We started our traverse on April 17th at 5:00am, and after 22 hours and 11 minutes, and covering 70 miles, we called it quits. We felt good about our accomplishment. We had been up for almost 24 hours, and it felt acceptable to get in cars and to go home.
On May 11th, we decided to cover the rest of the island.
I sat on a concrete ledge and watched my dog, Gus sniff around and walk along the beach. I was saving my legs for what I knew would be a challenging run later that day, and as I sat there, the sweat started gathering under my breasts, and it was running down my back. It was only 8am, and I began to get nervous. What would finishing the island feel like? A light switch had been turned on; the heat and humidity were in full-force, and we were planning to run later in the day so that we could finish as the sun was setting on Cape Hedo. There was no turning back.
A few days before the final part of the run, I was at a small, social gathering, and one of my husband’s friends asked WHY I was doing this. My question to him was, “do you want the long real answer or the short fun one?” He wanted to know the real answer. I went on to explain that I felt the need to do something REALLY hard. I needed to invoke some self-imposed pain on myself because when we get the opportunity to feel REAL pain, and we push through that pain, we prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing really hard things. See friends, I am blessed. I live a very good life. I count my blessings every day, and I recognize my blessings, but I also recognize that life is not always easy. I have gone through hard things, and I will go through hard things again, but it is in the times of ease that we must prepare for the hard.
We loaded up our car, and we headed to the cottages that we would be staying after the run. They were lovely and would prove to be the perfect place for recovery.
Then, we found the place we had ended the traverse in the early hours of April 18th. We parked the car in a safe place, and we began putting one foot in front of the other. Within the first 15 minutes, we agreed that it was too hot to talk. We put in our headphones, and we checked back in after 30 minutes of running. After 30 minutes, the sweat was intense. The sun was beating down on us. Our heart rates were unusually high. We knew that we would need to implement some speed-walking, and we would have to be very intentional about our food and water intake. We walked for 10 minutes, and we started running again. We would keep this up for the next few hours – run for 30 minutes, take out headphones, speed-walk and eat/drink/chat for 10 minutes, and repeat. The temperatures were in the mid-80’s, but the humidity was in the high 90 percentile, and it felt like we were running in 94 degree temperatures. There was no reprieve from the heat. It was the perfect day with not a cloud in the sky…perfect if you are in air conditioning. It was NOT perfect if you were running for a few hours.
Julia, the person who has been our biggest supporter through the training and the 2 run days showed up about 5:45. She was like a gift from the heavens. We had prepped a cooler with water, electrolyte drinks, fruit, and wash cloths. Seeing her was such a gift. She took pictures, allowed us to refuel, and allowed us the only break we would get until the end. I will forever be grateful for Julia and for all she has done for us.
Back to the run…”Put one foot in front of the other. This is self-imposed pain. You push through this, and you prove that you can do hard things. You chose this. You prepared for this. You have run hot marathons and finished. You have run through Okinawa summers, and you have survived. You can do hard things.” Over and over, I reminded myself that I could do this, and then clouds appeared. We could see Cape Hedo. From early on in the run, we could see the end point, but it was finally getting bigger. We were finally getting closer. We got to the tunnels, and they were a reprieve from the sun. We would stand in them for a few seconds, turn around, and let the cool air and shade cool us off. We got to the point that we knew we could do this. “Just get to the incline, then we can walk up it.” Kellie kept reminding me to just get to the walk part.
The incline was so steep that we would HAVE to walk up it. Even if we had fresh legs, or if we had perfect running conditions, we would have to walk up it. It was so very steep. As we walked up it, the sun started setting, and it was magnificent. It was more spectacular than anything I had expected. I don’t know if it was so beautiful because I had worked so hard to see it, or if it REALLY was THAT beautiful. All I know is that it was EXACTLY what I wanted…just enough clouds to make it amazing…not so many clouds that we would miss the sunset.
We hit some rolling hills. Then we saw the end. We saw the car. We had made it. We completed what we had started.
Looking back, we could have ended it at 70 miles, and if you read that blog, you would know that it was the most amazing experience. It was more fun than pain, but in going back, and in completing the traverse, I was able to experience what I wanted. I got to have my intimate look at pain. I got to stare pain in the eyes, and I got to prove that I am capable of pushing past the pain. I am stronger than my pain, AND I got the beautiful sunset at Cape Hedo.