MS Run the US; Segment 6: DAY 6- Final Day!!

 Day SIX:  May 24th, 2015.  MS Run the US; Final Day!  13.3 miles to Steamboat Springs, CO!

Last day!  I cannot believe it.  I am so close!  I am filled with mixed emotions about being to this day.   We were going to sleep in an hour later today since I have less than 14 miles left so it won’t nearly as long as I am used to, but my body seems to be on a schedule now and I woke up at 4:30 just like I have every day so far.  So we decided to get up and get this show on the road.  We got to the starting spot- mile marker 119, and started running around 6:30 a.m.  Sam once again was going to join me for a bunch of miles in the beginning then she would go with Ashley and Aaron when I was getting close to being done, so she could see me finish.  I was also updating Bryan on time frame on when I was starting and when I thought I would be done, so he and his friends could also get to my finishing position on time.

My ankle really hurt right away, so we decided to do most of the running on the right side of the street, rather than the recommended left side for running.  Too much time on that side was most likely the cause of the ankle pain as it was.  My shins also went through their normal tightness and discomfort for the first 3 or 4 miles, so I had to stop a few times to stretch them out until they got warmed up and the pain went away.  My ankle pain turned a little duller, rather than the sharp pain I started with, as the miles went on.   It was the coolest morning I had run in so far, with the temperature being around 37 degrees when we started out.  But for running it felt just right.

Sam stayed with me until mile 9, then she went with the crew to the finish, since it was only 4 miles away! Before they left they gave me the MS Run the US baton to run with the rest of the way so we could do an official hand off between me and Aaron who would take over running next. I could not believe I only had 4 miles left out of 165!  This week of running has gone WAY faster than I expected it to!  But I suppose time flies when you are doing the thing you love to do the most, which for me is running.

I tried to pick up the pace a bit, but I was physically hitting a bit of an energy wall, as well as an emotional wall.  I was not sure how I felt about being finished already.  Part of me was ready, and the other part wanted to slow down the pace and make these last 4 miles last forever.  The week went faster than I expected it to.  And as much as there were reasons I was ready to be home, such as to be back with my boyfriend and cats on a day to day basis, this was also the most amazing experience for me.  For running to be the one and only thing I had to do each day was like a dream come true!  No other responsibilities except to run a certain amount of miles per day.  And see a totally new place while doing it!  How amazing!  But it was coming to a close, one step at a time towards the finish line.

day 6b

The finish was a couple miles into Steamboat Springs at a little park off of highway 40.  Ashley, Sam, Bryan and his friends were all there cheering for me when I turned the corner for the last straight away to run under the banner that said “Finish”.   I stopped a few steps after the end and had a moment where I was not sure if I was going to cry or celebrate.  I fought it off and walked towards Bryan who was headed my way and gave him a big hug.   Then there wasn’t much time to think about being sad because there were pictures to take and other things to get done- such as a session with a physical therapist who had volunteered to see me, and the post run interview.

 day6a

The post run interview is just a series of questions asked by the videographer- usually Logan, but in this case Ashley because Logan is out of town, that are recorded and used to make the end of the segment video of the runner after they are done.  So a few weeks from now I should have my very own video highlighting my week of running.  It will be awesome to see the whole thing put together in a couple minute video clip.

day6

Well, my adventure that I have spent the last 9 months focusing on has come to an end.  I will cherish every memory, every step of every mile, every picture, every hill, and every dollar raised.  It will be hard to let this adventure go.  Not sure where my energy will go now that it is done.  I have a lot of races I want to do this summer and lots of running to do of course, but it no longer feels quite the same to be training just for myself rather than for the good of others.  This is definitely something I will strongly consider doing again next year.

Thank you for following along! I cannot believe I have been doing this blog since the beginning of January and it is pretty much coming to a close with this post.   I hope you enjoyed reading it even half as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂  Remember: Anything is possible! Follow your dreams!  All you have to do it want it bad enough and put the work in and it can be yours.

