To the people that helped me reach my goal:

First of all, thank you for everything that you did for me in 2012. From letting me into your homes, feeding me, showing me love, giving me a place to sleep at night, donations, and helping me get a few steps closer to the finish line. You are all so amazing.

You all did so much for me and I will be grateful until the end of time.

But I was hoping I could ask just one more favor.

I am nearing the end of writing my memoir to document the journey— which was about so much more than just running and impacted so many more than just myself. On top of wanting to help change the world by raising donations for Soles4Souls, I also wanted to find the beauty in the United States— and ultimately the beauty in the people that help create it.

My view on the world completely changed even after the first week of the journey. I was always slightly wary and cynical about people, but after relying on all of you and putting all of my trust and faith in the community across the country it was difficult not to come out a different person— a more trusting person. When I finally arrived in Manhattan Beach I refused to agree with people that said the world was filled with terrible people. While I agree that there are a few bad seeds here and there; they are truly a miniscule amount compared to people like you— the people that make the world a better place.

Since this journey was about connections and finding meaning to life, and since you people are where I found those treasures— I was hoping that you could write me an email (or send a message through this blogsite) that encompasses what you got out of this experience. I would like to intertwine our experiences throughout the book. I would like to show the different sides.

A life changing journey of over 3,000 miles had to have left its mark on more than just one person.

Rae

Raeainslee@gmail.com

raes run across america

"Do you think you are extraordinary?"

There is a team of remarkable people running across the United States of America- relay style, this summer with a larger goal of raising one million dollars for cancer research. A baton filled with names of people battling cancer, those who have lost the fight, and those who have prevailed - is being passed from one runner to the next, mile after mile, state after state. Most of the runners who have held the baton know someone whom cancer has directly effected, and some runners have battled it themselves.

So yesterday when I was asked if I thought I was extraordinary because I ran across the United States, solo, last year I said, “No.” 
I had just finished mile 15 of my 26.2 when I was asked this question so I was fried , and I’m sure my answer at the time was something vague and confusing- so I’m going to elaborate. 
During my portion of the Million Dollar Marathon I was also asked if it was annoying to me that they kept saying they were running across America (because they were doing it relay form and no one person was really running the entire way) and I laughed, because of course it didn’t bother me. When I first heard about this amazing run I thought “Man, that is kick ass, I need to be apart of it.” It was everything that running is supposed to be. It was bringing people together, it was doing good for others, it was one step at a time, it was showing that no goal is too large- but it was also showing that nothing extraordinary can be accomplished alone. 
Which brings me back to why I don’t think that I am extraordinary, but I do believe the journey was. 
Around 270 recorded people have crossed the United States on foot, each one with their own reason for doing so- each with their own stories to share. Some did it solo, some had a large crew, some had a small crew. But even those of us that went at it alone weren’t ever really one hundred percent alone. 
Stories get swapped on the road, people get touched, lives are changed, you’ll never view the world the same again. You won’t walk away from an adventure of such proportion thinking you are extraordinary because you know you couldn’t have completed the trip if it weren’t for the support you got along the way. 
It’s hard to think you are solely amazing when you are surrounded by people battling a journey that makes a run across the united states seem like a walk in the park. It’s hard to walk away from that type of life changing experience and not be humbled by it. 
I am proud of myself, I am amazed by my fellow crossers, but I don’t believe my run made me extraordinary. 
What I think is extraordinary is that I reached my Goal for the money I wanted to raise for Soles4Souls. I think it is extraordinary that a week before I finished my journey someone donated around $1,300 to put the donations over the brink. I think it’s extraordinary that a homeless man in Connecticut gave his last dollar to Soles4Souls. And I think the people who had my back every night to make sure I was safe are extraordinary. I think my family is extraordinary for supporting me on my journey. But above all, it’s really hard to think you are extraordinary when you are relaying 52 miles with a woman who kicked cancers ass with a smile on her face. I don’t think I’m extraordinary, because I was just running, I didn’t have any limitations or reasons for not being able to complete my journey.

I was also asked during the marathon why I thought high risk adventures like climbing Everest or a marathon were a great analogy for battling a disease like cancer. Of the top of my head I couldn’t put the words together, I’m a writer not a talker- I usually can only collect my thoughts after writing them down.
I have never battled cancer, I hope I never have to, but from what I’ve seen in life is that there is never a 100% certain outcome of anything. When my grandpa was battling cancer he had ups and downs, he was in the clear for a while, he continued to fight and he never gave up, but it still took his life. And I think that is why running and high risk adventures are a great analogy. You will never know the outcome of anything, but if you don’t try and you don’t fight your chances of prevailing are knocked down to zero. During my cross country run I wanted to give up more times than I can count, but I knew that if I didn’t fight I would never make it to the Pacific Ocean. And I think it might be the same mindset for people who have cancer.

