November 10, 2014

Virginia was one of my favorite runs because it encompassed friends, travelling to a new place and a beautiful run. Hours after I finished the DC run I got on a train to Lynchburg, Virginia to visit my friend Jared. Yes, the Jared from the Florida run. Jared and her family had relocated to the quiet region of Huddleston, near where she grew up. I was looking forward to seeing Jared in the part of the country she was from and to reconnect with her and her family. But I’d also gotten some bummer lovelife news just after I’d finished the DC run and was worried about carrying it with me on trip to Virginia. In the empty Amtrak station I sat on a wood bench, stewing it over. I bought a coffee and a Dunkin donut since, being on the East Coast, it was a rare opportunity to do so. I couldn’t undo what I learned. I would carry it with me, one way or another. But I would be moving. I would be moving on a train to a new state, and then moving through my friend’s town and lastly running. The joy of new ideas through movement is what I love about travelling and running. Yes, you take it with you but I’d rather take it with me than sit in one place. The train rolled south out of DC, office buildings changed to factories and fields and I felt a little lighter.

Jared lives on picturesque Smith Mountain Lake, also known as where What About Bob? was shot. The next morning I could have easily stepped out her front door and had a great run. Instead, we hopped in her car for a short drive to start the run. Where we got out was just as beautiful. A winding road reached out from Parkway Marina to houses tucked among the fall trees. Red and yellow leaves were everywhere, littering the road and forming a canopy over our heads on that sunny day. The run was hilly and full of twists. We rounded a bend and a beautiful home popped up. Or a shack appeared. Or the lake peeked through the golden trees. I was so happy that Jared had shared this place with me. She had also told me, just before we had started the run, that this is where she got married. A special place for her and now special place for me had intersected in a Venn diagram of love and friendship. It was an honor to take my Virginia run at the place her family’s story began.

The next day and a half was a tremendous, true Jared visit. We picked her soon up at preschool, just as we had done in Miami but with a different crop of kids and teachers. We went to the German Baptist butcher where Jared peeked her head through a tiny window to see a bonneted woman who was ready to take her meat order. We sat at the lake in down coats and sipped cups of steaming tea in the late afternoon. We played Legos with her son and drank wine. We got up very, very, early that last morning as the blue mist rose from the mountains so the whole family could take me to the train station. In the backseat I fed her son bits of a messy fast food chicken sandwich. I couldn’t have been happier to do so.

To bring a trifle hostess present and help a child eat a chicken sandwich is a small thing. Yet to welcome someone into your family, even for a few days, is an extraordinary thing. To share the beginning of your journey in marriage with a friend’s journey in running is a gift. With gratitude, Jared and Virginia.


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