Run Happy,

Nikki 🙂

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MS Run the US: Segment #6, DAY #5

Day Five:  May 23rd, 2015.  MS Run the US; Starting in Craig. CO.  30 miles

This morning was nice because not only did I have Sam with me, but we didn’t have to drive very far to start because the afternoon before Sam and I finished right in Craig where we are staying at the RV park.  We got started nice and early around 6:30 since we didn’t have any travel time.   The weather was also pretty nice, which was awesome since yesterday it rained so much.   It was a beautiful, peaceful and quiet morning running through town early on a Saturday morning with my best friend by my side.

100 miles into CO!

100 miles into CO!

My ankle bothered me quite a bit the first several miles and we had to stop a few times because my shins were a bit tight and achy.  Once we got through town we had some rolling hills, but nothing like the other day when the hills never ended.  The first 12 miles seemed to go really fast, being able to chat with Sam and feeling pretty comfortable.  Miles 12-15 I started to feel a little bit, and I could tell Sam did too.  Sam ran 15 miles with me and then became one of my crew members (with Kendra) the rest of the day.  I appreciated her company and support more than words can say.  I was pretty motivated to get done at a decent time today because Bryan was on his way into town to see me that evening and finish the next day in Steamboat Springs.

My ankle bothered me pretty bad today, so I had to break up my segments of running into closer to 3 or 4 miles at a time.  At a little over 21 miles we stopped to visit a Ranch of a women who responded to a letter I sent out at the end of April to all the ranch owners along my route to see if they would let us stop for a shower or a place to rest if needed.  We had been struggling to get ahold of her again all week, but she ended up calling at the perfect time because I was only about 4 miles away from her ranch when she called Kendra.  So we took a 45 minute pit stop to see her.  She had like 5 dogs, 3 tiny puppies and horses, so we were very entertained!

day 5a

Then it was time to knock out the last 9 miles for the day.  I told myself that morning that I had to at least get to 25 that day, but I knew in the back of my mind that I would push myself to 30 because I wanted as few left the last day as possible.  So that’s what I did.  We broke the last 9 into three smaller chunks with a quick stop at the car for some water and calories as I went.   There was a storm moving in from the direction of Steamboat, so I was also racing that because I knew if it was bad enough it would make it so I had to stop before my 30 miles were done.  So I started to pick up the pace in the last 3 miles so that I was averaging under 8 minute miles.  There was a point with about 5 left that there was not much shoulder on either side, and I had to choose between running up against a mountain or next to a guard rail that dropped down into a valley and water.  I went with the guard rail so the cars could see me as they made the turns on the windy road.  It was a bit nerve wrecking though.

The last two miles I just decided to cruise.  I was ready to be done for the day.  I knew Bryan was almost to Steamboat and I was ready to see him again after what felt like forever and be off my feet and cleaned up.  So I hit my 29th mile in 7:30 and my 30th mile of the day in a 6:53!  DONEEEE!  Only one more day left and less than 14 miles!  What an unreal feeling to be so many miles into my 165 mile journey.   And we just beat the rain.  By the time Sam drove us back to the RV the rain was picking up.  And a little while after I got back I was sitting on the RV floor stretching and looked up and saw Bryan looking at me though the front windows.  I shrieked and got up and out of the RV faster than a person who has run 150 miles in 5 days should be able to.  I ran and gave him a big hug.  Everything was exactly how it needed to be now.  I had most of the hard work behind me and my best friend and boyfriend were both with me for the rest.  The rest of the day was getting cleaned up and hanging out with everyone and getting food.  Sam and I stayed with Bryan and his friends until about 10 p.m. when Ashley and her husband- who is also the next runner in the relay!- got into town to pick us up and get us back to the RV for one last night of sleeping there.  Ashley is the founder of MS Run the US, and a high school friend and teammate of mine, and she was there to help crew for the last day since Kendra had to head out for a grad school conference.

When we were hang out at the condo that the guys rented to stay for the night Sam and I were out on the balcony enjoying the fresh air and the view of the cute town and mountains in the background.  She asked me how I felt knowing I had come this far and am almost done with this huge journey.   I struggled to come up with the words to answer her because how I feel cannot be easily explained.  This goal of running 165 miles in 6 days and fundraising $12,000 for MS Run the US is something I decided I wanted to do last August.  It has been 85% of my focus and energy since then.  It has become my life and something that has never left some part of my mind since that day I applied.  And now it is one day away from being over.  How do you explain to someone how that feels?! I don’t think I can.

