"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.
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.
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.