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Day 109–3 miles west of Salome, Az

 

Friday, November 21

I bought Merrie’s plane ticket last night. This morning Dan and I went to Burger King for biscuits and I got online and bought return tickets for Merrie and myself. Now that tickets are bought I have a real schedule. The finish date is December 12. Rick will fly in December 6 and crew me the last week through the finish. Merrie will fly in Thursday, December 11. After the finish Merrie and I will take a few days to look around out here and fly back from Phoenix December 18. I should have no problem meeting the schedule. I have 332 miles to go and 21 days until the finish. The plan calls for only 15 more running days. I am having a hard time believing the end is near.

Today’s run (I can say run again) began at 7:40 a.m. I walked the first two miles and then ran a mile. The rest of the day I continued alternating miles of running and walking. My leg is better than yesterday. I don’t think it is ready for hills again but I have not seen a serious hill in a week. It is hot here. The temperature is mid-80s but the low humidity evaporates any sweat quickly. That is saying a lot for me because I really put out the sweat. The scenery for the days since Phoenix is much the same with little grass but lots of mesquite, creosote bush, and some cactus. I am told there are lots of roadrunners and some javalina here. There must be something because hunting season just opened and the motels are full of hunters. All I have seen is one road-killed roadrunner, a few dead skunks and coyotes. I finished just west of Salome with another 30 mile day.

Today is dedicated to Kathy French (Rick’s wife) and their two sons, Hunter and Parker. Rick is coming back yet again to help me. He has spent a lot of time and money supporting me on this run. None of this would have been possible without the support of his family. When I ran through Taylorsville early in the journey, I stayed at Rick and Kathy’s house. Kathy cooked for me, washed my clothes, drove me out to the course, and was enthusiastic the whole time. Hunter crewed for me in Taylorsville and Missouri. Parker is in college but I did see him a little and he was always encouraging. I joked with Rick that he was spending so much time and money on me that Hunter and Parker must feel that I was their older brother. Never fear guys. This will soon end and you will have your dad back. Thanks for loaning him to me. Kathy, I appreciate all your help and support. Thanks, too, for letting Rick take so much time away to help me. I am in your debt.

Day 108–Aguila, Az

Thursday, November 20

Andy and I slept a bit later this morning since we had a short drive to the start. We went by Burger King for breakfast. I felt like protein this morning so I ordered two egg biscuits with vege-patties on top. While we ate breakfast I posted the latest entries to the journal and checked email. We then headed out to the start and Andy crewed for me until 11 a.m. Dan Hockersmith drove up then. Andy had a plane to catch back to Boston and Dan will crew me into Parker. I will miss Andy. He is one of my best friends and I don’t see him nearly enough. This visit I spent most of my time on the road or in the bed asleep so our visiting took place mostly in the mornings and evenings while he was driving.

During the morning I ran a couple of times for 200 yards or so. It did not feel bad but I was trying to be patient. After noon, though, the walking started to get old. I need miles and running some really helps the numbers at the end of the day. I began on a slightly downhill section and ran a mile. I was careful not to push the pace and to watch my footing. At the end of the mile I went back to walking and could feel no ill effects from the run. I did another mile run followed by a mile walk with the same results. At 5:10 we ended the day just west of Aguila, Arizona with a total of 30 miles. I ran a total of 8 miles of the 30, all of it in the afternoon and my leg seems fine. It’s not 100% yet and I still cannot push off or run uphill but it’s good enough to make a little time of the flats and downhills. The change in pace helps me feel better too.

I have received a number of encouraging emails and phone calls from friends and family since this journey began. Each one helped me keep going. I saved many of the emails in a “motivational” folder and would read them when I was discouraged. Thanks to each of you who took the time to write or phone me. I dedicate today to all of you.

Days 106 and 107–Wickenburg

Tuesday, November 18

Andy and I were up and out of the house by 6:30. I had not paid attention to the drive yesterday but he found the ending spot with no trouble. I had a lot of canal left and it was good going. Not having cars and trucks to worry about let me enjoy the scenery along the canal. The neighborhoods changed and I could see into lots of back yards. Also there were people along the canal getting in their exercise. Shortly after lunch I had to make a decision about the route. Should I stay on the canal to Bell St. or take Cactus St. over to Highway 60? Andy had checked both routes and explained the pros and cons of each. Cactus had the best sidewalks and shoulder so I elected it. I liked the canal better but now I had stores again. Coffee and food were all around. I finished Cactus and now I was on Hwy 60. It would lead me to Wickenburg. All this part of Hwy 60 was developed. There was a Taco Bell for an afternoon snack and a Dairy Queen. Andy and I had pecan cluster blizzards. I went a few more miles, leaving the city, and ended the day. Again there was no good way to calculate the milage walked because the canal and city streets have no mile markers. I’m still unable to run without pain so it was an all-walking day.

