Garth's Run

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The End

It’s been a couple days now since I ended my last run in New York City, and I haven’t really done much of anything since I’ve gotten home. That was my plan though, to take a few days off after this whole thing was over, just relax and not worry about anything. It’s been pretty great, but I’m starting to feel a bit restless.

Last night my dad had a slideshow going on his computer of all of the pictures he’d taken throughout the run. Even though I just finished a couple of days ago, it felt pretty cool to look back at all of the places run through across the country. Looking at some of the pictures I could go back to that moment and remember exactly how I was feeling, and what I was listening to on my headphones.

A very exciting thing that just happened today is that we crossed over the $20,000 mark for our donations, more than doubling our goal. I’m extremely psyched about this and so grateful to all of you who donated and helped spread the word. I’m going to leave the donations open for a while longer, so it’d be awesome if we could raise even more, but I’m perfectly happy with how much we’ve already raised.

I’m not really sure how to end this blog post. It feels so weird that this is the last one. When I first started writing these I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually care or take the time to read them. I was so pleasantly surprised to see how many of you actually did, and I really appreciate it. It was nice to be able to share my experience with all of you, and seeing all of the positive comments and feedback really helped keep me going the entire way.

One of the biggest questions people have asked lately is what i’m going to do next. It’s a very good question, and one that I would also like an answer to. My answer is usually that i’m going to relax for a while and take it easy, then figure out the next move. If you ask my parents though, the answer is “He’s getting a job!” Maybe we can find a happy medium. Like maybe something where I don’t actually have to do any work, but still get paid. If anyone knows of something like this, please let me know.

As far as doing something like this run ever again, I would say it’s possible. When I first decided that I was going to do this, I looked at it as one last feat to end my running career on a high note. But as I went along, I realized that this couldn’t be the end, but was rather the beginning of a new chapter in my running career and my life. As much as I try to deny it at times, I am a runner, and I will be for as long as my body allows. I’ll probably try to get back into racing this year, maybe finally run a marathon.

I will also continue to support Stand Up to Cancer any way I can. They’ve been so amazing to work with and I just want to do whatever I can to keep fighting for their cause. Some people have suggested that I run across the world for my next big journey. While it sounds great and i’ve certainly had the same thought, i’m not quite sure how I’d be able to pull that off. One problem is getting across the ocean. I could swim, but I’m not the best swimmer. I’m not a terrible swimmer, I can get by without completely embarrassing myself in the pool, but i’m not sure if I could quite make it across the ocean. Also, the water is too cold for my liking. If i’m going to swim across the ocean it needs to be AT LEAST 85 degrees. Maybe then I’d consider it. There’s also the whole thing of running across a foreign country of which I don’t speak the language. I guess I could listen to some Rosetta Stone while I’m running, but I still think it would be difficult. I mean, I had enough trouble getting across Missouri, let alone Ukraine.

If I learned anything from this whole experience it’s that you have to just go after whatever it is you want in life and make it happen. Also, three legged dogs are just as dangerous, if not more so than the ones with four legs. And if you come across a turkey in the suburbs, do not stop to take it’s picture because they will put you in the ground.

Thank you all again for everything, and keep on livin’.

Day 95 (Fort Lee, NJ – New York, NY)

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After 12 states, 10 pairs of shoes, and over 2,900 miles, I’ve finally made it to New York City. I was fortunate enough to have someone to run with this morning, Meg Baker from the tv show Chasing New Jersey. She’s currently training for the Chicago marathon and decided to do a story on my run for the show, so it worked out very well.

We started the run going across the George Washington Bridge, which was very cool. Before I knew it we were in NYC. We went about 8.5 miles and ended in Central Park. This was a couple of hours before the “official” finish, but I wanted to get into the city a little early and just take my time and enjoy it.

From Central Park my dad and I ran to Riverview Terrace right next to the Queensboro Bridge. I love that spot and ever since the start of my run I’d imagined running there to finish this run. It was a nice little moment, and at that point I had finally felt as though I’d completed my journey.

I walked around the city a bit before it was time to run into Central Park. Once I got there I was greeted by a surprisingly large group of people, including reporters from numerous tv stations and newspapers. Also I should mention that I had a few Canton folks who drove out with my mom and brother to watch my finish. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out and showing their support. It means so much to me.

I got to meet some amazing people from Stand Up to Cancer as well, which was really great. I’m so glad that I got to do this run for their organization and had the opportunity to be a part of their fight against cancer. Everyone from there has been so helpful and encouraging the entire way, and I really appreciate everything they’ve done.

After we finished up with all of the interviews, I went into Tavern on The Green to try and change my clothes in their bathroom. I was greeted by the employees who asked if I was the runner, and then said that if I’m ready for lunch my meal’s on them. I’m not one to turn down free food, or free anything for that matter, so we dined at Tavern on The Green for lunch. Everything there was incredible, and the staff was so friendly and gracious. I’ll definitely return there the next time I’m in the city.

After lunch we headed down to Nat Sherman International Cigar Shop. The wonderful gentleman who we met in Fort Lee last night after my last run, Cliff Gold, works there and told us to come down and check the place out if we got the chance. He gave us a tour of the store It’s such so nice, and I’m not even a cigar guy.

We eventually made our way back up to the GWB, went back to the RV in Fort Lee and headed home. I wish I could’ve stayed in the city longer, but I’m not the one driving so I guess I don’t get to make that call. Hopefully I’ll make my way back in the next month or so. I miss it there already.

