Where every Tuesday: I confess.
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Confession – I love sweating.
Now I may have mentioned in a previous email confession that I hate summer because of all of the sweating. But before you get really confused about whether I love or hate sweating, I will tell you why.
I just spent the last 3 days sweating and sweating and sweating. And the result was well worth the sweat.
I watched a team of 8 (mostly strangers to each other) join together and run across the state of Iowa. Now for those of you who are geographically challenged and are unsure of where Iowa is – simply look above Missouri and below Minnesota. Now go to the far west side in Sioux City and run across to the east side in Dubuque.
I want to share with you our experience. Many people have asked how the relay works and what really happens. I am going to do my best to tell our story.
But the important part of this email will be what I share with you at the end. The lessons to be taken away and I hope you will read to the end.
We started Friday at 7:10am with the sun barely shining. But our energy was high and we were excited. 3 of our team members had never ran more than a 5k (3.1 miles) before and now they were about to be a part of running 339 miles. This was insane. AND AWESOME.
Friday was a scorcher and we were sweating. The way we ran Friday was each person ran a mile at a time and we rotated between all 8 of us. So one person essentially ran once every 75 minutes or so. But by mid to late afternoon the sun had taken its toll and we were starting to get drained. So we changed our running distance to a half a mile for each person.
Along the way are pit stops where you can shower, eat, rest. Since our team only had 8 our rest times were not very long. But let me tell you – that shower at 5pm Friday afternoon was glorious. And the people at the rec center apologized because it was ice cold. Not a problem. That felt great.
As we worked our way into Friday night, people were getting tired, a little stressed, and a little edgy. We decided to learn from last year and try to get people more sleep. So we sent 4 people in to rest 9pm-3am. But what we didn’t really grasp was that meant the remaining 4 had to run for 6 hours straight. Hahahahaha. Let me tell you how funny it is to keep running and running and running until 3:00am. We had a GPS that we would pass from person to person as we ran. We started off each saying “good job, way to go, keep it up” or some kind of nice comment as we passed it to the next runner. Sometime around 1am it was silent or something like “take this f-ing thing.” I was in the group that stayed out until 3. Then the 4 of us went to a campground and 2 slept in the car and 2 in a tent. Sleep was maybe 2 hours?? Then back up and at it when the sun came up.
We met up with the rest of the team for a quick pit stop for breakfast and regrouping. Now we were almost halfway and on the other side of Interstate 35. Saturday is an interesting day. You know you’ve made progress but the idea of having another 150+ miles to go is sometimes disheartening. But we pushed on.
What I loved about the way we structured this year is that we spent a lot more time running as a group so we were able to interact and spend time with all team members. During the day Saturday we sent groups of people in to sleep, eat, rest for about 1-2 hours at time.
Then Saturday night came. No one had really slept more than a few hours (if you were lucky). People were tired, some crabby (me!), a little snippy (me!), and sometimes frustrated. By this time our legs were going and we were running less than a half a mile at a time. We sent our sleeping rotation people in for only 3 hours at a time so the runners could stay a little more fresh. Let’s just say – plans never go as planned. A longer drive than expected, sleeping conditions not helpful, not having any food to eat and so much more.
Oh and let’s not forget the 2 hour lightening thunderstorm delay from 3:20-5:20. We pulled off the road, sat 5 people in a car with the windows rolled up, and then finally drove to the next town and camped in the Wal-Mart to wait out the storm. That certainly didn’t happen last year.
But then Sunday morning arrived – the dawn of the last day.
The promise that we would get to Dubuque – at some point. We rallied as a team but we also had 2 injured runners so our team was down to 6. But by salvation we had two fresh runners (family of a team member) help us with our last few hour into Dubuque.
We ran, we ran, and we ran. And we got SWEATY. I hadn’t changed my clothes since Saturday afternoon and it was now 90 degrees Sunday.
But because of guts and determination and sheer will – our team arrived in Dubuque around 1:15pm – 3 hours earlier than last years finish. And we had started an hour later. So our team got to the finish 4 hours ahead of last years pace.
There were tears from almost all members at the sight of that finish line. Sheer exhaustion, fatigue, excitement, relief, pride and all the emotions were flooding out.
Here’s what I learned from sweating with 8 people over 339 miles.
- When you are determined to do something – you can do it. It didn’t matter if you needed to walk – you were still moving.
- When you are tired, hot, sweaty, and feeling gross – sometimes all you need is a Diet Coke (gasp!)
- When you aren’t sure if you can run again – you simply need an encouraging word from a a teammate – “you got this!”
- When you gotta go – you gotta go. Side of the road, corn field, bathroom. You get my point.
- People are amazing. Simply amazing.
- With a goal in mind – you will find a way.
- Sometimes you can exist on oatmeal cookies, protein bars and coffee for days.
- A cold shower has never felt so good.
- Stop and look at nature. There were many times I simply stopped to look at the hillside, the farm animals, and the sunrise. When was the last time you did that and really appreciated it?
- The support was amazing. All team members were getting messages and calls and posts from people following them with the online tracker and encouraging them all the way to the finish.
To sum up the experience I must use my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear, for newer and richer experiences.”
I hope you will take a moment to find a new experience and to really live it. I promise you – it will be worth it. All the sweat will be worth it.
“Life starts at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch
Have an amazing week and see you soon.