Day 6: The last 14 miles.

Day 6:  June 5th

Today is the last day of running and we are only 14 miles away from the finish in Wray, CO!!  179 miles away from Denver, and 6 days of running.  33 miles per day up until today in order to end on an easier day.  We got up extra early to get the miles started today, because we have to drive the 180 miles back to Denver after I finish in order to make our flights.  I flew out at 4:05 and Bryan around 5 pm.  So we figured we need to leave Wray by 11:30 at the latest.  We started running around 5:45 am and Bryan once again joined me.  He was feeling a little stiff and sore but he said he would at least run the first half with me.

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All was going well and we started out with 4 miles, a quick stop to talk to the crew and get what we needed and then we set off for another 4.  The first four felt fine, we were keeping a steady jog with juts a couple walk breaks.  The second four also started out ok… but then all of a sudden went down hill when we were about a mile from the vehicle again.  The shooting pain in my inner thigh that I get (day 4 and before Boston) that is so sharp and painful that I cannot run through it and barely even walk through it, started suddenly.  I cried out when it hit me suddenly and made us stop right where we were.  I told Bryan I needed to walk a little to see if I could walk it out but as I walked it just kept happening.  We were on mile 7 with 7 to go and it was all falling apart before my eyes.  So close, yet too far to hobble and still finish in time to get cleaned up and leave for Denver.  At least at the pace I was suddenly moving.

That moment was the first time the entire 6 days that I fell apart.  I just started sobbing right there on the side of the road as I slowly tried to put one foot in front of the other and deal with the pain as we slowly moved forward at a snails pace.  Bryan put his arm around me as I cried and we walked towards the car where the crew waited, still a good half mile or more up the road.  I cried because the finish line was only 7 miles away and I may not make it.  I wanted to finish what I started and I went into this week with hardly any training, and only pure determination carrying me forward for 33 miles per day (except day 4… 15 miles…) all day, in the relentless sun, the heat I wasn’t used to, and through all the pain.  I walked when I couldn’t run, and I jogged when I thought I could.  All day, from before 7 am until after 4:00 pm.  And here I was, so close, and I couldn’t even walk without a sharp pain that took my break away and made me cry out or double over every time it hit me.

After I got done sobbing my hurt and frustration out I pulled myself together and we made a plan.  I would stretch it out good when I got to the crew, we would try walking one mile, and if it went ok, I would keep going, if not, Bryan would run the next three for me.  So that’s what we did,  and unfortunately it did not go well for me.  The pain hit me at least every couple minutes or so over the 20 some minutes it took us to walk that mile.  I had no choice but to let Bryan run for me.  Right before the pain started he had talked about being done at 7 miles because he was feeling a bit mentally tired from running 23 miles yesterday.  Instead he took off in my place and we moved 3 miles down the road to stretch me out over the next 25 minutes.

By the time he got to me I was feeling hopeful that the stretching may have helped and I could make the lasts stretch with a combination of walking and very slow jogging.  So Bryan and I once again set off together and the crew went forward to the finish to get things set up for me to get there.  We started with a walk and after I was sure the pain seemed to be mostly gone, we experimented with some slow running.  We were able to make it the rest of the way like that (3.2 miles) and then there it was!  The finish!  I finished at a park that was right after the sign saying we had reached Wray.  They had the finish banner up and waiting for me and Bryan jumped in to help them and let me run the last part on my own.  The three of them cheered me in and I went down the slide at the park to cross under the finish line.  It is hard to put into words how it feels to reach this destination that you have been kicking your ass to reach for the past 6 days.  So amazing.   I have raised right around $13,400 now, which is way more than I had ever expected to raise!  And I had reached the finish line, despite all the set backs over the last 6 months.

