THE PREQUEL: MULTIPLE SCRIBLIDOSIS – A TALE OF TWO LADIES

On the eve of my third annual participatory run joining the in-progress MS Run The US relay team charging across the United States I realized I have never once truly answered the question, “Why?”

Why, Adam, did you choose to participate in the MS Run The US…to run 250+ miles across Nevada and Utah…to raise $16K…to spread the word and create awareness around Multiple Sclerosis …what possessed you?

Well in hindsight there are hundreds of things I could have done to exhaust this need to be of service…but how I happened upon this event, this cause, this community is too unique…too special…too right.

It began months before I even heard about MS Run The US.  I was developing that belly softening lethargy that I had often times heard about growing up from older people who spoke of their own slowing down and thickening like some sort of uncontrollable rite of passage…not only was I softening physically, but my drive…my purpose…that clock that ticks and tocks in the quiet folds of my mind that when you are young and full of vim and vigor acts as a metronome to your insatiable desire to do…to simply do anything…to be active…to move…to resist the urge to pot yourself like a geranium on some upholstered piece of furniture and “become intellectual” because we can’t always run around for the rest of our lives can we???!!!  I felt like someone knocked over my metronome….and it had taken me a few months to realize that I wasn’t hearing the “tick tock”.

So I signed up for The North Face 50K trail race in Atlanta, GA.  The depth and importance of that sentence alone is significant in its own right…and how this race changed my life rested on so many little things.  I won’t go into all the details and the synchronicity of it all, but had I not had the moment of aspiring for more I would not have sought a 50K…had I not met a guy 15 years ago, I would not have known the Race Director for The North Face trail running series who got me into the sold out race…had I not been scared to death of the overwhelming event I had trained for, prepared for, I would not have attended the pre-race event…and had none of that stuff been the case…I would have never heard of Ashley Kumlien…heard her story…and known what to do when three weeks later a messenger would arrive at my door.

Ashley Kumlien

My first impression of Ashley…sitting in an audience of nervously charged pre-race runners I glanced up to look at the panel of speakers assembled at the front of the room…it was a mixed bunch…male and female champions from the previous year…a representative from the Challenged Athlete Foundation and then there was this cute girl who looked out of place…but comfortable…joking with the event mascot, Dean Karnazes and other notables…but still out of place…I wanted to hear what she had to say…I was intrigued (purely in the most superficial way).  We had to get through the previous champions forced and obligatory comments…blah…blah….blah, the challenged athlete spoke…and then finally it was Ashley.  What she then shared blew my mind…not only was she attractive in all sorts of ways, but she was a modest overachiever who had run across the US by herself, raising money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis…wait…what the….ran across the country???  By herself???  Uggg…I suck.  I don’t even shower daily because it seems like too much of a chore at times and she ran a marathon a day for 6 months straight!!!  I should just give up now…I can’t even compete on that level.  As I sat there feeling like a complete loser in life…looking at her…trying to assess where the advantage was…taking inventory…two arms, two legs…a head…yeah I have all the same parts (well mostly give or take a few)…how could she be doing so much more…I am useless.  She continued to share that starting this year she was had organized a relay team that would run across the US raising even more money and more awareness on the path to a cure for MS…this was her path…her duty…and her new mission in life. I left that session feeling slightly impotent and intrigued…I wish I could do something like that I thought…if only this or that…then I could…but no…good luck with your project Ms. Kumlien.

I woke up the next day and completed my very first 50K and I was happy.

Three weeks had passed from that evening when I first met Ashley…intrigued enough I looked her up on Twitter and then went on to the website and learned more about what she was about…I was interested, but those minor searches were the extent of where my interest would take me…I bookmarked it for when I would become a better “Adam”.

“I am having trouble seeing” said my girlfriend Tiffany Nelson, “I am sure it’s nothing, it’s just really weird…I’m getting old…ha ha.”

