I was lying in bed last night contemplating the start of October and thinking about an article I had just read. The article asked, “Why do you run? Every runner should know the answer to this question.” I thought about it for a minute, and my first answer was that running helped me lose 160 pounds and now it helps me keep from putting it back on. It also helps me to stay balanced (read: sane). Then I thought on it a little further. Running helps me test my limits, both physically and mentally. It helps me push myself further or faster than I thought I was capable, and this gives me courage. If I can push past things that I thought were limits on the road or trail, then I can do it anywhere.
There’s a lot of truth in this metaphor. I haven’t learned everything in life, but I’ve learned that many things that present themselves as barriers are false. (more…)
So…I resigned from my job at the company I’ve worked at for the past thirteen years. My last day will be this Friday. After that, we’ll pack the car, hit the road and start a different kind of work, moving our lives in a new direction. I mentioned in a prior post that I expect some friction as I wind down over the next couple of days. That’s okay. There was plenty of friction in my day-to-day job anyway. As I sit in my kitchen and reflect on the job and people I’m leaving behind, I also know that I’ll receive encouragement and support from many of my friends and coworkers. Delivering my resignation turned out to be far less dramatic than I expected (probably because I was wrapped up in my own head about it). I’m guessing the next two days will turn out the same way, and I’m relieved by that thought. I’m grateful for the good people who I’ve worked with over the years, and I’m confident that the team I’m leaving behind will be successful . After Friday, the only employee I’ll be responsible for is me. I think I’m up for the challenge. – M
The timing of our first few weeks on the road will coincide with the last few weeks of our training before we run a half-marathon back in our hometown. It will be my first half (his second), and despite a recent bout of bronchitis, I’ve done a decent job sticking to my training plan during what turned out to be a mild New Hampshire winter. What’s proving to be a bigger challenge is ensuring we stick to our training plans while on a road trip. Planning our workouts (especially our long runs) will be critical to ensuring we return home at the end of the trip ready to run the race. I spent part of today mapping out a workout schedule, taking into consideration which days we have extended drives planned (making it tough to fit in any kind of workout) and which days look like they’ll offer us a big block of free time (perfect for a long run). We’ll control for the variables we can (like choosing to stay in locations that seem to offer decent running routes) and be flexible when faced with ones we can’t (like weather or terrain or quirks of a small town road). We’ll also need to be more careful than usual when hiking during the first week of the trip. We’re planning to tackle some moderately challenging hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains, and what might be normal fatigue or a nuisance injury on any other trip could become a race-ruining injury on this one. No amount of internet research or advance planning will prepare us for exactly what we’ll find on the road, but having a plan in hand when we set out will give us the best chance of sticking to it while we’re out there. –J
I should be reading On the Road or Dharma Bums or The Undiscovered Self to remind myself of all of the reasons I’ve been chasing this life for the past ten years. It’s not that I’m afraid of quitting my job. This nervous/anxious/pensive response to readying our gear for the trip is more of a flinch, since I know that the next five days are going to hurt. I will disappoint some, anger others and likely perplex all. They won’t understand my motivations, they’ll question my motivations, and they will definitely criticize my motivations. On Friday, after thirteen years of working in the insurance industry, I will be free to make my own way. I’ll be free of debt, free of the fears of others, free of contractual obligations and ready to move on.
So, when the haters begin to talk and the questions begin to fly, it will be up to me to call upon the spirit of Kerouac’s “Rucksack Revolution” and to summon Jung’s analytical mind and ability to deconstruct the man-made trappings of what he called “the state” (…which has evolved in our time into “Corporate America”). Their voices remind me that the American Dream is not just a singular dream, rather it’s any dream. It’s my dream of hitting the road in the shadow of the travelers before me, experiencing life and writing in my own voice. Whatever happens from here will be up to me.
In the lyrics of Ben Harper, “the unfinished work of our heroes must truly be our own…” I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I’ll finish the work of those like Kerouac and Jung, but perhaps I will further their causes and leave an unfinished legacy for the next dreamer to pursue. -M
The anticipation is high, and the waiting is painful. These last two weeks are moving more slowly than any of the previous twelve months. We’re distracting ourselves by staying focused on trip preparations. We’ve sketched out the itinerary for our first two weeks on the road, and it’s shaping up to be a 50/50 split of camping nights and nights spent in other accommodations (like highway hotels or the homes of family and friends along the way). We have reservations for a few anchor nights, and we’ll play the rest by ear. I’m obsessively checking the 10-day forecasts for Key West (stunningly warm) and Gatlinburg (confusingly bipolar). We are planning to camp near Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains NP, and the overnight temps are still dancing in the 30s. I’ve started to work on a meal plan so that grocery shopping and food preparation and cooking gear all scream efficiency and economy. And given that writing will be a major component of this journey, we’ve created several new blog sites, including this one to track our travels. (In addition to this blog, we’ll each maintain our own individual blogs for topics ranging from food and fitness to poetry and photography. You can find links to them on the right side of this screen.) Each day brings us one step closer to the morning when we shift the car into drive and log our first mile. That moment cannot arrive soon enough. -J
After months of dreaming and scheming, we’re down to less than two weeks until we hit the road! We’re busy readying our gear, ourselves, and this site. Stay tuned for updates as we get closer to our much-anticipated departure. -J&M