The Finish! (Day 141)

Day 141

Allison needed an estimated time of arrival at Tybee Island to relay to the supporters and media, so I told her 10 AM.  Although this meant that Chris and I needed to get going a little earlier than we were used to, we didn’t have too much difficulty in motivating ourselves to get on the road.

After packing up from the motel, Allison met up with us so that she could follow us to the day’s starting point.  Once we were there, I was able to snap this picture of Chris, Allison, and I before beginning the final run.

Right before starting the final run

Right before starting the final run

I was excited to get going!  I only had 12 miles left to the ocean.  Quickly I felt like I was about to lose my composure and start sobbing.  But every time I had that urge I was able to hold it back, largely due to being concerned with what those driving by would think seeing a grown man crying while running…heheh.  Yea, I didn’t want that scenario of weirded out strangers.

About one mile into the run, a single motorcyclist from the local VFW stopped by and asked if I was Paul.  After confirming, he asked if I could use his crew to give me protection on the road.  Of course I replied, “Yes!”  At this point, after over 2,800 miles of Chris looking out for potential dangers on the road, his job was done.  Thank you Chris, I couldn’t have navigated the unforeseen hazards without you.

Eventually there were four riders joining me.  This was totally unexpected, but definitely added to the awesome experience.

Running with Company

Running with Company

This made for the easiest 12 mile run ever.  My legs were fresh, I was used to running 30 miles, I had great company, and the finish that I’ve been dreaming of for 4 1/2 months was finally about to happen.  Although I was loving all the emotion I was going through, I couldn’t help but pick up the pace.  In fact, even though we started almost 15 minutes later than I had hoped for, we were about to finish before the 10 AM finish time that everyone was expecting.  Allison, who was coordinating with all the supporters and media, called and told me I needed to slow down.  So, I told my company that we were going to take a break as soon as we found some shade.  This was a great opportunity to meet who I was running with.  All of them are such great people, and I can’t believe that they’d spend their Sunday morning supporting us.  It was also very easy to relate with them, something I suppose is true among most military veterans.

After our 15 minute break, we resumed back on the highway with only 5 miles to go.  At this point, the miles were so easy it didn’t feel like I ran more than a few laps around the track.

With about 1 mile left, the Tybee Island Lighthouse, that I had daydreamed of for hundreds of hours during my many hours that I’ve spent on the road, the same vision that I had to help push myself out of a slump, was finally within sight.

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Chris was still coordinating with Allison where I was to finish, so he was there to guide me with the car so that I could follow him to the proper spot.  After running through the residential area, Chris pointed me left to the beach.  Once over a little hill, I saw my sister Allison, a news reporter, and a little over a dozen other supporters.  I looked back to Chris as I hoped to finish with him, but he was busy parking the car.  The ocean was calling me, so I threw off my hat and sunglasses and ran in.  Once I was deep enough, I took my long envisioned dip in the ocean.  The water was gloriously warm and salty.  It was perfect.  Soon after, Chris ran in and joined me.  This was certainly a time for celebration.

I apologize for not having any pictures of the finish, but his was just a time for Chris and I to enjoy ourselves and live in the moment.

Maybe our celebration was still a bit restrained as we had company, but that’s okay.  We were happy to meet those who came out for us.  Primarily Post 660 VFW and the Bomber Girls out of Savannah.  Thank you so much for coming out!  Chris and I truly appreciate it!  Chris and I gave an interview to the local WTOC, then had a little presentation by our supporters in front of the lighthouse where we received over an additional $300 of donations to the Wounded Warrior Project.  Again, thank you so much everyone!

After saying our goodbyes, we were invited by the people working at the lighthouse to take a free tour.  Of course I said “yes!”  This was just an unbelievable feeling.

Inside the Lighthouse

Inside the Lighthouse

No, I'm not happy at all

No, I’m not happy at all

with Allison from Lighthouse

with Allison from Lighthouse

with Chris from Lighthouse

with Chris from Lighthouse

After the lighthouse tour, Chris and I made sure we took a ceremonious picture from the spot we finished at.

