I thought today was going to be another long one, well at 47.3 miles it was a little more than average but in my head I had over 50. It’s not really much relief when you hear that a stage is shorter because you know you still have the miles to do. The big days are coming.
Today we were going to say goodbye to Missouri. It tried it’s best to kill us with its humidity but failed and then gave up in the last 2 days. This morning we had only 1 mile left of it before crossing the mighty Mississippi and into Illinois. It’s a shame we had to do this bit in the dark but the size of it was impressive and the bridge was long. As soon as we entered the state it started to rain.
It was drizzle and grey sky for the first few hours as we plodded up a gentle incline. I was being frustrated by my shin and groin again, it seems now to be the same four things (the others being hamstring and arse) just taking turns to torment me. I felt like I was putting in the effort and doing a reasonable pace but it just was not happening. It was annoying and I thought about how long the day was going to be.
The rain turned into a monsoon, it came down heavily for an hour and the roads turned to rivers. Those gutters at the side of the roads that we sometimes have to jump in to avoid traffic were now streams gushing with water. I think I might like Illinois.
I was cold and wet and loving it. I wondered whether I could get hypothermia as I had no waterproof clothes to put on. I explained to the crew that my skin is waterproof and so should be fine in just my tshirt and shorts. Most people hate the rain because it can cause blisters, though this danger was no less for me it didn’t really bother me. My biggest concern was that if that $20 note in my bag gets too soggy I will not be able to buy a McDonalds at 37 miles.
I stopped and the cloud remained to prevent us from suffering from the hideous humidity that it would have caused. In fact it was not too hot at all today, in the low 30s. I had a close encounter with a car, I stepped onto the grass and as she passed me she seemed to get faster and swerve towards me. I threw my arms up in the air to voice my dissatisfaction and she turned around to apologise and said it was because her visor was down and she could not see me. Illinois – It’s the airhead drivers that’ll kill yer.
Today I was running close to Philippe who does not speak much English but likes to pull silly faces at me as he passes me. I returned the gesture at some stage by mooning at him. It helps pass the time. The time did once again pass quickly though the leg was still sore. If I can keep it moving me forward then I am winning.
Mcdonalds was ok, I had a quarter pounder this time with fries and a smoothie. I am becoming very aware of just how much I stink when stood in a queue of people. I sat down on a wall near the place and ate the burger and watched Phillippe and Ishiara pass. I never really thought the McDonalds would become a routine thing but it is hard to pack in enough calories in such a small time at the end of the day. If I can stuff 1000+ into me in 15 minutes during the stage then I am going to take it.
The last few miles my leg eased up a bit, seems that I am fine when it gets over 40 miles, good job most of the remaining stages are just that. We stopped just short of the Illinois river in a place called New Florence (probably not as nice as Florence) near a house. We were supposed to stay in Pittsfield today but there were no places so instead we ran through and ended up staying in Waynesville (there was a nearby place called Beardstown that I would have fitted in nicely to). Waynesville had a lot going on and I went to buy Italo’s height in Subway for dinner and breakfast. Tomorrow was going to be a 3.30 wake up with the drive back.
3.30 and the alarm goes off. I don’t know what 30 minutes less sleep really does to you but having to get up earlier made me paranoid to even fall asleep. I was pretty grumpy, even though I did have an Italian BMT subway for breakfast.
My shin felt sore as I hobbled down the stairs but after doing so I looked at Bando do the same. That man is in bits. To look at him walking or running you would be hard pressed to find any part of his legs that are operating normally. Yet Bando finishes each day in great spirits with a little jig at the end of each day and a smile on his face and a joke to tell (though often I can’t understand). He probably doesn’t whinge about everything on a blog (I guess he would not have time). Even if his legs fall off he will find some way to get to New York by sheer bloody mindedness. I like to think I am mentally tough but that man is in another league.
There was a bit of a debate this morning about potential rule changes. Some runners feel they now do not need to carry the 1.5l of water that the race rules require. Serge was recently given a penalty for not carrying anything on a stage and there is mixed feeling about it. I would say keep the rule as it is (I have no choice but to carry water anyway) as that is what we all signed up for. I think perhaps some people have bad chaffing from their packs. It seems to have divided the runners and some feel frustrated about some of the other rules. I really hope it does not poison the group, we have all come so far.
When it was still dark we were treated to an awesome light show. IN the distance there were some menacing looking storms and lighting forking out of the sky every 2 seconds. Sometimes it would go sideways, I have never seen it do that before. I could barely hear the thunder which means it must be a long way away and it never shifted over to us.
But the day started fine, it was drizzly and cool, my legs did not hurt too much yet I was still a grumpy bastard. Remembering the new rule of thumb that if you are grumpy then eat something (thanks Russell) after a few miles I sat down with a can of coke and a load of cookies given to me last night. It really does work, I felt much better. Rik Waller must be the happiest man alive.
The road for the first 15 miles was lovely, no traffic, lots of up and down and a nice spray of rain to keep us cool. I was surprised by how quickly it seemed to go by before we were on a traffic road again. It was not busy but with no shoulder you have to look out a lot.
It stayed cool for most of the morning, Claus (Markus’ support person) told me about a sign he saw saying “The Devil called and he wants his weather back”. Well it looks like he has got his wish.
20 miles in we passed through Jacksonville and I knew there was a McDonalds there (After I finish this blog I will have to do one of those “word cloud” things. I suspect, McDonalds, Shin, Humidity and Shits to appear high). It was quite a way in and I was disappointed to miss breakfast (it was 11.20 I assume breakfast ends at 11?) so I went for a cheeseburger with a smoothie. As I tried to pay a woman who had been listening to me talk about what I am doing jumped in and paid for my food. That was really kind of her. Illinois – more than just bad drivers.
I was close to Alex at this stage which pleased me because he disappeared early in the previous 2 days as I slowly plodded. However I lost him when I went in to get my food. There was a long uphill section out of Waynesville before crossing an interstate and then onto another lovely quiet road. This one was hell however.
I thought there was something wrong with me, it was barely 30 degrees, duffle coat weather yet I was exploding all over the place. I walked more than I had done all day and when the support car came I had to lie down and drink a coke while Emily sprayed me with water (I think she likes doing that). This continued till the end and I knew it was the humidity but did not think it should be this bad. At the finish I heard that everyone choked on those 10 miles which made me feel better. Not that I feel good about others suffering generally I was just worried something was wrong with me.
So all in all a successful day for me capped of beautifully when Laure said she had a surprise for me and then handed me a Guinness. She had obviously heard about the iron deficiencies in the group.
SO that’s week 7 done. 3 weeks to go and according to my calculations less than 1000 miles…