Trans-Michigan 2010 Report

Mind Over Miles
Prelude This morning I awoke to mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness. For some you are thinking well of course running across an entire state could provoke those feelings. Actually the feelings were for the Muddy Buddy 10K Bike & Run event. This race is the catalyst for me becoming the runner I am today. Six years ago my father and I did our first attempt at this team event in Chicago, IL. Thinking that running could not be too hard I took the three legs of running and two legs of mtb. After reaching the finish several minutes behind my father I came to the realization that running was far harder than I had expected. Shortly after the race, I began training for the first time in improving my running ability. Well each year I continued to train a bit harder, completing a longer distance each year in hoping to improve my overall time in this 10K series. The October 2006
½ Marathon, October 2007 full marathon, April 2008 50 Mile Endurance Run, April 2009 100 Mile Endurance Run and February 2010 100 Mile Endurance Run in under 24 hours. In 2009 we finally landed on the podium taking second place in our combined age group! After all the feelings had settled, the race began that morning and the training had paid off. This year we once again stood on the podium achieving first place in our age group. My most sought after medal has now been achieved. And now I am about to embark on a whole new challenge, running across the state of Michigan from Grosse Ile to the Grand Haven Lighthouse.
Day 1 Grosse Ile to Plymouth 0-38.93 miles
After collecting our medals and taking a few photos we headed back to the house for me to change gear up and grab a quick bit to eat. Arriving at the house I carefully double checked everything to ensure I was ready to go. My father, Kylie (my 15 year old daughter), Noah (my 7 year old son), and I headed to the starting point. Just to be sure I was fueled we hit a Taco Bell and I ordered up three
chicken soft tacos. Two were eaten right away the other placed in my backpack for the journey. Once at the checkpoint I exited the car and said my good-byes to everyone for the moment. I would be stopping by in 16 miles on my way to Plymouth to grab dinner. As quick as the good-byes were exchanged, they were gone. There was no hesitation in leaving me alone, I noticed. My first thought was a lot of loneness. Had I really thought this through? And what it would be like to be so alone for such a long period of time, and could I actually make it? Quickly I shook my head and said: “You can do this, and stay positive.” Then with the click of my Garmin 310xt I was en route!
A half mile along the coast of Grosse Ile I stopped to capture a picture of the Detroit River. The air was mixed with the cool feeling that rolls on to the shore and thoughts of Lake Michigan rushed through my head. Turning towards the west I headed to the “free bridge” to depart the isle. On G.I. there are only two ways to exit: the “free bridge” and the “toll bridge.” Upon crossing the bridge the gates came down and bells chimed. I was on the outer edge using the sidewalk at
this moment. I quickly realized that the bridge employee doesn‟t see me so I jumped on to the road and started sprinting across the bridge. Now the driver in the first car sitting at the gate was a bit in shock by the driver‟s facial expression. I zoomed across towards her and ducked under the gate just seconds before the bridge went into full motion to allow the sailboats to pass through area. Shaking my head in bewilderment I wondered how much more could happen to me in the adventure! I mean only two miles in and this story starts to really unfold. Now began a short street shuffle to get through the city of Trenton and into the city of Woodhaven; then I could make a north turn and head towards my house. In the process around the fourth mile a huge rainstorm unleashed hard on me for about 20 minutes. Once it stopped the temperature quickly climbed back up into the 90‟s! I could feel the water in my shoes squishing. Around mile seven I remembered the soft taco in my pack and
pulled it out to eat during a walking break. Here is the first time I started thinking over what I had just begun. Was I really mentally ready to travel across this entire state solo? I did not doubt my ability; I was taking in everything I would be possibly about to experience. Moving along with a good mix of run and walk I made it to mile 13 where I stopped at a Coney Island to grab some fresh ice to cool myself down. I filled my hat with ice and took a handful to rub on my body outside the restaurant. All the patrons looked at me in my “Badwater” attire (as I call it, referring to the Death Valley 135 mile ultra-marathon) with expressions of puzzlement. This was some something I found I would be come accustomed to throughout these next several days. Onward to home I headed. Reaching the house just about on plan at 5pm. My dad had fresh mac & cheese ready! I ate while standing, chatted with the family, replenished my hydration pack, confirmed my pick up plans, and then it was back out the door into the heat.