Tiffany

Life is filled with sentences…simple constructs of words that share a thought, a feeling…an experience in a linear fashion. But a handful of them, while seemingly meaningless possess such profound meanings, but we simply don’t see the impact until it is upon us, this was one such sentence.

Tiffany described the sensation as the constant need to rub her eyes…as if she had just woken up and still had “sleep” in her eyes…things were fuzzy…not clear…edges were softened…light seemed intensified…this lasted for over two weeks. It was a disruption in her life…causing her to miss work…miss events…miss life…that damn sentence…it was of an ominous variety.

It was a sentence that was a key that unlocked a room that led to x-rays, brain scans, spinal taps, and subsequent blood patches, conversations with a multitude of doctors and nurses and other mint green clad hospital workers…culminating with an awkward pronouncement…

“Tiffany, you see these white spots on your brain…those 20 spots…see here…here…here…here…and here…those are caused by lesions on your brain…you have Multiple Sclerosis.”

What??? How??? Why???

MULTIPLE SCRIBLIDOSIS???!!!

It felt like a simultaneous cataclysmic event occurred where all the wind was sucked out of the universe and an inward scream rang throughout my head, my ears…numbing…disbelief…how could this happen to this person…this little wonderful person…to Tiffany…who I believe was born with a heart two sizes two big and the only way for her to live comfortably…to keep that heart of hers inside her body…is to give that love away…and she does so freely…to everyone she meets…a gigantic hug and a kiss on the cheek…this was her reward…this is what she earned…it didn’t seem fair.

We learned that the issue with the eyes was an “episode” and that each of those little white marks on Tiffany’s brain was the occurrence of an “episode”. These episodes can range from debilitating to insignificant…you never know when you will get one and how severe it will be.

My heart screamed as I began to understand the gravity of the life sentence she was just handed.

The seeds that were planted just a few weeks ago after hearing Ashley share her story began to blossom inside of my heart…which I have learned is the only place where courage grows.

I felt like it was a “god shot”.

That all these things are been put in my life and placed before me for a reason…it was my duty to pursue it…I had to…I couldn’t ignore it…I had to fight this terrible disease for my little person…who’s heart was two sizes too big.

I picked up the phone to call Ashley, introduce myself, share my story and volunteer to help support this crazy run….I hung up with a runners application in my inbox and my commitment to Ashley to run a segment of the 2013 inaugural MS Run The US.

As I sit here in the RV, on this night before I join Aaron Schneider (Ashley’s husband) on his run tomorrow…I think back on my whole experience…a lot has changed…Ashley is now a Schneider…she is only as cute as a Sister could be AND she’s pregnant…Tiffany and I have taken separate paths…she continues to fight her battle with MS…she is brave…the courage she has demonstrated…and not by choice is nothing but remarkable…I have gone in and out of a number of different seasons myself…but along this journey I have become a part of something special…I have joined a community…a family…who knows struggle…who knows pain…but also has a spirit that shines bright…so bright it’s like a beacon of light that spans across the country from LA to NYC.

So…why did I run the MS Run The US relay?  It was to help two ladies…who were both too small to bear the burden on their own.

To hear about my experience running 250 miles over 8 days please read through my earlier posts.

MOMENTS IN THE MILES – A GIRL NAMED INDIANA

IMG_0099

“What was her name?” I yelled from the courtyard as she ran away from me.  Wearing pink angel wings she turned around mid stride and exclaimed….”Indiana!!”

I sat down on the dried out patio furniture offering rest for my legs and a possible splinter as the price…just completing a 12 mile run…my soul crumbled by life’s unfair lessons and I cried…Indiana…I am so sorry…it came from a deep place…from a place fear, life regrets, and sorrow are grown …maybe it was dormant for quite some time…rivulets of tears poured from my eyes…an ache in my heart tore through my chest…

Moments earlier I had turned my final corner that led to my house…a turn that I have turned…on foot…over a hundred times…one of two ways to get back to the start of my runs and my ultimate finish…it is my preferred finish…as I descended the short hill that propels me to my final resting spot a quarter mile away…I glanced up and saw someone running with some form of neon attachment hanging off of them…normally reduce my effort and ease into my finish like a boat cutting its engine quietly sliding into its slip…this time I increased my pace…knowing I would have my rest soon enough.

