For the last two weeks, my social media feeds have been full of First Day of School pictures. While I am happy for those mamas (and papas) who have sent the little darlings off to their teachers, my two couch lumps will continue discovering new levels of sloth until after Labor Day. The struggle is real, y’all.
Don't get me wrong, I love my teenagers. I do. But I would love them even more if I didn’t have to see them all the time. While my teens are relatively low impact, they have leaned hard into this unstructured summer and I have been too hot for too long to care.
My husband and the oldest teen have been visiting colleges for the last ten weeks, which means that her First Day of School picture will likely be last First Day of School picture on our back porch. There’s one more college on her schedule, which all four of us are making so that we can hit the Corning Museum of Glass on the way home. it won’t be long before our family road trip days have passed.
It’s several kinds of bittersweet to think about even now, months before it happens. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be taking the Dropped Her Off at College and Cried All the Way Home snapshot.
We’re not there yet, however. Instead of feeling sad she’s not around, I’m irritated that three-quarters of our bowls, spoons, and glasses are in her room, to say nothing of the debris field that she leaves in her wake. I’m told I will miss picking up stray socks and power cords and paperwork. I have doubts.
The younger teen is that magical age where he communicates with as few words as possible. He is too young to be gainfully employed but too old for day camp. Also in the house are two very fluffy dogs who are blowing their coats. Every surface is covered in hair again about 30 seconds after you vacuum. The first person who can figure out how to monetize this fluff will win my undying love, by the way.
All of this would be 100 percent fine, frankly, if I weren’t also incredibly bored by all of the running routes in my town. I’m pretty sure I’ve could pick out of a line-up every single tree, shrub, flower, rock, and water feature within a five-mile radius. If I am ever kidnapped, I will know by the odors — cat pee, fried food, barbecue — how close I am to Chestnut Street. Rather than provide comfort, my familiarity with my city is bringing me down.
I did have a small surprise last week and it was what I needed. Amazon (bless its corporate heart) recommended a book that I actually didn’t know I wanted. Lonely Planet, the travel guide people, has started a series of essay collections with an epic theme. There are Epic Hikes of the World and Epic Drives and Epic Bike Rides. Epic Runs came out this month.
(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Lonely Planet or Amazon. If you buy a copy through the link, AMR gets a penny or two, I think. I bought my copy because I needed the distraction and love the cover art. I’m writing about it because some other mother runners might need the distraction, too.)
Epic Runs of the World is pretty much what you think it is. Runners-who-write and writers-who-run penned short essays about a notable route or event. Each of the seven sections covers a continent. Some of the writers will be familiar, like Dumb Runner Mary Remy and Ultra Runner Girl Stephanie Case. Some are new to me. All, however, have captured what it is like to run in Big Sur or La Paz or Amalfi.
The essays cover big, exclusive events like Boston or the Barkley Marathons, which mere mortals will never get (or want to) experience. But for each of those, there are loops around places like Chicago’s Lakeshore, England’s Fells, or New Zealand's Gorge that anyone with shoes can take on.
Each entry is followed by helpful hints and a list of similar runs that make something exotic seem possible. Add to that the gorgeous photos and Ross Murray’s illustrations and it’s an armchair escape that will carry me through the ho-hum weeks until fall.