Today is dedicated to Greg and Julie West. They were my State Farm hosts in Hutchinson, Kansas. I felt at home in their house and went to my first high school football game in years with Greg. They kept ice cream in their refrigerator and had to buy more while I was there. Thanks, Greg and Julie, for making my stay in Hutchinson one of the finest on my journey.

Wednesday, November 19

Today was a straight shot up Hwy 60 toward Wickenburg. Andy would drive ahead and meet me every couple of miles. Most of the day was uneventful. I tried running again and still cannot. Andy did surprise me with pizza for lunch though. The afternoon was hot again. There is absolutely no shade on the highway and the temperatures are warm for this time of year. Yesterday and today were in the upper 80s. I made it almost to Wickenburg. Tomorrow Andy will crew in the morning and Dan Hockersmith of Globe will drive over to crew for me the next few days.

I have not missed stopping at a Dairy Queen that has been open since I left Sunset Beach. They have all been good and welcome stops. I wish to dedicate today to my friend who runs the DQ in Rockingham. Bill Waterman is such a nice guy. He always greets me with a smile on his face. There’s nothing like a friendly ice cream man!

Days 103, 104, 105–in the heart of Phoenix

Saturday, November 15

I decided to run on Saturday so that I would have a head start crossing Phoenix. My right calf had been tight but there seemed to be no problem today. Anita left early this morning. Dan and Carol Hockersmith, my State Farm hosts, were crewing for me today. I started off well and ran the first 2 miles before going to the walk/run pattern. I planned to do no more than 20 miles today so I would be ready for the new crew. About 6 miles I stopped by a construction site porta-potty. There was no one around so in I went. I was finishing up when a motorcycle pulled up and the guy was planning the same thing I had just done. He was not expecting anyone and I came out just as he reached for the door. I think he was a bit startled. I said hi and went on with my run. Just after 10 miles, my right calf tightened up and was very painful. I walked ½ a mile more and called Dan and Carol to pick me up. I was not happy about the problem.

Dan drove me to a motel in Apache Junction. That had been the plan, just not so early in the day. I spent the afternoon in the room icing my calf and then massaging it. About 5 p.m. my new crew, Andy Roy and Jennifer Kline of Boston showed up and we went to dinner. Later I massaged my leg again and went to bed not knowing what to expect the next day.

I will not dedicate this day. It was a day of injury and uncertainty.

Sunday, November 16

I am without internet access so I’ll post when I can. Entries will be written daily and copied to the blog periodically when access is available.

We got up at the usual time. Walking around the parking lot proved to be painful so I had to come up with a plan. Andy and I discussed the mechanics of the injury and decided that pushing off the big toe was creating the pain in my calf. I took scissors and a knife and cut off the sole of the shoe that is under the first two toes. Trial showed that walking was not totally pain free, but it was bearable. I decided try it. Andy and Jennifer dropped me out about 10 a.m. There are no longer any mile markers but I think I did about 16 miles by 4:30 p.m. I had to do it slow and stay on good flat pavement avoiding rocks and holes but it was a lot better than nothing. And a lot better than I expected.

Yesterday was Roger Coan’s birthday. I would have dedicated yesterday to him if not for the injury. Today was a very positive comeback though. Roger has been my friend since high school. We got into a lot of mischief back then. Only sometimes did we get caught. I was almost uncontrollable at times back then and he usually watched out for me. He continues to watch out for me. The week before last he flew to Albuquerque, rented a car, and crewed for me a week. His only requirement was that I not make him listen to any of my “radical, liberal political ideas.” I enjoyed his company and only occasionally did we discuss politics even though the election was held while he was out here. We did enjoy watching the antelope graze and looking for elk and mule deer. We also both enjoyed the feeling of being in large, open country. Thanks for your help Roger. Happy Birthday.

Monday, November 17

I did not know what to expect today from my leg. I went on the premiss that if I could not be fast I could still cover lots of miles by staying out there a long time. That’s my usual tactic anyway isn’t it? Andy and Jennifer dropped me out at 7:40. I wore new shoes today and not the cut up ones. There was some tightness in the beginning but it passed and I made good progress all day. Once as I crossed the highway a car was coming and I forgot the injury and tried to speed up. Pain reminded me immediately of the injury and it took a few minutes to get my rhythm back. Andy and Jennifer cruised ahead checking out the turns and the neighborhoods. The checked on me regularly. In the afternoon I finally reached the Arizona Canal. It runs southeast to northwest and will save me some miles and keep me out of traffic. Andy joined me there for several miles as Jennifer drove ahead and met us at the road crossings. We continued until 5:20 before calling it a day. I think today’s milage totaled in the high 20s but I changed streets several times and walked on the canal. There is no good way to measure it.

