a lot of miles, a lot of thoughts…

Posts tagged ‘great run’

4.5 miles and Stairs, 1034 Glorious Stairs!

The Bisbee 1000, The Great Stair Climb

This was a much-anticipated race and I seriously could not wait! A friend had sent me the link for the race many months ago. I checked it out and was determined to go. The promo video for it made it seem just like The Secret Stairs in my little town but with more! MORE miles, MORE hills, MORE… you guessed it, STAIRS! OMG! Heaven! I do love me some stairs!

I really have no idea why. Stairs burn the legs… the quads, the calves, the glutes. Stairs take your breath away… you’re gasping for air when you reach the top of an extended stair case or when you’ve climbed a set over and over again. I choose stairs over escalators. I choose stairs over elevators. Whenever I see a set I think, “hmm, how could I turn those into a workout? So many possibilities!”

It wasn’t a cheap race for me. There was the entry fee, the t-shirt fee (that wasn’t included :(), the hotel costs (2 nights in lovely Naco, Arizona), gas, rental car fee, food and drink, and a couple of souvenirs. The most expensive race I’d ever run… but it was worth it!

The 8 hour car drive with my hubby was quite enjoyable. I had packed snacks and not even healthy ones at that! We munched and chit chatted our way over the mountains, through the desert and right into the little town of Bisbee, Arizona. Made it just in time to pick up our bibs. The time flew by. Of course, I wasn’t driving and I was doing most of the talking so I was having a great time! My hubby kept us on course, smiled, laughed, nodded his head, and chimed in when given the chance. 😉 It was a great drive!

The “lodge” where we stayed was clean, had all the amenities we needed… tv, bed, bathroom and coffee pot. It even had a mini fridge, microwave and blow dryer! Who could ask for anything more? The restaurant that was next door and the closest thing for miles was, well, uhm, yeah. We ordered a meal there but didn’t eat there nor did we actually eat the meal WE ordered. Somehow we got another lady’s breaded mushrooms, two patties of I don’t know what, and a carne asada burrito. The waitress was foul-mouthed, in a hurry, and I don’t think customer service is part of her job description. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure friendly was not her middle name. My husband who can usually crack the meanest person couldn’t even get her to grimace. Not with his compliments of the 14 inch long nails, the rather quiet vacuum cleaner, or the well stocked but completely unkept kitchen area situated just behind me. She didn’t like his flattery or his jokes. She was a pretty tough cookie. And, then when he had to go back to try to get OUR meal, she didn’t find him charming AT ALL! 😉 Needless to say, I didn’t get my enchiladas and the lady who didn’t get her mushrooms? Well, since Mike didn’t know where she was staying, she didn’t get those either. The girl with the apron couldn’t care less about the lady and her shrooms. Oh well.
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The morning of the race we got up, dressed and headed for the town of Bisbee. In the daylight it was very charming and we saw this big hole in the ground, like the size of a crater! A serious hole! We decided to check it out on our way back. We parked on the outskirts of town and walked to the starting line. Lots of people meandering their way towards the lady with the bull horn. People donned in all sorts of running apparel. Even some in costumes (there was a Halloween contest going on as well). Everyone was friendly and excited. We chatted with a couple of different people. Most it was their first time and they were just as anxious as I. My husband wasn’t anxious. He was, shall we say, just along for the fun. The last time he had run was the 5K we did in July. So, he was not feeling prepared or excited or anxious. I think he may actually have been dreading it! But, he was there… all smiles, friendly, and cracking jokes with anyone who was near. I’m pretty sure he just wanted the race to start so it could be over.
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Then it was time to get in our corrals. Whoo hoo! This is the part I love and dread at the same time. Here is where you see who you are up against. Reality? I’m truly only running against myself but the competitor in me always checks out who’s standing around me. I basically am looking for people about my age. Hmm, am I faster than her? did he train more than me? But once you move up to the starting line and they let you go, all of that is forgotten and I run my race.

I did meet a women whose name is Molly. She was a tiny little thing and looked fit as a fiddle. This was the first stair race for both of us. And, she was about 5 months post chemo. It wasn’t her first race since her treatment but probably the most challenging race. I was inspired. The trials in my life have been nothing compared to hers and if she’s fit and fierce than I have no excuse. Seriously.

Then a group of fire fighters dressed in all their gear headed to the front and they let them have a head start. I couldn’t imagine wearing all that “stuff” AND run in boots. Who does that? Apparently THEM! Again, if they can do it? There is no reason for me to have doubts.

