READY FOR THE “HOT PURSUIT GLOW RUN 1 MILE” IN GADSDEN, ALABAMA

BRAYLEE (AKA “RAINBOW”) IN THE LAST HALF OF THE RACE.

KICKING IN TO THE FINISH LEAVING MOM BEHIND…that’s me in the orange shirt…way behind.

THE MEDAL.

MOM AND DAUGHTER AFTER THE RACE.

FACE PAINTED AFTER THE RACE

 

DITTO.

RAINBOW ‘N ME AFTER THE RACE.

Braylee Raine Bryan

Posted: March 19, 2014 by smrtnsasy in Uncategorized

Braylee Raine Bryan

My newest granddaughter

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            I have run through Georgia’s Whitfield County two times.  The first time was following U.S. 41 highway through the county in my third run across Georgia, this one via U.S. 41 through the state, north to south, Tennessee to Florida.  The second time was this last one of running the length of the county in my quest to run across all of Georgia’s 159 counties.  The previous Whitfield County crossing on the state run on U.S. 41 was not the long way across the county, so that required me to run another crossing, making it the long run across.

            My Georgia County Quest is now at 71 counties completed.  That leaves 88 counties to go now that Whitfield County is on the completion list.  A string of counties was completed in my first run through the western side of the state along U.S. 27 coming out of Chattanooga, Tennessee and leading into Florida toward Tallahassee.  I had a crew on that run, one crew on the northern part and a different crew for the southern part.  Being the first run through the state, I learned a lot from that run.  As they say, “Experience is the best teacher.”

            I learned basic lessons.  Controlling my mental disposition was paramount, and I learned that early in the run.  Surviving the heat and humidity provided many lessons that were learned the hard way.  Fueling was learned by trial-and-error.  But, I made it.  Lessons were learned.  And, that led me to the second run through the state.

            The second run that completed another string of counties on the eastern side of the state followed U.S. 441 from North Carolina to Florida.  This run was a solo run with no crew.  Being unsupported, it provided me with a different set of lessons that were learned through experience.

            The third run through the state was more or less through the middle along U.S. 41 from Tennessee to Florida.  The southern part of this run was supported.  The  northern part had a highlight (or lowlight) with my escape from death though a blocked windpipe from lodged electrolyte capsules blocking my air.  I couldn’t breathe.  I had no fluid to wash the capsules down.  I was trying to figure out what to do.  I was in a rural area north of Cartersville with no houses around and no cars in sight on the road.  After five minutes, I decided to stay near the road so my body would be seen after I had passed out and collapsed.

            Then, I heard voices.  Walking on down the road toward the voices, I saw some workers cutting bush from a bridge.  I couldn’t scream at them…no air.  I just walked toward them, waving and placing my hands at my throat giving them the “choking” sign.  Eventually, one looked my way.  Then, they both ran to me for rescue.  Fortunately, the younger one knew and administered the Heimlich maneuver.  I felt the capsule dislodge and oxygen rush into my lungs.  It had been almost six minutes of blocked air.  My biggest surprise was how calm I stayed during the whole ordeal. After that, the rest of the run was a breeze…just in one of the hottest summer on record for Georgia.

            Those runs plus sporadic counties that I have run on weekends have gradually added to my county total.  My coaching in the fall with cross-country and in the spring with track cuts down on the time I have had available to travel to and run far reaching counties.  Usually, I would have to have someone drop me off and then pick me up once I have finished a particular county.  A lot of times, no one is available for the drop-off and pick-up.  Their schedule does not fit mine.  (I can’t really understand why they don’t change their schedule and sacrifice sleeping time to take me for a drop-off for my usual early start…Oh, well.)

along Cleveland Hwy., north of Dalton

along Cleveland Hwy., north of Dalton

            Fortunately, my daughter, Season, was up to the task to take me to the Georgia-Tennessee state line in Whitfield County.  I drove up while she slept.  She dropped me off for the 6:00 a.m. start, which means we left the residence in Trion, Georgia about 5:00 a.m.  We drove up the Old Alabama Highway north of Trion and turned on State Road 136 leading through Villanow.  Turning north off of SR 136 lead us into Dalton and then to the state and county line.  Twisting and turning through Dalton, my instructions to Season were to make sure she knew where to turn to find her way back to SR 136 and then to Trion.

north of Dalton

north of Dalton

           I should have listened to my own advice.  After easy directional running south on SR 71, Cleveland Highway, and running through some new towns (to add to my “Running Site List”), I entered the Whitfield County seat, Dalton.  The terrain leveled off from the rolling hills north of town. In the north part of town , I ran by some old carpet mill buildings that seemed to be closed up or relocated.  This stretch also had a preponderance of Mexican businesses and a lot of Mexican billboards that I could not read.  I kept a sharp eye out for street signs and highway signs so I could find my way through town.  I thought of Season and wondered if she made it through with no trouble.

