The cool air of the seaside town of Malibu was perfect. My skin tingled at the thought of wrapping up an epic adventure. On the days leading up to the last miles I repeated, “I can’t believe, we have journeyed around the perimeter of this country on foot!” Those words were almost always followed by giddy laughter. I knew there were only a few miles to go but my victory was a foregone conclusion. I had conquered my mind and my body. I was ready for a long break.
My buddy Brian met me at the first point of departure. Perhaps trying to get my friends to run thirteen miles was a bit ambitious. Text messages and calls had notified me that I would be joined by others as I progressed in mileage. I had a way of forgetting that most people don’t even like to run a few blocks. My world view was a bit skewed. Brian wanted to drive alongside me. I think it was what Crystal had planned. I was just happy someone showed up at the starting point.
My legs did their thing. I inhaled fresh ocean air mixed with a bit of Los Angeles smog. I felt stronger than I had in a while. Perhaps I knew I was facing a long hibernation period. Of course I knew from experience that all my aches and pain would escape my body on the last day. My first expedition across America had taught me that. Before long I met up with the first person that would keep me company. My old friend Bobby had a backstory with a similar narrative to mine. We both played hard in earlier years. Hollywood was our backyard and our playground. Eventually we both discovered more productive outlets for our energy. He had MMA and music while I had running and writing. I was happy someone came out to put in some miles.
With the ocean to our right, we cruised side by side. Occasionally we had to run in line to avoid a collision with vehicles. We ran a couple more miles before reaching my next friend Mike. Mike Slaughter was an ex-college basketball player and he provided a stark contrast to Bobby’s low center of gravity. Mike ran a few miles with me during my first long distance adventure. On that trip he ran at the beginning of the journey. This time he was at the end. His wife Sabrina and his son Peyton sent us off and headed towards the pier. The finish line was visible from where I departed. I inched closer with each step. On the last couple of miles, it looked like I could just reach out and touch it.
I blinked and more friends were by my side. My mom and dad were on the pier awaiting my triumph. Crystal beamed as she carried our banner to the end of the pier. I felt so many emotions walking the final steps. Images of friends I had made flooded my thoughts. My entire adventure was so vivid. I thought of the friends that were putting in virtual miles in other states. I remembered the day I took off into the unknown. We had less than a quarter of our budget secured but we believed we would make it. There were times when we just about threw in the towel, but Crystal had kept us on track. All the kids that I had the privilege of sharing my book with were part of my fabric. This journey had reinforced my resolve to make a little difference in a lot of people’s lives. People congratulated me on finishing my journey. I didn’t bother to tell them it was just the beginning. There were many more steps ahead. But first we had a celebration to attend. Our big coming home party at Berri’s Pizza Café awaited.