Forty Nine States Down, One to Go
“An’t nothing to it but to do it.”
Statement of the raw simplicity of a task, implying that all it takes is hard not necessarily intelligent, work and effort. – Ronnie Coleman
As you might know, I am very goal oriented. I love setting goals for myself. It takes my mind off the daily tasks and keeps me focused on the future. I have completed many goals during my life both career wise and on the exercise front. Right now my focus is to get a half marathon done in all 50 states. Cat got them done as marathons back in 2020 and I still have 8 left. More about that later.
The plan is to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico and drive two days to Bluff to complete state number 48. Then drive two days to Laughlin, Nevada for state number 49. During the half marathons Cat walks a 5k about 1 mile at a time while I push her in an adult size stroller, I call the CatMobile, the rest of the way.
During our last trip, in October, that lasted 8 days, I was able to get a 10k done in North Dakota, state number 12 in that category, and half marathon done in Montana. North Dakota was no joke with temperatures in the 30’s with wind blowing 25 miles an hour off the beautiful nearby lake. Luckily, a friend lent Cat a heated jacket so she was toasty. Me, not so much since I elected to run while pushing her into the wind.
Once again these and those races were with our Mainly Marathon family. Our plan now is to get our final state of Wisconsin done in Milwaukee in April of next year. That will be only fitting since Cat was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, the same month, 10 years prior. For that race Cat will only get to walk about a mile since they have a three hour and 30 minute cutoff. She will accomplish that at 1/4 mile at time. That will leave me only 3 hours to get the other 12 miles done. You know what Benjamin Franklin said about plans. “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.”
If all goes well my next goal will be to finish getting my 50 state marathons done starting in July of 24, shortly after I turn 69. No coincidence, that will be my 69th marathon. Just think I had planned on only doing one marathon 23 years ago. Cat and I did a 50 miler when I turned 50. We ran 27.5 miles to a hotel one day and then ran back to our Condo for a total of 55 miles when I turned 55. I accomplished 60 marathons by 60 and 65 by 65.
Well Allie, which is what I call ALZ, decided Cat and I only needed five hours of sleep on departure day. We both got 8 hours of sleep the night before so no big deal. On the positive note, at least I did not have to rush to catch our 8 am ride to the airport for our flight to Albuquerque. We will spend the night at a nearby Marriott then take two days to get to Bluff for the first half marathon. It is only a 5 hour drive nonstop, but for us, breaking it up with a stop in Gallop, New Mexico is more our speed. That, of course, is assuming that all goes well.
Transporting the CatMobile will be a bit tricky this time around. In Albuquerque, Hertz is located at the rental car center and buses to them are notorious for being over crowded with standing room only. Not the best situation when trying to move a backpack, a suitcase and a 50 pound stroller in a bag. That does not include the fact that I must be in constant contact with Cat these days. I am sure I will figure something out. That being, going to the rental car center without the CatMobile and coming back around a picking it up before going to the hotel. What can possibly go wrong.
Well the folks there did not want me to leave the car for even a minute to get the CatMobile from baggage claim. Our back and forth discussion, including a call to their operation center, took much longer than me going to get it. When the gentleman walked off to hassle someone else, I, of course, went in to get it. I had to laugh when loading it into the rental car since there was no other cars curbside.
The 3 plus hour flight once again went well. Cat was not fond of sitting still for that long but I have found that keeping food and drink headed her way helps a lot. This will be our last week long trip with the CatMobile for awhile. I am thinking that I might want to consider hiring a Travel Companion to help me with Cat. I actually posted a job on Craig’s list to see the level of interest and I got about a dozen folks that were interested. I narrowed the list down to 3 and I will start interviewing when we get back from this trip. It would probably be more like 3 to 4 day trips once a month to start working on my 10k states list. Right now I am keeping my options open.
Two of the folks that now help me with Cat are also interested in traveling with us. One of them, happens to also be a runner. She has signed up to help me run the final half marathon in Milwaukee. She has run two half marathons several years ago so the training will start in earnest in about a month. I am sure I can do it by myself but will take all the help I can get. Cat’s daughter, Christie, who did her first marathon in October is also thinking of joining us.
I did my fastest 5k while pushing Cat, all by myself, last week, in a little know town of Flowery Branch, Georgia. That was a real morale booster. I ran across this meme the other day which pretty much sums up my way of thinking. I try to have stretch goals but usually don’t set a deadline for when they need to be accomplished.
