1. THE JOURNEY BEGINS: RUNNING FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T June 10th, 2018
In December of 2017, a select group of college students went through an application and interview process, in order to become apart 4K For Cancer’s Team Boston for the Summer of 2018.
Tomorrow morning I fly to San Francisco, where we will begin our 4,000 mile run across the United States.
People keep asking me if “I am ready”. . .my response throughout the passed few weeks has been along the lines of, “sure?”
There hasn’t been a moment of ambivalence or hesitation in regards to this run, because I know that what I will be running for is important and hits close to home. Of course, there have been some mornings where I wake up feeling like I want to take the day off, but I’ve never had to give myself much convincing to go out on my run. Still, how exactly do you train your body and mind to run 4,000 miles with a group of people you’ve never met? “Are you nervous? Are you excited?”
I’m totally stoked! But in all honesty, I haven’t felt many nerves about this run. I have found that the best way to prepare was not by the 12 mile morning runs, or the yoga-filled recovery days, not by eating lentils every day or pushing through with incredible blisters on my feet. Instead, it was just by waking up every morning and knowing that what I was doing would make a change for something bigger than myself, and I knew that made it worth it.
Louis Zamperini once said, “I’d made it this far and refused to give up because all my life I had always finished the race.” And that has been my mentality going into this summer, that no matter how tired or sore or doubtful of my legs I am, whether I’m on a mountain, in a field, in a town, or on the road, I’ll have made it that much further, and will not stop until I reach Boston.
So, time to channel our inner Forrest Gump and run! Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me in any way to get to this point, especially my wonderful friends and incredible family. We’ll make you proud! I can’t wait for you to follow us on this journey!
2. LIVE LIKE LYNN June 12th, 2018
Lynn Deming was the most kind, resilient, sweet, inspiring, caring woman, one who had the definition of a golden heart and a beautiful soul, one who made the best homemade cookies and had a laugh that lit up the world. She was loved by so many, touching the heart of every person she met just by being herself. That’s when you know someone is truly special, when they make the world a better place just by being themselves living in it. Often in literature, there is a common theme of the most “angelic” character dying, because they were already too good for the world. I like to think that that’s why Aunt Lynn left when she lost her battle to breast cancer.
There are too many to count on one hand who are close to me that have fought cancer, and I know everyone reading this has had a connection to cancer through a loved one at some point as well.
So here’s what I have to say to all of you, the daughters, the sons, the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, the brothers, the aunts, the uncles, the friends, the teachers, the grandparents, the neighbors, the doctors, the grandchildren–whoever you are and wherever you are, this run is for you.
I am running from coast to coast because I want to show people that I care. I want anyone and everyone out there, whether I know them personally or not, to know that there will always be someone out there that cares for what they are going through. There is a quote I know, “You have been assigned this mountain to show others that it can be moved.” I am hoping that by meeting or exceeding my fundraising goal of $10,000 and by completing this run, it will inspire others to push themselves further than they ever could have thought possible. I want those who are affected by cancer to believe that they can conquer any and every challenge that is placed in front of them, no matter how high the mountain. I want to Live Like my Aunt Lynn, with grace, selflessness, love, and strength.
Anyone who knows me well enough will be able to tell you that my two biggest running idols are Steve Prefontaine and Louis Zamperini. When I was in high school, Mama Nunn gave me two small pieces metal that could be laced into my running shoes, with my favorite Louis Zamperini quote, “If you can take it, you can make it.” The run I am doing this summer is nothing compared to what my Aunt Lynn and other cancer patients have to undergo every singe day. If they can take it, I can take it, and we will make it.
3. SAVE ME SAN FRANCISCO June 18th, 2018
I have never met a more down to earth, hilarious, kind, and inspiring group of people as my team for the summer. Picture this. A room full of greasy, energized college students, popping out of their sleeping bags before the sun even begins to rise, EXCITED to run over 100 miles together that day. AT FOUR THIRTY IN THE MORNING. The 4:30am wakeup did not discourage anyone from playing a slightly drunk volleyball game until 10 the night before, followed by hours of laughing on a high school gym floor that was our bed for the evening.
