Days 24 and 25 - Back in it

Day 24 Velarde - Palo Flechado Pass – 37.1 miles

Today was nice and easy once more though that will not last. This lovely down hill stretch and an stage of only 37 miles. I thought I’d enjoy this one while it lasted.

We started at the highest point of the race which in theory means it’s now downhill to New York. A pleasant thought but not one that anyone would take seriously.

Everyone seemed to go fast today, The usual ones at the front did their own thing and Koshita and Bando set off ahead of me too. I don’t think I was going particularly slowly today, at least in comparison to other days of the past week.

The first miles were downhill in the lovely forest that we climbed into yesterday, within a few we were back out on the plains of a down called Angel Fire, a ski resort with not a lot happening in the summer. This section of road was a little boring and busy with traffic but then we hit upon a small town called Angel Creek which seemed quite lively.

There are so many RV’s here, makes me want to live in one. There are RV parks and dealers all over the place here, everyone just likes to carry their house around with them and park by lakes and trees and live there. It’s so nice now, instead of baren desert where water and ice have to be artificially transported from miles away there is natural running water surrounded by life.

I ran quite a bit of today with Koshita who has a slow but sure running gait. I looked at that near the start and thought it was not much faster than walking and now here I am trying to hammer it and I am going at the same pace. Koshita is a veteran of this stuff though, he did the RAM in 2002 and has a T-Shirt from some race from Paris to Tokyo. There is no doubting his endurance.

Not a lot happened today really, we were told to enjoy one of the last “nice days” we’ll have for a while. The next two days will be nearly 110 miles in total with driving to the start and finishes so there will be little rest. Then we have more than a week in Oklahoma, which is basically a big field. Might make me yearn for Rotherham again.

Day 25 Palo Flechado Pass – A pink House – 53.6 miles

Today was made longer, from 49 to 53.6 miles because of difficulties finding accommodation in places. I no longer really know what distance we have to cover day by day, I just get the turn sheet at the start of the leg and then I know. I call it a turn sheet, more often than not there are no turns on them.

So today was 53.6, tomorrow will be about 55. It’s not the distance so much but the anticipation of time lost recovering. I think with 12 hours being the very optimistic end of running time, half an hour at the finish, half an hour to drive to the motel, half an hour to shower and change etc. Does not leave much time before I have to get up early and do it all again.

That said the more long days we have the quicker we get to New York. 37 mile days are fine for a “rest” but ultimately they don’t get us much closer to the finish. It was such a pain last night having all that time and no internet access though.

Today I just ran as comfortably as I thought I could sustain and sustain it I did. I still do not wear the watch again and I just ate up the green mile signs like pac-man.

Most of the first 20 were down, there was a turning at 19 which just jumped up on me, I though we’d done about 17. It felt like a bonus 2 miles just being given to me which always feels good, the miles seem to be going faster again. And as we were near an Interstate I put my phone on to see if there was reception, YES. I called Gemma to chat for a bit while walking along a quiet road next to the interstate. It’s so hard having no way to tell her whether I have finished a stage or not.

For the first time in 2 weeks I wore a new top. I’ve been wearing the same 2 long sleeved white ones for so long now that dogs bark at me from 6 miles. I wore the one with the badgers on it and Bertrand and David got excited (and still a little confused as to what a Badger is. Do they not have them in France?) and took photos.

Half way we went through a town called Springer. I don’t think I have had an ice-cream since Lesley and Dave bought me one about 2 weeks ago. I went into the Gas station and bought some strawberry cheesecake thing for $1.85. It was lovely as I wandered through this town that we will be staying in later.

I turned another corner, saw a steep uphill as it was getting quite warm and thought I should walk it. Then I saw another shop and figured it would be rude not to buy another ice-cream and eat it while sauntering up the hill? I dived in and bought a Jolly Rancher (89c), it was an amazing treat in the hot day.

I ran most of the day near Serge (who was having some stomach problems now) and Alex and Marcus. Normally I am quite close to Alex and so being near him was good as it means I might be back to normal. Alex is a true gentleman which he proved as he wandered into the middle of the road to fart rather than do it in my direction. I have a little chaffing from spending the past week pulling my pants down every 5 minutes (perhaps I should ask Jordan for advice about that?) but other than that I had no problems.

EXCEPT – My quads were a bit sore and my calves. It’s as if I have been doing a lot of running. The initial fear of “oh shit this is bad” was immediately washed away with “well what did you expect after 1100 miles you stupid idiot?” My legs hurt and I liked it.

The second half was mostly uphill and it got windy as the day went on. Previous days I would have walked when the wind got high but today I was determined to run more. I had to stop a little to use the bushes. Well, I say that there were no bushes for miles now. Now that I am only shitting in single digits each day I am a lot more discerning as to where I go. I don’t think there is going to be much choice in Oklahoma other than doing it in front of the cows.

It didn’t get hot today either, something I would expect from being high up and on the plains but am told that we are going to hit 40c again in Oklahoma. I am glad Gemma will be here for that.

I think I did the distance in just a shade under 12. Not too sure but it is comforting to know that after all this so far I can still run a comrades time. I think about the total time this will take and the total miles and someone will say “didn’t you just walk across America?”  The running feels like walking sometimes but then walking now feels like stopping.

Tomorrow is another one of those.