I spent about a week traveling, the first real deal road trip since I bought my car in December. The freedom to roam, along with my ability to work remotely for a handful of clients, is a double edged sword. I need to work, to be available, but I also need to drive… five hours to my next stop?

It’s somewhat maddening, and it’s the reason I cut my journey short. Maybe a few years ago I would have jumped at the chance for such an adventure, but lately I’m just not feeling that excitement. In part I loved it because I got to run in some new locations, but I also dreaded it because I chose to keep working. I mean, that’s the American thing to do, I guess, as a freelancer, to keep working, keep up the expectation that I’m just “always online” (even though I drove through some pretty remote areas with no cell coverage).

Then I think how I haven’t really gone fully offline in, well, forever. I think back to maybe 2007, when I went to Italy, when my only online responsibility was to my music blog at the time. Or when I left AOL Music back in 2011, and that following Monday I rode my bike to a mountain for a hike.

I’m damn grateful for the work, for sure. But I’m finding that I need to get away from work for longer stretches of time.

The Pause

New Market, VA

Found a great podcast from my pal Jocelyn, Reboot, and didn’t really know where to jump in, but something led me to this interview with Alex Rethore, “Reboot Your Definition of Success.” This quote really jumped out at me:

“What if it’s not a pause? What if it’s the new way? What if being present is what the new opportunity is?”

Jerry Colonna

For a decade I ran music outlets. Most of that time was a passion project, which led to a “real” jobby job.

I remember the Monday after I left. No urgent emails, no frantic calls, no… pressure. And I kept thinking that I needed to get back to that pressure. Like it was my default. I had done that work for a decade, so that’s what I need to return to. “It’s what I know,” I would tell myself.

Until I had so many moments of pause (see the quote above), that it became who I am. It was my guide post. I knew the negative signposts; the things I didn’t want in a new job or gig, but I finally discovered what I really want, and it’s the pause. That’s the default.

The pause is time to make coffee. Or an actual lunch, from scratch. A morning walk. An early start to the gym.

The pause is now built in, and has become the default.

Flip the Script

After a five hour drive from the Outer Banks to Greensboro, NC, I was exhausted. Absolutely wiped out. I checked into my hotel room, put on some NFL football, and was ready to just lounge around the rest of the night.

Stress is real, and stress from five hours of driving is real. Lane changes, aggressive drivers, merging, it all adds up, and it feels nice to just relax it away.

Instead I did some online searching and found the Laurel Bluff Trail, about a 15 minute drive from my hotel. It’s a 3.1 mile trail, and it was absolutely gorgeous. As you can see from this photo, there’s an area covered in kudzu, and it was magic.

I knew how the other movie ended; hotel lounging, watch some football, watch TV too late, sleep like crap… but this other movie? I had no idea what to expect, and that’s what made it so great.

Rainy Day Fun

A handicap accessible trail to the ocean

Running isn’t always racing, or group runs. A lot of the time it’s a solo effort, and today I happened to be in the Outer Banks, of North Carolina. It was overcast, rainy, and the wind was fierce coming off the ocean, but these were eight fun miles and I wish I could do it again tomorrow.

Multiple times I thought of turning back to my car, walking, calling it a day, but one foot in front of the other, two miles turned into three, and I just kept it rolling.

One of the best things about running is it lets you explore new places in ways you can’t see otherwise. Most of this run was driveable, and I drove some of it before I actually started this run, but it’s just different on two feet, with sweat stinging your eyes, and wind gusts rushing right into your face.

Losing Routine

I’ve been trying to implement more positive habits into my days, which is much easier when I wake up in the same bed every morning. Today I woke up in a hotel room, with a beach nearby. That’s a bit different.

Usually the first thing I do is 10-ish push-ups, then weigh myself. But without a scale, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got out the hotel lobby in my running clothes and hit the boardwalk for a nice four mile jaunt.

My breakfast of choice is a smoothie, with almond milk and protein powder and shredded carrots, and more. But today it was eggs and bacon and some pancakes.

Work-wise, forget it. No comfy computer chair, or USB keyboard. My screen was not raised, so I could feel myself hunched over all day.

Didn’t get to work out of my normal nearby Starbucks, but found one near the hotel after checkout, and tried to cram in some work before my battery died (forgot to turn the screen brightness down).

All this to say; routine is hard when you’re out of a routine. Or when your day job has a schedule that varies. Or a million other things. Good habits are hard to maintain on good days, and a whole lot tougher when everyday life throws a curve ball.

