THE JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA – AGAIN
Day 22 (May 22, 2000) – 50.0 miles
At 11:15am, Ray and I have been out on the course for five-hours-fifteen minutes. We arrived at today’s starting line by 6:00am. Since we moved into Central Time at the end of the day last night, we would, once again, be working with only 23-hours – not 24.
The late morning sky was cloudless, and the Texas heat and humidity were rising. I began to perspire profusely. Yesterday and today were the only two days I can remember sweating like this during the run. When we were in the desert, it was hot, but there was very little humidity. If I did perspire, it didn’t completely soak through my shirt and stream into my eyes, like it was doing now. I felt a bit stronger today than yesterday, though, given that I was a full day removed from the frenzied surge over Interstate 40 on Day 20. I was pleased about that, and grateful that we have thus far missed any major weather events, storms, or thunder showers which, we were told, occurred just before we entered the panhandle. For now, stormy weather is not present and not a threat for the next day or so.
Last night, we finished at 9:15pm Central Time. Ray drove me back to the camp where Don greeted me, and helped me inside. I immediately began my stretching routine. I had a bit of a challenge focusing on what I was doing, given the state I was in. I was exhausted, and I was dizzy.
Day 21 was a rough day. I really had to push myself to get to the 50-mile mark, and knew that I needed to take care of my body issues that night or else I would have a very difficult time the following day.
By the time I finished stretching, it was 10:45pm, and I finally sat down to have something to eat. My appetite was minimal. I only ate half of the food that was prepared for me. It was more important to ice up and get a massage, rather than eat – and besides, my stomach had been upset most of the afternoon. I felt it would be best to eat minimally and focus on healing my body.
Don helped me into the back room, and I laid down on the bed, with my feet up on the foam block, knees bent at a right ankle. Don iced my right hip, both of my hamstrings, and both of my Achilles.
My right hip had been the most painful area. My glute muscles were burning with each step – as if a jolt of electricity was shooting down my leg. I was very concerned about this, because recently the pain had become very severe. My left Achilles was also of concern; it was very tight. I had been managing these discomforts for the past ten days and knew we needed to work on these areas daily. Don did what he could to loosen up the tight areas in the calves, hamstrings and glutes – and finally I dozed off somewhere around midnight.
Ray was also quite exhausted, and went into a second tent that was set up for the first time, while Monea and Laura were breaking down the equipment for the day. Once that task was complete, Laura began transcribing my audio recordings, and Monea cleaned up the kitchen and prepared the food for today’s journey. I told Ray I would like to get a 6:30am Central Time start, which would be the equivalent of 5:30am Rocky Mountain Time.
I woke up at 3:45am, after three-hours-and-forty-five minutes of sleep. There was an alarm going off, and I could not tell where it was coming from. The motor coach was empty since Ray was outside in the tent. I wandered around in the dark, because I didn’t know where any of the light switches were.
Finally, Ray woke up too, and we both began to look for the source of the alarm, until we woke Don up. Don came in and checked the fuel gauge for the generator. Although gauge registered two-thirds full, when he went outside to check, he discovered that the generator’s fuel tank was empty – and that triggered the alarm.
Given that we were already up, Ray and I decided to get ready to start the day early. I stretched until 5:15, while Ray prepared the Jeep. We ended up leaving the motor coach nearly 30 minutes earlier than originally planned. Yes, the “Road of Life” can be unpredictable, and sometime it is best to just make the most of what life offers – even if it means changing the original plan.
I did feel more energetic than yesterday, and was pleased to get an extra hour of stretching in this morning, which added to the nearly 90-minutes of stretching and another hour or so of ice and massage last night. The end result was that the bolts of electricity were no longer shooting down my leg. I was moving fairly comfortably.
At the beginning of the day, I was only able to maintain about a three-mile-per-hour pace, but soon was able to increase to four-miles-per-hour. The sun was rising and the heat was building. I was alone with Ray on Highway 54, while Don, Monea, and Laura drove into Dalhart, TX to get the generator’s fuel gauge fixed.
Ray and I figured that we would pass through Dalhart later in the evening, and add an additional seven miles northeast of the town before shutting down for the day. At 11:45am, we were approaching 20-miles for the day, having been able to main a four-miles-per-hour pace for the past three-hours. I noticed that the pain in my left middle toe has subsided considerably. This proved to be very timely.