I caught up to a lady in running regalia with a pair of pink wings…I had to ask her why…my curiosity and judging eye had to know…in front of my house…we spoke…she was testing out her “uniform” for an upcoming marathon and getting used to the encumbering attachment…the wings were for a little girl who had passed away at an early age to Cancer…I was in awe and shock by her answer…I didn’t know what to say…I think I said “good luck”…and walked towards my house…in that instant…almost like a film in fast motion a million things flew past the looking glass of my mind…overwhelmed with a sense of emotion that was about to brim over…I turned and yelled back to the woman….”What was her name?”

During the last year as I trained and actually participated in my run MS Run The US I had hundreds of “moments” that haven’t shown up in the previous blogs…yet they were of significance to me…I want to now document them here.  I am trying to unravel the event and the process by which I prepared…as I indicated in a prior post…my run began months before the April 30th start…these will simply be a glance into it all as I try to understand the point of it all…under the surface.

ENDS ARE JUST BEGINNINGS

IMG_0020

Sitting here a couple days apart from my last run I am struggling to understand what I just accomplished…was it enough? Was it hard enough? Did I make an impact on anything? As the days move further away from that final trot of 2.5 miles down the hill with my good friend Ed Gradek I am losing touch with exactly what I was involved in…however…I am reminded of my physical effort by the dull ache in my legs and the charitable effort by the numerous kind and thoughtful comments and notes that I have received over the last week.

I think it is natural for us to have some form of hangover after large events…events that scale larger than life…almost a postpartum depressed state. In a conversation with Ashley, she asked how would you explain this to someone…what you did here? I struggled with the answer and then on one of my runs I created some anaologies…the only way to describe this event and the distance is to use points of reference we all can understand…for instance…I have heard that when you skydive, the perspective is so vast that you don’t feel like you are free falling because you don’t have an experience with the overwhelming perspective of falling to earth contrary to an amusement park ride where you feel everything…it is closer…you have perspective of your place in space in time…dropping in at 240+ miles at a stride of 1 meter…you get lost and overwhelmed by the volume. To my children and those I talk to locally…it is like going from San Diego to Disneyland there, back, and there again…you begin to have a grasp…and that is just the physical sphere.

The mental game is even tougher…for me…to relate to others. There are those who in this world of endurance efforts who embrace these distances with a carefree and graceful acceptance…for me…not so much…I am envious of those people…Ashley is one of those…she ran what I ran over the last week for 6 months…I was on the edge after 8 days. It was funny to think as I was out on the roads and trails for another 30 miles in 8 consecutive days…that I have struggled far more on 30 minute runs than I ever did at any point in my daily runs….the perspective was too large. My mental game became a task of goal setting…whether it be mileage…cracks in the road…trees, signs, the ends of guard rails, buildings, etc., I forced myself to break my moments into small very small increments…I succeeded. My constant reminder to stay present was the baton…I developed a relationship with this cylindrical reminder of why I was there…”Running Farther to Serve Others”…I ran 245+ miles…~230 of those were with the baton in my hand (the other miles I accidentally left it in our support car…mad about that).

Going back to the body…the pain…the knees and the arches in my feet…the pain…became friends of mine…daily visitors and reminders that I was alive…sometimes they would sleep in and wouldn’t arrive until late in the day…then other times they were throwing raging parties in their respective rooms…my knee cap, the side of my right leg, the bone in my left foot arch…what the heck is that bone?…I’ve never noticed that bone before…where did it come from…if it can hurt…can’t it unhurt?… I just want to remove it…I want to remove all of my painful points…or do I? It is in this process of recovery…where my limbs are repairing and the scales of pained plaque are slowly flaking off my tendons, bones and kneecaps…this event has some context and color that I can appreciate…that I can now begin to understand what just happened in my life and through the notes…the comments…and the heartfelt emails that I have received…I can now begin to understand how I have affected lives around me.

