Transon Recap: Week 8

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STATES: MISSOURI, ILLINOIS, & INDIANA

DAYS: 49 – 55

START: ASHLEY, MO

END: GROVELAND, IN
CUMULATIVE MILES: 2,345.6

Day 49 (Friday):

Today I said goodbye to Missouri. Once again this journey surprised me; I never knew Missouri would be so beautiful.

The morning was overcast and I found myself in a similar headspace, grey and gloomy. I wouldn’t say I was feeling bad for myself, just less appreciative of the experience and adventure I am currently on.

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At mile 20 I found my crew waiting for me in a gravel driveway on a rural road near Frankfort Missouri. Not long after arriving at the stop a kind woman approached us from the driveway we were parking in to ask if she could tell us a story. We obliged and as she began to tell us she became quite emotional.

On March 22nd of this year, a young man named Kaleo Dade was killed in a car accident while trying to avoid a deer on the road. The accident had occurred less than I mile back on the road I had been running on, I had seen some flowers and a cross set as a memorial.

She told us about Kaleo. He was a fine young man, and an amazing athlete at the local high school. He had a bright future ahead of him.

She asked if I would wear a memorial bracelet with me for the rest of my run and take his memory with me to New York. Of course, I accepted her request. From here on out, a portion of this run will be to honor the life of Kaleo.

I’m going to use this experience to remember not to take my days for granted and cherish those I love. Nothing is guaranteed and everyday is a gift.

Day 50 (Saturday):

I crossed the Mississippi River today! That was a rush. There has been so much rain that the banks were completed flooded. It was a pretty big milestone for me. Big geographical markers are huge psychological motivators. As of today, I am also 2/3 of the way done with this run! One third of 75 days is still a lot of damn days, though.

Milestones keep me going. One step at a time, one 5-mile segment at a time, one day at a time, one week, one month, and so on. Problems arise and we adapt and continue. All while keeping our eye on the end game: NYC on my 75th day of running.

This run has been such a metaphor for life. Things can get overwhelming if you look at the big picture of all the things you have going on. So take it day by day, or just hour by hour. Make whatever adjustments are needed, and continue forward.

Day 51 (Sunday):

So many cornfields in Southern Illinois! They just go on and on and on. All the fields are empty now, but I imagine they will start planting soon.

Shelley got in last night and put in 24 miles with me today. It’s so nice to have her around, but it definitely makes me miss home more than usual. I just want to sit on the couch in my living room and drink a cup of coffee while my dog and two cats cuddle up.

We were supposed to have thunderstorms, but never got a drop of rain. It was sunny most of the day, actually, and I started dragging just simply due to the heat. Elliott made me some mashed potatoes (with coconut milk added) in an attempt to help boost my carb intake as I have essentially no desire to eat bread or tortillas anymore. They hit the spot. Hopefully I don’t get tired of them any time soon.

Today was Kelsey and Parker’s last full day out here! I’m so thankful that they spent so much time out of their lives to come join my crew. I got nice and caught up on the happenings in the restaurant scene in Austin.

Day 52 (Monday):

Had a hard time waking up this morning. I shouldn’t say it was hard to wake up, as the sun was shining directly into the van, it was merely hard to get out of bed. I slept well last night.

My neighbor back home in Denver sent up 10 lbs of coffee from his roastery Logan House Coffee Co. Wow, what a treat! Thanks, André! This is definitely an improvement upon the instant coffee I had been drinking up until now.

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TRIPPE DAVIS showed up today. Guys, this is my buddy from childhood. We became good friends after we graduated from high school and moved away, and I just love this guy to death. His energy is so huge for me right now!

I ran the first 20 miles by myself today while the crew was busy doing errands like filling the fresh water tank in the camper and doing a big grocery shopping trip. No sooner had Shelley joined me running than we saw the crew coming back towards us to say that the road ahead was closed due to flooding. We backtracked for just a minute, and without thinking much, scurried down the side of the overpass we were on to get on the shoulder of an interstate. We only needed to go two miles before we could exit off the interstate and join back up with our route, all without losing or gaining any total miles for the day. Of course a cop immediately pulled us over and told us that he had to give us a ride off the interstate. This caused some problems because now we had skipped running miles and needed to find a way to make them up. There was a THIRD option of getting back to our original route (option 1: flooded road, option 2: I-72), but we would need to wait for the crew to drive us around to get there. They showed up as we were getting out of the cop car, picked us back up, dropped us off an an intersection before the flooded/closed road, and we corrected for the skipped miles on this other back road. The whole debacle rattled me a little bit, as my tolerance for unpredictability in general is low.

But then Trippe joined me for the last 10 miles of my day and I really cheered up! We ended the day in Illiopolis before sundown. All-in-all, it was a good day and I actually finished today’s miles faster than yesterday, despite putting in a little extra mileage!

Day 53 (Tuesday):

We slept in the parking lot of a gas station last night in Illiopolis. I was pretty sure this was going to be the day where I just succumbed to the sleep. It was extremely hard for me to get out of bed this morning. Trippe and Elliott said they thought I might never come out of the van, and they were exactly right.

But when I got going, I found a small groove and kept it. Elliott ran some miles with me earlier in the day, and Trippe and I ran the last 10 miles together (and by the way, he had never run 10 miles before coming out on the Transcon… and then did it two days in a row!). Shelley took a day off from running today and reorganized the van a little bit.

I ran through Tuscola, IL today and it was the most charming little town I had run through in a while. The crew picked up four new pairs of Hoka Bondi 6’s for me that had been sent to the Fleet Feet store in Tuscola. I’ve been putting about 400 miles on each pair of shoes, so these four pairs of shoes should definitely carry me all the way to NYC. I thought I could at least finish out the day in the pair of shoes I was wearing, but after another 5-mile segment, I stopped to switch shoes. Nothing like NEW SHOE DAY.

We somehow avoided rain yet again today. There were supposed to be thunderstorms from Saturday thru Wednesday, but each day the storms just keep getting pushed back. Thankful for that! It’s been sunny, but not uncomfortably hot yet. It seemed like a storm was blowing in near the end of my day, and by the time Trippe and I finished up, the temp was dropping quickly. We spent the night in Garrett, IL, next to Cody’s gravel pit. I took a hot shower and did everything I could to stay up and hang out in the camper with Trippe, Elliott, and Shelley, but I could only last like 20 minutes until I had to go to the van and sleep.

Day 54 (Wednesday):

I had three runners join me for the first 5 miles of my day today. I was shocked to see Ryan wearing a NadaMoo hat when he showed up at my start point – he must have gotten the last one! These guys were all in good shape, so I had a faster than usual start to my running day.

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I faced strong headwinds all day long. Wind can just tear you up. It wasn’t slowing me down that much though, and in fact, I was making really good time for my miles. The sun came out in full force, and yet again, we avoided the imminent thunderstorms.

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Shelley and Trippe each got to run some miles with me before they had to leave the Transcon for Indianapolis. It was obviously really hard to see them go. This was Shelley’s third trip to see me on the Transcon in two months and with each visit she brings a type of anticipation for her arrival that keeps me extra motivated. Now, I have started the countdown for NYC, which is where she will be next. She has been such a rock for me throughout this whole thing.

I just want to say a few more things about Trippe. This guy holds such a special place in my heart. Our friendship really hit its stride after we had both moved away from our hometown. In our early 20’s, we were both working bar scenes, riding fixed gear bikes, and doing our best to be outright hooligans in our respective cities. Trippe was living in Portland, OR and I was in Austin, TX. On a whim I packed up my bike and caught a flight up to Portland for a long weekend vacation. Trippe and I met up for a beer and quickly decided that we did in fact like each other enough to hang out. It also just so happened to be his birthday weekend and we proceeded to ride bikes and raise total hell for the remainder of my stay. It was so amazing to befriend someone who shared a common place of origin yet had moved on and was trying to find his own way in a city far far from where we grew up. The parallels between our lives are quite comforting, and I know I have found a friend for life in Trippe.

Now over a decade later, we’re both a little more grown up and have found much healthier ways to live and express ourselves. This friendship still means as much to me as ever, though. I’m super proud of Trippe for the choices he’s made and the intentional life he leads. He’s also one hell of a photographer! I recommend giving his page a look (@trippedavis), you won’t regret it.

Trippe, thanks for taking time out of your life to be a part of this journey. It’s been amazing getting to spend some miles and time with you.

After saying goodbye, I had to get right back to fighting the wind. For several hours, it was just me and Elliott: I was running, and Elliott was doing everything else! My original crew reunited later this evening (Chris, Clara, Jackie, and Elliott) and I think mentally this will help me to see that the end is near. Chris and Clara flew into St. Louis, and Jackie drove up from Austin to pick them up in their car. I had fun hanging out in the camper after I finished running, catching them all up on the last month’s stories.

I ended the day in Raven, Illinois about 1.5 miles from the Indiana border.

Day 55 (Thursday):

Early this morning I entered into Indiana! Once again, I am just shocked that every time I cross a state line, everything changes. Topography changes completely! We went from cornfields yesterday to rolling hills and hardwood trees. Having more interesting and varied scenery helps a lot psychologically, as I’ve probably mentioned before. It’s also really damn nice to be one state closer to NYC.

Elliott ran 10 miles with me this afternoon, and then Jackie finished up the last 15 with me. We had avoided thunderstorms up until today… the weather for the last 4 miles of the day was on par with some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever run in. Jackie and I were completely soaked. It hasn’t stopped raining yet and I’m about to go to sleep.