Our day truly began at sunrise on Golden Gate Bridge, where we said goodbye to our families, reminded each other of why we are doing this, and ran into the countryside. Almost everyone stated (in one form or another) that they were running for their family and for each other, and that it would inspire them to keep going with every mile.
But — here’s the thing, while that is completely true, it’s painful! I mean, shit just got real. People train for a marathon for months, and celebrate being done with a full plate of pasta and a warm hotel bed and bath. This summer, we’ll be celebrating our daily double-digit mileage with a sweatshirt for a pillow, unwashed hair, a granola bar for breakfast (and for a second breakfast. and for lunch), a foam roll instead of a bread roll, and a 4am wakeup to do it all over again every day for the next seven weeks. Here’s the other thing — we’ve just began, and I already know that it will be worth it.
We spent a large chunk of the evening getting to know each other more and opening up about how cancer has effected each of us so deeply. We laughed and cried and yadayadayada badabing badaboom — it hits you. This is exactly where we are all supposed to be in this moment. In a way it’s kind of like summer camp, the perfect mix of very weird, fun, passionate, adventurous, down to earth people who are all dedicated to making the world a better place, and somehow all ended up here in this moment. I knew I had found people who will grow to be some of my closest friends in life.
We all come from different states, schools, homes, pasts, futures, and recognized that however hard it may be to navigate the world sometimes, it lead us all here together. The world can shake you up and break you down. It can change and challenge you and those around you in ways you never thought that it could, but this is just one chapter in your infinite story that is only beginning. There are books to read, miles to run, mountains to climb, waves to catch, stars to count, loved ones to hug, people to meet, and no matter how tough shit gets, there is always a story to continue. If you just keep writing, you will find that the pages will get lighter, the chapters will get better, and that the tale itself will be pretty incredible.
4. WHERE THE STREETS HAVE NO NAME June 22, 2018
The past few days of 4k have been a blend of awe, fatigue, and extreme jollity. I never thought I’d say this, but starting the day by 4:30am every single morning has become something that now feels completely natural.
Tonight I’m writing from my sleeping bag the middle of the desert along US Route 50 (the loneliest highway), which we ran through all of today. Each day I’ve been running somewhere around 10-13 miles, with our whole team covering around 120 depending on the day. The elevation and heat have been tough for us at moments, but these awesome team mates, our morning mileage dedications along with the beyond beautiful scenery often keep me from even noticing that my legs are tired until the end of the day.
Yesterday we had our first service day, which was spent at the Ronald McDonald house in Sparks, Nevada. We spent most of the morning picking up trash around the home and cleaning up around the house; a cozy haven for cancer families in need of a place to stay. I am particularly excited that many of our service days will be spent at Ronald McDonald houses, because I know that it would make Aunt Lynn so happy. I was surprised at how hard that feeling hit me when we walked into the home, chin quivering. I was immediately reminded of the last time I can remember being at the Ronald McDonald house in Philadelphia with Aunt Lynn, teaching magic tricks to little kids. I thought a lot about her while we were there and felt really connected to her. It was a nice reminder of what is important about what we are doing, because it’s been easy to get wrapped up in all of the mileage and magical photo ops.
Service days are our days “off” from running (although I woke up to run with a friend anyway — which meant we got to sleep in until 6:30 instead of 4:30!!), which gave us some free time in the afternoon to drive to Lake Tahoe, which is a place I have always wanted to go to! Windows down, music up — we cruised through the windy, pine-tree covered roads that lead us to one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. Beautiful blue water (that served as our ice bath for the day. . .while we played volleyball in it), crisp mountain air, a warm sun-filled sky, and 23 of my favorite running-lovin cancer-hatin people to share it with.
Having such a beautiful afternoon on the lake had me feeling refreshed for the 13.3 I ran through the desert today with my new galpal Sawako (who is just about the most wonderful dendrophiliac ever), however we were all a little skeptical when approaching the very small western town of Austin, NV that we are crashing in tonight. It is very rustic, having only one school for the entire town, that has only 25 students. It looks like something out of an old wild west movie, like taking a step back in time. We drove to a hoagie place for dinner and were told by some locals to walk up the road for some live music later in the evening.