I am grateful…

245.5 miles was not the end for me…somewhere on the trails out there is a residue of who I was…as I trudged across Nevada and Utah I molted a layer of me…a coarse and selfish epidermis…an awareness washed over me and I realized how small I am in this world…I am a grain of sand in the desert…yet my impact can be large…if I…like in this endeavor of miles…take the first step…then another…and have confidence in the ones that follow…I can be of use.

LasVegas

Thank you for your support…I have been humbled.

THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

IMG_0161

Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it and more…a yellow brick road is what I wanted…it is exactly what I got.

As we pulled into my final destination city – Milford, UT two nights before my actual supposed arrival our final route decisions were unfinished as we did not have a high level of confidence based on a number of conflicting iPhone, Google Map, and other sources of route making and verification sources at our fingertips.  I am ONLY interested in the shortest distance so I was always interested in the “walking” distance where as some of the other maps and advice we were receiving were based on the car.  I always felt uneasy about the route so I would ask anyone who would listen…the gas attendant, the waitress, etc.  I had a growing confidence in at least the mileage…but what the heck did this “road” look like.  I’ve been on “roads” this whole time…some of them lead to a wonderful experience and others lead to Jeb and Elijah huntin’ squirrels.

So off Ashley and I went on a recon drive….unbelievable…25 foot wide dirt and gravel trail for 35 miles!!! even with a little asphalt thrown in the mix….hallelujah!!

Another early morning beckoned us and climbing in the car there was a levity and gratefulness that our (well maybe my) prayers had been answered.  This journey WON’T get harder before it gets easier…there will be arrows and a nice smooth path from the “town” of Lund, UT (my last stopping point).   As I walked through this ghost town the day prior there stood (barely) dilapidated meth houses like skeletons…windows blown out…roofs caving in…the inside sheet rock walls torn down or  full of holes like little eyes that have seen much.  I glanced around nervously waiting to see dirty faced children peering back at me…not sure why dirty faced children popped into my mind…but I felt like I was walking through a town at the intersection of Children of the Corn and Mad Max…I digress.

Key ingredient to this story is that it rained the night before.

We drove for about 45 minutes on this pristine road (if it were dry)…it started off well and somewhere between that and Ashley almost sliding off the road into an embankment things all of a sudden got real serious.  Skilled in SNOW driving, being from Milwaukee, Ashley corrected the fish tail and kept us on course…it was at that very moment I started to consider what this will mean to my run.

As most mornings go…we roll up to where we last stopped, I hop out of the car into the dark, grab my waist belt and water and say…”see you in (x) miles”.  The “(x)” is usually a barometer of how I am feeling and based on need to maintain connection for one reason or another…typically it is 5 or 6 miles to start the day…today it was 2.  I was unsure how this mud would work out and I wanted rescue to be close.  As I suspected….half mile into the day, it was apparent the mud would be an issue…at first it started to stick a little…mud adding to mud adding to even more mud and soon my shoe looked like a scientific experiment of cell duplication at a rapid rate…my shoes already tipping the scale at a size 14, gained close to a pound of mud patty all around my shoe, making it extremely difficult to move forward…after 4 miles of this frustrating exercise, Ashley offered up the idea of perhaps running on the train tracks…I accepted…problem…I had to jump over a mud moat into the side of a hill that led up to the barbed wire fence (again) that I would have to scale to get to the tracks.

Typically this mud moat would pose little if any challenge to my athletic deftness, however with my legs in the state they are I can’t even gradually seat myself upon a toilet seat without ripping off the towel rack or de-laminating the RV door frame…pride the ever present motivator of poor decision making prompted me to say, “no problem, i’ll make it over” to that Ashley responded…”wait let me get my camera”…as if she knew what I fail to see through my pridefully blurred vision.  In elementary school I won honors for my standing long jump…I did both high jump and long jump…those years of practice failed me…in the mud I went…and over yet another barbed wire fence.

