I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, the aches and pains I had at the start of yesterday could well have gone away. I was wide awake by 4 again. I had a really good sleep, pretty much from 8-12 then 12-4. I’ll settle for that each day.
Today we were warned that a long and hard day was coming. There were hills, off-road sections and the start of some proper heat.
The first 15 miles or so were infuriating for all. Monday morning in a suburb of LA was jammed with heavy goods vehicles and we had to wait at every intersection. While we were all trying to get a bit of momentum going to ease out our stiff legs we had to stop-start-stop-start-stop and sometimes have to wait several minutes. Doing 14 minute miles is nothing I am too worried about but spending 4 of them stood at an intersection waiting for a white man letting us cross was very frustrating.
America is a place that was not built for pedestrians but gives them a free reign over everywhere. I think (I got this from QI) that there is only one road in the whole USA that a pedestrian is not allowed to go on and that is in Michigan, way off from where we are going. A man can run anywhere but much of the time he will have to share the way with 40 tonne trucks. Often there are no pavements (sorry “sidewalks”), the crossings (nay “intersections”) have you running round in circles for a 5 second crossing interval and the general view of the road users is that you should only really venture out when encased in at least 2 tonnes of steel.
Around 15 miles in we hit better roads but still had the scourge of the intersections. I tried not to let it frustrate me as I was feeling a whole lot better than I did yesterday. After 15 miles yesterday I feared that my legs were going to fall off sideways but today that had all disappeared. All I had were the usual minor aches from having run 45 miles yesterday, nothing much to worry about.
Around 20 miles in we were out of the towns and headed straight for some impressive looking mountains. Impressive enough to be hidden from me completely until I was right there on Base Street (They don’t mess around with the names of stuff here, like the Australians). For the first time since I have been here I felt like I was running into the wilderness.
There were no houses, the occasional farm, a railway with trains a mile long and about 4 highway underpasses between Base Street and the base of the mountains. I was really looking forward to getting up the pass that would see us climb about 1000m in the heat of the day.
I had to stop at a petrol (gas; damn it) station and on emerging I spoke to a guy asking what I was doing. I am surprised that people know exactly how far New York is away, I don’t think that’s the case when I run from Birmingham to London. “That’s like 3000 miles?” – Pretty much, give or take a Spartathlon.
Laurie and Ruth were amazing again today, making sure I made every turn and giving me all the stuff that I’d probably forget to take if they were not there. Laurie bought a water pistol from somewhere and attacked me just before we hit route 66. On doing so a lady stopped and warned us about rattle snakes. She was not wrong, within a few meters I saw a dead one on the path. They are going to be in the shade at this point.
I was running in a valley, about the 32 mile mark and for the first time I considered myself retracing the footsteps of the bunioneers in 1928. Not many cars come down here now, there are cracks in the road with weeds growing out of them. The rising heat of the day and the valleys made this a large oven though it was no way near as hot as we are going to experience in a few days, or even later that day.
I ran much of this section with Alex who I think was suffering the heat. In fact not long earlier I passed Yoshiaki who had finished second yesterday but was talking about how hot it was already.
There was a section of about 1k where we had to run (walk/hobble/climb) on a dry river bed as it was the only way of getting under lots of freeways (Didn’t say motorways). ON emerging from that Laurie texted me to say that she had missed an exit on the freeway and was going to meet me a bit later. I only noticed at this point that I had no water left. Fortunately as I discovered this I saw the wonderful golden arches of McDonalds and thought I had to go in. No really I had to. Large fries and Large coke were a treat.
It was probably getting over 30C when the hardest section of the stage appeared. After the McDonalds stop (WHICH WAS ESSENTIAL) There was a 2 mile section up a windy road. It was another one of those where I could not decide whether it was up or flat just like in Badwater. I guess with your head down everything looks uphill.
It took a long time walking those two miles where there was one of the organising team there diverting us onto a trail. This too was uphill and really felt like going into the wilderness.
The only “injury” that I suffered most of the day was that annoying blister on my little toe. I probably should have dealt with it sooner. This started to hurt a bit and I called ahead for Laurie to get the kit out and lance the little bastard.
The off-road section up hill was amazing but really hard. There were LANY flour signs in many places but the heat getting to my head made me paranoid about whether I was still on the right track. That’s when you start doing the doomsday calulations. If I go 2 miles out into nothing and then have to go back will I still make the cut offs? Or more trivially If I go out for miles and can’t find my way back then will I die? If I lie down in a bush will I get bitten by a rattlesnake?
After much doom-mongering I saw Ruth at the head of the pass and was very relieved that was all over. A small descent and then a 10 minute lay down to sort the blister out. In doing so Laurie poked at a part of my foot and said “Is this not bothering you?” There was not feeling at all. “OK then, lets pretend I didn’t mention it”.
Most of the “3 parks to go” were flat or down, right next to a busy interstate (I call in that, I have no idea, might have been a freeway, or a highway, or a route). I was feeling really good about everything. The finish line was inside the hotel where there was ice-cream, beer and coke. Lovely.
So all in all today felt much better. New York is only 49 miles closer but in my head it feels twice as achievable compared to yesterday. I feel in good spirits and hence I have been able to bang out 1300 words of a blog in no time. I suspect that some of the detail may suffer as I get really tired. Get used to “Ran a long way, feel buggered. Saw a lizard” being the standard in some days.
Tomorrow, slightly shorter, mostly flat or down, not many stupid traffic lights, however this is where we enter the desert. Today’s heat just won’t compare.
Start Weight 84.1 KG End weight 83.8KG
Consumption during running – 6L Water, 3L Gatorade, 2 Cokes, 1 Large fries, 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, Nuts, Sweets, 2 “Slim Jims” pepparami things, half a pack of beef jerky, AFTER – 1 coke, 1 ice cream, burger and chips, milk shake [not nearly enough eaten today, probably the heat]
Stats – 1000m climb from end to start, dunno how much up and down total but felt like a lot. Max temperature was recorded at about 35C
Injuries – None. Started off with the usually aches but they went away and groin was not there at all. Little annoying blister, slight sunburn.