Tomorrow, we will run through Indianapolis in the afternoon and it will be the first time I’ve been in a major city since I left Los Angeles. There are some runners who are interested in meeting up with me, and I hope they make it out!

We changed time zones today, so I am going to get to bed as soon as I can to help the adjustment to an earlier wake-up call tomorrow.

TransCon Recap: Week 7

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STATE: MISSOURI

DAYS: 42 – 48

START: JOPLIN, MO

END: ASHLEY, MO

CUMULATIVE MILES: 2,013.6 MI

Day 42 (Friday)

Today it became extremely clear that we have transitioned from the West to the East. Rolling hills. Hardwoods. Green grassy hills. Psychologically, this is so important. I actually feel like I’m making progress.

Energy-wise, things are coming together a bit more. I’ll take that! I still seem to be dragging a bit at the start of my day, but usually it doesn’t last too long. It helps that so many people reached out to me to help me dig out of that dark, tired place I had found myself. Thank you Dotsie, Taylor, and all the Switch4Good athletes who sent me personal messages of encouragement. They were so appreciated.

Today was memorable because I met this eccentric and charming man, Tim. We were running a good bit on Route 66 today, which happens to be “his” road. He pulled up, walked over to me during one of my breaks, shook my hand, and said, “I’m so proud of you. And thank you for running on my road!” He and his wife had bought a house off Route 66 when they were both 66 years old. It’s an incredibly modern house. Tim explained that they wanted something different for the road. “This road is special, and it needs something different.”

I feel so connected to this road, as I have logged hundreds of miles on it. And I have to agree with Tim. There is something special about Route 66.

Tim also said that he tries to always be open to meeting new people. He values simply interacting with other human beings, “Because we learn from other people and other people are interesting.” It was a good reminder to me of another reason to be grateful out here on the Transcon. I get to meet so many people! Yes, I usually approach situations with a little social anxious at first, but without fail, people impress me. They are warm. They have something to say. Or they just want to hear. I have yet to have a conversation that didn’t touch me in some way.

We spend so much time on our phones, especially in public places when we could be talking to each other. As a society we don’t give each other enough opportunity for those enriching social moments with strangers. If we just talked more, maybe we wouldn’t be as polarized.

I’m so glad I’m not as plugged into the news these days. I’m getting to turn my attention to those around me. It’s incredibly rewarding. Thank you, Tim for saying you are proud of me. It meant a lot, even though you were a total stranger.

I saw a fox in the woods today. Always reminds me of Shelley.

Day 43 (Saturday)

Taylor and Greg from NadaMoo! joined the Transcon today! It is always nice to share the road with others. I had never met Greg before, and we had a blast running 10 miles together today. Taylor put in 19 miles with me today, which is her personal distance record! I am so lucky that I have been witness to so many people pushing themselves to achieve their personal distance records out here on the Transcon! Shelley, Gabe, Taylor, Elliott… who else wants to give it a go?

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Running with others really opens doors to getting to know someone unlike going out to coffee, or having dinner together. It’s the movement aspect that connects both sides of my brain and allows me to feel emotionally grounded and open. I think running opens my heart and inspires thoughtful conversations. I truly feel like I share a very special bond with each and every person who has run miles with me out here.

Michelle from Polymath Educational Cafe in Springfield, MO, tracked us down and brought me and the crew a vegan FEAST tonight. She and her two daughters were so sweet. I’m struck again by the generosity and kindness of others.

Day 44 (Sunday)

I woke today with higher energy levels than I’ve had in a while. I can’t tell you how relieving it is to know that the lows are just temporary and they do pass. I feel so confident in the daily work that I set out to do every day: run 45 miles.

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This morning, Michelle brought us another delivery of plant-based deliciousness! Biscuits and gravy, donuts, potato soup, sandwiches, cold brew coffee, AND rice krispie treats! Incredible way to start the day. It also helps that the area I’m running through is insanely gorgeous.

Sending a big shoutout to Shelley, Jamie (my future sister-in-law), Tess, Erin, and Darby who are running the Big Sur Marathon this morning! Jackie (my other future sister-in-law) and Jacob Garcia (past crew member) are also running races today down in Texas! Good luck to all and I’ll be thinking about you all day as I do my daily work. Enjoy the road, and run free!

The big news of the day was that I said goodbye to my friend and crew member, Joe Whinery. Joe understands this project. He just gets it. He’s incredibly reliable, responsible, reliable, and an all around solid friend and human. He always had my best interest at heart and anticipated my needs in a way that doesn’t always happen between friends. I really appreciate this guy, and am beyond grateful that he made the effort to come out and crew me for 10 days! It was great to feel caught up a little bit with his wife, Jessica, and their adorable daughter, Jasper while he was out here, too.

Day 45 (Monday)

New crew members arrived yesterday: Kelsey and Parker. Feeding off the new energy is the name of the game out here. Nevertheless, the morning started off feeling sluggish again. I think my instant coffee is expired and has no caffeine. Seriously, this is a huge problem. I only notice myself actually waking up when I take my first Spring Energy gel.

This morning was also kind of rainy and nasty, and incredibly humid. I had my rain gear on, and I felt like I was running in a swamp. It finally cleared up mid-morning and even got pretty hot and sunny.

I’m back on Route 66. No cars. No traffic. Parker turned me onto the Woody Guthrie Spotify channel, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. For the first month or so, I found that I couldn’t really listen to music for very long stretches at a time. It was too overstimulating, and my body was maxed out in so many ways that I couldn’t really handle it. Think, the noise of cars, the being in the elements day in and day out, the sheer emotional exhaustion, the physical fatigue. All of it added up and it became really hard for me to cope with anything “extra.” I’m finding that I have a lot more resilience now than I did a while back.

Topographically, I had a lot of rolling hills. This meant power hiking up a lot of climbs, and flying down the descents. Feels good to switch up the pace and feel like the road can give me some momentum sometimes.

I will never forget how beautiful the last 5 miles of the day were. I was kind of in awe and had this acute realization that I am actively RUNNING ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Not everyday is awe-inspiring, and sometimes the days actually just run together. The scenery can even be kind of mundane. But it’s that stark beauty around me that snaps me right into the present moment and gives me perspective. It’s like I can zoom out and be present at the same time.

The forecast looks ominous the next couple days along our route. Thunderstorms, tornados, rain, wind, flooding… my new crew is prepared to improvise and and go with the flow! We are hoping for the best.

Day 46 (Tuesday)

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My coffee actually had caffeine in it today! Whoa.

The first 5 miles of my day were similar in beauty to the last 5 miles of yesterday. Absolutely stunning. I know we have heavy storms in the forecast, so I tried to get in as many miles early in the day as I could.

All of a sudden Elliott and I found ourselves in a torrential downpour unlike any rain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I honestly have never been outside in rain like that before. We had to seek shelter in the rig for a while as the lightning was coming down in every direction around us. I’ve definitely never been that close to lightning before. We tirelessly watched the radar, hoping for things to let up so I could keep pushing towards my daily mileage goal. We kept reading estimates of 2-4 FEET OF RAIN for the area.

At one point, Parker drove up ahead to check out a bridge we needed to cross and to gauge the level of the rising river below it. We realized that we absolutely had to get across that bridge before the river flooded the bridge. Luckily, we got that break we were hoping for, and I got back out there and ran until it was no longer safe (lightning is no joke!). Thankfully I was able to cover 42.6 miles for the day, despite the powerful elements.

Unfortunately, the forecast for the next few days is still not great. It will be one foot in front of the other, with an eye to the sky.

Day 47 (Wednesday May 1st)

I’ve moved 5 turtles from the road in the last 47 days, but today’s snapping turtle did not want my help. I tried.

By the way, I think I’ve collected about 20 license plates. My treasure bag is getting pretty full.

For those of you that have been following my cross country journey since the beginning, you’ve heard of Elliott before, but you haven’t heard enough. Elliott has been with me since Day 1 (which feels like a lifetime ago, yes). I seriously don’t know what I’d do without him. Our chance meeting in the Copper Canyons of Chihuahua, Mexico after the Caballo Blanco Ultra run happened about 2 weeks before I arrived to Huntington Beach, CA to start this Transcon. Our serendipitous meeting is proof to me that if you follow your heart, and stay true to a goal, the whole world provides.

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Elliott has been the one on-the-ground constant throughout this whole Transcon. Every single morning at 5am, he treats me to a bowl of porridge and a cup of coffee. He has shared countless miles with me, and has become one of my dearest friends. He provides council to me on all major decisions, and I know without a doubt that he is always prioritizing the Transcon. It’s not often that such incredible people enter one’s life and I couldn’t be luckier for that to have happened at such a crucial time in mine! Thank you for everything, Elliott. Don’t know where I’d be without you, bud!

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Today was a very special day for me because my cousin Dusty (@dbalenger) flew in from Atlanta to join the crew for a bit. Dusty has been my friend and is the closest I’ll ever know to a brother (I am an only child). Adulthood hasn’t allowed us a ton of time together, but we’ve tried to keep in better touch over the last several years, and I love him just the same. There are very few memories from my childhood that don’t involve him. His companionship was so instrumental in my childhood as we learned so much about the world from our grandparents on their farm in Northeast Georgia.

