Day 30, Sunday, October 18th
Clark to Rd 494
Danielle Vasiliou, McKinney, TX
Christopher M. Weaver, Lancaster, PA
What a weird night. With my family all around and a cozy campfire to put me to sleep, I imagined a perfectly rested night last night. Boy was I wrong. My thoughts were consumed with confusion of the upcoming last two days of the run. One moment I was focused on the pride and amazement that I was actually going to complete 500miles across the Colorado Rockies. The next moment I was literally in tears that it was almost over. The next I was flooded with the honor that we were well on our way to achieving our set fundraising goal. I couldn’t turn my brain off. Finally around 12:30a I fell asleep. In what seemed like 10 minutes of sleep, every alarm in Big Blue was going off. The propane detector, the smoke detector, the carbon monoxide detector… it sounded like an elementary school band was practicing in our ears. Marcus and I shot up and tried to unplug everything. Turns out it’s not quite that simple. Everything is connected internally and the battery was dead. It was a dark, cold 4:30am and we were wide-awake. We didn’t want the rest of the campground to be awake so we drove the truck to the entrance parking lot, turned the generator on and unsuccessfully tried to get another couple hours of sleep.
At 7:30 we headed back to camp to see the confused look on our crew’s face. “Don’t ask,” we both tiredly thought. Feeling like I got run over by a truck, I performed my morning ritual and we headed back to the Clark store where I finished yesterday to meet a crew that would be with us to the end. CrossFit all-starts, Andrea Ager and Becky Conzelman were there with Becky’s daughter, Kylie and their good friend Shelly Rollison. Right behind them was another friend through CrossFit from California, Erin Sanders. Along with my dad and mom, Karla, Art and LaVonne, and regular team of 6, we had a total of 16 people headed up 129 in support of Move Mountains. Trying to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and tired grumpiness out of my mind, we all gathered at the Clark Store in preparation for the 18 miles ahead. The girls were peppy and brought an overall positive energy I just wasn’t prepared for. Something I realized in that moment, absolutely at no fault of theirs, the perspective that people have of this run when just joining it for a day or so, is completely different if you’ve done the entire thing. Their bodies were fresh, their minds were energized, and their attitudes were stable. I on the other hand was a complete mess. To spend 30 days in your own head, breaking your body down and trying to keep your headstrong enough to overcome the pain is exhausting. And I found it’s incredibly trying to be patient with others when you’re completely broken down. It took this day to realize that this was the feeling I had had so many times on this run. It always leaves once we get going and I can come to terms that their energy is actually exactly what I needed whether I wanted it or not.
This held true yet another time. As we took those first steps for the day and I looked around me at the love, compassion and excitement that people carried for Move Mountains and the efforts we were putting forth brought it all back to center. This is exactly why I was doing what I was doing. To get people together for a common goal. To be able to run with people and tell them about epilepsy. To be able to learn from their experiences of overcoming adversity. To grow as an individual because of the impact these amazing people have on my life and to hopefully reciprocate that gift.
It was a cloudy, misty morning with intermittent rainfall. Minus the little bit of drizzle we had from Carbondale to Glenwood on Day 17, this was the worst weather we had to date. I was confident we would be in rain and snow by this time. Somehow, Mother Nature was on our side and looking out for us. She also wanted to move mountains I guess. There were several long climbs today that kept my core temperature up and the rain actually felt good; a nice break from the beating down sun. Andrea, Becky and Shelly took turns with their mode of transportation… one person running, one person biking and one person driving. Not sure how or when they decided to switch but all of a sudden when in the middle of conversation with one, another would be by my side not missing a beat. We chatted about everything from CrossFit to Move Mountains to epilepsy to religion to family… we had 18 miles to just get to know each other better. I can tell you that these 3 women are strong, passionate, beautiful people that I am so fortunate to have in my life. Their individual perspectives on life and differences in personality made the 18 miles go by quickly again.
At one point, Becky was taking steps by my side and Andrea was on the bike behind us. Marcus was with us as well, as always with camera in hand. And then a highlight of the trip… my mom was standing on the side of the road cheering us on. As we passed her, she started running with us, stride for stride we ran next to each other. Half way from where she started running to where Karla’s truck was waiting for her, she wanted to stop. Her heart was pounding. This isn’t easy! But as I grabbed her hand, she continued moving forward. This may sound corny, but this was such a symbolic moment in time. My mom has always been by my side. She’s pulled me up when I felt down. She’s led me in the right direction when I was lost and just wanted to quit. This day, something compelled her to start running with us, she wasn’t sure what, she wasn’t sure why, but she did it. For me, it was so much more… again, my mom was doing something to support me. But, this time I got to help her. I got to show her that she could do more than she thought and that nothing was going to stop her. I’m so proud of you mom.