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After the finish line we took a bunch more pictures at the part before we cleaned up and drove back to the RV park to get cleaned up, eat a light lunch and leave for the airport.  It was crazy to think that by the next day at that time I would be home and recovering and getting caught up on the life I put on hold for a week in order to come out and do this run for MS.   I want to thank Kendra, Cornelia, and Rachel for taking such good care of me all week as my crew members.  And of course Bryan for traveling out to spend the last two days with me and helping me through it.  And to all the awesome people I met this past week!!  And Ashley, the founder of MS Run the US, for creating such an amazing way to help others.  The last two years of MS Run the US has been amazing and taught me so much about myself and what is really important in this world.  It has taught me about giving and why it is so important, and opened my eyes to the people I surround myself with and which of them are giving and kind people.

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Well, I won’t say this is the end of MS Run the US forever for me, but I do know I need a year off to rest my body and step away from it all and recover 100%.  But I could see myself wanting to do another segment in the future because the whole experience is just something I enjoy having in my life.  The fundraising and the segment itself.  And it is a pretty cool way to see a new area of the country!

Thanks again everyone for the support and following along during my week adventure and cheering me on!  Couldn’t have done it without you!  Now it is time for me to not run for a month or two.  And I’m pretty excited about it. 🙂

Run Happy,

Nikki 🙂

Day 5: Segment 8!!

Day 5- June 4

Today was my first full day with Bryan here because he flew in last night. Yesterday was a tough day so I was really hoping today would be better again since I did not run as many miles yesterday and got more time to rest and recover. We got a little bit of a late start because we didn’t get to bed til after 1 am the night before so we slept in a little longer and didn’t start til 8 am (we had been starting between 6:30 and 7:00 all the other days).

Bryan started running with me right away in the morning and we started with 4 miles at a time so we could cover more ground with less break time because it was already getting hot. Once again there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was relentless. We had to start wearing our hats after the first 4 miles to try to keep some of the sun off our faces. The first 15 or so flew by being able to talk to Bryan because I feel like we had a lot to catch up on since we hadn’t seen each other since Monday and only texted off and on throughout the week before he got here with me.

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By the time we got to 16 we were past the amount of miles that Bryan had ever run straight. He was doing great and we were starting to do about 3 miles at a time before a quick cool off and refuel break. We were taking some short walk breaks. It for the most part we were running. My knee was doing better the first half but then around mile 15 a semi sped past us and it caused enough wind to make Bryan’s hat go flying off his head. I turned my upper body to look back at him chasing his hat and I somehow twisted my leg and when we started running again all the pain was back in my knee. 😦 It stayed sharp for a hand full of miles and we had to take extra walk breaks, but eventually it went back to being a dull pain again.

A couple weeks before my segment a girl named Emily, who I did not know, sent me a message on Facebook about how she had recently heard of MS run the US and she was going to be traveling from Denver towards New York during the week of my segment and wanted to possibly meet up with me and run a handful of miles with me. She ended up being able to meet me today on their way our of Denver! It ended up being perfect timing because Bryan and I were almost to mile 20 when her and her boyfriend pulled up behind us and Bryan was ready to be done. This was the longest he had ever run and his feet were starting to bother him.

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I had a great time running with Emily and Dan and they were able to join me for almost 6 miles! I leaned that Emily has MS and that her sister is the person who told her about MS Run the US because Emily lives in New York and the finish is there as well as a 5k race to wrap the whole relay up. The mile flew by for that stretch learning more about this couple who sought me out to join me for miles. How cool! During that same stretch we met a man named Rodger who saw our RV parked and came over to talk to us because he was also recently diagnosed with MS. It has been so amazing this year meeting to many people with MS because it makes what I’m doing feel more personal and like I can put a face to the name of the people I am raising money for and why I am running. It helps me to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when the pain gets super intense. It is for these people I have met and the ones I will meet in the future that keeps me determined to make it to Wray and work hard to raise money to help those who have this disease.