As I was conjuring up the idea for this run I always hoped and envisioned that he would be able to come out and be a part of the experience with me. I’ve looked forward to his arrival since my first day at Huntington Beach. I first saw Dusty this morning at my 15-mile break. At mile 20 he jumped in to run with me. We spent the entire afternoon catching up on life, reminiscing about our shared past, and talking about upcoming goals (Dusy is currently training for his first IronMan triathlon!).

At one point while we were running, Dusty reached out his hand for a high five, telling me that he had just passed his Personal Distance Record (PDR) of 13.1 miles. I was so excited for him – and I’ll add him to the list of people who have achieved their PDR’s while out here on the Transcon! Little did I know how far he wanted to take it. At my prescribed 45 mile distance for the day he was already at 25 miles! To round things out we continued and finished my day at 46.2 and him at 26.2, DOUBLING his previous longest distance. I couldn’t be more proud of him on completing his first marathon!

Today was by far one of the highlights of my run across the U.S. I am so excited to have this time with Dusty and everyone else that has taken time out of their lives to join me for a portion of this journey. I am truly blessed.

Day 48 (Thursday)

Today started off rainy but cleared by the time I had run 15 miles. Seems to be the new normal now. Even when the rain clears up though, the humidity sticks around. Luckily, I don’t have any notable new blisters to report on. I have been having some night sweats, which is never a fun way to wake up.

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At 17.2 miles into the day I found the crew waiting to celebrate my 2,000th mile mark. They had marked the spot with “2000” written in sticks. It felt like a huge accomplishment.

The area we are traveling through is generally just very wet. The ground is even saturated and seems to be on the brink of flooding at all times.

The crew is really jiving now. It’s great to be surrounded by so much laughter.

We had another PDR today! Parker ran 20 miles (!) beating his previous longest distance of 11 miles! Dusty also put in 13 miles with me today like it was nothing. All-in-all, spirits are high and my body is feeling good. I’m so excited to see Shelley on Saturday!

I have started thinking about what life is going to be like after I reach NYC. It’s pretty daunting to imagine having to deal with logistical stressors that life will inevitably bring after the Transcon. Even just the thought of trying to figure out my travel plans back to Denver seem complicated and anxiety-producing. I know I’ll be able to better cope when I’m facing it all in the moment.

Sometimes it feels like the Transcon is going to be over before I know it, but 27 days still feels like a really really long time. Just because I have a groove going doesn’t mean that things don’t get hard for me at least once a day. But if there were ever a metaphor for the life, I think I’m living some version of it right now. I’m learning. Learning about gratitude, learning about patience, learning about how to trust that setbacks are not permanent. I’m also getting to know myself. That’s a good feeling and one that I hope everybody has a chance to feel at some point in their lives.

TransCon Recap: Week 6

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STATES: OKLAHOMA, KANSAS, MISSOURI

DAYS: 34 – 41

START: LAVERNE, OK

END: JOPLIN, MO

CUMULATIVE MILES: 1,712.2 MI

Day 34:

The storm last night didn’t end up being that bad after all. Weatherman was wrong, go figure. I had some rolling hills today and I’m noticing that the Oklahoma landscape is starting to change. I definitely could tell that I had that extra rest last night; running uphill doesn’t feel like work at all. The winds were ferocious, but luckily they were mostly at my back. I won’t ever complain about that!

Jacob Garcia arrived last night and put in 20 miles with me today. Elliott put in another 10 with me, which means I had great company for a major part of my day.

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Chris and Clara, my future in-laws, left this afternoon. It kind of feels like the end of an era. They have literally been with me since the beginning of the run. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done to support me.

Last year, Chris invited me to go down to the Copper Canyons to run the Caballo Blanco ultra race. It was literally the trip of a lifetime. Whatever happened to me down there was big, because shortly after coming home, I decided I was going to run across the country exactly one year later. Chris and Clara were some of the first people I called when I made up my mind to do this, and I made my way down to Austin to start the planning process. They were the architects of the framework that we are still using today to get me from LA to NYC one step at a time.

Thank you, C&C for all that you have done for the Transcon. You have been the backbone of the crew. And the crew works REALLY hard, everyone! I love them so much and am really thankful to have them in my life.  

Day 35:

Joe Whinery joined the crew while I was sleeping last night! He’s a friend from Austin, and I’m so excited to reconnect with him and grateful that he is participating in my project in such a big way. I spent almost all of my breaks catching up rather than staying strictly to business.

Usually my breaks consist of refilling my water bottles with Skratch, replenishing any bars, gels, or snacks that I ate during the last segment, and either 1) drinking a fruit + veggie smoothie with Soylent added, or 2) eating solid food like pringles, rice + beans, tofu, tortillas, peanut butter, etc. I try to keep my breaks short unless I need to make some serious adjustments to my layers (like take off my running tights), or elevate/ice my legs (which thankfully I haven’t had to do in a while).

The No Meat Athlete ATX group sent up some pineapple bread and protein birthday cake balls. They were delicious, thank you!

Sometimes I think about how differently this whole run might have turned out if just one thing had played out differently. I remember my first phone call with Daniel Nicholson, CEO of NadaMoo! and how I instantly felt like I had found the perfect partner for this Transcontinental run. The Plant Powered Mission was born and the mission statement couldn’t align better with my values. It has essentially become my personal mantra. I’m so grateful that NadaMoo! jumped on board with this project right away and am eternally grateful for the support they have provided me along the way.

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Many of us dream. Many of us are are big dreamers and some of us will pursue those dreams until they come to fruition. But success never happens in a vacuum, all alone. NadaMoo!’s support was the big catalyst that threw into motion all of this. It’s not often that someone else takes a leap in order to believe in your dreams. I don’t take that lightly. Thank you, Daniel, and the rest of the NadaMoo! team for believe in me and in this Plant Powered Mission.  

Day 36:

Ran through the salt plains today. The wetlands are really beautiful out here. It’s amazing what I get to appreciate when I see this country at a runner’s pace. Had some horses run beside me today, that was cool.

Today I got to run and catch up with an old friend, Gabe. He and his partner Lauren drove up from San Antonio to support my run. That’s quite a drive, y’all. I first met Gabe from way back in my early days in the service industry in Austin. We have a ton of mutual friends, and hung out in all the same places.

Gabe ran 38 miles with me today, his personal distance record. After I finished my miles, we were about to hop in the car to drive the 3 miles to our sleeping spot for the night and Gabe decided to just go for it. It is incredible to watch somebody push themselves like that. Overall, it’s pretty badass.

I want to tell a little bit of his story because it inspired me so much, and I think it would inspire anyone. Gabe transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle right around the time his son was born a couple of years ago. He was a traditionally-trained chef, so doing that is kind of a big deal in his world. He also started running. Along with the running, he found sobriety. I have several friends actually who have found that sobriety and running go well together and I admire their determination to make these major life changes. In two days, Gabe will have reached 6-months of being sober. I’m just really proud of him for that and think he deserves praise for making himself accountable. I think he’s a great example of how we have choices in this life, and we can make choices that feel good and are good for those around us that we love. If something is NOT working for you, you can adjust to make your life work for you instead of against you. The only thing that’s standing between you and a life change is your ability to be honest with yourself. (Side note: the day after he left us on the Transcon, he proposed to his long-time partner Lauren, and she said yes!).

Also, I just want to give a general shoutout to my awesome crew right now: Joe Whinery, Nick Ackermann, Jacob Garcia, and of course Elliott Preater. I’m so grateful that these guys have taken so much time out of their lives to come and support me. Means a lot.

Day 37:

Today is Day 37, which means if everything goes according to plan I’m HALFWAY done with my running days. This is a big one for me and it feels weird just typing it out. I mean, halfway done is halfway done… but It’s also ONLY halfway done. Kind of a conflicting feeling, but I’m going to celebrate it! It’s also EARTH DAY and I got to spend the entire day outside. But I’ve done a lot of that lately.

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I spent the last year strategizing, dreaming, and vigorously chasing this dream. Yes, there were many times that I felt doubtful. I experienced some let downs and rejections that added some significant challenges. My plan morphed and changed so much over the course of the year, and at times I imagined that it would just be easier to do it Rickey Gates style, 100% alone, pushing along a baby stroller with my supplies. But here I am. Halfway done. Can you believe it? This is crazy.

The person who took that first step 37 days ago is quite the different person that finished up his daily miles today – in some ways, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t been doing this for my whole life. It’s hard to remember what life was like before this started, except that it included a lot less time on my feet. I ran across Interstate 35 today, which is the interstate that runs through Austin, TX, the city I called home for many years.

I haven’t put my finger on what in me has shifted or why, but I can say with certainty that I have never been this confident in my entire life.

I feel more connected to community and am so humbled every time I open my inbox to see how many people feel compelled to write to me and urge me onward. Of course, one of my biggest goals in this project was to reach a wide audience, and I’m constantly in awe of how successful that aspect has been.

Relying on others has never been my forté, and lately, I’ve had to do a lot of that. Now I’m used to it, and I almost look forward to the connection when I allow someone else to take care of me. Despite many societal assumptions, the people I’ve met along the way have all been inherently good. People are taking care of me in so many ways, both right here on the ground (i.e. doing my laundry, making my every meal, explaining my route for the day, tending to my physical ailments, running miles and miles and miles by my side, etc.), and from far away (i.e. text messages, phone calls, logistical organization and planning, coordinating surprise meet-ups, helping me manage my communications, etc.). So thank you, all for being a part of this project and getting me to where I am today. A new man.