Day 141: Tybee Island, GA

Day 141: Tybee Island, GA

After we took our pictures, we got some lunch and checked into our most expensive hotel of the trip.  I had a little homework to do, so Chris and Allison got to relax for a few hours before we had a very fulfilling dinner in Savannah.  This was truly a day I’ll never forget…

Days 134 – 140 (Final Week)

My sister Allison had already purchased tickets to fly into Georgia for the big finish on June 28th, and although I could’ve easily finished on Day 138, it was definitely important for me to share the experience with her.  Therefore, since we only had 127 miles left to Tybee Island, our plan for the final week was to taper down our mileage so that we could finish on Day 141 with Allison in attendance.  I couldn’t wait!

Days 134

Day 134 was a very exciting day for Chris and I.  First of all, we knew this was the start of our last full week.  Secondly, this was our last 30 mile run.

In the morning we drove back nearly 25 miles from Baxley to go to our spot we had left off at on Friday.  The route was simple.  We went through a few more farm territories while staying mostly on paved roads that didn’t have much vehicular traffic.

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We eventually went through the town of Baxley, which we were already familiar with due to already staying there for a couple nights.  We ended our 31 mile day only a few miles past Baxley.

Day 135

As we started tapering down our mileage, I planned on running only 25 miles on Day 135.  This was another exciting day for Chris and I as this was our last “full” day, as 25 miles was what we had considered a full day’s work throughout the trip.

The day consisted of us running on Highway 144 until we reached about a mile past a nice looking town called Glennville.  The highlight was probably running this bridge that was almost a mile long, called the “John C. Beasley Memorial Bridge.”  The bridge had a decent sized shoulder that I could run on, and most vehicles were nice enough to pull to the side a little to give me a little more room, so I was good.

John C. Beasley Memorial Bridge

John C. Beasley Memorial Bridge

Day 136

Chris and I got off to a nice early start on Day 136.  We were quite excited as this was our first non-full day with our target only being 20 miles.  We were also expecting to reach Fort Stewart at some point and weren’t quite sure if it would restrict our route, so we were prepared to adjust if necessary.

As it turned out, highway 144 took us to Fort Stewart much sooner than we had expected.  I remember only being about a mile into our day’s run before I saw this…

IMG_0778Okay, it turned out to be a terrible picture, but it is a sign informing us that we were entering Fort Stewart.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through any checkpoints as Highway 144 is open to the public.  This actually made for a rather stress free day for Chris and I.

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At one point, our route had me taking one of the trails going through the training areas.  IMG_0781

It was nice to run on dirt paths for a while, but then the route wanted me to take a path that wasn’t used anymore and became difficult to follow as grass was growing over it.  I then saw a few trees that looked like it was destroyed by munitions seemingly many years ago.  I’d like to think I was smart enough to figure out that this wasn’t a good area to be in as I hadn’t coordinated anything with Fort Stewart, so I returned to Highway 144.

Chris and I eventually came to the main part of Ft Stewart.  There was definitely a lot more activity going on at this point.

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Although we had started the day aiming for only 20 miles, 18 miles in I had targeting a stopping point that was still 4 miles ahead.  But this was personally ceremonial in a way, as I knew that this 4 mile stretch was going to be my final push.  I had thought how I had been pushing myself to the limit hundreds of times before and that this was finally the last challenge.  To be honest though, it really was an easy final push as it felt premature to stop at only 22 miles for the day.

After the run, Chris and I drove to Richmond Hill where I finally was able to get my long sought after haircut.  Chris ended up joining me in our quest to look so fresh and clean.

Day 137

Day 136 was extremely uneventful.  We finished off Highway 144 and Fort Stewart…

Day 137

Day 137

then went through Richmond hill before turning north for a few miles.  It was around this point where I started to feel a little climate change as if we were truly close to the ocean.  I had a little deja vu of our run through the Monterey area.  The reality of getting close to the end started to settle in a little…….

Day 138

Chris and I were very excited for an extremely short day as our goal was only 11 miles.  This took us to the end of our run along US-17.  Yes, it was still humid and kind of hot so I did sweat a lot, but it was extremely easy on my legs.

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Getting closer…….

Day 139

At this point, I only had 19 miles left to the coast at Tybee Island, so I had a problem of running out of miles to run.  We’ll call this a “good problem.”

We ended up going through the most beautiful town I had run through during the entire trip.  Yes, that would be Savannah.  So many beautiful houses and neighborhoods.

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

After running through the neighborhoods, we went through a little marshland where I began to feel like we would see the ocean at any minute.

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I decided that it was best to call it quits for the day at only 7 miles.  This meant we had 12 miles remaining for the big finish on Sunday.  I couldn’t believe it!

