I LOVE bucket lists. Love them. If you are a blogger and you write a bucket list, I will read it closely. I want to see what you want to do, what drives you, your dreams and aspirations…and then I will crib off you and pick things off your list to add to my own.
For as much as I love bucket lists, though, I actually don’t have a big, official list of my own. I mean, I wrote out my running bucket list to tackle before leaving NYC, but I knew when I was writing it that most of those runs would never come to fruition. The amount of planning and juggling involved to make them happen would have sucked the joy out of actually running.
Do you have a bucket list? Is everything on it truly what you desperately want to do? I thought about some things I would consider to be bucket list items and then I broke them down to see if they were actually what I just thought should be on my bucket list.
Running the Paris Marathon.
This is my go-to if I’m ever asked what my dream race would be. it’s a no brainer, really – I love running, I love a challenge and I love Paris. I also always add that I’d savor every minute of refueling on cheese and bread and wine. (That last part is indisputable.)
Maybe it’s because I am DEFINITELY not in marathon shape (like I am questioning my sanity for signing up for a May marathon because we’ll blink and it’ll be here, people!), but if someone told me tomorrow I had just won a free trip to Paris and in one scenario I had a free entry to the Paris marathon and in the other scenario, it was just (“just” – ha!) a trip to Paris…well, call me a bad runner, but I’m picking the non-marathon option. Fran and I went five years ago, when I was actually training for the NYC marathon, so I scheduled in a run one morning, along the Seine, towards the Eiffel Tower, then back along the Left Bank. That’s all I need. Bucket list satisfied. Also, this is how we did Paris:
And I’m MORE than okay with that.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail. (Or the Pacific Crest Trail).
I read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods probably a little over 20 years ago, before I had any idea I’d one day be living in the US, with the Appalachian Trail running right behind my mother-in-law’s house. He made it seem doable; enticing; hard but incredibly rewarding.
Then just a couple of years ago I read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and it made me feel like this was an experience that would be life-changing and transformative.
But, ugh, camping. Maybe for a night or two. But weeks? In some cases, months? And realistically, with kids, the thru-hike is not going to happen until waaaay later in life. Maybe I’m a little too Type-A, but if it’s not a thru-hike, I’m not sure I would put it on my bucket list. Am I being too honest here yet?
Let’s move on. To ultra running.
I am in a Facebook group for trail and ultra runners. I am neither, but I do run and I do want to start trail running and I would be lying if I told you the idea of running an ultra hadn’t sung its siren call to me. I see people posting in the group about coming back from injury or serious illness, starting with a one-mile run, then showing their medal from a 50K or a 100 miler. Holy crap, that is some inspiring stuff right there.
Could I do it? Maybe, with the right training and enough time and the right support team. Is it enticing? YES. (Although I’m not really sure why – I’ve read plenty of ultra-marathon recaps and none of them would make you think for a moment that any of it is sunshine and roses. They sound horrible, but that’s part of the fun!) 😉 Is it a real bucket list item? I don’t know.
Norway. Yes, the whole country.
Going on vacation there became a bucket list item after a stopover. Remember I mentioned Fran and I had been to Paris? Well, we collected frequent flyer miles like champions to help with that trip and part of the deal with booking award travel is that it’s never just point A to B, direct flights. So on our way to Paris, we had a couple of hours stopover in Oslo. As the plane was landing, we saw a swath of stunningly beautiful, impossibly green scenery before us and we marveled aloud at how beautiful it was. A retired couple sitting near us, who turned out to be serious travelers, overheard and started chatting to us – they told us that all of the Scandinavian countries were a joy to visit but RIDICULOUSLY expensive.
Well, in our naiveté, we thought, ‘How expensive could it be?” (This was back when the American dollar had tanked, so we already knew our Parisian trip was going to be pricey.) We went through customs and asked the (friendly!) immigration guy how to say hello and thank you in Norwegian – “Hallo” and “Takk”. We delighted to find out when we got into the airport waiting area that people also say “Takks a lot”. We browsed the shops and said “Hallo!” to as many people as we could, then we found a lovely little bar and ordered two of their local beer. We thought it was so great that the beers came with a free bowl of nuts and pretzels. We said, “Takk! Takks a lot!” to our bartender.
Three weeks later, when our credit card statement arrived back home in Brooklyn, we discovered those Norwegian airport beers were $18 USD each. That’s how expensive it can be. Takk, but no Takks. (Unless someday we have a LOT of money, then yes, anywhere in Scandinavia is top of my travel bucket list for real.)
Now that I’ve started thinking about it, I realize some of what I thought would be on my bucket list is actually not that important to me. And I’ve experienced a lot of cool things that just happened – they were never on a bucket list to begin with, but ended up being amazing experiences I will treasure forever.
I’m reminded often that you can plan, plan, plan to your heart’s content, but what life has in store for you is often crazily removed from what you imagined for yourself and hopefully, in most cases, what you never knew you wanted until you had it. And sometimes it’s the element of surprise that makes it so very special and bucket-list worthy.
So, what’s on your real-life bucket list?
Is there something you say you want, but secretly aren’t that sure about?