Sweat and Salt: Summer Training Blog

A Pep Talk, from August 19, 2001

This day, August 19th, fifteen years ago, I completed an epic journey; not dissimilar to the training for a Marathon. Fifteen years ago, "I was standing knee deep in the cold, beautiful, blue-green Atlantic Ocean while parents, friends, and family circled me snapping pictures, yelling and laughing. I had just biked 3,500 miles, from Seattle, Washington to Rye Beach, New Hampshire on my trusty, Jamis bicycle, named Dmitri." 

I could sit here and recite some of the paragraphs from my college admission essay or from the various short vignettes I've just re-read from my senior year high school English class, but I will resist that urge. (Although the one about my sleeping bag 'orange' is a gem - read here.) But I digress. I think the gist of my cross country biking trip can be summed up in this: it was an eye opening time in my young life when I learned that I have grit and determination. And I was convinced that trip would be the greatest achievement of my life.

I rarely talk about this trip. I'm not sure if it's because the act itself sounds so grand, and while it started as this big adventure I was scared. But having accomplished it, I have a new perspective, anything is possible (hey, it's a cliche for a reason!)  I went up a mountain and it turned into a molehill. And well, are molehills really worth talking about? Which is to say, something is grand before it's accomplished, when it has been accomplished it's doable. It is smaller; it's a mountain that's been scaled. 

A few nights ago I found myself at an City University London event sending off the next wave of postgraduate students, eager to start their Masters and MBAs in London. And in true Tori fashion, nostalgia mixed tinged with envy coursed through my veins as I was reminded of my own journey nearly six years ago. I chatted with the new students about my favorite bits of London, the must-dos and everything in between that made my experience shine. I was also reminded of the stressful time I had packing up my life in New York before the moment of departure. Getting into Grad School, is a high-five in itself, but shifting my entire life into storage, obtaining visas and waving goodbye to all that I had known for a new country was an endlessly overwhelming check-list of 'to-do's' that I had to rely on myself to figure out. With hindsight, what seemed impossible at the time, now seems kinda brave; kinda courageous. Possible. So possible in fact, I often daydream about doing it all again.

Possible. I believe this has morphed into a stream of thought self-imposed pep talk as I train for what seems an impossible marathon. Some days running seems like a chore, while the heat and humidity aim to disarm me both physically and mentally. I hope the air cools down and my mental thoughts stay positive as I scale the mountain or at least the Harlem Hill from Hell (HHH as I've dubbed it) in Central Park. Perhaps next run, i'll meditate on August 19, 2001 and picture the 10 of us (cyclists) lingering in the frigid ocean, arms around shoulders, standing in a straight line, like the never-ending Montana Road, grinning of our newly completed journey. And while I do not have 9 individuals on this running journey (back then, we were often asked if we were cycling for a charity) at least now I can proudly say I am running for one. 

Happy 15 years of friendship. Photos below. 

Postscript: While I write this O-Town came on my iTunes. Significant because I have thousands of songs on 'shuffle' and because I was "All or Nothing" was basically my anthem on that trip.   

Cross Country Vignettes: Orange and Night and Cake