Day #32: team miles
Effingham, Illinois – Evansville, Indiana
Running Partner: Sarah (and Kenzie for the first three miles)
The road seemed a little bit questionable today as we were about to start our first running leg. Trucks and cars were flying by! So we skipped over a little portion before beginning. Luckily the shoulder was wider there and we were able to feel more comfortable. We each had 11 individual miles to complete and Sarah, Kenzie and I began the day. Sadly Kenzie was feeling shooting pains and decided to join another group after the first three miles but hopefully she’ll recover very soon! The route was pretty flat with some rolling hills that we barely noticed and we had a successful running day going at a nice steady pace. We ran by lots of corn fields and I really enjoyed the blue sky spotted with beautiful white, fluffy clouds.
When we reached our host we were met by a newsreporter who was very excited to hear our story! She interviewed Natalie and had us run around a bit so she could get some shots. Then we were able to really meet our hosts.
Every time we reach a host I say I don’t want to leave. Each one has been so kind and so wonderful to us. Some of them share their stories, some cook us food, some go above and beyond and show the uttermost level of generosity. Tonight’s host, the Immanuel Lutheran Church, is an amazing example of the kindness that we have seen in groups across the country. They have gone to far lengths to make sure we are comfortable and well taken care of: from arranging for us to shower at the country club to purchasing the contents of a care package (when Kelsi’s package got lost in the mail they had her call home to find out what was in it then headed to the store) to providing us with a plethora of delicious food (including mango whip and nachos)! They even had a fire and s’mores for us to enjoy! AND then put out a gigantic bag of popcorn and put on the movie Forrest Gump. They shared with us how much they had enjoyed hosting the very first running team last year and how a member of their congregation had been fighting colon cancer when the team came through town. At the time Christy Jones had been in the hospital but she was able to video chat with the team! Unfortunately she passed away not too long after this but her spirit definitely lives on in her friends and church family. They formed together, led by the amazing Pam, to have a team in a Colon screening awareness 5K that same year. And they won for largest team and most money raised!
This evening full and happy we wrote in each other’s journals, notes for others to read after our journey together is complete or right before we run into Baltimore. It’s a bittersweet activity as we think of our time on this trip coming to an end. We have been through so many miles together and different challenges and hilarious circumstances…so to think of Baltimore is both happy and sad. Thankfully we all know we will always have 25 running buddies in different parts of the country that we can call on should we find a cool race in their area. And the friends we met on 4K will most certainly be lifelong ones.