The fundraisers, the training, the living, eating, breathing, and talking about running and MS Run the US for 9 months of the past year.  Knowing I have accomplished something that only a small percentage of people have and most people can’t even imagine.  I don’t really think of it that way, but instead I think of it as something I was meant to do.  I have the ability, the motivation, the drive and the passion to do this, so I believe it is my duty to use what I love and am good at to help others.  I have a competitive personality when it comes to pushing myself farther and farther to see what I am truly capable of.   This was the perfect challenge for me to keep my energies focused on something productive and good that is bigger than myself.  Instead of trying to win a race, or run a race faster than I did the last time, I have had the opportunity to push myself a greater distance in order to serve others.

That right there, is something amazing.  One more day, how bittersweet!  Life can’t get much better than this right now, 6 days in a row with nothing to do but run, and my two favorite people now here to share in some of the experience with me.  Goodnight, time to get some sleep for the 6th and final day!

Run Happy,

Nikki  🙂

Follow along here:  www.msruntheus.com/follow

Donate here:  http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/run-a-thonforms

Segment #6, Day FOUR- 30 miles

Day FOUR:  May 22nd, 2015.  MS Run the US

Total Miles:  30:  Maybell, CO to Craig, CO

Today was the most challenging day mentally because I didn’t sleep well last night for some reason and so I woke up not feeling very well.  Mourning routine was the same as normal, with another 35 mile drive to my start location.  It was raining by the time we got to the mile marker that I left off on.  I was not too thrilled about being tired, feeling a little sick and running in the rain.  Boo.  But the miles must be covered, on bad days just as much as the good ones.  So I put on my hat to shield my eyes from the rain and we put my feet in plastic bags to keep my socks dry and from causing blisters.  Which worked quite well by the way, I will remember that for the future on rainy days!

Because of the rain, and my ankle still bothering me pretty bad, we broke a lot of today into smaller chunks of closer to 3 or 4 miles at a time rather than the 5 I started out doing the other days.  The plan today was to get in as many miles as possible before like 11:00 when we had to head to Hayden, a town 30 minutes past Craig where we stayed, to pick up the rental car we would be using to get Kendra to the airport and get Ashley, my next crew person, back to me on Saturday.  I was able to get in 20 before we  drove the RV to get the car.

The exciting part of the morning, was that I hit the 100 mile mark of my journey less than 10 miles in today!  New record for miles in a week!  The most I have done before this big adventure was a 95 mile week during training back in April.  But that was in a FULL week, not 4 days!  So we had to stop and take pictures to document it of course.  Then it was back to the rainy road.

day4a

Those 20 were not easy, let me tell you.  16 of the 20 it rained, and then finally the last 4 it let up.  Some days are physically harder and you get through because you are mentally strong and determined, other days you have to rely more on your training and physical ability to get your mental state back on track.  I would say this was one of those days.  But to be honest, starting was the hardest part. Once I was out there moving and knocking out the miles one by one, I got mentally stronger and confident that I would get my 30 miles today no matter what.  The good part of the morning was that there were a LOT less hills than yesterday.  The bad part was how much my ankle was bothering me.

After we got the car we set up the RV back at the same RV park we stayed at last night and set out to knock out another 5 miles before Sam got into town on the Greyhound and would do the last 5 miles of the day with me.  It all worked out pretty good.  There was a storm that moved through right as Sam got into town that we were worried would keep us from running, but luckily it moved through quickly and we got to run.  I loved having company, especially my best friend and running partner from home!  I can’t believe I have run over 100 miles BY MYSELF in the last 4 days!  I am a social runner, I enjoy company, so that has not been easy at some points.

day4

So the hardest days are hopefully over because now Sam is with me to do a lot of miles tomorrow and when we are done Bryan will be in town to hang out with us that evening and go to dinner, and then the last day should hopefully be a breeze.  Time for bed, a couple more very early mornings to go still.  Only 44 miles to go then we will be in Steamboat Springs! Yipeee!! 🙂

Run happy,

Nikki 🙂

Day THREE of Running:  May 21st, 2015.  30 miles.

