Peregrinate, to Travel or Journey, Especially to Walk on Foot.
We like this word, describing our lifestyle much better than homeless or nomads. I just have to learn how to properly pronounce it.
Here is a sneak peak of Chapter 30 of our book, Running All Over the World, Our Race Against Early Onset Alzheimer’s on track to be published on or before May 1, 2021
In Pursuit of Seven Continents and Fifty States
“The idea was to die young as late as possible.” —Ashley Montagu
I’ve set goals for myself all my life, and as we ran around the world, Catherine and I agreed that we would aim to run a marathon or half-marathon on every continent and in all fifty states. We were headed to New Zealand to get the last continent in November. As for states, Catherine only had five left, and I was seven behind her. Whereas she insisted that her races must be marathons, I had conceded to the last twelve being a combination of full and half-marathons. I would run the full marathons with Catherine and do the rest as half-marathons.
After a few days to recover from our thirty-day escapade in Vietnam, Cambodia, Dubai, Paris, and Jordan, we are on our way to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, where I would get my next state with a half-marathon and be one step (pun intended) closer to my goal of all fifty states. After that one, we were headed to Bismarck, North Dakota, for another half-marathon.
We had two great days walking around Detroit Lakes prior to the Dick Beardsley Marathon and Half Marathon. All was perfect for a great race on Saturday. Sometimes, however, things don’t always go as planned. The course was once around the huge Detroit Lake for half-marathoners and twice for marathoners.
At mile 5, I was two minutes ahead of plan, and, while my right foot was in the air, it felt like my right knee- joint separated. When the foot came back down, it was as if I had just gotten shot in the knee. At this point, stopping wasn’t an option, so I shifted to speed walking and finished the race.
Afterwards, I tended to myself with RICE, (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), but our plan to complete a race in North Dakota a week later wasn’t so certain. Ironically, before Detroit Lakes, Catherine had an epiphany where she decided to finish her fifty states by doing the rest as half-marathons. She said she was worried about my health—and now we had solidified that decision by me screwing up my knee. I only hoped I could even get a half-marathon done now. On a positive note, I realized that since we had both done a half-marathon in Colorado, we were one step closer to getting all fifty states done.
The four-hour drive back to Bismarck was boring as hell. We went straight eastbound on ninety-four and all there was to see was farmland and bales of hay. My knee was taking forever to recover, and with only two days before the race, it was fifty-fifty that I would even be able to walk the course. I did buy some trek poles to help out.
As I got older, I had to adjust to not being able to do things I used to be able to do. When I went to pick up my number for the Bismarck Half Marathon the day before the race, my right knee was 80/20. It felt okay as long as I iced it down every thirty minutes and kept Tylenol in my system every five hours. There was some question in my mind if I would do more damage if I did the race, but I was not really looking forward to having to come back here next year to try again. No time like the present, and I would have two weeks to recover before our next race.
On race day, I got up an hour before the alarm went off and put some more ice on my sore knee. I used some KT tape on it and then put a Copper Fit compression sleeve over my work of art. With my Trek Poles in hand, I headed out the door to arrive at the start in time to ice the knee down one last time.
When I was a pilot, I used to say that you must continuously update your decision to land the aircraft right up to the time the main gear touches down. The same was true here. I kept updating whether I was going to do this race right up to the moment the horn went off.
My knee still was hurting a bit, but actually felt better the longer the race went on. To keep my mind off my knee the last few miles, I concentrated on folks ahead of me as I passed them one by one. As I went by, I would pick someone off to distance to see if I could catch them. I actually got faster as time went on and I learned the different ways to use the trek poles.
I came up with three different ways. For speed, I would use the left pole to strike the ground as my right foot hit the ground, which was how it was suggested to be used in a video I found on the web. That was a real upper- body workout, and I couldn’t keep that up for very long. When the knee would start to bother me, I would then switch up to both poles hitting the ground with each right foot strike. That was also good when I was going up or down an incline or uneven terrain. When I was feeling good, I would use both poles after a few foot strikes and would alternate to help either left or right foot. It was a great race and the scenery was outstanding, with the route going through many parks, trails, and nice neighborhoods.
