This weekend marks 13 years since I began P.A.C.E. Run 2006, my solo run across America. The photo accompanying this writing is of me and my children in the initial steps of that adventure, which started at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I've written in this blog many times about that 3,260-mile, 108-day, 15-state journey that required me to run an average of 30 miles every day from the Oregon Coast to the Delaware Shore. "P.A.C.E." stands for "Promoting Active Children Everywhere" and although the primary purpose of the run was to keep a promise I had made to some elementary children in Montana, it was also to try and inspire all children to set goals, be active, and dream big.
As I did that journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic (at the age of 41), my four children were the ages of 6, 8, 11 and 13. They were without their Dad for the entire summer of 2006. Now, they are 19, 21, 24 and 26 -- leading their adult lives in states apart from me. I believe that all of us will always remember that summer apart. They were without their Dad and I was without my children. They spent their summer playing, swimming, and doing some traveling without me while I endured the most difficult ultra-running challenge of my life. I experienced not only the pain of pounding out the miles while pushing a heavy jogging stroller of gear, but also the pain of not being able to see them for nearly 4 months. It was indeed a summer of sacrifice and pain, but also of victory in that I made it across America in one piece.
Even to this day I don't believe that my children understand just how much I missed them while I was running those 108 days. I recall countless times ending an evening phone call with them and crying heavily after hanging up the phone. I dreamed of them at night, thought of them during the day, and awoke to their voices every single morning because they made an audio recording on my phone for me to use as an alarm, saying together: "Wake up Dad, it's time to run!" My children were absolutely with me for every single step of that journey, as they are in every step I take in this journey of life. I love them deeper than I had to dig for strength, higher than my emotions soared at the finish line, and wider than the breadth of the distance I ran. I always will.