Around the corner was a 7/11 and since it was July 11th it was free slupree day! With the heat out in full force there was no way I was going to pass up free sluprees! My goal became to stop at as many as possible till the day was complete. Continiuning from my house I was now heading northwest for as far as possible until 10pm. Grosse Ile to my home was 16 miles, and now I wanted to just run as many miles on the first day as I could to get a solid start. Later I hit a Starbucks for some more ice to cool off and a big oatmeal raisin cookie. Once fueled, I called my friend Brandi as she was planning a long run herself for the day and decided to time it with mine to keep me company. So I gave her a call and confirmed I would be in her area around 8pm to meet up. Just around mile 30 I saw her coming towards me on Ford Road, I am sure she could see my smile blocks away. Until this point I was just moving along feeling OK, and now I was excited! Here was someone to converse with for the next two hours.
Brandi and I headed on down the road then made the final turn on to Beck Road taking us north to Grand River Avenue. At that time I realized that my mapping skills fell a bit short as Brandi confirmed all the hills we would be encountering on this road. Knowing that this was the final stretch for the day, and tomorrow it would be past me, I pushed forward. Ideally, my goal was to finish each day with some energy and this presented a small problem. Brandi turned and said, “Hey just keep moving forward! You can do it!” About 9:20 the sky was starting to turn dark. Neither of us had brought a flashlight or reflective gear so cautiously we moved along the route. Looking back sometimes I think that all that was in my plan for this adventure was to tie my shoes and run, as these small blunders started to arise. The only downside I have with night runs are the bats and of course several came out to greet us. Brandi found it quite comical as I ducked and sped up to get away. I urged her to stay with me because I personally don‟t like
bats flying at me. After a few miles it was too dark to see them so my nerves settled. As the run was coming to a close for the day I thanked her for her company and wished her the best on the extra miles she was traveling home. I then crossed over the street to for the next quarter mile to meet my pick-up at 5 mile & Beck. To my amazement I was strolling along a drive-in movie. They had a double screen showing set up in the parking lot airing “The Last Air bender” and “Despicable Me”. A beautiful night sky, movies playing, and a solid first day of running passed through my mind as I finally approached the car. Now I was heading home to rest in my own bed for the night.
Day 2: Plymouth to Fowlerville (38.23 mile to 72.47 mile)
Waking up I was a little tight in the legs, but soon enough I was moving again. I
collected my gear, stashed a house key to get back in, and headed to the car. My dad, my dogs, and kids were heading across the state to my dad‟s house to wait for me. They dropped me off back off at the McDonald‟s so I could restart at the same point. Once we got there I was hungry as usual but didn‟t want McDonalds knowing it could be an issue! Hunger won so I ordered some scrambled eggs and orange juice. I ate my breakfast and on my way up beck towards Grand River. I started off only walking to just sort of wake my body up for the next adventure. A few minutes later I realized I was right, and the eggs weren‟t the best idea after all. My stomach began contracting in pain. Continuing forward I assessed my options. I recalled a convenience shop about a mile ahead. I held on and pushed forward. Once at the shop I quickly found the restroom. I bought some Payday bars and out the door I went feeling ready to tackle the challenge again!
Hill after hill I moved up Beck Road just reminding myself to: 1) keep moving and: 2) enjoy the day! Those two mantras‟ made the difference and soon I was at the corner. Turning west onto Grand River Avenue, Grand River basically runs along I-96 all the way to Grand Rapids. This was ideal for I didn‟t have to learn a route and carry maps as I went. Heading along Grand River, the temperature was rising again into the 90‟s. I just laughed briefly to myself and said “You know Badwater (in Death Valley) is hotter than this, so enjoy it.” Finding a positive can make the moment easier sometimes in the longer runs. Just into the town of Lyon I stopped to re-ice and cool down in Bobs Deli N‟ Carry-Out, just a small Mom and Pop place with only Bob and two costumers. Bob grabbed me some ice as my eyes searched the store for possible needs and then boom! Orange crush soda in a glass bottle! I knew I wanted one, and instantly it was inside my belly; it was so cold and refreshing! I then filled my hydration pack
and was about to head out. Bob asked: “Where‟re you biking to?” I replied: “Actually I‟m running to Fowlerville today then by Thursday I will be in Grand Haven.” He looked me in the eyes and said: You know two things about that: one that is great and two you are crazy!” Then we both laughed as I confirmed to him that I hear the second one a lot. Then back out the door I went. A lot of the running down Grand River gave me to reflect on myself. This day was more of the constant thoughts of being alone. Not in a bad way more of a self observation kind of way. Running for long periods of time alone sort of cause those thoughts. Sometimes I would reflect upon friendships or wonder what others were doing. Even things I would see would cause me to maybe think of someone that might enjoy what I was seeing at that moment. As I was leaving Lyon, one last big hill was in my path and I walked a lot of that hill slowly becoming disappointed with my pace. Upon cresting the hill, on my left
