THE JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA – AGAIN
Day 14 (May 14, 2000) – 50.0 miles
On Sunday, May 14, I awoke at 4:30am. It was cold but not as bitter cold as the day before – or – maybe we were just better prepared for it. Even though I slept in tights, wool leggings and socks, and a Drylite top covered with a fleece lined sweatshirt, I promptly put on another warm-up over what I was already had on. Placing the foam block on the bed and under the covers, I did my Egoscue exercises and stretched from 4:30 until about 5:45. I was beginning to feel much looser in some of the muscle groups that had been very painful and sore the day before. I wasn’t able to relieve the hip or the neck pain, though. However, it was time to go; I would have to deal with it during the run. So, I headed into the main cabin to meet up with Ray. Ray had prepared breakfast for me – minestrone soup, that we had decided upon the night before. I crumbled up a rice cake and added it to the soup.
We got off an early start – at least an earlier start than yesterday, by about half an hour. Today’s Journey would take us from the Cottonwood Camp on the Apache Reserve to Mule Creek. In order to get there, we would have to pass over the Continental Divide – elevation 7312 feet, which was about 1,000 feet higher than Saliz Pass, which we went through the day before. But we were starting out at such a high elevation to begin with, that I figured getting over the Continental Divide was not going to be anywhere near the level of difficulty I’d experienced yesterday.
We were out at 6:30am. 35 minutes into the run, I was still bundled up with gloves and mittens, warm-up suit and tights. My energy level was much better than yesterday; my muscles felt fairly loose. The pain in the right side of my neck and hip was increasing slightly, but it was manageable. By 8:00am, we’d been on the road for approximately 90 min, and things were starting to improve a bit, although my pace was very erratic. I’d run a bit, then stretch for a few minutes, walk a while, discard some clothing, and then repeat the whole pattern all over again.
At 8:41, after running a little over two hours, I still was feeling OK; I just had this kink in my neck I couldn’t work out. Every time I tried to speed up, it triggered a pain in my shoulder. Otherwise, I felt pretty good muscularly, no soreness or aches. I was started to get frustrated, though. I only covered about six miles in the first two hours. Thankfully we got an early start so I might be able to make up for that later on. The sun is out; it’s warming up, and I’m now running with just shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap.
I continued to feel surprisingly well, and my mood was upbeat and optimistic. One of the causes of this positive state change was that Larry had apparently solved one of the more annoying problems of the run thus far: The constant pebbles-in-the-shoe-syndrome.
Larry created a pair of spats or gators, by cutting off the bottom of a sock and using Velcro to attach the open end of the sock to the top of the shoe. This formed an enclosure that prevented pebbles from ending up in my shoe. The spats were working just fine on my right foot, but not so well on my left foot. I wondered if it had something to do with the way I was running. I was pretty sure Larry would figure out how to fix it.
We turned onto Route 12, and were now headed toward our destination for today: Old Horse Springs, NM. Within a few minutes, I was pleasantly surprised that I began picking up an Albuquerque radio station. During our time in the National Forest we were just barely getting some stations out of Arizona – and which only played country music (not my favorite). I was able to locate the ESPN radio station, and got to listen to some Sports Talk, which picked up my spirits even more. It was playoff time in the NBA and the NHL – and I had a team in each league that I was following: The NY Knicks in the NBA, and the NJ Devils in the NHL! I got excited just thinking I might be able to catch some of the playoff games during the Journey. At three-hours-and-10 minutes into the run, my pace moved from 3 miles-an-hour to 4 miles-an-hour.
By 9:46 the sun was very strong, we stopped at a town named Reserve NM. During this short break, I put sunscreen on for the first time that day, and performed a prolonged downward dog stretch, keeping my feet flat and touching the ground with my palms with my arms and legs as straight as possible – in effect making an upside down “V”. Ray gently pushed down on my back. I had been experiencing some discomfort that was localized in the base of my neck on the right side. The stretch seemed to bring about some relief. Other than that, I felt great. We’ve covered 10 miles. I just had a conversation with Mary Beth, which cheered me up as well, after a couple of days not being able to communicate with home.
