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Life{ontherun}: On Taking Risks

October is a pretty big month in the Conkey house. Not only does it mean fall temperatures, camping trips, apple pies, marathon season, and horror movies, but it also marks the one-year anniversary of our discovery of the tiny town in which we currently find ourselves residing.

It’s so strange to me when I think back on the past year and all that has happened. Sometimes life changes so slowly you don’t notice it. And other times – one small, seemingly inconsequential decision can suddenly shift the course of your life before your eyes.

So today, I want to take a break from the running chatter and the taper talk. If only to spend a few minutes thinking about something else besides NYCM, figuring out my marathon goals, and reading into every little ache and pain I feel in my legs. Instead, I want to tell you a little story about life in Vermont. Because it’s more than just a story about a move — it’s about taking risks. About setting a goal and going after it. About not being afraid of failure and refusing to live life with regrets.

I think we can all agree that this sort of mentality can apply to running too.

A Cheesy Tale

{In more than one way…}

Normally when people ask us why we chose to relocate from the city to a tiny little town in Vermont, we usually keep our response simple:

“Oh, we just love it here.” and “We were ready for a change.”

Which is true. Technically speaking. Plus it sounds a little less crazy than the real story. Because the truth about why we moved to Vermont? It was the cheese. I know it sounds like I’ve gone off my rocker when I say this but in a way — cheese changed my life. 

For Evan’s entire life, his family has been coming up to Vermont to camp during Columbus Day weekend. This vacation was the highlight of his year – a time to relax, escape from the stresses of everyday life (no cell phone service or cable will do that for you) and see family and friends. As the years passed, the people who came changed, but the spot didn’t.

When Evan first invited me along on the annual camping trip a few years ago, I knew things were official. Not just anyone was allowed to come to Vermont, after all. It was that weekend that I first experienced the cheese for the first time. But it wouldn’t be for a couple more years until we’d finally venture up to see where it was made.

In October of 2011, Evan and I made a trip north that would forever change the course of our lives. As soon as we drove into the tiny little town* we fell in love. The huge white Inn, the quaint little post office, the big white church and beautiful old houses – it was like something out of a movie.


We walked around the tiny town that day, eating cheese and daydreaming about one day having a house in such a peaceful spot. We spent the entire day planning out our future. And as cliché as it sounds, it was then that visions of a family, white picket fences, and acres of property started teasing us. Right then and there we made a vow to each other that we would find a way to move to Vermont someday. Once our lives were more settled and we knew where we were going, we would leave the city behind for good.


But life is really funny. And we soon realized that we couldn’t get that little town out of our heads. So when Evan started planning a proposal for later that year, he knew there was only one place to do it.

Last December we drove up to Vermont again, and he surprised me with a dinner at the Inn in our new favorite town. Afterward, surrounded by Christmas lights (and rain), Evan took me out to the porch, got down on one knee and proposed. It was one of the happiest moments of my entire life.

Fast forward to the wedding planning process, and we knew without a doubt that we wanted to get married in Vermont. Although our entire relationship had taken place in the state of Rhode Island, Vermont — with its beautiful mountains, lakes, and rocky rivers — just seemed more us. So we set out on a venue tour around the state – viewing barns and lakeside venue locations. The Inn was our last stop. We almost didn’t go. I had been in contact with the wedding coordinator there, but she said she was all booked up for the fall (our original plan for the wedding) and only had a few dates available in November. Plus, the formal dining area with its separate rooms just didn’t seem right for the type of inclusive, low key, family reunion atmosphere we were going for.

But we figured we owed it to ourselves. We had really liked several venues along the way, but none of them had felt quite right. Had given us that unwavering sense that this was the spot we were meant to begin our lives…and, of course, fit into our budget.

Until we drove into town. As soon as we crossed over the little river, I knew I was a goner. I remember turning to Evan and telling him what a mistake it was, because no matter what happened that day, I’d never be able to say no to this place.

And it was true. The wonderful coordinator spent hours with us – going over our hopes for the day, explaining the flow of the venue, the use of the space. And letting us know that somehow, surprisingly, she had one cancelation for the summer. June 9, 2012 was going to be our day.