Life happens and sometimes shitty things try to knock you down, but you have to remember that it could always be worse, and if all you do is complain about what is wrong in your life it’s not going to get any better. The easiest thing to do in the world is give up- so just don’t forget why you are fighting.
On Monday while I was running I kept squeezing the baton. Because I knew that every name in that baton fought a harder battle than the hills I was climbing, it was filled with magic powers. Those people who’s names are in the baton and the people who held the baton before me and the woman I was relaying with are the people who are truly extraordinary.
coasttocoastforcancer.org

million dollar marathon coast to coast for cancer running runner run runblr cancer cancer research

3,437.5 miles later.

(Pardon me for the next bit of word vomit)

November 14th, 2012 ended my seven and a half month trek across the United States of America. And over these past months I have learned that it truly is just that: United

Sure we share our differences, we have many opinions, views, ideas…but when push comes to shove we pull through it together, we lend a helping hand, we build each other up and propel each other forward. When I looked back at these last 3,400 miles I see a string of people lifting me up, doing anything that they could to make my journey a little easier. 

——————————————————————————————————————-I’m not big on crying in public; I’m not big on crying in general…I’m definitely not big on crying while going through security at the Las Vegas Airport. But that is was I did. It was a big, disgusting, sad, scared, horrible cry. I didn’t stop once from the time I left my apartment with my sister until I was picked up on state street by Mr. John Clancy. I wore my sunglasses the entire plane ride, people gave me looks of pity, some even asked if I was alright. You see, I wasn’t alright…I had just said goodbye to my favorite person on earth for almost a year and I was scared to death. But I mean, what would I even tell them? “No, I’m fine, I’m just leaving on this seven month journey to run across America”? Please. No one is going to believe that, and even if they did they would have no clue what to say to me. So I just stuck with a simple response to the questionnaires: “Yeah *sob* *sob* *sob* I’m *wipes snot bubble from nose and wipes it on sleeve of coat* Fine *breaks down in histaria as kind stranger awkwardly walks away*”

          Freshly 18 (by a few hours), fresh to the running world (by three years), and pretty fresh to this whole adventure of a lifetime thing (by zero accounts of life threatening adventures). I was scared. But I wasn’t willing to tell anyone this. I’m sure my sister on some level knew (well, she did know…I’m not sure how, it might have been the fact that I kept asking her to break my legs for an entire month prior to me leaving, and it might have been the nightmare I had a week before begging her not to let me go..) I think she knew I was scared before I knew I was scared. She just wasn’t willing to tell me not to go. I know she wanted to tell me to stay home. But she’s not selfish (thank you again, Guildy for not breaking any of my bones), so here I was scared to death on an airplane, crying histerically that I just wanted someone to sedate me, wearing these dumb sunglasses inside of an aircraft. I was so freaking terrified and sad and so many other emotions that all my body could think to do was cry.

            And then the plane landed, and I was in Boston. I had just flown all the way across the United States of America, only to run back across three days later. That freaked me out. And unless you’ve been at the starting line of your run across America, you won’t even begin to understand what this feels like. It’s like more than the feeling of the unknown. It’s the feeling of all of the negative thoughts you put into your mind before you left, and it’s the feeling of not letting anyone down because everyone knows that you are running across America now and what if you choke? I couldn’t bare the thought of choking and proving (probably) every single person that knew I was going to run across America, right (let me just say that I know some people legitimately believe I would make it all the way across…just in my mind at this moment, no one believed in me, but I was going to do it anyway). I felt like I was playing for the Chicago Cubs, I had a ton of fans but everyone knew that I wasn’t going to win the world series before they even looked at the roster. They were behind me one hundred percent but they knew I wouldn’t make it all the way and get the big victory at the end. 

But then I started running, and my perspective changed, I started to look at my run as a day to day thing rather than a trip of 3000+ miles. I started to realize I was running for all of these people that needed a pair of shoes. And I started to see that people truly believed in me. So I kept running. 

To the people that helped me throughout my journey in any way at all: Thank you.

Thank you for caring about me, and worrying about me, and loving me, and making sure I was safe every night. Thank you to those who have supported me from the first day I told them I was going to go.

Thank you to Allie who got to listen to be ramble on for an entire class period about how fun I thought it would be to run across america, and thank you for being like “Rae that would be so freaking awesome, you can totally do that.” because if you wouldn’t have said that to me I never would have emailed my mom and kendall, and I wouldn’t have flown to Boston. 

