After 8,000 kilometers, a number of farewell parties and all the work that’s involved in packing two lives into two dozen cardboard crates, I arrived in Portland this week in dire need of a mind cleanse.
When I’m jetlagged or feeling the strain of a heavy schedule one thing works for me – running. It doesn’t have to be a long distance or a great pace, or even a particularly enjoyable session. I just need to get out the door and start pounding it out.
My wife and I woke at 6am last Wednesday morning to a crystal clear sky over the City of the Roses. This was it, the first day of the Next Step, and the next step was getting outdoors.
We are staying in The Pearl district, close to the waterfront along the Willamette River – a circuit of which provides a spectacular dawn run. I had done this loop, around two of the 12 bridges which span the waterway, when we visited the city last December.
Back then the weather was cold, with a freezing breeze off the river which blew away any jetlag cobwebs. This week it was warm, 19c at 7am, but a gentle late summer wind was just enough to ensure a comfortable run.
And so I started the next stage of my life much as I’d finished the last one, jogging along an expanse water as the day dawned. When much else is changing there’s comfort in maintaining some routines.
In busy and stressful times, periods of bereavement, heavy workloads, on days when it’s all gone right and others when I’ve hit a speedbump, up to this most recent move, to a new country, running has been a staple. At times it’s been easy, the 10k flying by; other times, every kilometer has been hard fought.
But every time the end result is the same. I walk back in the door in a better frame of body and mind than when I stepped out.
Last Wednesday I entered our rented apartment, sweating and thirsty, tired and happy, dropped my keys and hat and told my wife something we already knew, “this is a great place”.
It is, and it’s best seen at 7am on a summer morning, crossing the Hawthorne Bridge with the sun on your face, the wind to your back, and the road rising to meet you.