A few months after meeting Shan, the dreamer in me imagined being there for his cross-country run. Assuming our amazing connection and getting-along-ness would be sustainable for many years to come, I could see me supporting him in his lifelong dream of running across the country. Probably many years down the road, of course, once we had retired (or something). I didn't think much beyond that, nor did I mention it to Shan or anyone else.
We met in January of 2020, so it wasn't long before we were dealing with COVID-19 and all of the stuff that came with it. At the end of July, Shan's events-based work came to an end, and he knew it could take months to find another job. A few ideas were tossed around before he made the decision to run across the country as a fundraiser to benefit Food Share (a local CT organization working to support families living with food insecurity).
He quickly launched into planning mode. I so badly wanted to say "Yes. Yes! YES!" to his invitation to join him, but I couldn't get my affairs in order in time. He needed to start right away so he could make it over the Rockies before winter. He considered a solo crossing, but in the end, he was able to recruit some help. One of his many ultra-running friends, happily volunteered to drive the camper van and act as crew chief. They set up a website, connected with sponsors, mapped out a route, and made plans to visit friends along the way. Me? I made a kick-ass spreadsheet.
Shan and I cleaned out his apartment, stowed some of his stuff at my house, and talked a lot about what things might look like for us once he finished his run. We were kind of in love and were keen to see where "us" might go. But the crystal ball was cloudy. In the face of uncertainty, we parted ways with a loving and optimistic, "see you soonish". I was excited to see him set out on this goal, but also very envious that someone else would be by his side 24/7 for the entirety of his mission.
While his crew chief was busy keeping him fed and chronicling his run with catchy social media posts, I worked on being Shan’s most committed cheerleader. Within a week of his first steps, we had a chat about us making things work when he returned. I was excited to continuing sharing a life together, and it made me even more connected and prouder of him. We talked and texted regularly, and I patiently watched his progress via social media - updates both from him and through the lens of his crew chief. I grew happier and happier as he got closer to home and I proudly and excitedly met him on his last 2 days of running. I’ve never been so happy to reunite with someone before. I watched on Instagram when he touched the Pacific Ocean and was happy to see him plunge into the Atlantic Ocean 3 months later.
Long story short - in 2020 Shan ran 3255 miles in 90 days, from San Francisco to the coast of Connecticut, and it was rough (for me). Today, in 2022, we are planning a USA Crossing together and I couldn't be more excited. The dreamer in me imagined this would happen years from now, yet here we are. All it took was a pandemic-induced shift in work/life balance philosophies, and an amazing employer who is supportive of me working from a different location every day for 3 months. More on that later.