was a large 8x3 banner with the words “It‟s ok to be happy”. I chuckled and said that banner is right! Part of me wondered if anyone I knew planted it there on purpose for me. That sign became my quote of the day whenever I would hit a low point. A few miles later, as the heat was getting to me, I stopped at the Cozy Inn Bar for some ice. I knew that staying proactive by taking a few minutes periodically throughout the day to cool off was what helped me make it further and further. Stepping inside the bar, the air was refreshingly cool and the bartender provided me with a glass of iced water. I explained why I was in the heat, because people were curious as to why I would be out running in these temperatures in the wide open sun. Then I poured all of the ice into my hat and headed back down the road. The next place I arrived was Brighton, just where the highway exits onto Grand River, I stopped for a lunch break. Farra coach
of R U T, Running Fit Ultra-marathon Team, was on her way to Grand Rapids. She stopped by with perfect timing to join me for lunch. I enjoyed a push pop as she filled my hydration pack and gave me a PBJ, Cliff Bar, and pep talk. I was sitting on the curb and she turned to hand me a bracelet and says: “Wear this and when it gets tough look down at it.” The bracelet reads HTFU, an acronym for harden the f*** up. “We use it jokingly on long runs. A friend named Javier from down south introduced me to the website, as I was heading to the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race. He said „When you get to mile 85 think about those letters and don‟t give up.‟” I did just that and laughter struck me, and forward I went to finally break a sub 24 hours in a 100 miler for the first time. Lunch was over and I had to get moving to Howell. I needed to be as close to Fowlerville as possible around 5 o‟clock to meet up with a good friend, Norm, a neighbor who happens to work on Grand River Avenue in Fowlerville. So the plan
was to meet him and get a ride home, and then return me the next morning to restart the run from my last place. A night in my own bed and close to my supplies sounded very good to me. Continuing down Grand River towards Howell, I searched a few miles later and I saw a lake on the north side of the road and crossed over to it. I dipped my head in the water to cool down a bit, and once cooled down I pressed on. Several miles later I arrived at Bigbby Coffee and stepped inside to ask for ice. I slid outside and rubbed the ice all over, cooling my body back down and feeling rather excited knowing I was close to plan. The next city was my pick up point, and I called ahead to confirm my ride. Norm answered “I‟ll be there out there at 5, and I‟ll drive east until I find you.” I confirmed that plan and was back on route. I headed just passed where M-59 crosses Grand River Avenue and I flagged him down to be picked up and said to me “Nice job.” 8 miles short of making his company I was pleased too, and we drove
off to grab some dinner. Properly fueling throughout the day didn‟t create a huge craving for food, so I ordered a quesadilla, a nice summer ale, and chips with salsa. We shared a relaxing dinner full of talking about life in general, which felt great spending time with such a good friend. Then we headed out to drop me off for sleep. Later that night I received a call from a friend Lauren, who asked why I was running across the state. My response was: “to test my own limits while illustrating to others whether it is one mile or an entire state, you can achieve a goal by keeping a positive mind set and moving forward until eventually you will reach the finish. “ I then reviewed my feet, noticing I had a blister on each pinky toe. I decided to lance them and the first one squirted everywhere as it was a very full blister. The second one drained slowly, and I cleaned up for the night. I reviewed all of my emails and messages from my friends
who were very supportive, then off to sleep I went!
Day 3: Fowlerville to Eagle (72.47 mile to 117.03 mile)
Off to a good start, I loaded my pack with what I figured I needed for the next three days. This would be the last time I would be at my house until the run was complete. Carefully I reviewed what I had, and out the door at 6 am into Norm‟s car
to head back to the last place I stopped. He told me to stop by for water and say hello. I asked him: “How far?” “About eight miles down,” he responded. “Sounds good to me,” and it was back down Grand River Avenue. Once I got about 8 miles down, I turned my phone on to check with him but it went straight to voicemail. So I just kept looking, but could not determine which building was his, when all of a sudden a woman pulls over along the road and asks me for directions. I thought this was ironic as I have really no clue where I am! I smiled and asked where she was trying to get to, and she said „Ann Arbor‟. “Oh,” I said, “that‟s easy! Just stay straight for 3.44 miles and you will see a big blue water tower that says „Fowlerville‟ on it. Turn right, and within a half mile it should put you on I-96. Go east.” She said thank you for knowing, and I just laughed and said to her “That‟s really the only place I could give you directions.”