Day 38:

Jacob Garcia (“J-Gar”) left today. We didn’t know each other that well before he came out to the Transcon, but having him around was such a treat. I knew his father, Bobby Garcia, through a local running club in Austin. Several members of Shelley’s family used to run with Bobby’s group and with Jacob, and they are a solid family for sure. Jacob was the first person to take over crewing since Chris and Clara left the Transcon and I was definitely a little nervous about how that transition would go. I’m happy to report that it went so smoothly. Joe, Nick, Jacob, and Elliott made an awesome team. It’s one thing to feel supported by family, it’s another thing to feel supported by friends.

About 15 miles into my run, I found myself running through a beautiful wind farm. I have to say this was certainly a highlight for me as there haven’t been many interesting views lately. I’ve always loved and been fascinated with these modern turbines. Driving through them on road trips they are always a point of interest for me. To me, they are an amazing example of progress and innovation.

These turbines were so sleek and I just loved running through those green fields. It’s times like that when I feel in awe and so lucky to be out here doing what I’m doing.

These turbines made me think about my mission and why I’m doing what I’m doing. The environmental reasons for being a plant-based human was a big part of my process. I personally feel so much better about my impact on the environment knowing that I am not supporting Big Agriculture. The meat and dairy industries both individually put SUCH a strain on our resources. So much of the land in this country – the land I’m running through – is used in unsustainable way to support the meat and dairy industries. The connection between Big Ag and climate change is undeniable. Animal agriculture is responsible for creating more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined! More than 90% of the Amazon Rainforest that has been cleared since 1970 is used for meat production. Think about that!

I’m hoping that by bringing these reflections up, we can have more conversations about how our personal and individual lifestyle choices actually do have consequences. I want to feel good about my choices. Being plant-based and waste-conscious is a great start.

Day 39:

Today, I woke up to thunderstorms. I can’t believe it took me 39 days to finally hit this kind of weather. I was well-equipped with my Black Diamond gear, thankfully. At some point when you basically live in the outdoors, you just have to accept that you’re probably going to get a little wet at some point. There were a couple of times the crew considered pulling me off the road due to lightning, but ultimately, I was safe to continue.

The scenery is changing, which is always something I’m acutely aware of. I can feel that we are heading east. The topography includes more rolling hills, lots of green pastures and fields, and even some hardwood trees! This is so different from the desolate, vast, flat plains of Western Oklahoma.

The big milestone for today is that I ran my 1600th mile, which marks the halfway point for the Transcon. There’s still a lot more miles to go, but I’ve made it halfway, and everybody is really cheering me on for that, so thanks!

I had to drain quite a bit of fluid off my left pinky toe. It has grown to about twice its usual size. I’m not exactly sure how to manage it going forward – it’s a nice combination of blister underneath callous next to other blister, etc. Otherwise, my body is holding up quite nicely. Mental fatigue is definitely what seems to be eating at me slowly at this point. Everything kind of seems dull these days.

Day 40:

MY LAST FULL DAY IN OKLAHOMA! I glad to be finished with this state – no offense, but I’ve just spent so many days in this state. I’ve spent the most number of running days in this state, and I found myself in some major funks over the last couple of weeks.

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I feel the fatigue is accumulating and I’m not sure exactly what to do about it. I know that being tired of my food is kind of a problem, so I am straight up adding extra coconut milk to almost everything I eat hoping to meet my daily caloric goals. Another easy way to get in a calorie boost is eating more ice cream! Luckily Nick restocked our freezer with NadaMoo after a Whole Foods run in Tulsa.

I find myself just so sick of being out there sometimes. Yes, I have a great crew, yes I have great running company, but at the end of the day, I’m just out there for so long. Day after day. As soon as I start running for the day, I start looking forward to getting back into my van and going to sleep for the night. It’s hard to leave the camper and crew at breaks. I could just stay there and not get back to the road…

I feel human when I’m hanging out with the crew in the camper, joking around and laughing. Maybe that’s what I’m missing: just feeling more like a human. Right now, I’m just a machine that does the same thing day after day.

At least I’m sleeping at least 8 hours a night.

Day 41:

Today marks 20 days of running over 40 miles per day!

I’d say my body has definitely gotten over those physical humps I was experiencing at the end of Arizona and through New Mexico. But the mental challenges are getting real.

I slept in today in hopes that I would wake up feeling excited to hit the pavement. I didn’t. I am just tired. All the time. I called Shelley early this morning feeling desperate to make this exhaustion go away. She suggested that I read some of the messages and comments people have been sending my way on social media to remind me of how many people are cheering me on. It made such a difference to read those comments. Lifted my spirits pretty high, actually. Dotsie Bausch and Tanya Flink of Switch 4 Good sent me personalized video messages – thank you so much! Made me feel good that they are keeping an eye on me. About halfway through the day, things started to look up for me a little bit. I got my miles done. I got back to the van. I made it through this day.

I spent about an hour chatting with my crew chief Jackie while I ran about ways that I can increase my calorie intake to 10,000 cals/day. We decided that I should be paying special attention to specifically increasing my carb intake. With the coconut milk I’m adding to everything, I’m definitely getting the fats I need, but upping my carbohydrate intake will certainly help with my short-term energy needs. I think my metabolism has definitely entered a new speed. I also upped my B-12 intake and started taking some iron supplements. Jackie also started to talk to me about what I want life to look like after the Transcon is over. She’ll be joining back up on the Transcon pretty soon to bring me all the way to NYC!

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I ran through three states today: finished up Oklahoma (BYE!), ran through the corner of Kansas, and finished the day in Joplin, Missouri. The only other time this happened was when I left New Mexico, stepped into Texas for shits and giggles, and then entered into Oklahoma.

I’ll end with a shoutout to crew member, Nick Ackermann! Thanks so much for coming out to support me. You brought a big energy and personality to the crew, and I thank you for taking time out of your life to come out and support me.  

I’m feeling pretty optimistic about tomorrow, hoping that the tweaks we made today were the right ones to make. But that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll check back in with ya later!

TransCon Recap: Week 5

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STATE: OKLAHOMA

DAYS: 29 – 33

START: FELT, OK | END: LAVERNE, OK

CUMULATIVE MILES: 1346.6 MI


DAY 29:

None of us anticipated that we would wake up and there would be snow on the ground or that it would be snowing as I started. The snow progressively got worse over the first 3 hrs of my day. It was sleeting AND snowing to the point where I really couldn’t see because it was blowing straight into my face. I had the hood of my rain jacket as low as I could and between my sunglasses and my hood I was able to make a little slit so I could see.

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I arrived in Clayton, NM about mid day. Clayton has been a monumental moment I’d been looking forward to. On my drive back from the Big Bend Ultra race back in January, Shelley and I stopped in Clayton knowing that it would be a town on my transcon route. I stood exactly in the center of the town that day wondering what it would be like to be in that spot only a few months down the road. Standing there in Clayton back in January was the first time that the gravity of this run really hit home. I remember wondering who was that person going to be coming through Clayton after almost 1,200 miles of running across the country?

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Here I am today, I’m that person.

There’s so much one can’t anticipate about doing something like this. I don’t think I underestimated the difficulty of this undertaking, but how do you put your finger on what it’s going to be like to pull yourself out of bed every morning and move for 12 plus hours?

This run has changed me and I don’t know what the implications of those changes are yet, but I do know that I am a different person than the person that stood there on Jan, 22. It was so eery to think my future self would come through here and here I am now – that future self!

Today I had some fun little things to look forward to. Chris mapped out exactly where we could step into Texas. Of course the minute I stepped into Texas it got 10 degrees warmer and the sun came out. I kid you not! It went from like 45 degrees to 60 degrees! Then, when we left Texas and entered Oklahoma the temperature dropped again. It was hilarious.

Entering Oklahoma was another big milestone. 3 states down (CA, AZ, & NM) and now I’m in OK. It really feels like we’ll be here forever. My Oklahoma impressions thus far are that there are no shoulders on the road and there are no mile markers. These are two things that I value a lot. Having a shoulder on the road provides somewhere for me to run where there is no traffic and there is literally no shoulder now. Mile markers have been nice for me to mentally check them off as I go. They kept me present. I see the crew every 5 miles so whenever I saw a mile marker I would check it off, then see the next one and check it off and so on. Without these small visual benchmarks it feels as though the 5 mile increments are going by a little slower.

One day at a time. Each day totally different from the one before it. East I go.

DAY 30:

Today was was my first full day in Oklahoma. I’m happy to report that it was a relatively easy day for me. I believe some of this is because I’ve fully descended out of the mountains and onto the Great Plains to an altitude of about 3,000 feet (from as high as 9,000 feet only a few days ago in NM!). Today’s section was also net downhill for an added bonus.

My fitness level has increased, allowing my body to become accustomed to high mileage day after day after day. While noticing how things were coming together and that my body was aligning with the task I keep asking it to do, I began to think about how this touches on a bigger lesson in life.

When we are confronted with a change we want to make in our lives, whether that be adopting a new physical or mental practice or quitting a bad habit, it isn’t going to be easy. Especially in the beginning. But in order to achieve our desired outcome, we must lean into the discomfort or pain and understand that it will get better as long as we persevere. Just because something is hard at first doesn’t mean we should run in the other direction. Our body and mind will adapt to what we ask of it, but not without a fight. I’m coming out on the other side of what has been an uncomfortable, hard, and at times miserable month.

