Today was another “easy” day of just short of 30 miles. I had a lot of food last night and more time off my feet than usual and the massage I think really helped.
I still had another white line dream though, at 2am I was up thinking I could get another 2 hours sleep if only I could get the road out of my head. I couldn’t and the remainder of the night I was just lying there. I don’t think lack of sleep will stop me in this race but it’s nice to sleep all the way through. I am told a good way to try to fall asleep is to imagine that you are flying low over some roads or trail with which you are familiar. I don’t think that one will ever work for me again.
The hamstring and right arse were sore again from the start but it occurred to me that if I ran it hurt no more than walking and so I resolved to run as much as I could, even the hills.
The road was the same again and it was cooler than yesterday (not that I used that to predict that it will stay cooler, I know better by now). It was actually really pleasant running in the morning. We are on a country road (don’t know what the US equivalent is) but there is not much around other than really nice houses set back a long way from the road. I could be in Surrey.
I thought about the fact that I consider 30 miles an “easy” day. Seems ridiculous. I can still remember when I would line up at the start of a marathon terrified of dying. That actually was the case in my first marathon in 2000 in London, I spent months worrying about how on earth someone can run for 26 miles without collapsing and at the start line I had a stress nose bleed. A half a mile in I had to go to the toilet to sort it out and on emerging I was behind the rubbish trucks, I was last in the London Marathon. That was terrifying.
Quite often I think back to times when what I am doing would sound impossible. When I ran my 6th marathon (Paris 2006) I think I had just about stopped panicking about the distance, I mean I’ve done this 5 times before and it they seemed to go well before so there is no reason why this one shouldn’t. I did not do as well in Paris as I would have liked (I think I got 3.39 when aiming for 3.30), however probably more importantly than time targets I think that’s when the blogging started.
Well actually blogs didn’t really exist back then (imagine that?) but I would write up my races on a word document and send them to the 3.7 people who might be interested in reading them. I made a spreadsheet of the Paris Marathon called “Probably the best marathon album in the world – ever”. I quite enjoyed putting that together.
And from then on my running and writing became one and the same thing. I wrote up my first ultra marathon on a word document too and that ended up in our club magazine and at the time I did not really know many people at the club, all of a sudden people would refer to me as the crazy ultra runner.
And so I continued because I loved the writing so much and the attention that comes from it (I am a big attention seeker I know that). My first Grand Union Canal run, the time the Spartathlon tried to kill me, my 4 year quest to Badwater, it’s all there, a massive collection of text detailing everything about my running life for the last 5 years, all in the public domain.
And I am really pleased with what I have done so far both running and writing and have loved to hear that people like reading it, especially now that I often go through dark times. I have tried my hardest (sometimes foregoing more important things like rest) to keep this thing alive as I really want to hold on to every detail. If I make it to New York this collection would be worth more to me than any medal, trophy, ranking or record could ever be.
I am sure I had a point when I started this tangent, what was it? Ahh yes. I sometimes think (and it’s terrible I know) that there are risks in living this race so publicly. What if I fuck it up? What would this blog become after that? I know people who never dare tell anyone what they are doing for similar reasons. Most of the runners here have a blog or website and are updating it every day. It seems this race does attract the attention seekers like me. I know the benefits of having so many people commenting and supporting me through this outweigh a hundred times any drawbacks of public failure. It still enters my mind sometimes though.
I guess when this is all over I want to point to this blog and say “this is what running across America does to someone”.
Blimey, back to the running. I saw a tortoise on the road : ) Actually Phillipe had to stop me standing on it. It was not very big, perhaps a little bigger than a big mac. It seemed out of place on the side of the road like that but it would not be shooed away, it just growled. Later on we saw a tortoise minus it’s head, should have got off the road.
The day went really fast, I passed “Second Creek” which is ten miles in and thought “no way, not ten miles already” but yes it was. The other miles seemed to drift by quickly too and the soreness abated too. There were flashes of high humidity but rarely was I reduced to a walk. Towards the end a lady stopped to say “you should have picked another day to do this run, it’s too hot”. Well we don’t really get the choice and she seemed staggered to hear that we had been doing this for 45 days.
I finished the day before noon, under 7 hours, 1 mile further and 30 minutes quicker than yesterday. I was really pleased because in retrospect I was a little concerned that I was only 45 minutes inside the cut off yesterday, today I was 1.30 hours.
We are now in a old German colony called Hermann, which hopefully means they have good beer. Since finishing the humidity has skyrocketed and our rooms are horrible and moist. I am off to an Irish pub soon, a lot of us are deficient in iron and I have alerted the runners to the fact that Guinness has lots of it.
Tomorrow is the same again, plus a marathon.