Thank you to Kendall for your concern about me getting eaten by a bear…and thank you for ignoring my pleas to break my legs the entire month before I left, because I know that took a lot of will power to let me go. I love you Ken.

Thanks Mom for taking care of the logistics..and finally getting on board with the whole stroller concept..I love you.

To my sisters and my brother, to my parents (that includes you too bill), and Adam, Thank you for being behind me 100% since I came up with this seemingly ridiculous idea I love you guys so much. I wouldn’t have made it without you.

Jim McCord (blue shirt) Ran across the US in 2002.
Paul Both ran across the US in 2010 

Super awesome guys I’m really glad we were able to meet up and chat…some good advice for once I’m done tomorrow and shared some stories…always fun to meet fellow crossers

Jim McCord (blue shirt) Ran across the US in 2002.
Paul Both ran across the US in 2010 

Super awesome guys I’m really glad we were able to meet up and chat…some good advice for once I’m done tomorrow and shared some stories…always fun to meet fellow crossers

Thanks for the smoothie, Tiff!
(Bowl of Heaven in Huntington Beach)

Thanks for the smoothie, Tiff!
(Bowl of Heaven in Huntington Beach)

"We’re here, we’re barefoot, deal with it."

"We’re here, we’re barefoot, deal with it."

WE DID IT!!!! finally made the goal amount for s4s! thank you to everyone who has donated and believed in me throughout this journey you are so amazing!!!

WE DID IT!!!! finally made the goal amount for s4s! thank you to everyone who has donated and believed in me throughout this journey you are so amazing!!!

Wow. 18 days left. 160 miles until all of the land in the United States runs out. This crazy seven month journey is almost going to be over. Part of me is ridiculously happy, you know…my own bed, see what the next steps are in life, different conversations…but then at the same time, I’m a little sad; this journey, this wonderful run across the United States was amazing. I met so many fabulous people, I’ve eaten a lot of great food (bill if you’re reading this: bring on the fat jokes.) and I’ve changed. My whole outlook on life, my goals…I’m actually a hugger now and a people person. But I’m happy, really happy. The journey has been hard, but man, it’s been worth it. Everything about these last seven months has molded me and my life a little more…the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the sour, the sweet…it’s all created a run, a journey, that was worth going on. I found myself in the soles of my feet. I laughed, I cried (a lot). But I enjoyed it all. This run healed some relationships even though it killed a few. It is an analogy of life for me. It opened up my eyes to so much good in the world. It taught me that occasionally if you put your trust in people- even perfect strangers, they will rise to the occasion.
Sometimes you’ve just got to go big or go home, you’ve got to prove yourself right by just going out and doing and acting on all of your crazy insane, impossible seeming goals. I mean look at me, 4 years ago did anyone actually think that I’d be running even a mile…doubtful, and then I decided to run over 3000…
Do life people, you won’t regret it.


If it weren’t for the first three people that I mentioned this too (allie schaal, ken doll, Tigges) not thinking I was a complete idiot for wanting to do this, but instead being supportive in their own ways, (ie: “are you on drugs…like I don’t doubt you..but are you on drugs..?” Or “rae…that’d be awesome but you might get eaten by a bear…”) I don’t think I would have even tried to execute my goal. So thank you for not thinking I was an idiot. (Or at least not telling me I was an idiot…you all probably thought that for a few days at least….)
And then thanks to everyone else I told. Thanks to the people who were my voice of reason without being a voice of doubt. And also thank you to the very few people who openly told me not to go because I would ‘get killed..or worse.” Because without you I wouldn’t have had motivation to keep going. I’m 160 miles away. Wow. That’s really ridiculous to me.
Like all the what ifs and the what’s next…
Bizarre, I’m going to miss this.
But I’m ready for the next thing…whatever it may be.

Thanks to everyone in Vegas (and everywhere else) that are still donating shoes! 

I have about 200 miles left until I run out of land!!

And I’m a little past the California boarder!! Yay! Last state! 👊

Thanks to everyone in Vegas (and everywhere else) that are still donating shoes!

I have about 200 miles left until I run out of land!!

And I’m a little past the California boarder!! Yay! Last state! 👊

October and 90+ degrees is definitely not an October that I am used to. 
But regardless of the heat, I am knocking out the miles and have around 300 miles left to run until I am to Manhattan Beach, which is very exciting. It’s still strange thinking that I am almost done running across america…like less than a month left and this journey will be over…crazy.
On top of the excitement of almost being done with my run, I am pretty excited to see my mom in about a week and a half, I haven’t seen her for a while and it will be nice to have her around for a while.

I’ll update you guys a little more on my next rest day.

-Rae