Even though it meant that we’d have less than 5 months to plan, we decided to go for it. I knew it would be stressful to plan a destination wedding while working full time and living in another state, but neither of us had really wanted a long engagement and the timing fit perfectly with everything else going on in our lives. Plus, we had a great support system in the form of our families, who came together and made everything possible for us.

{Side note: after going through it and coming out the other side, I would totally recommend a short engagement! Wedding planning has a way of taking over your free time/thoughts no matter how long you are planning for. Having a short time frame to work with makes you more efficient, keeps you from getting lost down a maze of “Pinterest Fantasies,” forces you to figure out what is most important to you as a couple, and (best of all) means that you don’t have to wait a really long time to actually get to go to this huge celebration you’ve been planning!}

Anyway, we figured that would be it. We were so excited to get married in our little town. To share our favorite spot with our friends and family. And we were thankful to now have a good excuse to take periodic trips back up to Vermont all spring.

As the months went on, we faced another big issue. My lease would soon be up and my government, grant-funded job would be ending over the summer. We needed to find a place to live.

We toured apartments all over Rhode Island, looking for places that were close to the beach, or in neat areas of the city. But nothing felt right. I found myself dreaming about Vermont more and more, wishing there were some way we could just take the risk and move up there now. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to stay in Rhode Island and the more desperate I felt to get out.

DSC 0051

And then – just like with our wedding venue, Vermont surprised us again. We returned to the town in early March for our tasting. On a whim, Evan decided to check out area rentals. We never expected to find anything (this wasn’t the city where renters are common, after all), but there, on the front page of the local realty website was a cute little house right on the main street. An entire house up for rent – for less than we would’ve paid for a tiny apartment in the city.

That’s when the scrambling started. We contacted the realtor, made an appointment, toured the house and fell head over heels in love. It was old. The floors had gaps in them, the walls needed painting, and the kitchen hadn’t been updated in over a decade. But it felt like home.

After a few bumps in the road, the lease was signed and the deposit was made. We packed up our lives, the cats and the dog, and moved everything up to the tiny town. A town surrounded by mountains and rivers. Where the nearest grocery store was a half hour away. A town where we would begin the next chapter of our lives.

DSC 0025


A year after this whole journey began, we are married. My younger sister lives in a room downstairs. With the addition of her little pup, we are now a small family of three who owns four animals (yikes). Evan has to commute long hours for work. I am still unemployed. We still don’t really know what our future holds.


But truthfully – I’ve never been happier. I love Vermont more than I’ve loved any place I’ve ever lived in my entire life. The summer here was amazing and fall has been even better. With every passing day, my love for this place grows and I feel like we are right where we are meant to be (talk to me after this winter to see if I still feel the same way).

Evan and I took a risk. We found something that we wanted, packed up our lives, and went for it. No matter what happens in the future, 20 years from now I will be able to look back on this phase of life with no regrets. So often in life we get caught up in the “what ifs.” We wait and wait until things seem perfectly aligned before we make some huge life change. Meanwhile, we’re stuck wondering about what could be…or what might be someday. I am so happy that I have a partner that was willing to take this jump with me. To put everything on the line and try out something new.



I don’t know if we’ll stay in Vermont forever (though I hope to be here for awhile!). But I do know that I wouldn’t trade this life for anything — not a high paying job, or a mapped-out, more-secure future. There are only so many times in your life when you can afford to jump into something completely new without fear of ramification.

I hope that everyone has an opportunity at some point to take a risk and go after something that they want — whether it’s a move, a new career, a race PR, or that trip you’ve always wanted to take. Life is short. Go after it.

*Although I’m sure you could probably figure out what town we live in if you really wanted to, I chose not to share the name just so that I can keep pretending that I have some privacy on the internet**.

