THE JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA – AGAIN
Day 30 (May 30, 2000) – 52.4 miles
Thirty days into the run and we just passed the 1,500-mile mark. We anticipate another scorcher today. This trend will continue for the next 2 or 3 days – or longer – with high heat and humidity, and the constant threat of thunderstorms developing in the afternoon.
The weather reports we have been receiving out of Topeka and Kansas City, where we hope to be by Thursday evening, are for continued thunderstorm activity. We’ve been having discussions regarding which route to take. I always preferred a more southerly route. That was our original plan, staying on Highway 54 into Missouri, and then using the 54 to send us eastward through Missouri. Instead, on Saturday – Day 27 – after passing the town of Pratt, KS, we made a northerly turn, getting on Highway 61, where we ended the day near Arlington, KS.
I was not happy running on Highway 61, and asked if there were any other options. The road had no shoulder and it added 14-miles to the more direct route, involving Interstate-35, which would bring us from Strong City to Ottawa, Kansas. Larry hailed down a State Trooper, in an attempt to gain permission to use the Interstate. The state trooper called a lieutenant in the next county and we received an emphatic: “Absolutely NOT” to our request.
On Sunday, Memorial Day – Day 28 of the Journey, we entered Highway 50, and eventually took the alternative route through the residential area that Larry discovered, and finished the day going through downtown Newton.
As we were nearing the end of the 29th day – on Monday, May 29 – we reached an intersection at 51.7 miles, where Ray and Larry instructed me to go onto a country road, which is where we ended three-tenths-of-a-mile later – at the 52nd mile.
Today’s start, on Tuesday, May 30th, took us back to that country road where I had to back track and return to Highway 50. Once on route 50, we had a 17-miles to reach our next destination, Emporia, KS. Larry drove ahead to work out a route through the streets of the city that will take us to the northeast, where we can intersect with a scenic route somewhere through Ottawa. He also offered to find a state highway patrol office and make one more attempt to gain written permission to run on the interstate.
One thing was becoming certain, I wished I could just focus on getting myself ready to run, and maintain movement for as much of the day as possible. My desire to get involved in decisions regarding which route to take, finding new sources of financial support, and setting up media interviews was starting to wane a little bit. I would be happy to leave all those decisions up to the crew.
At night now, where once I was eager to make calls and stay in touch with people, all I wanted to do is get through my stretching session, have something to eat, get iced up and worked on, and go to sleep. I am finding myself less and less enthusiastic about having conversations and making decisions about the event, although I know I still have commitments to the media, which I am willing to fulfill, and commitments to generate the funds necessary to complete the Journey, which has become urgent.
Normal conversation and light banter were becoming challenging for me. I felt myself withdrawing into my own world, conserving my energy and doing all I could to just stay focused on preparing each morning for run; then moving for 14-hours or more during the day; and finally dealing with the physical issues created by that day’s run at the end of the day. Perhaps I was experiencing that familiar moment many ultradistance runners have after passing the halfway point of any Ultra, when the realization sets in that as much as has already been accomplished, there’s still that much more to go.
This morning, on Day 30 of the Journey, Tuesday May 30, we did get a 5:55am start, and I was able to get into a fairly steady pace early on. While I was still experiencing right hip and shoulder discomfort, my stomach, thankfully, was fine. I had a final meal yesterday of rice noodles and vegetables, with olive oil and Bragg’s Aminos. I kept it light and did not have any added protein – and I slept well. I fell asleep a few times during the ice treatment and massage session, and was out cold by the time Larry and Don left me. I was sound asleep much earlier than the night before, and was able to get a little extra sleep. I woke up on my own at 4:00am; dozed off a few times during the early morning stretching session – and was able to get out into the main cabin by 5:15 where I met Ray.
Today is going to be a critical day for the event. We have one day left in the month and something must develop in terms of funding or we will have to deal with the reality that Ray will be leaving us on the sixth of June. That will mean that we will have to find someone to take Ray’s place, which may be possible, but definitely the Journey won’t be the same without Ray.