Yesterday, after to speaking to Dr. Young and Mary Beth, they suggested that I treat the distressed toe with colloidal silver, which noticeably reduced the discomfort. Shortly thereafter, I finally wore down the last pair of New Balance 620’s with the wide toe box, and had to replaced them with the original pair of shoes I was wearing when I first left San Diego, which were much narrower and a size smaller, and caused my toes to push up against the inner wall of the shoe. Even with the toe rubbing up against the inside of the shoe, the pain was minimal, and I was able to maintain the four-mile-per-hour pace. I was counting on the delivery of a new pair of shoes today, which were supposed to arrive yesterday. Unfortunately, they never came.
The topography of the Texas panhandle was quite different from what we previously encountered. Currently, the terrain was essentially flat, with just a few wavy hills visible. Every now and then, I’d see a narrow country road, which would lead to a small house or ranch. There were a few trees scattered about, and some cattle and horses lazily grazing here and there.
While Ray and I were working our way through the Texas panhandle, Don informed us that he arranged an appointment for me with Dr. Raymond Weld, at the Dalhart Chiropractic Center, which was located on Route 54. At that moment, Ray and I were 32-miles out from the start of the run, and about 90 minutes away from the clinic. Once the appointment was confirmed, we decided that I would run for the next 90 minutes, stop, and Ray would then drive me to the clinic. I ended up covering seven miles during that time – a 4.7-mile-per-hour pace – my fastest and most focused running of the day. Ray marked the spot where I stopped and I got in the Jeep. We were just a mile away from the Chiropractic Clinic.
I was inside the clinic for about 30 minutes. Dr. Weld treated me with electrical stimulation for my Piriformis and glutes. I nodded off. I woke up after this part of the session was finished, and noticed that Dr. Weld was no longer in the room. I didn’t have my watch on, and for a moment I started to panic, not knowing how long I had slept. Turned out that I only napped for a few minutes. Dr. Weld returned to finish his adjustments, and Ray and I were able to stay within the desired time frame of 45 minutes max, for combined travel and treatment time. Ray got me back to the last stopping point at 5:22pm.
Back on the course, I found it sluggish going. It was 96 degrees outside. The heat seemed even more oppressive than before since I had been inside the airconditioned Jeep and clinic for nearly 45 min. I poured water over my head to cool off and started moving. I initially felt tremendous relief in my lower back. Dr. Weld definitely did his magic from top to bottom on my spine, adjusted both hips, and treated my gluts and Piriformis. I was certain this was a very wise move; 99-degree plus heat, was predicted for tomorrow in the Texas pan-handle, with very little cloud cover and rising humidity. The plan was for me to finish around 9:00pm today, and follow our regular nighttime routine so we could get ready for the next challenging day.
At 8:36pm, Ray and I completed 49-miles for the day, and had been out for 14-hours-and-36-minutes. Including the 45 minutes we spent at the chiropractor.
The run after seeing Dr. Weld, had been very difficult. As soon as I put on my running shoes, I realized they were totally useless. The right heel was so severely worn down – and at such a severe angle – I felt my back about to spasm and go out on me after each step. The only other option I had was to put on the pair of shoes sent to me on Day 18 of the Journey, and that I had tried to run in for a very brief period of time. I remembered how dead my legs felt in those shoes; how I just seemed to shuffle along at about 3-miles-per-hour; where each step seemed to require more effort than the previous one. But I had no choice. So, I changed shoes – again – and did the best I could from the 38th-mile to the 49th mile.
As I was about to finish the last and 50th-mile of the day, I was doing my best not to freak out. I did not look forward to having to run the next day in record setting heat, through the Texas panhandle, in shoes that I had already rejected once before.
And then the cavalry arrived! Appropriately enough – Merlin appeared…
Merlin, was the man who provided us with alkaline water throughout the Journey. He pulled up in his white pickup truck full of Merlin water, and the pair of shoes that I had requested: New Balance 630’s size 12 with a 4E width. Merlin popped out of the pickup truck, gave me a hug. I just looked at him, and blurted out: “Did you bring the shoes?” He laughed, and immediately got the shoes, which Ray started to lace up. I kept moving, wanting to get the day over with as soon as possible.
Finally, about half-a-mile down the road, Ray caught up to me in the Jeep, and handed me the new pair of shoes. I stop running, put them on, and the relief was nearly instantaneous. Right away, I started moving along at a comfortable pace, heading in a northeasterly direction to the finish line for the day. The sun was down, the nighttime sky was partly cloudy, and all around us were vast expanses of prairie, grass, and cattle ranches.
Today’s mileage was “50” once again. Tomorrow loomed big, though. I rode back to the camp with Merlin and chatted with him. We dedicated the rest of the night to an efficient and focused preparation for tomorrow’s record heat. That meant, getting off to an early start, drinking plenty of Merlin water, and be ready for a long Slow-Burn of a day.