The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-437 – Rickey Gates – Across America

 (Audio: link) audio:]
Link epi4437.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Hello and welcome to episode 4-437 of the RunRunLive podcast. 

Today’s theme is journeys.  I connected with Rickey Gates and we have an interesting discussion around his journeys, particularly his 2016 run across America.  This particular journey wasn’t about getting the miles in per se, it was about discovering the heart of the country and finding himself. 

And that’s the gift that we get from our endurance sports practices.  Every time we lace up the shoes and leave the house it’s a microcosm of the great journey.  It’s a small version of that unsettled quest we homo sapiens have always had, not only to find what’s on the other side of the next hill but what’s on the other side of our known limits. 

In section one I talk about the nuances of doing tempo training in the trails and in section two I wrote another installment of the old man apocalypse story, because Tim asked me to.  This one is going to be the first part of a 3-parter. 

I’ve had a decent couple weeks of training.  We got through the hot part of the summer up here and now we are rapidly approaching autumn and fall.  After we last spoke I spent a weekend down at my house on Cape Cod.  I had a big weekend in my training. 

Friday night I had a long tempo run and by the time I got the podcast out and drove down it was late afternoon.  I did not feel like going out for a hard, hot, long workout.  I was mad because I packed up my water back pack and my bottle then forgot to put it in the truck in my haste.  It’s so hot and humid and dry on the Cape, with way less tree cover, that you really need a good hydration option.

I grabbed a bottle of water and figured I’d give it a try and see how I felt. 

I took Ollie and set off across the street to a state park that apparently no one really knows about.  It’s sectioned up by dirt roads and has a couple ponds.  I discovered it while mountain biking and was a bit astonished to realize there was a state park ½ mile from my door that I had been running by for years. 

A dirt road on the Cape is a sand road.  The whole place is one big sand dune. I’ve discovered a loop that circumnavigates one of the ponds.  It’s conveniently about a mile from the house, then a short mile of single path through the scrub oak and blueberries around the pond.  For tempo I can just run the loop and when time is up I can jog home 

And that’s what I did that Friday night. 

Even though I felt shitty and discombobulated going in I felt pretty strong once I warmed up.  Ollie and I got into a rhythm and ran the workout with a reasonable amount of aplomb. 

The next day, Saturday, I had a 3-hour bike ride on the schedule and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do that with my water pack.  I found a random tradeshow backpack in my truck and I loaded that up with a few bottles of water and some food. I made it all the way from Harwich up the rail trail to the end at the beach in Wellfleet  turned around and came back. 

There were a lot of people out on the trail.  I talked to some people wearing PanMass Challenge shirts and apparently that was a virtual event this year as well. 

It was Sunday that really had me worried.  It was going to be the hottest day and I had a 3-hour run on the schedule.  The only way I could figure out how to do it safely was to go early and do 3 1-hour out and backs. 

I started the first leg around 7:00 AM and headed on the roads over to the rail trail east.  Even at that time of day it was hot in the full sun on the bike trail.  There weren’t many people out yet, mostly serious bikers getting their workouts in before the crowds showed up.  By the time I got back to the house I was soaked like I had been swimming and my single bottle was well-past empty. 

But, it was a solid logistical plan.  I drank my fill, ate some fruit, changed my shirt and headed back out.  This time I took the roads east towards Pleasant Bay and Chatham.  I made it down to the ocean and looked around a bit before heading back to the house to refuel again. 

Last loop I decide to head back into the state park with Ollie.  He was mental that I was going out and coming back and not taking him.  I figured the park would be easier on me and I could get some shade.  To get there I have to cross a busy road and into an unassuming side road with no signage.  If you didn’t look at the map you’d have no idea there was a park squeezed in there. 

Ollie was so amped up he was dragging me on the leash.  As soon as the road turned to sand I let him off.  I was too tired to fight him.  Watching him take off up the dry sand road was like one of those road runner cartoons where all you see is the churning legs and a cloud of dust. 

We explored in the park for an hour and I ended up finishing with 18 and a half hot miles.  Ollie was happy.  I was relieved to be done.

The next weekend, last weekend I headed back up to the Wapack to do the north half with my buddy Paul.  We dropped a car at the Windblown parking area and started at the northern trail head on the other side of Pack Monadnock.  It was a nice cool morning and we ran the 12 back in a casual 3:19. 

Now you may say that that is really slow, but this is all technical mountain running and we weren’t in a hurry.  It was a good outing.  A good journey. 

If you look around you’ll see journeys everywhere.  All you need for a journey is a goal or a destination.  Journeys can be physical or spiritual or both. 

The ancient Egyptian kings thought of life and death as a journey.  The years were counted from the time the king took the throne.  When he died, he journeyed to the west to become one with the god Amun Rah.  The scribes painted nice, detailed maps on the inside of the coffin lid so they wouldn’t get lost.

The Greeks and Romans had Charon the ferryman to take them across the river Styx to the afterworld of Hades. The Christians had the Pilgrims Progress and Dante’s Inferno – each a version of how to make life’s journey in such a way as to make it to heaven.

Think about the Odyssey, with our hero journeying home through mostly self-inflicted challenges.  Or the 20th century modernist version that James Joyce penned about our friend Mr. Leopold Bloom on one peripatetic day in Dublin.  Or Conrad’s journey into the Heart of Darkness wonderfully reimagined by Coppola in Apocalypse Now.

