I just spent more time in the car than I did in New Orleans. With stops, it was around 21 hours of driving each way. And I slept in the car at a rest stop, the same one, on the way there and on the way back. Four days of driving with one full day in New Orleans in between to surprise one of my best friends for his bachelor party.
It was almost like being stuck in a weird and vivid dream. One where the moment you wake up you have to question yourself if it really happened or not, because you remembered so much from it and it felt so real.
The memories were three states away.
I hadn’t showered in a few days and I wasn’t in the mood for fast food when I stopped for gas, so I was pretty damn starving by the time I got home. I was absolutely stir crazy and every traffic light I stopped at as the road trip was ending made me uncharacteristically anxious. I have never wanted to get out of a car so badly.
As exhausted as I was, I was glad I made the trip. Every hour spent in the car was well worth it.
Having relationships as meaningful as that, to take off work and drive across the country to see a friend, is the real blend of connection and love. It’s those stories together that make life as wonderful as it can be. Whether it’s fun or misery, a laugh or cry, everything can be so much better in the company of someone else.
For me, when I look back on some of my favorite memories of running and adventures, and even the not so pleasant memories, there was always someone with me along the way. Most recently, a friend from Washington flew out to San Diego after running a race in Florida to pace me during my last 100 miler. I was even able to stay with friends who crewed that race and took time out of their lives to make sure I was taken care of my entire stay.
My parents drove to the Florida Keys from Georgia to crew my first 100 miler and made the trek out to Wyoming only to watch me fall apart and DNF at the mile 30 aid station during the Bighorn 100.
The same friends that crewed and paced me in a race in the black hills of South Dakota, crewed and paced me at the Bryce 100 last year. Both of those races, I ended up walking a majority of the night. But none of them complained. They were with me til the end.
When we got back to our car after running rim to rim in the Grand Canyon, I wrapped my girlfriend in a blanket as she was puking her guts out. The trip was a birthday gift to herself. For my birthday, she dropped me off on the west entrance to Zion and met back up with me at Angel’s Landing. No puking for me.
I’ve seen a friend kiss the rock after 46 hours and 42 minutes of battling and enduring the course at the Hardrock 100. That was probably one of the most inspiring sports moments I’ve ever seen. Not sure if I will ever witness such determination and grit like that.
I’ve been on mountains alone and I’ve been on some with others. I’ve driven across the country alone and I’ve been across it with others. I feel like I have been to heaven and hell, in life and on runs and in races. A lot of the alone time has made me who I am, but those moments spent with others, that’s what makes things much more memorable.
Right now, I feel that not only is it the places that we travel to, it’s also the people we share those places with that make life meaningful and worthwhile. And ultrarunning has been that bridge for me. If it wasn’t for this sport, I wouldn’t have met the most amazing and kind hearted people. And I most definitely wouldn’t be traveling by foot in the most incredible places.
If you don’t have them yet, find those friends that you would spend a 100 miles with in daylight and in darkness. Friends that you would travel to to surprise or friends that would travel to you to help you finish a race. Life is so better with the rearview mirror filled with those memories and with many more to come.
Guest Blogger Joey Schrichte
IG: @ JoeySchrichte