The first race went well but once again it was a bit chilly and unfortunately about half the course was on crushed gravel and somewhat hard packed dirt. To keep it interesting there was also a pretty steep hill I had to figure out how to tackle 8 times. Since Cat needed to get her walk on for a 5k I had her walk that hill 3 times while I left the CatMobile at the bottom and picked it up on the way back to the start/finish. Two other times I did that entire section by myself pushing and grunting the entire way. I did have some help the other three times up the hill with, Dave, who was doing the 50K and Elizabeth who we had seen on various races with Mainly. The last time up Clyde and Dave joined in and made the climb a piece of Cake.
Clyde is a legend amongst marathoners. At 76 years young he has run over 600 marathon in all 50 states, all 7 continents and is one of only three that has also run a marathon on the North Pole. It was very inspiring to witness first hand his dedication to the sport.
The views of the rock formations were spectacular, which helped pass the time, since it took me over four hours to get it done. They say all that does not kill you makes you stronger but I had to repeatedly remind myself you could still kill yourself.
The next leg of this 7 day, 900 car mile trip was the worst. After all that huffing and puffing we had to drive about 4 hours to our next stop in Flagstaff, Arizona. The group was doing a race there but since I already had the state I did not see the need to stick a needle in my eye. We did come out to cheer them on but only after the temperatures rose from the high 20’s to a more respectable 50 degrees.
From there we were off to Laughlin to meet up with my sister, Gwen and sister in law, Joan. They have been on many a trip with us in the past but now I think I have them hooked, since they both wanted to check Nevada off their list of states they had done a 10k. I decided that on these trips where there are multiple time zone changes that it would be best for us to keep our body clocks on east coast time. That way I would not have to rush to get Cat to the start line for the 7 am and in Nevada 6 am starts. It made for a lot of mental gymnastics to keep track of when to eat and to go to bed.
The race in Nevada had its own wrinkles I had to figure out on the fly. The little over 2 miles out and back had to be done 6 times but the out part was downhill with a tail wind and the back part, yep you guessed it, was up hill in 20 MPH winds with gusts to 35. I had Cat walk her half mile during the steepest part while I also navigated the CatMobile with one hand. So basically I ran downhill and did my best to walk uphill without coming to a complete stop.
Well with these two states behind us, there is nothing left to do but drive over the river to Arizona and find a park for Gwen and Joan to walk 6.2 miles so they could add another state to their 10K list. Cat rode some in the CatMobile and we walked a bit with them. There was a Starbucks nearby so I had to get Cat her beloved Pumpkin Loaf while they finished making the rounds in the park.
We then drove to Las Vegas for an overnight prior to our flight back to Atlanta. Overall I thought the trip went well but you can be sure I had to do some Macgyvering to keep Cat safe as we stayed in a wide variety of hotels with some having very limited amenities. With only one state left to check off our half marathon list it is time for me to figure out what other goals to set for the future.
My plan now is to do one marathon a year so that I will have 70 done by the time I turn 70, 75 by 75 and all 50 states by the time I turn 76. All while getting as many 10k’s done in as many states as possible. Even though Cat and I are both Million Milers with Delta it does get harder and harder for her to make these multi hour flights with us picking up and moving on to another hotel just about every day. Back in March I set a goal for myself to run at least a mile every day. I have done so for over 8 months and now plan on doing so for the rest of my life.
I said harder but not impossible with another goal of mine for us to keep traveling as long as humanly possible even if I have to hire someone to help me. I did some math the other day and I figured I have been pretty much on the road for close to 46 years, which is 2/3rds of my life. I tried staying put when we first moved into our apartment at Brookdale Senior Living Solutions a year ago, September, but that only lasted about 3 months.
I keep asking myself why I do the things that I do. The road less traveled comes to mind. The Road Less Traveled suggests that we consider taking the alternative route – the metaphorical road that’s filled with bumps, potholes, and possibilities for getting lost. By taking these roads, instead of the easier ones, we’ll become more spiritually enlightened, and will grow in ways that we can’t imagine. I can say that is very true for me. Caring for Cat has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. There were much easier paths on this journey with her I could have taken.
I could have continued working until the usual retirement age of 65 for pilots or as the disease progressed I could have found a very nice memory care facility for her. Neither of those options seemed like viable options to me. I have always looked at Alzheimer’s disease as one that requires a team effort since the outcomes can vary widely from patient to patient. For me that meant that we both need to have a full filling life for as long as possible. If that means chasing our goals and dreams so be it. As long as we do it together.
With winter right around the corner it is now time for me to look for warm destinations about once a month till spring race season is in full bloom. If anyone is interested you can read about our first 5 plus years as Nomads in our first book, Running All Over the World, Our Race against Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Yes, I did say first book. My plan is for our second book to be published around August of 2024. There I will take readers along with us as we took the road less traveled for the second 5 years. The title being, Our Race Against Early Onset Alzheimer’s Continues, One Footstep at a Time.