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!