Today was the most challenging day by far.  Went through the same morning routine as the last two days, getting up at 4:30. Breakfast by 5:00 and hitting the road to drive to my starting point to start running between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.

The hills started immediately.  And they never ended.  And the down hills were few and far between.  I reached my highest elevation around 12 or so miles into the morning.  And pretty sure 10 of those twelve miles were all up hill.  The maximum elevation I hit was 6,800 feet.  My total climb today was 1,041 feet over a distance of 13 miles.  Which was the first 13 miles from what I recall.  But after that they didn’t go away, I just didn’t go up as many feet before I came down a little and then climbed again.  It was rough.

day 3a

Energy wise I felt decent considering this is my third day in a row of running over 4 hours.  But pain wise I felt the worst that I have so far.  My hips started bothering me after the first 5 miles.  But it is a pain I am used to so I wasn’t super worried about it.  I am used to my hips bothering me while training and I always just deal with it.  So that’s what I did this time too.

My plan was to run in segments of 5 miles like yesterday, and that worked at first, but after that the hills started to kick my butt a little bit so we ended up breaking it up by big hills.  So I would run til I got to the top of one of the monster hills, and Kendra would be either at the top or at the bottom for me to take a quick break.   A lot of the day is a blur of hill after hill, with the occasional stop to take a picture of the killer hill either before or after I climbed it so I could remember what I accomplished.

day3

I also reached the half way point of my total 165 mile run today, so we stopped to get a picture and celebrate that.  WOO! Great feeling!  Then it was off to battle more hills.  I decided I wanted to get all 30 miles done today without one of my longer lunch breaks, like I took the last two days.  My stomach seems to get upset by eating more than just small amounts at a time, and I was just plain ready to be done for the day and relax and have no more hills to climb.  So that’s what I did.  It was a bit slow going, I felt like I was barely moving up some of the hills, but I ended up finishing all 30 miles a little before 2:00 p.m.  But I will admit that the last miles were extremely tough.  It was getting warm, my hips still hurt, and by that time my left ankle was also flaring up pretty bad.  So I probably looked pretty pathetic hobbling the last stretch to the RV at the end.  Oh well.  The point is that I made it!! A little over 90 miles done in 3 days!

day 3b

At the half way point of 165 miles!

Well… I was going to write a little more about the rest of the day, but I just got really tired.  So this seems like a good time to end.  I am super excited for tomorrow because Sam gets here to spend the last 2 and a half days with me!  Soo excited to catch up with her and have her see beautiful Colorado with me!!

Ok, bed time!  Bring on Day #4 tomorrow! 🙂

Run Happy Friends,

Nikki 🙂

Follow along here:  www.msruntheus.com/follow

Donate here:  http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/run-a-thonforms

MS Run the US: Day 2, May 20th, 2015

Day TWO of Running:  May 20th, 2015.  Starting just outside of Colorado

30.5 miles total

Got up at 4:30 again this morning and went through the same routine as yesterday morning except we had a half hour or so ride out to the point I stopped at the end of my running yesterday (which was pretty crazy to drive the distance I ran, it seemed to take forever in the RV, I can’t believe I ran that distance in a little over 4 hours!)  By the time we got out there and I was ready to start it was about 7 am.  I was going to start out going 5 and the RV would be waiting at that point, but when I got to 2.5 I got to the Utah/Colorado border and I was glad that they were waiting for me there so we could take some pictures of the border.  There is something amazing about running across a state line!!

day 2

After we got our fill of pictures then I hit the road again.  I ended up doing about 5 at a time, with the RV waiting for me right at the 5 mile mark from where I left off.  When I got to the RV I would take a 10-15 minute break in order to stretch a little, drink and have something little to eat such as a shot block or some pretzels and peanut butter.  I was a little sore today, but not too bad considering.  My hamstring and glute injury that I always struggle with at home has not been as bad here so far which has been a blessing!

day 2a

Today I was definitely starting to climb in elevation.  I had some pretty decent hills today, the first one being pretty early in my miles this morning and I think it lasted for a good 3 miles or maybe even more.  I lose track and everything starts to become a blur of road after a while.  My crew member Kendra joined me for miles 15-22 and it was good to have the company again.   It was good to have her during those miles because I started to feel a little sick for about 4 of them because I think I failed to drink enough and was getting a bit dehydrated.  I have started to see a pattern with feeling nauseous with not drinking enough.

