DAYS 1-9: RACE ACROSS AMERICA-Louis Rodriguez


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Posted by Gail Marino on August 02, 2004 at 09:08:16:

In Reply to: RACE ACROSS AMERICA-Louis Rodriguez updates posted by Gail Marino on August 02, 2004 at 09:02:43:

Written by Agnes Oquendo, who is crewing for Louis Rodriguez, who is participating in the Race Across America; see previous posts for details. -GM

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 1 (June 12, 2004)

The start was at Huntington City Beach (CA) at 9am. The weather was cool then warmed up as the day progressed. The small crowd of runners lined up at the start banner as crew members, family & race directors watched & took pictures. The onlookers & beachgoers curious as to what the commotion was about. Most started off slow as a few went at a quicker speed on up through the city & eventually out into the hills.
The smorgasbord of runners represented are 5 Americans & 6 Internationals. Watching Lou run up the hills refreshed my memory of our last run except this time its a race. Lou dressed in his Jet Blue vest (heat training- remember) & me equipped with my breast cancer pamphlets found a few thankful women who remembered that they were over due for a mammo & checkup.
The hills that we encountered were a bit steeper than Howard Ave & the back roads up there but with a great deal of traffic passing through. These hills were after 20 miles out & I was was impressed at how Lou became stronger after them. He ran extremely well. He was the only runner not walking today but perhaps that was their strategy.. He was the 3rd runner in.
Tomorrows run is 42 miles from Rowland Heights (300 ft) to San Bernadino (1,040 ft). Till tomorrow. Thanks for your support.
Lou & Agnes

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 2

We started out at 6am today from the hotel. The traffic was light & the weather was cool until about 11am. Today was the official start of the race. Yesterdays scores did not count. A great deal of the course was sidewalk running.
Lou was dressed in his blue jetblue vest & white cap which made it a bit easier for me to spot him from a distance as I looked either up or down the hills for this bobbing q-tip. We were able to give out some literature & pink ribbons in the hotels & to some people at water stops. It seems that everyone we spoke to knows someone affected by breast cancer.
At 21 miles the sun was beating down hard but Lou was prepared with his raceready neck cover that attaches to the hat with velcro, which worked well. Lou kept a steady pace up through to the 42 miles finishing at the hotel. Lou continued on through rising temperatures & as you can see the altitudes are also climbing. I'm more worried about the desert & the mountains than he is.
The race started out with one less runner this morning, he decided not to continue. So now there are 10 runners.. Besides for a few dangerous spots the run went well. After the 1st official day of running, Lou sits in 3rd place. However, we have 69 days left.. If you like to contact us either through the forum or at elcaballo11@aol.com. We would love to hear from you.
Thanks, Lou & Agnes

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 3

The start of today's run was from motel 6 in San Bernadino. The area is extremely nice by San Bernardino University. A copy of the route is given to us the night before each run, 2 copies- one for the runner & one for the crew. Generally, Lou didn't carry a copy with him but relied on me to let him know where the turns are, but today was different. The course had so many turns, that it was 4 pages long and a smal hand drawn map detailing the area where the runner & crew would be separated for approximately 5 1/2 miles because vehicles could not make it through those areas. So Lou was forced to carry a course map today.
Well, here is where training on courses such as the Stapleton Steeplechase, Howard Ave., Snakehill & all those hilly courses on Staten Island came in handy. Picture the Steeplechase course but 3x worse than that, in extremely hot weather after 6 miles running. Before that, all the runners had to wait for the train to go by at 2.7 miles. Well 2 of the runners really tried to stay with Lou. One of them dropped back and the other tried to hang but it wasn't happening. Lou gained the distance on the hills, about a good mile or so.
Then the run headed on to Cajon Blvd. the historic Route 66. The sun was beating down hard & not a shade to be found. Then at 15 miles was the area where the vehicles could not travel. We had Lou's camelback ready for him & off he went through darkened tunnels, climbing over trails with rocks equipped with snakes, over 3 railroad tracks & different paths & trying to make sure not to get lost. Remember 2 of the runners only spoke Japanese, one did get lost & followed the wrong path. But Lou kept his lead all through the course.
Actually, the race director was putting arrows along some of the turns as Lou arrived, he couldn't keep up with Lou. All in all, Lou ran well & won todays stage. We'll find out the results in the morning. Tomorrow we will spend 40.2 miles in the desert on old Route 66 from Victorville (2714 ft.) to Barstw (2106 ft.) It is a 6am start evryday. We wake at 3:30am.
There is not many people around in the early mornings for our runs so I have been finding mailboxes for our breast cancer info & we hand them out at the hotels. Everyone we speak to has a mother, aunt or grandmother who has breast cancer or has passed away from it.
Till tomorrow. Lou & Agnes