Here’s where my highlight of the day comes in. After a full day of running and driving through the hot, dry, desert, we finished off our night by ecstatically dancing all together to a live local Nevada country band who belted “Some Kind Of Wonderful” and Johnny Cash music as we danced around barefoot together. We were even invited to a locals house for some BBQ after, but instead finished up our night overlooking the sun set over the mountains, beneath a castle on a hill (literally. . .I KNOW).
I have found that in these super small (often apocalyptic) towns is where we have met some of the most genuine people. It is the people who have the least that have offered us the most. Food, a place to stay, donations, a friendly conversation, a dance, an inspiring story, a song, a moment to remember.
It’s truly incredible. Plus — I got to shower today. So that’s pretty cool.
5. DESERT ROSE June 24th, 2018
At first it was seemingly simple, run straight along the highway until it’s time to stop. A fairly easy route, pretty views, and a running buddy. Effortlessly survivable. It wasn’t until our last day along Route 50 (Saturday, 6/23) that I started feeling some desert fever.
Motorcyclists and road trippers drive by blasting their music, the dirt and small stones are kicked up from beneath their tires as they zoom by, creating a smoky cloud of dust that fills the western air.
Literally left in the dust, with the sun beaming down through a cloudless sky on my hot skin with every mile, my throat too dry to speak or swallow, irritated by my fatigued legs and some seriously en fuego feet boiling on the pavement, I feel so ready to be done with the desert.
But anyone who knows me on an intimate level has heard me preach my “purple flower” story, about a small Colorado columbine that I saw a few summers ago while hiking in the mountains. The gist is, in a moment of intense self doubt and life questioning I had spotted a purple flower blooming through a patch of snow atop a mountain and within an instant had a moment of realization, that everyday I could work harder to be more like that flower blooming through the ice, always standing with elegance and strength that pushes through what ever may fall upon it. Essentially, to “be the purple flower.” It is something I told my campers as a counselor and the elongated story is what I have told close friends over the years when they are going through a rough patch in life.
So, whenever I see flowers (especially purple ones), I feel a bit of a boost. In the desert, this psychological ~boost~ that came from spotting a small flower was a reminder of the moments that the desert did give me that were worth it. I had gone on an awesome night hike through the mountains with some friends, I had ended up being roped into playing in a Friday night horseshoe competition with a few team mates and local firemen (I was awful – incase you were wondering. That horse shoe barely made it 5 feet from my arm before it plopped into the sand and silently shouted “you’re embarrassingly narpy” at me). I was able to have coffee that morning (which may seem insignificant especially in comparison to my life at home and college, but has become something that I get very excited about when we are given the time and chance to have morning coffee), and I had finally been able to sleep on a carpeted surface when the town of Ely, Nevada’s local church offered to let us sleep between their pews, surrounded by stain glass windows. I had become even closer to a few particular team mates, and was able to run with team mates that I hadn’t before, loving them more with every minute (especially because there is no judgement from Team Boston for taking a shit in the middle of the desert). That’s true friendship people.
Enjoy your morning coffee, your beds and your tp, and what ever it is that today throws at you, be the purple fucking flower!
6. JACKSON EVE June 27th, 2018
‘Twas the night before Jackson, when all thro’ the sleeping bags, every runner was stirring—-because they were too excited to close their eyes...and had super sore legs...and were endlessly watching the Jackson documentary Swift. Silent. Deep. to prepare...and were living on peanut butter and four hours of sleep...
Wyoming has been our most anticipated state so far. Many runners on my team (including myself) chose the Boston route solely for the purpose of running through the Grand Tetons and having one of our four off days of the summer in Jackson Hole.
After we finally escaped the desert, we were greeted with lush grass lining the road and mountains in the distance.
I have never been so excited to see grass.
We encountered so many wonderful people en route back to civilization; “The Bread Man” who gave us six home made loaves of warm bread, a road tripping family who drove by us running in the heat and stopped to donate $100, a yoga instructor who spread the word on our run, despite us showing up sweaty and sunburnt for some stretching at her Co-op.
We then headed into Salt Lake City for some service at local homes and hospitals, where we were even fortunate enough to present an incredible young couple with a college scholarship they had earned through their inspiring battles with cancer. In Utah we were able to spend an afternoon exploring Alta, which was absolutely stunning. We felt like we should have been running around the mountain, exclaiming that the hills were alive with the sound of music. (But – our legs were too tired for that).
