Editor’s note: Daren Schumaker of Cedar Rapids and Dennis Lee of Walford are attempting to run across Iowa’s 99 counties to raise money and awareness for the American Heart Association. They’ve completed 98 counties. This is the final countdown to No. 99, Delaware County, which the two hope to cross on April 15. This is No. 97. Next: Hardin
Expectations. We all have them.
Some of us have high expectations and believe that, by raising the bar and refusing to accept anything but the best, we very often get the best. Some of us have low expectations and believe that, by lowering the bar, we can avoid unnecessary disappointments when we get something less than the best.
Oftentimes, the best expectations are no expectations at all.
At 6 a.m. on Nov. 26, 2016, after bundling up to protect ourselves against the biting 23-degree air, we departed Walford and headed south on Interstate 380, soon merging onto eastbound Interstate 80. We witnessed the rising sun as we continued toward Scott County, enjoying each other’s company during the course of our “short” drive as the sun rose higher and higher on the horizon.
En route to the eastern edge of Durant, I received a telephone call from my mother, who advised she had arranged for a father and daughter (Grant and Rachel Allison) to join us for the first several miles of our run.
The chill in the air kept the morning pleasantries to a minimum, and shortly after arriving in Durant at 7:15 a.m., we departed from the same spot where we had arrived upon the conclusion of our run across Cedar County only a few months earlier. The cold air made it difficult to breathe and talk, but soon we were chatting away as we followed Old Highway 6. We were able to see the family farm where I was raised as we passed Stockton, and we enjoyed Grant telling us the story of how Rachel had gotten him into running — and even more so, we enjoyed Rachel’s reaction to her father’s telling of this story.
Grant bid us farewell after five miles, and Rachel continued with us for a couple more miles until Walcott, where she turned south on North Main Street as we continued eastward. We passed Grant’s home shortly after our 10th mile, and began to climb a gentle hill that continued until we ran over Interstate 280 and entered Davenport, now running on West Kimberly Road. The temperature slowly continued to rise and we enjoyed a few ups and downs before following Hickory Grove Road to the southeast, completing our 15th mile.
After only a few minutes on Hickory Grove Road, we followed Hillandale Road to Duck Creek Trail which, to our surprise, offered a needed change of pace as our scenery turned from dormant fields to wooded parks — and we no longer had to worry about passing traffic. We followed Duck Creek and Duck Creek Trail for more than eight miles, crossing Duck Creek on numerous occasions and running under Interstate 74 as we entered Bettendorf.
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In Bettendorf, we turned east onto Middle Road and continued to push our pace — catching all the green lights and climbing several hills that, despite their grade and length, were a welcomed change from the more-or-less flat route we had followed through Davenport. We left Middle Road and continued east on Crow Creek Road where we climbed more hills and achieved our marathon distance in 3:42:07. More importantly, it became warm enough that we were able to change into shorts and take off our hats and gloves as we ran along Crow Creek Road — 49 degrees had never felt so good.
Our route continued east along Valley Drive, which we followed through Pleasant Valley and up many hills until we found ourselves running east along a bluff high above the Mississippi River — a vantage point that afforded us the opportunity to enjoy views of Lock and Dam 14. When Valley Drive ended, we followed South Cody Road toward Le Claire where we literally ran along the banks of the Mississippi River on Canal Shore Drive SW. We ran under Interstate 80 — our third Interstate crossing of the day — and followed South Cody Road and the Mississippi as both started to bend northward and into Le Claire, where we ended our journey just north of the Buffalo Bill Museum.
We literally ran into the Mississippi River, allowing the cold water to wash away the dust from the 33.5 miles we had covered during the course of our 4:41:27 trek across Scott County — our 97th such expedition.
When you expect things, you narrow your focus to those things you think should be present in your life, to those things you are looking forward to and anticipating, but also to those things you are anxiously awaiting. Those are the problems with expectations, they cause you to focus on and search only for specific things — things you think are important, regardless of whether they are or not — and to wait for them to appear.
In life, you find what you expect to find. This sounds good in theory, but this focus keeps you from finding what you didn’t expect to find, because you failed to expect the unexpected.
Scott County turned out to be one of our most enjoyable counties, but not because we expected it to be. Scott County was enjoyable because of the unexpected — Grant and Rachel, our ability to push the pace, the rising temperature and the views of the mighty Mississippi.
The moral of the story, allow the unexpected to happen. The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations. A wonderful gift may not come the way you expected it to be wrapped. By eliminating expectations, everything is available to you.
What you’re looking for in your life is available to you, but you’re likely looking in all of the wrong places because you have limited your search. You’re looking only where you expect to find what you’re lacking. It’s OK to wander off the path and get lost. You might just stumble into what you were looking for — the unexpected.
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Let go of what you thought your life should be and embrace your life as it is. Don’t wait on your expectations. Don’t live a life of waiting. Don’t live the life you expect to find around the next bend in the road as such a life will slowly pass you by, one bend after another.
Instead, live your life from where you stand today. Live the vibrant life that is already around you.
Inspiration through perspiration. Live a life where your only expectation is the unexpected.
l To make a donation or buy a T-shirt, email Dennis Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org