On Morning Walks

It’s a new habit I started a bit ago, but really got serious once I got the Apple Watch. It’s some extra movement during the day, a little more time on my feet instead of looking down at my phone, scrolling through Instagram.

Sure, sometimes I do wake up and grab my phone and fall into those old routines, but I follow a good amount of runners and adventuerous souls, so I usually see some vista or trail and that motivates me.

LIKING things on Instagram ain’t gonna make me a better runner, or benefit my fitness. Just walking in the morning and getting moving benefits my work, too. Time to think, time to reflect, time to look up and see skies that make me smile, and smiling can only help, right?

Tiny Changes

Sunday night. “Back to work,” my friend said a bit ago, after an afternoon of birthday cake and football.

I recently finished “Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory,” by Deena Kastor. So many times, through the dark times in life beyond, she just paid attention. Look at the trees, the people around you, the stuff on your desk, or the houses you drive past on your commute home.

By themselves, eh, what’s it matter? But I feel like the less we pay attention to the little stuff, the tiny cues, the harder it is to handle the bigger things. Small changes today lead to big things down the road. Get a bit off course, and five years from now where are we? And exactly what “course” we’re even talking about, well, that’s up to you.

Tomorrow is Monday, and we all have our morning routines, well worn into our early week schedules, made up of tiny thoughts and habits. But this week, let’s notice them. Feel everything that Monday morning gives us, and then maybe make some tiny adjustments.

Day to Dayness

Had an interesting talk today at a birthday party about starting podcasts, writing on the web, and consistency. About expectations as “creators,” more or less.

The one person was eager to start, to produce, and asking all sorts of questions about platforms and strategies, and then there were two of us who were – frankly – burnt out on it.

Having both come from musical backgrounds, and then being in the music media world, it’s a grind. It can be hard to get excited about new albums sometimes when you surrounded by… new albums all the time, especially when your “side hustle” requires you to be stoked about… new albums all the time.

Thankfully in the past year my passion has become my main gig, and I am beyond thankful and grateful for that. But then adding a side gig in the same field became too much, which is why I shuttered Skull Toaster.

There’s only so much energy one can expend on the day to dayness of MUSIC, which I why I think I’ve neglected playing music of my own the past several years (or, well, decade or so).

Maybe it’s not because I know how the sausage is made, but because every day I’m eating sausage, and I don’t want anymore after a long day of work.

Enter, then, my running. It’s something I started back in 2016, and has become a gigantic part of my life. I listen to some running podcasts, and follow some running accounts on Instagram and such, but I… don’t want to start a running podcast, or a blog, or a brand.

Perhaps it’s okay in 2019 to just do things, and let them be your things. Not everything needs to be a side hustle, or turned into content. It can just be, and that’s good enough on its own.

My first Philly 10K for 2019

This run started about 3.25 miles away. My friend Jesse knew parking down at the start would be a shit show, so we started out run in the dark down the Schuylkill River trail and it was magnificent! Cool and breezy at a nice pace.

We showed up about 45 minutes before the race start, and just walked the staging area which was filled with people doing stretches and adjusting their iPhone arm bands and such.

This was the race I was sort of training for all summer. The sweaty runs, the time at the gym, this was the event I really wanted to push and see what I could do. Especially since I’ve been working on losing weight since June 1st – like, for-real trying to lose weight. I was down to about 180lbs at this race, down from 195 in June and feeling great.

The race started off and I was motoring along. I was in the E corral, which I’m finding I am way underestimating my speed these days, and end up spending a lot of energy just passing slower people in front of me. As we headed south on a skinny street, I had to get up on the sidewalk to pass people in front of me. Usually moving that fast would have winded me, but it was a cool morning in the high 60s or so, and I was feeling great.

At one point on Washington Ave, heading West, the sun was beating down, and it was starting to get rough. There were less people cheering, and all the runners were spread out, so it just felt slower. But then it headed north again, and again, on a narrow street, so it felt faster, and I found myself passing a handful of other runners.

I kept glancing at my watch, and couldn’t believe the numbers. Mile two I hit 9:08, and mile three was 8:50. What? I mean, I’ve did some of those Nike Run Club speed runs, but those are like, “run fast for 2 minutes,” but here I was running a MILE at those paces?! What? My last full mile (mile 6) was 9:01.

I wanted to get under an hour, and I did, hitting an official time of 56:27 (official results, Strava), which is a 9:05 pace. I still can’t believe how well it went.