Forty-one states plus DC down, and nine to go. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my right knee, but rather than dwelling on the why I would just concentrate on taking care of it between now and the next race.
During our downtime in Kissimmee, Florida, we were able to get some great walks in, since that was all I was able to do. I wasn’t sure if I would ever have the guts to run again. It worried me that my right knee was doing fine one second and just gave out the next. But I found that I could race walk only about one minute slower per mile than I could run, so maybe running wasn’t worth the risk. Even with my knee coming along just fine, I had a minor setback with my right wrist. I was a bit aggressive with the trek pole usage, and that tweaked my wrist a bit. Nothing major, just bothersome. It sucks getting old, but beats the alternative every time.
The weather was perfect when we arrived in the Plymouth/Bristol New Hampshire area and got on some nice walks around the area. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on race day when cold, light rain was with us the whole 13.1 miles. The course took us halfway around Newfound Lake and the rolling hills were nice, but I wasn’t a big fan of running against traffic the entire way on the shoulder of the road. Most folks, but not all, pulled over to give us some room, but it was somewhat unnerving. Of course, the sun came back out the day after the race, when we were on our way to Rhode Island.
The Amica Newport Marathon and Half Marathon hit it out of the park. The course was gorgeous, and the race was extremely well-organized. The parking lot was only about two miles from our Residence Inn, and the race start was only about a mile from the parking lot. There were plenty of buses to the start, and we got there in time to witness another spectacular sunrise.
My knee felt great, but I decided I was going to race walk this one. Two miles into the race it felt so good I thought I would give running a try, but my knee wasn’t having any of that. With race walking now the firm plan, I had my sights on trying to beat my PR, (personal record), time of 2:44 for race walking a half-marathon. That was a stretch goal since the race where I set my PR was all downhill and this one had numerous rolling hills. A more realistic goal was a 13:00 minute pace that would have me finish around 2:50.
With those two times in mind, I set off to keep up with the 2:45 pacer group. I moved far ahead of them at mile two, and since I wasn’t wearing a watch, I didn’t much think more about it. My plan was just to spot someone ahead of me and see if I could catch them.
At mile 5, the 2:45 pacer group went by me like I was standing still and steadily moved out of sight. I had started my timer on my phone, so I looked at that and figured I was on a 2:45 pace, so I just kept going.
The course took us along the ocean and past some huge mansions that occupied my time for the next four miles. This was where it really got fun. By now those who started out running or even run/walking were breaking down, so one by one I would catch and pass them. I could see most of them saying to themselves, “Hell no, I’m not letting this guy walk by me,” so they would start running or pick up the pace to pass me. Experience had shown that was going to be short-lived.
As I went by each for the final time, I would say to myself, “May I have some of your energy, since you don’t look like you’ll be needing it anymore.” At mile 12, I checked my phone one last time and it looked like 2:45 was within reach. Lo and behold, the 2:45 pacer was standing about a quarter-mile ahead, since she had figured out she
was well ahead of her designated pace. I had to laugh as I crossed the finish right behind her.
Catherine, on the other hand, had to run to keep up with me, even if it was a slow pace for her. We usually took walk breaks every half-mile but instead, she just kept running. She did walk up some of the hills and would simply catch up on the downhill. Near the end, she would run past me, walk till I caught up, and then run ahead.
We did, however, cross the finish line hand in hand as always, with me walking and her running beside me.
Changing the subject for a bit, a running buddy of ours, Kayna, suggested a word that fits us to a tee. The word was “peregrinate,” which means “travel or wander around from place to place.” People who peregrinate are constantly on the move, traveling from one location to another. Instead of telling people were homeless or nomads,
I liked to think of us as peregrinates. Now I just needed to learn how to pronounce it properly. As we headed to Florida for destination number 283, we were averaging a little more than 3.6 days per stop. My goal was to get that number up to about four to five days to cut down on our expenses, since the airfare was our biggest expense, and I really don’t like driving that much. It still didn’t make sense for us to get an apartment in Atlanta. We did go through there a lot, but didn’t stay there long enough to justify the extra expense.