IMG_0176   IMG_0144-1

http://youtu.be/tZ3RTTesM1A (view for yourself)

and onto 9 miles of running on these tracks.  This actually was a welcomed diversion.  First of all they kept me exceptionally present and second, I invested in a pair of shoes, Hoka One One and their gleaming characteristic is an exceptionally cushioned sole…they proved to work exceptionally well and I was off and running on clouds across the tracks.

IMG_0173

An hour or so I reconvened with Ashley for a Snickers and Coke…my typical 12-13 mile snack…on top of my Hammer Nutrition products….moving on Ashley called for me…I turned around to find out that the battery in her car died…she told me to continue on….so I did.  In the picture below you can barely see the beginnings of some horrendous storm clouds…I was racing against time and an eventual soaking…I increased my pace to a blistering 9:50/mile (for those not in the know, my 18 month old son could out pace me at that speed)…but I was happy to have it.

IMG_0172

An unbelievable thing happened as I pushed my pace and I had my eyes set in the distance to my eventual right hand turn…nothing short of divine intervention, the wind changed and literally pushed the “doom of soak and misery” in the same direction and beyond where I was running…I remained dry and re-invigorated…alerted that Ashley had help on the way…I was determined to outrun her…again those blurry spectacles of pride were fastened tightly over my eyes.  I charged on, ticking off the milestones…I landed my feet on the final bit of dirt trail that 15 miles later would lead me to my final destination at Milford.

4 miles short of my marathon for the day, Ashley caught up, having been jump started by a passerby…she resupplied me and I told her to head to the 26.2 mile mark.  Already contemplating the final mileage for the last day in my mind I wanted to do 5 additional miles…but I didn’t want to have to go back to the RV and do my routine 2.5 mile hike in the afternoon after my post 2.5 mile ruffalk recovery.  Upon arriving at the 26.2 mile mark

20130507-153959.jpg

I told Ashley I would trudge on another 2.5 and then I would walk the next 2.5 all at once…I didn’t want to but I also didn’t want to come back.  I started looking at the horizon and the signs of civilization close by…the occassional beer can…the empty case of Bud Light from adolescent teens sneaking away for their pre-party buzz far from the discerning parental eye…I wanted to push on…I didn’t want to ruffalk…I wanted it to be over…I wanted to enjoy my last day with my routine anxiety…I wanted to sleep in…so

I continued…and kept pushing on…another 2.5…the most amazing thing happened in the last 2.8 miles that I ran…as if it was the breath of God himself…blew at my back as I trudged up some significant hills…a warm confidence poured over my body and the aches diluted into my legs and were redirected into my being as sustenance…I came out of my body (albeit brief and everything came back in full force…aches and all), but for that brief moment I transcended…full stride…mileage crumbling past me…I had conquered this challenge…my fears…my lack of confidence in myself…for the first moment in 8 days I had seen what had been blurry…I had just taken part in something of tremendous significance…not only for myself…but for the individuals who invested their generosity and confidence in me helping me raise a staggering amount of money…for the many individuals who with MS have taken part in my journey…to those who have MS and who this project will directly affect…and for those who are amongst us all who have yet to be diagnosed….I had for the very first time felt useful…for something of great importance.  I was embraced by an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy that I weathered the storms of the journey and I have made an impact.

Upon walking in my last mile and collecting over 33 miles for the day…I could finally see it…a mere 2.5 miles away…downhill…a yellow brick road to the finish…and a beginning for me to continue seeking ways to be of use…this feels good.

