Rosalynn Frederick is a cross-country runner -- literally.
Frederick, 37, ran across the United States, starting in Grover Beach, Calif., on March 23 and ending at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk on Thursday evening. She averaged about 21 miles a day on her 3,000-mile journey, which was inspired by her love of traveling and her hope to give kids the opportunity to travel through a nonprofit she founded.
"It's a way to get to grow as a person and get out of your comfort zone, to have a deeper understanding of the world and how it works," Frederick said of the benefits of traveling. "It's a way of bringing people together and opening minds to different peoples and cultures in the world."
"The more you can feel comfortable and understand people from different places, the more successful you can be in life," she said. "The more you interact with people in the world, the more you realize how these people are just like you. There's no reason to be scared or intimidated by meeting new people."
Frederick, of Great Barrington, Mass., met a lot of people over her 146 days on the road. She said she raised more than $8,000 for traveling expenses before she started, but found a lot of people gave her free lodging and meals along the way, something she credits to her traveling companion, "Barefoot" Jake Brown. Brown didn't run alongside her, but followed her in a car that they drove to California before her journey began.
"He was my support driver and partner in the project," Frederick said at a picnic table next to Calf Pasture Beach, where her family and friends celebrated her arrival about 6 p.m. Thursday. "He did a lot of social networking and networking with people and businesses. He saved us a lot of money in the cost of hotels and foods."
Frederick and Brown didn't have to worry about lodging in the Southwest, because the distance between towns was so great. Instead, they camped out at night or slept in the car. But once they hit the Midwest, Brown's persuasive skills came in handy.
"Jake would talk to people outside in the yard, talk to them about what we were doing, and we would stay with people who had no idea who we were," she said. "That took a lot of guts on his part and a lot of trust on their part. Sometimes, we would stay with friends of friends."
"One of the most amazing parts of the whole trip was the generosity and kindness of people we met along the way. People would take us in," she said.
Frederick said she also loved experiencing the different climates, cultures and landscapes in America, saying it was "amazing to see all the amazing things our country has to offer."
Frederick said she suffered a few injuries along the way -- she thinks she dislocated a toe on her left foot just five days into the trip and she developed sore shins and a hip injury later on. But she said she had an accelerated recovery performance device, which sends electrical impulses into soft tissue to aid in healing.
She said the roughest part of her journey was when she ran through Kansas and Missouri.
"Those are traditionally very humid states in the summer, and they were experiencing very severe humidity and heat," she said. "It was really one of the hardest things I did in my life, to get out in that heat and humidity and run 30-plus miles in that humidity and heat.
"There were mornings I would just cry because I knew what I was going to experience. At the 16-mile point one day, I had to call Jake and say, `Please come pick me up.' "
In Kansas and Missouri, Frederick said she drank 13 liters of water a day because of how much she sweated.
Frederick said she alternated between running and walking during her journey. She said she would run five to 10 miles and then walk for about five minutes before she started to run again. She said the greatest distance she covered in a day was 37 miles and that she had a few days where she covered more than 30 miles. But she said her average dropped into the low 20s because she didn't cover as much ground when she was injured.
Frederick said she trained for about six months before she started her cross-country run and decided to do it to promote and raise money for a nonprofit she started to fund traveling for kids whose families don't have a lot of money.
"Travel is one of my passions in life, and I think every young person who wants to travel should have the opportunity to do so," she said. "I would love to be able to support travelers in one way, shape or form because that's what people did for me."
Frederick said her nonprofit, the Youth Travel Fund, could pay for service trips, as well as field trips that require students to pay a fee. Frederick, a former teacher, said she loves working with kids and her nonprofit combines her love of traveling with that. "I'll still be working with kids and providing educational experiences for them, just in a different setting," she said.
Jessa Waterhouse, of Kinderhook, N.Y., who met Frederick about five years ago when they taught at the same school, was at Calf Pasture Beach to greet her and said Frederick's cross-country journey was "amazing."
"I'm so proud of her. It's such a big thing to do," she said.
Waterhouse said she didn't doubt Frederick would finish. "When she puts her mind to something, she just does it. This was more than a year in the works. I knew she would do it," she said.
Ed Frederick, of Hillsdale, N.Y., Rosalynn's father, said he spent a week with his daughter when she was running through Ohio about three weeks ago because he was visiting his sister in Pittsburgh. He said Rosalynn would start about 8 a.m. and finish around 5:30 or 6 p.m. and that she covered about 30 miles a day when he was with her.
"It didn't matter if it was raining. She would walk right through the rain. She's just one determined woman. It took a lot of perseverance to do it, and I'm very proud of her," he said.
Ed Frederick said two of his daughter's friends from high school met her in New Jersey and covered 30 miles in the rain with her and that she made new friends along the way.
"The trail of friends she left behind is just amazing. I'm sure she'll remember that for a long time," he said.
Rosalynn said she decided to end her journey in Norwalk because she started by dipping her feet in the Pacific Ocean and wanted to finish by dipping her feet in the Atlantic. While she dipped her feet in Long Island Sound, the Atlantic feeds into the Sound.
Ed Frederick said it was difficult for his daughter toward the end of her journey because she was so tired.
"I'm just so glad to have her home," he said.
For information on Rosalynn Frederick's nonprofit, visit the website, www.youthtravelfund.org.