In 2007, I set a goal to run a half marathon in 25 states; I realize today, that the goal was only an end to what I gained; it was a deep-rooted journey that will stay with me for a life-time.
- After reaching state 19 this weekend in Nashville (31 half marathons in my life-time), I realize there is so much that I am giving to others. Being present, listening, learning and staying aware.
- I have met and ran with people doing a half marathon for their first time, experiencing the joy, satisfaction, misery, and emphaticism of the experience. Walking and running alongside them is a precious moment.
- I have met people like Tim Borland; having a gift for running he raised an awareness of AT by running 63 marathons in 63 days. Amazing, inspiring and appreciated. His heart is open and available. It was amazing how he came up to me and said, Hi, I'm Tim! Just like that. No errs, no pretense, just giving himself.
- I met an ordained pastor, who accepted our conversation as it was, willing to share with others in her community without pretense or expectation.
- I met a tug-boat Ocean Master, who flies out to the city to work on the boat 7 days non-stop, then has a week to be with his family in Wisconsin. His experiences living and working on the water inspired me to learn more about the Great Lakes Alliance and the Urban Ecology Center.
- I met a retired army colonel who is living in the moment because she put in her years. She wasn't afraid to just say what was on her mind, stating that "if you don't say it, you'll never know". Refreshing!
- I met a retired Art teacher, who travels from Colorado to Wisconsin once a month to take care of her aunt, who just needs someone there to talk. In the meantime we are now very good friends on Facebook, one of the many popular social networking tools.
- I met an artist who is in her final revisions of illustrating and writing her book. She inspired me and helped me realize each person has a story and has a special meaning in life. A constant reminder that it's okay to be an individual who is different. Natasha Bedingfield sums it up "different people are the same, each reveals a meaning"
- Atlanta Georgia has such deep-rooted history in the civil rights movement. It gave me a chill to ride around the city, on a segway (which was also a new experience), and realize how much each person, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., had to go through to send the strong message. It was amazing to see that some of the restaurant buildings still had white and black bathrooms labels above them. Of course, this is left there to instill the message of what strength each person had to stand for. I keep a special place in my heart for Atlanta Georgia.
- New York City has extraordinarily nice and helpful people, as much to the contrary of what you hear. This was a special race because I met helpful people who were just there in the minute with me, during our conversations. A tight knit community who open their arms wide to outsiders.
- San Francisco is beautiful. This was a breathtaking scene, with Muir Woods, the history of Alcatraz, Lombardi street, Coit Tower and of course I cannot go without talking about the golden gate bridge; which, by the way, is inexplicable hitting the 6 am fog.
- New Orleans was a surprise, arriving with little expectations but jazz music, finding nothing of the kind. So many people there are cynical of the government and themselves. It was sad to experience gloom hovering over the city, when all it takes is stepping up and taking accountability. The surrounding parks, such as Audubon park, were beautiful and worth seeing.
- There is so much to see in Seattle, I didn't get to experience enough of the mountains, like the tantalizing haze over the peaks of Mount Saint Helen, I was almost standing at the bottom of the mountain, taking in the deep fog in every breath.
- The heterogeneity of the Midwest, like MN, OH, IA, IL, has distinct friendly, energetic, driven and caring qualities; as each area diverge in deep-rooted characteristics.
- Ah! Colorado! The mountains give me a sense of solitude, relaxation and time to think. Running at 5688' elevation makes it difficult to breath, but a story to tell once I finished. Everyone I met seemed to be a health and fitness "nut". I felt right at home here and love going back at every chance.
- And, Wisconsin, my home state, Green Bay is the most nestalgic because the last mile I run inside Lambeau field, the cheers in the stands are unbelievable.
I was able to try new things, during my adventures:
- rode a segway. I recommend everyone try a Segway, once mastered, it is a blast.
- Hiked the mountains at 10000' plus altitude and watch the sunrise in the early morning. It gave me time to just listen; I heard beautiful songs created by the wind blowing in the trees.
- sat inside a hollowed-out red-wood tree; the realization of how small I am.
- ran in central park. I learned newfound routes, with walkers, runners and sight-seers along the route.
- ran at 100% humidity. I ran in Florida mustering enough energy to run along the ocean-front cutting through the thick humid air.
- drove over 650 miles solo. Driving as far as Nashville, Tennessee, I experienced the sun-rise, noticing the trees, without leaves, burst in color and different public transportation and highways (some states take more pride in their roads, highways and rest stations than others).
Aside from the lessons that I have already written, I also learned that:
- I can overcome my fear of doing art, but this takes constant awareness and practice,
- I am beautiful. I met an artist in New Orleans who wasn't afraid of being beautiful, and my favorite song "Unwritten" tells the full story of my thoughts.
- I love my family, their unrelenting support has been priceless,
- My running is a gift. As long as I listen to my body and soul.
- I am enjoying each moment. I take in the high and low moments; experiencing each for enough time to listen and learn the messages. No matter what happens in life, whether it is difficult and hard or fun and mischievous, experience that moment and be open to listen to the messages that are being sent.
- There is a purpose in life. This experience has revalidated that God is with me each and every moment, even if I cannot see or feel it. I open my heart and ears to listen.
From this experience, I am becoming more familiar with our nation by being a participant rather than an observer. This is my journey reaching my final run in the 25th U.S. state.