Days 63 and 64

Day 63 – Frostburg to Hancock – 50.6

Today was the second of the “mountain” days. I think after this it’s pretty plain sailing to New York. Yesterday was beautiful and interesting although the length of time on my feet took it’s toll. From the very first steps of this morning I felt like my feet had been battered. Wearing wet shoes and clothes from yesterday probably did not help.

The first 10k of today were all down and at the bottom of the descent was a McDonalds that I had earmarked for breakfast. We then went through a small town called Cumberland which had been written on very old mile markers for miles and miles so it must have been important back in the day. Now it is just a regular town like many others we have passed through only there were a lot more morning joggers today.

Now we are in the founding states there are a lot more interesting buildings. Ones made out of stone and brick and made to last. We have been following the “National Road” more or less from Indianapolis, one of the first national highways built about 200 years ago. It is not a very busy road but it is littered with relics from the past when the country was only 13 states. There are forts of previous battles and toll houses with prices on. To take a 2 horsed 6 wheeled carriage into Hancock would cost 6 cents I think. Not sure about a weary runner on two tired feet and a badger on his back,

I am going to learn a lot more about this area when I am done here which is not long now.

Anyhoo the running went ok. The climbs did not really start until half way and even then they were not as bad as yesterday, certainly not the first climb. There were some awesome viewpoints though, one at a place called “Town Hill” which had a great looking B&B (yes, sounds very British doesn’t it?) at the top .

Today I was excited about Gemma being at the finish though she got stuck in traffic and I am still waiting for her to arrive. I have been counting the days since we said goodbye in a rushed way in Oklahoma at the start of stage 36. It seems like such a long time ago though I have trouble now remembering what happened yesterday from the day before from the day before, like the days really are merging into one enormous tract of time. Los Angeles was two months ago (TWO MONTHS????) yet somehow it feels like that could have been years ago. My summer has been so crammed with excitement, despair, fear, hope, experience and all other emotions that by brain has probably spread it over more than a year just to stop me exploding.

Now I don’t feel like I can even measure time. I think some days “I have about 8 hours left of running today”. I don’t even know what that is anymore. 8 hours used to be a working day, or a 50 mile race, or an after work pub session getting out of hand. I don’t know why I even look at the time anymore, I just plod along and at some point during the day it finishes.

Serge said to me this morning “from tomorrow we will be able to say this is the last Sunday, and then this is the last Monday etc”. It’s true and it’s going to be awesome. This time next week I’ll be in New York. I prefer to think of it this way though.

Remember that thing I had to do ten times this summer? Well now I only have to do it once more.


Day 64 – Hancock to Waynesboro – 46.2 miles

This is the “last Sunday” of the race. No more running on Sundays after today. This time next week I won’t have to do any running. Etc

It really lifts spirits to be able to say things like that, to say to a passer by who asks “yeah we started 2 months ago in LA but this is the last week”.

Gemma arrived later than expected last night while stuck in traffic in a place called “New York” and we did not get a huge amount of sleep. I felt quite tired but so happy that Gemma was here now. Things seem much easier when she is around.

I also had a visit from John Price this morning. I had met John once at the Spartathlon 2 years ago and kept in touch with his crazy antics on Facebook. Earlier this year he ran across America pushing a baby jogger on his own. It was great to see him and he brought along some good beer and cookies too. Even better to see him : )

I started the day still being crewed by the organisation while Gemma got more sleep and it started quite well with the feeling that this will soon be over. There were a few more hills left of the Appalachians but it was not nearly as hard as the past 2 days. The roads were quiet and lovely and after about 15 miles Gemma came along and started running small sections with me. It was great to have her back. Her bum is much easier to follow than Mr Tanaka’s.

John popped up too and was taking photos and walking alongside me up some of the hills. It was great to chat to him as the last time I would have spoke to him was when I was an absolute wreck after my first Spartathlon and I did not want to talk to anybody. However I feel in this race I at least know that I would never feel that bad.

Around half way a chap pulled over (I think his name was Bennett but I may have misheard) who said he was a friend of Laurie and that he drove up from Baltimore to say hello. That was really kind and I said I was on my way to the McDonalds and that Gemma and John were there. I think they ate McDonalds together while my Big Mac and Smoothie were delivered on the road (this is the advantage of a support crew). I did not see him again but it was really nice meeting you and thanks for donating the beard trimmers : )

The second half of today felt a bit crap. The euphoria of “The last Sunday” wore off and the reality of “I still have 20 miles to go which is another 5 hours of slogging” set in. It’s funny how I have don’t this now for 63 days, run nearly 3000 miles and the thought of doing another 20 just make me feel crap. I have the blister on my little toe back that I got on the first day and it was burning a bit. I also seem to have started creating electricity and every now and then getting a shock in my balls or on my back. I think the humidity is quite high again and maybe my damp clothes are causing that.

I was a bit grumpy and sore for much of the rest and came in a little later than I would have liked but the finish was quite nice, some cookies (John’s cookies were amazing, peanut butter that just melts in your mouth which is actually a really good thing to eat on the run) and a lady (whose name I forget) with cake.

We went to a buffet later which was an experience. I know I have lost some weight recently but a womans arms should still not be bigger than my torso. Yuk.