Today just started to sound different. As soon as we left Seligman and turned a rare corner we climbed up (I think we are still 2 days from the highest point) along a tolerable section of straight road. Then after just a few miles there was another turning (two before noon, we were really being spoiled) and then a vast but very different and very beautiful landscape unfurled.
It had flowers and trees, the barren and beige rock and plants were now wonderful scatterings of green on brown and gold. The soundscape was so different too, the constant droning chainsaw noise of bugs in the deserts were now of singing birds. I would get occasional shade from the trees and even, wait what’s that? Clouds? I have not seen any of you for over a week. I could have been running through the English countryside in the summer.
I ran with Italo again who had a stonking run yesterday despite suffering the same things as I am. He asked if he could be supported by my crew today as he was going to take it slow. Italo is great to have around, I can’t understand his English much but he knows a lot about running and offers advice often. Early on when going up in a headwind he offered his drafting services, or rather he said “I can run OK, you stay behind and keep from wind like on a bicycle”. There is not really much of him to draft and on such a quiet road I just ran alongside him.
It was not long before the pain subsided in my shin and seemed to go down to my ankle. This was good news, it was moving around and therefore not permanent. If I can just get 70 different injuries in 70 days I’ll be happy. My ankle was quite swollen at the end of yesterday and at the start of today and Italo gave me a pill from his bag and made some pointing gestures, I don’t know what the international gesture is for “reduces inflammation” but it seemed to work a treat.
I said at the start of this I wanted to avoid taking drugs. So many stories of people doping themselves into a stupor to get through the miles. I don’t want to become reliant on them but getting the ankle down a bit was probably a good idea. Today was going to be a “recovery run” where I’d still go slow but have plenty of time to rest. Italo said in almost perfect English “Your job today is to finish without the leg hurting any more and then you have time to fix the leg”. That was a perfect description of today.
Three times now having had an urgent call of nature I have been passing the Japanese support van and had to ask for tissue. They must laugh every time they see me running towards them now “Hey, here is Mr Shitter, asking us if he can go for another shit”. Would not surprise me at all if there was a brand of toilet paper in Japan called Mr Shitter.
Between miles 6 and 14 I felt really good, for the first time in a few days I felt like I was doing some proper running and was trying to hold myself back from going any faster and hurting myself. Stick to the plan.
I did not eat much today and didn’t really feel much point for just 30 miles though on weighing myself this morning I have lost 4kg since being here. I have run for 100 hours and 440 miles. Extrapolating that for 70 days is 28kg of weight loss, or about 4 stone. Lucky there is a McDonalds at the end of today.
AT the 22 mile point we turned onto an off road trail which is still part of the old Route 66. There were a few miles of pretty broken up road before then which cars can still drive down but then it turned into a dirt path which was difficult to run on with a gammy ankle. It seemed all uphill again and in a head wind. Not far into this stretch there were some very enthusiastic dogs. I could hear them barking in the distance and in all other times they just stand at the end of their owners property and bark a lot. On looking out for the barking I saw these 2 large dogs bounding along at high speed and they did not stop before the trail, they got right around me. There was no biting, just some nudging for a few meters before they stayed and retreated back to their home, only to come bounding back again for Italo. I’d like to think they were just trying to encourage me along.
Funniest Joke Ever
A dog walks into a telegram office and say’s “Woof woof woof, woof woof woof woof, woof woof woof” and the lady at the counter says “there are only 13 woofs here, you could add another woof for the same price” and then dog replies “But that just wouldn’t make any sense”
I keep thinking we are running on prairies now but a quick look on Wikipedia says not. I can look forward to those in New Mexico and Oklahoma but I don’t really know what these are in Arizona. We are always quite high up now (around 5000ft) and the wind is refreshing and sometimes even chilling and often annoying. Today I did not run with a hat, I liked the liberating feeling of the wind and sun on my head though I did get a bit of sunburn today.
Today is Wednesday and is my club run night. It is the last Wednesday of the month which means it’s also wine and cheese night. As I entered the last 7.2 miles of the run or as I always reference it “three parks to go” I thought about running 3 parks with the other Serpies. Andy DuBois sent me an email today about shin splints and how to deal with pain mentally. He suggested I retreat to a place I like in my mind and try and shut out the pain. Today my “happy place” was a small room in the basement of a leisure centre in London crammed with sweaty runners and cheese. I miss Wednesdays.
The last few miles were downhill and with a tailwind. I finished with Italo in around 7.20, not the slowest 50k I have done but I am pleased with the continual forward motion and that currently I can still hold it back quite a lot and still get in comfortably under the cut-off times. As soon as I finished I asked for the two most important things, for ice to be put on my leg and for a beer to be put in my hand.
The finish line was in Ash Fork, a small town with 2 gas stations and one very small motel. Laure suggested that some of the runners may want to stay in the Comfort Inn in Williams where we will be running to tomorrow as it is only 30 miles away. I thought this was a great idea too, a nicer motel with a pool, coffee in the room, comfy bed, internet and shower gel (I’ve showered a few days in just water as I can’t be bothered finding mine in my bag). I lay down for about an hour then headed out of something to eat.
Williams is a great little town on Route 66. It’s the gateway to the Grand Canyon which is only about 50 miles from here. There is talk of a trip there tomorrow, I’ll see how I feel.
We headed into town and saw a place called “The Singing Pig”. The lady there Kathy was amazing and friendly and on hearing that I was from London she got excited and invited me to put a pin on the map on the wall. Then she asked “so what brings you to Arizona?” Then she got a whole lot more excited and said something I didn’t expect “We MUST get you on our facebook page”.
I had my photo taken with Deb and Dave outside the restaurant and she uploaded it immediately and asked me lots of questions about the race. It was great to feel like I was in America with Americans in a restaurant, it felt for the first time in a while that I could just be on a holiday. Tomorrow I will get a similar amount of time to relax and hope to go back to the same place. I would say that was the best restaurant experience I have had so far, it felt so nice just to be outside in the early evening chatting and eating.
Tomorrow is only 30 again, more climbing. I am looking forward to it once more.
Weight before 80.5 after 80.5kg
Food During – Half a subway left over from last night, 1 turkey sandwich, 1 clif bar, 5l Gatorade, 3l water, 1 coke, cliff blocks, anti-inflammatorys AFTER – Turkey sandwich, 2 cokes, 2 iced teas, ½ chicken and fries, dairy queen milkshake (blueberry), large bag of crisps
Kit – Newtons, Columbia short sleeved (the long sleeved one is now on strike), Kathmandu shorts (these are getting incinerated at flagstaff as I have worn them from the start), shades, socks, 1 calf guard (removed after about 20 because of swollen ankle), kooga pants
Injuries – Right shin still sore, ankle swollen and sore, bit of sunburn on face.