1. “Pulling the Trigger”

bikeI have thirty-one years to account for that has seasoned me into a young-spirited-old-soul with an expansive curiosity for people and a craving for adventures that have built up my courage and allowed me to learn new passions. In all of this, the inspirations I’ve had along the way have taught me to test the world through “setting my sights” on a dream and conquering the fear of “pulling the trigger”.

My first ignition can be traced back to September 2007, when I discovered the joy of running after completing my first Half-Marathon race in Rochester, NY. An addictive thrill sprang up when I crossed the finish line and my euphoric attitude stirred a lifetime goal: to run a race in all 50 states. To date, I have lived/traveled to and raced in the following states from first to last: New York, North Dakota, Minnesota, Florida, California, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Ohio. These races, which range from Half-Marathons to 10K trail runs to 5k fun runs, have been shared with friends or raced on my own and each one has been memorable in its own right. Most of all, every race has given me a chance to meet new people and to hear interesting stories that have offered great reminders of what life is about. That’s truly the beauty of stepping stones. One of my favorite nugget of truth was given to me after the 5k race in Cleveland, OH. An older gentleman who ran at my pace and pushed me to finish in second place for my age group, reminded me that if “there’s something that you’re itching to see or do, then trust your instincts and listen to your heart – go after it! And don’t wait on others to join you too because they may not commit. Make your dreams your reality.” That gave me ideas. And then I won’t ever forget this lovely woman I met during the Rochester Half-Marathon who told me about her tradition of running the race every year in memory of her deceased husband. For her, the race gave her a chance to feel close to him and that was enough for her to be able to move on too. That was a heart-felt moment which reminded me that we should always have a purpose for what we do in order to find meaning in our actions and direction.

And then there are the races where in your pace you’re accompanied by other runners who push you and keep you going during the tougher miles. It’s known as “hitting the wall” and all you can think about is throwing in the towel, but somehow the other runners force you to believe that you have more to give and so you do – and you cross that finish line to reap the reward. You can’t help but to appreciate those small moments and you don’t forget them either. Every race sticks out in my mind and I use each one as a source of strength and something worth reflecting back on. Ultimately, I hope that there is encouragement in this so that others can make their dreams a reality too.

That is exactly why I’m starting this blog. Because on Mother’s Day 2014, I will be doing the Chicago Tough Mudder race with Jenny Beam, a friend of mine who I met in Fargo, ND. Together we have done our fair share of races, between the 2010 Muddy Buddy race in Minneapolis, MN and the Half-Ironman team Triathlon in Manitoba, Canada, which were also done with Erin Topley and our friend, Jeney Christensen. Thus, it’s only fitting to be able to share this race with her, which will give me state #13 – Illinois! And from there, I will begin an adventure that ties much of what I love and dream about all together into one epic journey. I will be flying down to New Orleans, LA to begin a south-to-north cycle tour along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and finish up in Minneapolis, MN.  What’s more is that after covering almost 2,000 miles across 10 states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota), I have a much awaited visit in-store for me in Minneapolis – a second home with Trish and Rob Anderson.  It’s very fitting because together we have raced in a handful of runs including the Fargo Half-Marathon in 2008 and the Minneapolis Half-Marathon in 2009.  Thus, I plan to run in races along the MRT as a means to contribute to good causes, to see the country in a new light, to establish a base for connecting with people and to close in on my lifetime goal.

In return, this experience will help me to practice being in the present moment because so often we find ourselves hurrying through the “right now” in order to get to the next stage in our life or somewhere else in the future. And sometimes this leaves us feeling worried about the things that haven’t happened yet or too busy to appreciate the little moments that connects us to others. Worse, we may still be stuck in the past, unable to forgive others or ourselves of the wrong-doings. Or perhaps we haven’t been able to let go of the let downs, the disappointments, or the regrets because they are things that we can no longer change. Either way, when we’re not focused on the here and now, we can miss out on what is guiding us on the right path in life. Ultimately, we become blind to the everyday miracles that take place for us to appreciate and reflect on in order to understand why our life is the way it is. By focusing on each day as it happens, my hope is to notice the small messages, the generous signs and the good omens along the MRT so I can hone in and trust my instincts, listen to my gut and follow my heart. In essence, I’m fighting the good fight!

And I’m going back to the basics to do so too. I’m not going to use a GPS or other means of “screen” technology while I follow the MRT for 2,000 miles. Instead, I will be planning out my ride ahead of time and rely on maps and books to guide me from New Orleans to Minneapolis. As well, I fully intend on asking others for directions too, in order to connect with the community and to meet new people. I’m basically breaking free from the new age technologies and depending on good ole fashion methods of survival in order to connect with the trail and gain a greater sense of adventure from this journey too.

It’s almost time to get out there and to see what’s abound, who I will meet, and how it will all come together. Thank you for following….

[Itinerary will be posted soon.]

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