Sunday afternoon we met Tom Pangborn’s sister, Katherine, her husband Ken, and their son Andrew. Tom’s family is letting us stay in their mom’s house during our time in Phoenix. It’s nice to be able to spread out and have our own rooms.

Today is dedicated to my Hearts buddies. Brady Beck, Jeff Marcus, Pete Campbell and I meet monthly to play hearts. I have missed the games while on the road. I hope they have been staying sharp because I’ll be ready to take them on again in January. I wish you each of you guys the Queen of Spades and 12 hearts!

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 102–25 miles to the flat desert

Anita and I got an early start because the drive was short this morning.  I decided early to make this an easy day.  First we passed “Top of the World” and then we entered “Devil’s Canyon.”  In this canyon the road passes through instead of across.  The result is a winding road with almost no shoulder.  This is a major highway to Phoenix so there was lots of traffic.  I had to be very careful watching traffic.  Once I had to jump the guardrail to avoid a car that did not allow for me.  Near the end of the canyon was a tunnel with no pedestrian walk that was about 200 yards long.  I used my flashlight to warn vehicles that I was coming.  Then there was a bridge that was much too high above the ground for me.  I just walked and did not look over.  At the bridge Anita called me to say she was at the DQ in Superior about a mile ahead.  Two cones in two days!  I continued out of Superior and passed through another set of hills before stopping for the day at the beginning of the flat desert.  I am told everything will be flat for several days.  Pine trees are gone now and many kinds of cactus are present including the Saguaro that is one of my favorites because they look like they have arms.  I stopped at 25 miles about 4:15. I usually take Saturday off but will walk tomorrow so I can get closer to Phoenix.  My next crew is leaving Thursday and I want to be out of the metropolitan area by then.  A few extra miles tomorrow will help me with that goal.

All my running friends know that I only have an average gift for running.  My finishing times in races are always at the middle or bottom of the list.  I am humbled that Anita Fromm would drive from Albuquerque to crew for me.  Anita is a highly gifted runner.  She is the women’s record holder for the double Badwater with Mt. Whitney summit.  That’s 292 miles starting in Death Valley in July to the summit of Mt Whitney and back to the start at Badwater.  She has finished many 100 and 50 mile races.  A person of such gift taking time to mix my Gatorade, run it out to me, put peanut butter on bagels, take my sweaty shirt back to the car…. I have thoroughly enjoyed her help and her company.  Thank you Anita.  Thank you Tim.

Day 101–30 miles

This morning Carol had breakfast ready for us.  It was an egg dish called chili relleno casserole and it was good.  I was tired this morning so Anita and I stopped for an extra coffee on the way out.  While I was pumping gas she got the coffee and came back with two scratch-off tickets.  She gave one to me and said we’d share equally in either card if there were winnings.  My card netted nothing.  Anita matched all her numbers and netted $45 which she split with me.  Gas paid for! 

Most of the course this morning was downhill so I started running some of it.  I made goood time and came into Globe about 2 p.m.  I had already eaten a couple of burritos on the road.  But Anita was sitting in the DQ parking lot.  I had a small chocolate dipped cone and took a short break.  Then I went on through a couple of miles of Globe and past Miami for a total of 30 miles. 

Today is dedicated to Catherine and John Neal.  We have a special connection and I love them very much.

Day 100–Milepost 302 to 274, 28 miles

Dan cooked breakfast this morning.  It was a combination of eggs and hash browns and I had two helpings.  Anita and I ran by the store and headed out to the start.  We had a 50 mile drive and got there about 8:40.  Yesterday I had started the descent into the Salt River Canyon and I had nine more downhill miles to do.  I ran a little but took it easy.  I did not want to trash my legs with the 14 mile climb out today too.  The canyon is awesome and I took many pictures.  About 11 a.m., I reached the bridge across the Salt River and began the ascent.  The walk to the top went well and I was able to run some of the downhill toward Globe.  I finished at 5:00 p.m. with 28 miles.  We were treated to a magnificent sunset and rising full moon.  I took lots of pictures today.  Make sure and check the picture link.

When I was hungry I ate.  When I was thirsty Anita gave me a drink. When I was tired I walked.  When I saw something pretty I stopped and took a picture.  The movie Forrest Gump introduced lots of people to the idea of running across the USA.  I have seen it several times.  I have also had his name brought up many times by people I have met as I have crossed the country.  It is sometimes used as a conversation opener.  I dedicate today to Tom Hanks for his excellent portrayal of Forrest.  I’m going to watch it again when I get home.