I continued to give my knees a rest and concentrate on improving my race- walking form, but I was going through running withdrawals. I remembered having the same feeling after my open- heart surgery and couldn’t wait to get back to running. As I would see other people running by, I just wanted to trip them.
On to Portland, Oregon, for the Columbia Gorge half-marathon, Iit rained the entire day before the race, and on race day, the skies opened up and we saw a dramatic rainbow in the distance.
One of the things I love about our travels was that a month and sometimes a week didn’t go by without witnessing something I hadn’t experienced before. This time around it was the wave start for people who were running with dogs. The race was mostly in a park with grass on both sides of the paved trail, so it was perfect for the fifty or so four-legged friends.
The walkers, which included me, were in the last wave after the dogs, so it worked out well for Catherine. After a few miles, we were able to catch most of the group of dogs, so Catherine would run ahead and pat some of them, and I would eventually catch up to her. This went on the entire race. She was in doggie heaven.
The fall colors were in full bloom, and even though the area had experienced a terrible fire a few months prior, you really couldn’t tell during the run portion. It was more evident during the drive from Portland. This concluded our pursuit of all fifty states for the year. I had the six that I needed and, more importantly, the two remaining for Catherine mapped out for next year.
It was now time for us to transition to some follow-up exams dealing with my surgery six months ago for my gut aneurysm, so off we went to Seattle. After a quick CT scan and doctor visit, I got a partial clean bill of health. The aneurysm repair looked good, with the stent in a good position, but I had a tiny blood leak caused by incomplete sealing of the aneurysm sac, which I was told was typical for someone on blood thinners. I was due back in six months.
For the moment, I was glad that no one said I needed another operation in the near future. I planned on being around for another thirty or so years like my parents did, so I tried to put everything into perspective. It helped that we were relaxing before the final half-marathon for the year with a great week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I was really ready to get back to running again. I missed the feeling of being completely airborne as you are when you run, no matter how slow it might be. It must have been the pilot in me.
We were going to New Zealand for two weeks so both of us could reach the goal of running at least a half-marathon on all seven continents. I wasn’t looking forward to the trip there and back. Since we were already on the West Coast, the flight to Auckland consisted of a fifteen-hour flight to Sydney, a two-hour layover, then another three-hour flight into Auckland.
With our Diamond Medallion status with Delta, we each got four global upgrades a year. This doesn’t mean that we will actually get an upgrade on each flight we designate them for, but it does give us an advantage over those who are only trying to upgrade with their current status. For the flight to Auckland, we used Catherine’s last global upgrade, and since I had already qualified for Diamond status for next year, I was able to apply for my next year’s award for this flight. Unfortunately, when I checked in, someone else had gotten the two upgrade seats we
were hoping for. I hadn’t seen that happen very often. I guess they paid more for their original seat than we did, or else had million-mile status.
The flight wasn’t that bad, and with our first hotel, the Sebel Quay West, being two blocks from the Harbor, we couldn’t wait to get out and do our usual walking tour of the area. A few first impressions: Based on the sheer number of boats of all kinds, I called Auckland “The Boating Capital of the World.” I was also surprised by the multitude of Asians living in and touring New Zealand. Last but not least, the amount of construction taking place was mind-blowing. They said there were more than seventy cranes operating on various construction sites.
After five nights, we moved a few blocks to the Rydges Hotel, which was right next to the sky tower that people jump off of all day long. At the Rydges, we met up with the other clients of Marathon Tours. On the second day with the group, we enjoyed a trip over the Harbor Bridge and visited the famous Auckland landmark of Mount Eden, a dormant volcano whose summit offers excellent panoramic views of the city and harbors. From that extreme vantage point, we saw evidence of Auckland’s volcanic history, the most significant being the youngest volcano of Rangitoto Island at the entrance to the Waitemata harbor. The sightseeing tour also took us to the Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, which was situated on a sixty-two-thousand-year-old volcano. In addition to the natural features, the city’s sights tour also took in the trendy shopping area of Parnell Village with its historical buildings that have been transformed into boutiques, antique, craft and specialty shops.