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After Emily and Dan left to continue their trip home, Bryan jumped back in for 3 more miles, then I finished the last 5 by myself. I really cannot put into words how grateful I am for the company and how much it helps the miles go by faster. I have had so much company this week and it meant so much to me. Originally Bryan did not think he would be able to come out for the end of my segment this year and when he told me I was crushed but had to try to be okay with it because I cannot expect him to miss work for my stuff when he has several times already over the past year. When I was able to make it so I could finish on the weekend by running extra miles he agreed to come out. I really can’t imagine him not being here. Not just because this is something big for me, but also because a full week away from him makes me sad too. But with my injury and struggles to run the longer distances without a lot of pain everything was a lot harder this year and makes his company that much better.

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After I finished for the day we drove up to Wray where there was an RV park where we could stay. I got stretched out a bit because I was in a lot of pin after running most of the 33 miles again today. We got cleaned up, met a new cat friend at the RV park and had a great meal of grill out food. After dinner we exported Wray which actually ended up being a very pretty town. Then it was time to head to bed because we were getting up extra early tomorrow to start before 6 am. 14 miles remaining then we have to drive all the way back to Denver to catch our flights. This adventure is almost done! And I made it to $13,000! So exciting! Thanks everyone!

Stay tuned for the last day tomorrow!!

Run/walk happy,
Nikki 🙂

Day 4, Segment 8

Day 4 – June 3

Today was rough. And I did not expect it to be that way. I woke up feeling fine, less sore and my knee didn’t seem to be as bad as it was when I went to bed so I figured I’d feel fine, if not better than yesterday. Not the case. A bunch of people came to my starting point to run with me so it was disappointing right away that I was having trouble running very far at a time because of my knee. The fun news was hitting mile 100 after the first mile though!!

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The knee pain would go back and forth between sharp and dull.  When it was dull I was able to do a slow running pace, but as soon as it got sharp I would start limping and eventually need to stop to walk.  We were only doing 2.5 or 3 miles at a time because of the pain I was in.  Even with the company it seemed to take a long time.  Yesterday the time flew by when I had the company.  Today it was still not quite enough to distract me from the pain.  At one point, I think around mile 11, I set out with the group and all of a sudden I knew I wasn’t going to make it much farther.  I came to a stop looked at everyone and said I wasn’t so sure my knee would hold out for the next bit.  So one of the runners gave me a high five and said “Tag, we are it” and they took off to run the next 3.5 miles for me.  Those were the first miles I gave up this entire time.  And it hurt my heart so bad.  I wanted to do this, all of it.  I don’t want to miss a step.  And it makes me so sad that I can’t do that.  Especially after yesterday when I felt so confidence that I could do this.  All of it.

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After they took off running I worked on some stretching with Cornelia to try and get loosened up and in less pain by the time they got those few miles run.  Most of the runners left for the day once they ran those miles for me, but one family stayed and their son Zacc walked and very slow jogged with me some more miles.  Once he left I was at 14 for the day.  Kendra, one of the crew members was going to run a few for me, and my plan after that was to walk/jog 3, and leap frog the rest with Kendra.  When I set out walking to do that I got a very sharp pain in my inner thigh shooting upwards (a lot like the pain that kept me from running the Boston Marathon) and I could barely limp forward.  When I looked down at my pace on my GPS watch it said I was limping at 30 minute per mile pace.  So it was going to take an HOUR AND A HALF for me to limp the next three miles.  Not happening.  That is where I draw the line.  Sorry, but that is too much even for me.

So I limped back over to the RV and told the ladies that I just wasn’t going to make it the rest.  We decided that Kendra would run four more which would bring us to 30 miles, Cornelia would walk two and then together her and I would walk the last one together no matter how long it took.  That is exactly what we did, which brought me to 15 miles for the day.  Almost every single one of those miles very painful.  Oh well, it is what it is, and coming into this adventure this is what I expected to happen and I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to make it the first three days, 33 miles each.  Day four was not my day, and I really hope day 5 is better.  I really want one more good day. On a positive note, I did play with bubbles while Kendra ran for me 😉

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The rest of the day has also been a bit of a mess, with Bryan’s flight being delayed out of Milwaukee, the jeep (sag vehicle) breaking down at the event we had, and us being semi stranded until Bryan gets into town to pick us up and take us way back to where the RV is with the rental vehicle.  Just a bad day all around.  I am currently tying this on a computer at the hotel lobby of some of the MS Run the US people who are here for the fundraising event we went to tonight, because we have no where else to go while we wait for Bryan to get here from the airport.  By the time we get back to the RV where we are sleeping it will be after midnight and then I have to start again bright and early.  It is going to be interesting to say the least. The picture below was taken at the event. Crew members!!! Love them!

