Day 7: Gratitude

We got to sleep in!! Wake up call was at 5am. I can honestly say that I am starting to enjoy this early morning waking up and exercising!! We’ll see how long it lasts when I’m done 😉

Today was by far the strongest my legs felt. My blisters had turned to calluses so I didn’t feel them at all and I didn’t make terrible noises every time I started running because there was hardly any pain!!

Today I dedicated to family. To my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. You all were there when I was diagnosed and have been a great support since. To my in- laws, I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of your amazing family. Thank you for loving me for who I am and supporting me in all I do. To all of YOU, your posts, texts, messages, emails, and just incredible support. I truly couldn’t have done any of this without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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I was greeted at my start by all of these incredible people who were ready to run, walk, bike, rollerblade the day with me!! Luckily today we only had 19 miles to do!!

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A few miles in we were running near Amish country and a buggy passed by. My mom asked if I could get my picture with the man which then lead to getting a ride in the buggy.

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It was so awesome to have so many people out supporting me and getting a glimpse of what I ran the past 6 days. It got pretty toasty so I was glad we didn’t have as long to go today!!

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I spy orange. Must be a potty break in the cornfield

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After mile 4 a sheriff showed up to our stop because he said that this was unusual activity in the country and was curious as to what we were doing. After we explained what was going on, he gave us a police escort on the busier roads and checked in on us throughout the day.

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Today was definitley not a flat day. We pushed up some pretty brutal hills. Thank goodness for training in NC. My Aunts rode up the largest hill like this. It was pretty impressive!!

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It was awesome to have my mother and father in-law as well as my sister and brother in-law out there running and riding!! Love you guys so much.

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There were always lots of different games I played throughout the week such as ‘how many people can I get to wave’ or ‘how many different animals can I find.’ Today’s game was a version of I spy: I spy baby racoons on top of the tree and I spy orange up and down the road!! It was pretty awesome to see!!

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It was awesome to have my cousins and aunts and grandma here to cheer me on, run, ride, and provide lots of laughs!! Love you all.

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With the Kaminski girls, it doesn’t matter how far you’ve run, how late you were up, or what you have going on, there’s always a little time for some dancing and goofiness

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My sister Lauren and her boyfriend took care of our dog Sierra for the week, so they brought her up for the finish too!! I missed my little partner in crime.

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This was after mile 12. It was starting to get blazing hot and the roads were starting to get busier but these guys were right by my side!!

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I also got a police escort for 2 of the last 3 miles into Medina. I truly felt like a celebrity. Pretty unbelievable!!

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The last mile I ran/ walked all by myself. I cried the entire way. It was definitely some bittersweet tears. Tears of gratitude for all of the incredible people I have in my life. A few tears because I was sad it was over. Lots of tears because I was so ready to celebrate and take the next step in this chapter. Even more tears as I reflected on my week and thought about a close friend who is going through a tough situation. It just reminded me that life is so short to get caught up in the pettiness. We truly never know what tomorrow may bring, which is why I do everything in my power to enjoy each moment of each day.

I was greeted at the finish line by all of my family and a couple friends who were stopping traffic, cheering, crying, and laughing with me. It was such an incredible feeling to know I accomplished something many thought I was crazy for doing or questioned my sanity. What a feeling.

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There is no way I would have ever succeeded this week without these two incredible people. This is not an easy job and by no means is it for everyone. Thank you Kendra for becoming like a sister and Tim like a dad. I appreciate everything you did.

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I challenge you to take a few minutes every day to put your cell phone down, get off of social media and be present in the moment wherever you are. I never thought running through corn and soybean fields for 7 days could teach me so much, but what a lesson I have learned. Be in the moment.

Much love to you all and some day I may have words to describe how you all got me through this past week, but for now all I have to say is a simple Thank you!!

 

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Day 6: A leap of faith

3:45 couldn’t come soon enough this morning because I got to see my husband, Andy. He drove 9 hours from NC getting only 3 hours of sleep and sleeping in his car just to be able to spend the day with me. Now that is true love!! It was so incredible to have him here by my side.