From Utah we ran through Idaho, knowing that every step would bring us closer to Wyoming. On our final morning in Idaho, we gathered for our dedication circle with euphoria.
The snow capped Tetons became more visible with every mile, elevating our legs and happiness with each stride.
There are some memories in life that we cherish forever, that stand out above all others like a star in a summertime Utah sky. And there are moments in life that we realize, while we are living in it, as the moment is happening, that it will soon become a memory to forever look back on and think — “Yep, that was one of the best days of my life.” Like, running towards the Tetons for instance.
Goodbye Potatoland, and HELLO Jackson Hole.
7. WILD MONTANA SKIES
July 1st, 2018
Windows down, music up.
There’s something about listening to John Denver while traveling through the mountains that feels so good. Years ago in Rocky Mountain NP, I had made it my mission to play Rocky Mountain High while hiking up my first mountain there. Today, I was able to fill some Wild Montana Skies with JD.
I’m writing to you from the town of Bozeman, which is a hip and beautiful little town that rests between lush farm fields, surrounded by the Rockies.
Our run yesterday (from Jackson, WY to West Yellowstone) was a very long and stressful day for a lot of my team mates, and unfortunately left the group in a funk — even in a place as beautiful as the bison-filled Yellowstone. Coming down from the high of Jackson Hole along with a big increase in daily mileage, lack of sleep, caution for bears, and small shoulder-space along the roads to run on made for one of our longer days mentally. However, all of this was made up for this morning when we ran from Wyoming into Montana. It was absolutely one of my favorite mornings of the summer so far, if not one of my favorite mornings in life.
We ran along a shaded road that my team mate described as a “tunnel of mountains and trees.” There was a large river running next to our route almost the entire day, the trees were filled with an early morning fog, and we were greeted with our first gentle rainfall of the summer. It felt like a weight was being washed off of our shoulders from the previous morning.
We all couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful the run was all day long, and it was beyond beautiful, but then I thought — uh, the sky looks like it’s the same size here as it is every where else? I don’t get it? Isn’t this supposed to be, like, an especially big sky?
We spent the afternoon walking around Bozeman, and promised ourselves that we would try to be in bed by 10 in attempt to have more than 4 hours of sleep. But as always, the guilt of not exploring enough of a new place kicked in and as the others were preparing for bed, a few of us decided to go on a sunset hike to celebrate our first day in the so called “Big Sky” state. Psssh.
We drove through the fields back into the mountains, and made our way up a wildflower filled hillside that overlooked Bozeman. We were surrounded by giant dandelions, sunflowers, and tall blades of wheatgrass for our entire hike up during golden hour. Sleep shmeep, it was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
As we reached the top of the mountain (many times along the way literally stopping to smell the flowers), we opened a bottle of wine and a bag of trail mix, played some Mumford and Sons, and looked out to see the sunset over the rockies. The mountains seemed to stretch across the horizon forever, so big and far and wide that it looked like we could see the curve of the earth. The pine trees darkly contrasted the beautiful cotton-candy colored sky, and I felt my face turn into that emoji with the two hearts for eyes. Montana had a BIG sky. It actually did! Who knew?! It was absolutely beautiful.
On a different note, I’d like to thank anyone and everyone reading this so much for all of the birthday love I received this week. Not only was I able to celebrate with my wonderful team mates in one of the coolest places ever, but my parents and brother as well! We had an awesome day of hiking around Jackson Hole, followed by an evening at the Mangy Moose Saloon for some live music, drinks, food, drinks, dancing, drinks, and some legendary cowbell playing. It was the perfect night in Teton Village, surrounded by some of my favorite people. I don’t feel much older or wiser or anything along those lines, but I had a thought at one existential moment in the evening that I haven’t genuinely had before (and maybe it was the tequila talking), but I was so happy that I felt as though no amount of time with the people around me would ever be enough time. Never enough time to dance, to sing, to eat, to hike, to drink, to thank them, to just be with all of these people that I love so much. To my team mates, my friends and family who called that day (or sent a message into that amazing video!), and especially to my parents and brother — I love you all so much and can’t thank you enough for everything, it has been a spectacular 21 years. I wouldn’t change a moment of it, and in the future will now be all the more grateful and absorbent of the years to come full of moments like these.
