Days 67 and 68

Day T minus 3 – Lancaster to Kutztown – 50.5 miles

“Who is this new young good looking chap? And where is that smelly tramp who has been hanging around for the past 2 months?” Well no one actually said it but I am sure they all thought it. My new shaven face was certainly a discussion point this morning and during the stage. I still look in the mirror and not quite recognise myself, I have lost so much weight and it really shows now in my naked face. I am not sure whether I should try to get fat again when I finish this, saves me having to buy new clothes.

The race briefing this morning was long. I think Laure was frustrated by people going wrong yesterday (or perhaps by people complaining about it) so she went through all the turns. I can’t see how anyone could really complain about yesterday. It was basically one person going wrong and then lots of people sleep running, our own stupid fault.

But for some reason today at the start my head was not in it again. We are so close now yet the thought of 3 more 50 milers and then the last day just feels like too much effort. I commented to Gemma in the early stops that today does not feel like it is going very fast. I was not talking about actual speed or time but by my own perception of it. I knew I was going along at about the same pace as usual but it just seemed to drag which in this race for me is so much worse than actual times. Yesterday even having done the extra distance the miles seemed to pass quicker. I moaned to Gemma that today was going to be long.

The town of York was lovely but soon we were on the busy roads again where I feel less and less welcome. Drivers pulling out of side streets and turning right do not seem to look right before pulling out and I have to be really careful of this. With 4 days to go no one is going to pull out now with blisters, fatigue, shin splints or diarrhoea. Getting run over by a car though will bring an end to it though. We all need to be careful now.

I have not really spoke much about Patrick on this blog. He is a really nice guy who does not speak English but I get the impression he is the joker of the French crowd. He is currently in second place and is obviously a fantastic runner but recently he has slowed and today he looked a cripple at the start. At some point I saw him go to the side of the road to take a leak and then have to be helped back onto the road by his wife and Girard. He could still run faster than me though. Whatever his issues were they must have eased at he slowly slipped out of view.

We passed a couple of nice places today in the middle, one in particular called Gouglasville (I think) which was a beautiful town just off the interstate. I was good to get off the busy roads even though we could still hear them. I said to Gemma “Perhaps there is a place to get a smoothie here”. It was a loaded “Perhaps”, and Gemma responded by getting me said smoothie.

We then went through a city called Reading. This was the most horrible part of the day. The city was fairly ugly like it’s British counterpart but this was quite rough to run through. The sidewalks were all smashed, people everywhere looking at you with disapproval and I was afraid to go for a piss in case I got sucked into some sort of territorial war. Not nice.

And after that there was more really busy highway but by this point my head was better and the miles seemed to be going faster again. I was still in last place, everyone seems to have found some source of speed for the last few legs that I have not. I’m not worried though. 2 more 50 mile days and then the glory leg.

 Day T-2 Kutztown to Washington – 51 miles

This will be a short one as it was a long day and soon my eye lids will overpower me. Today was tough. Laure called it a “5 star day” for hardness. There were hills, traffic, lots of turns, ugly roads, busy towns, intolerable intersections and on top of that a good hour of really hard rain that promised to bugger up everyones feet.

All eyes were on Patrick this morning. He can’t walk. In the space of a week he has gone from the runner who finishes second most days to a cripple. Makes all this talk of “In the bag” feel a bit premature. Alex and I spoke at the start that we got into the “we’re so close” talk way too early. 500 miles is not that close. Less than 150 is but because we have been thinking about being so close for too long it feels like we should have finished by now.

Today started a little slow and just got slower. The first 7 miles were on a road of angry truck drivers (I don’t think they were angry I just imagined they were). Then there were a few miles of beautiful but very hilly roads which would have been brilliant but for the rain. I have loved the rain up until now but now I just think about my feet. After a rain shower my feet just burn. In the end they didn’t and overall I had nothing to complain about but I found today really mentally tough.

It’s funny, I am 3100 miles into a 3200 mile race and hence “near the end” but all I can think about is how it sucks to only be 17 miles into a 51 mile day. I can’t get myself into New York mode for some reason, I found it easy to think about it before now but all I can focus on is the next horrible mile.

The day eased up though and just before entering New Jersey a Fetchie called Jeff came out to see us. It was really great to see him and as always it would have been nice to spend more time chatting to someone who made the effort to come out and see the race. He bought some really nice tomato that got put into my sandwich and I really enjoyed it. I may change my mind about this salad stuff….

Near the end I saw Serge’s crew and asked them how Patrick was doing. They said he had been to hospital for pain killing injections and was back on the road. From what I heard he was on about 60k when I finished and was likely to miss the cut off by some time but that is OK so long as he does not miss it tomorrow. I really hope he makes it and hope that they would be lenient with the cut off if needed, if he has to crawl all day and all night to get to Central Park then let him. Come on Patrick. COURAGE.

And that was about it for today, I finished in 13.30 and will not sleep much tonight. Tomorrow is about 49 miles and then the last day. Gemma and I celebrate 2 years since our first date. She will be treated to me eating pizza in bed and then falling into a coma. I might shower beforehand though, I’m romantic like that.

Two more days, 85 miles. NOT in the bag.