She pulled away and within seconds another car was driving slowly next to me. I looked over it was Norm, and a guy named Ross from his job. He said “Who was that lady?” and I responded “No clue, just providing directions,” and they both laughed. I continued running while they drove along talking to me, asking how I missed the building, and I told them what I saw around the eight mile mark and he said that it was about two miles passed his job. I replied “Well it looks like I missed you, and I wasn‟t able to get my candy bar from your vending machine!” They followed into the town of Fowlerville and I walked into a diner to fill my hydration pack and chatted with the waitresses about the journey. Then it was back out the door with my buddies. I told them to have fun at work, and that I had to keep moving. We headed in our own directions, but then shortly I see them coming back my way. Norm thought I needed a candy bar after all, so he passed me a double Twix! I was so excited for it, and said thanks to him! He replied: “No problem thought it would
help you!” Then, finally, it was our final goodbyes. Heading into the town, for the next few moments it was seemed like only me and corn fields for the last few country miles. At one point I passed a farmers market with a sign advertising blueberries. It sounded so good at the moment, but knowing how far I had to go the blueberries would not be much help. I strolled into Webberville, and kept a nice pace in town. I stopped into the McDonald‟s to get the ice routine completed, and knowing better I passed on getting food there. Instead, I grabbed a bite at the Speedway gas station on the edge of town, nabbing a slice of pizza and confirmed Okemos was the next destination. Another day of heat and I stayed on plan insuring hydration, ice, and food was on schedule. Upon arriving in Okemos, I stopped at the Playmaker shoe store. My right shoe was beginning to swell from the heat; on the bottom where the plastic spine that
connects the fore foot to the heel. I showed one of the workers, and then he came back and lanced it to relieve the air bubble. I then chatted with another worker explaining the route and reviewing the map on the wall. After talking to several workers I began to realize nobody actually knew the distance to the capital. Things were going better than planned for me, so I pressed on to the capitol. Moments later I was next to Michigan State University, and had arrived in East Lansing. I enjoyed the scenery, and it was a quiet day on the campus grounds. Some trees lined the sidewalk to provide some shade from the sun. Turning onto Michigan Street, I was in the final straight away from the capitol steps. I had never seen the building before so I thought it would be the worth the time to stop about a mile before the building. I went to another Speedway to fill my craving for the last two hours, and all I could think about was the 44 ounce Coke icee that I slurped up in my hands. I headed to the capitol building in a run-walk motion. I
called this my working lunch, and in perfect timing I finished the drink before the final block to the capitol building. Many people told me the capitol area was not that impressive and I should not expect too much. Not sure what they were thinking but it could have been because of the run. I was pleased with the area. Just before the capitol building I saw the local baseball stadium, a children‟s only emergency hospital and several other amazing things. I then took out my phone to snap two more pictures as I jogged up the steps of the capitol building, and turning back I realized that I made my first milestone from Detroit to Lansing. In my mind it played out like the scene in Rocky as he charged up the steps and held his arms high in the air. I must have looked amazing to the few people in the area; or only in my mind.
I was filled with pride, and quickly went back down the steps and into the building to sign the guestbook. I signed the book and in the comment box I put a note about running across the state, and my prediction for when I‟d finish the journey. I took two more pictures, and then I glanced at my watch. It was 2:20pm. The feelings I was feeling were great, and I was halfway there.
Once outside, I called my friend Lauren. She was traveling from Portage, Michigan to crew me to Grand Haven. I explained I was stopping in Delta Township to visit a friend, and gave her my route so she could have an idea of how I would find her once I was west of Lansing. Back onto Grand River Avenue, several miles later, I was close to my friend‟s house and decided to call him. He answered and said “Oh no! I‟m not home though. I‟m at a ball game!” Before he could speak again, my spirits had dropped then he said: “My wife is home though; I‟ll let her know you‟re stopping by!” Bang! Back to happiness at the last second! I cut through some yards and was at their house quickly. Jen came to greet me, while Lauren called me on my phone. She asked where I was, and explained I cut through two yards instead of running around the block. I didn‟t know she was making an early surprise appearance, so Jen and I stayed on the front lawn taking while Lauren changed directions on her bike and arrived at the house with a big smile. We all headed inside, chatting
away about family, the run, and things in general. Lauren took care of refueling my hydration pack, while Jen made me a chicken sandwich. I stood there and I became more excited about the run. Staying focused, we confirmed the best route to get back on to Grand River Avenue and keep going.