 **But really, if you want to come visit me, you can just ask. We love visitors.

23 Responses to Life{ontherun}: On Taking Risks

  1. Awesome story, I always love hearing how other people came to settle in their homes. It’s where the heart is for sure, but sometimes the location makes the heart sing! :)
    Jessica´s last post ..Paleo Sweet Potato Stew

  2. Awww I love this story. :) I took a risk in moving to NYC (so…into the city, instead of out of it!), and I love it. Life is short, you never know what could happen, so you might as well do what you want and enjoy it! And eat cheese, of course.
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..i’m not running NYC…and hitting the reset button

  3. Love this! I feel almost as happy as you that you moved to the cheese! Love your little town and don’t worry, Derek and I will be back to visit for sure :)
    Steph´s last post ..Falling Apart

  4. Just wait for winter – it keeps getting better up here!

    • We bought a (heavily discounted) season’s pass for Stratton. I can’t wait until ski season!

      • Good call! We used to go to Stratton all the time when I was growing up in CT. Now I get a Sugarbush pass (around 300 bucks for anyone in their 20s!). It’s such a good idea to take advantage of the snow – winter is my favorite season up here!

        • Stratton had the same deal! It pays to be under 30 :) We only chose it because it’s close…but I do hope to travel to places like Sugarbush and Stowe this winter too.

  5. I love this! Thanks for the little insight into how that all played out :) I have an unbelievable amount of respect for you and Evan being able to truly go after what felt so right, even though it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. As much as I dream about it, I have absolutely no risk taking motivation. In the end I always go with what is “safe”, so I envy people who are able to go after what they dream of…it always seems to make people happiest in the end :)
    Corey´s last post ..Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 – The Race

  6. I live nest door on new Hampshire but grew up 20 minutes north of Boston. I lve it here, I love that our kids are growing up in our tiny little town…I wouldn’t move away if I were you

  7. I love this post.. we packed up and moved to VT a little over 3 years ago now from CT and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I had a job, my husband didn’t, but we figured we would make it work. We now have our own house (with those acres you talk about), a baby and a dog. It’s an amazing place.. and the skiing doesn’t hurt either!
    Deb´s last post ..Music Day

  8. I love that you really followed your hearts and are in the place you want to be. I also hold a special fondness for Vermont since I went to UVM. Sadly, I haven’t been back since I graduated.

  9. i love your story. it truly makes me want to just uproot and follow my dreams. and yes, count me in on a visit! :)
    elizabeth´s last post ..Halloween, Races, Contests, and more

  10. I love this too. It takes a lot of courage to up sticks and move – we left the UK for California two years ago and I found the move so hard but it’s been such an amazing worthwhile thing to do. But it’s difficult to uproot yourself and start again, and you had many obstacles that we didn’t.

    But Vermont…it looks amazing. You make me want to book a trip!!
    Cathryn Ramsden´s last post ..Places that make my heart glad: The UK

  11. Beautiful story. Don’t be surprised when I land on your doorstep in “Gouda” (fake name to protect said privacy) to take in that wonderful scenery! I’ve been to Vermont once for tennis and it was so beautiful. I used to watch this show on Nick at Night (I think it was Newhart) and it took place in Vermont – the opening credits were pretty fall scenes!
    Meggie´s last post ..Why I Need My #SistersInSport

  12. It’s just so gorgeous there!!! How Rainy is it? I am incredibly sick of the rain right about now… And dying to try the CHEESE!!!
    Ricole Runs´s last post ..This Post Will Not Be Riveting

    • Unfortunately it’s been extra rainy lately. And this week will be awful because of Hurricane Sandy. But USUALLY? It’s not so bad! …especially when you compare it to Seattle weather. I think you need to come visit! :)

  13. This is a beautiful post!
    Emily´s last post ..Restaurant review: Volare Restaurant

  14. I’ve been going to the town you lve in Vermont my entire life!! My grandparents lived right in town until a few years ago and now my aunts and uncles have houses there. I was So surprised when I saw the pics on your blog as most people haven’t heard of it (other than the cheese, ooohhhhh that cheese!) Its a very special place and I know I will continue to cherish the time I get to spend there forever. Hope you’re enjoying living there and eating lots of that cheese!!!

  15. Your story is great! It’s so inspiring to hear that you just did what felt right – and didn’t let the little things stress you out. This is so inspiring!

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