Here’s the back story. In June of 2019 I was coming off a hard recovery from a procedure in April, my bloodwork was a mess: I was starting B12 shots, intense chiropractic care and I felt done. I ran the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th, the year before I had toed the line right behind the contenders for the 10,000M National championship and had come in 43rd place (for women), but this year: I ran TERRIBLE – 6 minutes slower than the glorious year before. That’s a lot for a 10K. It was all too much, something had to change, and I had felt this urging in my soul.
Over the course of a few weeks I sat resolved to do what had been on my heart for years, run across the world… Sounds crazy, but let me explain. The best way to see God’s creation is on your own two feet – staring it head on, moving slow enough to actually be in awe. When we are moving through our day to day seeing the inside of office buildings and Starbucks it’s hard to get grasped in the awe of His majesty. So I wanted to document it. Everywhere I go I run, most of the time it leads me on the most beautiful of adventures, but occasionally my adventurous spirit gets me in a pickle (you’ll hear more about that below).
So in the middle of July 2019 I put in my two weeks notice to my family’s business I had been at for 7 years (but also my whole life because that’s how family business’s work), and geared up for what was next. Who knew, other than God, a week later I would find out I was pregnant and eight months later the world would shut down.
In the fall of 2019 we did it all, even with the morning sickness staying with me for the long haul. Maine, Boston, SoCal, two different parts of Florida. Running and documenting everywhere we went and loving it, but then 2020 hit. I had to stop running at 31 weeks, which was fine, we went to Florida at the beginning of February unknowing it would be the last time we travelled “normally” for the foreseeable future, and Elijah came into the world the same week we locked it all down in March.
What happened? Why did I feel called to leave a nice cushy job when this was on the horizon? Thankfully, the company I have LONG contracted for always has the door open for me and I continue to grow in skill and leadership there, but it sure looks different then what I envisioned. So what was/is God doing? How do you continue to move towards one thing you feel God has put on your heart, while being pulled in two other directions?
So in 2020, we set to do small, COVID safe trips in the Southeast and Elijah did great. Chattanooga, TN, Highlands, NC, Miramar Beach, FL, Disney, Lake Hartwell (several times), we learned each time but they weren’t terribly stressful. He was still tiny and immobile. Fast-forward to April 2021, we were all mostly vaccinated (everyone had at least 1 shot) and we decided to hop a cross country plane ride for a week long hiking excursion. It was time to get back on the road, but a squirmy very mobile 13 month old meant things had to change not only on our itinerary, but in my heart.
Heading west would mean the adventure of the year, but equally as much stretching. I furiously researched traveling with a toddler and came upon a few main themes: it’s hard, it’s worth it, be patient. And that is what I hung. my hat on. Along the way, though, I found one key piece of practical advice: rent baby equipment. One of the things I was least looking forward to was trying to remember and then lug all of his stuff through the airport. So I found this website called BabyQuip (https://www.babyquip.com) and other than the stroller to move E from place to place I rented his crib, toys, highchair, and hiking backpack. It costs a pretty penny, but for the ease it as 100% worth it. I would recommend it to everyone that is flying to their destination.
Patience. It was the theme that keeps me on a endless roller-coaster, I am not it, but God always finds ways to push me to the brink (in the best ways of course). So we got there, after a tumultuous first plane ride with Elijah, got unpacked, got the rentals situated and with the help of my family E had the BEST time. He was exhausted, and he loved it. Through Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, Bryce Canyon, two days of Zion he took everything in, loved exploring and was happy to be on daddy’s back at eye level with everyone else. We used the Osprey pack to carry him in and it’s top of the line and rightfully so. 10/10 would recommend for active parents with littles. It also meant shorter hikes then we would have normally done both for Elijah and for the sake of Jon’s back (hello 98% percentile in weight). We wouldn’t have traded it, but we didn’t come back rested.
As for me, my family gave me moments to take off the mom hat – I got out for 30 minutes of high altitude running every day (we can go into why that’s important in training in another blog post), and as I mentioned earlier the 8 mile trail run that almost ended in disaster. Quick story: My dad, sister, BIL and I wanted to at least get one trail run in while we were there, so I found a trail down the street from our cabin that connected into the trail mom wanted to go see later that day. The Virgin River Rim is a 27 mile trail that is a literal rim of a canyon and we were only hitting a section of it. It’s BEAUTIFUL and on the rim was warm and perfect, however over the 7 miles we had to hop a snow mound or two when we went inward from the rim. At 7.2 we lost the trail, mom had just called to tell us the road to the trail she wanted to do was closed, the snow was 2 feet high and we were starting to get too cold, and our phone batteries were dipping fast. So those .8 miles became 2 miles searching for the nearest big trail and sliding down snow to get their – it was a sight and an emotional toll. Jon and I had one of those moments when we finally made it up to the road where we both ran at each other and embraced. It was cute. The views were worth it, but it’s best to stay off those trails until later in May after all the snow has melted.
All this to say, I think there are two big takeaways : Patience (oh have I mentioned that before) take the stretching as a joyful moment as much as you can, it means God is working and who doesn’t want that? And the other takeaway, we won’t stop traveling with him, but we will always have a getaway for just us two lined up. We are blessed with close family and for all the times I want to get him used to travel and the outdoors, but I want Jon and I to have a few moments where we aren’t coordinating nap time and meal times and how to control the fussy spell. I think holding both is important.
So where are we off to next? Actually all three of us will be in different places in May. I will take off for a solo birthday trip to Disney, Jon heads to Oklahoma for a work conference, and Elijah is getting some special time with Gigi and Papa. Here’s to some individual time and then back together for a trip to the mid-Atlantic in June.
So cheers to new rhythms and new lessons learned, and more writing about it all!