As we climbed throughout the day, we left the reds and browns of the valley and got into the now leafless silver colored aspens. The road changed from pavement to gravel and again I was home in the mountains, running across ground that most will never have the pleasure of seeing. What an amazing thing… not only am I able to witness the changing of season in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to… but I’m able to do it by foot at 6-7 miles per hour. The details of the blackened bark from knots on trees, the pattern of protruding roots from the bank of the road, the scatter of fallen silvers leaves blanketing the ground… my appreciation for the power of nature has been magnified in the last month. With the girls’ comments as they experienced a part of this same feeling made me realize another meaning to this mission… to show people things they’ve never seen before. To give people the opportunity to develop a relationship with “my” mountains that they may never had if it wasn’t for Move Mountains.
Coming into the last long stretch of the route that day, the gravel road became a bit more treacherous. Larger rocks covered our path, increasing ankle-rolling possibilities. My legs were tired, my feet were heavy and I wasn’t landing as carefully as I would have liked. A few times my ankles gave out, but nothing of any damage. As we came into an open meadow of sage and tall grasses, Big Blue was stopped ahead. We crossed over the cattle guard at the “T” of 129 and road 494 (a two track road into the hills) and finished the day with smiles.
My sweaty clothes almost immediately get freezing cold when we stop. My core temperature drops and I have only minutes to get dry clothes and a heater before there’s no recovering. Knowing I wasn’t going to have a shower that night, I knew getting in a car with heat was critical. The girls piled in Big Blue with Marcus and Tory. Art and LaVonne were in their truck with camper behind. My mom and Karla were in Karla’s truck. I jumped in with my dad and blasted the heather. Vaughn led us all back 12 miles to Columbine Cabins where we would call home for the night. We had quite the parade of support. My dad and I took a quick pit stop at a hunting camp that had donated as I ran by to thank them and continued to the cabins to meet up with the gang. I so needed that time in the truck with my dad. He just always seems to know exactly what to say (or what not to say).
The cabins were adorable little one room rustic abodes. We immediately fired up the woodstove and/or a space heater in each cabin to keep out the chill of the oncoming winter. Some people headed to a little bar and grill down the way, The Roadhouse. Others stayed at the cabins and napped, ate and relaxed. I spent some time hanging with my dad and Marcus, throwing the ball for the dogs and enjoying a bit chill time. We were just hanging in the cabin, when someone knocked on the door. I answered it to see an unfamiliar but friendly woman on the porch with 3 little ones. She went on to explain that the lived in Hahn’s Peak (just a bit down the road) and wanted to possibly join us with her kids tomorrow morning. Of course!!! We chatted for awhile on the porch. What a wonderful woman with so much love in her heart. Her girls run for “Girls on the Run” and although it was a Monday, she was going to pull them out of school in the morning to be a part of Move Mountains. I am so honored and so appreciative of parents that understand the importance and impact that something like this can have on their kids. Becky did the same with her son Tyler in Carbondale and now her daughter Kylie here.
Shortly after they left, we headed to meet the others at Roadhouse. While everyone got some good hometown cookin’ in their bellies, I posted a blog. My fatigue was setting in and I knew I had to get some good food in me and get my knee worked on. or tomorrow could be rough. Tory met my dad and I back at the cabin where we got some body work and break from the chaos of so many people.
The night wrapped up with something so special. We headed the community campfire and gathered around the crackling wood as Shelly pulled out her guitar and came to life. The girl is amazing. While we were running today and I was getting to know her, she humbly led onto the fact that she recently gave up a successful career to pursue her dream…her dream of becoming a music artist. Well, let me tell you, she already is a music artist. The girl is so talented, now she just has to be found. As I was getting ready to call it a night, Shelly and the girls said that there was one more song I had to hear. Shelly went on to explain that after dinner she wrote a song in just 5-10 minutes. I know nothing about songwriting, but I do know that doesn’t happen often. She said that this song was like a gem inside a stone. It’s always been there, she just needed to find it. And that she did. She started playing and singing and the words hugged my heart. It was about Move Mountains… she wrote a song for us. I don’t know if she has titled it, but the chorus says, “we can move mountains, together, today”. No truer words have captured this whole movement. This isn’t about me, this isn’t about epilepsy, this isn’t about running, this isn’t about the people I ran for. This is about all of it. This is about life. This is about understanding that we need each other. This is about overcoming adversity, in whatever capacity is shows up, with the help of others.
- Sometimes you wake up on the wrong side of the bed…but that doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
- Move Mountains has more meaning and depth than I ever could have imagined/hoped for.