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Day 17


Day 17 (May 17, 2000) – 51.0 miles


At 7:15am on Monday, May 17, 2000, Ray and I had already had been out on the road for one-hour-and-ten-minutes. We started at 6:05. Last night’s sleep was deep and restful; I slept through the night without waking up once. Dr. Ross, worked on me last night immediately after finishing yesterday’s run. It was the first chiropractic adjustment I’ve had since Friday, May 12. The treatment set me up for a very successful stretching session. Monea prepared a wonderful dinner of tofu, rice and vegetables. I got to sleep much earlier than usual, because we decided to forego the ice therapy and massage, given that the chiropractic adjustment and stretching session were so impactful. I ended the day without any muscle soreness.


For the first time since our journey entered into New Mexico, the morning was sunny and the sky cloudless. Visibility was clear and seemingly infinite, except for a slight haze on the distant mountains. With all the excitement of the previous day, Ray and I thought that we forgot to assemble the five servings of daily supplements to be placed individual Dixie cups for us to bring into the Jeep – and for me to take during the day. So, Ray and I spent extra time in the morning putting together five separate servings of supplements into five different Dixie cups before we left for the run. We were able to get to the starting point on Interstate 25 at about 6:00am. The thing was that we ended yesterday’s run in between two exits that were miles apart. Since were heading back to last night’s finish-line, and I was to run in the opposite direction, we decided that in order to save time, Ray would stop the car, let me out, and I would cross over to the other side of the Interstate by climbing over a small rail.


After taking our morning picture, we began the Journey anew for today. Both Ray and I were still buzzing about the yesterday’s radio interviews hat went exceptionally well. The interviews drew the interest of Myles Copeland, from a locally top-rated FM country music station. He heard the interview I did on the sports talk radio station the day before, and asked me to call in at 5:30 in the morning, which I did, to set up and interview for tomorrow. We could only hope that we could keep generating similar opportunities in the future.


I spoke with Mr. G yesterday regarding our upcoming trip through the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas and on into Kansas. Mr. G (Irv Gikofsky) did the weather forecasts for WCBS Radio and the WB Television Network in New York City, and I wanted to get updates from him on the weather in Tornado Alley. He informed me that at the present time the weather was clear and very warm, but to keep checking in with him along the route throughout the week.


At the moment I felt very good. My energy was high. The only noticeable discomfort in my body started in the right glute and traveled upward, parallel to my spine on the right side, and into my right shoulder blade. With Dr. Ross on board, and supplemented with regular stretching sessions, I’m fairly confident that I can both manage it and continue to improve.


Unfortunately, the new shoes that Ivan acquired didn’t work. They were a way too big and much too stiff. When I wore them, I felt as if I was running on wooden platforms. So, I’m back in the old pair of shoes that I have been using on-and-off for the past four days. Some relief may be coming soon: Mary Beth sent a couple of pairs of shoes to the chamber of commerce in Socorro, where they were to be picked up later today.


The condition of my feet remained pretty much the same. I am just nursing a recurring blister on my right bunion, and my left middle toe is still very painful to the touch. The discomfort has been manageable with Campho Phenique, and by making sure that my socks are not pulled too tightly.


The motor coach has just passed by Ray and me, and will park nine miles ahead. The plan is for me to stop when we reach the motor coach, and have Dr. Ross work on me. We were to repeat the plan again later that day.


At 10:00 am, 3-hours-and-55-minutes into the run, I passed the half marathon point. I’ve been running through clear skies with a very steady tail wind pushing me from behind. The sound of the wind was overwhelming at times; I felt as if I am running through a wind tunnel. I put my on headphones and began listening to sports talk radio the rest of the morning.


We were beginning to run out of supplies, so Don, Monea and Laura planned a provision run back into Socorro. We needed to stock-up up for the next three or four days. The route up ahead was to take us into relatively unpopulated areas as we wind our way through northeastern New Mexico and across the northwestern-most tips of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, and finally on into Kansas. Ray mentioned to me last night that the journey through New Mexico would the longest segment traveled thus far within any single state, because we entered the state in the southwest and exited in the northeast.


Before leaving for Socorro, Dr. Ross drove Laura out to meet with me so we could have a brief meeting to discuss the challenges we’ve been having communicating to my home office in San Diego, and the Journey Across America website manager in Chicago. Our goal from the start was to post an end-of-day message on the website’s “Daily Journal” page. Due to the lack of internet access, we had fallen a few days behind. Laura had some ideas about how to resolve this and wanted to share them with me.


That day, I had my first encounter with a pack of five puppy dogs that ran across the street, surrounded me, and started jumping all over me. They seemed friendly enough, though, and finally they dispersed and went back to their home. This particular area was populated by a lot of dogs that seemed very interested in what I was doing, and were paying way more attention to me than I would have liked. I certainly did not want to have somebody’s watchdog interrupt our journey with a bite out of my thigh, which has happened to me in the past. I carry that scar on my left thigh as a reminder. After another dog came at me barking furiously, I had asked Ray to stay very, very close by in the Jeep.


Ray informed me that our stash of my favorite snack, a rice cake with almond butter, is running low. The almond butter, in particular, will last for only one more feeding. We have not been able to find any along the route. Mary Beth offered to send some to the next drop point. In the meantime, eating a plain rice cake, didn’t make sense – it could cause an insulin response and destabilize my blood sugar. Instead, the short-term solution was to make a sandwich with the rice cake and the protein bar. It had a pleasant flavor, and for the time being could serve as a short-term replacement for my daily snack, until we are able to replace the almond butter.