            Somewhere in this town, I knew I had to turn right on Walnut Avenue and then look for a left turn on U.S. 41, South Dixie Highway.  Several times, I had mentioned these turns to Season so she would not get lost on her return trip.  Again, I should have listened to myself.

entering Dalton from North

entering Dalton from North

Before I knew it, I was running out the western side of Dalton, having missed the left turn on South Dixie Highway, U.S. 41.  When I ran up on the I-75 junction sign, I knew then that I had messed up.  Just to be sure, I asked the guy at the counter in a garage where South Dixie Highway was, and he gave the answer I did not want.  He told me it was, “Five lights back that way…two miles back.”  That means that I just ran two miles out of the way and would have to run that same two miles back to the turn.  Once back at the turn, I thought, “How could have been so blind or stupid or both to miss such an obvious turn?”  Then some frustrated anger set in when I remembered missing a turn in my last run through the state coming into Dalton on U.S. 41.  That resulted in running four miles out of the way even though I did not have to back track.

            So, two times running through Dalton resulted in me missing turns both times.  Each time resulted in a four-mile addition.  Two times Dalton equals eight miles the wrong way.

            Once my mind cleared the wrong way mistake, I was cruising along South Dixie Highway south of Dalton.  I ran past a yard sale.  I ran past another yard sale.  Then, I ran past another yard sale.  Then, the yard sales started to look like one big yard sale because they were side by side.  That’s when I remembered that this was the section of U.S. 41 that was dubbed the country’s largest yard sale…And this wasn’t even the time of year for the big weekends.

South Dixie Hwy near Carbondale Road

South Dixie Hwy near Carbondale Road

            I was back running over rolling terrain but nearing the southern end of Whitfield County.  I turned off of South Dixie Highway onto Carbondale Road and would run out of the county and into Hill City in Gordon County.  That was the plan.  But, the rain came.  I felt some light rain and kept running.  The light rain became a heavy downpour.  I looked for shelter and saw a church ahead.  I looked for a pavilion in the back but only found a cemetery.  That left me getting out of the rain under the small overhang at the church’s front door.  I took off my backpack and sat down to wait out the heavy rain.  The wind started blowing the rain up under the overhang, so I picked up the heavy floor mat at the front door and draped it over me to ward off the blowing rain.  It worked well.  I stayed dry and out of the wind.  A pleasing sidelight here was the car that stopped and two young girls got out and came over to offer me a blanket to keep warm…saying that they saw me here when they passed by a few minutes ago.  That’s the kind of people you meet out there in the real USA.

            I determined that if I had not gone four miles in the wrong direction, I would have finished the run at the county line and then into Hill City before the rains came.  But, the rains came, and I waited.  Then, when I thought the rain had stopped long enough for me to finish, I got back on the road.  I immediately started down a big hill where the Georgia Highway Patrol was monitoring traffic because of a car having slammed into a tree, probably sliding out of control in the curve because of the rain.

            Just crossing the county line, I saw Season and Nick, my nephew, driving up.  They told me I had less than a mile to get to the depot in Hill City. That was good news.  Hopefully, the rain would hold off until I got there.  It did.

            My distance for Whitfield County was 31.70 miles because of the additional four miles.  The total mileage for the run was 33.82 miles finishing in Hill City in Gordon County.  One more county completed.  Eighty-eight counties to go.

            But, Who’s counting?

                                                                                                                                              Richard Westbrook

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The long runs on the weekend are a genuine adventure for me—a physical challenge in an otherwise mostly cerebral, abstract sort of daily life. And, you don’t have to go to a mountain or anything. It starts right out the front door of your home.”

                                                                                                                                               John Walker,

                                                                                                                                              Runner and Journalist