My 2013 Running Trip – A Reflection

Wow, what a whirlwind of a trip filled with so much fun, camaraderie, caloric outtake and intake, remarkable sites, travel and memories. As I kick back now that I’m back in Ames, I wanted to reflect a bit on the trip. I will also be doing a “Best of my running trip” blog post that will highlight many things throughout the trip.

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To those who supported me:

The trip would not have been possible without the 85 people who helped me along the way. Whether you donated to the cause, allowed me to stay at your place, ran with me or transported me to a location, I can’t say thank you enough. The best part about a trip like this is involving others. I truly enjoyed thanking each of you publically and spending time with those who I was able to see. There were so many fun connections along the way. I look forward to supporting you all in your ventures.

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Running:

I’m convinced that there is no better way to see a city than by foot. Running 60+ miles in one week is definitely tough, but it always amazes me that my body holds up nicely. Because I’m constantly moving throughout the week and the adrenaline is pumping, it’s amazing how your body adjusts to what you put it through. A combination of stretching, protein, ice and rest was the perfect combination to keep me fresh throughout the week. It’s always fun to run with others who are very proud of their city. It’s almost like I had a personal tour guide in each city that I visited. I learned so much about each city and what makes it unique.

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To my friends at Megabus:

Man, I love Megabus. While I only had four bus rides on this trip, I was able to travel via the bus for a little more than $12. I jumped on the tickets for the trip as soon as Megabus released them, obtaining two different options for each trip I took as well as four tickets from Atlanta to Athens and back that I did not use. Megabus is clean, wifi enabled which allowed me to blog and work along the way, plug-ins at each seat that powered my devices, on-time and provides smooth rides with just enough stops to stretch out and get a bite to eat or something to drink. Another component that I love about traveling via Megabus is being amongst all types of people who are trying to get from one location to the next. It’s easy for us to get in our cars and travel, but there is something truly special about taking the bus. I dare you to try it!

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The cities:

The mix of cities this year was fantastic. I’ve always wanted to travel throughout the South more, and I was able to do this during my trip. Starting at my hometown was truly a treat and brought back great memories. You can never go wrong with a trip to Chicago. Heading south then brought warmer weather and very neat culture. The people of the South are amazing. They’re hospitable and bring a laid back approach that I hope to model more throughout my life.

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The Food:

There are so many fantastic restaurants throughout this country, and I absolutely love trying the local flare everywhere I go. People enjoy gathering around food, and when you explore the local culture, you can’t go wrong. I had many great meals throughout the week.

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Time away:

It’s definitely tougher to be away from home now that Calvin is a part of my life. When I first decided to do this trip again, I wanted to make sure that Tillie was ok with me leaving for a week. As I’ve mentioned throughout the week, my wife is amazing and is 100% supportive of some of the crazy things I do. For that, I’m extremely grateful. I think that sometimes we use our hectic lives as an excuse not to explore and see the world. When we had Calvin, Tillie and I decided that this would not be the case for us. Yes, being gone for a week means that I’d miss a week of Calvin’s life, but I hope that by doing this trip, I can set an example for him. I can’t wait until he is of the age where I can bring him with and show him the country. We’re lucky to have family close who are always generous to take Calvin in when Tillie and I are away.

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To my adopted families for the week:

Not everyone enjoys bringing people into their house to stay for evening. This trip would not have been possible without those who were so accommodating to me. I hope to one day be able to reciprocate the favor and welcome you all into my house. It was unbelievable to interact and reconnect with these people and get a glimpse into their lives.

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Raising money for a cause:

Sometimes, it’s tough for us to ask others for support. Asking others to support you financially when you are raising funds for a cause that is important to you can be intimidating. Having said this, I believe that by doing so, whatever you are trying to achieve will be enhanced. I had many days where my mind took over and said don’t do this or cut your run short. In each of these situations, I was reminded about the purpose of this trip and the people who I was attempting to support. I run for a cause because I can, and that’s something that not everyone can say.

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A few more takeaways:

  • It was so neat to learn about the civil rights movement in the South and how it has shaped their culture. It’s very easy to stereotype people, regions and their views. Learning about the progress in the South over the past few decades was absolutely amazing. The people are proud of their history but even prouder of the things that they have overcome.
  • It’s good to put yourself in uncomfortable situations – It’s easy to stay away from uncomfortable situations or interactions with people unlike oneself. Walking through a city with nothing but a backpack, standing at bus stops and sharing a ride with others provides for many opportunities for conversations with others very different from you. By doing so, you gain an appreciation for what you have, but also for other cultures, struggles and passions of others. That tingling feeling of nervousness always translates into a sense of pride every time I place myself in these situations. I believe that exposing yourself to other cultures makes you think about things a little differently and brings a sense of compassion to your life.
  • Traveling does not need to be expensive. For this eight-day trip, I spent approximately $400. There are many ways to travel and see the world. Do not let finances hold you back.

Once again, thank you to those who made this trip possible. I hope that you enjoyed reading about my experience. I will never forget it. If you thought this year’s route was crazy, wait until you hear about what I have in store for 2014!

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