It's amazing what one can do when one puts their heart, mind and soul to it... things that seem super human... things that seem impossible... things that almost kill you... yet... creating the seemingly impossible.
I did something like that. I, having not run for over 10 years, resigned from my leadership position in health care, and ran across Canada. 7831 kms in 143 days... From St John's, Newfoundland to Tofino, Vancouver Island. And, inadvertently, I set a Guinness World Record.
This was not a planned experience. I had never contemplated the idea of doing anything so challenging in my life. A single mom and nurse, such a crazy thought could never be something anyone, not to mind a rational, compassionate woman could ever fathom.
That being said, as human beings, sometimes we are moved by more than what society puts in the box we are told to stay in.
That happened to me (Thank goodness we don't know what is ahead of us... we'd go crazy!... or... More crazy than we already are!).
Inspired by a moment of magic, I the next day resigned from my job.... and started training. I began training September 1, 2001, and, began the run across the country on April 17, 2002. My feet touched the ocean on the other side of Canada on September 8, 2002. Completed. And, alive.
It wasn't really a smart thing to do, but I did it to make a difference. I had succumbed to the monolith... I could give no more... A warrior, my intense, passionate efforts to effect change were, mostly, rendered impotent. The `message' I was given was that yes, I was right, but they weren't going to change anything. One little soul who stands up for what is `right' is not enough. I could not remain part of a system... impotent against all the fear, apathy, ego driven ladder climbing, brown nosing etc. For me... a leader did what was right.
So... I tried to effect change a different way.
It almost killed me... a few times.
The human body is not meant to run up to 87 kms per day... day in and day out. So... it rebels... not only with screams of pain from body parts you didn't even know you had... but the heart says, "Enough! This is CRAZY! This has gone too far!", and begins to fail... heart failure. Then the kidneys joined in... with kidney failure... then... other body parts and systems(everyone endeavors to abandon ship!... the traitors!).
What amazes me though, is that the human spirit, driven by something 'greater' than Self... can override all systems... can keep going... dissociate from the pain (not a good thing!... it causes more injury... note to self: listen to body! Lesson locked in!)... and, approaching death... keeps going (though.. maybe I was just damn lucky!!!... stupid, but lucky!)
I experienced kidney failure, heart failure with pitting edema throughout my whole body, and my hemoglobin went down to half of normal... kinda explained why my resting pulse was over 120/minute, and, why I was out of breath... while running (with a pulse rate I didn't, and couldn't count, at over 230/ min). I blamed it on running through the Rockies! I must say that on this journey.... of miracles and madness... I had not one moment of boredom... even when I ran across the supposedly, boring prairies. Actually, it was quite the challenge to take a bush break on those endless straight-a-ways... no bush... no trees... no rocks. And, no time to get into the ditch before another vehicle appeared on the horizon, and almost instantly transported itself to my location. Now as a professional female... being `caught in the act' was not congruent with any plans I ever had... so, again, the survivor... as soon as the highway was clear... on both horizons (east and west)... l learned, with lightening speed, to squat, pee, pull up my shorts and look like nothing happened... right on the highway shoulder... usually with time to spare! If I had taken the time to run further into the ditch... with only grass to "hide in"... I would definitely have been 'caught' many times. Instead, I was only 'caught' once in that 7831 kms.... and it wasn't on the prairie stretch!... not too shabby!)
Compared to suits, heels, briefcases and cell phones, I had no dignity left. Whipped by up to 200km/hour winds, sleet and snow, with wind shredded rain gear, snot torn from my dripping nose... body screaming in pain... I was no longer a human being. Whom I was, was also shredded. Ann Keane no longer existed... just a crazy lady on the side of the highway.
There were so many other stories..... events... realities... those that had me sobbing uncontrollably (hard to cry when you are running!), to those that had me raging, laughing, flying with the birds... or, at least, having conversations with them). From crazy gluing my tooth back on... a few times (didn't want to waste time going to a dentist!, ... just wanted to be done!); to considering my tactics on the occasions I made acquaintances with black bears; to living with the "eau d'skunk spray" (no matter what they say... the odor is alive... It LIVES with intensity!... especially when you sleep in a VERY small RV!); to knees splinted with shop cloths and duct tape (creative soul aren't I?!);to being airlifted into the ditch my winds up to 200kms/hour; to the splash of ocean and slashing rain on my o being airlifted into the ditch by winds up to 200kms/hour; to the splash of ocean and slashing rain on my last, overwhelming soaking strides.
And... stories of love... the woman who waited for 8 hours on the highway to hug me... both of us... forever `touched'; and the school children.. their laughter... their joy... their enthusiasm for life, and to also "make a difference"... their countless letters of inspiration... They kept me believing... when I felt like giving up...
A Crazy lady on the side of the highway?...
I did it to `help make the world a better place".
To inspire people.
To remind us that in every moment... we can do the things that make the world a better place... we can give a hug; stand up for the things that are not right... at home or at work; that we can greet a new employee, instead of passing them by; that we can mow someone's grass who is ill; that we can pick up the garbage on the sidewalk as we walk by, that we can smile... love... have compassion... for each other.
This is why I called the run The Power of People Run, not, the power of me. I was simply the anomaly that begged the question, "Why is the crazy lady running across the country?" And, if you asked the question, then maybe you would care enough to listen to the answer.
And then... maybe... with hope... you too would just try a little harder.
Imagine... if everyone just tried... just a little harder every day... One by one, we could, and do make this `world' a `better place".
Ann Keane has authored 8 children's books, 3 adult books, numerous articles, presentations, and organizational manuscripts. She has worked and helped in many third world countries. Her life is dedicated to 'creating a better world'... by being in service... and through the constant quest to be the most Magnificent human being she can be.
Her latest book, 'Miracles & Madness' invites the reader to experience her run across Canada... from the divine, to the desperate. Ann's super human effort of love can not help but inspire all who read it, on their way to making this world a better place.