Of course, the euphoric high wouldn’t last long as my beloved college car overheated for the first time, EVER, on our way back to the motel….Chris and I pulled over on the interstate and waited for 15 minutes to let the enjoy cool down before we poured in some antifreeze to just get us back to the motel.  This did the job of getting us back, but my car was starting to overheat again, so I dropped Chris off and then took the car to a local mechanic.  Two hours later, I found out it needed a new water tank and that I needed to come in the following day to get it repaired.  So much for having free time…

Day 140

Day 140 was our final “off” day.  We never quite had a relaxing day off as it became more of a day to do our chores, but this day was definitely our busiest.  First thing in the morning I took the car to the mechanic.  Allison then arrived after catching a red eye flight and driving 3 hours to Savannah, so she needed a couple hours of some well-deserved rest at the motel.  Thankfully, I was able to get my car back so that I could have lunch with my friend Rich and his wife Ashley.  We worked together a few years ago back in Colorado, so it was nice to catch up for a bit.

with Rich and Ashley

with Rich and Ashley

Afterwards, Chris, Allison, and I were able to behave like tourists and visit Savannah’s Riverwalk.

Riverwalk

Riverwalk

After an hour or so, a rain storm got us soaked, so we got into our car and drove back to the motel to “relax” for the night.  But before we went to sleep, Chris did the laundry while I studied.

That’s all I have for now….I’ll update everyone on our big finish soon enough!

Have a great night!

Your friend,

Paul

Days 130 – 133

Day 130

Chris and I had a bit of a drive from our motel to our last point in southwestern Albany, so we didn’t start the run until a little after 10.  I must admit that this late start, along with feeling exhausted from just running over 30 miles in 98 degree weather the day before, put me in a negative mood as I for the first time started cursing the heat.  Chris tuned me out, knowing that I’d suck it up anyways.  When I later found out midway through my run that the weather actually was a much more tolerable 89 degrees, I felt much better.  This change in mindsets was a reminder that it’s just a mind game.  You and you alone can control how easy or difficult something is based on your outlook.  Thank you weather.com for setting me straight.

Albany was a decent run.  Around the end we bordered a Marine Corps Logistics Base, which made for a stress free run.  Eventually we met up with Highway 520 where it was quite busy with a lot of traffic.  I was often pushed onto the grass portion bordering the highway, but the grass wasn’t too high so I was okay.  Although the weather was more tolerable, I strapped the camelback on early due to still feeling dehydrated and beat down from the previous day.

About 5 east of Albany

About 5 east of Albany

After about 13 miles we ran through a neat little town called Sylvester, which had a large park and a train station for display where I took advantage of the photo op.

Sylvester, GA

Sylvester, GA

After Sylvester we turned onto a road that started going through a lot of farmland.  There were quite a few loose dogs on peoples’ properties, but Chris and I were ready to react accordingly.  By the looks of the map, the town we ended up stopping in was “Ty Ty.”  Yes, I smiled when I first read the town’s name.

Day 131

Day 131 ended up being one of my favorite runs.  We started back among the farmlands around Ty Ty

Ty Ty, GA

Near Ty Ty, GA

and before we knew it, our route had us going on some dirt roads that nobody had business on except for farmers….and apparently people running across the country.  These 8 miles or so made for one of my favorite moments of the entire journey.

Picturesque Georgia

Picturesque Georgia

After the farmlands we turned left onto HWY 319 north.  This wouldn’t have been noteworthy, but soon after I turned onto the highway a big rig truck that was passing by me blew off my white hat.  Now, this has happened about 10 or so times before as vehicles’ speed creates a strong enough gust of wind to blow off my hat if the hat isn’t seated on my head just right.  Usually I’d just laugh it off, but this time I was on a little overpass going over a creek.  So yea, my hat went down there……IMG_0760

Those are huge boulders by the way.  I thought to myself that the hat had a nice run (no pun intended) and that it was gone for good, but I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sentimental person.  It’s a part of this run so I needed to try to find it.  So, I carefully made my way down so that I didn’t break anything just to save my hat.  Once I was down there, I found signs of a previous “campground” along with a mostly eaten cooked fish, but no hat.  After about 5 minutes of fighting with the creek’s mosquitos while looking around the boulders, I told myself that it was just a lost cause.  Well, I decided to give one last look around the high grass, and my eyes finally gazed upon it.

