Day 116–Almost Morongo Valley

Today is one of those good days that I don’t have a long ride out to the start.  I had finished yesterday at room 126 of the Motel 6, so walking out the door was the start.   Roger did drive me to Burger King for breakfast first.  Then, back to the motel and onto the road.  Twentynine Palms should end the long spells without services.  The map shows towns at reasonable intervals all the way to the finish.  I’ll be able to stop along the route and get what I want again.  Today, that meant a Starbucks coffee in the next town, Joshua Tree.  Starbucks used to be more special to me.  They varied the daily coffee but for some reason they always have only “Pikes Place” coffee.  Pikies Place is good but it was nice to find Kenyan or a good Columbian on the menu occasionaly.  Given the choice, I always stop in a local coffee shop because they do offer something different. 

As I was waiting to cross the street to Starbucks, I got a call from Kathy French.  I was stunned when she told me Rick was at a ball game and had a heart attack.  He was at that moment being transferred to the Sanger Clinic in Charlotte.  There was good news.  He was awake and responsive although he was unable to talk due to a breathing tube.  I crossed to Starbucks and took a 20 minute sitdown break with my coffee. 

Rick is not my brother by blood.  He is my brother by choice.  We have been through much together.  Although I am older, he functions as the older brother.  Always the wise one, he has taught me more about running than anyone else.  I am not talking about the technical details.  I am talking about the mind and spirit.  I have been a whiner, a complainer, and a quitter.  At Sauertown was the first lesson.  After miles of mud and misery and listening to me complain, he asked, “Have you tried a goo lately?”  The simplicity of the question stopped me in my tracks.  I was pushing my misery to its max and he was focused only on doing what was necessary to move ahead.  The humor of the contrast did not escape me and I moved on too, following my friend to the finish.  Many lessons have followed.  I doubt that he realized that I began to look at him as a model for the proper mindset of an ultrarunner.  In my second Leadville attempt, I learned a lesson that changed my attitude completely.  I went to 47 miles climbing partway up Hope Pass, did the math, and came to the conclusion that a finish was impossible.  It would be less difficult to turn around and go back to Twin Lakes so that is what I did.  Rick made it to Winfield before he did the math.  He had only a two minute lead on the cuttoff and knew he could not finish.  But instead of quitting, he left the aid station quickly, not wanting to be pulled.  He knew he could not finish but he wanted to see just how far he could go.  What a difference in our attitudes.  I was inwardly ashamed of my poor, whimpy attitude.  I vowed from that point on to try Rick’s approach instead of mine.

Rick, this is not a dedication.  You’ve already had two of those.  This is just a statement of fact.  I am in California and winding up my journey.  Although it’s not quite over yet, I owe you much for being here.  In fact, I think I would never had made it without you.  I don’t expect you will be here for the last week as we planned.  I thought of having a life size poster of you made for the dunking ceremony but I decided not.  Just know that you will be there in my mind, heart, and spirit. 

I finished my coffee at Starbucks and moved on down the road.  It was a quiet afternoon and the Yucca Valley was the beginning of a change in the desert.  There seems to be more moisture here although there is none visible.  I finished the day early with about 25 miles just before Morongo Valley.   

Friends please pray for Rick as he begins his recovery.

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