Away we went. From this point Lauren became my crew, and she parked her car bout 10 miles away and had biked to support me along the way back to the car. It was great to have somebody to talk to, and a few quick turns and onto Grand River Avenue heading west again. A few miles later, I saw some road construction and a port-a-potty. I excused myself and stepped in quickly. That would be the last time I choose a port-a-potty on a hot day! Upon exiting it, I looked over and Lauren had just taken a pic of me! I laughed, “Great pic, thanks!” Next we came to a convenience shop, which is why I picked Grand River Avenue because scouting it, at least every 10 miles, there seems to be a convenience store. That is ideal because it means not carrying a lot of supplies during the journey. Once again, I did the ice routine and away we went. It looked to be just another two
miles. Next thing I knew, Lauren takes a deep gasp and smiles. I asked her “What?” Down a hill and on the right was the check point for the day! Exit 86, in the carpool parking lot. I was alright, and then I was off and running. Closing out the day‟s last time at an 8:22 pace. We loaded the bike and gear into the car and hit McDonald‟s for another super-sized chocolate shake. Then off for the night to the parents of a friend who live in Alto. They said we could sleep there with them for two nights. They greeted us, and were very friendly. Lauren made me a dinner of pasta with red sauce and chicken. Later we spent the night in the family room relaxing to the TV, and talking with Chris and Mary Lou Smith, the nice couple who had put us up.
Day 4: Eagle to Grand Rapids (117.03 mile to 163.43 mile)
It was 6am, and time to rise and shine. It was another night of great sleep, and I was ready for the next leg. Lauren had me set up for the day. She had brought me spare clothes to sleep in while she
cleaned my clothes from the run. She also prepared my breakfast and did a check over on the gear. Heading back to Exit 86 on the drive over, music was playing and I settled in the moment as we neared the starting point. She put in the CD Kings of Leon; a few great songs helped my enjoy getting ready to beat another day. We arrived in the parking lot, and made another plan for the day at hand. Lauren would drive about 10 miles ahead and bike back to me, and provide refueling until we arrived back to the car. She had her hydration pack and some snacks for me, as well. It was nice to know that I would be solo for only 4 miles and supported for the next 6 before leaving the parking lot. I checked my voicemails, too, as a friend of mine named Keith left me a message that stood out in my mind. He provided some words from Scott Jurek about how we set limits on our life, and that in reality there is no finish line. There were some other words of wisdom, and then it was over. I turned to Lauren and said „see ya in a bit‟
and ran down the road. The journey was close to its end. A few miles later we met back up and it was nice. This was the start of 1000 conversations. One was about the germination of corn, which was sparked by a chicken Lauren had seen. The chicken was near the road, and she talked about how she wanted one. I just laughed at the thought. At the first check, Lauren went to work. She had a camp chair, a bowl of ice, some food, and checked my hydration pack. I felt like I
was in a boxing match and the bell was about to ring. I headed to the corner, and she was timely and thorough. While sitting there I mentioned strawberries, and once rested I headed back to the Grand River Avenue. Looking up I saw one of the many water towers I would see on my run, and written on it was Portland City of 2 Rivers. Heading into the town of Portland I saw the bank clock showing 10:35 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I thought to myself about it, and down the road I went. A few miles later, it was just me and the corn fields again. Periodically, I would start to think of the cars flying down the interstate within my sight traveling parallel to me. Wondering where they were heading and the times that I traveled down the same section of the interstate. Thinking maybe at another time there could have been a runner where I was in that particular moment. This caused me to tune out of the surroundings because the interstate was making this section mutinous. All of a
sudden a stranger wearing a camouflage t-shirt was sitting on the tailgate of this truck in a driveway yells: “Steve! You Steve?” I stopped abruptly and just stood there beyond curious. 1)How did he know my name 2)How long has he been waiting 3) For that matter, why is he waiting I then responded back “Yes?” He says to me: “Why that pretty girl left you a note on the ground, you just passed it! Not that I read it or anything, but you are Steve that‟s what the note says!” So I turned around and started looking sure enough a bright yellow piece of paper was on the ground for me. It read “Keep going. Pizza. Yum.” I took the note and the stranger yells: “There‟s another one! Look again!” Sure enough another note there was, and it said: “Steve you look so good.” I went strolling down Grand River Avenue, still amazed on how I missed them. They were sitting next to the white line of the road! I
turned and saw the stranger was now next to me. He said “Where are you going out here?” I said the usual and he was excited, and said “Well, get moving she is heading that way too and she‟s pretty!” We both laughed, and away I went and more awake looking for more notes. Lauren arrived and I told her about the stranger, she laughed about me passing the notes. Finally we reached another check point, in the parking lot of a diner, at the crossroads of Grand River Avenue. Lauren was on schedule, with a chair and snacks. I sat as she went in and came back with ice and a Coke. She said to me “They‟re pulling for you, and so the coke is on the house.” So far that day it had been all positive. She also said “The strawberries are now here, with salt to dip them.” Little did I know she went and found strawberries since the last check point.
