Days 28 - 31 - Sorry but the sun has been spanking me

Day 28 – Boise City to Guymon – 56.6 miles

The longest yet but I was not worried as today was going to be a very good day. Gemma had flown in to Tulsa and as I set out she was going to drive out and meet me. Today the 56 miles was just circumstantial.

Still, it was going to be very hard work, with the clocks going forward again we all lost an hour and I lost another hour waiting for a burger and fries in a so called “fast food” place, Dairy Queen. It was the second time in two days that happened after our hour wait at pizza hut the previous night. Despite the size of some of the people here they don’t seem to do food very fast.

Today I was joined again by Russ and Claire who were fantastic. They took turns running with me and we spoke about a lot of stuff. Russ had run the Trans-Europe last year and knows a thing or two about this kind of thing. He was great to talk to and gave me a brief history of Oklahoma, which is basically that displaced natives from New Mexico, Texas and Florida were sent there from their homelands as the settlers wanted that land. After gruelling journeys where many died they arrived at what is essentially a barren place except that not long after they had been given property rights of the state they found a lot of oil.

I was not sure what time Gemma was going to get here, I guessed around midday and I had no idea what car she was driving. Russ and Claire left to take Jenni to the finish as the heat had taken it’s toll again. Soon after I saw her walking down from a white car.

I did not really know what to do or say but I just ran up to her and hugged her, I missed her so much and have craved for her presence since I have been here. I thought I could do this on my own but that is clearly not the case. There was suncream in both of our eyes.

Blimey this story has everything. succeeding against all odds, action, comedy, Love,  romance, Diarrhoea. It really should be made into a film. I will get Colin Farrell to play me (though he will have to prove his beard growing capabilities), Gemma wants to be played by Katw Winslet. I think Italu will have to be Benicio Del Toro (Yeah I know, Spanish, Sardinian), Alex will be played by Brian Blessed.

ANyhoo the run. Despite all the nice distractions today seemed to drag quite a bit. When I got to the 23 mile point I thought “is that all?”. Still, nothing was hurting so I tried to put the drag out of my mind.

I requested a sandwich from Gemma who drove to the finish to bring me a Subway, great first job at crewing. I was still being crewed by the organisation but tomorrow it will be Gemma’s turn to try it. She even got all the salad correct.

Oklahoma weather is very predictable right now. There has been no rain for 2 months and it is in the 40s every day. Each day starts warm in the dark and gets hotter and hotter though in the morning there is a nice cool breeze sometimes. Then in the afternoon some clouds offer protection for the runners as the temperature goes over 40. The problem is that the wind always picks up and becomes hot and in todays case was right in my face. Passing trucks blasting me with dead animal air does not help.

It was a long day, 13.30 hours for the 56. I was pleased with that and the fact that there was a pool outside though it was dirty.

Day 29 – Guymon to Balko – 48.8 miles

I joked about 45 miles being a “rest day”. In fact it is the average number of miles and so can’t be considered a rest day. I slept OK last night but was not prepared for today to be so tough.

We started at the usual 5.30 running through the streets of Guymon. Russ and Claire were there early as they were staying in a hotel a few miles into the run. It was already warm before the sun came up and my legs felt like lead. I got hot and sweaty right from the start and worried a little as to what the day would bring. Still, it was “only” 45 miles today.

I have a place in the Luton Marathon later this year, I reckon after running through Oklahoma that place will look like a magical paradise. There really is nothing here. I can’t remember the last time I saw an RV which suggests that mobile Americans choose to avoid this place. There really should be signs on the bushes, “next bush not for 15 miles” like they do for service stations on motorways.

I am starting to crap normally now, well apart from it being in open fields with truck drivers watching. My drinks preferences had changed over the 4 weeks so far. The first 2 weeks I was drinking buckets of Gatorade and monster energy drink, the next week I changed to cokes and sprites and now I mainly drink iced tea, diluted apple juice and obviously my own concoction of Budwater. I still reckon Russell is going to steal my drink idea and make bzillions before I get to New York.. It was on this blog first..