Windows down, music up. Take me home, country roads.
8. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
July 28th, 2018
Ice pack on my fatigued knee, beneath the overcast upstate New York sky, listening to the gently muffled sounds coming from an organ in the church that is our home for the evening.
3,863.8 miles down, 876 to go.
It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote, but as the days have gone by I have found myself ironically wanting more and more time with my team mates (who I see 24/7), because each day we know we are closer to the end of our journey.
It has been a rollercoaster of events and emotions. Pools of sorrow, waves of joy.
My friend Justin posted on his blog a schedule of what our days look like and I thought that would be helpful to share as well! So, for this post that I will give some insight as to what it’s like behind the scenes of 4K and what’s on our daily agenda. Something that many people have said to me is how beautiful the scenery is in our photos and how much fun we must be having. Both of which are absolutely true! On the flip side, what goes on behind the camera is often what has been most captivating about this trip, and something that unfortunately cannot be translated into something that people outside of this team can fully see. The helpful people we meet, the slightly and/or more severe injured bodies all of us now have, the inspiring survivors and fighters that we spend time with, the heartbreaking days spent with young patients, the generous hosts and towns that come to support us and share their stories and dinner with us, the newspapers and television stations that follow, inquire, and help us to spread awareness for Ulman, and above all, cliche as it is, the bond between the 24 of us on Team Boston. As you’ll evidently see in the schedule below, we spend all of our time together. People who were once strangers were forced to skip the awkward get-to-know-you phase of making a friendship, and jump into the lets-pee-on-the-side-of-the-road-together and the even-though-we-are-super-sweaty-and-packed-in-a-stinky-van-and-running-on-four-hours-of-sleep-lets-dance-to-fat-bottomed-girls-all-day-and-put-our-sleeping-bags-next-to-eachother-tonight phase.
4:25/30am: The “rooster” for the day wakes everyone up in their own creative way. Often this consists of turning all of the lights on (as we are almost always all sleeping in the same room) or finding a speaker to blast their music of choice.
4:45-5:45am: Packing our sleeping bags and clothing, loading them into the host van (the host van is where two team mates who are off from running for the day will drive all of the bags and food to our destination. They also will pickup food donations for dinner along the way, which can be very easy or extremely difficult depending on the region), breakfast, injury KT taping, stretching, and chores. The morning chores consist of filling the water jugs, taking out the trash, organizing and packing all of the food into our food bins (which always end up looking like a tornado hit them by the end of the day), cleaning the bathrooms, loading up the vans.
5:45-6am: The dedication circle. We start every morning by reading a story submitted by a cancer survivor or loved one, to whom we dedicate our day to by writing their names (and whomever else we wish to write) on the back of our legs and our wrists. We do a team cheer and go around in a circle, stating to the team who we are dedicating our day to. Sometimes it’s just a name or a phrase, other times people share a story.
6am-whenever we are done (sometimes 12pm, sometimes 4pm): RUN! We run relay style throughout the day, and when we aren’t running we are just hanging in the van/dancing outside of the van and take turns driving the van. We each run 10-20 miles per day per person, depending on the day and if the person is injured or not the miles can be adjusted accordingly. For example, on a 16 mile day my partner and I will run four 4-mile legs throughout the day, rotating with other pairs in between.
whenever~6pm: Our typical free time. The amount of free time we have is very dependent on the amount of mileage for the day and how fast everyone is able to run their mileage for the day. What we do for the afternoon is also determined by our location in the country, and where we are staying for the night. This free time usually consists of looking for showers or large bodies of water, finding laundromats, napping, icing injuries or running extra miles, going on a hike or exploring the town.
6:00 pm – 7:30pm: Dinner! There are often communities who will donate dinners to us or make a potluck dinner set up for us, which is absolutely wonderful. Other days, the host van is relied upon to provide dinner for the night.
7:30pm+: Relax and unwind from the day/get ready for bed. You’d think that waking up at 4:30 everyday we would want to go to bed early, but usually we all end up hanging out, playing volleyball and reflecting or talking until about midnight anyway. Lights are generally “out” around 10.