It‟s a big day, and with 20 miles down it was back to Grand River I go. As the routine goes on I see her pass me by in her car, hearing her say positive things to me. All of a sudden, I see her coming back. “Hey,” she says, “The road is closed.” She tells me I have to take a detour. I ask her if can I make it through,
and she said it looks like it and the plan is for her to take the detour, and for me to stay on the road. Lauren then drives off to get around the detour, and moments later I am on a fresh blacktop section of the road with no trees. It has a few short hills but it‟s the heat that is taxing my body. Miles pass and I start to wonder if this road will make it straight through, or have I wasted my time. Suddenly out of nowhere, I see Lauren on the bike I know now it‟s a go! This time I have gone longer without her, so the checkpoint should be soon. She arrived with the usual smile and excitement. Together we pressed on.
Arriving at small country store in Saranac, I became so excited knowing that we were closing in on Grand Rapids soon. I grabbed an orange flavored ice, and said, “I feel great.” We just had to keep going. Lauren confirmed our route, and off she headed. This section, again, had rolling hills. Thankfully they had an ideal balance of run-walk for me. As I moved through this section my mind was constantly engaged in the heat. At this time the Badwater 135 ultra marathon was taking place in Death Valley, CA. Someday I plan on embracing this challenge. So today every time I felt the heat beating down on me I would have images of Badwater and what it must be like for those runners out there in those extreme temperatures. We rejoined moments later, and arrived at the inner change of Grand River Avenue turning into Cascade Road. Another emotional high surged through my body, and she took out her phone and snapped a picture of me and the two signs. I had just ran a road through several counties and thought “How sweet is that!”
We were to reach the next point within 33 miles that day, near the area of Lowell. I was sitting in the chair as two cyclists approached. I asked one where we were in correlation to the interstate, and he said near mile 53. They also asked how far I was cycling, and I then said I was running and Lauren is my cycling crew. He said that is great, my wife just rode across the whole U.S in 7 weeks. I was amazed at that as I got ready to head back down the road. I gave him my name and he gave me his: Frank. Once again heading towards Grand Rapids, now the hills were getting bigger as the heat rose, staying positive I knew I could make it
and the day would soon be complete. Miles passed by, and soon Lauren was running back up with me. Then Frank and his wife joined us; he offered his house for the night so we wouldn‟t have to drive back to Alto. Since I was planning reaching Cascade/Ada for the final stop, we said we will consider it and away we went.
I finally reached the next stop, and I was feeling a bit down and sore. Looking at Lauren, I confirmed our final point for the day and the exact route. She said “See you there!” and away I went. The hills became high and breaking down it felt as if I was climbing forever. At this point a quote from ultra-runner Ann Trason kept leaking into my mind. “Running hurts to a point then it doesn’t get any worse” I went down the last hill and I began to cross the Thornapple River bridge. This was the first moment I have ever crashed hard in a run, as I walked the bridge I took a deep breath and tears started rolling down my face. I just kept walking with tears and the pain had finally taken over and my body. I wanted it to end, and after 3 more miles it stops, is all I thought. In other runs I have had low
points, but not where I hit wall that made me consider quitting. During this stretch I tried to rationalize why it happened, and all could think about was the pain in my right ankle and the chaffing on the inner side of my thighs. Both feet were a little sore, and my legs felt sluggish. Just thinking, keep moving, it would end, was driving me to the check point. By the time Lauren arrived I had collected myself and remained quieter than normal. We reached the car at the M.A.C on the corner of Burton and East Paris. I went inside to find a bathroom. Before heading back out I saw a drink cooler. Inside was cytomax chocolate monster milk. I drank it down getting some protein, hopefully to aid my muscles. In the parking lot I talked to Lauren, I was out of exlir, s-caps, cytomax and all of my fueling sources. The last 8 miles, I was also experiencing chaffing, so I pointed her in the direction of Gazelle Sports - walking into the store was restoring. The team that works there sat me down and helped me out. One guy brought me
clothing options to minimize the chaffing, with promo samples of sports wax. One girl looked for cytomax and s-caps contently; a personal trainer was there and came to talk to me about the run. In the end it got me into cw-x compression shorts. Then Terrence, a physical therapist, said to follow him to his house a few miles away, and he had s-caps to give me to help make it to tomorrow. I trusted his advice, as he had just completed the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. After getting the s-caps we went back to Alto for the night again. We sat with Chris and Mary Lou in the family room till bed time. I made my way to bed feeling drained after that day‟s experience, and was instantly asleep.
