Day Six

"I'mma keep running 'cause a winner don't quit on themselves." - Beyoncé

It felt appropriate to start this blog post with an incredibly relevant quote from Queen Bey, herself. A lot of Beyoncé happened during the week as we tried to pump ourselves up for another day.

A lot happened, in general, during the week, while I tried to pump myself up for another day. Songs with lyrics I can't repeat out loud, highway dance parties, laughing fits, conversations with body parts, tears.

Obviously tears.

Day six was big. It was my last day. I was coming off a much-needed rest day and only had 10 miles to cover. Ten miles felt like nothing compared to the previous days, but another 10 miles of painful walking down the shoulder of the highway sounded like hell.

We bandaged up my feet in every possible place. We stretched Gretchen. We named my groin Gretchen, did I tell you that? Of course we did. We also named my ravaged pinky toe Phil. These are the little pieces of memory that I'll always remember. Laughing hysterically over sexual innuendos while Kendra crawled into bed with me each morning to stretch out the muscles in my crotch.

Kendra. That girl. She became a sort of sister, sidekick, best friend, mom, teacher, doctor and additional heart all in one. She and Myke were my crew for the week. You don't see much of Myke, but you see his incredible talent in the photos I've been able to share.

Kendra was my person. We bickered like family, but bonded like sisters. We had to keep her a secret throughout the week because she would be surprising friends during the next segment, which was tough, but mostly for a reason I didn't realize at the time. For one, the number of photos and memories I had to keep to myself all week was huge. But also, I later realized, she was so instrumental to my week, and I had to keep mum about it.

She kept me fed, kept me hydrated, kept me covered in sunscreen, gave me much-needed hugs, and most importantly, kept me laughing. We laughed so much. I will always be grateful to her for that. Put your number twos in the air, Kendra.

As we drove to the starting point of day six, I tried to convince myself that it'd be OK to walk the entire day. It was fine, right? I walked pretty much everything else. But it isn't what I wanted. Not at all. 

The morning was so beautiful. The first early morning I had all week. It would've been worth it to wake up that early each morning just for the sunrise. I stood on the side of the highway, stretched out, thinking about all my friends who sent amazing messages overnight. 

I took my first step and ran. 

I RAN.

Don't get me wrong, it didn't feel awesome, but I hadn't run a step since day two. I decided to attempt rotating running and walking every quarter-mile, and that's exactly what I did. 

Segment seven runner, Kaitlyn, and her mom, Sue, joined me for a few miles, which kept spirits soaring and made the miles fly. 

With a mile-and-a-half left before the finish, I said goodbye to the crew and prepared to run the final stretch. It's all I wanted. So I did it. 

As I got closer to the park, I saw my people milling around, the finish line standing strong in the grass, and I lost it. Every emotion from the last six days exploded. Happiness, sadness, disappointment, joy, pain, laughter, love. 

I didn't have my parents, or Todd, or my sister, or my usual lifetime cheerleaders waiting for me, but I had a crowd. Kendra and Myke, Kaitlyn and her parents, a few of the runners who showed up to save my butt on day five. They were all there, and they were happy, and I was sobbing and laughing, and I could relive that final sprint through the grass over and over. 

I made it. And it was absolutely nothing like I planned, but it turned into a completely different and wonderful adventure on its own. 

Since crossing the finish line after 165 miles and six days of excitement and disappointment and love and solitude, I've gone back and forth so many times about my experience. Which is partially why it's taken four days to complete the last blog post about it. 

But in the end, it was my journey exactly as it was meant to be. Nothing in the last four months has gone exactly as planned. Moving to Bend, and every struggle that's followed, has taught me more about myself than I'd ever have learned if it all went according to plan. 

Mostly: I will do it. I don't always take the easy route, but I will absolutely do it.

All the walking I did, while exhausting, boring, and painful, it gave me time to enjoy the shit out of it. Have you ever live-tweeted a 30-mile walk? The number of people who began following along last week, asking questions, sending encouragement, inquiring about MS Run the US, it only increased the awareness for the cause I was out there for. 