Today was dedicated to my faith and my incredibly supportive husband Andy. I truly believe God has a plan for all of us as long as we listen. So grateful that I listened to Him when He put Andy in my life. He is the most supportive, positive, and adventure seeking person I know. I am a better person because of you, Andrew. Love you

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I wore different shoes today that I really didn’t like during my training but they are ultra running shoes, so they have more cushion. My legs were a mess after yesterday, so I decided to give them a try today. Holy cow did they make a huge difference. I didn’t feel my blister and I ran most of the day.

It was another incredible sunrise and was actually chilly as I started running, so of course I wanted to get as many miles in before it got blazing hot out again.

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Today was full of some awesome rolling hills. Some were definitely a bit more challenging than others, but it reminded me of being back home in Raleigh during my training so I stretched out my stride and dominated those bad boys. My legs were enjoying it so much they told me to keep going, so I busted out 28 miles so we would have less to do tomorrow!!

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My reflection today was all about taking a leap of faith.There is so much that we all are faced with in life and we all face very different things. However, one thing I have learned in the past but truly forgot until the last 6 days of this incredible journey, is in order to grow as a person and have an impact in this world, we all have to take a leap of faith and believe that we will be given wings to survive. There is no way I would be where I am today if I did not put myself out there and hope, pray, and believe that God was going to take care of me.

Faith has always been important to me, but is something that I definitely lost and grew away from for the past several years for many different reasons. About 6 months ago, Andy and I took a huge leap of faith and stepped WAY out of our comfort zone and decided to join a small group of young couples from our church. We knew no one and had no clue what to expect, so we went in with an open mind to give it a try. All I can say is that we are so glad we listened to a calling that we were very unsure of but felt right. These are some of the most down to earth, incredible people who met us where we are in our faith, and are walking with us along our journey. It’s all about taking a leap of faith wherever you are in your life.

I definitely took a leap of faith opening my life up to Andy. It was not something that was easy but he made me feel so comfortable and it was like we knew each other for years after meeting each other once. He is one of the most incredible people I know. I couldn’t imagine anyone else by my side. It was so great to have him here today to see what my journey has been like over the past 6 days.

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The biggest thing I have learned this week is to be in the moment and to truly appreciate it. Put your phone on silent, put aside the schedule and just live right now in this moment. Even if it’s just for a little bit each day. None of us know what the next moment may hold so enjoy it NOW!

Here are some fun photos from our day:

I have gotten used to dogs coming down the drive way to protect their house but definitely not a goat
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This is some of the farm equipment that I have seen more than cars over the past 6 days

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I passed this little produce stand where they have the honor system and you pay and take. I had $2 on me so I was tempted to get some squash and zucchini but then I quickly remembered I’d have to carry it 4 miles.

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Tim found some cans for my dad’s collection.

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There’s always time to stop and pose on a bridge

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It was such a relief when I looked down the road and saw this awesomeness coming towards me

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I think this is the closes I’ve come to a horse in about 15 years. Horses and I don’t always get along. See it’s all about getting out of your comfort zone.

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My mom, Grandma and Aunt Ginny drove from Indianapolis tonight to be here for the finish tomorrow, so they brought us a little picnic dinner at our campsite!! So excited to see my sisters and in laws tomorrow!!!

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It’s so hard to believe that I have only 1 day and 19 miles to go. You all have been with me every step of this journey and I couldn’t be more grateful. I truly couldn’t have done it without you.

We don’t have to be up until 5:00 tomorrow!! Yippee!!! Have a great weekend!!

Day 5: Life lessons learned on the road

4:00 am came awfully early this morning and I had a very hard time falling asleep last night so needless to say all I really wanted to do was stay in bed. However, I remembered that I wasn’t the only one in this fight so I put one toe after another onto the ground and got my butt up. That doesn’t mean I was in a good mood though. Definitely feeling a case of ‘I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.’

As we drove to the starting point for the day, I was still feeling real grouchy. It was one of those moments where you just want to break down and cry. So I gave myself one mile to cry and let it all out, but once I hit that mile mark it was time to dry those tears up, suck it up, and remember why I am doing this. I definitely felt better.