Off Days: These are the days that the entire team has off from running, generally every six days or so. This is when we (either for the morning, afternoon, evening, or all of the above) will have service events with patients, present scholarships to cancer fighting students, or help out a Ronald McDonald house/wellness homes — and is where we see firsthand where the money that we raised is going, which has been very fulfilling. We are all deeply touched by our experiences on these days, as it serves as a good reminder of why we are doing what we are doing, and puts just a few painful miles into perspective. When not at a service event and depending on what the area has to offer, the team will go off and do their own thing for the day and explore the area. Myself and a few others have made our off days our designated yoga days, usually followed by coffee, a beer or hiking.
Hostvan Days: As I mentioned before, the hostvan’s job is to drive our belongings to our destination, followed by getting food donated for the day/however much is possible. Each team member hostvans 3 times throughout the summer, and it can be either an extremely simple or an extremely difficult job. We don’t buy any of our food, so that all of the money donated can go toward the Ulman Cancer Fund. This has often made it difficult to get healthy foods, especially for our vegan and vegetarians. However, we have also been happily surprised by the generosity of so many people and stores on these days. On my first hostvan day, I was driving with my partner through Austin, Nevada (Population: 192) and we were having some trouble with finding food for the team. We kept driving throughout the morning and came upon a grocery store that donated a ton of fruit to us. A father overheard our conversation with the manager, and decided to buy us $40 worth of groceries as well. We could not be more thankful for the people who support us every step of the way, we sincerely could not be making it to Boston without you.
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on Across the universe
9. JOIE DE VIVRE August 4th, 2018
This morning began like any other. A 4:30am wakeup after 3 hours of sleep, welcomed with greasy hair and 20 new mosquito bites as we roll out of our sleeping bags and into our running shoes.
Except – this morning is our last. The last time I’ll wake up next to my best friends after 50 nights of sleeping together, the last time Lauren will tape up my knee, the last time I’ll chug coffee out of a can at 4:30, the last time I’ll be woken up by “shipping up to Boston” being blasted in my ear, the last time I’ll shove the few items that I have into back into my duffel, the last time that our final destination for the day will be somewhere we are all going together, and in turn perhaps the last time we will all be in the same place at the same time.
I apologize in advance for the slightly sloppy and brief post this morning as I am speed typing away as I am getting ready finally to start my straight 20 miler into Boston – but felt that it was imperative to acknowledge this moment and all that has brought me here.
At the beginning of the summer we were given RoadIDs with some basic information with a quote of our choosing engraved onto it. I forget where I had even first heard the phrase Joie De Vivre, but remember loving it instantly. It is defined in many ways such as, “a feeling of happiness, excitement, or exuberant enjoyment of life,” in short, the joy of living. I had this placed on my road ID as a reminder to accept my being, and recognize that no matter how high the hill in front of me was or how hot the air got or how broken my feet felt, that joie de vivre was only a thought or two away and would make all the difference in my day.
Today I’m dedicating my legs to the people who have inspired me the most not only in running but in life, and who have given me the opportunity and ability to obtain and absorb so much joy in it. My Aunt Lynn of course, whose memory ignited the spark in me to even begin to think of doing this run, my team mates, friends, family, fellow fundraisers, supporters, neighbors, my brother, and above all — my parents. I (quite literally) would not be here without them.
Although thankfully neither of my parents have had cancer, it is something that has effected members of our family and community greatly over the years and is something that they have had to fight through in many ways over the years. They have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout this journey and throughout my entire life, and have always kept me mindful of when is the time to take a step forward with pride onto something bigger and more challenging while also keeping me mindful of when is the time to take a step back and see the simple joys of life — that I have now come to appreciate more than ever. I don’t think there are enough words in the dictionary to describe how incredible my parents are or how much they have done for me, and that is something that has kept my legs moving every single day.
Thank you Mom & Dad, for everything!
