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Day 26


Day 26 (May 26, 2000) – 50.0 miles


Ray and I got out at 6:00am, but it wasn’t easy. We had a rough night and a bit disoriented at first, then found ourselves rushing to get out. The thunderstorms through the night were horrific. From what we were told later, we were very fortunate. The main weather event took place just to the east of us in the town of Fowler, where golf ball size hail and 70mph winds pelted the town.


Lucky for us, we were only hit with sheets of rain, lightning bolts that looked like varicose veins in the sky, and thunderous winds smacking against the side of the motor coach. We all were up a much later than usual. The tornado watch lasted until midnight. Things began to calm down after that. I finally fell asleep about 12:30, after Don and I finished with the ice treatment and massage session.


Upon getting up, I had trouble finding the rice cakes and the bottle to mix up the protein shake. Ray continued to load the car, while I prepared the food. When we got to the start, the air had the smell of post storm freshness. The sky above us was mostly clear, with substantial cloud cover up ahead to the east, where we were headed. I did not think too much of it, given the propensity for rapid change in the Kansas skies.


The biggest challenge at the moment, were the extensive grass fields on both sides of the road that were teeming with mosquitoes and gnats. No amount of bug repellant seemed to make a difference. Mosquitoes were swarming all over my body; my exposed skin was filling up with welts, and I am constantly itching. I only hope that as the day wears on the mosquito attacks will subside.


Once past the mosquito fields, I found myself struggling through one of those bad “patches” ultra-runners go through every so often. The thought of another storm filled night is one that I do not look forward to. The reality is we will be in Kansas for another week, and there is no certainty that anything will change once we get into Missouri.

However, given the demeanor of the locals, these weather events seem to be just a regular, lived-with occurrence that people who reside here are used to. I guess given where one grows up and lives, certain aspects of life become an accepted and expected part of day-to-day living. To a newcomer, or visitor just passing through, like we are, these regular occurrences may seem frightening and unsettling.


My reference to that sociological phenomenon is as 20-year New York City resident who has been living in San Diego for the past couple of years. I used to find it curious when new friends and acquaintances who lived in non-urban areas expressed concerned for my safety when they found out I was living in NYC. I always felt safe in my New York neighborhood; a wonderful and friendly place to live once you knew how to take care of yourself and what to look for. When I moved from New York to San Diego, many of my friends and family back east worried that I would be in danger because of earthquakes and brushfires. Yet, while living in San Diego I didn’t live moment-to-moment worrying about them. Maybe by the time we complete our week-long journey through Kansas, I will be an acclimated veteran of the state, and not affected by the ever-changing weather conditions. Still, we do expect to encounter many weather challenges straight through to New York, especially now that we have entered tornado alley.


It is now 4:47 pm, 10-hours-and-47-minutes into the run. The last few hours have been challenging. The arch in my right foot has been very painful, along with my right shoulder and right hip. The heat and humidity were starting to get to me. I think I was emotionally overextended these past few days because of the weather conditions. I knew that my body was out-of-whack and I wanted to get another adjustment. Don and I talked about setting up a chiropractic appointment in Pratt, KS, where we would be tomorrow. That meant that we would have to get somebody to agree to treat me on the Saturday before Memorial Day.


The best news of the day is that Larry is back! He will be a huge asset getting us through the next phase of the Journey. The first task we asked Larry to take on was to go with Monea to Pratt, to see if they could set-up a chiropractic appointment for Saturday.


Larry and Monea were just about to depart for Pratt as we were passing through the town of Bucklin. I happened to look to my right and there was a big sign for Dr. Roy Lane’s Bucklin Chiropractic Center. I stopped running and walked into his office, and – as things seem to happen during the Journey – Dr. Lane and his office manager had viewed the television feature about us on the local news the day before, and after a brief introduction he took me right in. He released my hip and neck, worked on my spine, and gave me electro-muscular stimulation on my gluts. Soon, I am back on the road, and feeling much better.


