by Brian D. Meeks
Chapter 37 Day 37
The room at the Comfort Inn was chilled to temperature generally reserved for meat lockers. Steve slept like the dead.
Most mornings he can get rolling at the pace that suits his body. This means multiple hits on the old snooze button, his best friend. Today, he had an appointment to do a live interview with the Chicago station that had put him on the air pre-run.
At 7:30 a.m, we began to get read, first step, download the Skype app for iPad II. This foiled us for a few minutes, but eventually we got it up and running. Steve Skyped the station, they did a quick sound check, and then a few minutes later he was answering questions. His sister caught the program and said he did well.
The routine after that was pretty standard. Find clean gear to run in, a challenge as today is laundry day, but he succeeded. After that, we checked in on Jarred and Paco, who had gotten a fair mornings sleep, after watching the sunrise from a bridge while signing Frank Sinatra tunes. They would head up to the room for some showers and then Paco would hop astride his bike and continue pedaling fifty miles north, where he could catch the ferry to Milwaukee.
Steve and I went in search of muffins. It is a widely held belief that where there are convenience stores, there are muffins, but this proved to be more rumor than fact. After three stops we had all but given up.
South Haven seemed like the sort of town that would have a muffin shop, maybe a Sue’s House of Muffins, or possibly a Muffin Ventured Muffin Gained, or my personal favorite, Much Ado About Muffin. No sooner had we started the muffin shop naming game than we saw The Golden Brown Bakery. There were people outside, sitting at tables, enjoying various confectionaries, and we found out, a line inside.
As we walked back towards the truck, Steve commented, “I can’t wait until the day when food tastes good in the morning, again.” Apparently, each day, solid food has been nearly uneatable and it isn’t until he is done running for the night that his brain is willing to let him enjoy food. Still, he took a giant bite of the muffin. I had a chocolate, chocolate chip muffin, and my mind noted that it was delicious.
The road out of South Haven seemed reasonable and after Steve got out of the truck, I drove ahead three miles to wait. I had drinks and more importantly, moral support waiting. Jarred would take over eventually, but for now, I was the support vehicle. By 10:22, fully protected by spf 30 Sun screen, and standing by the side of the road writing, I was getting warm. It was going to be humid and sticky, with a possible chance of sneezy. The pollen count seemed rather high
The worst part about running out of South Haven was the sense that one was leaving behind a day that would be filled with summer revelry. It is definitely the sort of place that draws tourists, as the buildings are brightly painted, the shops are interesting, and one can smell ‘family vacation fun time’ on the air. A trip to this delightful little lake town, with children in tow, would certainly be the sort of thing remembered for a lifetime.
It wasn’t the first such town that seemed warm and welcoming, nor likely the last, but Steve isn’t a tourist, he is a runner, and the day has just begun.
At 10:33 the temperature was 80 degrees with a heat index of 99, but it is expected to climb to 88 with a heat index of 102.
Waiting at the three mile mark, Steve waved me forward with only one comment, “It’s a hot one.” I drove forward to mile four and waited.
When he appeared around the bend in the road, he was a puddle of running. It took only a couple of minutes to change shirts and get another bottle of drink and he was off again. The plan was to wait ten minutes then drive a mile and catch up with him. The boost Steve gets when he sees the support vehicle helps keep the legs moving.
One rule of the road is that Steve doesn’t want to know how many miles he has run. The A2 is a two lane highway that will carry Steve into St. Joseph, Michigan, population a shade over eight thousand. When he arrives he will be within only a few miles of finishing the day’s run.
The downtown area, a few blocks off the lake is well stocked with interesting boutiques, restaurants, a barber shop, and lots of free three hour parking. People along the street walk with barely a purpose, save only to enjoy and make memories. Nobody is in a rush to overdo. When hungry they eat, when not, they shop or go to the beach, when hot, ice cream is never far away. It will be a good day for ice cream.
Talking with people about the run brought different reactions. Some were amazed, quite a few others, after mentioning that he was “running” around Lake Michigan, would scrunch up their faces and say, “biking?” A more detailed explanation, and twice, the use of running in place, got them over the conceptual hurdle. One thing was universal, they were all impressed and wished him well.
One lady, Evelyn, who was from Benton Harbor, sat at a picnic table reading the Bible. The overlook was breath taking. It hovers over the lake shore, with a heart stoping drop. In the mid-fifties, there were houses along this stretch, but they eventually lost out to the lake and plunged into the water below. We talked about Steve and his run. She seemed very interested in all that he was doing. We talked for a while and she looked up and said, “That is interesting and look what I’ve just read.” It was a passage endurance in life.
A police officer, keeping an eye on beach goers, stood in his dark blue uniform, in the shade of a tree. Obviously, a smart man, he, too, was wearing a yellow Live Strong, bracelet. Running was discussed, as was the lake, and he wished Steve well.
He needed it. The dominating heat combined with asphalt to make for a difficult twenty six miles, but this isn’t his first rodeo, in fact, it was his thirty-seventh. Experience helped, but with three miles to go, his body was done, his mind had all but given up, and all that remained was an deep will, nay need, to keep going.
Steve rounded the corner, near a marina, and up ahead was the RV. His face expressionless when he got within ear shot of Jarred, “Are we done?”
“Almost, you just need to head up to the end of the parking lot at the end of that path.”
Up ahead, maybe 30 yards, was a tiny road that led to the beach. His feet kept going, arms swinging his running poles out in front of him, his head hung, looking at the ground passing below him. The small road went up a hill. One would never think of the incline as imposing, unless they were watching a friend, near collapse, climbing it.
He made it to the top and then it was downhill, maybe another hundred yards to the spot Jarred had determined would complete his miles for the day. Steve made it, but sadly, still had to walk back to the vehicle. There wasn’t any choice and he didn’t bother stopping, but just kept on until he could get into the RV.
Only three days remain, but they would all be hot.
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