It has been a little less then 8 weeks since we left Seattle, in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago and other ways it feels like we just left. We decided to make this move, into a van, and travel for many different reasons. One of those reasons- connections. We were traveling quite a bit before, almost all of it for races, and we would try and see friends and family any chance we could, although admittedly that did not happen often. When we decided to travel full time, visiting people, from our past and present, friends and family, was a priority for us.

So, over the past 8 weeks we have done just that. We started in northern California by visiting some friends of David’s from Seattle. Jason, Helen and their 3 kids live in Napa. Jason is the owner of Holman Cellars . He gave us a private wine tasting and education that most people would envy as well as a tour of his new tasting room. He and Helen opened their home to us and made us feel like family. We spent an afternoon at a little league game and had a wonderful visit amid the chaos of 3 young kids.

The next visit was with my cousins, Janet and Ken, who also opened up their home to us. David and I had spent some time with them several years ago, but we were thrilled to be back and spend some more time getting to know them better. From there we went to a family wedding in LA where we spent time with my parents, more cousins and other relatives that I have not seen in years and that David has never met. This was a weekend filled with getting to know my family better and invitations to visit them in various regions of the country.

Next stop was Arizona, where we spent some time with our dear friends Joan and Russ. She is near and dear to me and friends like her are a rare breed. We spent time hiking in the desert, sharing stories of our travels and planning our next big running adventure together. The timing was perfect and we were also able to visit with my Aunt Irene and Uncle Eddie while we were there. Although they are not blood relatives, they were my second set of parents growing up. Although I don’t get to see them often, they are still a huge part of my life. In fact, David and I got engaged at their amazing bed and breakfast in southern Vermont, Cold Moon Farm. We spent almost a week enjoying the Arizona sunshine and the company of our friends that are family.

On to North and South Carolina where we got to spend time with David’s children. His son and wife, DJ and Maryssa, in North Carolina and his daughter, Dee, her husband, Brad, and their darling 6 month old son, Tucker Jay, in South Carolina. During that visit we made a quick trip to Boston (that is a blog for the future), for the marathon, but returned to South Carolina to spend the remainder of the week with his daughter and her family. This time was so important to us both, we got to meet our grandson for the first time and spend some important quality time with Dee and Brad.

While passing though both North and South Carolina, I was able to stop and visit with 2 of my collage roommates. Sue and I last saw each other about 8 years ago. We spent time talking about the olds days, who we have seen, who we keep in contact with and what is happening in our lives currently.  Jane and I last saw each other at least 15 years ago, possibly more. It was so much fun catching up after all this time, hanging out in her backyard on a beautiful spring day, talking about our college days (I was the first friend Jane met at Tulane) and what the future looks like for us. Although these visits were short, they were meaningful and fulfilling.


After South Carolina we were heading to Alabama. One of my closest high school friends, Duke, is retiring from the military after 25 years and we were invited. If we were in Seattle and working, it would be unlikely that we would have been able to make the trip. But, as soon as we got the invitation we knew we needed to make it happen. This is a huge part of why we are traveling. We realized we drive right through Atlanta on the way to Alabama, so of course we stopped to see some other cousins of mine, Karen and Elliott. Elliott was in Seattle about 2 years ago but I have not seen Karen in almost 10 years. In addition, David had never met either of them. Elliott and I spent quite a lot of time together on the Jersey Shore, many, many years ago. It was so nice to spend some time catching up on their lives and for them to get to know David.


What I did not realize was that Duke, my high school friend, actually lives outside Atlanta. So off we went to spend some time with him and his family before the chaos of his retirement weekend. I knew this would be my only opportunity to really get to know Alison, catch up on our lives, meet his kids and talk about life. We had a blast talking about our high school days, looking at the yearbook, finding old classmates on Facebook and just hanging out. He was the first friend I had at Peddie, one of my closest friends there and I will forever cherish that.

In between all of these visits, we have had much needed time to ourselves, time for us to enjoy the quiet and solitude of traveling in a van. We absolutely love visiting with friends and family and would not trade it for anything, but it is also nice to go “home”, to our routine that is not much of a routine these days, but just the way we like it.

