OK, about that...

So, naturally, as I expected, there are a hundred questions following the announcement that I intend to move to Oregon. 

My post was pretty vague because sometimes things just need to be vague. But, of course, anyone who knows me or who's read this blog one time in the last nine hundred years knows I'm typically not vague. You can literally read every detail about my entire life somewhere in the archives of this website. 

I'll probably regret that one day. Or love it. But, I digress...

Here are some answers, in no particular order, with some clarification:

I'm moving to Oregon alone. Well, technically not alone because I'll have the company of Luna and Chicken. Please, like I'd do anything in this life without my one true companion, Chicken. She is literally my entire world. My whole planet. I fucking love that cat more than life itself. It is my estimation that she and Luna will become fast friends during the 29-hour car ride across the country. 

Luna, my little rescue love, will become a mountain dog. Honestly, she's happy as any kind of dog. Smelly dog, chewy dog, bed dog, floor dog, sprawled-on-her-back-in-the-middle-of-the-street dog. She's just happy. I knew the moment I met her giant, toothy smile that I was meant to save her. Chicken still isn't too certain, but if I'm going to traipse across the country by myself, having those two (battling each other) by my side will make it entirely more tolerable. 

I am terrified to move across the country by myself. 

I am also incredibly excited to move across the country by myself. 

These two feelings are at eternal war with each other in my soul. Alone, in general, will be new. But it was my choice to be alone, and it was an incredibly difficult decision. It was also my choice to move across the country. No one forced me. It's just something I want to do, which is hard to wrap my mind around. 

Why want to move away? Why want to leave behind my life and my fantastic friends and the amazing normal I've created here? 

I don't know, and that's what makes this very hard.

Just yesterday I was convinced I couldn't do it. I just couldn't move. What about all the plans I want to make with my friends next year? What about my favorite local races? What about my family? The pit in my stomach felt enormous yesterday. 

But already this morning I daydreamed about forming not a new community in Bend, but an additional community. A complement to the amazing life I've cultivated in my home state. An expansion of the beautiful universe I built around me. 

But then the fear. What if I can't? What if no one befriends me? What if I cry myself to sleep? What if I drive to work every day in a panic because my heart and soul live two days away? 

Always, always the "what if?" 

Before I can move, I need to find someone to sublease my current home. Or I need to wait until June, which is not ideal in the least. And then I need to find somewhere to live in Bend. The logistics overwhelm me.

I worry this is too much change at once. Being alone. Moving 2,000 miles away. All at once. But then I think, what better time? What better time to begin a new adventure? Or what worse time? I'm nearly 34 years old and about to uproot everything I've ever known. There are still things I want for myself. A family, for one. Particularly before I'm 45 years old. Is it too late for me to start fresh? 

I have no answers to these questions or this doubt. It just sits in my head, causing me to chew my fingernails to nubs and eat pizza on the regular for comfort.

I think of waking up in a new home, wandering to the window to see mountains on the horizon, and the exhilaration swells. I imagine running in a beautiful new place, breathing in the smell of jasmine, and joining new friends for coffee afterward. I imagine just being me in a new place, full of possibility. 

And then I imagine crying at night because I'm scared. Or feeling overwhelmed because I'm lonely. 

In truth, probably all of those things will happen. Maybe all in the same day. But how will I know unless I try? I'm risking nothing. My job is here. My job is there. Like they say, I can always, always come home. 

I just never imagined a world where home would not be here. But I guess, as they also say, home is where the heart is. So maybe I'll just have two homes.

Everything changed.

I'm a creature of habit and comfort. I live squarely in my comfort zone, hesitant to take risks solely because I'm afraid of them. I fear the unknown as much as I fear change.

This has worked for me -- this comfortable life. In fact, I very much love life. But something has shifted in me in the last year. I've started to love me. I've begun to realize that the things I want for myself, I can have. Maybe I can't have them all, and maybe I can't have them right away, but I can try. 

I am worth that. 

I took a risk a year ago, and gave a new job a shot. A scary new job, away from the people I'd called family for three years. The job has pushed me well outside my comfort zone, but it's taught me independence. I've traveled across the country, I've explored, and I've grown. 

Over the summer I took a leap and committed to raising ten thousand dollars for multiple sclerosis research, and with that, running 165 miles from Utah to Colorado in six days. That venture is, by far, the most intimidating. But I've experienced more love and support in three months of fundraising than I could have ever imagined. 

I can do this.

I've spent a lot of time with myself in 33 years. I haven't always liked me, and I haven't always made the best decisions, or good decisions, for that matter. But I sure have learned a lot about me. I know who I am and what I want and, most importantly, how to be happy. 

