This is part 5 – and state number 5 – in a jouney across America as part of Mimi Anderson’s support crew as she made a transcon world record attempt earlier this year. For parts 1-4 (along with some background on the trip) please click here. It makes a lot more sense if you start from the beginning. Possibly.
Friday the 13th October saw our arrival at state number 5 – Indiana.
And surprise surprise, once again, there was no shiny sign to welcome us in.
I put this down to being on a small road next to the interstate – but further research has seen that actually – EVEN on the interstate – the welcome is at best, underwhelming.
Unperturbed by such a feeble welcome to what we were sure would be an ace state – or at a least a state which we would be throwing a positive attitude at regardless of whether or not it deserved it (moral was becoming of upmost importance) – we set about preparing for Mimi’s state crossing in the most appropriate of ways. That is to say by creating our own improvised state sign, purely from materials we could find in the back of the support car.
And as you can see from the photo we had done a better job than the state authorities.
Welcomes done, sponsor photos taken (not this one don’t worry) and food administered, Mimi strolled on through, doing her best to keep the pace going, and smiling and chatting in an attempt to hide the pain that we all knew she must be feeling. Smiles being smiles though, the effect was contagious, and with lifted spirits we followed on in the support vehicle.
If the welcome that Indiana had laid on had been a little disappointing, the weather over the next few days more than made up for it. Indiana started out as the state of blue skies. It was mid-October and the temperatures were up in the 20s. It was idyllic. The kind of weather that made you think, you know what, we might just pull this off.
Then , just as we were coming in to Indianapolis, things started to change.
After a visit to the chiropractor, it became quite clear that Mimi was in a pretty bad way.
I have often found, when speaking to doctors and physios, that when you take on something this big, they don’t quite grasp what it is you’ve been doing, or what you are prepared to put your body through to achieve it. My opinion is that most people are so afraid of breaking their bodies, that they are not prepared to push them at all. In fact, I think that this way of thinking has become so ingrained in our society that even the doctors think it.
And yes, one could argue that it is sensible for doctors to have this point of view because if we end up pushing ourselves too hard, and break, we become a cost on the health system. However, it is possible to push yourself really quite hard without inflicting any damage. And the tiny percentage of people who do land in trouble? Well you can bet that it would be a whole lot less than the amount of people who create a cost from doing too little in this day and age.
It is like we are taught to live within a comfort zone so as to avoid risking any damage – and that doing anything outside of this zone is both dangerous and stupid. It is as if society is saying go for your dreams – but keep your dreams within these realistic boundaries. Well I say if nobody questions your dream – then your dreams aren’t big enough.
Back to the point – and Mimi saw a Chiropractor who amazingly (according to the rest of the crew – I was busy helping Tim and Jan empty the RV) actually seemed to understand what Mimi was doing. Helped by this understanding, he was able to administer the absolute best care possible for Mimi in her situation. He didn’t tell her to stop – and yet I think he was still frank with Mimi. From what I could understand, the situation didn’t look good.
But this was Mimi, and Mimi wasn’t going to stop without a fight. In fact even at this stage I didn’t think she would – I simply thought this was going to be an incredibly painful trip to New York.
But the following day, the pain was worse.
And to make things even more tricky, those blue skies had been replaced with thunderous grey clouds. At least they were as soon as the sky managed to illuminate itself. It seemed to take forever for the sun to rise that morning, we’d already been soaked to the bone twice and everything seemed to be bathed in an ominous glow.
It was one of those mornings which had I been superstitious, and were I blessed with the gift of hindsight, I would have thought of as being a terrible omen.
As it happens however, I am not superstitious and I am often extremely optimistic, so I thought very little of it. I did however feel a little off myself that morning, and I am ashamed to say that when I did get in from the run, I got changed into dry clothes and headed straight to my bunk for a nap. Which turned into quite the sleep – meaning that I did in fact sleep through most of the morning – and miss most of the city of Indianapolis.
All in all – you could have said that this day was a bit of a sign. Were you that kind of person. But, like I said I’m not. I’m just extremely good at sleeping through things really. But all was well and by the time dinner came around I had made sure that all my prep for the following day was done. Including a packed breakfast to take with me in the support car. After dinner, the usual two hour chore of washing and drying was followed by a team briefing and the usual scramble in to bed. Just over 5 hours of sleep and then we would be at it all over again.
The next day would be our final day on the road.
I don’t feel it is my place to describe the events that followed – and I happen to know that Mimi is currently trying to get the journey down in her own words. What I will say is that the morning started out as normal, involved a change in pace, an increased intensity of pain, and (for me) a heartbreaking realisation that I had to wake up to what could be happening.
A trip to the local hospital and an MRI confirmed this – and we were told the following day that Mimi could not continue.
It was a shock. And I’m not sure I really took it in until I got some time to myself a few weeks later. I consider myself to be quite an empathetic person – and to see someone I had come to consider as a close friend hurt this much – and to know there was absolutely nothing I could do to help – was absolutely heartbreaking in itself.
The mood in the RV was tough. We were all trying to be there for one another – yet we all needed space to be there for ourselves. This may have been Mimi’s dream – but it had become a huge part of our lives – and so the emotion within the team was heavy, to say the least. I wouldn’t try to say for a second that we were hurting like Mimi was, but in my opinion we were all hurting, we just didn’t quite realise it yet, because our job was to be there for Mimi.
The next day, we drove the remainder of the way to New York. All 600 miles.
Just 600 miles.
In total, Mimi had run 2,217 miles in 40 days. Yes, I wrote that correctly.
55.425 miles per day on average.
She had not quite met her goal and we didn’t get to run with Mimi into New York. But that’s still one hell of an effort and one which I hope Mimi will show off with pride in the future.
It was time for the team to part ways and our journey across the states to come to an end. On our final evening in NYC, we shared one last meal and a couple of beers.
I’d made friends for life on this trip. It had been tough. I’d cried, laughed, cried with laughter and shared more about my bowel movements (and those of others) than ever before.
It will be a trip I remember for my lifetime. But it was time for a break. And for me this meant that I was heading north, to Canada, to see my big bro.
And that is an unexpectedly happy twist, to an extremely sad ending of a journey, which was still a bloomin’ marvellous achievement. How’s that for a confusing ending?