We finally make it to the starting line, they drop the banner and off we go! Running through the streets of this old mining town. They aren’t smooth and they are winding. And, they are AWESOME! We reach the first staircase and the adrenaline is practically jumping off my body! The stairs go up in between two buildings, just like the Secret Stairs in La Mesa. I’m sure I’ve got the biggest grin on my face. I am absolutely loving it!

If you want to walk up the stairs you stay to the right, if you want to run or go faster than those on the right you move to the left. I start on the right and quickly realize that I wanna run! I move to the left and up those babies I go! Whoo hoo! I’ve never been so grateful for all those Tuesday runs in La Mesa!

Staircases two and three are just as fun, and the same thing, I start on the right and quickly find myself on the left. We are now also running through the hilly neighborhoods. People are on the streets, on their porches, in their driveways cheering us on! It was amazing! When I hit staircase number 4 I was so happy and all the little people in my head were having a big cheerfest! “We are so doing this again next year! Yeah! This is FUN! OMG! Where has this race been all my life! Whoo hoo!” Seriously, I was so excited.

My leg had been hurting from my last challenge and I was a bit concerned about being able to run this race. But, I was so excited, if my leg hurt I didn’t even noticed. I think it was caught up in all of the excitement and the adrenaline and endorphins were at maximum levels. No pain at all!

After staircase number 5 it was a run up a hill and then another hill and out along the outskirts of town. Beautiful. The path was a little sketchy as the pavement was broken up but I didn’t care, it was awesome!

My goal was to run the 4.5 mile race in under an hour. I didn’t know how my leg would hold up and I didn’t know the route. But I figured that would be pretty respectable. And although Sheila was chattering at me every mile I didn’t hear a word she said. There were always people cheering or clapping! Plus the voices in my head were singing! So, I really had no idea about my time.

I powered up each and every staircase, even 6, 7, 8 and 9! I was winded, but my legs weren’t tired. They were enjoying those stairs! Even the hills were fun!

When I hit the last staircase and I knew I was headed to the finish line I tried to push even harder, go even faster, I really wanted to RACE to the finish! And, after you came up those last stairs, it was downhill to the end. It was simply awesome!

I crossed the finished line at the clock time of 52 minutes something but final chip time said 50:10. (16th in my age group!) I was STOKED! I was grinning ear from ear! I hugged my medal! I loved the after race snacks! It was like heaven! Do you think heaven will have stairs? Oooo… now that’s sort of an oxymoron for people, huh?
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Anyway, I gathered all the goodies and waited for my hubby to finish. I watched as runners crossed the finish line, happy as can be. Some looked completely worn out, some looked like they had just run 4.5 miles and climbed 1034 stairs, but all finally turned that “I think I may die” face into a smile. And, even when my husband came down that hill you could tell he had felt every one of those miles and every single step, but when he crossed the finish line, even he smiled a little. 🙂

My words cannot describe how awesome that race was. I loved everything about it. The winding roads, the broken pavement, the uneven stairs, the overgrown pathways, and even the cars driving along beside you! I wanted to sign up right then and there and do it again next year! I was gonna book my room and tell all my Team RockStar friends to join me. It was THAT cool!

After the race my husband was feeling it. His legs were sore and he was tired. A couple of years ago – now this is his version – he says I forced him to walk a 5K that took us on a local freeway and up a few hills and he pulled a hamstring. It took literally months for his leg to heal and it hasn’t been quite right since. Now, this is my version – a couple of years ago he told me about a 5K that some of the teachers at the elementary school were doing and thought it would be fun to join them. So we did. I wasn’t a runner then, I didn’t do hills, so I didn’t PUSH. HE did. And because he did, he pulled his hammy. I had nothing to do with it! But every time he gets signed up for a race, the pain in his leg becomes my fault. 🙂 Whatever!

Anyway, we spent the rest of the day taking in the sites, enjoying the little shops and the atmosphere. Remember that big hole? Come to find out, it was part of the copper mine that Bisbee was built around. We didn’t get a chance to go into the mine because we missed the last tour plus the sign said it was 47 degrees down in the mine! I was wearing my running skirt! I would have frozen to death underground!
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We stopped and got dinner at a little mexican food place, took it back to the lodge and watched tv before going to bed. It was a great weekend get away! It really was. I’m very thankful to my friend who shared the link with me. It is now on my Top Ten List of the Greatest Things I’ve Ever Done!

The ride home was uneventful but fun as well. I got to drive part of the way and my lead foot didn’t get us into any problems. I was a very good driver. 🙂

Anyway, I wanted to share my Bisbee adventure. It was very memorable and great fun. Sadly, I won’t be doing it again. The price went up and because of all the other expenses that go along with it, it’ll just have to remain a wonderful memory.