When the going gets tough, embrace it and don’t back down. It will get easier, and you will come out the other side a better person. I’m sure I’m not done feeling uncomfortable or in pain, or tired, or miserable. But right now I’ve hit a high spot, and I think a lot of that is because I have faced hard times out here.

Right now, that’s a victory. I feel really strong heading into the next month and a half of this long run.

Oklahoma has some hills and turns in the road, which is nice. I’ve been seeing mostly fields and tractors but not a lot of traffic. I was supposed to do 45 miles but went ahead and did 48 miles because I was feeling so strong. It was nice to do extra mileage and still finish an hour before sunset.

Having completed 30 days sounds big and I like that.

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I’ve been collecting things each day that I find on the side of the road. Sometimes they remind me of a time and place or a story, other times they remind me of someone, but most of the times they just make me smile. One of the things I’ve been collecting is licence plates. Any time I see one I pick it up. I got a new record today by finding 2 in the first 7 hours of my day!

Today we also changed time zones which makes things feel slightly different. Another small milestone I checked off is that I’m now less than 2,000 miles from NYC! That felt good.

DAY 31:

Day 31 was a lot warmer than it had been recently. It got up to about 85 degrees, which was a drastic change from 2 days ago.

I finished later than I had been due to the major heat today. I took a nap at mile 33 (with only 13 miles left) to rest and recoup from the horrendous heat. Heat makes my feet perspire more which means my feet are getting blisters again.  I will do my best to begin wrapping them in the mornings to prepare better for the heat to prevent blisters. I entered a really weird mental space starting late in the day on Day 31, which only sort of tapered out by the morning of day 33.

DAY 32:

I got an earlier start in an attempt to combat the heat. I noticed I was having a hard time staying present and staying focused.

I just keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other until I don’t have to put one foot in front of the other anymore (which is about 2,000 miles).

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I noticed a lot of wind turbines which makes sense since the day was extremely windy. I dealt with a 20-30 MPH head wind pretty much the whole day. When semi trucks drove by me they caused a wild gust of wind that just about took me off my feet every time. The relentless  head wind really made it hard to get the miles in.

I really hit the doldrums on day 32. Things just became monotonous to an extent I haven’t experienced yet. It felt like Groundhog Day all the time. Although the scenery here in Oklahoma is beautiful, it really hasn’t changed much.

DAY 33:

I got an earlier start than normal because the forecast predicted a pretty bad storm.

I’ve been using a lot of Body Glide on my feet and body with the heat to prevent blisters and chafing.

I had some encounters with wildlife today that I wasn’t expecting. I saw netting alongside the road and found a little bird trapped in the trash. I released it and it flew away uninjured! I also saw a calf who had just been born, the momma cow still had her placenta ! Then some cow friends and later some dogs ran along with me.

I’m up from 3 smoothies a day to 4. My smoothie elixir is: Soylent powder, coconut milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, greens banana, carrots. It goes down so smoothly and helps me feel full and sustained without any GI distress.

Even though every nook and cranny is literally spoken for in the van and camper, the freezer is always reserved for NadaMoo! pints which makes me happy to open and look at all the flavors to choose from at the end of a hard day.

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We had to worry about severe storms and tornadoes towards the end of the day today! As the clouds became more ominous, and the rain started to fall, I decided to stop 5 miles short, finishing at 40 miles. I took advantage of my extra non-running time by getting to bed early in a hotel with a tornado shelter.

Despite the last three days being mentally challenging, I have a lot to look forward to right now with friends joining the Transcon in the next coming days and weeks. Jacob Garcia arrived this afternoon and jumped right in with me and Elliott for the last 2 miles!

The big lesson I learned from this funk was about the importance of being present. I really struggled to be present these last few days, and without being present, miles felt like they took hours. Finding my center has me feeling good and present again.

TransCon Recap: Week 4

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STATE: NEW MEXICO

DAYS: 23 – 28

START: CUBA, NM  | END: PENNINGTON, NM

CUMULATIVE MILES: 1121.9 MI

I can’t believe it has been 4 weeks! Wow. The passage of time and days really feel different out here.

I feel like this last week began a new chapter for me. After my rest day and a day of walking I was surprised to find myself jogging on day 23. I started out with the flats and then slowly worked in running some of the slight inclines and descents. It felt SO good to be running again – both physically and mentally. Injuries are not only super painful, but can really creep into one’s mind.

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Each day this week my leg injury seems to be healing and I seem to be moving better. I have also been ramping up from 40 mile days back to 45 mile days. I have had some low motivation at times, and the mornings seem to be especially difficult in terms of getting going, but Shelley always reminds me that once I get moving, things start to get better. It’s true. After a few miles in the morning I seem to feel more energized than I did. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started.

Day 25 was special as it was the first full day Shelley and my mom Paige were out there. Max and Luke from NadaMoo! came out for a brief stint as well this day. I also had a very nice surprise visit from a friend, Christopher, who lives in Santa Fe. He was able to track me down and run some miles with me! It was so fun having so much support out there and at one point we were a pack of 5 runners!

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Day 26 was pretty epic. I crossed the 1000 mile mark and also crossed the highest point in terms of elevation of the whole transcon. We got up to 9,000 feet after Taos and up in that mountain pass we were in the midst of a crazy blizzard! After descending from the pass the weather calmed down some but I’ve still had some pretty snowy and cold times. I’m so grateful for my Black Diamond winter layers as they are keeping me dry and warm and I feel I have all the right equipment for these colder temperatures. The wind got up to about 35 MPH during the blizzard, but luckily it was a tailwind a majority of the time.

The 20 miles of downhill in the Cimarron Canyons combined with the tailwind made for a pretty pleasant end to my day. Unfortunately I ended the day pretty late for the second night in a row. Sleep deprivation creeps up and it worries me. I’m trying to keep my breaks during the day shorter so I don’t fall into too much of a sleep deficit.

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On day 27 my mom rode the bike alongside me for a lot of the day. Having Shelley and my mom out there was so nice and I was anxious about them leaving. But as it turns out, after our goodbyes on day 28, I was able to have one of my best days yet. I moved well and made very good timing. Getting started in the morning was the hardest part, but overall I feel really good about this week.

The injuries are healing, my energy ebbs and flows, but for the most part is improving, and each day still brings new challenges and insights. I’m learning I REALLY love Spring Energy gels. They sustain me in a way other gels with refined sugar do not and I don’t experience the spikes and crashes with this type of gel.

Tomorrow I will cross into Oklahoma! Each one of these milestones is so important for me!

TransCon Recap: Week 3

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STATE: ARIZONA & NEW MEXICO

DAYS: 14 – 22

START: FLAGSTAFF, AZ  | END: CUBA, NM

CUMULATIVE MILES: 858.9 MI

Wow – what a week it has been. It’s been filled with so many ups and downs, which seems to be the theme out here.

Shelley and Jackie both left so the crew dwindled down to only three people, Chris, Clara and Elliott.

Leaving Flagstaff the route began to get very rural very quickly as I entered the Navajo Nation. The landscape and topography was just absolutely beautiful. The biggest spirit lifter however, was just how friendly the people and the dogs are there. I seriously think I want to come back here and adopt a Navajo puppy because the dogs are a different level of friendly. I also had some very positive and uplifting conversations with the people there and truly felt grateful that I was traveling through on foot. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I had to chat with the people like I did if I had just been passing through as a tourist. I also didn’t realize just how HUGE this sovereign nation is. It is often compared to the size of West Virginia!

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I’ve had some pretty low lows this last week coupled with some of my best days as well. I battled blister pain, low energy and homesickness, and then later in the week acute and sharp tendon pain in the top of my foot and outer shin that left me limping and ultimately needing to take a rest day. In contrast, I have also had some of the most energizing days and never thought it possible that after 2 plus weeks of running ultramarathons I would have some days that went just so disturbingly well.

My rest day was hard for me to accept at first. I knew I needed it, but had a hard time surrendering to it and letting go. I felt as though I might be a failure if I fell behind schedule, even though I also knew that I had planned 5 rest days in my itinerary to use as needed. Eventually I was able to let go to a certain extent and just enjoy the rest. I never thought I’d be so content just laying around and sleeping SO MUCH.

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On day 22, I tried walking. Two days prior I had to pull the plug at 14.8 miles and then took a zero mile day to rest. As I began testing the waters with walking the pain came back after only 2 miles. I wrapped the affected area in an ACE bandage and the pain suddenly felt manageable. I knew I could walk on it and it wouldn’t aggravate the injury so I figured I would just walk until dark. I’m on a pretty strict regimen of elevating and icing my leg every 5-10 miles to stay on top of the inflammation.

After about 10 miles of walking I saw three runners in the distance and felt apprehensive. I wasn’t quite ready to interact with people I didn’t know. My head and mind were still trying to figure out this whole leg pain issue and just get through the day. As the three runners got closer I was able to discern that it was Will, Gonzo and Tim! Three of my friends from Colorado! They just showed up from out of nowhere and I was completely stunned!

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These three drove 7 hours from Denver to an airbnb the day prior, then drove another hour in the morning to find me! They were super resourceful and used the Strava maps and GPS to find me. My spirits were IMMEDIATELY lifted in their company. God it just felt SO GOOD to laugh and talk with familiar people. The fact that they made such a huge effort to come out for just one day was so touching to me.