This was the first full day that Gemma was supporting me and she did an incredible job. I was running close to Alex, Jenni and Serge again, we seem to all be close nowadays. The heat picked up in the second half of the day and I think got to me more than I realised. When I finished I was pretty worn out, ready for sleep though we had a half hour drive to a place called Beaver to go to our motel.

Beaver was probably the shittest place we have been to so far, everywhere was closed. We ended up having to eat at a burger van. Both of us were pretty grumpy having been spanked by the sun quite a lot. The room we stayed in was still boiling hot, I had to shower and get into bed wet just to cool down a bit. Really tough day and a tougher one tomorrow.

Day 30 Balko to Laverne – 51.8 miles

Another long day, 6 in a row now of more than 45 miles and it’s taking it’s toll on people. I spoke to Serge early in the race who has slowed down a bit in recent days and he says it’s just tiredness rather than any specific problem with injury. Now at the start everyone starts walking and we look for the first person to “break” and start running. Usually it is Koshita who takes a camcorder out with him and runs out in front to film us all. Thus far I think he has taken 3000 photos. He certainly has an endurance challenge at the end of this race when he gets home.

Before the start of the stage we are presented with the rankings from the previous day and overall.  I don’t normally look at them too much except I did have a look today and in had my cumulative time, 308 hours. 300+ HOURS??? That’s nearly 2 weeks of solid running, in only 4 weeks.

I was tired from the start and it showed. I spent the first hour rueing my decision to only have a 6 inch subway for breakfast. I felt more wobbly than usual, taking me back to the diarrhoea days. Luckily I perked up a bit and by about 12 miles I felt normal again, well as normal as you can in these circumstances. At 12 miles we passed the only gas station on the route and Gemma managed to snaffle the shops last coffee, much to the dismay of the Italians.

It was hot again and nothing to see. I saw a building where the flag of Oklahoma was flying. It has green leaves on it, that makes as much sense as a Jordan doll having a hymen. Perhaps it is greener in the south but I was having no luck.

There was a tree in a field with lots of cows under it. I wondered how large animals like that can survive, about 30 of them under the one tree in a field with lots more scattered about.

Day 31 Laverne to a Picnic Table – 32 miles

Today was an “easy” day, 32 miles which was welcome after the last 6 days of high mileage. Last night we all squeezed into a small motel who’s owners were lovely, giving us a really good meal of pasta, potatoes and chicken. It’s nice to finish where you stay and start there the next day rather than have to drive out to someplace. I like to just roll out of bed and start.

It was a faster start than usual, people seemed keen on getting the job done before it got too hot. I felt warm again early on in the town of Laverne though got a little cooler as I got out of town.

Today Oklahoma got pretty for a while, around 10 miles in we were running along a hilly twisty road with lots of coloured sand to look at. There were even some trees too, I retract my terrible joke about the flag.

Today seemed to be going well, I was downing a lot of fluid and having the occasional sandwich, walking when I needed when it got hot and after 24 miles we entered the town of buffalo where we would run out of but return later. As soon as we hit the town it got a lot warmer, the temperature said 100F at it was only 10.30. I was with Alex and Jenni and Anneke at the time and said it will cool down again when we left the town. It didn’t.

The surprising thing was that it got so hot so quickly, like someone had just cranked it right up. It was like a blast that slowed us all right down. The humidity was high and this was the first time it has hit us.

Half way through the town I got snapped by a local journalist and tomorrow will be on the cover of the Buffalo Herald. FAME at last :)

What was supposed to be an “easy” day was becoming a hellish one. Gemma made it better by getting me a Subway at the gas station at 24 miles which I slowly ate and then tried to return to a jog but it was exhausting. In my head I knew there was only 7 miles to go, 6 miles to go, 5 miles etc but the thought of tomorrow played on my mind, 47 miles of this, potentially another 3 or 4 hours out in this humidity.

That thought disappeared as soon as I spotted Badger Creek which made me laugh and it was only a mile from the end. The finish was at a picnic spot under tree cover, they are such tempting looking places when you are running past them, the nice seat in the shade. It was really nice to be able to sit down in one with nothing more to do, well not for today anyway.

Laure said to us a few days ago that we will probably remember Oklahoma as the hardest state. I can understand that already though today in a restaurant I was told that the humidity has not even started yet..