It was just after sunrise. As I do most mornings, I headed out the door for a run to start the day. It was a chilly Michigan morning, and the sky was cloudless and intensely blue. I went back for a hat, decided against gloves, and closed the back door.
I jogged to the end of the drive and turned left onto the dirt road. I could see about a quarter mile down the road, and not much further.
There are some ‘rules of the road’ when one runs out in the country:
- Always run facing oncoming ‘anything’ (farm equipment, cars, animals).
- If a tractor is coming towards you, get to the side of the road. They can take up most of the road, and a tractor is much bigger than you are.
- If a car is coming towards you and is going fast, get to the side of the road and turn your head away. They can kick up gravel, and that hurts.
- Wear sunglasses (to avoid aforementioned gravel in eyes).
- Stop and greet any and all baby animals. Especially goats. And puppies.
- Stop for a conversation with anyone out working in their yard. It’s just neighborly, and it’s especially good to check on each other these days.
- Don’t worry about how fast or slow you’re going. Breathe the air. Appreciate the scenery. Get your heartrate up. Sweat.
- Go the full distance – at your own pace.
I reached the first mile marker, which is a yellow ‘curve ahead’ arrow on a stretch of Sandborn Road where you really can’t see anything beyond that sign. As I followed the curve, the terrain changed. A road grader had just been through. Where the road had been hard-packed yesterday, now it was squishy dirt with some large chunks of sod and some rather large pieces of gravel. I hadn’t anticipated that and needed to pay attention. It would be easy to trip and stumble on the next stretch.
Over the next few miles, I thought about Friends for Life (FFL) next month. It struck me how similar my philosophy is about organizing conferences and – well – running. Running FFL is like running my favorite five-mile loop. I know the route. I know the mile markers. I know most of the people and the critters and how important it is to stop and check on everyone. I know – generally – what’s around the next bend. But there are always surprises. A road grader can put rocks in the way. A downpour can leave big puddles and potholes. A swarm of bees can cause a quick detour. A pandemic can make it necessary for everyone to wear masks.
What’s around the next bend? I don’t know. I can’t see it. But we know the route to a successful FFL, and we’re ready for whatever we encounter along this road.
I’m glad you’re with me on the run.