Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reflections on the end of a 2,736-mile journey

As I'm sure you saw, I made it to Los Angeles a few weeks ago. That final run marked a 2,736-mile journey from the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, PA to the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, CA. After a couple of weeks, I've been able to reflect on what this trip has meant to me.

When I started this journey on May 18, 2007, I desperately hoped that I'd finish it at the end of law school. I knew that I had a problem with getting bored with things and not finishing them, but I was going to do my very best to make it happen. As I sit here nearly three years later with law school now completely under my belt, I still can't put into words what this journey has meant to me.

I can tell you a few things that it's meant to me. It's meant 9 inches off of my waistline and 75 pounds lost. All told, I've run 393 hours, 40 minutes and have burned 382,310 calories on my way from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

But, as with most trips, it's not about the destination. It's about the journey getting there. So I thought I'd tell you about some of my favorite runs.

New Orleans Marathon
My first marathon and, wow, I can't even tell how much it meant to finish that race. I felt like I could do anything. It was in my first year of law school after I had dislocated my shoulder. I still get emotional reading my race report from that day. I finished in just under 5 hours.

Lehigh Valley Marathon
This was a coming-home of sorts. I had lived in the Allentown, PA, area for the last seven years before going to law school. Friends live there and my family lives close. I ran a course that included roads that I used to drive on everyday to work. It ended up being a very emotional race for me as well.

But most importantly, it became a much faster race for me. I finished in 3:56:25, about an hour faster than my previous marathon. I could not have been more thrilled.

Runs in Europe
I was in Europe for a month in my first year of law school, and I definitely took my running shoes with me. I talked about some of the runs I took while I was touring. I saw the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and deer in Phoenix Park in the middle of Dublin. I felt more alive running in those foreign cities that I have in a really long time running in the US.

48 Miles in 48 Hours
The biggest and most important run for me as part of the journey is my ultramarathon. I created a 48-mile ultramarathon where I ran from Concord, NH to just over the state line in Tyngsboro, MA, over a two-day period. Hence the name: 48 Miles in 48 Hours.

This ultramarathon represented the longest distance that I had ever run (and will likely be the longest I'll ever run in the future). It tested my body and my will to keep going. Finishing that run was a huge accomplishment for me, and one that I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Unintended benefits
When I started out, I thought this blog would be a way for me to hold myself accountable. I never dreamed that it would inspire so many people to hit the road themselves. I talk with a lot of people at school about running and my goals have helped others to set their own goals. It doesn't have to be something ridiculous like running across the country; it just needs to be something and it needs to be personal to you.

One of the most rewarding parts of this journey, if not the most rewarding part, is the effect on others to get out the door and make a difference in their lives. I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity to have helped even one person.

What's next
At this point, I don't have a clue of what's next. I don't have any sort of large goal to bike across the country or run back across the country or around the world or anything like that. For now, I'm enjoying running when I want to and not having to put in a specific amount of miles. If I want to run 4 miles, I can do that. I don't have to run 7 miles at a time in order to make it to a certain spot.

I've also been riding my bike considerably more, and that's much more enjoyable to me these days. It's considerably less impact, and for now, at least, it's still fairly new. I can get more places in less time and it allows me to run a lot of errands.

So for now, I'm just hoping to "be".

A hearty thank you
I absolutely could not have completed this journey without the help and encouragement from my friends and readers/supporters. Knowing that I had to keep myself accountable to all of you made me hit the road when it was too cold or rainy or I just didn't want to. Knowing that when things were bad, you'd be there to pick me up helped too much to even quantify.

People say that running is an individual sport. I think they're only half right. I run with thoughts of the people who are important to me. I run for their honor and I run for their memory. I'm not foolish enough to believe that I did this all myself. You were with me every step of the way.

Thank you.