If you ever get the chance to do the Great Stair Climb in Bisbee, Arizona I’d recommend it at least once. A great time, a great course, many great memories!

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Day 30, and just like that I was done!

Its taken me a while to sit down to write the recap of the last day of the challenge. Before I dwell on the why, I want to finally get it down.

It was a remarkable day. I didn’t really have a plan per se. I knew I would finish whatever miles I had at the high school track after the Cheetah’s cross country practice but that was really the only thing I had set in stone.

I didn’t know how my legs would feel in the morning. Day 29 had been such a success but SOOOO many miles. And, whenever I have a couple of good days there’s always a bad one waiting for me.

So, when I got up… I stretched. I tested my legs… And, it looked like I’d able to run in an hour or so. That was good. I had a little breakfast, took a pain killer, got dressed, yanked the hair back, brushed the teeth, laced up my shoes, put Sheila on my arm and headed out the door.

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I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go. I was hoping for at least 5, maybe 7 miles. The more I could do in the morning, the less I’d have to do in the evening. I chose one of my new favorite routes, a little hill in the beginning and fairly flat until the final leg back home.

I walked about the first third of a mile. I really had to warm up the right leg. Had it had its way, I wouldn’t have ran, but that wasn’t up for discussion. It had to come along whether it wanted to or not AND it had to participate and be joyful about it. And, for the most part it was.

When I turned the first corner to head up the hill I started running and I didn’t stop until the final hill home. A lot of things went through my mind… this was the last day, I was actually going to accomplish this gnarly goal, would my leg survive, what was I gonna do next, all sorts of things!

When I hit mile 5 I was feeling good so I kept going and ran by a different high school and then decided to lengthen the route. I bypassed some stop lights but the ones I did hit I didn’t let get to me. My average pace was pretty slow because I had started out walking and then each light added to the time. I ran by my church and through its parking lot. I ran by my gym and then headed for home. The pain killer enabled me to run almost 11 miles in that first run. At the time I thought that was awesome! (Later, and for another post, I found that was a huge mistake!)

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I got home and my hubby asked “well? how far did you go?” When I told him 10.72 miles he smiled! The kind of smile that says “you got this! you are so going to crush this!” And, even though I was tired and my legs were sore, I smiled inwardly. He knows me. He gets me. 🙂

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The next two runs were on the treadmill. They were painful and quiet. I didn’t even watch Netflix. I simply ran. I turned the mill on, put it on a speed that I could handle and just ran. In those two runs I knocked out another 10 miles. My legs were tired. I was tired. But it was almost over. Almost.
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I went to the high school cross country practice. These kids have really grown on me. They know about my challenge and they always ask “Coach, how many miles did you run today? How’s your leg?” Today was no different. They are very excited for me and maybe even a little impressed. They can’t really complain too much when I answer “20 miles” and then they find out they must run 5 or 6. And, I’m going with them. Anyway…

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Today’s run was one of the best ones for us all. We decided to do a 5 mile route and I knew I needed to hang with them. My leg was sore and I’d popped another pain killer but I was going to do all 5 with them… come heck or high water! I started out in the back of the pack, and slowly moved my way to the middle. Now it drives them crazy when I pass them. They’re runners now you know. 🙂 And, then I pulled in front of the girls and I actually surged a bit. Not sure why, legs felt good, so I went. The Coach on the Bike called out to the girls “go with her! go with her!” And something inside me made me go faster. I lengthened my stride, calmed my breathing and ran. I was looking to catch the boys in front of me. All the while, Coach on the Bike is encouraging the girls to pick it up, “don’t let her get too far out! you gotta go! pick it up!” It was almost like we were in a race! It was pretty awesome! Finally I heard one of the girls coming up behind me. I could hear her footfalls and her heavy, heavy breathing. I knew that if I surged again she wasn’t in any condition (based on what I was hearing) to take me but this run wasn’t about winning it was a teaching moment. I called back to her “relax! take deep breaths! you’re running too heavy, lighten your steps! relax! stay calm! persist… don’t push!” And, I could tell she was listening. Her footsteps quieted, her breathing became deeper, quieter and she began running more efficiently. And, slowly, she came up on me, ran next to me and then went in front of me. Strong. As she ran beside me I encouraged her, “you got this. slow your breathing down, don’t run so heavy, pick up your feet, lengthen your stride. run efficiently.” and finally, “go!” And with that she took the lead. I called out to her “nice job! stay relaxed! run easy! Go!” I don’t know why but I got the biggest grin on my face as I watched her pull away. It was crazy! It was something I won’t ever forget. Every run isn’t perfect but every run is worth it.