Joie De Vivre
10. IN THE LONG RUN
August 8, 2018
After over 49 days of laughing until it hurt and hurting until it became laughable, 49 days of waking up to every sunrise and always falling asleep beneath a starry sky, 49 days of literal blood, sweat and tears, 49 days of endless KT tape and lost toenails, 49 days of being surrounded by 23 of the most incredible people on earth, 49 days of eating only food that was donated, 49 days of flower filled fields and refreshingly freezing lakes, 49 days of stumbling upon live music and dancing the night away, 49 days of climbing up mountains and flying down them, 49 days of the heat seeping through our skin, where the sun was as warm as the days were long, a group of 24 passionate young runners leapt through puddles and made their way through the pouring rain as the very first Team Boston.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are some moments that seem infinite and exquisite enough while you are living them that you are able to recognize it is a moment that you’ll remember forever, without needing the moment to pass to see how special it was. I almost phrased this as a moment that is the classic “time of your life,” but if in the right mindset I’d say that any moment during any day, especially the unexpected ones, can be the time of your life. The only thought even more wonderful than looking at the happy memories that have already gone by is looking to all of the unexpected ones that are yet to come.
As we ran into Boston, our families and friends were gathered around us, with cowbells, horns, signs, and cheers that boomed even louder than the storm above us. It. Was. Awesome.
We hugged our loved ones and did one last tear-filled cheer before popping bottles of champagne and celebrating everything that surrounded us. When our ceremony was over and everyone began to go their separate ways, I was one of a handful who were lucky enough to be able to say “see you tomorrow” to a few of our team mates. We collected our personal journals that we had compiled a few days prior, each containing a letter from every member of the team to every single person.
The few days following 4K were spent with my team mates, three of which I drove home with, nonchalantly deciding as we passed them to stop in Rhode Island and NYC along the way. The goodbyes have been tough, but lucky for me I still have team mates who are coming to visit before their journey home, so it has yet to really feel like a goodbye but instead a see you later — which is just how I like it!
Around town people are congratulating and asking how the run was, and I haven’t really found an appropriate answer. There’s no right answer to give and no clear way of portraying how it was, because so much happened within every day, night, hour, minute, second of 4K. We’ve been thanked a lot for “putting our lives on hold” to complete this run, and even many of my team mates discussed this. But for me, this summer felt like the opposite of life being “put on hold,” because each day we were moving forward. Yes, literally getting closer to Boston, but also moving forward with something that is going to matter for a time that spans passed our lives. I think it’s very important to be appreciating the little pieces that matter to our own specific lives and moment in time, but its not very often that I feel as though my moment is benefiting something that will surpass it. A song that has become one of my favorites on long drives or relaxing in the sun is 100 Years by Blues Traveler. It was one of those songs where I never really payed attention to the lyrics because it was such a mellowed tune, but there was one day on 4K where everyone was asleep and I started to listen. The gist of it is (in a very beautiful and melodically soothing way), shit happens, and it won’t mean a thing in 100 years. But 4K will mean a thing in 100 years. The families that can be helped and medical advancements that can be made through our fundraising, the communities that have been touched and the people that have been inspired. So although the aching legs and lack of pillows may not mean a thing, what it helped us to accomplish will. Truly living life, not on hold, recognizing that we are fulfilled by dedicating much of it to something greater than ourselves.
When I drove across the country with a friend after high school, I felt as though I became completely infatuated with the world and loved so many things that I had never seen or imagined before. I was humbled by how big and beautiful everything was in contrast with how small myself and my problems were, and was amazed by all the things I hadn’t seen, which gave me an immediate addiction to the outdoors and an endless list of places I wanted to be. This summer I learned to love the world on a new level again, in a slightly different way, still of equal if not greater importance. I was once again humbled, but instead by the people I met and the struggles they were going through. Other than meeting the amazing team I ran with, my biggest takeaway has been appreciating and embracing what I do have and where I come from rather than yearning for everything else that there is left to see. I will wakeup everyday thankful for the healthy legs that allow me to run and the incredible people that I have in my life who encourage me to do it.
So, in the long run — 24 weird, diverse, wild, smart, goofy, passionate, sweet, intriguing, mysterious, beautiful strangers became family — and a crowded, sweat-filled, mud-coated, granola-covered van became home.
The coolest part: it will mean a thing in 100 years.
Thank you so much to anyone and everyone for all the love and support both prior to and throughout this incredible summer. Every text, call, donation, letter, email, word of encouragement and cheer at the end was more than I could have ever asked for — and we couldn’t have done this without you.