I am a very optimistic person. On opening day I still believe that the Texas Rangers can go 162-0. I also believe that one day I will run Western States Endurance Run. For some reason when I went to bed at the end of day number 2 I had this belief that when I woke up the next morning my left knee and right foot would be better.
It was another cool morning as I loaded my gear into the car. I chose not to put my running shoes on until we got to my starting point because in my mind an extra 20 minutes without them on would help me later in the day. I focused on the miles ahead of me as we drove along.
I got out of the car when we arrived at a field of corn and took my hoodie off determined to make this a better day than the last one. I did not have long sleeves on today and the traffic was pretty heavy so I knew that with each vehicle that passed I would get chilled. This is the part of the high school basketball player that grew up learning not to show weakness. Pain is temporary, victory is everything. I could go on and on with all of the phrases we used to motivate us to win. I am not certain how the miles of hills in front of me were supposed to be intimidated by me not wearing long sleeves today but that was the game plan! I started off with a one mile warm up walk but after about a half of a mile I started running. Not fast and definitely not pretty. I am not certain that I could even call it running. I did know that I was moving a little faster than my speed walking pace though, so I felt good about that.
I arrived at the first stop of the day and I think Malcom and Haley were both surprised to see me running already, or possibly just surprised at what my running looked like. I didn’t ask, I was just ready to keep moving. The traffic stayed heavier that morning as I pressed on mixing some running and walking, anything to just keep my body moving. I felt like I was starting to get into a pretty good rhythm as I entered a bridge. I recall just how beautiful the view was as I ran across a bridge, and there it was. Up ahead on my right was a sign that said WELCOME TO PENNSYLVANIA in all capital letters. I had completely forgot that I would be crossing a state line at some point in my 167 mile journey. I stopped because I needed to take a picture. I have driven over state lines hundreds of times in my life, had my picture taken by my parents many times in front of those signs on family vacations. Not once had I run across a state line. This was pretty cool. I am not a selfie person, so trying to take my own picture in front of the sign was not going well. About that time Malcom and Haley drove up and they took some pictures of me in front of the sign.
For some reason this acomplisment fueled me as I continued my run into Pennsylvania. State lines do not mean that the topography of the state will completely change. I did not expect the hills to go away, maybe I optimistically thought they would stay the same though? By now the sun was shining bright up above me and had been for quite some time. Three days in to my run and this was the first time I felt the sun burning my skin. Typically it only takes me 15 minutes to burn. “Sunrise, sunburn, sunset, repeat I heard Luke Bryan singing in my head while I tried to remember if I had packed sunblock in the car this morning. I think I have only heard that song 5-6 times on the radio but it was with me the rest of that day though.
I put some sunblock on at my next stop and made sure to rub it in good, just in case Malcom decided to take pictures. Knowing that was a concern of mine at that point in the day I can say that the ibuprofen, biofreeze, and KT tape were definitely helping. Later in the day I had zero care for what my pictures looked like as the pain increased.
I left another water stop at the beginning of a huge hill. I started off running and wanted to run as far as I could on the hill until the steepness got to be too much. I did not have the presence of mind to measure the distance of this hill on my watch, but it was a monster. I kept my legs moving, every time I felt like I was closing in on the top it just kept going. I remember thinking about how nice it would be to run downhill when I got to the top. I got to the top and looked straight ahead to a town in front of me. The drop down the hill was not equal to the uphill climb but I did enjoy running in the city on terrain that was at least somewhat level.
Making it to the top of the major hill was definitely the peak of my day as well. Even thought he back side of the hill did not provide much of a descent, the rest of my day did go downhill. Fast. Ibuprofen seemed to still be helping my left knee pain but after making it through the small town my right foot just got worse. I got to the point that I was moving faster at a walking pace than running. Maybe my run was more of a shuffle at this point. I recall sitting down at next to the car at a water break and just feeling beat up. It was getting late into the day and I knew that I could walk the rest of my miles for the day but that would put us back very late with a minimal amount of recovery time for the next day. I shared those concerns with Haley and she told me that Malcom and her could pick up of the miles for me to give me a little more rest time. I immediately accepted help to get through the rest of the day.
I was very thankful for the miles that Haley and Malcom helped me out with. Being able to take some time off of my feet allowed me to eat some food, hydrate, and get mentally prepared to finish out the rest of my day. The last miles of the day did not come easy. I had was at a point where I was starting to figure out the most comfortable way to put weight on my right foot. My left knee had finally decided to give me a little bit of a break from the pain as well. It was not easy to finish out the last few miles of the day but I was definitely thankful to be done and ready for an ice bath.
Most people that know me best know that I am not great at asking for help. I have been aware of this for as long as I an remember. I knew this when I applied to be a runner on the 2021 MS Run the US Relay team. I knew asking people for donations is what I would be doing if I was selected for the team. If you are bad at shooting free throws that is what you work on (unless you are Shaq). Forcing myself into a position where I needed to ask people for help was a something I definitely needed. I am now better at not only accepting help, but asking for help as well.
I believe with all of my heart that one day we will stop MS! I have eighteen other teammates that ran this relay with me who believe the exact same thing. Ashley Schneider believed this when she took on the task of becoming the sixteenth female to run across the US. Many others have shown that they believe in this mission by making monetary donations and spreading awareness about this terrible disease.
Also…. Im sorry if Luke Bryan’s song is stuck on repeat in your brain for the rest of the day.
Running Greatly With MS is a play on Teddy Roosevelt’s “in the arena” speech. Day three was definitely a day that I felt like I had failed. I did not fail though. Your best will not always look the same every day (The Four Agreements – Ruiz). I gave the best that I had for day three and I was able to see growth in myself by being able to accept help to finish my miles for the day.
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.“Teddy Roosevelt
Photo Credit mal.c0m- https://instagram.com/mal.c0m?utm_medium=copy_link