Day 5: Grand Rapids to Grand Haven (163.43 mile to 205.98 mile)
This was the first morning I had woken up to have pain and some fatigue. My right
ankle was still sore, sitting up in bed I thought it‟s the last day I can do this. Quickly I applied all three tubes of sport wax, one on my feet, one on the seams of the shorts, and one on the chaffing. Waiting for me upstairs was breakfast. Conversation was a bit brief because I was focused on the day, and wanted to finish before sun down, not knowing the capabilities of my body. Soon we were in the same parking lot from the night before, and the temperature was in the 80‟ss with light rain. This actually felt good. For the first time Lauren wished me luck, and she headed down the road to the first checkpoint in downtown Grand Rapids. I started off with a nice walking pace. There were two hills I had to beat before getting on Cascade Road. Mentally I was feeling beat but knew deep down inside that would be able to pull through this endeavor. There had been points in running when times were tough and this was one of the hardest times still. The run in the past 24 hours had highs and
lows similar to the hills I was running. One moment on top and the next at a deep low. Overall the feeling held strong that I knew I possessed the capability to see it through to Grand Haven. Once onto Cascade, my body and spirits were better. I made my way towards Fulton Street which takes me downtown. For several years I lived in Grand Rapids so memories were popping through my head block by block, which made it a nice start for the day. As a lot of people know, food is probably 2nd on my list of loves, so near Fuller Street I recalled a restaurant that had some good buckwheat pancakes that sounded really good. I passed Van‟s Pastry shop all of the baked goods in the window made my heart skip. Next thing I know, Lauren was there to join me on the next leg as we approached downtown. A guy yelled out of the window from his car, “heading to Grand Haven, good luck!” and with a smile I turned to ask how did he know. Lauren said he stopped yesterday just before Thorn Apple River and asked what were we doing and why. He also noticed I was limping away and Lauren
said I would be fine, and sure enough the next day we see him again and I‟m doing better. Moving forward, we cross Division. Half across Grand Rapids, looking to my left I saw San Chez Tapas Bistro - my favorite place to eat in Grand Rapids. What a way to pass time, with memories of food. Making a few turns downtown, we crossed the river and made it into the parking lot of the Gerald R Ford Museum. Alongside the river, we kept the stop short and I was moving along. Moments later a passer-by had a shirt on that said “I want to be to be just like me”. I found that memorably amusing. Turn by turn, I worked my way to Leonard Street. Just before arriving to Leonard I turned the corner and saw two runners making there way up this long hill to Leonard. I said to myself „let‟s pick it up and catch them‟. Always having been a bit competitive, and with my spirits up, I surged up the hill in chase. Block by block, I was gaining and they had reached the intersection by less than a block and continued straight. As I turned onto
Leonard, realizing the temperature was rising, I skipped into a Subway to get ice. Moments later I was joined by Lauren, and she did all the usual questions and I answered one specifically; I would love some Tang. Not sure why, but when running long distances the strange cravings arrive. She said „OK, I‟ll see if I can find some.” Just passed the edge of Walker we find the car, it was nice to sit again. It was nice to finish the strawberries again, and then back to the road. I still really wanted Tang. Arriving in the township of Tallmadge, I saw a government building and I went in to cool off and get a drink. The lady inside answered my questions about Grand Haven, and then she gave me a map. It was great to see that I only had less than 20 miles to finish. I kept the map and went out back out the door. As I progressed down the down a deep sense of completion was dwelling inside me. Miles passed by while I was focused, and Lauren came on bike. Almost instantly she says “You just missed something on
the ground!” Once again I passed a note. It‟s so odd how I zone out while running. The note said “Can you smell the finish” and sitting on top of it was a small cup filled with an orange liquid. She said “No Tang, but I found Arizona orange aid.” I drank it down; the taste was good.