Today was dedicated to all of the incredible people who have come into my life after college. My Tahoe friends who taught me how to truly appreciate the outdoors and extreme sports as well as living out of my comfort zone to become a better person. And all of my NC friends who I have met the last 5 years. You all taught me how to get out of my comfort zone and enjoy the little things in life. Love each of you for making me who I am today.

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The day was by far one of my most favorite days I’ve ever run. The temperature was in the upper 60’s lower 70’s, very low humidity, big puffy clouds, and a nice wind blowing. At one point, I almost put on my long sleeve shirt, but I didn’t want to jinx it so I just walked/ran a bit faster!! There were some awesome rolling hills for most of the day!

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Dad was here for another day of biking and running when he could; therefore I had more time for running along, so I used today as a day to reflect and be grateful. I thought about all of the lessons I have learned about life, running, and my body after 5 days of this incredible journey.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned over the last 5 days:

1. Sometimes you just have to experiment with things to see if they work. My stomach has been pretty upset the past 2 days during and after running. The thought of eating another protein bar or gummy makes me feel sick. So one of my crew members, Kendra, suggested that I may be eating too much. After experimenting throughout the day, that did the trick. I was eating too much, who would have thought. haha Kendra saved the day and my stomach!!

2. Stop to talk to strangers. I met Pepper today after she came running at me with all of her teeth showing. I thought for sure my leg was going to get bit. Turns out she just wanted some lovin. She looks a lot like our dog Sierra!!

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We finished at a golf course and were telling two men what we were doing. They each donated $20. It was pretty incredible.

3. Take some time to stop and smell the wild flowers. There were a ton of wild flowers on the side of the road which reminded me of my Nanny. Whenever we go hiking together, she always knows all about the wild flowers. Thanks for running with me today, Nan!

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4. JT and I scoutin out the port o’ corns. We found some good ones today. They were a bit shorter than the other days!! JT was definitely by my side today. Thanks buddy.

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5. Sometimes you just have to look at life in a different perspective. As dad and I were running, we stopped for a stretch break and took this picture upside down!!

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6. Dad taught me all about the difference between hay and straw and how to tell in the fields. I also learned that there is a different smell between pig, cow, and chicken manure. Quite frankly it all smells like shit to me. 😉 It was definitely intriguing to hear day share his knowledge of growing up on a farm. I think I’m ready to be a farm girl. hahah NOT!!

7. Dad set a new PR. On our last 4 mile walk he was able to collect and hold 15 cans all at once. It was a big day for Toddo. He tried to get me to help pick them up but I knew if I bent down there was no getting back up.

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8 Sometimes the hardest part is taking that first step. I am one of those people who has to have everything planned out exactly how it needs to happen, have everything packed (with lots of snacks;)), get flustered when I think that it’s not going to go exactly how I want it to go. Therefore, I don’t always take that first step. Well sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and trust that God has your back and will put wings on you to fly. I was drained today both physically and mentally today so it took everything I had to take that first step. And yes it was insanely painful and I might have made some pretty crazy noises, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Taking that step after the 15 mile mark was not as easy so I decided to listen to my body and walk the last 11 miles and enjoy the AMAZING day.

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I am exhausted so time for some rest but it’s incredible to think that Day 5 and 130 miles are complete. 2 more days and 47 miles. So excited because my husband will be here to run/bike with me all day tomorrow. You all keep me going and get me out of bed in the morning. Love to you all.

Day 4: Find the positives

Our alarm at 3:45am was soon followed by a thunderstorm. I was a little relieved at first thinking I could get more sleep, but then I quickly remembered what happens in the Midwest after rain/thunderstorms: crazy humidity. Therefore, we went through our normal routine and headed to the starting point for the day at normal time (5:30am) hoping the storms would pass. Along the way we picked up my dad who drove from Indianapolis late last night!!

Today was dedicated to all of my middle and high school cross country and track teammates (and classmates) as well as all of the running and sports coaches I’ve had in my life. I learned many life lessons from all of you especially my Pops!!! He was with me at every cross country and track meet coaching, cheering, and reminding me to relax my shoulders. Well he’s here today to keep coaching and running with me. Love you Toddo!

