Preparation and contemplation, the weekend before departure
This is the first post I am attempting to write from my phone. I’m doing this on the number 60 RIPTA bus from Newport to Providence to get my pre-marathon massage from Lori-Ann before I head to the airport and fly to Minnesota. I’m practicing blogging from my phone because I suspect this will be the method of choice for the majority of the journey. It’s Friday afternoon and my dad called to tell me that Michelle Obama is visiting Providence, so hopefully this won’t interfere with my ability to get to the airprt on time.
I’m flying to Minnesota to run my 9th marathon, and 8th state in my goal to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. I’m also visiting my cousins Jeremy and Dina, and their two sons, George and Michael. The timing seems bad, to run a race of this distance only a week before I expect to head off on an indefinite bicycling/sailing journey – and maybe it is, but I had registered for it months ago, before I had planned on leaving in October. I feel more underprepared for this marathon than I ever have in previous races, due to the fact that I haven’t been running as much as usual all summer.
I was originally planning on leaving for my trip in the springtime, so I would have the whole summer to cross North America. I wanted to start in Providence and cycle to Newfoundland first, crossing southern Canada from there to Vancouver, and then hugging the west coast all the way down to Patagonia. From there I would go up the east coast of Argentina and Brazil, trying to find a sailboat crossing the Atlantic that would hire me on as crew. I didn’t necessarily want to do this alone, but I didn’t know anyone who would want to go with me. I was just hoping to meet up with some fellow cyclists along the way, preferably before I got to Mexico.
I met Phil at a CouchSurfing (CS) meetup at AS:220 in Providence, Rhode Island. We were both members of the CS community and lived in RI, so we went to this informal event to meet other local CS members. After that, I didn’t see him again for maybe 2 years, when we were both at a mutual friend’s barbecue. I saw him again at the CVS 5k, where I was racing and he was volunteering as medical support. At some point, we realized that we both had similar aspirations to circumnavigate the world, so we met for lunch one day to discuss and compare our plans. Months later, we still weren’t planning to go together. Phil quit his job in June and was planning to leave in July. I quit my job in June because I needed to get outdoors and away from the office. I still planned to take a year or so to plan my trip in detail and find sponsorship. I was also committed to the US Open Cycling Foundation, a non-profit organization that I had become a part of in the fall of 2009, and I wanted to see a cross country bike tour for high school students get off the ground before I left. My heart is still committed to USOCF, and I plan to donate a portion of whatever sponsorship I receive to the organization. Anyway, one day Phil came over and asked me to just come with him. I was never going to leave if I waited until I found sponsorship and was completely “ready”. I knew he was right, and that I would never feel ready for an undertaking like this. Just like I never feel ready for any race in which I participate, I just have to plunge in and see what happens. This trip is going to be interesting, exciting, and challenging…and I may not even be close to ready for it, but we’re in no rush, our plans are extremely flexible, and we will constantly be making adjustments along the way.
The closer we get to the date of departure, the more things I think of that I need to do, the more people I realize I want to see before I leave, since I don’t know when I’ll get to see them again, and the more places (mostly restaurants) I want to go to one last time. As much as I feel the need to get out of here, I’m really going to miss this place and these people.