The flip side of that means wrestling with big decisions and making changes to my life that were unheard of a year ago. Scary changes that uproot my habits and my normal. Sort of like taking a perfectly organized deck of cards and tossing them into the air to see where they land. 

And I don't know about you guys, but I'm incredibly neurotic and hate messes. 

Yet here we are. 

But I know where they're going to fall once I get to the other side. They will fall in Bend, Oregon.

And I will pick the cards back up when I get there and put them where they belong.

If marathons were easy.

If marathons were easy, everyone would run them, right? Is that what they say? I've learned plenty of running lessons in the last year, and of them, this is true: marathons are hard.

I finished the Lakefront Marathon on Sunday in a time of 3 hours, 33 minutes and 7 seconds. Just 4 minutes off a personal best. In fact, it's my second-fastest marathon. And I qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon by nearly 7 minutes. I also kept a fairly even pace, which gets tough to do in the later miles.

Looking at those facts and numbers, it certainly looks like a success. Technically, yes, it was. I wanted that Boston qualifier badand it's probably the only reason the numbers add up to success. 

But the truth is this: the run was miserable. I couldn't get my body to respond. My legs wouldn't pick up the pace when I needed them to. My nutrition was off, and I felt it. By mile 20 I was so thirsty, I was stopping at the aid stations to gulp entire cups of water.

I felt ready going into this marathon. The training was done, my friends were near, the weather cooperated. I was ready to run strong and happy and successfully with a smile on my face. But I couldn't find my smile. 

Shortly after the halfway point, my training buddy and friend ran up from behind, joining alongside me. He and I had identical goals for the race. With matching qualifying time requirements for Boston and big dreams, we were ready to smash this marathon. 

"Hey kiddo," he said, as he sidled up to my right. With that, I nearly cried. I was so ready for a familiar face by that point, and so relieved he'd shown up when he did. All I could do in response was give him the "so-so" motion with my hand, signaling my fading energy.

"We've got this," he said. And I knew that he did. 

With his energy nearby, I pulled myself through a few miles at my goal pace before sinking back into a more comfortable one. My brain wanted to let it go -- all the training, all the hard work, all the goals. My mind tried to convince my body that it'd be OK to just stop. There were several points that I actually convinced myself to be done with marathons. 

Just let it go. If you slow down, you'll miss your shot at Boston. You won't have to run it. You won't have to run a marathon ever again. You're not enjoying this. You said you'd keep running until it stopped being fun.

My mind was totally right. I wasn't enjoying myself. And I've told myself repeatedly that when running stops being fun, I won't do it anymore. 

But there was still a small part of my brain, somewhere deep, deep inside, that knew I could do it. That knew, if I just shut up, I could not only get it over with, I could hit my goal. And then -- and only then -- could I truly have peace of mind and a break from the stress of fast paces and hopes of a return to Boston.

If I would just shut up and run.

So I did. And it continued to be miserable and reminiscent of those last few miles of Boston. And just like Boston, I finished. And just like Boston, I finished with a damn respectable time. But just like Boston, I felt underwhelmed. Not disappointed, god no. I got my qualifying time. I got exactly what I wanted out of the result. 

But I didn't enjoy a step of it. 

And that matters to me, I've come to learn. The journey is just as important as the result, if not more. 

So, sure, technically Lakefront was a great success. But not emotionally, really. And as a person who has feelings about everything, that's an important piece of the puzzle for me. The most important.

Does that take away the joy of accomplishing my goal? No way. It just tarnishes my memory of the race.

My Grandma's Marathon experience, to me, is the pinnacle of running. I felt great, I felt happy, I felt strong, I felt everything, and I smashed my goal. Even the following fall, running a 50-miler, sure, it was difficult at times, but I loved it so much. I had the most wonderful day. A full day of running. In the end, that was successful, too. 

I could have finished Grandma's Marathon with the exact same time, but if it hurt and felt awful for 26 miles, I'd never have the fond memories I have of it now. It's exactly why I want to run Boston again. So I can have the enjoyable experience I was meant to have. 

This is no way means I'm done running hard or shooting for improvement. I'll get back to it when I'm good and ready, but that isn't any time soon. Right now I just want to run. 

Until my body and mind tell me otherwise, it's back to the basics. Running because it makes me happy. Running with my friends. Running because I can. 

In May I'll be running 165 miles in six days, averaging a marathon a day. I've got that to prepare for, which sounds like the opposite of what I need. But to me, it's exactly what I want. Miles upon miles of simply covering the distance. Not beating myself up over pace or stressing about speed work or worrying whether race day will go exactly as I need it to go. 

The goals are still there. They're always there, they've just shifted.

I'm going to run far and wide for the hell of it. Just the way I like it.