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 4

It was a 6am start as usual. The weather was very comfortable but we knew that would change after a few hours. We started from the motel in Victorville & our destination is Barstw for a total of 40.2 miles.
The run starts out through the town until 5.6 miles when we enter National Trails Highway. The runners run against the traffic and the course is a fairly straight run passing through dirt roads & freeway underpasses, through Helendale & eventually through the city of Barstow. Lou followed the front runners out & took over the lead early. I can see that at first they thought this old man would come back to them. But I think after 20 miles they began to worry & some of them started to push on him but never was really able to stay with him. I guess that all of Lou's heat training is working, because he started out in a shirt with his jet blue vest & after 34 miles & 98 degrees the vest & the shirt came off. he left the white hat with the neck protector on & now the fun began. (Mind you, we are in the Mojave Desert.)
It was really hot out there & 6.2 miles left. So we decided that 1/2 mile water stops would be best to keep Lou going. So I would drive ahead 1/2 mile then turn the vehicle around because thats the rules when he is running against the traffic & I would give him fluids & we did this for the remainder of the run. But we did this quick, as not to waste time & Lou was moving & no one was in site anymore. Lou finished just under 19 minutes before the 2nd runner. So Lou won this stage also.
At the motel a woman asked me if I was following her because she saw us in Victorville yesterday & now in Barstow.. Hmm. Well of course she was happy to be reminded of making her mammo appointment. We left pamphlets at the motel desk & the woman at the desk knew someone also with the disease.
Tomorrows run is from Barstow (2,106ft) to Pisgah Crater Rd. on Route 66 (1,775 ft) for 37.5 miles. Till tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes

RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 5

Crewing is interesting. It is more difficult than it sounds. But this is different this time around becaues it is a race & there are rules to follow.Some of the crew here are professional crews. It is an experience but I must admit that I miss everyone. Anyway here is our story, we have an early start tomorrow, have to drive 50 miles for the start.
During our 10 minute prerace meeting, we learned that another runner dropped out. He developed terrible blisters & could no longer go on. So now there are 9 runners left. If you have been following the runs website, www.runacrossamerica2004.com, you will note that this is an international field, there are now 3 Americans, 2 Japanese, 2 French, 1 New Zealander & 1 British left to go on.
We left Barstow from the motel & at approximately 3 miles led us to the Marine Corps Logistics Base. The runners then followed the gravel road & through a tunnel under railroad tracks that basicly went around the base for about 2 miles while the crews got on the highway & exited on the next exit to meet the runners on the other side of the base. Lou started out at the back of the pack & made his way to the middle of the pack. By 8am it was evident that we were in for another hot day in the desert. We then ended up on National Trails Hwy or Route 66 for the rest of the day.
Lou was hanging steady in 3rd position but by the time we hit the Bagdad Cafe at 22 miles, Lou moved into the 1st position. We had the highway I-40 on the left of us & on the right was basicly desert. We did pass some homes where I left our breast cancer pamphlets in the mailboxes. The road itself was pretty beat up, which was difficult driving on, so running on it was a challenge in itself along with the combination of the 98 degree heat.
We continued on this straight road of desert, with a few small rolling hills, & eventually old lava craters to the right of us. It seemed as the day gained heat, Lou gained strength & after passing the 2 runners in front of him he began gaining distance between them until the finish at Pisgah Crater Road for 37.5 miles. So Lou won todays stage.
Tomorrows run is 41.1 miles from Pisgah Crater Road to Amboy. Another day in the desert. Til tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes


RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 6

Just trying to catch up.
Todays run starts from Pisgah Crater Rd. on Route 66 to Amboy, 41.1 miles with a cutoff time of 11hrs:44mins:34secs. Of course we start this run at 6am but we must leave the hotel at 5am because we have to drive to the start. It is another hot day in the desert. There is no shade to be found just hot sun beating down. The road is fairly lonely for the runners except for a few snakes on the ground dead & alive.
The wind is heavy in their faces. Lou is running well except for a nagging hamstring probably from a fall he took yesterday but he jumped right back up & went on his merry way. He jokes with me & says I tripped him, it was at a water stop. Anyway he's running in 3rd place. I'm still sopping every 1/2 mile for water stops because its so hot. There are very few cars on the road besides us but we have seen a few convoys of marine tanks. It was nice receiving waves from our troops as well as from the truckers on the road.
The run finished at Roys Cafe after passing the railroad tracks. I was glad that Lou didn't get stuck waiting for the train to pass by first. Lou finshed this stage in 3rd place but after receiving water or propel at almost every 1/2 mile & of course watermelon, chips for salt & milky way bars. Oh the town that we finished in, Amboy is for sale. There was a big for sale sign there.
At the hotel we gave out our pamphlets on early detection of breast cancer. Again, the person in the hotel had a family member with it & thanked us. People also stop us after reading the sign on the back of the trunk because it has touched someone in their lives.
Tomorrows run starts at 6am from where we stopped at Roys Cafe in Amboy (639ft) to Kelso (2,125 ft).
Till tomorrow, Lou & Agnes


RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 7

Todays run is from Amboy (639 ft) to Kelso (2,125 ft) at 6am but of course we have to leave at 5am to drive to the start. This run is 39.2 miles but it is 25 miles uphill & 14 miles downhill in the Mojave Desert. Sounds like fun doesn't it. We are told to be careful crewing because there is soft sand on the sides of the road & there is a possibility of the vehicle getting stuck in it.
Last night we iced Lou's hamstring down, a couple of ibuprophens & away he went. He was fine starting out but the hamstring was there ever so lightly so he hung back a bit. I was hoping that it would warm up & go away but it didn't. He hung tough. It was extremely hot in the desert & the only breeze we felt was hot.
We did our usual, 1/2 mile stops but I didn't like the way he looked even though he didn't complain. We went through the Mojave National Preserve. The sights were awesome. The huge rock formation was unbelievable, of course the battery in my camera died. We also had to pass through cattle grids on the roads, that must be fun for the runners.
I can see Lou slowing down quite a bit, unusual for him then I noticed some swelling in his right ankle. I guess from the compensating from the hamstring but he complained of discomfort in the hip. Well its ice, ice, ice & ibuprophen for today. Lou finshed the run in 5th place in this heat, with a few blisters on both feet. It was well over 100 degrees today. We finished up at Kelso Depot & stayed at Whiskey Petes Hotel in Primm about a 50 mile drive away. Again, we left our breast cancer pamphlets at the hotel at the front desk, in the room & we gave them to the hotel workers. They thanked us.
Tomorrows run is from Kelso (2,125 ft) to Nipton Rd. (2625 ft) for 36.65 miles.
Till tomorrow Lou & Agnes


RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 8

Although the race starts at 6am, we have to leave the hotel at 5am in order to drive to the start. Todays run starts in Kelso, California (2125 ft) to Nipton Road (2625 ft) for 36.65 miles. We start out with the early morning coolness but that doesn't last very long. They call it a desert for a reason. Heat, sun, sand, dry & hot seem to describe it well.
The thin roads with soft sand along the sides make it difficult for the crew to find areas to pull over & out of the road for water stops. although the there is not much traffic, the traffic that does go through is extremely fast. The view is lots of sand, Joshua trees, cattle grid & railroad tracks.
Lou starts out in the back of the pack & makes it to the middle for the first half of the run. We do 1/2 mile water stops because it is so hot. He is easy to spot in his jetblue vest and white hat. But I can see that in the later miles he is struggling or hurting. I find out that his hip is bothering him more than the achiles, although the achiles is still swollen.
We tried everything, ice, tiger balm, an ice spray given to us by Olivier another runner from France, stretching, walking. It was a very long hot day for us but Lou finished the stage in 8th place but still was in 3rd place overall.
We then drove to the hotel Whiskey Petes about 13 miles away. Another runner Kaz from Japan was also kind enough to give us a package of large stretch bandaids for the blisters that work very well. We have made friends with Olivier, kaz, & Taka a 21 yr old runner from Japan & their crew.
Tomorrows run is from Nipton Road to Las Vegas for 46.35 miles. Til tomorrow.
Lou & Agnes


RACE ACROSS AMERICA Day 9

Happy Fathers Day. We drive to the start today for a 46.35 run from Nipton Rd (2625 ft) to Las Vegas (2174 ft) with a cutoff time of 13hrs 14min 34secs. Besides being Fathers Day & going to Vegas, this is an interesting run. Lou is nursing his achiles tendon the best that we can under the circumstances because "rice" is the treatment for this injury (rest, ice, elevation & I can't remember at the moment what the c is for) but we cannot do the rest.
The 1st part of the run is 3.8 miles on Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed. The crews cannot drive along there so Lou is equipped with his camel backpack and route map. We sit & wait on the other side of the drylake bed. The wait seems forever then 3 runners emerge Bob, Luc & Russell. Next Lou & Olivier arrive, when I see them talking as they run out of the lakebed together, CasaBlanca flashes through my mind. Its the end of the movie when Humphrey Bogart & the Police Chief, I believe are walking together & Bogart says something like, 'louie, this is the beginning of a long friendship". Anyway the backpacks come off for a little while only to get replenished because at 11.55 miles the runners will need them to run on a gravel road that runs along side he interstate for 11.7 miles (crew vehicles are not permitted). So we wait again. When Lou comes out, off with the backpack & change sneakers because they are full of gravel. All of this unsteady ground is doing his achiles well, I am sure. Well waiting around is not that bad because it is a perfect opportunity to give out breast cancer information, this seems to be a busy location & people are very interested first in the runners then the sign on the truck & are thankful for the run & info.
Well, Lou finishes this stage in 5th place but is still overall in 3rd. He is not complaining but I can see that he is hurting. So ice, elevation & ibuprophen for what is left of the day after dinner & shopping for supplies & getting gas. Tomorrow we will run through Vegas. Tomorrows run will be Las Vegas (2174 ft) to Moapa (1704 ft) for 43.5 miles with a cutoff of 12hrs 25min 43sec. Til then.
Lou & Agnes




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