I tried to maintain my pace. I still had another girl behind me and I needed her to push herself. She needed to be able to beat Coach. And if I slowed down then she wouldn’t have done it on her own. I needed her to push. I could hear Coach on the Bike talking to her “watch that ponytail! Go get her! Move up! You got this!” And then I could hear her footsteps. Not too heavy, her breathing wasn’t too shallow. She was methodically moving up and catching me. I tried to surge just a little but my energy was pretty spent. And, finally she was beside me. I encouraged her just like I did the other runner but I told her “run steady, don’t fall back, focus forward, run relaxed, you got this.” And slowly she passed me and pulled away. I probably could have stayed with her for awhile but for some reason I let her go. I had tears stinging my eyes. My cross country girls were finally “getting it”. And, this run… this run, on day 30, was phenonmenal.

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I ended up walking just a bit and then picked it up to meet them back at the school. What a great run! Seriously. A great run!

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And, then I headed to the Cheetah’s practice. I had just under 5 miles left to run. 5 miles. That number never sounded so easy but sounded so long at the same time. Once practice was over, the high school marching band came out onto the field. I wonder what these kids think of the old lady who runs around and around and around and around the track while they practice. I wasn’t running fast, I picked a speed that I knew I could maintain for 20 laps, and I willed my legs to go. I listened to the band go through their movements. Apparently they have some book that’s got 44 pages in it that they keep track of their “dots” or spots where they are supposed to be on the field at any given moment. Some of the kids don’t move fast enough or take long enough steps to get to their next “dot” and they are always getting in trouble for it. The guy in the booth always threatens them. 🙂 They must have some big competition coming up cuz he was telling them what the judges would be looking for and if they weren’t on their “dot” the judge would know! And, this particular movement they were practicing required them to move slowly so they had to have PERFECT form so they should take advantage of this practice to get it RIGHT! Meanwhile, I’m sure they were distracted by the lady who keeps running and running and running. Will she ever stop? 🙂

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When Sheila told me I had hit mile 4 you would think that I would have sped up! Get this over with! RUN Rhonda RUN! But, I didn’t. I maintained and I told myself… 4 more laps. 4 more laps. This is it. 4 more laps. I was looking for my hubby and my kids. I thought they’d be there. But, no it was just me and the marching band under the lights.

3 more… once again, I was accomplishing some CRAZY challenge that I forced myself into. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

2 more… you can do this. its almost done. you stuck it out. you never gave up. you kept going. no matter what.

1 more… and the tears welled up. I can’t believe its almost over. I’m doing it. I’m finishing. I’m strong. And, oh so slightly crazy! And the tears fell. Slowly, softly they rolled down my cheeks for the final 100 meters. Just me and the band. “Get on your dots!”

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I crossed my imaginary finished line and came to a stop. I looked around. No crowds, no cheers, no one. I picked up my jacket and water that I had left on the side of the track and walked out the gate. I knew I’d probably run here again but it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be surreal like it was just now. As I walked to my car I saw the headlights. I wiped my tears and smiled. He stopped the car right in front of me, jumped out, a dozen roses in his hands, “You did it! You did it!” He hugged me and twirled me around! “You did it!” He apologized for being late and missing me cross the finish line (he knows me) and asked if I would take a victory lap with him. My legs were sore and tired but I couldn’t resist one more lap. Especially with the guy who is my everything. My biggest fan, my cheerleader, my coach, my trainer, my best friend, Mine. So we walk back up to the track, snap a picture and start walking. I know the band really had to think something was up cuz now I was carrying a dozen white roses and had a papparazzi following me around the track! It was crazy!

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30 days. 465 miles. I ran 465 in September. A mile for every day of the month. Nothing more nothing less. All because I set a goal and someone said I couldn’t. Someone said I shouldn’t. And, someone said I wouldn’t. They don’t know me. I could, I should and I most definitely would. 🙂 And, then I did. 🙂

Day 29 (again) in video…

I forgot that I had taken a video before and after the 4 runs on the 29th. Before posting the recap of the last day I wanted to share these first.

Day 29… began with dread but finished with smiles!

Day 29, the most successful cuz I had a plan (and was able to follow it)!

By nature I’m a planner. I like routine, I like structure, I like lists. I’m basically a creature of habit. Every once in a while I like spontaneity but too much of that and I’m all out of sorts. Yeah, I’m pretty boring.