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The good news is that I got several donations at the event tonight, and once I put them into my site I will be only about $60 away from my goal of $13,000!! YAYYY!!! Thank you everyone!!

Well, I sure hope tomorrow is better.  But for now my brain is feeling tired and fuzzy and I am ready to forget this day.  Please get here soon Bryan!

And, I’m out.  Thanks for reading!

Run/Walk Happy,

Nikki 🙂

Day Three of Segment 8

Day 3: June 2

Today was a breakthrough day for me!! I woke up feeling less stiff and sore than yesterday and somehow I just felt better and right away knew it was going to be easier today. And I was going to have company right away in the morning from a cross county and track coach from the area! I was very excited about that! When we arrived where I left off yesterday not only was the coach there, but another runner too! I told them I wanted to start off with a brisk walk to get my legs warmed up and they were fine with that. About two miles down the road another runner showed up to join us. Now my party was up to four! Awesome! And I was running without too much pain. Plus I am just getting used to the pain so it is just getting easier to tolerate.

About an hour into the run, more kids got dropped off, and the coach and women who started with me left. The two kids ran with me for like 9 miles! By the time I was alone again I was already at 14 miles! That’s almost half way! I can not even explain how much that helped me start out strong today! Not to mention a big stretch of that was on a dirt road and it felt so soft on my joints compared to the cement. The day was getting pretty hot already at this point and there was ZERO shade which I knew what going to the tough part of the day. The runners are going to join me again tomorrow which makes me super happy!

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Once I was on my own it was just Cornelia crewing and me running about 3 miles at a time before she was parked somewhere on the side of the road waiting for me. I started wearing my hat pretty early because the sun was already beating down and making my face burn. But I was TOO HOT still. Every stop we applied more sunscreen and put a cold rag under my hat to keep my body temperature down. It was my saving grace because without it I think the heat would have won. Not this time!!!

The road I was on for a good 12 miles after leaving the cross country kids was cement and surrounded by nothing but fields and cows. I saw a variety of farm animals including a horse friends at one of the spots Cornelia stopped to wait for me. We spent a little time resting and petting the horse at that stop. Then I went back on my way. It was hard to stop for as long as I would have liked to get a good break and gaze on some food because the sun felt even hotter when I stopped because then I couldn’t feel any air flow at all. So I would take off running again just for the breeze and to be making forward progress. And I was running! Not walking! And my pace wasn’t too bad considering! Definitely faster than yesterday when I had to walk some almost every mile.

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The most significant break I took was at the half way point of the segment, mile 90 because we were able to find some shade under a tree. So I actually got some better stretching in and ate a tiny bit. The heat definitely made it so it was hard to choke down much food wise. Soon after the half way point I entered a small town (but the biggest I had seen since Denver!) and traffic was heavier. That was pretty much my end stretch and the traffic made me even more antsy to get done. It was also getting harder by the mile because my skin felt like it was on fire even with 15 layers of sunscreen. And the pain was getting worse again every mile. I had the idea of trying to go 34 today since I was on a roll and making good time. That would make it so I ended on the 100th mile rather than 99 for the day and that would be so cool!

I had that idea in my head and was planning on making it until mile 98. Then the pain grew exponentially and I had to talk most of that last mile. And when I say walk I really mean hobble. My bad leg was done. My hip and knee were screaming with pain at me and I knew I had to call it a day at 33 miles. So tomorrow bright and early I will reach mile 100!!! Woo!

