We actually made it out of camp fairly early today, and being so close to where I stopped yesterday, I was able to start hiking a little before 6:30. I love these early morning starts. It makes me feel accomplished and makes me feel like I could cover the whole state in a day. That feeling wears off after a few minutes.

I feel pretty good considering how far I have come so far. I’m hiking mostly, but I’m okay with that. The asphalt is really pounding after a while, and not full-on running like I did for the first two weeks seems to be working. I’m able to cover a lot of mileage with minimal wear and tear on my ankles and shins. I really wish I had paid more attention to needing room for my shoes to expand before the run started, though. Clay and Shaun you both were totally right. I have two pairs of shoes that fit me (thanks to FootRx) and 6 pairs that are currently too small. I don’t expect my feet to shrink any over the next month.

The trail today led from Four Oaks/Ingrams westward across Interstate 95 through Smithfield, where some really nice cops stopped me to say they had seen me coming through town and asked if I needed anything. Although, now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure if they were being sincere or just slightly suspicious.

Dean ran ahead to a local taco stand and brought me an egg and cheese sandwich and a cup of coffee after about 2 hours of hiking. I can’t tell you what that does to me to lift my spirits. Protein bars and electrolyte drinks really get old after 4 weeks. I could get used to this kind of service.

Before heading out, I looked at the trail map and saw that I was going to be on a Neuse River walk today and I was hoping that would lead to dirt! But, it wasn’t meant to be. The “trail” turned out to be an urban greenway of asphalt. I found a mural under a bridge of different points near the Mountains to Sea Trail, including the Biltmore House in my home town. I took a few pics and caught up with Dean at the end of the greenway. It was certainly nice, and I’m glad that this option is there for those that want to get out and enjoy the parks and the river without dodging cars, but I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.

Almost immediately after I got out of the park, I wanted it back. The road to and through Selma wasn’t made for running, hiking or biking. The speed limit for cars on the busy road was 55 miles per hour, there was no shoulder on the road, and edges off the sides cantered so steeply that it was challenging to even stand as large trucks went by without sliding into the ditch. After a little over 19 miles I decided that I had had enough and waved down the Tahoe to come take me back to the RV where Chuck had a spread of local goodness.

After a shower, 3 sandwiches, and 30 minutes of icing my legs and feet, I faded to oblivion for the next two hours.

Meet all of life’s challenges with a belly laugh. There’s a joke in there somewhere. Keep moving forward.

Kenny