Rescuing my hat

Rescuing my hat

Just as I climbed back out, a bit over 20 minutes later, I received a call from Chris wondering if I made a wrong turn.  I told him “no, I just had to get my hat.”  I’m sure he was still confused, but when we met up again I was able to explain more thoroughly what happened.  He did an excellent job at pretending he cared.

When we finally resumed, we went a few miles past the town Ocilla before reaching our 32 miles for the day.

Ocilla, GA

Ocilla, GA

Day 132

Day 132 was another hot day with a high of 95 degrees.  We went through towns such as Ambrose and Broxton…

Broxton, GA

Broxton, GA

before returning to the farmlands…

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and eventually a few more dirt roads that went through the farmlands.
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 Chris and I were just excited the whole day.  Not only because we were about to have a day off, but because we also knew this was our last Friday with a full day’s work….double bonus.

Day 133

Day 133 was our rest day.  We stayed over in Baxley, GA where apparently every barber shop was closed except for one, which closed at 12 PM.  So Paul, after driving around the town for almost an hour to every Baxley barber shop, ended up keeping his long hair.  Chris meanwhile helped out with the laundry where the laundromat didn’t have any air conditioning.  He came back from the neighboring laundromat looking like he himself had just ran 32 miles.

Besides that, I just studied while Chris relaxed/recovered.

Progress through Week 19

Through 19 weeks we’ve accumulated 2,700 miles; 95.4% done.

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Days 128 and 129

Day 128

Chris and I drove back to our last spot, which turned out to be just west of our last Alabama town called Columbia.

Running through Columbia, AL

Running through Columbia, AL

Chris, Columbia, AL

Chris, Columbia, AL

Only about a mile later, we crossed a small bridge into our last state, Georgia.

Entering Georgia!

Entering Georgia!

I forgot to mention that the high temperature reached 95 this day…After about 10 miles of highway with farmland every once in a while, we went through our first Georgia town of Blakely.

Blakely, GA

Blakely, GA

I’m going to interrupt the telling of our journey to point out one important thing.  Chris and I stayed overnight in Blakely, and after accidentally sleeping much more than I bargained for from my “nap,” the only place still open after 9 PM was “Blakely Chicken.”  I just wanted to point out that this place is maybe only a quarter mile behind the building toward the left.  Best fried chicken I’ve ever had, hands down…perfect in every way.

Continuing with the run, as I said before, it was hot.  I’d drink my Gatorade (that was chilled in our cooler) so fast I’d feel a little “brain freeze.”  Even with the heat I still had to push to our 31 miles for the day.  After running about 10 more miles on the highway, we ran through a town called Arlington where a lot of homeowners proudly displayed statues of bulldogs.  (For the University of Georgia Bulldogs)  We ended the day just outside of Arlington.

Day 129

Day 129 will forever be known as our hottest day as it reached a high of 98 degrees.  Add in the humidity factor, this made for an excruciating run.  Except for going through a small town called Leary…

Leary, GA

Leary, GA

most of the run was just along highway 62.

98 Degrees in Georgia's Humidity

98 Degrees in Georgia’s Humidity

I had quite a few locals ask me if I was okay and needed a ride anywhere, but I had to turn them down while thanking them for their generosity.  Chris shortened up his distance intervals to 2.5 miles so that I could rehydrate more often, But even that distance seemed too far as I’d often need to take a break in some shade almost every mile.

At one point, I had to take off my shirt for the first and only time during the run…I’ll spare you from the photos.  Just know that it still looked like I was wearing my shirt due to my distinguished tan lines.

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After going through some serious farm land, Chris and I reached our 32 mile mark at the southwestern tip of Albany.

That’s all the time I have to update tonight.  Have a great night everyone.

Your friend,

Paul

Days 120 – 127 (Sweet Home Alabama )

Day 120

On Day 120 Chris and I packed up early from our hotel in Hattiesburg to drive to our previous point east of Waynesboro.

We thought we were a good 5 miles or so away from the Alabama border.  I passed Chris as he was doing his usual rearranging of our gear in the car so that he could feel more comfortable while driving.  Usually he would see me as he’s doing this, then he would close the doors and jump back into the driver’s seat to drive forward to another spot.  But this time I guess he was quite focused in what he was doing and didn’t notice me run by him only about 10 yards away.

Well, the Alabama border came much sooner than we anticipated.  Since Chris thought I was still behind him, we weren’t able to take our state border photo together but I decided to just take one for the both of us.