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The RV was getting serviced all day because we had a little mishap with a tree trying to kill it yesterday, so Cornelia and I had no where really to go after I was done running my 33 miles. We found a tree for me to hang out in the shade and she helped me get some good stretching in. Then after awhile of that we went in search of food and hung out and ate at a subway for awhile. We ended up getting a hotel room just to get cleaned up in and hang out and rest out of the sun until the RV was done. We stayed at the same RV park as the night before and got to see my kitty friend again. I will miss him!

To wrap this up, I am so grateful for how this day went. Someone was looking out for me, that’s for sure! It could have been such a rough day because of the sun and heat if I would have had to walk a bunch and taken another couple hours to finish. Ugh, I can’t even imagine a couple more hours out there! 6:30 am to 3 pm was long enough for me!! And the fact that there were point I felt so good running and the pain was dull enough that I could cruise along for a few miles before having to slow down again felt amazing. Thank you so much body for letting me run all day! Just like the good old days 😉

Time for bed, I am exhausted and not feeling the best from being sun burnt and battling the sun all day. I pray that tomorrow is just as successful! And Bryan arrives tomorrow night!! Yayyyy!!! I made it to Friday!

Run happy,

Love Nikki 🙂

Day TWO of Sement8!

Day 2: June 1
Today was definitely challenging and painful, but I feel like being a runner for so long I am getting better and better at dealing with it and just moving through it the best I can. I am very happy that mentally I am still feeling strong and motivated and like I won’t quit, even if physically my body hurts and wants to stop. But somehow I just keep going. If you asked me how I made it through when last night I could barely walk and 90% of today hurt I would not know how to answer you besides saying it just has to be done. People with MS can’t stop having MS because it hurts or makes their life harder, so I guess that’s what’s kept me going too.

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I started off with about a mile walk to get my legs warmed up and moving. I was very stiff and sore so I needed that mile to walk it out. Then I started a combination of slow jogging with walk breaks. Kendra went forward 3 miles each time for me to stop and stretch a little and do whatever else I needed and then moved up 3 miles again. We did this from 7 am until 4:30 pm when I finally reached 33 miles. I ran more than I expected to, just very, very slowwww.

When I tell people I am running in Colorado they picture the mountains and all that beautiful scenery. Well, it is not quite like that this time. It is Colorado countryside, beautiful in its own way, kind of like Wisconsin countryside. After the first 2 miles or so I turned onto a two lane highway and I was on it for the rest of the day. And let me add it wasn’t a fun road, especially at the beginning because there was absolutely no shoulder and the first part had a decent amount of traffic, including semis. I was a bit nervous the whole first part of the day until finally by afternoon there was a tiny shoulder and less traffic.

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Weather wise it started out perfect with overcast skies and a little chilly. By 6 miles in I was in a tank top and shorts however, and by early afternoon the clouds were more spread out and the sun started feeling a little bright. Even though Kendra was making me reapply sunscreen every time I saw her again (3 miles, all day…3 miles at a time) I could still feel my face burning. So then it was time to wear my hat I had thrown in. That helped a lot. Still got some sun and have random red tan lines even with all the layers of sunscreen though!

The pain was always there, but sometime it was dull and I would do a jog, and sometimes it was bad and I would stop jogging and walk a little ways. Cornelia was able to join me for a three mile walk around mile 24 when we found a good place to leave the RV, then Kendra finished the last 6 with me as a walk jog. It was good to have the company to distract me at the end. The last 9 miles would have been pretty rough on my own because I was getting sick of the sun, my feet were starting to hurt from being on them so long, and of course all the other aches and pains. But at 4:30 we reached the vehicle for the last time which meant we made all 33 miles again!!

It took awhile to go get the RV where we left it, hook up the car and then go find the RV park and get settled in. But the coolest thing happened when the ladies were setting up and I was stretching out by the car. I looked up and over towards the RV and I could have sworn I saw a cat!!! I thought I was hallucinating because I missed mine, so I got up to go see and sure enough! Kendra saw him too and he seemed friendly so I walked over and when he came towards me he let me scoop him up!! He loved the attention and getting petted. All evening every time I went back outside I would call him and he would meow and coming running for more love. We are staying here again tomorrow night so I will get to see him one more day! Yay!