At 5:21pm, we are approximately 33.5-miles into the run. Ever since we left Dr. Lane’s office, the sky overhead has been clear, though the heat and humidity was oppressive. It has been quite an afternoon. How fortuitous to have passed by Dr. Lane’s clinic just as Larry and Monea were about to depart for Pratt. I am, gratefully, moving without much discomfort, but the heat has slowed down my forward progress to barely three-and-a-half miles per hour.


The terrain has changed from relatively flat to rolling hills, with some significant climbs that challenge me to be totally focused. When I am forced to stop to put on sunscreen or to take pebbles out of my shoes, I feel dizzy and weak. I react by getting back into what resembles a running motion as quickly as I can, so that I do not access the sense of how tired I am. Running has become my comfort zone; sometimes I can say in all honesty: “It only hurts when I stop.”


I thought about some of the things Dr. Lane shared with me today. He had been a resident of western Kansas most of his life and didn’t consider the tornado activity there as threatening when compared to what can be expected in eastern Kansas, especially around Wichita. He said some big ones have hit in that part of the state, and described how a trailer park was chewed-up there a few years back. He also told me about an experience he had back at his home. He actually saw a funnel cloud come out of the sky right above him as he was kicking back, drinking a beer.


At 8:51pm, after maintaining a steady 3.5-mile-per-hour pace for the past 3.5-hours, I am approaching my 49th mile. I will certainly finish up with 50. The sun has set. It has been a long, long day, nothing over-the-top eventful or painful – especially after the session with Dr. Lane. I’m just feeling dead-tired; every step is a challenge; reminiscent of how I felt last Saturday, the day after I ran 57.8 miles from Santa Rosa to Tucumcari on the 40 Interstate.


Perhaps, I am also feeling the aftereffects of yesterday’s 53.8-mile run, and the emotional drain of last night’s the tornado watch and lightning storm. I will have to do better keeping my weather “concerns” in-check, and just learn to just adjust to whatever develops. I can’t change the weather. Whatever will be will be. I need to focus on what I can do, and not waste my energy on worrying about things that might happen. I am with a great group of people and we will work together to stay safe. In the meantime, I must focus on covering miles, handling the interviews, and inspiring other to be all they can be.


Larry joined Ray and me at the end of the run. We are going to make a slight change in our routine. Larry brought my dinner out to the course. I will eat as I am being driven back to camp, so I can start my stretching routine immediately upon arrival, then shower, get iced and a massage, and go right to bed. The process has been taking too long recently, with me ending up eating too late again, and then going to bed with a full stomach. The past few days, I have noticed some stomach cramping during the night. I will try this routine tonight.


All in all, it was a relief to not have to deal with any significant weather events during the day today; just the heat and humidity. The severe weather is both ahead of us and behind us; for now, things are calm.


As we move through south-central Kansas, towards Topeka and eventually to Kansas City, MO, we find out that there is tornado activity up ahead. By now, I am optimistic that the storms will clear by the time we get there. In any case, it really doesn’t matter. We’ll just keep moving eastward and deal with what comes our way.


There was excitement today when Larry and Monea returned from Pratt where they picked up a shipment from Brown’s Catalog. They sent me three pairs of shoes. One of which I am wearing now – New Balance 762’s. I am finding them much more comfortable than the 630’s I was wearing earlier. Hopefully, these shoes will work out. After running in them the last few miles or so, I’m sure they will be good to use tomorrow.


Depending on the weather conditions, and how often I am able to rotate my shoes, each pair seem to last anywhere from three to four days, or about 150 to 200 miles per pair. This works out to a rate of going through at least two pairs a week. I’m going to need some more shoes!


Thanks again to Brown’s catalog for supporting me with the equipment and getting it here in such a timely fashion. My day was joyfully “topped-off” when, at 8:50pm Central time, I was told that the NJ Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers in game seven, winning the series, and will be moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals. This makes them the first team in modern National Hockey League history to win a conference final series being down three games to one. Yes! It is nice to find some pleasure from events occurring beyond the boundaries of the Journey. There is still a world out there!