Alabama State Border

Alabama State Border

So, it felt awesome to finally be in the home state of “Forrest Gump.”  I had thought of doing a few fun video clips recapturing Forrest Gump while in Alabama, but in the end Chris and I were too busy.  Maybe “next” time…

Shortly afterwards, I called Chris asking where he was at.  It was a little confusing because he still thought I was behind him as I didn’t specify I was already in Alabama, but he was able to catch up with me a few miles later.

Shortly afterwards, my right shin, still hurting from running into all those unexpected pot holes in Mississippi, started to act up.  I had to fight through it, but it was quite concerning.  Chris and I finished at 31 miles for the day.

Day 121

My shin was still hurting a bit this day, so we cut the day short at 28 miles a few miles east of Grove Hill.  As per my rules with injuries, no pictures were taken while I was hurting.

Day 122

After icing my shin, I felt nearly 100% this morning.  Chris and I had gotten off to our second earliest start throughout the entire trip as we were able to step off at 7:50 in the morning in an effort to beat the heat.  As it turned out, there was a lingering lightning and thunder-storm which gave us some cover from the hot sun.  For us, this is a balancing act.  We want to hurry up and reach our destination of Tybee Island as soon as possible, but you must take the danger of lightning seriously.  I’m no expert with lightning storms, but my technique I used for determining how much danger we were in was by listening to how long it took for the sound of thunder to appear after the flash of lightning.  If there was a gap of a few seconds, I deemed that we were still good to go.  If it would’ve been shorter, I would’ve called Chris over and we would’ve got inside the car and drive back to a town to wait it out.  But the lightning was never that close, so we were able to continue uninterrupted.

After passing few a few towns, we eventually came to crossing the Alabama river.  This was only the third “state” river I recall crossing as the previous two were the Colorado and Mississippi rivers.

AL River

AL River

AL River

AL River

At one point we ran by a town that had many American flags with crosses along the highway, remembering specific people who had fallen while defending our nation.  It was a bit powerful running down this stretch of road.  I tried researching which particular town this was in, but was unsuccessful.  If you’re reading this and could let me know which town this was, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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So, this was an extremely wet day.  But I felt no more pain from my shins, so it was definitely a good run.

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Day 123

After starting off the day in the middle of nowhere on the highway, we went through a small city named Evergreen.

Evergreen, AL

Evergreen, AL

Evergreen, AL

Evergreen, AL

By this time, little flying insects were also starting to get out of control.  If I’d stop for a second they’d swarm me.  They loved attacking my ears and nose, and would’ve attacked my eyes too if not for my sunglasses.  They’re so annoying.  They bother Chris too, but they seem to be much more attracted to me due to the sweat/moisture on my body.  Every time I come to the car he notices that there are suddenly much more of them around.  So, this was another balancing act.  I’d need to rest and rehydrate, but I’d start to go insane with these bugs being all up on me, so I usually wouldn’t take much of a break.  Every time I’d restart, it would be more about running away from the flying insects than it was about making progress with the run.

HWY 84, Day 123

HWY 84, Day 123

Chris knows where we're headed

Chris knows where we’re headed

Nothing much else to report about this day.

Day 124

Day 124 started off going through a town called Red Level.  It was actually a nice sized town for barely being noted on the map.  Eventually, I had to run up this hill to enter the larger city of Andalusia.

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Andalusia is a nice town to relax in after feeling like you’ve been in the middle of nowhere for a while.  They have plenty of restaurants and motels, and this is where we ran into our first Zaxby’s, a popular fast food restaurant that serves delicious chicken tenders.  However, you’re not going to see any west of Utah.

Andalusia would’ve been a nice run too, except I was forced onto some grass with a sharp slope to my left the whole time, making for some difficult running.  After Andalusia, we continued on Highway 84 until we took some roads through Wiggins.  This is where we saw plenty of fisherman enjoying their day before ending up in a town called Opp.

Day 125

Day 125 was a nice run.  We would’ve felt a little alone with nothing but farmland if it weren’t for helicopters constantly hovering overhead.  I must admit that the helicopters caused me to have a little anxiety as it seemed like they were looking for suspects.  Then I was wondering, “what if they think we’re suspect?  After all, Chris and I are pulling weird maneuvers to those who don’t know what we’re doing.  From above, they’d see Chris driving a few miles ahead to wait on me.  Then I’d run to the car and jump in for a few minutes while I disappeared (rehydrated), only to jump out for us to do the same thing again.”  Well, Chris found out after the run that it was just flight training as Fort Rucker was close by, but that was after I had scanned for suspects throughout the entire run.