Oh yea! I almost forgot!  Logan and I decided it would be sweet to get a headstand picture together before he leaves, which is today, so we decided to get a picture of us doing a headstand in the middle of the road.  I wanted to go to the shoulder but they talked me into the middle of the road since it is a low traffic stretch.  So we did it real quick and it is the coolest picture ever.  Or one of them anyway. 😉  And I may add, I am pretty impressed with myself getting into a headstand after so many miles.  Go me. 🙂

day 2d

After I got to 22 for the day it was time to drive back to Dinosaur, which is the first town over the Colorado border to get Logan to the Greyhound bus.  He is in a wedding this upcoming weekend and has to leave us. 😦 Sad panda.  So we marked the spot I had stopped running with spray paint and hit the road.  I munched on pretzels and peanut butter because we had decided after lunch upsetting me stomach yesterday I had to be a little more careful with what and how much I ate until I was done with my miles for the day.   After Logan was on the bus we went back up the road so I could finish my last 8 miles for the day.   We broke them down into 4 and 4 with about a 15 minute rest in between.

Starting up again after stopping was starting to get more painful, but I was still chugging along one mile at a time.  For the first chunk of 4 it got a lot hotter and the breeze was non-existent.  So that made it a little tougher since I was getting a bit low on energy anyway.  For the last four I took my water bottle along to help with the heat and feeling a bit parched.  I was really starting to ache and hurt the last two and a half miles.  I sent Bryan and Sam a text telling them I was struggling a bit, in hopes that a little pep talk would push me the rest of the way.  Bryan replied right away and said, “You got this.”   Yes, I did.  One step at time.  Then the most amazing thing happened with about 1.5 to go.  All of a sudden the wind picked up… as a really decent tail wind!  It was going to push me to the end!  I felt like the positive energy everyone back home was sending me was there to help me that last painful 1.5 miles.  It was the coolest thing ever and helped me over the last hill and then I ended the day on an amazing downhill to the RV which was waiting at the bottom!  I cruised in that last mile in 7 minute and 30 seconds!  Before that I had been barely hanging on at around an 8:30 or a little slower pace.  So thanks for the positive energy Bryan, Sam and friends. 🙂

day2c

I am now about 61 miles in according to my GPS, or 62 according to Map My Run.  After tomorrow I will be over half way!  Since I finished today (around 2:30 this afternoon) I have been resting, icing, refueling, getting cleaned up and just hanging out in the RV.  We are back at an RV park in Dinosaur so we will have to drive the 25 or so miles back to where I left off tomorrow morning again.   There is a pretty good chance I won’t have WiFi for a couple days after this because we are going to be out in the total boonies of Colorado, so this may be my last post for a bit.

Will be in touch when I can.  Here’s to a successful day 2 in beautiful Colorado!

Run Happy Friends,

Nikki 🙂

Follow along here:  www.msruntheus.com/follow

Donate here:  http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/run-a-thonforms

Segment #6: MS Run the US, Day #1

Day One of Running:  May 19th, 2015.  Starting in Vernal, UT.

30.5 miles total

Wow, what a great first day of my segment.  It seems like a bit of a blur now, especially since I am getting tired, but I am going to try to get as many of the memories down as I can before I crash for the day so I can do it all over again tomorrow.