Once we got to the car in Lamont, I was able to finish. Drinking water is horrible to me, and the lack of taste makes it tough. Lamont had a very small town feel, complete with numerous American flags lining the main street. It felt as if I had landed back in the 1950‟s, with little white picket fences, friendly passer-bys, and an air of a safe town. Sitting on a little bench roadside, under a shady tree enjoying lunch, we talked about how the journey had become. Once fueled and supplied, I joined the road for the next city of Spring Lake. This section was the longest, consisting of just fields and houses. They were set far from the road, and there wasn‟t any stores. Strong winds came in periodically making the hills a bit of work, but the wind was nice knowing the end was close. I was staying positive during a long lonely stretch. Finally I reached Lauren. We made it to the next point, alongside the country road. Sitting in the chair, I took in the moment from the sky, fields, weather, and feel of my body. As this journey was closing in I became much more aware of my
surroundings as if taking a mental snapshot. The last leg is here I can do this and still finish a good time of the day. Making sure I had enough to go, Lauren headed to Grand Haven. As I started the final leg, time passed more and more. I began to wonder where she went. Usually I saw her 4-5 miles after each point. Now I was going on 90 minutes and several miles. I stopped and took out a cliff bar started to think about what happened to her. More time and
more miles passed as I made my way through the rolling country. At least 3 miles before Spring Lake, she came. A rush went through me. Originally I planned this trip all alone, but now that Lauren joined me I became accustomed to her company. She explained she had to do some things, and I was closing in fast. The nice thing was she brought me a Popsicle because the day was hot. The temperature was back in the 90‟s again. Turning on to 148 Street, we had one more mile to the main road in Spring Lake. M-104 would take us to Grand Haven. Stopping at a store, I got another Popsicle and another drink. At the checkout, we found a newspaper. Lauren had heard earlier I was in the newspaper about my run. Scanning all the sections we were unsuccessful. Jokingly, I said check the obituaries, maybe I died on the trip. She laughed a bit, and then we then went and sat outside on the curb. I pulled a bag of ice from the cooler and placed it on my ankle to relieve pain. Next we poured the Arizona drink into my hydration pack to add favor. After a bit of
icing, I was ready placing the ice back in the cooler. I was running down the road a moment later, and I picked up the pace to a 10:12 clip for an entire mile. The ice really helped the pain; in addition I could sense the lighthouse of Grand Haven would be visible soon. Making our way over the two bridges, we were now at the city limits of Grand Haven. It was only 1.5 miles down Harbor Drive to the pier. Excitement kept building as each block passed, and making it to the boardwalk I could now see the lighthouse at the end of the pier. Once again I took a deep breath, but no tears, because I was so proud to realize I was making this journey complete. A run-walk along the boardwalk was how we moved. Lauren said “Let me get ahead to create a finish line.” She took off and I thought to myself “Finish strong as always and go for it!” My pace quickened by tenths of miles. Next thing I knew, I checked the Garmin and I was at a 9:55 per mile pace after 200+ miles. I was happy and pushed on, cruising down the
pier to the finish. I was now at 9:45. Lauren had barely enough time to set the crape paper finish as I came running into the finish line. Finally, I broke through and headed around the lighthouse. I stopped once I was looking out at Lake Michigan. 205.98 miles from my start there was no more land for me to run I had achieved my goal. Celebration was in order, so it was down to the beach for time in the lake. As I was about to go in, a girl walking by asked me what I had just done. I said I just ran from Detroit to Grand Haven. She said “That‟s pretty badass!” I just smiled. That statement gave me complete validation of the accomplishment. Once in the water, the waves were pushing me around making it tough for me to stand. It was great to stand in the water. We then loaded up the car, and went and found my parents and kids, Mia (my 11 year old daughter) and Noah, at the ice cream shop. We all chatted while I had a banana split. Once all the gear was taken to my car, I thanked Lauren for all that she did
for me doing my journey. My parents then drove me to their house and once there, I cleaned up and went off to bed. The same bed from when I was a kid. There is absolutely nothing like a good nights sleep in your childhood bed after such an amazing journey across the state of Michigan.