The next day we caught the Fullers Harbor ferry to nearby Waiheke Island in Auckland Harbor. There we met a very knowledgeable tour guide who drove us around the island for both an olive oil and wine-tasting tour. The views from the Batch winery were phenomenal and an unexpected nature hike featuring llamas and sheep was an added treat.
We could hear thunder in the distance, but the light rain could barely make it through the thick canopy. By the time we made it back to the boat, the skies opened up for the only time during our two-week trip. The locals said that the lack of rain was unusual for this time of year, but we really enjoyed the blue skies.
We enjoyed a leisurely start to the next day with a two-hour flight to Queenstown, where the race was held. Catherine and I stayed at the Heritage Hotel on top of a hill, so we had a lakeside view from our room, which included a kitchen and washer/dryer combo unit. Lake Wakatipu was gorgeous and was one of the deepest (averaging 300 meters) and coldest (averaging 54oF) lakes in the world.
I joked that Queenstown was like Disney World on steroids. Open up your wallet and let them take what they want. We went overboard with the budget, but you only live once. I did notice that their credit card machines were the fastest in the world. I guess they don’t want to give you enough time to change your mind.
That being said the prices for food and drinks seemed reasonable and the people were super friendly—they’ll talk your ear off if you let them. Another surprise was the sheer volume of young adults backpacking their way around the island. I guess most are doing their traditional gap year or just trust-funding their adventures. To each their own, but I did find it a bit odd.
A must-do in Queenstown was taking the gondola to the top of the mountain for the views and plenty of other excitement. Many in our group went bungee jumping. I decided that the time I did that in my forties was enough for me. I came here to run the half-marathon to achieve my goal of running on all seven continents, so a broken back or neck would have thrown a wrench in the plan. It was a hoot to watch, though.
Another must-do was the TSS Earnslaw, the only commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired, twin-screw steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. Clocking in at more than one hundred years old, the Earnslaw still works fourteen-hour days during the summer. They call it the Lady of the Lake, and for eleven months a year, it makes its way from Center City to Walter Peak several times a day.
Back in the late 1800s, the Mackenzie family took over Walter Peak, and now provide a variety of activities: horseback riding, sheep-shearing, and round-up demonstration by two breeds of dogs. They also offered tea and crumpets and an area where you can feed some of the local animals.
By now it was time for some thrill-seeking, so we went out on the speedboats that are famous for their ability to do 360-degree spins at top speeds. The tour of the lake lasted an hour and it was hair-raising, to say the least. Catherine loved it so much she was too excited to be seasick.
Back in town, I was keeping my eye on the lines at the Fergburger, which was famous for its many tantalizing varieties of hamburgers. It was so popular that it often had hour-long lines from first thing in the morning to the wee hours of the next day. I was sure there was a veggie burger with my name on it, and I had a plan. I figured that right after the race the line might not be that long—but I would have to wait.
All the food we had was outstanding, and the different varieties of beer kept my whistle wet. They also had a great winery right in town where you could pour a half or a full glass of whatever taste you fancied. Toss in some cheese and crackers in some great comfy chairs, and we were in heaven.
With all the wining and dining behind us, it was time to get busy and complete the Queenstown Half- Marathon. The expo had limited supplies of apparel to buy, and this was only the second race we had run where you had to buy a race T-shirt. We also had to buy a sticker for the bus to the start.
The course itself was on well-groomed trails with both rolling and undulating hills. I had to stop to take the rocks out of my shoes about halfway and some of the downhills on the rocky surface kept it interesting. The views of the mountains and the lake kept my mind occupied, so overall it was a great race.
