If my Watson Fellowship year were a 10k, I’d be about a mile and a half in. Past the initial release of nerves and adrenaline, settling into a comfortable rhythm, preparing for the distance that lies ahead.
(I’m still working on a parallel to Jim’s distinctive “Goooood!” and frantic sprints along the rail. And one for the time right before the Indoor Conference mile when…. I’ll save that for another post 🙂 )
Anyways, having officially completed the first big leg of my journey, the UK and Ireland, now seems like a good time to reflect on what I’ve experienced so far. Here is a brief snapshot of the past 10 weeks, in map and number form:
667 miles run
12 beds slept in
5 countries visited
4 pairs of trainers worn or worn out
3 running singlets acquired
2 unplanned run-ins with old friends
1 hitchhiking experience (pipe down, Mom and Les- no harm done!)
There’s no question that the best part of my trip is building a web of friends all around the world. Even though I’m just passing through and offer no benefit to them, total strangers continually overwhelm me with their generosity and kindness. They lighten my load and brighten my spirit with offers of beds, meals, rides, tours and runs, and remind me how fortunate I am to be a part of such an inclusive and sociable sport.
The most challenging element of my trip so far is unsurprising: the distance that separates me from my family, friends and home. Moments like my twin’s pneumonia scare (although I’m still not convinced you weren’t pulling your old 4th-grade stunt and faking it for the Furby), the Rice Invitational, and Sunday long runs without my dad on his bike remind me how disconnected I am from the people and events that are typically a central and tangible part my life.
Thankfully, though, with all the roaming, meeting, trying, and exploring that I’ve done and will do, I don’t have too much time to dwell on what I’m missing elsewhere. The novelty of traveling is something that won’t wear off in the brief amount of time that I spend in each destination, and there’s no way to quantify the people or places that beckon my curiosity.
The first of these is Switzerland, where I’m spending the month of October. I’m living with the national steeplechase coach for the first week and dividing the rest of the month between the homes of a few runners and a triathlete. I’m totally ready to dive into a new culture, and hope the Swiss are as organized, efficient, clean and punctual as stereotypes suggest!