It's been over 14 days until I finished my segment and it's just now starting to hit me the magnitude of what I accomplished. It's funny how sometimes accomplishing a big goal doesn't seem "real" right away. I obviously felt over-joyed at the finish line and throughout my entire segment to be able to run and have a strong enough body to carry me through so much, but it's taken me a while to really process it all.
I remember following the relay for several years and always being in absolute awe of the relay runners and the miles that their body was able to handle. I never even once considered that I could do what they were doing. I loved how passionate and determined they were, while also raising awareness of MS. At the time, I had only one marathon under my belt and had been dealing with a nagging injury, Achilles tendonitis, that just wouldn't go away. My first marathon had left me feeling depleted and it took me over a year to even think about signing up for another one.
I someday dreamt of being part of the relay, but it was always just a silly idea to me.
I finally got my tendonitis under control (I had a PRP injection in my Achilles and was in a boot during most of Summer 2015) and slowly started running again. I missed the regime of marathon training and decided to give 26.2 another shot. After running a few more halfs and running a breakthrough marathon, I thought maybe I could be a relay runner. But life got away from me and by the time I started researching it applications had closed (they close at the end of September every year).
Another year passed and I watched closely as Abbie, from Steamboat, ran segment #7. I looked everyday during his segment to see where she ran to and how she was doing. I was entranced by it all. When my grandfather passed away in August 2017 and a week later applications for MS Run The US were closing, I knew this was my year. I had my purpose- to run in memory of him- and had a stronger body than I ever had had before.
When I found out I had to fundraise $10,000 I was shocked. I had no idea how to raise that much money! I lived in a town without any family/ very little friends and far, far away from them. I began brainstorming fundraisers and set monthly goals of where I'd like to be in regards to $ amounts. I reached out to many, many businesses and potential fundraiser opportunities. I maybe heard back from 1/8 of those that I contacted. I contacted potential donors again and again and again and again until I heard back a response. I didn't feel guilty because I was so passionate about what I was doing and wanting to share my story. I finally hit my fundraising goal 2 weeks before my segment start and have now surpassed it- raising $10, 911 for MS.
Before my segment began, I was intimidated. I questioned how my one measly 69-mile peak week would have me prepared enough to run a 175 mile-week. I hoped that my body would hold up and my nagging injuries (knee/ shin/ achilles) would subside. I wondered how the dynamic with the road crew would be and if I could really get to each location I hoped to. I had nightmares of getting run-over by cars and getting captured by some random person along my running route. I questioned whether my nervous stomach (I eat very specific items before long runs/race day that work well for me) would allow me to eat anything during my journey.
I had so.many.people tell me it'd be OK if I didn't finish. They would say, "you know, Denver is a really long way away. You don't have to do it all if you don't want to". I would always reply nicely, but know that not finishing was NOT an option. My relay runners and grandfather were counting on me. I was going to do it and I was going to crush it.
In the end, my stomach was ok. I never got abducted or run-over. I met and exceeded my fundraising goals. I made it to every location I wanted to along my segment. My body held up and hardly ever gave me any aches or pains. My feet swelled (not by much), but putting them up kept it at bay. I conquered 2 Rocky Mountain passes and still had energy to spare. I crossed the finish line with the biggest, cheesiest smile on my face and haven't been able to wipe it away since then.
2 weeks out and I'm still riding my runners high. The feeling of being part of something much bigger than just your 175 mile segment is incredible. Whether you have a connection to MS or not, I highly encourage you to apply. The amount of confidence that I gained through this journey is immeasurable. Something that once seemed impossible now seems possible all because of what this relay has taught me. I'm still on cloud 9, but I'll let you know when I come back down ; )