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For dinner we went out to eat with a local family who met the relay runner and crew 2 years ago and they have stayed in touch. It has been cool to meet some new people on this segment. Tomorrow morning someone is running with me for the first hour, I just hope I can keep up with her since I am moving pretty slow now… Hopefully someone to talk to will be a good distraction.

Day two is in the books, time for me to crash. 3:30 am when I woke up was a long time ago! And tomorrow I do it all again….thanks for following along!!

Run happy!

Nikki 🙂

Day ONE of Segment 8

Day one: May 31

Woke up super early on day one, around 3:20, and couldn’t really sleep anymore after that so I just got up and started trying to get ready and calm for the day. My crew members, Kendra and Cornelia, brought my breakfast around 5, and we hit the road for the start a little before 6 am. We had to drive the 25 mins to the park where I was starting and hook up the start banner for pictures and for me to run under for my official start.

I ran the first 4 miles on my own through the city until we got to the river trail I was going to run over 10 miles on. It was a paved bike path kind of like we have in Milwaukee (Oakleaf). Kendra ran this entire part with me and we kept a nice and easy pace. This was good for me because on my own I tend to go too fast without realizing it until it is too late. It was a great running weather day, a little cool and cloudy in the morning and absolutely perfect by afternoon with sun, a breeze but somewhere in the upper 60s I’d guess.

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I ran with Kendra until mile 14 or so, then I was on my own as they moved ahead to wait for me at check points and give me directions to the next turn so I didn’t get lost in the suburbs of Denver. I was still moving at a nice chill pace and feeling pretty good considering I was now about 4+miles past my longest training run before coming out here. It was somewhere around mile 16 or 17 that I started randomly getting a pain on the lower outside on my left knee. It was not constant but kind of a “zinger” of a pain that came and went. My left side is my bad side and the side I lays get injured on so I expected it to give me problems, but this was a new pain, I don’t often get pain near my knee, it is usually in the hip/glute area. By mile 20 that was showing up a title as well, but I was mostly hanging in there and still jogging slowly.

Mile 24 is where things got tougher. I really had my heart set on making 33 miles on day one because I wanted to bank some miles so that maybe I really can make it to Wray by the time I have to leave for the airport on my last day. To do that I need to have no more than about 15 miles left on my last day. Which would be 33 a day leading up to that… I pretty lofty goal, especially in my condition, I know…
So after VERY slow jogging with walking breaks every half mile or so from miles 23 to 25 I decided I needed to start walking more. So at this point Cornelia joined me in walking two miles. This brought us to mile 27. I decided from 27 to 30 I would experiment with a combination of walking and slow jogging and then Cornelia would once again walk with me the final 3. That is pretty much what we did, and the last 8 miles probably took as long as the first half combined (not quite but you get my point…) but we made it to 33 miles!!

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Cornelia is a great yoga instructor and was able to help me stretch some of the areas that are super tight and causing my pain throughout the day. This definitely helped ease the pain for a mile or so at a time. We got a good stretch in right after I finished and then headed back towards Denver to get me my first meal since 5 am breakfast (at this point it’s about 4 pm) because I can only graze while I am running my miles otherwise I get nauseous when I try to run after a meal.

We spent the night at Susan and Donald’s house, the family that made us dinner the first night and got us the hotel rooms. They are amazing! I got to take a shower and soak in a warm Epsom salt bath, which felt great. But the pain is real and I am. It sure if it is going away from here on out… I worry a lot about day 2 and not sure how much running I will be capable of doing. I have a feeling it will be mostly walking due to all the pain in my left leg from hip to foot. Blah! 😦

One donation came in today, so that was exciting. I hope I get more over the next 5 days and make $13,000. That would be amazing. But either way I beat last year and that was what I wanted going into this year. Well…time to get ready for day 2. Wish me luck and less pain… Eek!

Run/walk Happy,
Nikki 🙂