“When connections are real, they simply never die. They can be buried or ignored or walked away from, but never broken. If you’ve deeply resonated with another person or place, the connection remains despite any distance, time, situation, lack of presence, or circumstance. If you’re doubtful then just try it-go and revisit a person or place and see if there is any sense at all of the space between now and then. If it was truly real, you’ll be instantly swept back into the moment it was before it left-during the same year and place with the same wonder and hope, comfort and heartbeat. Real connections live on forever.”  -Victoria Erickson




SwimRun Lake James Recap

Sitting here with my feet up on the eve of the Boston Marathon I reflect back on SwimRun Lake James. It seems like so long ago but it was only last week. This week has given me time to reflect on the race, what went well, what went not so well and what we need to work on. For those that don’t know much about SwimRun, it is an endurance event that includes alternating stages of swimming and running, so you run in your wetsuit and swim in your shoes. You are also allowed to use paddles, pull buoys and fins, but you must finish the race with everything you started with. And the best part of it all is that it is a team sport, so all of this is done with a partner, together. Each race is so unique, as it utilizes the terrain and topography of the location, so some races may have more swimming than other races, some races may have a mix of trails and roads and some may have bushwhacking. The one thing that all SwimRun races have in common is teamwork, motivation, fun, passion and adventure.

So naturally, David and I were a team, Beauty and the Beast to be more precise. We have plenty of endurance training and racing between the 2 of us but this type of event is a brand new adventure. Since we left Seattle, 6+ weeks ago, we have tried to swim as much as possible along the way. We both have felt like we have had some good pool swim training but not much in terms of open water. In fact, prior to race day we had exactly 2 open water swims since October 2017.  This proved to be our big downfall in a race that was very swim heavy. We were happy to have had those 2 swims, this allowed us to get a feel for being tethered together in the water and the transitions but it was really a lack of swim training in general that set us back. Not all teams will tether together, but we decided to try it, and for us it worked extremely well. It allowed me to swim in David’s wake, making me a bit faster and not have to sight, as all I had to do was follow his feet. Going forward, we know that we need to put some more time and energy into swim training, specifically open water.


The water temperature was extremely cold, 56 degrees. This is the coldest water I have ever swam in. It is the type of cold that takes your breath away, freezes your face, and can lead to hypothermia quickly if you don’t generate enough heat. The first few SwimRun segments went well and we both felt pretty good leading into the long run, 7.5 miles on a combination of fire roads, trails and bushwhacking. We had a good pace going, with some walking in between, but we actually passed quite a few teams during this section. We were able to warm up significantly on the run, which was great as it was followed by the longest swim, 1 mile. For David and I that meant over 30 minutes in very cold water and a section of the course that I will refer to as the “Beast Tamer”. It was several sections of moderately long swims followed by very short run segments, not long enough to warm up and I was shivering uncontrollably. I was a bit foggy, mentally, and at this point could not imagine getting back in the water for another swim, no matter how short it was. I did some jumping jacks, push ups and squats before taking the plunge back into the frigid waters. I didn’t realize how “foggy” I really was until I began to warm up during the next run segment, 1/2 mile run. At this point I was really dreading getting back in the water and knew we had one last long (almost a mile) swim followed by another shorter swim before the finish line. I knew David was probably just as cold as I was but he was the glue that held it together during this section. He was so mentally strong and was able to encourage me and support me and keep me going despite how I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, he would never put my health or life in jeopardy, he knew that I was not in trouble physically and that I just needed to keep moving forward. It was a mental game at that point and if this were an individual sport I am not sure I would have kept going on my own.

The last long swim was brutal to say the least. It seemed like an eternity to get through this section and the shoreline never seemed to get any closer. All the teams that we had passed on the long run all passed us during this swim segment. We both felt like we were working extremely hard but were getting no where fast.

The running sections were just as challenging. It started with a 2 mile run on the road, the first mile uphill. That was some way to start a race, where your heart rate is already elevated from nerves and everyone runs like lightening out of the gate! There were sections which had no trails, just following flags through the woods. There was up climbing through pricker bushes and thick, slippery mud, down climbing, or more like sliding on your butt through the same thick mud. Navigating tress and branches and some fairly technical trail running. All which I love, except the pricker bushes!

Our goal for this race was to finish with smiles on our faces, and that we did. It was extremely challenging, pushed both of us outside our comfort zone, both physically and mentally and made us excited for another new sport. We have some things to work on and can’t wait for swimrun race #2, IGNITE Minnesota on July 28th.

I also want to say a big thank you, to Kristin and Brian (race directors) for putting on an amazing race, the outstanding volunteers, in and out of the water and all the other competitors who made this race a day to remember.