My buddies walked 30 miles with me, which allowed me to be able to cover 40 miles for the day. I feel super proud about being able to come back like that. It took me 15 hours and it was quite late when I finished the day, but man, their support and companionship just felt so good. It truly is incredible what friendship can do.

I finished the day without a limp and physically feeling so much better. I don’t know what happened or how, but things feel like they are looking up! Shelley is coming back out here with my mom in a few days and I’m so looking forward to seeing them!

TransCon Recap: Week 2

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Day 8

STATE: ARIZONA

START: NEEDLES, CA | END: KINGMAN, AZ

TOTAL MILES: 51 | CUMULATIVE MILES: 348 | TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 3,931 FT

START TIME: 6:00 AM | FINISH TIME: 8:00 PM

TOTAL PLANT-BASED CALORIES CONSUMED: 9,938

I started day 8 feeling very fresh. I knew I was jinxing myself when I started thinking that I had finally adapted to my new life on the TransCon. Everything was feeling really good though. The first mistake I made was by not studying my elevation profile enough in the morning. The day started off with a beautiful climb up to Oatman, AZ. I assumed after that monster climb I would be heading right back down. Around mile 35, I descended a mountain pass for a few miles, flying downhill but then I started to climb again. I had assumed that it would all flatten out and the last 15 miles would be easy going until my finishing point for the day. But instead, the climb creeped up on me and started as a false flat and turned into a sustained and nagging uphill.

I found myself in pure zombie mode as I kind of hit auto-pilot. My body was moving, but I wasn’t really thinking through what I was doing. Instead of hiking up this 15 mile hillI, I ran the whole way. This decision really blew my energy reserves. In retrospect, I need to always be thinking about the next day, and make sure not to give too much of an effort in any single day. After all, I have to keep doing this day after day after day after day. That evening, I was spent. To make matters slightly more troubling, just as I was finishing up I noticed a new, sharp pain developing on my right shin. Could this be shin splints? If so, I was in for some trouble.


Day 9

STATE: ARIZONA

START: KINGMAN, AZ | END: TRUXTON, AZ

TOTAL MILES: 42.2 | CUMULATIVE MILES: 390 | TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 1,482 FT

START TIME: 6:30 AM | FINISH TIME: 9:00 PM

TOTAL PLANT-BASED CALORIES CONSUMED: 8,571

On Day 9, I was quick to realize that I was completely zapped from the day before. Compounded with this new pain in my right shin, I had to pace myself very slowly today. To put that in perspective, the 43 miles on Day 9 took me longer than the 51 miles the day before. I didn’t finish until late into the night, and the temperatures had dropped significantly. I felt like I was about to enter a compromising situation. I was really cold and shivering and had an extremely difficult time warming up. Through all this, it became clear that Day 8 had taken its toll and had left me in quite a deficit. Elliott and Jackie spent a lot of time on the road with me, which was really nice. Also, a runner who had been following my route on Instagram showed up to join me early in the day. Shanna brightened my spirits – Thank you for coming out! I also really really need to get a good night’s sleep. I was still waking up every hour incredibly uncomfortable, despite my sleep remedies.


Day 10

STATE: ARIZONA

START: TRUXTON,AZ | END: SELIGMAN, AZ

TOTAL MILES: 41 | CUMULATIVE MILES: 431 | TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 1,774 FT

START TIME: 6:20 AM | FINISH TIME: 8:13 PM

TOTAL PLANT-BASED CALORIES CONSUMED: 8,865

DAY10

On Day 10, it became really clear to me that I had some real issues going on with my right shin. I limped through my 400th mile. Most of the day was spent walking with poles, as running wasn’t really an option. At some point in the afternoon, Elliott suggested that I try on his shoes, which much to all of our surprise not only fit me perfectly, but the 8 mm heel to toe drop (going from a zero drop shoe) and some additional cushion made all the difference in the world. Finally a taste of some relief. We also decided to tweak my sock situation. I took off my crew cut compression socks and tried on a pair of thin ankle socks. The combination of these two changes were the start of my recovery and definitely provided me the mental boost that I needed. Downhill grades were and are still pretty painful, but things were looking up. One thing that really carried me through that day was knowing that Shelley (my new fianceé!) was going to be showing up later that evening.

We stayed at a KOA campground in Seligman, and I got to take a nice hot shower. Though I moved slowly and showering can take a lot of work, it was worth it that night. I was still battling bad aches in my legs and butt when I sleep, and it had been fairly cold outside at night which proved difficult for my muscles to fully relax. This has been incredibly frustrating because I look forward to resting so much!


Day 11

STATE: ARIZONA

START: SELIGMAN, AZ | END: ASH FORK, AZ

TOTAL MILES: 33 | CUMULATIVE MILES: 464 | TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 1,124 FT

START TIME: 6:45 AM | FINISH TIME: 4:15 PM

TOTAL PLANT-BASED CALORIES CONSUMED: 6,705

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Day 11 was a sleep-in day by accident. Having Shelley around just made it hard to get moving and on the road in the morning. It was cold out, too, which made for an even better excuse to lollygag. Elliott brought us both coffee and porridge around 5:30 am like he usually does, and I slowly got dressed. Seligman, AZ is an interesting town with lots of quirky and eclectic store fronts. Tons of personality. We had a beautiful clear morning, and after I started alone, Shelley joined me for some early morning miles. All of a sudden, we ended up at the interstate (I-40), at a dead end. We thought we had been continuing on Rte. 66, but we had somehow gotten off course. This added 2 miles to the daily total, which may not sound like a lot, but it felt monstrous. Almost the whole day remained on Rte. 66. This road feels like home now! It was a short day (~30 miles), so I was able to really focus on recovery and taking it easy. Jackie had picked up a pair of Hokas the day before in Flagstaff and the max cushion of the Hokas provided some significant relief in the shin. I really needed this right shin pain to go away, but a second inflamed bump appeared and I was starting to get worried. I had begun wearing Elliott’s compression sleeve, icing and elevating frequently throughout the day during short breaks, and using a lot of CBD oil. These small things helped some, but would this shin pain persist and stick around for the rest of my transcon? Some anxiety lingered in the back of my mind about this pain.


Day 12


STATE: ARIZONA

START: ASH FORK, AZ  | END: WILLIAMS, AZ

TOTAL MILES: 30.8 | CUMULATIVE MILES: 494.8 | TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 2,720 FT

START TIME: 6:35 AM | FINISH TIME: 2:50 PM

TOTAL PLANT-BASED CALORIES CONSUMED: 5,687

Day 12 was another short day, only about 30 miles. I feel so lucky that these shorter days are falling around a time when I really need to be focusing on recovery as much as possible. This means, I’m walking any grade that aggravates my shin (mostly downhills). My new Black Diamond poles are absolutely incredible. I had no idea what a difference this new set of poles would make. Jackie had bought some Rock Tape back in Flagstaff and we applied that on my right leg as well. We’re doing everything we can think of. Thanks to everyone out there for sending supportive words. It really helps me to get through the pain and frustrating miles. Skratch has become my lifeline. I don’t even drink water by itself anymore. Soylent is also sustaining me in a way I could only have dreamed of. If there’s one thing I can’t complain about, it’s definitely my nutrition and hydration game. It’s so spot on.

I was a little worried about today’s route, because it was going to be the first time that I would be off of pavement for much of the day. The red dirt road was smooth and soft, and we were so far away from any highway, that I could actually hear the birds chirping. It was such a nice gift. We ambled along near the train tracks – I’m never far from trains. So many trains. We had some great views of the snow-capped peaks outside of Flagstaff and the landscape changed from desert to pine forest as we crested the high point for the day near Holden Lake. I knew we had gotten a hotel room booked for two nights in Flagstaff. I couldn’t wait for that epsom salt bath and possible a good night’s sleep for the first time in 12 days. The soft road and the second day in the new Hokas let me have a practically pain free day. I needed this perfect running day – both physically and mentally.

Jackie, Elliott, and Shelley crewed me today from the Prius, while Chris and Clara took a little time off for themselves. They ran some errands for us in Flagstaff, and we ended up going out for a pizza dinner. I quickly realized, that even though I had finished early and had so been looking forward to pizza, going out to eat is a little much for me. The stimulation and waiting around didn’t appeal to me. The crew and I have so many systems in place that it never feels like we are wasting time. I think tomorrow night we will order takeout from Red Curry, this Thai restaurant that I’ve been dreaming about since I was last in Flagstaff to run the McDowell Mountain Frenzy.

We also stopped by the running store in Flagstaff (Run Flagstaff) and met Nick and Shelly, who convinced me that the Hoka Bondi shoes are the shoes for this project. I picked up some more ankle socks here as well as some Spring Energy gels (Griffin introduced this company to me and it’s the real deal!).


Day 13


STATE: ARIZONA

START: WILLIAMS, AZ  | END: FLAGSTAFF, AZ

TOTAL MILES: 42.6 | CUMULATIVE MILES: 537.4 | TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 1,962 FT

START TIME: 7:00 AM | FINISH TIME: 6:55 PM

TOTAL PLANT-BASED CALORIES CONSUMED: 7,438

DAY13

I had a GREAT night’s sleep in the hotel room! Oh my god, I couldn’t be happier about that. Day 13 was a later start, because we had to backtrack to Williams, AZ to start my day (about a 35 minute drive from Flagstaff). My crew made me a rock art sign that commemorated my 500th mile. These milestones are important to mark, because for me, the days are just starting to run together. All I know is that I just do this same thing every day. I start out feeling moderately fresh with energy during my morning miles, and then at some point in the later afternoon or evening I will crash, no matter what. That’s my routine. Day after day. There’s no way around it!

