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Day 21


Day 21 (May 21, 2000) – 50.0 miles


It is 6:21am on the 21st Day of the Journey. We began about 10 minutes ago, after getting off to a later than hoped for start. The delay in getting started had to do in part with having to clean and bandage the palms of my hands. My right palm, in particular, was torn open up for a second time, due to another spill, which occurred about a mile after we left the I-40 Freeway yesterday. I stubbed my toe on a mound of hard tar and pebbles and fell, this time on both hands, reopening a cut on my right hand, and creating a new one on the left. Now I will be running with my right hand gauzed up, reminiscent of a boxer before putting gloves on, and rendering my right hand useless when it comes to doing simple things like putting on sun tan lotion and showering. I am probably best off not getting my hand wet for the next 7 to 10 days. We’ll see how it goes.


The other factor that caused such a late start was the fact that I lost my watch. I did have a spare, but I set the watch by an old AM/FM radio that was in the motor coach, which was off by 15 minutes. It wasn’t until I got into the Jeep that I realized my mistake. It was just a less than auspicious way to start the day.

It was exciting racking up 57.8 miles yesterday. It was a day driven by heightened nervous system activity. Ray and I were so relieved after we got off the Interstate and moved on to a relatively quiet stretch of route 54. From the highway, we came into Tucumcari, ran through the town, and then out another three miles or so under extraordinarily threatening skies. There were thunderstorm warnings and watches throughout the area.


Given the ominous look of the clouds, I suggested that Donald, Monea, and Laura check into a Motel, instead of camping out for the night. We were all concerned that this would become the first day of significant rain, thunder and lightning on the Journey. Upon awakening in the morning, the sky was absolutely clear, cloudless, and rather cool with a light breeze. In fact, it was perfect running weather.


Ray mentioned that he thought that the weather pattern we might be experiencing for a while is be similar to Hawaii, where every day it starts out beautiful, then the clouds gather by the evening. Anyway, given the USA Today map, there seemed to be a possibility that we may get another couple of days of nice weather before a storm comes in from the North West. We will deal with whatever comes our way.

We did our most productive day yesterday – 57.8 miles – and looked forward to another productive day today. We were expecting Merlin, our water sponsor to appear. He was going to drive down from Boulder, Colorado, and deliver not only a shipment of water, and, I’ve got my fingers crossed on this, a pair of running shoes for me. He managed to locate a pair of size 12 4E New Balance 630’s in Denver, and he said that he would go into Denver, pick them up and bring them down to me today. I am looking forward to that with great anticipation. I am so ready to retire the pair of running shoes that have so ably served me for the past twenty days.


At 5:15pm, we are in the final stretch of our journey through New Mexico. It has been a long hot and humid day as we are about to enter into Texas. I had not run in conditions like that in years. San Diego, where I have been living for the past three years, has a fairly temperate climate, with little variation between day time and night time temperatures. This time of year, it is usually in the high 60’s to low 70’s during the day, and the low 60’s at night. Today in Tucumcari the temperature soared into the high 90’s – with oppressive humidity.


The run on Saturday felt like a sprint. All I wanted was to get off of the Interstate as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to talk into a tape recorder, I didn’t want to think about anything – do anything – other than put the Interstate behind me. Running in today’s heat and humidity was enough of a challenge in-and-of itself. The thing was, I was still felling the impact of yesterday’s effort. Also, I only got about three-and-a-half-hours sleep last night, and I had a very uncomfortable stomach cramp after my second feeding of rice and vegetables. All the above seemed to slow down my progress for a while. I’m not even at the 40-mile mark yet, and it is already 5:17pm; meaning my pace has been a very pedestrian 3-miles-per-hour. It looks as if I’ll be out on the road for at least another three hours if I want to hit “50”.


I am happy though – and committed. The other issue we have to deal with is that we are just about to pass into central time zone, and will have one less hour in the day to work with tomorrow. In reality it is 6:18 now. We will do our best to adjust to the new time zone; we’ve done it once already. The commitment this evening is that we’ll have to be as efficient as possible. That means: Once the day’s run ends, I will get inside the motor coach as soon as possible, and stretch, shower and eat. Then, there will be significant icing and massage therapy, mostly my right glute, and both Achilles and hamstrings. My shoulder seemed to be fine throughout today.


I am grateful to have put in another 50 miles. I spoke with Mary Beth and Herb, who were both in Chicago at the Unlimited Power Weekend. It was great catching up with them. I spoke to my son, Beau, who scored five goals in his hockey game. His team won 10 to 2. I’ve heard great reports about how much Beau’s hockey skills and prowess are progressing. We both love hockey; playing and watching. My little girl, Mackenzie, told me all about her Brownies lunch that day, and we laughed about all the junk food that grandfather and gram Sandy were probably going to let her eat. I told her when I get home, I am going to cook hot dogs for all of us. She laughed because she knows, “Daddy you don’t eat hotdogs!” I said, “When I get home I will.”


It is now 7:37pm. We’ve just passed the 48-mile point, and cleared the Texas border into the Central Time Zone. I am thinking about the great ultrarunner, Ted Corbett, someone I knew personally, and admired greatly, during my time living in New York City. I often thought about his theory that in almost every ultra, you go through good patches and bad patches. The key is to just stick with it; the goal is to get through the bad patches until good patches come. If I could talk with Ted today, I might confess to him that I really couldn’t remember any good patches during today’s run. I never really felt like I could pick up the pace, or just feel fluid and flowing in my motion. It was just one-step-at-a-time all day long; just dogged persistence to keep moving no matter how much I wanted to stop. The reality was that stopping was not an option. that’s how I felt; I had to figure out a way to keep moving so, in the end, I was able to get my “50” – which took a little over 14 hours.


One of the stories Mary Beth told me today about her work at the seminar in Chicago, was that somebody had come to her booth and was, in his words, burned out from the seminar, and really felt like he wanted to leave. When he found out about my run, and about the pace I was keeping, and the hours I was moving, he decided to stay. He said, “If Stu can do what he is doing I can surely stay in the seminar.” That is the message and the impact, and effect this run can have on people.


Ivan’s last words to me before he left yesterday were that he considered our message could be wrapped up in one word, and that word was “inspire”. The act of total commitment to a cause is inspiring. It is that stick-to-it and unrelenting pursuit of a dream, that inspires others into action; to believe that “more” is possible and “less” is unacceptable. Thank-you, Ivan. I will see you again soon…