This week took us on a bit of an unplanned detour, as Brent and I headed to South Florida for a family emergency. And while the circumstances were rough, the whirlwind trip held some important reminders for me.
Over our three family-filled days in Fort Lauderdale, we watched home videos of Brent and his cousins from the early ’80s, searched for alligators in the Everglades, solved the puzzle on Wheel of Fortune, contemplated the alcohol-to-sugar ratio of Brent’s aunt’s famous chocolate chip rum cake (so good that we served it at our wedding instead of traditional wedding cake), and pondered the possibility of a Phillies-Yankees world series with a room full of Marlins fans.
And we ran.
For the past month and a half, running has become a bit of a stressor unto itself – something to fit in amidst the papers to grade and lectures of write, something that takes place on the treadmill early in the morning or late at night when I’m thinking about the research proposal I should be writing, or on a Sunday afternoon when my mind is so fried that all I can do is focus on the Phillies or Eagles game on the TV as the miles slip by.
I know that my life will recalibrate as I settle into the world of professor-dom, but in the meantime, it’s been a struggle to fit everything in, and at times I’ve felt as though I’m fighting just to keep my head above water.
This week, though, I was able to put all that aside.
As we frantically packed on Tuesday night, I filled my computer bag with all the work it could hold. But I was able to get through most of it on the plane ride down, and by the time we settled in, there was little more I could do from Florida than respond to the steady stream of student emails.
Wednesday was filled from start to finish, but Thursday morning saw a bit of a lull, and I took it as an opportunity to take to the streets.
The night before, I charged my garmin and loaded a blissfully mindless audio book onto my shuffle. By 7:30 AM, I was out the door.
I ran through pleasant residential neighborhoods, down palm tree-lined streets, and through local parks, the whole time enjoying the feel of my feet striking the pavement, the sound of my steady breathing, the lulling pace of James Patterson’s Eighth Confession.
I covered ten miles on my own and then looped back to the house to grab some fuel and pick up Brent for eight more. We ran easily, chatted intermittently, and enjoyed the quiet. And we came home to a family breakfast with bagels galore.
We were flying out the next morning, but I had one more run planned before we left.
Soon after we arrived in Florida, I emailed the lovely long-legged Amanda (yes, Christina, another long-legged friend!) to see if she happened to be free while Brent and I were in town. Several emails later, we had plans to meet for an easy handful of miles along the ocean on Friday morning.
A traffic accident involving a horse-trailer nearly careening off an overpass closed the highway and almost canceled our run, but Brent and I finally pulled up at five minutes to seven.
“That’s her!” I said as we drove into the lot.
We got out of the car and I ran over.
Amanda – a far better blogger than I – had her camera at the ready (I wished I had thought to pack something other than a ratty old tank top for our trip!). After a couple quick shots, we said goodbye to Brent – who’s nursing some bumps and bruises and getting ready for nationals in less than a week – and got ready to go.
Photo care of Amanda
“You’re going to make me feel tall today,” she said as she locked her car.
“Yeah… I have that effect on people.”
With that, we were off.
The miles passed quickly as we chatted about work, life, blogging, and running, and less than an hour later, we were saying goodbye with passing thoughts of organizing a relay team for one of the Ragnar events in the northeast (Ragnar Pennsylvania next fall, anyone??)
Those five miles with Amanda, and the ten on my own and eight with Brent the day before, reminded me what I love most about running – the chance to get away from the stresses of the rest of life for a few hours, and the wonderful connections you can make along the way.
It’s a lesson I need to remind myself of every now and again.