Why Do We Do the Things That We Do?

“Because we can”  Catherine Elizabeth Popp

That is always Catherine’s answer to when I start questioning myself about some of my hair brain schemes.  I will put a plan together for a week or a month at a time.  Review it with her and then ask myself out loud.  “Why do we do the things we do”?

Speaking more broadly. Why does anyone do the things they do?  In this respect I am talking about what I commonly refer to as, serial racing.  Many reading this know exactly what I am talking about.  But for those few others I will try my best to explain. 

If this does not describe yourself, I am sure you know someone that always seems to be off to somewhere to do a race.  Catherine and I had a rather funny discussion about the term, “racing,” the other day.  She wanted to know when we “race” we are not out there trying to beat someone else as the term implies.  I explained to her that even though she is faster than me we are a team.  I help her stay on course and she helps me by dragging me along the way.  She has the heart and I have the brains, as it were.  We both got a good chuckle out of that.

Goal setter

I am very goal oriented and I in turn I set goals to keep her going.  I know it must be extremely tough to keep going with the terrible hand she was dealt with, Early Onset Alzheimer’s.  With a race on the horizon I hope it gives her something to grasp a hold of that is very good for her.  The actual race increases endorphins, helps to wash away the ambloids, tangles and wears her out to aid in sleep.

Some might also wonder why we are nomads but that answer can be found in our upcoming book, Running All Over The World, Our Race Against Early Onset Alzheimer’s.  It will not be much longer before you will be able to find it everywhere.  Both hard cover with personalized autograph, paperback and all the E Book formats.  Who knows with any luck I might even have it produced in an Audio format.  Let’s not get ahead of myself.

Guymon Half Marathon

The Guymon, Oklahoma race was a prime example of me asking myself, why do we do the things that we do?  Catherine often jokes about a line in our song by the Dave Matthews Band, called You and Me.  The particular line is “we will take a boat to the end of the world.”  We both think we have done such, when we reflect on destinations like Antartica and Madagascar.  In this case we were in the middle of nowhere in Guymon, Oklahoma.

Mainly Marathons held the race at the only park in the city, Thompson Park and we ran around the lake there, Sunset Lake.  The course was set up so that you were to run almost all the way around the lake and then reverse course back to the start.  For us, since we were doing the half that meant 7 times out and back. 

The lake was the home of thousands of ducks and geese in all shapes, sizes and colors.  The continual honking I thought would have gotten on my nerves.  In actuality it was rather soothing.  I gave up early on trying to avoid their poop on the concrete path.

The path was only about 6 feet wide so the 70 of us were back and forth and back and forth with people coming and going.  It was not as hectic as the race we ran in Texas the first of January but pretty darn close.  You can read about that race Here.

Mainly Marathons

The premise behind Mainly Marathons is to bring together like minded, serial racers, together to knock off 5 to 7 states in a row over the course of the week.  This particular series was call the Dust Bowl series.  We only needed Oklahoma for our quest to get a half marathon in all 50 states.  We had also planned on New Mexico but that was cancelled due to continual Covid concerns in that state.

One gentleman, Greg, that we had met last year back in Rhode Island when Catherine finished up getting her 50th state as a full marathon was there.  He got a trophy for completing 100 marathons just with Mainly Marathons.  He has over 300 total.  Some were out and out racing either against others or against previous times. Most were out there to race themselves into their own history books.  One lady was wearing a T-shirt that proudly stated that she had done 500 half marathons.

Greg is in the middle

1600 Marathons

I did not know it at the time but one gentleman that mostly walked but would occasionally break into a slow jog was one short of 1600 marathons.  He did get the 1600th one done in Ulysses, Kansas the next day.  Henry is in his early 70’s and as we went by each other over and over.  He always had a big grin surrounded by his long grey beard and mustache and would cheer us on.

I tried my best to wrap my head around the mere fact that at an average pace of 8 hours per race he has spent a great deal of his adult life on his feet all while moving forward.  Even if he started doing marathons 40 years ago that would require 40 marathons a year.  That can be easily done since Mainly Marathons puts on over 80 races a year.

Baby steps

In May I am looking at us doing 3 half marathons in a week with us doing one every other day with Mainly Marathons so we can get the states of Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri done.  I don’t think we are ready to do a complete race circuit with them in a week but you never know.  Baby steps for now.

There was literally nothing else to do in Guymon so as many of the folks there do we went to the local Walmart Super Center.  I try to avoid Wally World, as I call them, in our travels and got to see up close and personal how they come into these little towns and become the only place to shop.  They had it all and then some.  We ended up getting everything we needed for our meals for the 3 days there.

Where the wind blows

I like to recycle while on the road and the hotel did not have a bin for recyclables so I looked around town and also found none.  I did noticed that there were no trash cans but just these big tan containers for garbage scattered all over town.  That made perfectly good since on race day the wind was 30-35 miles per hours.  Garbage cans would not stand a chance in this town.  That would also explain why there are no two story homes.

On the 4 hour, mostly straight, drive back to Oklahoma City I did have to dodge the multitude of tumbleweeds that were trying to cross the major road out of town.  I had to come to a complete stop on this 75 mile and hour two lane road when two tumbleweeds joined up.  When they got to the middle of the road they kept going back and forth until the wind won out and they went on their way across the road like all others.

Guymon was a place I will most definitely not return to but at the same time glad we got to experience.  I had to wonder what people do for fun and entertainment there.  We could tell that Wally World was probably their biggest employer.  I was just glad this small town was willing to let 70 of us, serial racers, come to town and try to figure out why we do the things we do.

Zydeco Half Marathon

The Zydeco Marathon and half marathon was next up with a great race in Lafayette Louisiana.  This was our first race that was held on the streets in a major city since October of 2020.  It was nice to run on closed streets and not having to loops on paths or on the side of the road with cars racing by.

The flat course was laid out around town, through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and some really nice neighborhoods.  Some folks were sitting in the yards and cheering us on.  They tried their best to do a covid compliant start of the race.  They had spots painted on the street where we were suppose to line up six feet apart but as soon as the race was started everyone bunched up like it was really going to make a difference.

Catherine, Lisa and I lined up in the back and we were the last to crosse the start line about 10 minutes behind 500 of us that laced up for this race.  Lisa, ran the marathon and was the only one in her age group and there were only about 50 who ran that distance.  I am still trying to figure out why she is on her fifth time around all 50 states.

Lisa likes to dress us up

Two weekends off

Time now for two weekends off to visit with family and then we will be back at it with 3 races.  That will be 3 weekends in a row starting with Carmel, In, Charlottesville, Va and Newton Iowa.  The plan is for us to meet up with some of our new best friends and family while there for the particular races.  That will take us up to 30 states. I am now projecting us to have the 50 states plus DC all done by the end of spring next year.

Maybe my next goal will be for me to go back and get my last 8 states done as marathons.  That will take me to 76 marathons.  I will be ahead of the game for 70 marathons by 70 in 4 years and have be all set for 75 marathons by 75.  One of the many great things about Mainly Marathons is that they leave no runner behind policy.  So as I continue to get older and slower I won’t have to worry about them pulling up the mats like I did in Istanbul, Turkey.

I will continue to ask and try to answer why we do the things we do.  I probably will just have to go with Catherine’s always says, “because we can.”

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