So the end is almost in sight. I’m hearing more positives from people, “You’re almost there!” versus “You still got a long ways to go…” The latter is something I have heard after countless conversations – mostly at convenience stores. I know people mean well but in my head I can hear myself reply sarcastically “Really? Wow – I didn’t know that.”
|Ground covered since the last post|
The temperatures, humidity and heat indexes have been breaking records across the country and my solution has been simply to run as early as possible. Fortunately, the days have been largely overcast with ugly clouds that have blocked a lot of sun. I had a great time running through about 3 hours of rain last Thursday. The suburbs I ran through were actually really nice and all of the turns and different roads kept me on my toes and guaranteed that a bad road wouldn’t last all day.
|Moving through Cleveland suburbs in the early morning|
|Signs had me worried for a long time about this closure,
but I was happy to be able to slip around with no problem.
The workers even watched me. Wyoming should pay attention.
|My first real vertical challenges since the rockies. There have been many since.|
It felt great to cross into Pennsylvania – and with only 45 odd miles it went by fast. My route, calculated largely by google, coincidentally took me close to the doorsteps of my cousin Jean and husband Milt’s house on Lake Erie. Unfortunately they were in Budapest but offered me the house via email. I’ve learned not to say no to anything on this trip and after 37 miles with crazy heat and humidity it was really appreciated. Sitting directly on the lake with 30 foot vaulted ceilings, private beach front, cattery with a heated floor, and a whole wall of windows looking out at the lake. It was a great place to unwind. I fell asleep to the fourth of July fireworks from Erie. Much thanks Jean and Milt and also a lot of thanks to the caretaker Dan who totally helped me out while still in damage control mode after windstorms had thrown limbs across the road and knocked out the power for 15 hours.
|I finally feel like I am in the east.|
|The jogger takes in the view (and the AC)|
|A favorite deck for the cats (and me)|
Thursday the 5th found me trucking north east on Route 5 along Lake Erie. Vinyards, farms, ice cream stands, and bait and tackle shops lined the road. I took a short break after about ~12 miles and adjusted a few things. A few hundred yards later my right knee started hurting and within ~50 more feet I could barely put any weight on it. I had a little ice and I took a 10 minute break and used a zip lock bag. A couple miles later it happened again and I did the whole RICE thing (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) before some thunder got me back on my feet. I was only 4 miles or so from Erie which is a sizable town.With my phone I found ‘Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine of Erie‘ only two blocks off my route. I promised myself that if it happened again I would call them and see if they could squeeze me into the schedule. This wasn’t an easy decision to make because I was trying to beat the heat of the day and did I really want to know if my knee was messed up? And then there were the potential costs. But of course it happened again and I had made a promise to myself. The four miles to the clinic after making the phone call were actually pretty easy but I noticed the knee stiffening up anytime I stopped. Sitting in the exam room an ~hour after my call (Thanks Carrie!), a nice physician assistant named Joe checked me out and was able to palpate the exact spot where it hurt; the tentative diagnosis was tendonitis where my right hamstring connects to my knee. Dr. James Delullo, an ortho surgeon checked me out too and concurred. Both seemed pretty pumped about the run. The treatment did not involve bone saws and a long email saying the run was off, rather anti-inflammatories and ice. Xrays, MRIs and steroid injections were talked about but shelved. My biggest fear that they would tell me not to keep running went unrealized. I left with a ton of samples and made my way through some pretty run down parts of Erie. Five miles later I received a call from the clinic saying that $95 had been refunded on my credit card leaving only $55 as the total charge. No further explanation was provided but my sense is these guys waived their professional fees and I was left with just the facilities fees. Thanks! And of course my knee felt great for the rest of the day and I was able to put in 38 miles, finishing just south of the New York border. The knee hasn’t really bothered me in the 90+ miles since. I’m guessing that it was upset with me for jumping sideways down a bunch of huge stone seawall blocks the day before, when I was eager to put my feet in the water at my cousin Jeans. I guess I should have taken the normal stairs.
|Joe and Dr. Delullo give me the green light|
I finished that day at a bed and breakfast on the lake, my mom and her husband Rafael showed up in the late afternoon. They were en route to visit friends and family in Ohio. It was great to see them and we went out for a huge dinner. The views from the B&B were amazing and the hosts Denis and Marsha were really nice.
The next morning, Friday the 6th, I was running by 5am, well equipped with a bunch of home made muffins and I passed the border within a couple miles. New York is my home state so it felt pretty good to step onto the other side of the sign.
I did a lighter day with about 25 miles to my cousin Harold and his wife Barbara’s cottage on Dunkirk point. It was a great run through wine country with views of the lake.
I actually had a bit of a cheering squad during the run as my Mom and Rafael back tracked on their journey for a bit so that we could all have lunch at Harold and his wife Barbara’s cottage. Barbara has run five marathons and we ran the final stretch to the cottage together. I also got to meet my second cousins Laura and William which was pretty cool. I spent most of the afternoon on their deck doing route planning and catching up on some work email. Laura helped me re-do the sign on the front of my jogger which had looked like an art school failure for too long. The new version will show up in future photos, I’m already getting a lot more honks and fist pumps from passing drivers – I have to say those boost my spirits.
|Barbara, William, Mom, Rafael, Laura, Georgia the dog,
and jogger pre-makeover.
Yesterday I put in 33 miles to reach bland suburb of Buffalo, I ran on my familiar friend Route 20 – the shoulders were huge. Today I headed east toward the finger lakes on Route 20a, not quite as nice with regard to shoulders but decent overall. The hills have started in earnest – I was on several that involved 1-2 mile climbs, sometimes with 10% grades. I managed 41 miles but it took me most of the day. I’m attributing it largely to the new sign, but I really am getting a lot more feedback from people and now it is hard to stop at a ice cream shop or a store without getting into conversations. Two women came up to me today and gave me $20 for ‘the cause’ – that is usually the first question people ask me about. I haven’t met the fundraising goals for either cause I am supporting, particularly the Sherpa school fund so I will put their money into that fund. Thanks to them, to everyone else who has donated, and to those about to (just do it, even $10 helps!). And if you can’t, I hope you are still having fun following along.
Tomorrow I will run through Geneseo NY and within a few blocks of where I lived for a year while finishing my undergraduate degree. And from there I will start skirting across the northern parts of the finger lakes, a route that I biked in 1993 on my way to Geneseo as a transfer student (yes, I arrived by bike back then from northern NY and camped behind the high school in the woods for a few days before finding housing….I guess I haven’t changed much).
As always, these are just a few of the pictures. The full sets are on my picasa page.
I’m looking forward to seeing more friends and family in the upcoming days. If all works out, only 12 left. I bought my plane ticket back to Seattle yesterday. Hopefully not too presumptuous. Please knock wood for me.
Total Mileage: 2944
Total Days: 95
Rest Days: 4
Average Miles Per Day: 2944/95 = 30.99
Current pair of shoes: 8