Woke up pretty early, about 50 minutes before my alarm which was set for 4:30 a.m.  We were leaving Jen’s place (where we are staying for the first two nights) at 6:00 a.m. to start around 6:30 at the Frist Baptist Church in Vernal.  So I got up a little after 3:30 and did some stuff on my computer to keep myself occupied until breakfast that Kendra and Logan were making me at 5:00.  They made my oatmeal just the way I like it along with my coffee.  It is very different for me being taken care of like this.  I keep trying to do things myself and they tell me to sit down and relax. Haha.  So bossy. 😉

day 1

Everything stayed on schedule perfectly and we arrived to the church by 6:10.  My new Anytime Fitness friends (4 of them) showed up to run the first couple miles with me which was super exciting! We took some pictures and started right around 6:30.  I had a blast joking around with them and getting to know them a little better over that two miles.  The best part was Miles (Anytime Fitness Manager in Vernal) singing a couple of lines of a Backstreet Boys song to us as we ran.  Very motivating!  Ha!  Then after two miles and saying goodbye to my new friends I was off on my own for a few miles.  Towards the outskirts of Vernal my crew member Kendra ran 5 miles with me.  She is training for a marathon so she will probably run with me off and on over the next several days.   Logan also joined me for a mile later on down the road.

Some of the memorable moments of today were both positive and negative.  The first one was a negative and it was when I was running with Kendra just outside of Vernal.  The shoulder was pretty small where we were and there was more traffic than I expected.  Kendra and I had to run single file in order to not be in the lane of oncoming traffic.  All of a sudden a pickup truck swerved into the shoulder a little ways ahead of us like he was going to hit us.  I came to a quick stop because I had no idea what this guy was doing.  Then after a couple seconds of looking like he was going to kill us he swerved back out to the lane and sped off.  Kendra and I were in total shock and definitely called the jack ass some unpleasant names.  I really think he did it on purpose to freak us out and we were NOT happy about it.  Some people are just plain horrible people. UGH. Sorry.  That was my venting for the day.

The positive was how beautiful everything was and how, once I got out of town and onto nicer and more level shoulders (the unevenness between miles 5-10 really bothered my ankle and hips and I was hurting pretty bad for those 5 miles…) I started to feel fairly pain free and move at a pretty decent pace.  I saw lots of cool things as I went up and down long gradual hills through the mountains.  I saw a cute horse who I took a picture of and really wanted to go pet, but decided it probably wasn’t the best idea even though I could tell he liked me.  I also saw a coyote not too far from me, who luckily watched me from a little bit of a distance and didn’t try to eat me.

day 1a

The last negative was probably more terrifying than the run in with the truck.  This time it was with a dog.  I was coming up a hill and noticed up ahead on my side that there looked to be a black dog and a smaller white dog hanging out pretty close to the street one the side I was running on.  So as I started to get closer I decided to cross to the other side to be safe.  I tried to be as swift and quiet as I could and maybe they wouldn’t notice me…no such luck.  The tiny dog, which looked like a pug barked and alerted the bigger dog which I think was a Rottweiler.  Eeeek!  Scary looking.  Of course he then took off after me.  I picked it up a little but I knew it was hopeless, at this many miles in (close to 20) there was no way I was going to outsprint a dog.  So I just kept looking ahead and moving as fast as I could and trying to ignore how terrified I was in that moment as I waited to see if it was going to bite me.  Luckily as I moved farther from its home, he turned around and went back.  No dog bite.  Thank GODDD!  Close call…

I ran about 21.5 miles with a quick break every 3-5 miles just to check in with Logan and Kendra at the RV and let them know how I was doing.  Also gave me an opportunity to take a shot block, drink some fluids and mentally break the run up into chunks.  At 21.5 I took a longer break (a little over an hour I think) and ate a light lunch, then hit the road for the last 9.  We broke that one into 4.5 and 4.5 with about a 15 min break between.  I was finished with 30.5 miles before 1:00 in the afternoon.  My total running time was a little over 4 hours.

My awesome crew

My awesome crew

I had some aches and pains, and some stomach distress after eating lunch, but otherwise no complaints.  It was a very good first day!  And I want to thank Jen and her husband Bryan for making a $100 donation to my segment today and getting me to $11,776!!  $12k here we come!!  They have been amazing hosts and I have enjoyed my time in Vernal.  We are staying here one more night and then tomorrow will be my first night in the RV.  I will be crossing the Colorado border very early in my run tomorrow morning.

Well… it is time for me to get some sleep so I can do it all over again tomorrow!

Run Happy Friends,

Nikki 🙂

Follow along here:  www.msruntheus.com/follow

Donate here:  http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/run-a-thonforms

Day Two: May 18th. Meeting the Crew!

