Today was going to be easier and harder. We would not have to deal with the hills and off-road sections of the previous nor would we have to be interupted by intersections every half mile but today we would have to make up for that in heat.
I didn't sleep that well. The usual 5.30 start, 13 runners now as word got out that Philippe had dropped out the previous day with cramp. Two more runners suffered a lot of vomiting and heat exhaustion from a day that was hot but no way near as hellish as it is going to get. Today we were going to march into that hell.
It was warm to start off with as the sun came over the mountains from the east. We were running parallel to those mountains along 10 miles of road and highway watching the sun creep up from behind the valley it likes to scorch every day. The first 10 were easy though I had to stop a couple of times and use the great outdoors.
At the 11 mile point we were warned that we would see the last gas station before the end so if our crews were low then they should fill up here. The level of detail given to the runners and crew about the 3200 mile route is phenomenal and Laure and the team should be commended for such an amazing show. She was not wrong, soon after we were running on the "National Trail Highway", I think part of Route 66, into the Mojave Desert.
On leaving the city and heading into the desert every small business has Mojave in the title. Mojave Donuts, Mojave Tattooist, Mojave and Sons Litigation Services. Once in there however I expect to be greeted with a rusty barn with "General Store" written on it.
We started down the highway, I settled into my usual group with Alex somewhere in front and Jenni nearby. The sun was to my right burning through the right side of my face. My head felt sore despite lots of water and wet toweling.
My feet were still good, little toe blister did not really make a noise. Legs tighter than the previous day but eased out after a few miles. Groin strain again was non-existent. Maybe it was all in my head. Well they do say that a man's brain is in his....
There were not that many route descriptions today, previous days had "turn here" "Cross there" every mile or so whereas today was something like "Pass railway underpass at 16.7 miles" then "See sign for town at 31.2 miles". Since I was not using a Garmin I had no idea how far I had gone really.
I have a watch that allegedly give you stuff like temperature, altitude, pressure, weather forecast as well as being able to tell the time. It does the last thing very well but the others are not so good. The thermometer is against the skin. It's useless to tell the air temp but I have found it useful to look at how it increases and decreases according to how much I work and what the actual temperature is. Essentially it was measuring my skin temperature and was quite interesting. It rose during the day steadily from 35 to 40C. When I ran it was higher, going uphill it was higher. Kind of like a heart rate monitor. Not that I am becoming one of them :)
Around halfway there was a derelict building that was the first bit of shade we saw for about 10 miles. It became an inpromptu cafe with at least 5 runners and their crew stopping under the shade for lunch. I had a lovely ham and cheese sandwich that was toasted on one side because it was left outside for about 30 seconds. I could have just stayed there all day.
I saw that Jenni and Girard were starting to suffer and fell behind me quite a way. They both have finished ahead of me in the previous 2 days as has Alex and by sticking near them I knew I was doing a reasonable but not excessive pace. The roads are still deceptive and it's hard to tell up from down.
Every 2-3 miles Laurie was stopping to give me a gatorade which I always downed and a spray of ice cold water. Within minutes everything was dry again. There were only a few moments where I felt weak and dizzy, I was holding up quite well. The highest recorded temperature came from the Italian supporters of Alex who said it was 42C. It got to about 40 at 11am and stayed there pretty much.
It's not just the heat though, there was a warm dry wind drying out any moisture on your body. I don't recall feeling sweaty at all even though I was going through loads of water, it just dries right off your skin. There is dust in the air too that gets down your throat leaving it dry and giving an unquentable thirst. There is some relief when a large lorry drives close to you and gives you a cool sidewind though often I found myself getting angry at a truck that blown my hat off. Hardly their fault.
I got to know Alex a little better in the last 15 miles or so. He says he is not an experiences ultra runner (MDS, Twice run across Alaska), he is a national hero in endurance rowing, having rowed 10 months solid on his own. He is a really nice guy and his team are a joy to be around. When I am no longer supported I may well stick near Alex just to keep my spirits up.
On the subject of support crews, I had a gap in my first 2 weeks which might now be filled. Gemma contacted a Fetchie Leslie who lives *nearby* who mentioned wanted to come and see the race. Gemma managed to ask her if she could crew for 2 days while I have the gap. That news was so awesome I just started running quite fast, forgetting that is was up a bloody great big hill and in 40 degree heat.
The last 10 miles were quite interesting. Through a small town and then into Barstow which seemed endless. Every shop seems to be something to do with tow-trucks like these people are obsessed with dragging stuff about in the desert. Most of todays run was alongside a busy railway line with trains a mile long creeping past. Laurie counted 106 carriages on one of them.
I walked much of the last few miles as per "the plan". A lot of it was uphill anyway so it didn't matter and I knew I was doing well today as I could still see Alex ahead. I tried to stretch on a lamp post near the end and burnt my hands. The Sun really does own this place.
Pleased again with today and that I don't feel to tired though I will do less faffing today and try to be in bed by 8. Tomorrow is going to be really tough. 51 miles and all in the scorching desert. Don't expect many words from me tomorrow.
Distance 47.4 miles Time 10.55
Start Weight 84.5KG Finish Weight 82.5KG
Consumption DURING - 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, some nuts, some jerky, some sweets, 2 bananas (fruit?? going soft I think), 4l gatorade, 10l water, 2 cans of monster (really kicked me up the arse) AFTER - 3 plates of chinese buffet and about 1.5l of raspberry iced tea
Kit Newtons, Karimoor socks, columbia short sleeved top, North Face sun hat, shades, Kooga pants, kathmandu shorts, camelpack and 3l bladder