Day 29: “Smiles”

Day 29, Saturday, October 17th

Steamboat to Clark

 

Dedicated to:

Bill Whittmore, Steamboat Springs, CO

Alexis Perlmutter, Golden, CO (her wedding day, congratulations)

Renzo Giraldo, Miami FL

 

We all woke pretty much in the same situation… not rested. Why in the world, did none of us sleep well? We were in the best beds, quietest rooms, and most comfortable environment we’d been in all month. Guess we have just gotten used to camping and didn’t know how to take being treated like royalty at the Sheraton.

The fatigue from lack of sleep was overcome by the energy and excitement the moment we stepped into CrossFit Steamboat. It was just before 8am and the room was covered in purple shirts, purple balloons and smiling faces. Sarah Coleman and her team had brought together members of their CF community, kids from “Girls on the Run”, athletes from the high school cross country team and supporters from the Steamboat community to run out of town with me. Sarah I stood tall on plyo boxes overlooking the abundance of people. I was overwhelmed with appreciation as Sarah introduced me and Move Mountains. I then gave a short speech and introduced the Move Mountains team. After a few tears of joy shed (I swear I can’t keep my eyes dry for nothin’), we headed out the door with a sea of purple balloons flying high around us. The love I felt put a permanent smile on my face for the day.

We were greeted and escorted out of town by a fire truck driven by Troy Kuhl (the guy that let us stay in his apartment). At about 1 mile in we reached where I had ended two days before (the intersection of highway 40 and 129). The fire truck blocked highway-40 for us to all take a left and head north on 129. This was the final road that would take me all the way to the Wyoming border. 129 didn’t have much of a shoulder so I was a bit nervous for the safety of the 30-40 people behind me (especially the little ones). Shelby, one of the girls from “Girls on the Run” was right behind for 2 miles. I mean the girl was moving! At mile 2, Shelby called it and I was then shoulder to shoulder with a guy named Kyle. Sarah said that he is the runner of the group at CrossFit Steamboat. Boy was she right! His initial plan was to run a bit with me and then go hit the 9am class at the gym, but for some crazy reason (and my personal luck), he decided to run 9 miles. He will never know how much I appreciated the company that morning, he kept a great pace and kept my mind preoccupied.

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As we were approaching the 7-mile mark just gabbing away, Kyle and I were surprised to hear a voice behind us. “Hey guys. Care if I ride with you?” It was Bill Whittmore. I was so honored to have him join us. I was running for Bill this day. He had been in communication with me since the planning of Move Mountains. Bill told me more about his story as we continued charging up the consistent slight grade of highway 129. He was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 2-3 days old. I would guess that he’s in his 50’s now (sorry Bill if I have that wrong). He’s a fighter. Bill has never been able to drive, but he moved to Steamboat (I think he said in his 20’s). He joined a support group there called Horizons and had a community he could call his own. He’s been independent living in his own condo and working a full time job at the local grocery store there. He rides his bike everywhere he can, for exercise and for commuting. In the winter, when the roads are covered in ice and snow, he uses the local bus system (like we all should do anyways). Bill couldn’t gain control of his seizures and ended up being a candidate for brain surgery. I’m unsure of the year, but Bill braved surgery and it was a success. The part of his brain that showed activity during a seizure was the left frontal lobe, the area of the brain that effects our speech. After surgery, Bill’s seizures were better, but he developed a stutter. You would never know though, Bill is a talker. The 11 miles that Bill rode with me up 129 he told me stories of his family, his friends, his life in Steamboat, his job, his gym, his biking… the guy is wonderful. He leads a happy life and literally had a smile the entire time we heading up the road.

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The sun was shining bright again, the Colorado blue sky was vibrant, the initial morning chill in the air was gone. The terrain was open rolling meadows surrounded by mountains, with a huge peak up ahead… Hahn’s Peak… the pointiest peak I’d ever seen. As Bill and I kept moving forward, we heard a “honk honk” and my mom’s good friend, Carla, showed up in her pick-up with florescent pink signs taped to the back reading “Move Mountains” as well as a Tibetan prayer flag dangling from the bumper. I didn’t know she was going to be there. It immediately brought my heart peace. Life is good! I was reminded that I’m so lucky to be able to run 18 miles today with new friends, old friends and family by my side.

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For the most part, the traffic this day was extremely respectful. People slowed down, waved, cheered us on. We got a few funny looks, but that’s to be expected. We were cheered on by fields of cows, mooing at us with pleasant tones as if to say “you’re doing great”. A smile was brought to my face. There was a farm house to the right, with a father and his young daughter standing outside. He waved and said, “on your way back down, come stop in for some pig”… then I saw the smoke coming out of the ground. A pig roast… oh how I wish I was going to be headed back down for that! Another smile! We passed a woman on the left as we were climbing a hill who was holding her sign that said “Jenny” on it. I couldn’t believe someone way up here knew we were coming through and took the time to stop. Her name was Diane and she was cheering us on her with goat, Samwise. Tory, a former goat owner, jumped out of the truck and we all took a moment to cuddle Sam and thank Diane. Another smile. A few more miles up the road, I saw Tory and Marcus out of the truck with a camera up in this guys face. Doug was walking up the side of the road with his dog Gunner. However, not just any old walk. He was trudging up the hill (7 miles was the goal this morning) dragging a big tire behind him. He had trekking poles in each hand. Bill and I stopped to say hi and see what was going on. Are you ready for this… Doug was out there training for a 700mile solo trek to the South Pole! WHAT!? I asked him what his motivation was. He answered calmly with a smile, “my bucket list”. After chatting with him a bit more, he also has climbed Everest and canoed with an 8 person team across the Indian Ocean. This guy is LEGIT. We wish you the best on your adventure Doug. Please follow his journey at http://www.southpolesolo.com/password  Another smile.

As we continued up toward Clark, my legs were getting tired. I looked down to see chalk paint on the asphalt reading “Go Jenny Go”. A bit further ahead, “You’re Almost There”. And further ahead, “ My Feet Don’t Hurt!”. And finally, “You Made it”. Smiles with each one! To my left was the Clark store parking lot filled with smiles and hugs from family and friends. After getting my shoes off to provide some relief to the toes, we headed inside the Clark Store for some grub. Even with the menu filled with gluten free hamburgers, sandwiches and more goodies… again, I just wasn’t hungry. I knew I had to eat though and was getting chilled from the sweat soaked clothing. I had some delicious steak and potato soup with great company.  Another good end to a solid 18 mile climb. We enjoyed lunch together and then headed to Pearl Lake State Park and camped at Gold Pan Campground. Marcus’ folks showed up, my dad showed up, my mom was there and of course Marcus, Tory, Vaughn and the girls… I was a lucky to girl to have family with me. Smiles again.

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Lesson Learned:

  • The power of people uniting for a good cause is priceless.
  • Small gestures and words of encouragement will carry you for miles and miles (literally and figuratively)
  • A smile can change your day, or your hour, or you minute.
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2 thoughts on “Day 29: “Smiles”

  1. Jenny, I had such a wonderful morning with you and the others. I’ll never forget that travel that we had. I know that I never would have been able to go all the way to Clark, if I hadn’t been so lucky to do it with you. I thank you Jenny!

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