This challenge has caused me to step out of that comfort zone. I really try to plan the next day. Run this far in the morning, run this far before noon, run this far in the afternoon and so on and so on. But, sometimes when I get up in the morning my feet or my legs are just not ready to go. It derails my plans and I have to alter my game plan.

But not today! My plan was to go to Lake Murray and run ALL 29 miles there. That’s 4 times around the lake. Now, Sheila, she can’t hang for much more than 7 miles. I knew I’d have to charge her.

This is how it all broke down. Park outside the park by the Starbucks. Walk into the park to warm up the legs, start running at the gate and to the bull’s eye, snap a picture, stretch my legs, and head back to the car. Charge Sheila, drink some water, have a snack or two. Once my phone was charged enough, I’d walk back into the park and do the same thing all over again. And then again, and then again

I wanted to be able to run the 7 miles in under 2 hours (with the way my leg felt I figured I’d be doing a lot of walking) but miraculously I was able to run the whole way and kept my times under an hour and a half. I felt good, I ran well, and I finished strong!

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where there’s a plan, there’s comfort! 😉

24 days of constant running…

And I don’t mean just running every day but literally running ALL the time! (Or so it seems.)

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I started the day with a great run outside. It was early, I was feeling good. I took a route that I had just recently run. A little hilly, yes, but very few stoplights! As I came over the freeway I was thinking “who would have thought that I’d ever run over a freeway? Or up a hill? Or even run period?” I’m still amazed at how much I grow with each decision to try something different and push myself a little farther.

Anyway I took a wrong turn (I know, imagine that!) and as I rounded the corner I look up and there is one gnarly hill! Where did THAT come from?!? I mean, that hill was not part of the gameplan. Ugh! But up it I went. Beautiful views as the sun was rising. Never so happy to see my street, tho!

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Second run was a quickie on the treadmill. Although, I don’t really have “quickies” any more. My pace is downright turtlish. Which is another funny thing. But I’ll get back to that later.

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Runs 3 and 4, both on the mill. Just trying to get it done. My goal was to have only 4 miles left so I could finish with Team RockStar. Every once in a while the plan works!

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So excited to run the Secret Stairs with Team RockStar! These people are one of my rocks. Always uplifting, always glad to see me and always ready to try whatever crazy thing I put out there. I was so glad to see them and so glad to finish the day with them.

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As we were heading up Cinnabar (a monstrous hill) we were talking about pace – this is where we get back to the turtle comment. One of the RockStars said that “if you’re running a 10 minute pace, in most circles, that’s fast.” And on good runs lately, that’s my pace. It’s slower than my old average but apparently, or maybe she’s just trying to make me feel good, I’m still fast. Regardless, she lifted my spirits and I long for those 10 minute miles.

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Day 24. 24 miles…

Day 23… can she make it?

As I said before if there are one or two good days be prepared for a gnarly day ahead. And, although not feet-stopping, day 23 proved to be a challenge.

I started on the treadmill. I think that poor thing might quit on me.

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Did a little work and headed back to the treadmill. When my legs are sore I tend to rehab on the mill.

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And then it was time to hit the mean streets! Headed to XC practice with the high school.

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They are definitely improving. And, well, I’m slowly crashing and burning. 🙂 Walked pretty much the last mile. The head coach gave his bike to one of our runners who is dealing with shin splints. I felt like the coach wasn’t quite up for a run. LOL!

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And then to the Cheetah’s practice. This is where it all fell apart!

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I just needed to go a few miles, about 4. But my legs just wouldn’t go. Everything from my hips down is sore. My quads, hammies, knees, calves, ankles, top of my right foot, middle toe on my left foot. My legs are thrashed! Seriously hating me!

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It gets dark after the Cheetah’s run. See the lights at the track?

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I started walking and after a bit I could run the straights. Then I could run a straight and a curve. Longest four miles ever!

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No matter how bad it was, the day was done and the 23 miles were ran. Only a week left.

Day 22, like a box of chocolates…

September 22 was just a few days ago but it seems almost like a lifetime.

Thankfully I can remember it with video and pics. I hope you take the time to watch, look and enjoy.

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My driveway… where I usually start and most definitely end. 🙂

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2nd run on the treadmill.

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Before the third run.

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Lake Murray.

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And the final treadmill run.

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Day 22, quite the success! This is a crazy challenge. So many ups and downs. Usually when there is a day or two of ups then there’s a gnarly day ahead. And, if there’s a horrible day then a spectacular one is just around the corner. Kind of like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!

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