I must have taken at least about six different phone calls once we were able to get cellular reception. I found out that my son Beau had won his hockey game. He scored two goals and had a handful of assists. Go Beau! I wasn’t able to speak to my daughter Mackenzie; she was still sleeping.
It was getting quite warm by now. The road we were on had been steadily increasing in elevation. By this point in the Journey, I had already begun to adjust to the hill running. Other than the nagging pain in my neck. I felt rather comfortable. Ray and I talked about trying to find a chiropractor somewhere along Route 60 going East into Socorro. Ray said he would discuss this with Don and Larry and try to come up with something. It was now 10:49 am Rocky Mountain Time. We’ve been at it for about four hours and fifteen minutes, and getting close to fifteen miles. I pretty much sticking to a 4 mile-per-hour pace.
I’m was constantly working on my neck as I was running. I’d poke around and find pressure points to stimulate in both my neck and right shoulder, then roll my head in a circle to loosen the tension. Three or four times each mile I would stop and I do a stretch. Little by little I gained confidence that I could self-manage like this for a while. Still, it would be nice to get an adjustment or a massage.
Apparently, when we had stopped to put the sunscreen on in the town of Reserve, we did so right in front of the sheriff’s house. Once I was on my way, the sheriff had gone over to Ray and offered to generate some publicity in town. Ray also asked him if he knew of any chiropractors. He said the chiropractor comes from out of town on Wednesdays; unfortunately for me, it was Sunday.
After passing through Reserve and getting about a mile out of town, all of a sudden, a big pickup truck pulls up ahead of me and stops. I see a man in the truck reaching for something on the passenger seat. He pulls it out and starts walking toward me. I had no idea what it was. Then I realize he had a camera in his hand. Turns out, he was from the local newspaper and was notified about the Journey by the sheriff. He wants to take a few pictures, and talk what we were doing. I explained I was running from San Diego to New York to raise money for children’s charities, and to inspire action to promote the health and vitality of America’s youth. He said he would get some more information from Ray and give us a write-up in the paper. Once again, a wonderful opportunity appeared unexpectedly. Now, it was time to get back on the road, and time to tune back into ESPN radio.
I found out the NY Knicks were down two games to one to the Miami Heat, and the NJ Devils were about to open up the Conference finals against the Philadelphia Flyers that night Philadelphia. Go Devils! I was thrilled by all this good fortune. It was such a beautiful day; the mountains so picturesque, filled with trees and bright sun. It is quiet; very few cars. I was getting a sense that I’m pretty close to a breakthrough. I was astounded at how high my energy level was getting, and how good my joints and muscles felt. Once I work this kink out of my neck, I will be far along in this self-maintenance process, and – hopefully – get to where I can handle a 14-hour-a-day routine.
By 1:20 pm Rocky Mountain Time, I’m about 23-and-a-half miles from where we started from the Cottonwood Camp in the Apache Reserve, and had been moving for 6 hours and 44 min. The marathon marker is just up ahead. I’m still constantly stopping and trying to work out the discomfort in my neck, and the hip discomfort has returned.
Larry caught up with me at that point, and we talked about organizing a chiropractor over the next couple of days. The crew was going to reach out to the chiropractors that have already been involved in the Journey project. This included Dr. Herb Ross, whom I met at a Tony Robbins event, and had done some body work on Tony. Herb had organized one of our Journey sponsors – the Q-Link Pendant. Then there was my former coach Dr. Phillip Maffetone, and – of course – Greg Werner, who had been with us for the first 5 days of the Journey. Larry would also check out if there were any local chiropractors between Reserve and Socorro, where we hoped to be Wednesday morning. That predicted ETA might be in jeopardy, considering the rate at which I was deteriorating at that time; I had slowed down considerably – and I wouldn’t exactly call what I was doing “running”.
Larry tried to cheer me up by telling me that just up ahead was the Continental Divide, which would make a great picture opportunity and the perfect landmark to take a short break. He said it was just about 14 miles away, which would place it around the 37-mile mark. He told me that at 1:44 pm Rocky Mountain Time. I’d already been on the road for 7 hrs. and 8 mins, and closing in on the marathon.