At 12:37pm, after being out for 6-hours-and-31-minutes, we hit the 23-mile mark, and finally we got off of the Interstate. I am now running on Route 60, which is a fairly level and straight. There’s a light breeze, with long stretches of quiet, unlike anything I have experienced over the past few days. I am running through a plain that now extends uninterrupted towards the horizon, except for a few distant mountain ranges that look like the back of a sleeping stegosaurus. In the middle of the range there seems to be an opening, through which, I imagine I will eventually have to pass.


Ray and I have been alone most of the day, with Don and Laura in the motor coach trailing behind us. Herb, Monea, and Ivan have gone into Socorro to do some errands. Laura informed us that the dixie cups with the supplements had been packed in a box and brought to the Jeep earlier this morning. Apparently, we had accidentally put the water bottles on top of it, and didn’t see it. So now we have an extra supply of the supplements.


Up ahead, I suddenly see about twenty heads of cattle lazily grazing on the grass to my left. One of which is the largest longhorn I have ever, ever seen. Not that I have seen many of them in my life, but that one sure looked big.


At 1:04pm, we are six-hours-and-58-minutes into the run. Ray and I are still by ourselves, very close to the opening in the mountain range. We expect to pass through it in within 15-minutes. We both were wishing for a respite from the wind that was starting to pick up again, and hoping that once we got to the other side of this mountain range it would form a barrier to protect us from the irritating sound of the wind.

My mind started wandering at this point, and I began thinking about food, and the how effectively our meal planning has been working. The food strategies we have selected to carry me through the Journey might be surprising to some, and are definitely far different than what most marathoners and ultra-marathoners chose to follow back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when I first started long distance running. Back then, there might be items such as candy bars, cookies, de-fizzed cola and sports drinks at the aid stations during most running events.


Now, throughout the Journey, I will not eat any bread, wheat pasta, potatoes, fruit, or fruit juices. Nor do I consume any sports drinks. I hydrate all day long with alkaline water, treated with a mineral complex, and end my day with a vegetable juice at dinner. The only other liquid I consume is a first-thing-in-the-morning protein shake designed by Dr. Phil Maffetone. My diet is comprised mainly of vegetables, and a variety of grains including basmati and Jasmine rice, and quinoa. Occasionally, we would add a protein source. On this trip I’ve had tofu, sardines, tuna, and fresh salmon. I’ve had no meat, and stopped eating chicken early on, after noticing that a pattern seemed to have developed the morning after consuming chicken when I felt my energy level drop. My favorite treat seems to be the plain rice cakes with almond butter.


We seem to have settled in to a strategy where I have a small feedings at five-mile, or 90-min intervals. This pattern has stabilized over the past three days, during which time I have enjoyed my most productive running in terms of miles per day.

At 5:17pm, we’ve covered over 41 miles. After passing through the opening in the sleeping stegosaurus, I ran through an expansive plain that led to a series of small hills. I was running up and down for a little over an hour. At 6:20pm, we passed the 45 miles for the day.


Ivan has accompanied me most of the afternoon, riding alongside of me on his bike. We talked about the reasons I decided to do this, and what I hoped to accomplish. My intention was do something out-of-the-ordinary to inspire others into making healthy lifestyle choices. I wanted to lead-by-example and show that what may seem impossible can be made possible with healthy food choices, proper training methods, regular body maintenance – and the right support team. I wanted to do something so extraordinary that it will cause people to stop, take notice, and perhaps ask new questions about their own lives. Maybe, just knowing that a person was willing to run two-marathons-a-day across the United States in order to raise awareness about the how vitally important it is for our children to develop healthy eating habits and engage in regular physical activity will cause others to do what is necessary to make a difference in the lives of those they love and care about – especially their children. Ivan and I talked about this for hours.


We also had fun imagining who in the media around the world, might be interested in this event and willing to publicize it. We wanted to get the word out about our mission: To insure a healthy start in life for our nation’s youth. I ran along side of Ivan for quite a while. After he left, my energy started to wane. Back to running by myself, I began to experience some pain in my left knee, right glute and right shoulder. I concluded that the excitement of talking with Ivan has worn off.

I did have a second interview with the Sports Animal radio network planned for today, and looked forward to it. I knew that I would definitely get “up” for that. Unfortunately, when we headed east on route 60 off the Interstate, and began moving away from Albuquerque, we lost all cellular service and were unable to either confirm the appointment or do the interview; which was a bit deflating.


It has been pretty desolate most of this stretch of the trip. The wind comes and goes. I am currently on a fairly flat road, with some moderate turns and ups-and-downs. By 7:26 pm, 13-hours-and-20-minutes into the run. I’m closing in on 49 miles. My energy has been waning steadily over the last hour, and my body really feels the need to rest. I certainly will get over 50 today but not with the flourish of the last few days. I see up ahead another change in the landscape; we are entering what looks like farm land. We pass through a town called Mountainair. I am looking forward to getting worked on by Dr. Ross. He is leaving tomorrow at around 1:00, so I’ll get one more session after tonight. Ivan has taken over Larry’s role, working the phones, generating some publicity.


It was a little frustrating that because of the lack of cell phone reception, we couldn’t connect to the radio station for today’s scheduled interviews. Ivan said he might be able to stay on a little longer, and we were very happy about that. That night, Dr. Ross, bought a room for the crew at a motel adjacent to the RV park where Ray and I will be staying in the motor coach. Our deep gratitude goes out to Dr. Herb Ross today. Not only for his gifted healing hands and skill as a chiropractor, but his generosity in giving our crew a warm and comforting place to stay for the night.