Anna is on the Home Stretch.
Let's Help Bring Her Home!

Yesterday (on my 30th birthday),I was able to run 25 miles through the countryside south of Richmond, VA with Maggie Seymour, a big-hearted-running-machine Marine. Rolling hills, about four thousand different shades of green, dilapidated farm houses, dirt roads, and cows that don't run away when you walk up to them. Maggie showed up at the door of our RV at 6 am with a smile on her face, ready to run.
We immediately connected and spent the next 4-5 hours running and talking about life, love, running, selfless service, and girl power (my favorite). My foot is badly injured and it is painful to run, but the discomfort all but melted away as my conversation with Maggie began to deepen and expand. When Maggie left us, I felt that I had met a kindred spirit and found a friend for life.

I've had a lot of opportunities lately to run with very strong females, and it has really inspired me. I very often feel like a constant student during these runs, learning from their stories, and drawing from their strength and wisdom. Also, women happen to be awesome long distance runners. Probably has something to do with our pain thresholds. 

Next on the agenda-- I went skydiving with Robert Covington, a wounded Warrior from North Carolina. This was my birthday present. Let me explain. 
Robot hustled hard for the last week, trying to get me a birthday present without having any money to do so. She was able to get in touch with Virginia Skydiving Center, who offered to donate a jump for my birthday. I've always wanted to go skydiving, so I was elated when Robot told me this the night before my birthday.

I was humbled when I learned that they were not open on Thursday, and that they were bringing in a pilot and and an instructor for the sole purpose of helping me jump. 

At the same time, I felt an overwhelming knowledge that this gift was given to me so that I could give it to someone else.  So, I put out a post on Facebook looking for wounded Warriors in the Virginia area who would like to have this kind of experience.

I was introduced to Robert Covington, a wounded Vet from North Carolina. Robert was badly injured in a motorcycle accident while on duty in Okinawa, and hasn't been able to do the things he truly loves in the last 20 years (running, MMA fighting, staying physically active). He told me a story about how his accident lead to a deep depression, a near suicide, and a overwhelming sense of powerlessness. He told me that he is in constant pain, but today is doing better thanks to the love and support of his family. He tells me that now he finds purpose in taking care of his two beautiful daughters. I was so excited to know that for a minute he would be able to fly.

When we arrived at Virginia Skydiving Center, we were able to meet the staff there-- Sherry, Dave, and Chris. When I told them that I gave my skydiving jump away to a Wounded veteran, they said, "Why don't we just do two jumps?" (Meaning I would get to go, too!) I just about lost my mind with happiness. I couldn't believe that I would get everything I wanted- and more--on my birthday. What made this experience cooler was that both Dave, the instructor, and Chris, the pilot, were Veterans themselves.  All three of them left us both in awe of their  compassion, strength, and kindness.
When I met Robert, he was ecstatic. I was just as excited. We did a quick training session with Dave, and harnessed up. Robert and I had to go up in the plane separately, since we were using a Cessna with VERY limited seating. I watched him float down out of the sky exhilarated and joyful. (See the GoPro footage of this below) This was the best birthday present I have ever received. Thanks to Robot and Virginia Sky Diving Center. I am feeling the love. :)

How did skydiving feel? Amazing. Skydiving is awesome because it forces you into the present moment. You have no choice but total awareness-- it is surreal. I wasn't afraid, which surprised me. The only thing I was worried about was the landing, especially with my injured foot, but I was assured that Dave was an expert in easy, painless landings. I trusted his expertise. It was a truly beautiful experience.

The best part was being able to connect with both Sherry and Dave as we plummeted towards the ground going over 100 miles per hour, holding hands and spinning in circles. 

We will be running into Richmond, Virginia tomorrow. Information is listed below. Please make an effort to come out and run. If you aren't in the area, you can always run virtually by joining my team, #runamerica. Like I said, having someone running next to me makes all the difference in the world. To follow the journey more closely, please "like" Anna Runs America. 

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