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We ended up running a few miles on the southern end of a really nice town called Enterprise before ending the day’s run in a little town called Clayhatchee.

After lunch, Chris and I first looked for a motel in Dothan but the motel we wanted had no vacancy.  So, we ended up driving back to Enterprise where we lucked out with a good room for a good price.

Day 126

Day 126 was our day off.  Nothing special happened.  Chris relaxed and did laundry while I went to a local cafe to do my homework.  After a couple hours at the cafe a storm cut out the electricity on the entire street.  The barista let all the customers stay, so that was nice of her.  All in all, Enterprise is a great town.

Day 127

Chris and I packed up from our motel in Enterprise and drove back to our previous spot in Clayhatchee.

After running a few more miles on AL-92, we met up with Highway 84 again.  All that I remember is that it was hot and we had 11 miles on this stretch of highway with quite a few BIG rolling hills.  The shoulder was wide though, so I felt safe running with all the traffic.

Eventually we ran through Dothan where Chris was able to take some good photos.

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After Dothan, we turned left onto AL-52E where we said goodbye for the last time to Highway 84, otherwise known as the “El Camino East/West Corridor.”  We had been taking HWY 84 for the most part since Winnfield, LA so since I’m a sentimental person it was a bit bittersweet.  Naturally, I took a photo as I looked back for the last time upon the road that took us through 3 states.

Goodbye

Goodbye “El Camino HWY”

We continued about 10 more miles, passing through a town called Webb, before calling it for the day.

Afterwards, I drove Chris to check into a motel so that he could relax.  I then took a quick shower so that I could meet up with my friend Tony back in Dothan.  It was great to catch up and hear he was doing extremely well.  I couldn’t believe that it had already been almost 5 years since we’ve last worked together, but then when you take the perspective of thinking of at all the things we’ve done since, it starts to make sense.

Getting fat on burgers and milkshakes

Getting fat on burgers and milkshakes

Afterwards, Tony gave an extremely generous donation to the WWP.  I totally wasn’t expecting this, as just having him drive a few hours to meet up with me would’ve been enough. All that I can say is, we have some great people serving our country.

…and this is all I have for Alabama.  I notice that I’m still far behind on my blog posts, but this is now becoming more of a priority with the trip coming to an end.

Have a great night everyone.

Your friend,

Paul

Days 114 – 119 (Mississippi)

Hello everyone. I apologize again for being slow on updating the blog.  Chris and I have been extremely busy.  First we’ve increased our mileage to over 32 miles per day, so this means LONGER days on the road.  Secondly, my summer class is extremely challenging.  May be my toughest class yet.  Lastly, we had to support our Golden State Warriors during their championship run in the playoffs.  I know, watching every game was a choice, but I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was 8 years old, so my hands were tied for the most part. So, the plan on updating my blog is to split this up into sections.  It has only been a couple weeks since I’ve updated the blog, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to recount our experiences.  With that said, lets get started….

Day 114

After leaving Chris to himself at the hotel so that he could recover from his illness on Sunday (Day 113), he told me that he should be ready to go the following day. Although Chris didn’t have the easiest time on the road as he was restricted in foods to mostly just soup and crackers, he sucked it up like the trooper he is.

Now, I already had an ideal date for finishing the run before we missed our run on Sunday.  So, to make it up as much as possible, I decided to increase the target mileage from 29 miles per day to 31 or 32 miles per day.  I knew that this was a risk, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

Day 114’s run was mostly uneventful along highway 84, the highway otherwise known as the El Camino East/West Corridor.  Chris was too sick to feel like taking pictures, and there wasn’t much to take a picture of anyways.  Just a lot of highway, green grass, and trees.

Day 115

On Day 115 we ended up going through the southern border of the town called Brookhaven.  Chris did, however, manage to take a picture of the typical view we’ve had on the highway in case you were wondering what it looked like.

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At one point I also had a nice view of the hills, so I had to stop for a selfie.  I must admit that Mississippi is more beautiful than I expected.

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We ended our 32 mile day at a small town called Silver Creek.  Chris was feeling a little better, but it definitely was still a long day for him.  I bought him a few chicken McNuggets to help him start getting back to some heavier foods.  He didn’t feel great afterwards, but he started showing a little more strength.

