It was great when Deb and Dave arrived last night. While I was wallowing in self pity with my right shin now hurting they came along and resolved to sort all my kit out for the morning. I was really pleased to see them and did not have much to say to them as I was trying to stay horizontal and rest my legs. I knew today was going to be a tough one.
I wore my stupid looking compression calf things in bed last night and then for the run today. My left shin was now fine, my right still sore. Today wasn’t going to be about getting a good time or enjoyment. Today was all about getting to the finish with minimal damage. Today was about survival.
My shin hurt from the start but as Rainer said a few days before these things can just work themselves out, you just have to be patient. I hope he is right. He’s been doing ultra distance walking since before he was 10, did the Spartathlon when he was 18 (in 28 hours) and won trans-europe last year. Rainer is a world class runner, probably the most experienced here despite being the youngest (30). I hope he was right about this.
Deb and Dave are awesome. They crewed Badwater for me last year and their enthusiasm and knowledge is of great help and I know I am going to be looked after in the next 4 days. Debs also makes really nice turkey sandwiches. I struggled to eat yesterday because I had no prepared sandwiches. Hopefully when out of the desert there will be a Subway on each stage.
Some of us actually shivered at the start, I don’t know what temperature it was but a slight breeze was enough to make some of those not running put on another layer. As soon as we started though it was fine but today it almost felt like a waste to put suncream on.
Bando, the guy who keeps setting off to fast hobbled in at the end of yesterday and today his legs looked mummified. He was going to struggle today. I though Italo would too but he just flew off from the start. Really glad to hear his shin splints cleared up, give me more hope for mine.
I started slow and remained that way. The first 25 miles were a gradual climb up to the high plains of Arizona, about 1500m up. I was much further back than usual, Italo and Alex were ahead of me and the front 3 of Rainer, Patrick and Serge were long gone. Jenni went off ahead too, she like most of the runners who have officially dropped out are going to run as many stages as they can with the remaining runners.
Today was mentally and physically tough. It was so difficult not to think about my shin and to extrapolate that into future broken bones. When you have a long straight road to pound and a long time to do it it’s easy to let negative thoughts spiral out of control. First it’s the shins, then I beat myself up about choice of kit for the race, then I get annoyed at Orange (I think it’s sorted now, thanks everyone. Hope to draw a line under that one), then I blame the organisers for picking such a boring route (I am sure they could have done a more scenic one if they added about 2000 miles to the race), then I have a go at my Girlfriend for texting me too many questions. On realising that I am just being stupid I go back to just thinking about my shins again.
The road was long and straight again with a little more to see at the sides than usual. The instructions today read "follow road, after 37.9 miles follow curve in road". The curve could be seen from about 15 miles away, ahead there was a duststorm which I hoped would engulf me to give me something to distract me. There seemed to me loads of adverts along the way for a shaving company. I am not shaving until my beard looks as impressive as Alex's.
I had to look at the road again to watch my step and there were grasshoppers everywhere, just sitting there and then jumping out of the way when you arrive except that some were just stupid. I would try to skip around them but in doing so once hurt my shin more. From then on I vowed not to bother avoiding them and just step on them if they got in the way. Rather your life than my shin.
Funny thing was it hurt less to run than to walk so I tried to run as much as possible today though when we started running across the top of the prairie the wind was really strong and coming in from ahead and the side. When it picked up it was hard to run so I’d just walk instead. Then it seemed that every time I broke into a run it would just flare up again like it was mocking me. I wanted to yell “fuck you” at it but did not know where to shout it. The one consolation was that it would have stopped me from running too quick. There was no one else around me for most of the day, I’d see Philippe’s supporter pass me every now and then and Philippe overtook me right near the end.
There was another climb to 5300ft near the end which I walked and then walked most of the rest, I was hoping to finish in under 11 but realised that I had already made the cut-off comfortably and walking would ease the burden. All along the run I kept saying to myself “if I’d have known it would only hurt this much after 10, 20, 40 miles then I’d be happy with that”.
Having just read through this I must have mentioned "My shin" every sentence. Apologies if that is a bit boring but it's pretty much all I have though about for 2 days. I'll think of it for the rest of tonight, in my dreams and then again in the morning and in tomorrows run. I'll think about it until it stops or something more painful takes it's place.
To put a positive spin on everything, my shin hurts no more now than at the end of yesterday, I am still in the race, Tomorrow and the next day are “short”, only 30 miles which gives me much more time to recover, Deb and Dave are here (gone out to get me a Subway as we speak) and they are such fantastic company, I have a lot of friends at home saying nice things and following my race. 10 days is sort of a milestone?
On the negative side, this has now stopped being fun.
Weight Before – Forgot, After 80.5kg
Kit – Brooks shoes (I tried different ones to help the splints), calf guards, Kathmandu shirts, gore pants, nf long top, shades, hat (before it started to blow off all the time) camelpack, socks.
Consumption During – 2 bananas, 2 fantastic turkey sandwiches, 5 cliff shots, nuts, 3 monsters, 3 cokes, 6l Gatorade, 3l water AFTER – water, American water, subway (Italian)
Injuries – Right shin split (may have mentioned this), Morale