THE JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA – AGAIN
Day 3 (May 3 2000) – 52.4 Miles
Wednesday morning, May 3, 2000, we prepared to leave the High Desert in Ocotillo and head off to our next destination – Calexico, near the Mexican border. Early on in our route planning, I requested that the crew design a southerly course – through the desert – as opposed to a more mountainous, northerly one. I always felt more comfortable running in the heat than in the mountains.
By day 3, we started to settle into a routine. Before going to bed the night before, I put on the clothes I would be running in the next day. I got up by 5:00 AM and then was supposed perform the series of corrective exercises that Pete Egoscue had put together for me. Instead, with Greg still a part of the team, I was foregoing the Egoscue exercises and just let Greg work on me. I knew I was starting to rely on him, probably more than I should have, since he was only going to be with us for one more day. Still, I decided to take advantage of his being there, and go back to the original plan once he was gone.
Greg practiced a diagnostic muscle testing technique called Applied Kinesiology (AK). AK was based on assessing the relative strength and weakness of specific muscles. Greg would then be able to determine the skeletal adjustments he needed to make to get my body functioning at full capacity. I was very familiar with Applied Kinesiology. Not only had I worked with Greg previously when I lived in New York City, AK was the same methodology used by Dr. Phil Maffetone. Dr. Maffetone had been with me for the bulk of my multi-day running career, which culminated with the 1,000-Mile World Record back in 1986. Prior to his chiropractic training, Greg was also a massage therapist and was wonderfully effective in releasing tension in the muscles that were tight. Greg was simply amazing in terms of how he was able to get my body working and functioning each day.
After getting adjusted, I finished my preparations for the run. To prevent chaffing and irritation, I put band-aids on my nipples and rubbed calendula ointment under my arm pits, in my groin area, and around my waist and hip where my BodyPac was to be positioned. The BodyPac was a type of utility belt which held my cell phone, tape recorder, Chapstick, an extra cassette, and a radio. These days, I wouldn’t have needed any of this – just my Android. Back in 2000, I needed a utility belt that could hold a couple of pounds of equipment.
My equipment was packed into the BodyPac the night before, so I could just snap it on in the morning. Once I was set and ready-to-go, I’d put on my shoes, and went into the main cabin where Greg, Ray, and Don were waiting for me. I had a breakfast of a high protein shake, developed by Dr. Maffetone, and included a handful of alkalizing supplements that were recommended to me by Dr. Robert Young. For the past 12 years, Dr. Young had greatly influenced me, regarding the health and energetic benefits of alkalizing foods and fluids. This seemed in total alignment with Dr. Maffetone’s contention that reducing simple carbohydrates and sugar, while increasing high quality essential oils, would enhance endurance and sustainable energy. Fish oil and borage oil were important additions to the daily supplements, as was plenty of cold pressed olive oil during each meal. The supplements were set out on the kitchen table in a box for me to take, and all of the items that needed to be brought along with us that day were taken out to the jeep the night before.
The goal had been to be on the road by 6:00 AM, though today we got off a little after 6:30. I said goodbye to the crew and headed off with Ray, who drove me to the spot where we stopped at the end of day 2.
We began the day in the high desert of Ocotillo and headed to the low desert of Calexico. The terrain became much less challenging and flat. However, we soon entered the low desert where the heat was becoming quite oppressive. There was a heat wave going on at the time, and I had been getting reports back from Ray that the temperature was already as high as 110 degrees.
Frankly, it felt like 130 degrees! It was the most oppressive heat I had run in since I moving to San Diego from New York City, back in1997. I was now on roads that were not much fun to run on; the shoulders were full of gravel. About half-way through the day, the road became heavily trafficked.
Most of the low desert route into Calexico was along the Mexican Border which was interesting. At one point, I saw a guard tower. While I didn’t see them, Ray and Greg told me they saw people hiding in bushes, waiting to cross into the United States. We all saw plenty of Border Patrol agents. The Border Patrol agents were very supportive and friendly and radioed ahead to the other Border guard to let them know what we were doing. As we passed, we were greeted with waving, honking, and cries of “You da man”. We smiled, waved back and just kept moving forward. I was drinking lots of water. Greg and Ray were close by, right behind me in the Jeep. Our objective was to get to Calexico, which would give us a third consecutive 52.4-mile day. While we went into the Journey with a more modest goal of 40 to 50 miles per day, the daily double marathon target was becoming more and more irresistible; it was quickly becoming the standard by which a successful day in the Journey would be measured.
Because Greg was only going to be with me for only a short time – he was scheduled to leave the next day, Thursday, May 4 – I got caught up in taking advantage of his presence and allowed myself to keep pushing to hit the double marathon mark again. We arrived in Calexico later in the evening. We knew that we had a film crew waiting for us, though it turned out to be a film person. His name was Sal. Sal met us by the courthouse in Calexico, which was before the 52.4-mile mark. Since I was committed to going to 52.4, I asked Greg and Ray to pick-up Sal and drive him to the finish. So rather than stopping at the courthouse to be interviewed by Sal, we did the interview in front of a house on a residential street.
The people there were looking at us, wondering what was going on. Ray went up to them and told them I was running across the United States, which sounded impressive, but in reality, we were only three days into the Journey, and I really didn’t think we had accomplished much yet. At that moment, I thought that only Ray and I truly had a sense of the enormity of the task ahead. As we finished the interview, Sal asked me: “What do you say to people who say you’re doing this just for attention?” I just laughed. I thought that there were plenty things a person could do to get attention other than to leave home, choose to be away from one’s family for what could be up to three months, and attempt to run 10 to 14 hours a day. And so ended day 3, May 3, 2000. I went to sleep with the unsettling knowledge that Greg was scheduled to leave the next day.