People sometimes ask for my advice on running across the United States and whether or not they should do it. Other times people don’t ask me, but I give my opinion about their chances, anyway.
Now I’ve put together my Top 10 Reasons For and Against Running Across America, so you can decide for yourself.
Running Across America: PRO
1. Nice tan and no teeth whiteners. Within the first 4 days, I was dark brown — running’s better for you than a booth and less skeevy than spray-on. Bonus: as the tan gets darker, your teeth seem to get whiter.
2. Showering optional. The road doesn’t care how you smell.
3. Free souvenirs. Finders, keepers: While running across America, I scored a rubber snake in Colorado, pink teddy bear in Indiana, license plate from Marshall County in Iowa, and some other trinkets, all of which I picked up by the side of the road.
4. No gas crisis. All the gas you pass out there costs next to nothing.
5. Fashion forward. You, too, can realize your dream of wearing every knee brace, bandage, and support! The only thing you care about fashion is that it helps you go forward. To wit …
6. New shoes. I put on new ones every 100 miles or so. Altogether, I went through 32 pairs of shoes in 52.5 days.
7. Increased libido. (Maybe this should go in the “con” column — see #9 below, but …) Better than Viagra.
8. Amazing scenery. No need to take snapshots, as it passes by so slowly.
9. Close friends. Believe me, the words take on a whole new meaning, especially when 6 people share an RV.
10. Finishing. It feels like getting out of jail, flying to the moon, eating the best Mexican food you’ve ever had, and having sex all at the same time.
Bonus (from Margo). You learn what true love, devotion and marriage is all about.
Running Across America: CON
Bonus (from Margo). You put that marriage to the test every moment during planning, training, running and decompressing.
1. Traffic and trucks. Buick Century Sedans seem to morph into armored tanks, and wind from passing trucks will suck the hat right off your head. In Iowa, I almost became the creamy center of a two-vehicle sandwich.
2. Batshit farmers with firearms. A guy shot at me one night while I was running by his homestead in Ohio. Cussed at me, too, which hurt my feelings.
3. Crapping in cornfields. The stalks give you some privacy, but this gets old. Really old.
4. Canker sores from eating all the time. And then the tasty (not) remedy of Orajel and Mylanta.
6. Siren song of fast food and flophouses. The smell of french fries and the sight of a “Vacancy” sign are torture when you know stopping’s not an option.
7. High drama. When Frank Giannino (the current world record holder) was running across America with a friend, they parted company permanently, and not amicably. Deja vu, me too. Charlie Engle and I haven’t really spoken since before the end of the run in 2008.
8. Nightmares. Pushing my body to its limits meant that when I was asleep, I was tossing and turning, dreaming of being executed for some unknown crime.
9. No down time. I sat in a chair only once and read a newspaper only once (both while I was in a hospital for tests). I had few conversations that weren’t about running across America, ate nearly every meal but breakfast on the move, and (obviously) watched no TV.
10. Injury and illness. Just as Mr. T predicts for the outcome of his bout with the Italian Stallion, only one thing is for sure when you’re running across America: pain.
Is there something I left off that really ought to be on this list? [This offer has expired. Margo was our winner!] Leave me a comment, and I’m giving away a signed copy of my book, Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-setting Run Across America, to whoever comes up with the best addition. Runner-up gets a pair of socks. (Totally subjective judging: I’m picking the winners myself.) Plus I’ll put it on the list and credit you for your contribution. Bonus points for making me laugh.