Day 116

Although Chris was starting to feel better he decided to play it conservative on his food intake for one more day.

We continued on Highway 84 and skirted north of a small town called Prentiss…

Along HWY 84, North of Prentiss

Along HWY 84, North of Prentiss

before running through a nice looking town called Collins.

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We finished a few miles east of Collins after reconnecting with the highway.  It was at this point where some heavier traffic forced me off the thin shoulder onto some really high and thick grass.  After just a couple miles of this thick grass, I was already starting to get tired of battling through it.

Day 117

This may have been the day that I was most ready to battle throughout the entire trip.  By that, I mean that I was ready to suffer through a lot of pain.  Chris was also back to his vigorous self as he was nearly back to 100%.

We got a relatively good start as I stepped off around 8 AM.  The weather forecast had said it was going to be around 88 degrees with the high humidity, so the earlier start was definitely helpful.

Most of the run was in the high and thick grass that I had a taste of the previous day. The problem with high and thick grass is that:

1.  In the lift off, you’re expending extra strength from your hips.  This happens due to fighting through the thick grass’ resistance as you’re lifting up your foot above the grass level.

2.  I’d unexpectedly step into little dirt pot holes about every mile or so.  This is always painful and could lead to injuries, especially around the shins.

Well, I fought through the agony.  About 20 miles into the run I had a little break from the grass as we came to a larger city named Laurel.

Laurel, MS

Laurel, MS

After Laurel, I was back to fighting with the thick grass.  I decided to take a picture so that I could better demonstrate the grass I was battling with.

Thick Grass on Side of HWY

Thick Grass on Side of HWY

I was very happy to see Chris at the finish point that day.  (I mean who wouldn’t after running over 5 hours)  My IT Band was a little sore, but more importantly I started feeling a little pain in my right shin.  But for the time being, I was just happy to take the night off until we were back at it the following morning.

Day 118

I told Chris prior to starting the run on Day 118 that my body had enough of running in the tall grass.  So, this meant that either I ran on the far side of the small shoulder during times when the traffic allowed it, or I walked every now and then if I was pushed into the high grass.  This resulted in us being a bit slower than usual, but it was the most my body could do with the pending injuries.

Well, a little over halfway into our run, we were doing our maneuver of Chris driving close to me when there is a likely threat of loose dogs in the area.  This meant that Chris was driving in the high grass with me.  Now, as I hinted previously with the frequent steps into pot holes, the grass is difficult to see through.  At one point, just as Chris was taking off as we passed one stretch of a perceived dog threat, we heard a loud clanky noise from the Saturn’s right front tire.  I was the first to get a look at it and my first reaction at seeing this was “$#@$.”

Stake in Tire

Stake in Tire

When I tried pulling out the bent stake I heard a strong release of air.  Although I had previously expected to have a flat tire during this trip, I thought it was going to come from either the broken glass or sharp knives we’d see on the shoulders.  (yes, I’ve seen hundreds of knives on the road throughout the trip.)  I’ve always tried pointing them out to Chris if he was trailing behind me….I just never expected to get a flat from a stake that was hidden in some high grass

I’ve never had to change a tire before, but Chris did great in instructing me how to do so.

Changing the Flat

Changing the Flat

We then drove to an auto shop and bought a couple new tires.  Afterwards, we finished the run where we ended up about 6 miles east of Waynesboro.

Our friend Zuna, who ran with me when we started our journey in Monterey…

With Zuna on Day 1

With Zuna on Day 1

happened to also be in Mississippi for a couple weddings.  (Yes, 2 weddings in one weekend)  So we decided to drive a bit to meet up with her in Hattiesburg.  We got to meet her running crew from Southern Mississippi University, and then she gave us a very detailed tour of her old stomping grounds.

with Zuna at SMU

with Zuna at USM

She has been engaged since the trip has last started, so we had a little catching up to do.  Congratulations Zuna and Mitch!

Day 119

Day 119 was our rest day.  Chris and I decided it was best to stay in Hattiesburg.  The motel served Krispy Kreme Donuts and eggs for breakfast, so I was a very happy customer.  I then went over to a Starbucks to study for the day.  Chris helped with the laundry and then was able to relax.

That’s all I have for Mississippi!!!  It is a bit late here and I need to get back to school work, so I’ll need to give an update on how our run through Alabama went at a later time.  Have a good night everyone.

Your Friend,

Paul