(I know I’m throwing a lot at you, but I linked all these references in the show notes and the post)

My point is, whether it’s Huck Finn on the river or Jack Kerouac on the road the Western cannon is filled with physical, metaphorical and spiritual journeys.  That says something about us.  That highlights the deep correlation between our wanderlust and our redemption, our striving and our enlightenment.

The questions we ask every day are about where we are in the journey and what’s the destination?

We are you? 

On with the show!

About Zero

ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer is the leading national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer. ZERO advances research, improves the lives of men and families, and inspires action.

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Section one – Trail Tempo -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Rickey Gates -

Rickey Gates has been described as a “conceptual runner” combining the practice of endurance running with the artistic mediums of photography and writing. After nearly a decade competing on a national and international mountain, trail and ultra running circuit, he took his love for ultra-endurance, storytelling and photography to his project-based runs that have included a run across America, every single street in San Francisco and currently the 50 classic trails of North America.

Gates is a deeply curious individual with an immense interest in the inner workings of society, self, nature and the human potential.  His debut book Cross Country published by Chronicle Books, will be released in the spring of 2020. In this book, Gates invites us along on his 3,700 mile journey across the United States through over 200 photographs, stories of individuals and ultimately the innermost depths of his own mind. Cross Country will be released alongside TransAmericana, a feature-length film produced and directed by The Wandering Fever and his sole sponsor, Salomon.



In 2017, professional runner Rickey Gates ran 3,700 miles across the continental United States with just a small backpack and an anthropologist's curiosity to discover the divided America in which we live.

In the book Cross Country, Gates documents this epic experience from South Carolina to San Francisco, sharing first-person essays, interviews, and over 200 photographs of the ordinary and extraordinary people and places he saw along the way.

While Gates delivers unparalleled insight into the extreme athletic and mental challenge of this transcontinental run, running is not the core focus of Cross Country—it is a story of the remarkable people across the United States who we would otherwise never meet.

Cross Country is available online or anywhere else books are sold.


Section two – City of the dead –



Ok my friends we have journeyed through the long gauntlet of Episode 4-437 of the RunRunLive Podcast and ended our quest in the afterworld of delight.

My personal journey is going well.  I’m healthy and in good enough shape to manage the 42 miles of the Wapack on the 7th.  I’ve got Eric, and Dave Foss and Duane joining me.  It will probably take us around 12 hours. 

When I race the 18-mile version it takes me about 4 hours.  If you extend that out to 42 miles, it’s about 9 and a half hours.  I figure if we are taking our time and enjoying ourselves 12 hours should be good.  But, you never know in a long run like that.  You can get lost.  Someone can half a rough patch. 

As part of that run I’ll be doing 26.21 of those miles for the 2020 Boston Marathon.  Supposedly the BAA is sending out some sort of race kit for us to use in our virtual – we’ll see. 

The answer is Candide. Remember the quote I was trying to find for my history of agriculture article in the last show?  Well, no sooner did I hit publish then did our friend Keating Vogel, pop back with the answer.  He knew what I was trying to remember right away.  It was not Camus, nor was it Sophocles, it was Candide, by Voltaire that ended with the admonishment to ‘tend your garden’ that I was reading on that airplane so many years ago. 

Now I know that makes me sound super nerdy and pedantic – that I was riding around in airplanes in my 20’s reading the classics.  In my defense you could buy those old paperbacks of the classics for 25 cents.  I had a lot of plane time and hunted the book aisles for bargains.  You could always find the classics cheap because teachers would force school kids to read this stuff.  The kids would throw them away as soon as they could.

I had to look Candide up because for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was about – other than those closing lines.  It didn’t make much of an impression on me.  I was probably reading it while elbow deep in complimentary cocktails. 

Apparently, it’s a satire about French institutions.  Like the church, the government and the nobility. 

And guess what Candide is doing in this novel?  He is on a journey to self-discovery!  So there you go.  It all comes back around. 

To finish up Our journey here today I’ll give you the happy update on my virtual race across Tennessee.  As of this morning 8/23/20, I am sitting at 623.5 miles.  This was supposed to be a 1,000-kilometer race but I guess in Tennessee they use different math because I need to get to 635 miles to get my buckle.

After today I’ll be at about 630 miles and I’m guessing I’ll finish Tuesday.  If I look back at the months, I ran 182 miles in May, took a week off in June and got behind with only 124 miles.  Bounced back with a stout 185 miles in the heat of July and will end up with about the same in August.  I’m ok with that given I’m only running 4 days a week.

What did we learn on this journey?  Well, I think people learned that it looks way easier to keep up with a 5.5 mile a day average then it actually is.  For some of us it’s just part of what we log and it’s no big deal.  For others having to knock out 5.5 miles every day taught them something about themselves. 

The mileage doesn’t care if it’s hot, or rainy or if you get sick or if you hurt your back.  The journey grinds on whether you can keep up or not. 

But, eventually my friends, no matter how long and difficult a journey you have, you will come out the other side enlightened. 

And I’ll see you out there.

(Outro bumper)

To take you out is Track number 15 from Brian Sheff The Rock Opera by The Nays - Called "Brian’s Dirge”  And this is dedicated to my close friend and running buddy Frank, the drummer for the Nays who just got his second hip done last week.  Our journey and our adventures are not done!  


MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Rachel ->

Coach Jeff ->


Direct download: epi4437.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT





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