This morning I said goodbye to Jackie, my crew chief and nutrition guide. I’m a little anxious what life will be like without her, because I trust everything she tells me to do. She has worked hard to leave behind systems that are easily replicated, and she has “trained” the rest of the crew on all the things she was doing behind the scenes. I am so so grateful for all of the energy she has put into this project. She has become such a good friend to me, and she feels like a sister to me now. I knew today was going to hard for a few reasons: Jackie leaving, a complicated route ahead of me, and a higher mileage day (about 44 miles) for the first time since I started to feel better from my shin splint pain.

Elliott still needed to take some time off from biking and running (nagging top of foot pain), so Shelley ended up joining me for about 20 miles of the route today. There were so many unmarked turns on washed out dirt roads and I definitely would have gotten lost without someone paying specific attention to my route. Much of the route was unsupportable by car, so we had some longer stretches in between aid stops. I’m proud of myself that I stayed on top of my nutrition – Jackie is usually the person that has the easiest time getting me to eat.

If yesterday’s terrain was a glorious, soft, red dirt trail, today’s route was exactly the opposite. Almost the whole of today’s run was on trail and the ground was so insanely saturated from snow melt. There were so many segments that were completely flooded and forced me to bushwhack around essentially small ponds. This really made it impossible for me to find a groove, and I kept rolling my ankle on the rutted out parts. I tried to keep my breaks shorter today because I really just wanted to get the day over with and have another epsom salt bath. Though today’s terrain really sucked, the views were pretty spectacular.

I think I’m getting tired of tofu wraps. I love the original + garlic hummus though. I think I’ll move onto a rice and beans lunch with cilantro and olive oil (and tofu sometimes). Spooning something into my mouth sounds so much more enjoyable to me these days.

Do you think Pringles has ever sponsored an athlete? Hey Pringles! That crunchy/salty is the perfect snack for me!

I’m still figuring out my shoes + sock combos. I have some more Hokas on the way that are EE (extra wide) as I’m battling blisters like crazy. I know it’s just a new shoe thing, but I don’t want this to become a problem, so we are being really proactive about it. I have a little string of about 5 blisters alongside my toe in various stages.

Red Curry in Flagstaff was SO GOOD. I had the Yen-to-fo and a bowl of Tom Kha soup. Hit the spot. Elliott also procured me some hazy IPAs… the guy knows me well!

In general, the last couple of days have just been so much easier. Shorter days, new shoes, improving shin pain, and Shelley being here. Now with her leaving, and Jackie gone, it’s going to settle into a new kind of quiet. I’ll still have Elliott to make me laugh all the time, and Chris and Clara busting their butts while battling severe pollen allergies. But it will be different. I need to get used to frequent changes out here on the Transcon. Every day is so different than the day before. Just when I think I have something figured out, I discover a new obstacle.

Tomorrow is going to be a really long day. 53 miles. Please let me sleep well, please let me sleep well.

My Experience Running with Robbie

I am a lone wolf runner. I also don’t particularly enjoy running. I slip on my Ons, grab my phone, and hope Rich Roll has a good podcast guest this week. I greet the morning sun with a frown and squint out at the ocean as I begin my daily hour-long run in solitude. I have no interest in races (been there, done that), and I’m not training for anything. I would assume, like many, I run for the sake of exercise. I believe it is the most effecient way to get a workout in, and I leave it at that. I don’t expect to take pleasure from the process, but I will admit that I admire those who seem to love the sport and go the distance. It gives me hope that one day I might enjoy my measley seven miles, or perhaps even get the inkling to run another half marathon. This is why I was both excited and dreading my run with Robbie.

As an employee at Switch4Good, the athlete-driven nonprofit partnering with Robbie during this challenge, one could almost say this run was a work obligation. My presence was mandatory, and as the “runner” of the workgroup, it was assumed that I would log a few miles with him. Afterall, this was the kick-off event, Day One of Robbie’s journey, and who wouldn’t want to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime run? I’ll tell you—the lone wolf runners, like me. Can I keep up? Will they be going too slow? Are we expected to talk? Is it weird if I listen to a Rich Roll podcast while running next to Rich Roll (yes, he ran with us that day). And worst of all, oh god there aren’t any bathrooms on the route (to everyone with runner’s trots out there, you know the gravity of this last statement).

Trepidations aside, I decided I was going to do this. Just for an hour, maybe a few minutes more if I felt “truly inspired” by this bearded vegan dude who was doing the impossible (aka running across the entire country in 75 days). After much hoopla at the kick-off event, I shed my Switch4Good windbreaker and we started down the Huntington Beach Pier. The first steps felt light as air. We set off at a 10 minute pace, and I wasn’t used to running so slow. It was heavenly. I made my way up to the pack and enjoyed the synergy of moving with other people. I actually looked out at the ocean and felt some appreciation for the view, opposed to my ususal runs where I am blind to the beauty of my surroundings by my aching legs and grumpy “it’ll be over soon” disposition. I started talking to people and found that I could hold a decent conversation at this easy pace. Side note: while I run alone, I am actually a social person, so it was eye-opening to discover that I could enjoy getting to know other people while also getting my workout in. I met a woman who is training for the Olympic trials in the marathon, a woman with her dog who drove 45 minutes to participate in this run, and a teenager training for the LA marathon. I had my earbuds in, assuming that I’d need to turn on a podcast after the first few minutes of excitement had worn off, but I realized that you don’t need a podcast when you’re part of a pack.

The further we ran, the more people dropped off. It was an out-and-back scenario, so by the time we closed in on mile six, it was down to three: Robbie, myself, and Elliot, who is part of the crew. I had a ride waiting for me, so I had the advantage of not having to run back. Although we were nearing my typical mileage max, I felt good and didn’t think of stopping. Robbie, Elliot, and I were having a good time chatting and getting to know each other. I had assumed that Robbie might not want to talk—he had a long way to go and why waste his energy—but he was upbeat and gregarious, and I didn’t feel like I was annoying him with my slightly breathy banter. A while later, I told the guys I’d stop at the next bridge. Jackie, Robbie’s nutritionist who was riding a bike just ahead of us, said we were at nine miles. The overachiever inside of me put her foot down—I had to run an even 10. We kept going. A few conversation topics later, the wind picked up a bit. I called out to ask for the mileage, and Jackie informed me we had hit 11.6. I’d come this far, might as well go for the half marathon—a distance I had not covered in three years. The guys cheered me on, and I completed my half marathon just as we reached the next film crew stop. A few high-fives were passed around, a picture taken, then we went our separate ways and I went on with my day.

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There was no medal. No sprinting down the last leg of a fenced-in route with a crowd cheering you on. No t-shirt, post-race freebies, or snacks. I ended in a not-so-great part of town with a few homeless people walking around, all oblivious to the feat I had just accomplished. But I did it! I ran a half marathon, and I felt awesome. I had no intention of covering that kind of distance, but thanks to the easy pace and commraderie, I was able to complete this mileage without much pain or drudgery.

If you are looking to conquer a mileage milestone, I highly recommend you give it a go when Robbie runs through your town. This is the perfect opportunity to run your first 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, or even 30k. There’s no entry fee, you don’t have to stand forever in a corral with a herd of people waiting for your heat to start, and there’s no time clock or pressure. Just run and enjoy the experience. I can almost guarantee you’ll run farther than you expected, and you’ll get to know some pretty outstanding people along the way.

As for me, I’ve been on a half marathon kick. The next weekend, I went out for my typical run and ended up running 13.8 miles. I think this half marathon Saturday is my new thing (but please don’t hold me to that). I personally experienced what Robbie has set out to do: to inspire people and launch them into action. As a plant-based athlete, I already know that people can do incredible things on a plant-based diet…I just didn’t know that I could, too.

TransCon Recap: Week 1

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Last night I watched a video from Day 1 of me with a guy that I met at mile 16, running on the bike path just outside of Los Angeles. Now, only a week later, I feel so different from the me in that video. I already feel more weathered, more accomplished. Essentially like a different person altogether.

The way things have been going really aren’t too far off from how I expected. However, I never thought I’d poop so much, never thought I’d see so many trains, and definitely didn’t think sleep would be so hard.

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The arc of exhaustion has been interesting. Heading into Barstow on Day 3 was probably the lowest point. It was weird. I felt like I was in a drug stupor or having a bad trip. I’ve never really hallucinated on a run before, but the sheer exhaustion I was experiencing created a mind altering effect.

Day 4 brought the biggest surprise of the week. Early on in my day, I came upon a marine base that I was unable to pass through until we got the higher ups involved. This took about 45 minutes, and I lost some precious morning weather. this was the first time my path was being impeded. The part where the guard just said, “Nope, you can’t go here,” still sometimes replays in my head.

After the gift of a short day on Day 5 with only 28 miles, I was able to get some much needed rest. This rest allowed my body to recover and gain some fitness back. I feel like I’m now entering into an adaptation phase, or maybe just learning to do this better. I’m learning how to deal with my aches and pains and starting to refine my process. At first, I didn’t quite know how to handle the incredible aches and I was caught off guard, but now I feel like I’m managing it. The crew and I are becoming a much more efficient team together. The last three days I feel like I’ve recovered really well, and I think the vitamins and supplements are helping.