My right knee wasn’t fond of me running this race but I couldn’t bring myself to simply walk this one. I did take walk breaks when my knee would scream bloody murder for me to simply stop. I just kept thinking about all the folks I had seen in wheelchairs, with prosthetic legs, or on crutches during races, and kept reminding myself that if they could do it, so could I. Once again, we crossed the finish line hand- in- hand, and another goal of ours was completed.
Back to my plan for Fergburger. We had to walk right by the place on our way back to the hotel, and there were only a few people in line by the time we got there. I got an amazing veggie burger called Holier Than Thou. It was made with tofu, and I devoured it on our leisurely lakeside walk back to the hotel.
That evening, Marathon Tours had a small celebration for the seven of us who had completed all seven continents. Catherine and I were the only couple.
Sporting both or our medals for the race and the seven continents
The next day’s adventure took me back forty years to when I first became a pilot. There were two options to go tour the famous Milford Sound. One was to get there and back by bus, which took about twelve hours including the ninety-minute tour of the fords. The other option, which we took, was by small plane. We flew on the same type of aircraft, Piper Lance, that I first flew for Wheeler Airlines back when I carried canceled checks, in the middle of the night, in and around the Carolinas and Virginia. The thirty-minute flight each way gave us a bird’s eye view of the glaciers and mountain peaks. Often we flew between the peaks. I must admit that the five of us on board were pretty quiet during the trip. The pilot did a great job pointing out the incredible landmarks.
About eighty thousand years ago, the last big freeze (known as the Otiran Glaciation) began. It kept the southern mountains icebound until about ten thousand to thirteen thousand years ago. Ice descended the mountains and down the valleys, forming rivers of ice up to two thousand meters thick. Icebergs calved from floating ice cliffs where they met the surging sea. After the glaciers receded, leaving behind sheer cliffs, hanging valleys, and spectacular waterfalls, the ocean flooded the Milford Valley, forming a fjord that has been misnamed Milford Sound. The original name was Milford Haven, after Captain Cook’s birthplace in Wales.
The captain of the Jucy ship took us up close and personal with Stirling Falls, a beautiful waterfall was named after Captain Stirling who brought the HMS Cleo into Milford Sound during the 1870s. With a 146 -meter drop, it was the second-largest permanent waterfall in the fjord and was fed by glaciers situated in the mountains behind.
The Captain’s seafood restaurant had won awards for its lamb and New Zealand was famous for lamb dishes, so I went off the rails and temporarily ditched my pescovegetarian diet to enjoy a rack of lamb. It was very tasty, but surprisingly enough, I enjoyed the apple walnut salad much more.
Instead of going straight back to the States after the race, we spent two more days in Auckland. On the first day, we went for another long walk around the city. It was easy to get around on foot by just keeping the Sky Tower in sight. On the second and final day, we caught a harbor ferry to another island called Rangitoto. Sitting majestically just off the coast of Auckland, this 5.5-kilometer-wide volcanic island was an iconic landmark on the city’s skyline, with its distinctive symmetrical cone rising 850 feet high over the Hauraki Gulf. The climb to the top through the volcanic remnants along the summit track was a bit harder than I had expected, but well worth it for the views of the city.
Rangitoto erupted from the sea between 550 and 600 years ago in two dramatic explosions ten to fifty years apart. Both are thought to have lasted for several years. This makes it the youngest island in the Hauraki Gulf, and the last and largest volcano to have erupted in the Auckland volcanic field.
This trip taught me a couple of things about myself. First and foremost was that one of the reasons I travel was because I don’t like to do the same thing more than once. Using New Zealand as an example, even though I’d like to return I realized that I probably won’t. It just wouldn’t be as good as the first time.
The other realization was that we were ready to move on to someplace new when we run out of new places to eat, drink, and—most importantly—someplace new to run or walk. Queenstown was a bit of an anomaly, with plenty more great restaurants to try out and trails going every which way. The flights there and back were a bit much, but doable.
When we got back to our hotel in Atlanta, a throw pillow waiting for us said, “Travel: the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer.”