After talking with Larry, Ray came over and told me we wanted to stop at a service station up ahead so he could call home. Apparently, we had lost cell phone reception again. He asked me if it would be all right for me to run by myself for a little while. That was fine with me. I took off holding a water bottle in my hand, since I could no longer run with the utility belt; it was just too uncomfortable, and caused my hip to hurt a great deal. While I went off by myself, Ray drove to the gas station.
Ray came back a short while later and tells me that he got through to his family. Then he tells me a story. As he was about to leave the gas station, a woman stopped him and asked: “Where’s your runner?” Ray told her: “He’s up the road about half a mile”. Ray then asked her how she knew about it. She said she had been in Glenwood, a town in between Mule Creek and the Cottonwood Campgrounds, and people there were talking the Journey. She also told Ray that she is certain she had heard it on the national news. Just hearing about that conversation was a big of a pick-me-up. That news of the Journey was getting into the national media was great to hear.
Ray went up ahead and prepared another rice cake for me – with some almond butter. I guess the crew was able to pick-up some more supplies, because I was sure I had eaten the last one earlier. Ray offered to give me a bowl of rice and vegetables next, but I decided to hold off eating anything else but the rice cake, until we reached the 30-mile point.
I was traveling so slowly and I could eat a rice cake, holding it in one had while still running; in order to consume a bowl of rice and vegetables, I would have to walk. So, the plan was for me to reach the 30-mile mark, and then go for a one mile walk with a bowl of rice and vegetables.
At 3:51pm Rocky Mountain Time, 9 hrs. and 15 mins. into the run, we are somewhere around 33 miles. Larry stopped by. He had taken the motor coach to Datil, NM to dump all the septic tanks, and re-fill it the water tanks. Datil is where Highway 12 intersects with Highway 60, which will take us into Socorro. We expected to arrive there tomorrow around mid-day. Larry talked with the woman who managed the dump station and found out that she was a runner. She was very interested in what we were doing and offered to see if she could line up a chiropractor for us tomorrow. That would be a God-send. I thanked Larry for generating that opportunity.
We were all anticipating the return of the cell phone reception once we arrived at the Continental Divide. We were very excited about that because today, May 14, 2000, was Mother’s Day. So, we all wanted to call home so wish the mom’s in our lives a Happy Mother’s Day. It was 6:28pm Rocky Mountain Time. We’d been at it now for 11 hours and 52 mins and very close to the 40-mile mark. It has been another long Journey day. Thanks to the support of the crew, Larry and Ray in particular, I’ve been able to keep moving and managing the neck and lower back pain. We decided to take a short break right then. I started doing another downward dog stretch. I kept thinking that for the past 3-miles, starting at the 37-mile point, I was expecting to see the Continental Divide. That was based on what Larry told me back at the 23-mile mark.
After finishing the downward dog stretch, I went to grab a water bottle and Ray and Larry were standing there. I looked at Ray and started laughing, and said to him: “At the 23-mile mark, Larry told me that the Continental Divide was just 14-miles up-ahead. That was three miles ago. Ray, you’ve got to educate him about giving mileage information to a runner. You can’t tell a runner that the finish line is just up ahead, when it is three-miles away!” Ray and I broke out laughing. I think Larry got it. Runners can get very, very, obsessive/compulsive about distances. You tell them a distance and they expect it to be precise. We all laughed and Larry said just keep going. It’s right up there. I owe you one.
Low and behold 39.9 miles into the day the Continental Divide was just up ahead and in sight – elevation a little over 7200 feet. That would stand as the highest elevation we would reach on the Journey. This meant the final end of today’s 1000 foot of climb.
It was amazing to see the landscape change so dramatically, and so quickly. We started running through the forest, then it opened up into fields with the cows and horses. Soon afterwards, we were back into the forest. Then, we climbed over austere mountain roads. Finally, we reached the Continental Divide and suddenly things changed again. Behind us, to the west, were bright clear skies, and a landscape awash in bright sun; up ahead, to the east, was darkness and ominous looking clouds. The landscape changed as well. Instead of rugged mountains there were plateaus that look like mountains with their tops cut off, without any foliage, or signs of growth on them. We are on a high plain now and it was basically downhill from here. Nothing really majestic or inviting up ahead. My thoughts turned inward.
