When you lose the feeling that traveling from one coast to the other is not unusual, but ordinary, your perception of our nation becomes…..that it is almost small. In any given week, I will spend time in 2-3 of the time zones, except when I go to Arizona, because they don’t believe in the whole daylight savings thing and it completely messes up my TV viewing…. when is the 6 o’clock news on…..7 o’clock!
I have often said that there are times I feel like you could use a passport as you travel the U.S.A. Leaving the Mid-West and traveling to either coast can be a culture shock if you are new to those areas and of course there is always Texas. Texas wants no part of the title Midwest, Southwest, or West, Texas has its own identity and really good food.
How does this all play in to an article about running? Because over the last 15 years I have traveled on average 150 nights a year and in the last 6 years – that travel has included my running. There was a time that my night ended at the hotel, with extensive snacking, sodas and laying around. Those days are gone, the hotel room is now, no more than a launching pad to whatever run is on the schedule for that night. I have run in all parts of this country, Central Park in New York, Miami Beach, Lubbock Texas, Hiram GA, Lacey WA, Sunnyvale CA, Peoria, AZ, Boulder, CO and there is a great story about Gillette, Wyoming, the list could just keep on going.
But it was a short run in 2011 that I allowed the title of Runner to be connected to my name. I wrote about it one time years ago and it happened in a town named Kearney, Nebraska. I was early into my running and still was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. I awoke very early in the morning with a 3 mile run planned and it was pouring rain outside. I sat on the edge of my bed in the dark having that all too familiar fight with myself, that all runners have, trying to convince myself that I needed to get out there and run. (The argument was not internal, but out loud and I am sure the room next to me thought I was crazy). I did run that day, in the pouring rain and cold wind blowing, and I loved every moment of it. I got back to my room, which was still dark, and I was on cloud nine. I had no idea what was going on, but I felt like the king of running that morning and I couldn’t stop telling everybody that I came in contact with that day. The server at the restaurant, got a 10-minute breakdown of the run before I ordered my lunch, the young guy I was training had a full day of me giving him a second by second recap of the that epic 3 mile run. I would later learn that I was seriously hopped up on endorphins and the cashier at the gas station did not care about the negative splits that occurred during the run…she said she didn’t care…. twice.Time has passed and there have been epic runs and epic failure runs, but what is consistent is the joy of running all over this country. I have seen downtown L.A. like you can’t see in a car and felt the serenity of western Iowa’s peaceful countryside. I’ve run the trail that halfway circles Lake Murray outside of San Diego, not forgetting to punch the red dot on the sign at the turn around. Took off for a run in Flagstaff, Arizona and wondered why I was out of breath so quick, only to find out I was higher up in the air than even Denver. By the way, I may have looked ridiculous gasping for breath in the hotel parking lot. Circled the town of Key West, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the ocean, making sure to reward myself with a pancakes from the Blue Heaven Restaurant, and then Key Lime pie. (it’s ok, I earned it) I once went for a run in Ashville, NC. It was to be a simple 3 miler, but sometime into the run, my contact popped out of my eye, I could not see signs or my Google maps and well…..to make a long story short. I ran 10 miles that night and here is a fact, Asheville has got some hills.
This is an introductory article to what I plan on sharing with you all. It will be stories of this amazing country seen from my running shoes. I have met so many people in my travels and their stories are interesting, sad, and funny. I have had skunks chase me (Nashville) and Grandmas high5 me as I finished a run (Utah). I have gotten lost (more than once) and ended up in a race by accident (Central Park). Running has challenged me, helped me find my competitive edge again, and allowed me to experience our country (and maybe a Caribbean Island or two). I want to encourage you all to do the same. Stories are coming, but for now why don’t you go for a run and experience your own story?