There is still the issue of generating the funds necessary to cover the costs already accrued. Expenses have gone far beyond what I had expected. Much of my day now is a struggle between getting ready for and completing the 14+ hours-a-day of running and walking, the 2 – 3 hours of pre-run and post-run stretching, ice treatment, and massage – and then – figuring out how to raise the funds necessary to keep three vehicles fueled, up to six people fed, expenses for lodging and campsites covered, first aid equipment, cell phone usage, and shipping costs.
While these expenses seem to be considerable, the deeper I get into the event, the more challenging I am finding it is to stay connected to the management of the Journey. I am increasingly relying on others to deal with these things. Even so, I still have no certainty as to how we will be able to cover our financial requirements.
Yet with all this going on, we are on Day 30 of the Journey, and have been able to maintain a 51.7 mile-per-day pace over the first 29 days. So, we must be doing something right.
Bottom line: We are 1,500 miles down the road, and our collective commitment and desire to finish is still as strong as ever. The question remains – How?
At 10:32am, Ray pulls up alongside of me in the escort vehicle. As he was handing me the tape recorder I looked in and saw him eating a bagel with a slice of ham and an egg. I made a joke about how good that looked, and said: “You know, when this is over, I can eat anything I want and still be skinny.” Ray asked me how much I weighed, and I told him I had had no idea. Ray asked what I typically weigh, and I said 155lbs. He said I looked about 130lbs, which is the weight I wrestled at when I was in High School in the late 1960’s. I had no idea what I looked like; I hadn’t seen myself in a full-length mirror in over a month.
A few minutes later, at 10:40 am, Ray and I looked up ahead and saw a bunch of escort vehicles with flashing lights, and runner with a bike escort coming towards us on Old Highway 50. It turned out to be a procession for the Special Olympics. They were running across the state carrying torches on their way to Wichita. It was a very heartwarming moment for me to share with someone else who was going through a similar experience.
The decision to have Larry scout ahead and bring us back onto Route 50 was a great one. Route 50 has a very wide shoulder and provides the most direct route to Ottawa. By the time we reached the outskirts of Emporia, Larry greeted us with another bunch of news.
A newspaper reporter from the Emporia Gazette wanted to do a lengthy interview with me while I was running. This was a great development. We hadn’t had much print media, mostly radio and TV. For weeks, we hoped for a written article that we could carry around with us to show people as we passed through their communities. Larry also scouted out the road ahead and realized that the old Route 50 paralleled the interstate and we could stay on that road all the way to Ottawa, saving about 14 miles, and doing it on a relatively quiet and deserted road. Even though, the old Route 50 had very little shoulder, I felt it would be absolutely OK.
Larry also was also able to arrange a chiropractic appointment for me with Dr. Julie Mohler at 11:30. When we were about one-mile out from her office, I hopped in the Jeep and Ray drove me to her office. Dr. Mohler’s technique was one that was based on using an activator, a spring-loaded gun so to speak, to stimulate and energize pressure points based on meridian therapy. Meridian therapy is a traditional Chinese medical practice that uses acupressure to restore the body to its optimal natural balance.
Not only has the Journey exposed me to a never-ending variety of weather conditions, landscapes, topography, and road surfaces, the chiropractic treatments I’ve received has been similarly wide ranging. While Dr. Mohler used an activator to stimulate meridian pressure points, Dr. Holcomb in Globe, AZ used the muscle testing techniques of Applied Kinesiology to guide her treatment; Dr. Boren in Safford, performed a very straight forward spinal adjustment, supplemented with electrical stimulation ¬– as did Dr. Roy Lane, in Bucklin, KS. Dr. Mohler’s approach was more delicate, and did not involve a spinal adjustment, which surprised me. Yet, I did feel much better, and was very grateful for the treatment she provided.
