COMMUNITY: A numbers game

Team 99 Counties conquers Harrison County

JR Ogden
Published: December 8 2013 | 5:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:35 am in
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Editor’s note: Daren Schumaker and Dennis Lee are attempting to run across Iowa’s 99 counties, raising money for the American Heart Association. They have completed 47 counties.

By Daren Schumaker, community contributor


I’m sure recently many of us have been focused on numbers.

The $229 sale price of that 50-inch television that you’ve been looking for. The score of the football game between Iowa and Nebraska and the amount of money you won from your brother-in-law when the Hawkeyes won.

The number of calories in your Thanksgiving meal and the resulting numeric output on your now not-so-friendly bathroom scale.

Numbers and focus have a unique relationship, and on Nov. 30, Team 99 Counties found itself in a painful triangle of love and hate with both.

We left a seasonally warm Walford at 7 a.m. and crossed the state to the Missouri River, driving our route and counting the mountains (hills) that we would be climbing in only a few short hours. We started at 11:35 a.m. The temperature was in excess of 40 degrees. We had to maintain the appropriate pace if we were going to complete our 30-mile crossing of Harrison County before dark.

We were focused on the numbers, and the numbers caused us to focus.

Our run started with about four miles of flat gravel until we entered Modale and stepped onto the flat pavement that we followed for the next eight miles. We followed F50/260th Street toward Logan. Our focus never faltered ... wait, our first hill — a steady one-mile pull followed by a second hill of half the distance. Suddenly we noticed how we were sweating from the unseasonably warm weather, how our skin had become red in the afternoon sun and how we still had 17 miles to go.

Doubt replaced focus as the reality of the numbers around us sank in. Could we really do this?

We put the blinders on and pulled our focus from the end of the run to each of the numerous hills that we climbed on a five-mile stretch of gravel that may have been the worst we have ever seen. We couldn’t think about anything but the next hill, the next challenge. We danced back onto Highway 44 for the final five miles and an even worse stretch of mountainous hills.

We literally had to slay one giant at a time. If we thought about all the hills in front of us we would have never made it. Our focus resulted in the numbers — 30 miles in 4:14:18 and the completion of our 47th county.

Moral of the story? Numbers are important. Focus is important. Focus on the numbers is also important, but sometimes this focus can be our worst enemy.

Each of faces challenges on a daily basis that alter our focus, make our ultimate goals seem out of reach. Why try when our goals are so far in the distance that they can’t even be seen? We all know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but in reality the line that gets each of us to where we want to go will have several ups and downs, literally and figuratively.

Focus. Numbers. Focus on 30 minutes of exercise a few days each week to realize additional minutes, days and years with your family and friends.

Those are the important numbers we all need to focus on.

Inspiration through perspiration. Become active or make a donation to the American Heart Association to help fight heart disease.

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