gave to me:

“Now, it’s what’s left that I’m really interested in. After you dematerialize, after your ego is gone, it’s very difficult to talk about, but we do have reports. And the reports – shucks, I’m giving you a personal account now – in my experience, there is totality, a sense of all-ness, it’s sort of kaleidoscope. Goings on. But remember not you witnessing it because you’re gone. But it’s happening. It’s oceanic, and one other thing. It’s bliss. It is joy. And that’s all there is. I told you I shouldn’t have tried it. But it gives you the essence of the answer to the question, why anything rather than nothing. Why bother? Why put up with cost benefit analyses? And the answer – the only answer – the final answer – is joy, to which there is no value attached because it IS value. It’s incommensurable.” (Willi Unsoeld)

Read it twice. It gets better each time.

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Author: zoegoesrunning

Hello! I'm a runner, a writer, and have run across the United States and the Tour de France course. Most recently, I'm blogging about my adventures in an MFA program that will bring me to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and my teaching plans for Argentina.

5 thoughts on “Joy.”

  1. The run , the journey , the clubs , the Boys and Girls , the tornados , the hills , the sweat , the pain , the highs and lows , the defeated legs and the inspiration deep within …

    All this IS you Zoë …not WAS you …

    You are the hills of California , you are the road without a shoulder , you are the rancher in Texas with hands of iron and a heart so soft , you are the thick and humid air of Alabama , you are the runner free , free , free .

    You are the girl called Sparky , you are the mission within your soul , you are the influence on so many , you are the gentle wind we’ve come to know …

    You are the life that gives me mine , yes you are , you are …you are

  2. Saw your story in The Richmond Alumni Magazine. Congratulations on your success. Have you considered public speaking about your experience? Are you familiar with TEDS? There is a story on TEDS about a young man who , after graduating form college, got a job in each state. He made a presentation on TEDS about the experience.

  3. Congratulations on your amazing journey! My friend John Price just finished up his transcontinental run within a few days of your finish. It’s really neat to read and hear about your experiences and from what it seems there are more to come.

    You will do great things out there, you already are.
    Cheers and congratulations again,
    Brenda

  4. I’m British, so I hadn’t heard about your run, but I just came across it and read your last few posts. Wow! You’re an inspiration. Congratulations!

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