|South Route: Runner Blog – Raceland to New Orleans – 43 miles|
I’ve only just recently joined the cadre of runners that cover long distances for the walk. It’s been a really different challenge from walking and I’ve enjoyed the new experience quite a bit.
This morning we needed to cover the distance between Raceland and New Orleans so the walkers could walk through the city. A similar distance will be covered tomorrow from New Orleans to our new location in Picayune, Mississippi.
They only needed me to cover 4 miles – which is just about where I’m at as far as distance goes. My first run, about 10 days ago was 2.5 miles – and then last week I did 6 or 7; so the four miles that I committed to seemed like a totally doable amount. Plus, while the weather was still hot, it was cooler than it has been and we got to leave early enough that we weren’t in the super heat of the day (note yesterday’s blog).
Each run that I’ve done has been stronger than the last, which is encouraging…and as it turns out I was nearly able to finish out my entire run without having to stop to walk it off a little. However, today I ended up stopping 40 minutes into my run for water and a little breather (remember Airplane? – oh, nevermind) – and when I started running again, my end marker was right there. That’s okay though…it’s good to know that I’ve increased my endurance steadily even in these last three runs – I’m hopeful that I can get up to ten miles over the next 7 weeks.
Covering the majority of our run today were Kid Valance, Maggie and Ammon; who ran 18, 12, and 9 miles respectively. We were shuttled by returning support and all-around nice guy Joe Spado. While we were waiting for Maggie to finish her run, Joe and I started talking about the fact that it was Memorial Day. I asked him, as a Vet (April 1968-Feb 1970), how he took the day. Note that this discussion started because we noticed a lot of truck traffic and open businesses on a day that was supposed to be a holiday. Here’s what Joe had to say:
“It’s a holiday – well, who gets the holiday on Memorial Day? I see plenty of hustle and bustle, people going to and fro. I’ve passed by two cemeteries this morning and none had a flag flying or anything announcing that there was a service or a program going on. When a nation this big has a holiday…and it’s not even evident what it’s for…I mean maybe people are taking a moment out of their day today, some quiet time to reflect, I would hope so anyway.
You know in the Native community veterans are remembered at ceremonies all the time. Vets are recognized and mentioned. You know, those who are veterans – in war – in combat, you will have a brother or a sister who you will always remember; and then you will remember everything else that goes along with that. And I have a specific person in mind when I think about Memorial Day, you know, this was a human being. I’m glad we are finishing up (the run) early today because when we have circle tonight I’m going to honor my fallen friend and all the others who have served and who are serving – I brought my drum and I’m going to sing my song and that’ll be good.”
Thanks Joe, and for all the men and women who have served in our armed forces. We have many veterans on this walk, and I have friends back home who have served in Vietnam, Korea and now in Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter my political feelings about these things, I honor those people who have given up their lives for what they believe in…and sometimes even when they don’t.
We had picked up Ammon already, who had finished his 9 miles, and so the three of us were there to greet Maggie when she came in from doing her 12. Maggie is hysterical because she is so passionate about picking up trash that she even does it on her running stints. She showed up with some red caution tape tied around her waist that held a discarded Louisiana license plate, a bungee cord and a glove “for the trash crew, oh, and I found a baseball, but it was all ripped up so I didn’t keep it. And can you let people know that on my birthday (on Wednesday) I want everyone to pick up trash.” So noted, Maggie.
She also told me that she came across some men fishing in the bayou and stopped to talk to them, “hey…I hope you aren’t going to eat that fish, because did you know that these waters have more bacteria than any other place in Louisiana?”
“God will take care of us,” they said back to her.
“Okay, have a nice day!”
And she ran off. She later told me that she recently learned that they have been doing water testing down here for three years and have just recently got those results back. They are hoping to start educating the public about the health risks of fishing and swimming down here in the Bayou…hope it works.
We had to drive about 20 miles or so to pick up Kid who was running straight to the Superdome, that’s where the Walk will start from tomorrow morning. We were about a mile away from the parking lot when we heard, “HEY!!” And there was Kid, sitting on a stoop. He told us he didn’t think we’d be able to find him in all that mess, so he just came up to meet us at the offramp.
How was you’re run, Kid?
“Sweltering hot. But I did have some excitement trying to cross that bridge.”
That would be the Huey P. Long Bridge crossing into New Orleans, a nearly two mile stretch of road – and, as we discovered when the three of us were driving across it to pick Kid up – that it pedestrians were not allowed on it. “Jeez, I hope he didn’t get arrested trying to cross this thing,” Joe said.
Apparently, while he was approaching the walkway onto the bridge, Kid heard that distinct, “whoop, whoop,” of police sirens. “Well, I took another step,” Kid said, “and there it was again, so I turned around and saw two state troopers sitting there and they were definitely looking at me.”
I can’t go into the entire discussion that was had between Kid and these two officers, because I just can’t do it justice here. Let’s just say that he was not allowed to cross it on foot and that the one key phrase I remember him being told was, “If you’re gonna cross that bridge, you better give me your I.D. now boy, ‘cause you gonna be dead.” I don’t think they meant to infer that he would be shot or anything…I hope…I think they were proposing that traffic was so crazy and the lanes so narrow that he would likely not survive the cars whizzing past. I’m sure that’s what they meant.
Anyway he said the officers told him that a bus went across the bridge and that if he was determined to cross it, that would be the way to go.
As it turns out, the bus was just rounding the corner and Kid sprinted over to it (‘cause, you know, he’s a runner) and he had enough change on him for the fare. Kid asked the bus driver why these busses were running on a holiday?
“Well now see this particular bus run on this particular holiday,” he said.
When Kid had him drop him just on the other side of the bridge, the driver asked him where he was going.
”What?! Now, you know that’s nearly twelve miles out from here?”
Kid said, “The guy thought I was nuts when I told him that we were doing this thing on foot. I’ll tell you though, he was the perfect anecdote for the previous experience with the law.”
Thanks Kid…so glad you had a safe run without any jail or hospital time. What a trooper.
And that’s how that all went today.