Day TWO, PART Two:  Meeting the Crew

I got to Vernal almost an hour earlier than the itinerary on the bus info said, which was super awesome because I was starting to get a bit uncomfortable sitting so long in that bus.  When I got into Vernal I was picked up by a friend of the relays from the first year that Ashley (the founder of MS Run the US) ran across the country by herself.  Her name is Jen and she seemed really awesome, helpful and friendly right away, which made me feel right at home.

She took me to the crew at the RV, which I had actually passed on the bus about 6 miles outside of Vernal on my way in.  They were waiting for Runner #5, Jake, to finish the last little bit of his segment and I was going to go join them.  Finally made it!!!   Within 10 minutes of my arrival at the RV and meeting my awesome crew members, Logan and Kendra, Jake appeared around the bend coming up the hill.   A day or two ago he started having some fairly intense knee pain from all the miles (at this point he was 174 miles in to his journey across Utah!) so it was a mixture of walking and slow jogging today.  One step at a time, one foot in front of the other,  no matter what the pace, that’s how you run across America.

Jake had a snack and iced his sore knee and muscles while we all chatted and got to know each other a bit.  I felt welcome and like I had made instant friends.  After a bit Jake and I set out for a couple mile walk up the hill.  He was knocking out the last 6 miles a few at a time and the plan was to get into Vernal around 3 pm because there were to be a small group of people from town who could cheer him in at that time.  So we walked.  It felt good to move after sitting way more than I am used to these last couple days of traveling.  I got to talk to Jake about running, his segment and ask some of the questions I was curious about.  And before we knew it, there was the RV waiting for us again.

We played a game while Jake rested one last time, and then at a little after 2 we set out together for him to finish the last 4 miles to his finishing location.   We walked the up hills and jogged the down hills.  The very end was a down hill and it was the most beautiful sight coming into Vernal with the mountains in the background and the town coming into view.  I got a small sneak peak of how it will feel to finish this amazing adventure.   I can’t yet imagine exactly how Jake felt because I have no yet put in the miles, but his face lite up when he saw that RV and finish location at the bottom of the hill.  180 miles in 7 days, through snow, rain, wind, sun and pain.  All for those with MS who struggle just to do day to day tasks.  WOW.  What an indescribable feeling.   Jake handed the baton off to me and we got some pictures.  I am honored to follow after someone so tough both mentally and physically.  Such an awesome accomplishment Jake!!

After Jake finished I set off with Jen, her daughter and Kendra to visit the local Anytime Fitness where I had been talking over the last week with the club manager about my segment and getting some company for a few miles of my start tomorrow morning.  So I was able to meet him and set a starting time of 6:30 tomorrow morning for my start.   We then went grocery shopping for my segment and went and got settled at Jen’s place where we were staying the night.  I was excited to stay in a real house and not the RV yet.  There will be plenty of RV nights later, I will take real plumbing and stuff until then. J

We got a cool opportunity tonight to go and meet and talk to the local high school track team at their end of the season banquet about what we are doing with MS Run the US.  So I felt like a big deal as I stood in front of 80 or so student athletes and some of their parents and explained where, how and why I was running for MS.  I also invited them to join me for a couple miles in the morning, so hopefully some of them will come by.   It feels good to share what we are doing and try to inspire people through our mission of running to help others.

handoff

After that it was an amazing dinner made for us by Jen and before I knew it I was feeling tired enough to head to bed a little early.  I knew I would wake up early, as always when I have a big adventure coming up, so I am grateful to go to bed at around 9 p.m. which is really early for me.  Super excited to have finally made it to May 19th!  After months and months of fundraising and endless training, races and miles, it is finally here!  I am feeling the positive vibes from being able to do some miles with Jake, meeting the crew, and talking to people who are grateful for what we are setting out to do.  I am no longer nervous, being here among it all is too powerful to be nervous.  I will be just fine.  Through weather, pain and soreness, I will finish this thing and run into Steam Boat Springs in 6 days with the biggest smile on my face!  Bring it on. J

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Run happy friends,

Nikki