Day 99–Highway 60, milepost 302

Today started of a little rocky.  After a good night’s sleep ar Louis and Sandra Rawlings, we had a few errands to run before starting the run.  First, we both needed our coffee.  Then we had noise coming from the rear of the car and we wanted to find the cause.  We went to the car wash and cleaned all the mud left from yesterday’s snowmelt.  That did not fix the problem and we went to the garage.  The mechanic removed a plastic shroud that was damaged and rubbing against the tire.  We thought that would remedy things but I the noise continued and I found another plastic shroud that was causing the problem.  That was later in the afternoon though.  I finally started running at 8:50.   I was feeling the effects of yesterday’s effort and got off to a slow start.  At noon I had 13 miles.  We left the hilly area and entered the mountains.  I did not stop for lunch  to help make up for the morning time loss but ate walking instead.   Anita was on the job bringing fluids out to me and things moved along well.  I came up to a store about 2 pm and Anita had coffee waiting for me.  That and a series of long downhills prompted me to start running more.  I felt good and it looked like a 27 mile day.  Instead, the downhill became continous and I just started running.  One two mile split was 18:15.  That’s really good…for me.  Just before 5 p.m. I came to mile marker 302 and called the end because it was getting dark and we had a 50 mile drive to Globe to do yet.  The day total was 31 miles.  We have 8 more downhill miles in the morning before I start the long climb out of the Salt River Canyon.

Some days are tough.  Most of the tough ones are mental and not physical.  If you have been reading my journal for a while, you know I can make myself pretty miserable sometimes.  Doubts and insecurities can creep in and I find myself facing my demons.  It’s usually me against me.  During those times I quite often use the cell phone to ring up my friends for some help.  One friend (and cousin) I have called frequently is Marsha Dawkins in Vermont.  Marsha is a great listener, which is usually what I need most anyway.  Her faith is strong and her intuition is excellent.  I have not needed her these last few weeks.  Things are usually going well.  But I have not and will not forget the times her counsel has boosted me along.  Thanks Marsha.  Today is dedicated to you.

Day 98–8 miles west of Show Low

What a day!  It did snow last night a couple of inches.  The clouds this morning were breaking so there was no more precipitation during the day.  We were out the door after breakfast for coffee and the ride out to the start.  The snow plows had cleared most of the road but unfortunately that meant the snow was now on the shoulder.  The edge between the snow and the traffic lane also had a thin coat of ice on it.  Running the first three hours consisted of running in the road and jumping off in the snow when a car came by.  Traffic was busy but I think that hastened the melting.  By 10:30 the shoulder was clear I could make better time.  The wind was not bad today.  The car did break down though.  The battery died and Anita was unable to crew.  She got a jump and headed to town for a new battery.  In two hours she was back to crew again.  I thought that was good time since we were 20 miles out of town when he battery died.  By 2 p.m. I was coming into Show Low and heading for the Dairy Queen.  I haven’t passed by an open one yet without stopping.  I continued another 9 miles out of town and entered the White Mountain  Apache Reservation.  This part of it looks much like the Sandhills Gamelands where I work.  There are lots of pine trees that I think are Pondorosa pines along with scrubby oak trees and grasses.  I  saw evidence of a prescribed burn and the ground around the snags had been raked cleaned.  I didn’t see any RCW trees though.  I ended the day at milepost 333 with 29 miles for the day.

Herman Forbes is back in the hospital with pneumonia after having back surgery recently.  Herman, please get well soon.  You’ve already had several days dedicated to you and I have others on my list who haven’t had a day yet.  I am praying for you and Laura every morning.

Day 97–26 miles west of Springerville

Todd cooked eggs and oatmeal for me this morning.  Then he dropped me out at the stoplight where I had ended Friday.  Anita Fromm is my crew this week but she would not be here until later in the morning.  I started up another very scenic climb almost at the city limits.  Several times I stopped to take it all in.  Just before 11 Anita arrived and I retired the pack to the car.  We came back to town, picked up my other gear, had coffee, and went back to the mountain.  Anita is a veteran runner and crew person so things went smoothly from the start.  The climb continued and the wind picked up.  Clouds also rolled in and blocked the sun making things a bit colder.  After topping out I was able to run a few miles and  finished about 4:30 with 27 miles for the day.  We drove to Show Low and located the home of our hosts for the night, Louis and Sandra Rawlings.  Louis is the State Farm agent in Show Low.  Thanks to his son, Nicholas for sleeping on the couch and allowing me his room for the night.  During dinner we heard thunder.  After dinner Anita went to the car and found that it was not raining…it was snowing.  The ground was already white.  It’s hard to tell what we will do in the morning now.

These past few days and weeks have been filled with amazing scenery.  Sometimes the wide open country can make you feel big and little at the same time.  Traveling through this country without feeling spiritual is impossible for me.  It is no wonder that Native Americans fought so hard to keep their land from being taken away.  I dedicate today’s run to all of them, past and present.