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We all face daily challenges and whether you live with MS or not most likely you don’t even know what those daily challenges are going to be. Your plans may not go exactly how you wanted, maybe something unexpected happens, maybe your dinner gets burned (I’ve never done that ;), and when you live with MS some days just lifting a leg to get out of bed can be a challenge. But no matter what  daily challenges you may face, there is ALWAYS at least 1 positive thing that you can find. Today was one of those days that brought forth some mental and physical challenges, which made find the little positive things even more important.

Some of my challenges today:

1. It was raining for the first 8 miles and my socks and shoes got all wet

2. I have some gnarly blisters that turned to calluses and wet socks don’t help that

3. I started on busier roads today with a small shoulder so there was a lot more dodging cars, stopping to let cars pass, getting sprayed with all the water after semis went by, and not too many cornfields to pee in.

4. My legs were feeling pretty sore.

However, if I would have dwelled on these challenges all day there is no way in hell that I would have made it the whole 26 miles. So here are the positives that I got me through the run:

1. It was raining which meant that there were lots of puddles to jump in and that is one of my absolutely favorite things to do (besides run in the rain)

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2. My dad was able to run/bike with me. Because of logistics of moving the RV to a new campground he had to drive along and meet up with me but it was the best feeling when I saw him riding or running towards me. Thanks Pops!!

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3. I have never had blisters like this before so my feet are getting tougher and if that is the only pain I have, well I can deal with it.

4. While I love the sunshine, but when I’m running in Farmland Ohio, I love the clouds even more. Today was an absolutely incredible running day which gave me the strength to push through!

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5. Dad always collected cans on our walk/runs growing up so today he collected a whole bunch and is going to turn them in and donate the money to the run. Thanks, Dad for teaching me the importance of taking care of the earth we live on!

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6. When Sloan and Anne came to run on Monday we all ran in animal hats. Of course my had to be orange so I chose the Tiger. I texted Sloan because this tiger needed a name. He  saved the day during yesterday’s intense run so I have worn him every day since. Naturally he came up with the name JT the Tiger after our good friend James who was the most incredible person. Anyone who met James instantly had a smile on their face and became a better person. James lost is fight with Leukemia and is not one of the most incredible angels watching over us. JT, you are with me every step of the way and I couldn’t be more honored to be your friend.

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7. Hitting the 100 mile mark. I actually made it to 104 miles, which means I am in the double digits my friends!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!

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8.Getting all of the texts, emails, posts from all of you. Words can’t really explain how you all are on this run with me. I know I’m not in this alone and that means more than you know!

Just remember when you are faced with a daily challenge, there has got to be something positive that can come from it.

Time for some sleep…Never would I dream that I would think getting up at 4 am is sleeping in!!!

 

Day 3: Inhale strength, exhale weakness

Phew, what a day. Another early morning wake up call at 3:45am but once again, I was incredibly grateful to be out before the sun came up and enjoy as much breeze and coolness that we could. The sunrise was absolutely incredible over the cornfields today. iphone pics Day 3 MSRUS 004 iphone pics Day 3 MSRUS 006

Today was dedicated to all of my fellow MS Rockstars who are fighting the challenges of living with MS right along with me. It’s a fight every minute of every day but it’s all in our attitude and mindset. You all keep me moving and give me hope that we WILL find a cure.

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Today was definitely a day that built up my mental toughness. I could definitely feel my legs getting stronger. My friend Jamie wrote me a card for this morning and the first thing in it was “pain is weakness leaving the body.” That’s exactly what I told myself all day long. Thanks, Jame!  My middle sister sent me a challenge to think of a memory of each chapter of my life while I was running today which kept me occupied for awhile and also gave me some good laugh out loud moments! Thanks, Morgs!! My youngest sister had her students that she works with make some encouraging signs and cards which definitely made me start crying. Thanks Lolen!

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We finished 13 miles by 9 am and it felt awesome!! Thank you all for posting, texting, emailing any orange that you were wearing. Keep it coming!!