20130507-153943.jpg

YOU MUST BE LOST

IMG_0153

My Day 7 actually began on Day 6…on the outset this did not seem to be going well.  It came to our collective attention, after a route scout by Ashley that I would have to launch into the dark unknown trails of po’dunk Utah solo for 16 miles to begin the day…why oh why…can’t there be an easier way!!!  In order to retain any modicum of manhood left in the eyes of “Ms. I ran across the United States by myself…you’re only doing 9 days…so suck it up”…in my head I was crying…why can’t there be a “yellow brick road” from here all the way to the end…why in the final days of this journey does it have to get harder…more complex?

Because that is life.

So…in my normal routine after running my segment I tack on a combined walk of 5 miles…2.5 immediately after and then 2.5 later in the day when the feeling has returned to my legs and toes.  It was on this second stroll that I happened upon an individual that truly scared me…I’m not talking about a large intimidating person…he certainly wasn’t physically imposing…he just scared the be’jesus out of me.  As I was walking down this rutted out truck trail that ran parallel with the train tracks…a beat up dented and rusty old Chevy truck came rolling up with a rumble that vibrates your rib cage…the road was so tight I had to step up and out off the trail on to the brush that ran alongside…too pre-occupied with my disabled movements and onset of rigor mortis from the previous days activities he caught me off guard when he stopped…everything moved so slowly…I looked into the cab…clutching the steering wheel were gnarled fingers that were clearly soaked and dinged by life’s hard work…his face was sunken in…eyes yellow…and then he said something to me that I thought was only the work of gory fiction…it is generally the sentence that preceeds a visit to a basement…tied to a chair…and a collection of scalpels…with a laugh that almost made me cry…he said…”YOU MUST BE LOST”…I stammered…as I stood there in my neon orange North Face trail running spring collection 2013 outfit…no no…I am part of a relay run across America…you see I am part of a charitable event…I am a good person…people know I am out here…I will be missed…you see…so you can’t torture me or kill me or make me marry any of your inbred daughters…so you see I must be going now…and I did.

I never did see that man again…but I sure was thinking about him as Ashley dropped me off at the same point at a pitch black 5:15AM.

Panicked I moved deftly through the trail to try to get as far away as possible…I escaped without harm.

I don’t like being alone…unsupported…fending for myself.  I got to be all three of those during my 16 mile segment…running along a trail that diverged 15 different times.

At one point my trail ran straight into a barbed wire fence that held about 20+ cows and/or bulls.  I made some ridiculous sounds to “frighten them” and it worked…I gingerly swung my leg over the wire while pressing down on the top and made it over…thank goodness it wasn’t one of those higher fences that surrounded the rest of the pen.  Keeping my eye on the herd…there was one cow that didn’t take the bait and he motion forward…and like a siren for unity…all the retreating cows turned on their hooves and redirected there trots in my direction…I was already deep in the pen and had not other option to try to scale the chest high 4 string barbed wire fence…before I got stampeded…not sure if any of you have ever tried to scale wire before, but it is not the most stable of climbing structures…add onto it legs that have run close to 200 miles…and for good measure place eviscerating barbs inconsistently across them…with the deft movements of a tight rope walker and the confidence of a matador I composed myself to get over this obstacle unscathed…and as the leader cow approached the fence line he snorted as if to say…next time.

As the sun rose and I was making good time my legs seemed to become revitalized…certainly the flat lands of the Utah perimeter aided me but knowing the the end of this journey was near gave me some pep in my step as well.  Ashley and I reconvened thankfully…my last text message to her…as we had been texting back and forth ensuring we were going to connect and we were both doing alright…was…”You are at the train tracks…right???”…then my battery died…panic flooded into my belly and I peered a mile down the road…thinking I would actually see something…I did not…then I thought…if I am in the wrong spot…how the heck am I going to reach her???…there is NO ONE around here…ok…but what if there was…well I would go online…go to Facebook and send out a message…just as I became satisfied with my plot…I saw in the distance the RV.

Life is an adventure…participate in it….that quote echoed in my head….I love that quote…I just want a yellow brick road and arrows pointing me in the right direction.