Once we left Dr. Mohler’s office, we were, once again, dealing with the heat. At this point in the day the wind usually seemed to be more of a factor than the heat. Physically, I was feeling good after leaving Dr. Mohler’s office. The most challenging part of the day was talking on the phone. It is the end of the month and we are still having funding concerns. Today will be a watershed day in the event, the last day of the first month. Many things still need to be resolved. The shape and look of our caravan may change dramatically, but one thing is for certain, I am going to continue moving forward, one-step-at-a-time towards my ultimate goal of arriving in New York late June early July – even if I have to do it alone wearing a backpack.
Larry let me know that he wants to stay with us through to the end, but he has to work things out at home. In order to do so he needs more certainty regarding the funding issues, and he is committed to doing what he can to make that happen. He and Monea then went into Ottawa to run some errands – do a wash, send some emails out, pick up some supplies, and follow up on trying to rent a third vehicle. Larry wanted to either leave his vehicle in Kansas City or have Monea drive it back to Durango, CO so as not to put excessive wear and tear on his car. Larry was also actively engaged in a conversation with a potential title sponsor.
We had a number of other people working on our behalf. Mike Weinstein had a conversation with me this morning and was already lining up interested New York media. Mary Beth called me from Chicago, where she was attending an Unlimited Power Weekend. Apparently, Tony Robbins mentioned our event to the participants, and stirred the interest of a producer from a national media network. He checked out the website, called Mary Beth, requested more information. and a copy of my book, Slow Burn. She told me we were now under review for a potential piece on the network.
So many things seem to be on the verge of falling in place, and, as usual I expected that the final decisions would be made at the very last minute. Still, we cannot allow concern and worry about something that hasn’t happened yet influence and effect the moment we are in. We must manage the moment, make the most of it, and keep moving forward, step by step, one moment at a time, until the future we want is the future we live into.
It is now 4:51pm Central Time, and it has been a long, hot, sweltering afternoon. The 35-mph cross wind, which most other times would have been an annoyance, is a refreshing life saver. Whenever the wind dies down, the heat and humidity become oppressive. Even though the wind creates more resistance, I was grateful for the wind today. Even under these conditions, I was still able to complete another radio interview, and I was told it went well. At first, I was reluctant to do it, given the state I was in with the heat and humidity. I’m glad I agreed to do it.
At this point we still do not have any firm commitments from potential corporate sponsors who want to align themselves with the Journey Across America – A Crusade for Kids. So, it looks as if we are about to enter into the big “Unknown” – without any certainty regarding what lies ahead. I will be glad when this part of the Journey is over – one way or another. Too much of the day now is spent on the phone attempting to generate financial support, while I am also doing what I can to keep my body moving forward. I am sure the entire crew feels the same way.
I did have a lengthy conversation with my parents today. My mom and dad agreed to fly from their home in Florida to stay with Mary Beth and the kids in California. Once it becomes clear when we are due to arrive in New York, they’ll fly out with Beau and Mackenzie, so they can all be there for the finish in Central Park.
Beau also called me today, while I was in the middle of a newspaper interview. He was so excited about the start of the Stanley Cups, and wanted to talk to me about the Devils. I called him back after I was done with the interview. I miss my kids so much…
In the meantime, regardless of the challenges we are facing, I am committed to seeing this through to the finish.
It is now 8:45pm. I am at the 51-mile point. My sights are set to complete 52.4 today; a double marathon on the 30th of May. It has been a whirlwind of a day, reminding me of the kaleidoscopic effect of Kansas sky how things can change in the blink of an eye.
The day is going to end on a strong note. We got word we have many possibilities for potential title sponsors. The media situation looks terrific once we hit Kansas City. Mike Weinstein is in negotiations with some major media in New York and he is confident something will work out. I have yet to call and talk to my contact’s there.
As I get ready to conclude the run for today, I am doing an inventory of what my body is experiencing. My left knee seems locked up and sore, and I am certain that Don and Larry will work on my hamstring and quads. We have a 20-mile ride back to camp tonight; it was the only rest spot the crew could find for the motor coach. The plan is for me to eat in the car, in order to save some time, and then shower, stretch, ice and go to bed – in the at order – once we arrive at the camp.