Friday, January 20, 2012

Route-60-Adventures: Three

My last Route-60-adventure was on November 7, 2009. Thoughts of more adventure runs on Route 60 have stirred in my heart over the months. I have blogged before that I consider Route 60 my Forrest-Gump-road and that some day I hope to run the entire 2,670 miles of it (prior to that I intend an adventure that involves running across Missouri on Route 60).

During Route-60-adventure #2 I went out the door planning to run to Marionville, MO and back for a 30 mile run, but I got excited and ran all the way to Verona, MO (26.2 miles) before turning around to run home. The run went out of my legs around mile 35 and I ended up bailing out in Marionville and my wife came to the rescue in our old Dodge van [read more: here].

I am presently very inspired regarding my running and I have a vision of shaping my body into a lean-dangerous-running-machine throughout this year. Seeing that I had a day off for Dr King Day, I saw an opportunity for a solid long run. What a perfect opportunity for Route-60-adventure #3. I decided to keep this adventure realistic in relation to my present level of fitness. From my last route-60-adventure I knew that it was 20 miles from my house in Republic, MO to the Walmart in Aurora, MO. I believed that with a proper run-walk-mix I could do 40 miles without needing to bail out. Plus 40 miles would leave me some time to hang out with my family and address some household responsibilities.

I woke up prior to the sun rising. When I checked the forecast I was surprised to see that it was already 50 D F. I also noticed that a severe weather wind advisory was in effect for the majority of the day that included occasional gusts of 40 MPH. The forecast was not a deterrent, but I sensed that it was going to add another element to the adventure. It was difficult for me to decide what to wear for this outing. Without a crew, anything I was going to bring along was going to be with me for the entire journey. Thankfully I opted to not wear my heavier wind jacket.

I departed my house very close to 6:30 AM. It was still pretty dark when I started, so thankfully by the time I made it to the shoulder portion of Route 60 visibility was in a much safer range. I paused to take a picture of the sun rising behind the "welcome to Republic" sign. The strategy for the day was to employ a repetitive cycle of 20 minutes of running and 5 minutes of walking. During Route-60-adventure #2 I made the mistake of not mixing in any walk segments until after covering 26 miles.

About 5 miles into my adventure I was noticing that I did not appreciate the changes that MO DOT had made to this section of Route 60. A few months back they added alternative passing lanes to some portions of the road. In the process of adding the passing lanes they made the shoulder very narrow. The narrow shoulder demanded that I stay very alert to oncoming traffic and consistently be prepared to jump into ditch if necessary. I was thankful that I had worn the tech shirt from the 2011 St. Louis Marathon. The shirt is likely visible from 600 meters away. I did not intentionally choose the shirt for its visibility, it just fortuitously happened to be on the top of my laundry basket pile.

When I approached the city limit for Billings I noticed the city limit sign and looked for an opportunity to cross the road to get a photo of it. I had taken similar photos during my last route-60-adventure but I took them on the move, with a camera instead of my iPhone, and from the other side of the road. I am presently much more relaxed about my pace and focused on enjoying the journey than I was back in 2009.

I believe I experienced the challenge of the strong winds most extremely during the miles between Billings and Marionville. At times the wind would just about bring me to a standstill. As an encouragement I kept in mind that this wind was going to be my friend on the run back to my house.

Throughout my journey I used the TweetDeck app on my iPhone to share my progress and photos to my Twitter account and my Facebook account. It was great encouragement to take a look at the feedback during my walk segments.

For fueling I had brought along with me a bag full of Swedish Fish, a bag full of Homekist iced oatmeal cookies, a few Thermolyte tablets, a 20 oz Nathan bottle full of water, and some cash for impulsive fueling purchases along the way.

A few miles into the journey I decided that my turnaround location would be the Aurora town square. As I came into Aurora I decided I would stop at the first gas station on Business 60 to purchase some Mountain Dew for my bottle. I had a fun interaction with the station attendant and scored some free Mountain Dew.

About a mile down Business 60 the shoulder disappeared. Thankfully the speed limit lowered and the traffic was sparse as I continued towards the square. After looping around the square and starting for home my bottle was already empty. I ducked into a second gas station and got a water refill.

When I got back onto Route 60 I got my first taste of the wind upon my back. I very much enjoyed running with the wind. The wind was strong enough that occasionally pieces of garbage would zip past me.

Over the next few miles I noticed the temperature rising. It felt fairly warm, but thankfully it was not a draining heat. I was glad that I brought the Thermolyte tablets, when I started to feel warm I started taking about two every hour.

I ran out of water a couple of miles before making it to Marionville. In Marionville I stopped at my third gas station. I opted for Mountain Dew for 62 cents. Heading out of Marionville I was feeling strong, and I was pretty confident that I was going to be able to make it home without needing a bail out ride.

As I traversed between Marionville and Billings I started to think it would be cool if I could get in touch with Scott and invite him to finish the last few miles with me. I decided I would wait until Billings and then shoot him a text.

Coming into Billings I was once again carrying an empty bottle. Just prior to ducking into gas station #4 I heard a honk and I looked up to see Allan and Janet Cibert waving as they drove past (Allan is a local runner who I first met at the Walmart in Republic when he noticed my Des Moines Marathon shirt). At gas station #4 I opted for a water refill.

I was feeling fairly efficient between Billings and Republic and I was able to get in touch with Scott to invite him to finish the run with me. It sounded like he would try to make it out.

Just after getting into Republic I saw Scott get dropped off by Susan and was thankful to have some company for the last four miles. We ducked into gas station #5 so I could get a few more ounces of Mountain Dew. Instead of Mountain Dew the gas station offered Mellow Yellow in their soda fountain. At this point I was in that similar to intoxication mode that I often experience during very long runs. Because of this mode I was extra chatty and informed the station attendant about getting myself in trouble for stealing a can of mellow yellow when I was a kid.

After the Republic gas station I had one last walk segment and then I ran the last two miles to my house. I was very pleased that I still had run left in my legs and was able to finish the 42 miles as a runner. I believe I have learned a few lessons over the last couple of years that helped me do this (lessons about pacing, fueling, etc.)

I would classify this adventure on Route 60 as a blast. I enjoyed the time out there on the road (plenty of time for reflection). I believe this was one of those runs that will assist me in my present endeavor to shape my body into a lean-dangerous-running-machine. Thanks again to Scott for finishing this one up with me.
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