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While the flat roads are awesome, a challenge is there is very little shade. So when it is blazing hot and no breeze it can be very challenging and take every ounce of mental strength that you have. Heat and MS don’t work well together for most people and I am one of them, but thank goodness for my crew team that took care of me. Kendra ran the entire day with me which was incredible and Tim was awesome with the ice, food, finding shady spots when possible, and applying biofreeze to my legs!!! I couldn’t have done it without them today.

Sometimes this was about at much shade as we could find.

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The last  5 miles were by far the hardest miles I have ever experienced running or really doing anything physical. At about mile 22 I was ready to curl up in a cornfield and call it quits and then I thought about all of the other incredible people I have met over the past 11 years who are fighting this fight with me. So I quickly inhaled some strength and exhaled a lot of weakness and pushed through. It was probably one of the best feelings to know that we just kicked some Ohio backroad bootay in the blazing hot heat which means we are kicking some serious MS butt.

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Things I am getting used to after 3 days of running on back country roads in Ohio:

1. The smell of cow manure and dead animals

2. Seeing more dead animals than people

3. Using cornfields as port-o-pots

4. Embracing every bit of shade possible. It starts to become a game after awhile. Run until you find shade (that’s why we ran most of today because there wasn’t a whole lot of shade to be embraced).

5. Truly appreciating the incredible farmland. Being able to see for miles is not something you can do in a lot of places and when you truly take time to embrace the quiet beauty, it’s incredible.

All I have to say is the love and support from so many of you is just incredible. You truly got me through my day today and will be the reason I get up in the morning. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

This was another quote that got me through my day…

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I feel this sums up what facing the daily challenges of MS can be like. Embrace what you can do and go live it up today!! Love and sweaty hugs to you all!

 

Hearing diagnosis words…

It was the second Saturday in May of 2003, the day before my 19th birthday. I had just finished my final exam of my Freshman year in college after getting little to no sleep the night before because of the excruciating pain in my neck. My feet were tingly, I couldn’t see very well, and I was extremely dizzy, but it was move out day from the 6th floor of my dorm room. The elevators were broken, there were tornadoes going through the area so my parents weren’t able to make it up there, and I had a whole lot of stuff to cram into my Jeep Cherokee, Jerry!

After a couple falls, lots of help from gracious strangers, and one packed JerBear, I made the 1 hour journey home to spend my first summer working my first “real” job and being a big bad sophomore in college. Little did I know that I would hear four powerful words that would change my life, attitude, and outlook for the rest of my life.

It is still that second Saturday in May when my parents, and one of my 2 younger sisters suggested that we should all go to church and then celebrate the completion of my first year of college. There is a really special nature path at my childhood church, that my dad suggested we walk down before going inside. As we were walking, he stopped with tears coming down his face and then I look at my mom and sister and they are both crying. I had no idea until my dad was the one that shared some of the hardest words he has ever had to as a father, ” Sara, you have multiple sclerosis.” Well, now I am crying because I have no idea what this means for my future and all I want to know is 1. Am I going to die? and 2. Can I have children? It all was so new to my parents but thank goodness they know me because they knew the answers to both of those questions: “No you’re not going to die,” and “Yes you can have children, in fact pregnancy can be great for women with MS.” After talking further, my mom told me that they had known for a whole week before telling me because they didn’t want to ruin my finals week. The craziest part of my mom knowing was that we went to a concert together that week and that is one of the rare symptoms made its debut (blister in the back of the throat). She didn’t say a word. I can’t even imagine the feelings that were going through her as my mother. After hearing some answers, shedding lots of tears, and sharing a little bit of laughter, I was relieved. I at least had an answer and could figure out the next step I needed to take.

The next day (my 19th birthday), I started an intense IV of steroids that I was lucky to be able to do at home with my immediate family and extended family by my side. Much to my surprise, my amazing high school friends came together and planned a surprise birthday party to celebrate and to console and encourage me in whatever the next step will entail. I will forever be grateful for that party. It gave me hope that things are going to be okay.

Let’s just say, I do not remember 1 minute about the next 2 weeks of my life. I slept for 2 whole weeks because my body needed some TLC which required nothing but sleep and steroids.

Needless to say, my first summer as a college student was one that I will never forget and one that changed my life.