IMG_0152

Day 7 DONE…210 miles run/ruffalked and 35.7 miles to go!!!

THE QUEENS STAGE

elevation

In the Tour de France there exists a pivotal stage…a stage that separates the competition…the men from the boys…it always involves a large mountain to climb up and over…if you glance across the terrain of my run…can you guess where the moment I became a boy?

IMG_0141
150 miles in and we began at the base of this monster 10 mile climb…starting in the dark aided in my inability to see what lay ahead, but grinding out the miles at a 12-14 minute pace is a humbling event…that I embraced.  If anything this journey I have been on has taught me is to embrace discomfort…understand the challenges that lay ahead…and sit with it…not to fight it and certainly not to give into it…but to breathe through it…because it will get better.  That is our advantage as healthy individuals…those with MS or other incurable diseases aren’t so lucky…they understand what it means to “sit with that pain” and we selfishly want it to always go away…and it does.

Needless to say, I made it over Panaca Summit…I had no choice…and went on to have an enjoyable day continuing my voyage to the ends of Nevada and finally to the entrance of Utah!

IMG_0146

As quickly as we ascended into the beauty of Utah we descended back into the desolate stretch of highways that connect our worlds…they are necessary…they just make for painful scenery for the runner.

IMG_0143

Another 31+ mile day came to a close…as they all do…I can’t believe I have run 6 x 30 mile days in a row.

GROUNDHOG DAY

The days are blending together…as I transition from day to day it seems like there is no separation the sections and the terrain that I am traveling are incorporated in my head like one long trail that never ends.  Each morning, as I prepare in the darkness to step forward…the thought of “can I complete another 26.2 miles…again?”…my antidote is to remove my brain and take a step.

I separate my thoughts and concerns about how will I get through this day and instead look at it from having presence and understanding where I am in the moment.  This journey is much bigger than simply running 240 miles…it is one of 3000 miles…it is one of hundreds of thousands of individuals who are suffering from Multiple Sclerosis…it is one of personal endurance and determination to appreciate that fact that we are healthy individuals who have an opportunity to make a difference.  I have chosen to run my entire mileage while carrying the MS baton that Ashley’s boyfriend made as a reminder of why were are here and a symbolic gesture of connecting each of the segments.  I have been successful in this task (minus 10 miles…running this much does something to the brain cells and left it in the RV mistakenly) and the main reason is that it keeps me connected to the cause and connected to the moment.

IMG_0125

Amidst the various pains and aches that come and go…taunting me that I am not invincible and at any moment a force greater than me can halt me in my tracks…I plead with that power…”please let me just make it one more mile” or “I can deal with that pain if it doesn’t get worse…please just stay right there”…panic floods over me like thickening cement…but I continue forward.

 

I have developed an experience that I can do this …I have faith in myself that I will do it again.

What I have missed the most during this experience?

My family and friends…hands down.  The comfort and security of being surrounded by those that love you is the single most vital thing that I yearn for while I cross Nevada.  I believe it is what most people yearn for.  I provides perspective and gratitude for those in your life who you may have taken for granted.  I will remember this feeling.  As I mentioned before…in these moments of solitude I look for signs that connect me back to home.  Early today as I stepped forward in the pre dawn of Day 4 my thoughts were of my daughter Sophia.  I miss her dearly…I want to grab her and hold her tight and apologize that she hasn’t had a hug and a kiss from her dad in such a long time…she was close to me that morning in my thoughts and then I came across a sign.

butterfly

Sophia and I have a connection with butterflies…I nearly stepped on this one 5 miles into my day and I took a moment to hangout with her…I told her that I would be home soon and to help out around the house and to be a good girl…I moved forward with a little bit of a lighter step and had a great day.

IMG_5155

Ruffalking was in full effect by the end of today.  I pushed pretty hard…while feeling great…but it took its toll at about miles 19-21 and led me to my pain reducing stride…but as in every day…I finished and moved the baton closer to the next recipient.

IMG_3172