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The first few days were filled with so much energy and so many people. I was surrounded by many like-minded people and the support was surreal. And that support continued into Barstow where we had interactions with people like Damont (See video below). This contrasted dramatically in the desolate vacuum of the Mojave Desert where I really didn’t interact with hardly anyone.

I feel more prepared for every day. Getting up in the morning feels less daunting and I think to myself, “Ok, this is who I am and this is what I do.” I have learned to REALLY appreciate sleep (mid-afternoon naps are absolutely amazing). When I get good rest it means I get to start each new day with a fresh start, which goes a long way for me mentally. At the end of the day, when I’m totally beat, at least I now know that after eight hours of rest/sleep I will wake up feeling replenished and ready to go again.

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It’s wild how easy it is to consume 7,500 calories. I don’t feel heavy at all. It goes in and then it’s just gone.

If I could’ve told myself one thing last week before I started it would have been to focus on recovery more, to think about and plan for recovery. As I mentioned earlier, I’m getting a better handle on it now, but it has been the biggest struggle so far. I have so much gratitude for the crew and how they have been there to help me with everything. Overall, I am amazed at how well everything is working.

The magnitude of my weekly mileage is pretty wild. The fact that I’ve put in 297 miles in a week is astounding to me. I used to get my jollies if I got in a 100-mile week. And it wasn’t that long ago that I used to think a 100-mile week was insurmountable. But now, I’ve run almost 300 miles in seven days! If I ever doubted myself as a runner, I now feel like I can confidently call myself an endurance athlete. Everything feels doable. Breaking up this huge event into one day at a time allows me to focus on the present moment in manageable bits. This means I’m not really thinking past the next day ahead of me. I’ve sliced this project up every which way… by state, by cumulative miles, by daily miles, by steps, by the next time I see my crew.

I didn’t expect for people to be so supportive online. I imagined that maybe eventually my project would gain some traction and momentum, but that immediate spark right off the bat has been huge. Thank you to the powers-that-be for making that happen in the social media world. I am so appreciative of all the comments and messages sent to me on social media from friends, family and random strangers. It is truly humbling. I check messages in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Having so many positive supportive people encouraging me from all over the world carries my spirits. I miss Kasha, my dog, and Shelley, my new fiancée.

The commitment of my crew is humbling as well. I didn’t realize how much I would rely on everyone psychologically and emotionally. While I’m out here I feel so incapable of doing anything other than running. I’ve always been so fiercely independent and now I depend on others for so many basic things. It feels so good to trust in people and let others take care of me. This whole team mentality is a brand new concept for me. I feel so incapable outside of this one thing (running), and having other people filling all the other holes makes me feel so grateful and also so good. This transcon run truly is a full team effort, and I strongly believe it would be impossible without every single person who’s invested time and energy into making this a reality, however large or small the contribution has been. I couldn’t do 20 miles back-to-back every single day without a crew. It’s really nice to experience this warmth and trust when I’m feeling so vulnerable. I’ll be more inclined to ask for help after this and trust in others’ generosity.

The random interactions have been a big part of my motivation. People are genuinely so supportive. When someone tells me that I inspire them, it lifts me up. The feeling is actually so mutual, because meeting so many supportive and curious people inspires me to keep going. It has been a true blessing that not one single person has been a naysayer about this run or its mission.

Truck stops aren’t as bad as I expected and Walmarts are pretty plush – never thought I’d say that in my life.

I told Jackie (crew member and nutrition guide) I wouldn’t need to see the crew every 5 miles. I thought every 10-15 miles would be enough. She pushed me to start with every 5 miles and then we could adjust if it felt too frequent. I am surprised by how dependent I’ve become on seeing my whole crew every 5 miles. Not only for gear, hydration and nutrition, but also for emotional support. It’s something to look forward to.

It’s been pretty fun to get to know Elliott. He is a random stranger who I met a few weeks prior to the start of the run in an internet cafe in Mexico. In a quick gesture, we invited him to join us in L.A., and he said, “OK!” and that was that. He is now such a huge part of the project, and obviously became part of the family immediately. It’s been an interesting process for me to notice. I didn’t know what it would be like to be in close quarters with someone I didn’t know all that well, especially during the first 5 days when I was physically falling apart. That would be something that I would have labeled, “outside of my comfort zone.” When I’m feeling vulnerable, I like to be either alone or with a very small group of people I’m close to. But Elliott has been such a bright light and beacon of positivity. I can’t imagine going through those first 5 days without him helping me through. I really liked that experience.

I really like having my Sierra Nevada beer at the end of the day.

I wish the shower was a tad bigger, but having a shower with hot water is pretty nice!

Someone should probably name my big blister.

Compression is a beautiful thing.

Elevating my feet is important.

Wow. The Mojave desert is AMAZING. Route 66 is incredible and needs to not be forgotten. We tumble along on the interstates all the time. I’ve been doing it for 15 years myself and we miss so much this way. These little towns sprinkled along Route 66 are fascinating and all it would take is for people to slow down a bit and they would get to experience them. They are quickly fading away and becoming ghost towns though, which is sad.

Passing the cyclists from Cancun on day 6 was REALLY wild. It felt so strange and so matter-of-fact to encounter others who were also crossing a huge distance not in a motorized vehicle. They are riding from Cancun, Mexico to Los Angeles, CA!

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I’ve thought about Björn a bunch while I’m out here. I wonder where he is and how he’s doing. I’ve thought about what it would be like to do this solo. It would be a whole different ball game. This setup with a crew and support vehicle is really good for me. If I had embarked on this solo I wouldn’t have had a set timeline and maybe would have been more of a drifter.

Massages are gooooood.

Soylent is the shit. Literally. I am completely in awe that I’ve never once felt full and that I’ve consumed roughly 7,500 calories daily. I cannot imagine consuming that amount of food on a carnivorous diet. I know I would feel terrible afterwards. The regularity of my BMs has also been incredible on this plant-based regimen.

Every single day I’ve thought about how Rich Roll showed up at my start. I speak about it in awe to my crew daily. He’s so quintessentially “the guy.” This really helped me start off with a lot of confidence that what I’m doing is impactful and important. He hits all the pillars of someone who lives consciously. He is a compassionate, plant-based, endurance athlete, and epitomizes everything that I strive to be. As a public figure, I questioned if indeed he would be all that I have idolized him to be in real life. After spending an hour and a half running with him it all seems to be true – he really is just a great guy.

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The people we’ve met along the way and had the opportunity to talk with about plant-based diets don’t seem too unfamiliar with the concept. It seems like veganism isn’t such a fringe thing anymore. People know it’s coming. I can feel it in the social consciousness – I can feel it bubbling up.

When I was running through Barstow my thoughts became a bit cynical. I ran by a small, local diner, and I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way there’s anything vegan there.” In the first window there was a big sign that read, “Burgers,” in the second window the sign read, “Pasta,” and in the third window there was a large poster that read, “Vegetables, vegan.” I was really taken aback, especially considering the look of the town I was in. Moments later I arrived at the Walmart parking lot (the home for the camper that night) only to see the videos of the security guard interacting with Chris and Clara being inspired to give veganism a try. This is what it is all about and these conversations are happening organically, all the time.

I couldn’t be more moved by the amount of people who are giving a plant-based diet a chance, or by those who are going out for their first run in a long time. It keeps me going.

TransCon Recap: Days 1 & 2

The past 3 days have been an incredible whirlwind. Beyond hitting my 100 mile-milestone, I have been settling into the TransCon life and learning more about my body, mind, and general daily flow. Every day, every mile, is a learning experience. I am going to do my best to get my daily thoughts added to the blog, but bear with me if I miss a day. I will always have in-the-moment updates on my Instagram. Thank you all for the support so far, this is only the beginning and it has been more than I could ever imagined and we are only on DAY 3!


Day 1

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Not with a bang, but with a huge group of amazing people (including Rich Roll and the Mayor of Huntington Beach?!)

I was appalled at how many people came out to support me as I took my first strides towards New York City. There was an INCREDIBLE special guest….RICH ROLL. In case you don’t know who he is, you can learn more here. I am still beside myself over it and can’t believe I got to run the first few miles with this legend!

Additionally, we were surprised to learn that a few families had been following our story and showed up to meet us at the dock on Huntington Beach. Then, to my surprise AGAIN, the MAYOR of Huntington Beach also showed up and gave a speech thanking us for choosing HB to begin the run! What a cool experience. I can’t express how grateful I am to have all these wonderful people showing their support and showing up to see me off.

The miles today were mostly flat on a pedestrian path, something I need to get used to since I’m accustomed to steeper climbs in Colorado. The midday heat got real and I was excited to have Daniel Nicholson, CEO of NadaMoo!, come and run some miles with me. My crew has been amazing and tomorrow is a new day with new miles.

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Day 2

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Day #2, Coyote sighting #2… Good omen?

Today was a really good day. There was a ton of climbing, which was a nice change from yesterday. It allowed my legs to work new muscles and the views were fantastic. This was day 2 of a coyote sighting. One ran with me for a bit at around mile 10. It feels like a good omen. Overall physically, I felt really great. Mentally, I felt strangely loopy. I’m interested to see how my body and mind continues to change as I move across more miles. Tomorrow, I will be sure to take a midday nap to help with recovery and energy.

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