THE JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA – AGAIN
Day 24 (May 24, 2000) – 51.5 miles
It is 4:30am, Central time, Day 24 of the Journey. I am feeling weak, anxious, and very, very apprehensive. It is the first day I may have to begin the run with a significant pain that I have not been able to manage thus far.
My right foot is so sore, I can barely stand up straight. The pain seems to affect my right hip as well. Ray and Don prepared an ice bath for me so I can soak my foot for twenty minutes, which I probably would have been better off doing last night. We did not follow our regular routine at the end of the day. There were distractions, most of them having to do with events back home, which affected Ray and me, and we did not complete our regular end-of-day routine.
Ray told me that he was planning to return to Hawaii by June 6th. I know that Ray did not want to leave, and I certainly did not want him to go. The reality was that it did not seem likely that we would be able to raise the funds necessary to keep Ray as my handler. Ray, understanding the situation, offered to support me as best he could until his departure, and would help to secure someone to take his place before he leaves.
One of the options we hoped for was getting Larry to come back. We started working on a plan to have Larry join us by the end of the week, somewhere in Kansas.
In the meantime, we had to get moving, and by 6:00 am, Ray and I were back on the road. We anticipate making it out of Oklahoma and into Kansas today.
Most of the morning was spent on the phone doing what I could to keep the event alive. Ivan was in NY, meeting with the CEO of a nutritional supplement company. Mary Beth was continuing her letter writing campaign to generate personal contributions to the Journey. Mike Weinstein and Mr. G were pursuing corporate sponsors for the event. All in all, the message to me was keep running, stay focused and things will work out.
At the moment I am doing my best to keep on keeping on. At the end of the day we contacted the chiropractor in Liberal, Kansas was willing to give me an adjustment tomorrow at 7am.
At 12:42, six-hours-and-42 minutes into the run, I am feeling much better. Being on the road and moving, has become comforting to me; a place of refuge where I could work things out, make sense out of the nonsensical – emotionally and physically. What has become apparent, though, is that we will not be able to make it through the panhandle without running into a weather event.
The sky has become dark and ominous. A lightning bolt suddenly strikes ahead of us, reaching from the clouds all the way down to the ground, leaving a distinct smell, hard to describe, and the buzz of electrical energy all around us. It is starting to sprinkle, accompanied by a severe headwind. The trucks continue to whizz by. The excursion through OK is becoming very unpleasant. I keep moving forward into the headwind, realizing that with the way things look the conditions will probably get worse.
While the road and the weather conditions are far from welcoming, the people we encounter are friendly and supportive. Motorists and truckers alike, drive by with their thumbs up, honking their horns. I have been on both the AM and FM radio stations in Guymon. The interviews went well, and we are reaping the benefit of this exposure.
At 3:46 pm, we are nine hours and 46 minutes into the run. I seem to be eating constantly, at least every hour: Rice cakes almond butter, and plum jelly: a mixture of rice and vegetables saturated with olive oil and Bragg’s Aminos; and protein bars. I noticed last night in particular how thin I was getting and how low my bodyfat was. I am doing all I can to keep my calories and nutrition up.
We may have dodged a bullet, given that the thunderstorm seems to be moving away from us, as if were following just behind it. I am still battling the headwind though. My eyes are blurry from the wind in my face, even with sunglasses on, and I can’t hear a thing other than the sound of the wind roaring past my ears. I am thankful, though, that the sun is coming out behind me and the sky seems to be clearing up.
We will more than likely have enough hours left in the day to once again complete 50+ miles today. That is a wonderful feeling regardless of the challenge battling the headwind. I feel that today’s primary objective will soon be met. All I have to do is stay focused and keep moving forward.
My body is transforming, becoming leaner, more muscular, and better suited to meet the challenges ahead. It is a remarkable experience as if I have transformed from a modern urban dweller into a more primitive state, at least with respect to my body’s ability to survive the constant day-to-day physical challenges.
At 6:56pm, the wind is still howling, and I am still moving into an unrelenting headwind that is nearly standing me up. I feel as if I am moving two miles per hour. My body is tired. My muscles are sore. I feel as if I have been in a boxing match and received quite a beating. I know I will be glad when today is over.
I am facing northeast. The sun is behind me and to the left, getting ready to disappear into a blackening sky. There are tornado watches behind us in the Texas panhandle, around the Amarillo area. We have been told to go into sturdy buildings. I am looking around me and I don’t see any sturdy buildings. Don has parked the motor coach at an RV park. I feel vulnerable and exposed out here. I am amazed at how the crew is handling things so calmly. Ray just smiles and says, “Everything is going to be okay. Keep moving forward. The storm is behind us.”
The truth is it that the Journey no longer seems to be about running anymore. It is about life and dealing with all the things that come at you. The running now is taking care of itself. It is just accepting the things that I cannot control, and doing what it takes to keep moving forward. In this case it is the weather. It is as if we left the magical enchantment of the Southwest and have entered into the harsh realities of the high plains.
The sky brings portents of change hourly. It may be clear one moment and then turn dark and gloomy the next. We cannot take anything for granted. While we try to do what we can to live in the moment as best we can, we still must be ready for anything.
The forecast calls for rain and thundershowers for the next four days, with the possibility of tornados appearing. I’ve come to the realization that how many miles I run each day may no longer be governed by how many miles I am capable of running. It will now be determined by how much time during the day I am able to run while not jeopardizing the safety of the crew and myself.
At 8:28pm, 14-hours-and-28-minutes into the run, Ray and I reach the 50.4-mile point. We decided to end the day at 51.5, giving us plenty of time to get ready for tomorrow. I want to get up early and get on the road by 5:30am, so I can take a little bit of a break and see the chiropractor at seven. The wind is still howling in my face and it has been an incredible experience. Each day has its own tests, trials and tribulations. Such is life.
I am absolutely amazed at Ray. How he hangs in there all day long with me. He gets up before me, gets things ready and is still here, right behind me, driving four miles an hour all day long, taking care of me. It still remains that Ray may be leaving early June. We just have not been able to secure the funds necessary for him to stay – yet; we are doing all we can to not let that happen.
The thought of continuing on without Ray is not one I want to entertain at this moment. We are anticipating Larry’s arrival sometime at the end of the week, hopefully as early as tomorrow. It would be great to have Larry’s presence and an extra car as we enter a day where we are expecting a succession of thundershowers late in the afternoon. It is amazing how quickly things change out here from clear skies to threatening ones.
51.5 miles completed today and all of them well earned by all of us.