I don’t know what drives me to keep moving forward, despite the discomfort. I guess it is holding on to a dream while I still can. Learning what it takes to be relentless and to not give up. Another one of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison: “Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.” I’ve translated Edison’s quote into: “You always find what you want in the last place you look.” If you don’t stop looking, you will find what you want…so keep looking; keep creating; keep generating; keep being engaged and something will happen. We may still get a chiropractor tomorrow and, as it turns out, there’s a possibility of someone flying out on Tuesday.
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do another fifty on Saturday, after the mountain-climbing we did on Friday. We did it, though, together as a team. Then, we worked together again last night to get me ready to go today. When I left this morning, I was very apprehensive about what was ahead. Today really was a battle, most of the day was basically managing the pain in my neck. No question about it, maintaining structural health is vital. Dedicated warm-ups, stretching, corrective exercises combined with periodic adjustments and massage will be the foundation upon which a successful Journey will be built – and a fabulous support crew, which I have.
Another I thought I had today as the Journey was winding down was how generous people can be. Nearly every time we pulled over to the side of the road, someone would come over to ask us if we were okay, and if we needed help. Some were curious, others concerned and wanted to help; most were just being friendly. Along the route we were attracting attention; people were talking about what we were doing. We are slow moving caravan traveling through small town centers at a very pedestrian pace; a caravan composed of a 40-foot motor coach with a 3-person crew leading the way, Ray and Larry in a Jeep Cherokee pulling up the rear, and me in the middle. We were hard not to notice. In the course of the day, many locals might pass by us more than once. Often, they would pull over and go up to Ray and ask: “What’s going on?”
There’s a sense of community, generosity and solidarity where we are at the moment. Generosity can get lost in the day-to-day pursuit of success. In the midst of such a singular and tunnel-vision daily commitment to just keep moving eastward one-mile-at-a-time, I am increasingly becoming aware that all around me are people going through their daily routines and supporting one another. I am grateful to be present to this awareness and appreciate the kindness we are experiencing.
Approaching 44-miles, I wanted to have a snack and begin planning out how to approach this evening’s break-down. One thing I’m going to change tonight is that I’m going to shower first, then stretch, then, eat – saving the ice therapy and massage for last. After yesterday’s routine, when we iced and massaged first, I was ready to shut-down immediately afterwards. I was so tired, I had to force myself to stay up and eat dinner. By forcing myself to stay up just to eat, I ended up falling asleep up much later than I wanted to; plus, we all agreed that falling asleep immediately after consuming a meal was not a good idea. So, saving the icing and massage for last made sense.
It is now 8:09pm, 13 hrs. and 33 min. into the run. We are at the 49-mile point and running up a fairly long up hill. I just left the most beautiful high plain meadow I’d ever seen in my life. The basin seemed to be ten miles in diameter. It was just grass fields surrounded by high rolling hills covered in green.
Down the road up ahead, I saw Larry’s son walking with his dog coming to greet us. It made me think of all the things that I am grateful for today. I am grateful for Mary Beth’s support, whose calls today encouraged me to keep moving, and her unyielding faith that we would generate what we needed as we moved forward. She encouraged me to just focus on my task-at-hand, which was to stay healthy; keep running until we reached New York; stand for all the children of this nation; and to be extraordinary for their sake. She reminded me that there were so many good people around me that would be able to take care of everything else.
I’m grateful for Ray, who has been with me every step of the way, today and every day. I know that Ray has been doing all he can to keep me going. He has been encouraging and supporting me throughout. Larry has been a welcome addition to the crew these past few days. I really appreciated his coming up with the running shoe spats, which kept the pebbles out of my shoe for the first time since we left San Diego – and his healing foot massages. Monea, who figured out how to download all my Bruce Springsteen CD’s into the computer and transfer it to the MP player and then brought it over to me at the Continental Divide. That was an extra effort on Monea’s part. Thank you. And to Laura who will have to spend the night and day transcribing these tapes so we can get them off to the website. And to Donald our trusty driver and do-it-all person. Thank you for today. Today was amazing. I end it full of gratitude and appreciation for all those around me. I challenge everyone out there to be extraordinary each and every day.