We stop at Clarksburg (mile 77) where there is no chocolate milk, a situation I will encounter often this year, and head towards Parker’s Crossroad. The McD’s there is packed! It’s just John and me now. We check in, having covered 82 miles in 24 hours. We are pleased, but my foot is very sore. Walking after sitting is the worst; it takes several minutes for whatever needs to happen to happen so I can walk at something like a normal stride. Running is out of the question.
Lexington (mile 92) – arriving there shortly before noon. At the first convenience store as we enter town, the owner gives John and me a package of fruit things and I will eat a few at a time for the next day or so. After another short break at the convenience store downtown, I’m finally convinced to search for a drug store, hoping to find some second skin. It takes some mental gymnastics to convince myself to go two blocks off course, but John is a convincing voice of reason, and with his help, we find the second skin, tincture of benzoin, and some q-tips to apply it. We checked out a motel, just to escape the heat, but the place has no rooms left with two double beds, so we end up on the courthouse lawn, where John gets some quality shut-eye.
I still can’t sleep, at least not well. One of the county employees brings water out to us. He doesn’t seem to know about the race, so I try to put him at ease. He carries a gun and a radio, but I’m not sure what his actual role is. He thinks I’m a veteran he talked to earlier that day, and I assure him that’s not the case. He is eventually content that we are no harm to the community and leaves us be.
I think a lot about Marvin’s blisters of two years ago. These are not encouraging thoughts, other than the fact that Marvin persevered. Mine are nowhere near that bad, but I still have over 200 miles to go. I shudder thinking about how bad they might get…
John fixes my feet as best he can and the second skin provides some comfort. It is now mid-afternoon, and there’s really nothing we can do other than head towards Parsons. It’s a long march, neither of us feels like running in the heat, and it takes a long time even to get to Darden (mile 102), where we hope the store is still open. We arrive just minutes before they close (6pm), and find Marcia Rasmussen sitting outside in the shade of a picnic table. I buy two bottles of soda and we sit in the AC until they kick us out. They are nice folks, but they have things to do. It is here that my bowels decide to move, so I take a few minutes urgently looking for a place without poison ivy to do what needs to be done. It doesn’t take long.
Marcia, John and I march towards Parsons (mile 107). There is plenty of space along the side of the 4-lane to walk three-wide. Dark moves in as we finally reach town, encountering yet another Road Angel who gives us water or Powerade. John and I stop in at the Subway, lucky enough to get there minutes before they close. For some reason, the manager decides to turn on the tv, this time a CNN special on Whitney Houston’s tragic overdose and death. I’m not in the mood. He’s closing anyway, and it’s actually chilly in the building, so we finish, top off our water supplies, and venture across the street for a nap on the bench of a picnic table.
We rest a while and then begin the trudge to Perryville (mile 114), where I remember a pavilion with picnic tables under it that we might be able to sleep better on top of. There are a lot of bars just before Perryville (which is near the Tennessee River) and one of them is hopping with action. The others appear to have closed for the night. A car pulls up in front of the one bar and a gal shouts to us, offering us water. We decline, but appreciate the thoughtfulness, and make our way across the river to the pavilion.
It has dawned on me that the pavilion I’m thinking of doesn’t really have a roof. It has a bunch of slats that filter the sun, but those slats are far too far apart to protect us from the dew, and the air is thick with humidity! Still, we stretch out on top of the tables and I actually am able to sleep, until a truck pulls up, a young man gets out, marches noisily across the deck we are on carrying some glass bottles, speaks to me (I say “hey,” or something in response), and then he returns to the truck. A young lady is making a lot of noise, and they toot their horn as they peel out of the parking lot. I chuckle quietly before attempting to fall back asleep. (John will later say that he found my chuckle a source of comfort, that I wasn’t the least bit worried by these folks, so he didn’t have to be either.)
After a few more minutes of trying to sleep, we give up and begin our move to Linden (mile 126). We will cover the miles with only one or two brief rest stops. It hurts far too much for me to start up after a rest, but my legs get very tired, especially my calves, hamstrings and i-band. It’s a matter of picking my poison. Still, John has come up with the idea that slowing our walking pace can help us avoid having to take breaks, and keeping moving will get us there sooner. It proves to be a good plan.