Taking a day off and searching for backup runners led to dozens of new friends for the organization, and more people to understand and appreciate the mission.

I felt so much love for six days. My six days were exactly what they should have been. Not what I wanted, but I also want a cat farm, one unicorn and a field of baby goats, but I can learn to live with what I do have instead. 

Because what I do have is good. 

Much love, MS Run the US. For many, many years to come. 

Day Five

"In a moment of pure frustration today, I came to the conclusion that there is no angry way to say 'bubbles.'" 

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Today was not my day. Today belonged to the group of selfless, magical strangers who came to the rescue to knock out nearly fifty miles in order to get me close enough to the finish to have a good final day. 

I'll be honest, it was harder than I thought to give away my day. The gratitude I felt for our new friends was matched only by a disappointment that my body said no.  

That gratitude though.  

Two of the six runners who logged miles for us today knew no one  from the organization. As word spread yesterday, they simply came across the message and stepped up to the plate. Logan drove three hours last night to be here so she could kick off the day.  

Friend and segment seven runner, Kaitlyn, along with her mom, knocked out a few more, while Luke and Katie threw down 20 miles before Madeleine finished off the day.  

It was amazing. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. I also made new friends, which is never, ever a bad day. 

Tears flowed a few times today as I watched the day pass and began realizing tomorrow is it.     

I've just got ten miles tomorrow. Ten beautiful miles heading into Steamboat Springs.  

Please let those miles feel okay. 

Kaitlyn is joining me at the halfway point and promised she will get me running that final mile to the finish line. 

She gets it. She's been there. She had rough moments during her own segment a couple years ago. And she knows how sacred that final mile is for the runner.  

I just want my mile. And I want that finish line. And I want to cry and be done and rush home to everyone I love for every hug. 

Man, do I want hugs. 

I don't get that, unfortunately, since I'll be heading back west to Bend instead of continuing east toward actual  home, but I've felt the love from afar.

They'll all be with me tomorrow. They know it and I feel it. 

So, thank you.  

 

 

Day Four

"Throw kindness around like confetti." 

The lesson I learned today is that people are good.  

Within a mile this morning I was in tears. Not necessarily out of pain, but out of emptiness, really. I felt tired  and overwhelmed and pissed off at my feet. 

For five miles I cried. I honestly don't even know why.  Because I could? Because I was in the middle of nowhere?

We're talking sobs.    

I was a MESS.  

The mood brightened after a quick stop with the crew for some food and hugs. And in the next five miles I found a Colorado license plate on the side of road and a magnet that simply stated "Steamboat."  

IT WAS THE ROADSIDE TREASURE I'D BEEN WAITING FOR. 

But by mile 14 the burning in my feet took over any rational thinking. I was done, and my feet were blessed with more deep blisters on the bottoms.

The crew took on the rest of today's miles. A kindness.  

But the kindness started as soon as I opened my eyes this morning, as messages of encouragement and love poured in from friends and family and complete strangers.  

A girl I've known solely through Twitter took it upon herself to try and round up money to fly my boyfriend to Denver just to give the day some happiness. People were willing to pitch in just to make me smile. 

WHAT IS THIS LIFE? I'm speechless.  

The team put out a call to action to find area runners to help fill in tomorrow's miles so I can let my feet heal up for Sunday's big finish.  

The response was INCREDIBLE. 

I said earlier that if we could round up the people who were willing to help in any way they could, we could walk not just across the country, but around the world.  

It makes me so happy.  

I am loved and I always feel loved, but I've never felt more loved than I do today, and that's what day four brought me. It didn't bring me what I originally set out to do, but love is better.  

And we did find enough runners to cover for me tomorrow. I get to spend one day doing everything I can to heal these feet up enough for Sunday.

All I want out of the rest of this adventure is to run across the finish line. I haven't run a step since day two.

Based on the mileage we've got covered tomorrow, I'll be left with the final ten miles into Steamboat Springs on Sunday. I don't expect to be able to run all (or even any) of the miles, but if I can just run that final mile, I'll feel complete. 

This day has been the hardest. But thank you, day four, for showing me kindness.  

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