DAY #10 (6/21/04): RACE ACROSS AMERICA (Agnes filling in the past days) - Louis Rodriguez

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Posted by Gail Marino on September 10, 2004 at 08:26:41:

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

RAA DAY # 10 MONDAY 6/21/04

We start out today from Las Vegas (2174 ft) to Moapa (1704 ft) for 43.5 miles, with a cutoff of 12 hrs 25 min. I realize that everyone is very curious about this day as I have been avoiding it. Today is the day, Lou did not make cutoff. Thinking back on this day is similar, to reopening a painful wound that took a decade to close. Although almost 3 months has passed, the events of this day, flood my mind with clarity & vividness, that still brings tears to my eyes.
Yesterday was Father's Day. We arrived into Vegas tired & extremely disappointed when we checked into our motel room. The room rate was $21, I don't think I need to elaborate on the details of the room. Of all the hotels in Vegas, we were booked into this motel. Lou didn't get much rest anyway, because we had to shop for supplies after eating dinner. Needless to say, we didn't get a good nights sleep. I lied awake all night, with my eyes closed, anxiously awaiting for the next day to start.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was hot, the sky clear & we were in Vegas. Vivienne, Olivier's crew, taped up Graeme's blisters on his feet. The focus for all the runners & crews was finishing. Even after being horrified of our living quarters for the night, we managed to have a little time for ice & elevation of Lou's left achiles & right hip, but the resting part of the brew was missing. The runners made their way through the crowded streets, even at 6 am, through Vegas & the many sites. For the crews, we had to be inventive, looking for places to stop until we made it out of the city. The heat continued to rise, I believe it went as high, as 101 degrees. I was worried because the last 16 1/2 miles would be run on the interstate, I-15. I was a little worried, because I had been making 1/2 mile to 1 mile stops for Lou & this would not be possible on the freeway. But, we were concentrating on now. Lou was running fine, he wasn't complaining about his achiles, although it was still noticeably swollen. Perhaps the morning dose of ibuprophen is helping.
Graeme & his daughter Tracy, (his crew) pulls up to me during one of the stops. Graeme stopped running after 3 miles. I know that this was a very difficult decision for him to make. He had already ran a few days with these painful blisters & he had 40.5 miles left today, before he made this decision. They promised to see us at tonight's motel. We like Graeme & Tracy & felt a great void & pain seeing another runner leave. To us, we became a family. There was a bond that started out every morning until the evening for 71 days. Of course, everyone did not share this feeling as we did. I think it stems from the Sunday morning runs from Clove Lakes to Bayonne Park & back. The different teams running & training together for one common goal, the NYC marathon. But here the goal was different, it was to run across the United States, what a triumph. I was disappointed that the comeraderie, I was used to & expected to see, was not apparent.
The daily course description took some time to get used to. Today there was a hand drawn map included of the interstate for the last 16 1/2 miles. Sometimes the map started from the top to the bottom & sometimes from the bottom to the top. It was always a challenge trying to decifer which way it was headed. Today, it was bottom up. The 1st part of the interstate was on the bottom of the map for 11 miles, then the runners would get off the interstate at the next exit & then return on it again for the next 5 miles. For the 11 mile part, the crews could drive around & around if needed to give aid. This was challenging because of the amount of fast moving traffic along this interstate was extremely heavy, to pull over to the side.
Before hitting the freeway at 27. miles, it was very difficult watching Lou run. I was not used to seeing him run this way. We were desperate, trying everything that I know to relieve swelling & pain. His achilles was still swollen but the pain in his right hip was the problem. It was preventing him from being able to rotate that leg. He was trying hard to continue. He didn't complain but it was apparent that he was struggling. He was now running in last place & for me that was difficult to see. But we never discussed it. He was dragging along his right leg & the left was almost at a drag itself. I don't know how he was making it this far. Alan told me, that I had better make sure Lou was within cutoff or he would be out. I figured Lou was 10 minutes within cutoff, but he still had 20 miles left to run. When we reached the I-15, Lou put on his back pack, that I had filled with 2 bottles of water & some small snacks. I know, just what he needed, extra added on weight for his legs to carry. This part was 11 miles, I only realized that when I drove around in order to try & meet him somewhere, (they were running against the traffic). My 1st attempt to stop for him was not possible, because of the traffic. So every trip around for me was 22 miles. I was able to meet him almost half way through on one trip, he was out of water. So we filled up the back pack again & on we went. This was very difficult, because I was not able to support him properly, physically or mentally during this area. He was all alone. This was the longest 11 miles ever. When he finally emerged from this area, he still had to get off the ramp & get on the next ramp to run the next 5 miles on the freeway again & off again, all within 30 minutes to make cutoff, practically dragging both legs. He didn't make it this time. Realizing this, the tears emerged uncontrollably, I felt as though I failed him. I was trying desperately not to cry, because I knew he felt horrible, but I couldn't stop crying. I know everything that he must be feeling, as I cried, but he was trying to comfort me. Taka & his crew waited for us. When we reached the hotel, Graeme told us he was staying on as a journey runner, after taking a few days off to heal. He told us all about being a journey runner. We then asked Alan, if we could also stay on as a journey runner like Graeme. He said, sure. So we did. It probably doesn't sound so horrible, but the disappointment is so incredible, that I know, I was not able to describe it fully to the true impact, of what we felt. I know how hard I took this & just a fraction of what Lou felt, because that is all he shared with me. But Lou did finish regardless of injuries & obstacles, & in doing so, promoted awareness & education of early detection of breast cancer throughout the states we passed.

Til tomorrow. Lou & Agnes

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