So my run across America is now over. I’m not really sure how I feel about it right now. It’s kind of bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m relieved that I’m finished and don’t have so many things I have to worry about, particularly getting injured. At the same time though, I’m not sure what to do with myself now. I’ve gotten so used to the routine of running 40 miles every day. I definitely plan on continuing to run, but obviously not nearly as many miles as I’ve done these past three months. One of the coolest things now is that I can say that I ran across America, instead of saying that I’m running across America, and then knocking on wood so that I don’t jinx myself and get injured.

I’ll post one more blog tomorrow just for old times sake, so I’ll save the goodbyes and thank you’s for then. But seriously thank you all so much for the support. It means the world to me.

Day 94 (Hamburg, NJ – Fort Lee, NJ)

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Today was my last full day of running on this trip. I ended up doing 45 miles, and felt great on all of my runs. I did my first two runs with not much of a break in between. They went well, although it didn’t really feel like I was getting any closer to New York. After running across the country for over three months, I wasn’t going to believe that I had actually made it until I saw that skyline.

Luckily, that’s exactly what happened on my next run. I went up over a decent sized hill into Haledon, and for a brief moment at the top of the hill, I finally got a glimpse of what I was running towards this entire time. It felt pretty great, and gave me an added burst of energy.

My last run of the day may have been the most eventful run of this entire journey. I was going through the suburbs of Fort Lee, a pretty nice neighborhood, when all of a sudden I see about six turkeys. We’re talking full sized turkeys, just walking down the sidewalk as though it was no big deal. Of course my first instinct was to stop and take a picture, because as far as I knew, this wasn’t a common thing to see. Apparently, turkeys aren’t too fond of people photographing them, as they saw me and immediately began to give chase. At first I didn’t take it too seriously, but they started gaining on me and I quickly realized that these birds were out for blood.

Just when I thought I had finally reached the point where I don’t have to worry about being chased by dogs anymore, I’m now sprinting down the sidewalk, strategizing in my head the best way to defend myself in hand-to-hand combat against a gang of turkey’s.

Luckily I was able to lose them eventually, and about a quarter of a mile down the street I saw a police officer and told him, “There’s some turkey’s on the loose back there!” He looked at me like I had just escaped the looney bin. I just pray that his ignorance of the situation doesn’t lead to his ultimate demise at the hands of those monsters.

After I finished the run, my dad was talking to a very nice man named Cliff Gold, who works at a cigar shop in the city. I told them about what had just happened, and without hesitation Cliff said, “Oh yeah, I had a friend who ended up in the hospital after getting attacked by those things.” So apparently this isn’t as uncommon of a thing around Fort Lee as I thought. Maybe this is a notorious gang that roams the streets looking for suckers like me. Or maybe it’s a family of turkeys who live in the neighborhood and are a part of society, but get very offended when people stop and stare and take pictures. I mean, I would completely understand if that were the case. I just desperately want to know their backstory and where the came from. Oh well, I guess I’ll never know. I’m just glad I didn’t end up like Cliff’s friend.

On another note, I’ve finally made it to the George Washington Bridge! Tomorrow I’ll cross into the city and end my run in Central Park near 67th street and Tavern on The Green at 12:30pm.

Day 93 (Hawley, PA – Hamburg, NJ)

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Today was a huge improvement over yesterday. My first two runs were both pretty quick and I felt amazing. I decided to push myself a little bit and not hold back as much now that I’m nearing the end. It felt great to open up my stride and get into a good fast rhythm.

My third run started by going over the Delaware River and into New Jersey. After that I began going up some pretty big hills, but I was still feeling strong and went up them with relative ease. My last run wasn’t quite as good as the rest of the day. My right ankle started to bother me a little bit, but not too bad. Other than that though I still went at a decent pace and felt alright.

Tomorrow is my last full 40 mile day, which I’m very excited about. After tomorrow I’m not sure if I’ll be doing another 40 mile day anytime soon. Even though I know I’m so close to the finish, it still weirdly doesn’t feel like it. I’ve gotten into such a routine over the last three months that it still feels like any other day on the trip. Once I actually see the city skyline, then maybe I’ll feel like I’m almost there.

Day 92 (Fleetville, PA – Hawley, PA)

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It seems like the closer I’m getting to the finish, the tougher these runs are getting. Today was very similar to yesterday in terms of how many hills there were. The first two runs went alright, despite the hills.

On the second run, my roommate from New Jersey, Ben Hutterer came out to join me. It was great to get to see him and have a running partner. It definitely made the run better than it would have been by myself. It was also cool to have him there because he’s kind of the one who got me to get off the couch and do this run. I mentioned the idea to him while he was asking me about my run across PA, and he encouraged me to make it happen.

After our run, we got some lunch at a local deli before Ben took off. Then I began my third run, which is easily in the top 5 worst runs. Or at least the slowest ones. Right from the start the road was awful for running. There was no space on the road, and traffic galore. So half the time I had to stop and step off the side of the road for traffic, and there wasn’t much space to get over at all. On top of that the whole way was just up and down these brutal hills. I couldn’t get into any rhythm and just felt terrible. By the last few miles I was having trouble even lifting my legs off the ground.

I took as long of a break as I could before my last run of the day. It must have helped because I went from having one of my slowest runs to having one of my fastest. Right away I could tell the difference in how I felt. I’m not sure what changed, but I was able to go along at a really solid pace the entire way and felt incredible.

I’m going to try and not complain anymore these last couple of days and instead just enjoy the little time I have left of this run. I only have two more 40 mile days ahead of me before the last day, Wednesday, which will just be a nice run through the city and to the finish line in Central Park.