Linda to North Highlands via Rio Linda, California

17 marathons down, 118 to go

It was three weeks ago today that I began this journey. Three weeks, and I’m almost to Sacramento. The last time I was in Sacramento was a day trip from Springfield, Oregon to Sacramento and back… all in one day. “Hey, you want to drive to Sacramento with me to pick up a dog?” Sure, I say. Leave in the morning; get back that same night. This time, three weeks, one way. That trip, no water anywhere. Lake Shasta was a mud puddle. This trip, record precipitation in the Northern Sierras and flooded rivers. Definitely a very different trip, in many ways.

I already know today is going to be a herculean day, and I have trouble getting started. I stall. I get just one more piece of communication done. Rio Linda should be my destination, based on miles, but there is nowhere to stay around there so I have to continue once I get there. I quit stalling and get headed out.

I haven’t talked about my left knee or right ankle recently because I didn’t want to jinx either of them. They have both been fine the past few days. I’m running constantly now unless I just need to change things up a bit. I do a slow mile, do my pre-run stretches, then grind out the miles.

When I start out, it’s a nice morning. I know rain is in the forecast, but so far, so good.

CA-70 sign with bullet holes
I think this is the last time I’ll cross CA-70, and I think those are bullet holes

Bullet holes? Where am I?

It starts raining. I’m impervious to the rain. I’m dressed for running, and I’m wearing sun screen. I don’t add any layers due to the rain. I can hardly see through my glasses because of the raindrops on them, but I don’t care. Come on, rain, do your worst.

North of Pleasant Grove, CA
North of Pleasant Grove, California

This is what my scenery is for much of today. I see lots of horses, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, frogs, and birds of many varieties.

This is also where I am when it happens. I’ve run 16 miles to get here, and when I push off with my left leg, there is nothing there. My left knee completely gives out on me and I find myself hopping down the road on my right foot. I try to run, and I end up hopping again as soon as I get up to speed. I know exactly what has happened. These roads have no paved shoulders so every time a car passes, I have to get onto the very soft dirt/gravel shoulder. It’s like running on the because above the water line in dry sand while pushing a 50-pound sled, and doing that over and over again has done in my left knee. I’ll walk for now and try running again in a mile or two.

I come upon the Toyota Amphitheater. It is truly in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I guess a) land was cheap and b) there’s no one to complain about the noise.

There are two main crops in this area: walnuts and rice. There’s a lot of standing water. Add a third crop: bugs. Lots and lots of bugs.

Bees and bee hives
Saw lots of bees today

There are also a lot of bees. You can’t see the actual bees in this photograph, but they’re everywhere. Glad I don’t have any fear of bees because they’re all around me as I take this photograph.

Now I have to grind out miles, and I’m walking slower than I run, and my knee is very unhappy. This is going to be an even longer day. I try again to run. No dice.

By the time I get to Rio Linda, it’s getting late, I’ve gone 34.6 miles — 16 miles running and over 18 miles walking — and I have over 7 miles yet to go. I verify how to get to the “nearest” motel and that I’ll be on main roads, and I get back to walking. It turns out those main roads aren’t lit, at all. No problem. I have a headlamp for exactly this reason. Now I’m standing on a corner, as it gets dark, where there are no lights at all, and I can’t find my headlamp. I look where I thought I put it. Nope. I look where it was packed before I moved it to that better spot. Not there, either. I start dumping things out so they’re now loose in the running trailer. No headlamp. I give up.

I have a very uncomfortable few miles on a very busy, unlit highway that at least has a shoulder. This is the most unsafe I’ve felt since Hwy 58 in Oregon. I’m expecting a police officer to stop me at any moment. I already have my response committed to memory.

I finally drag my carcass into the hotel parking lot. I pass a restaurant where the cooks are gathered in back. They have some questions about the guy in running gear pushing a trailer at 10:30 at night, so I talk with them for a bit. They obviously think I’m well beyond crazy. I’m pretty well thinking that myself.

When I get to the front door of the hotel, I see that I’ve gone 42 miles today. FORTY. TWO. MILES. I basically did a little warm-up run of 16 miles followed by a walked marathon. I check in, and I thank God my trailer fits through the door because I think I would otherwise just curl up in the hallway and cry if it didn’t. Actually, I’m sure I would have dealt with it like a responsible adult, which means I would have sworn a lot and kicked things while emptying the trailer.

Now I have three options: I can take a long, hot bath; I can go to bed without bathing; or I can go across the street to Denny’s. It’s 11 o’clock, I’m starving, Denny’s is across the street, and Denny’s is open. I’ll be damned if I’m showering and changing clothes to go to Denny’s. It’s raining. I’m wet and in running gear. I look like an escapee from the psych ward. I don’t stand out in Denny’s.

I eat blueberry pancakes with bananas on top, hash browns, eggs, sausage, and a lot of coffee. The waitress asks me if I’m ready for dessert. I laugh, and then say, “This might sound a little odd, but if you knew the kind of day I had it would all make sense.” The waitress responded, “Oh, honey, there’s nothing you could do odd here. You’re in Denny’s in the middle of the night.” I then proceeded to order a hot fudge sundae. Yes, I had breakfast and a hot fudge sundae. Don’t judge me.

I then got up and went to chat with the high-school age gentleman and his two female companions about his behavior. I had really had enough of him abusing the waitress. The funny thing is that in his world, his behavior was due to receiving bad service. He didn’t seem to catch on to the worsening service in response to his behavior. I’m sure they thought I was just an old ass, but it did shut them up.

At 1:30 in the morning, I head back to the hotel and wade through the people in the hotel parking lot. Every single external door is propped open with a washcloth. When I checked in, the desk clerk told me all about their security and cameras in response to my comment about not feeling safe leaving my trailer next to the front door. So when I got back to find every exit except the lobby propped open so non-guests could come and go freely, I return to the front desk and tell her what I think of their security and cameras. I then walk around the property kicking each wash cloth out of every doorway. With that done, I soak in the tub for an hour, and then get to sleep around 2:30 in the morning.

Did I mention that I did 42 miles today?