Saturday, 7 July 2007

Day 1 review - A solid performance in very tough conditions

After a hearty breakfast of porridge and beans on toast at the splendid little B&B in Wick, the support crew and I (Katy and Jack) set off for John O'Groats. After a quick photo at the famous John O'Groats sign we then set off to Duncansby Head. This is about the same northerly point as the John O'Groats sign but 2 miles to the east. This is, for me, the real End to End start point.

Conditions were pretty bad with heavy rain and a nasty wind. This didn't really bother me until later on in the run. I was just really glad to be getting underway after all the planning and preparation. I set off with Elvis and "A little less conversation, a little more action please" on the iPod. Quite appropriate!

The first 10 miles (01:47:06) were very straightforward with a peak elevation of just 343 feet. This is very low compared to what I've been training in so there were no problems. I stopped and said a quick hello to a guy called Dan Fowler who was playing a drum. He was going to be spending the next 89 days drumming while walking to Lands End. Good luck to the lad.

I met the support crew at the 14.8 mile point (02:43:28) and stopped to eat a banana and drink some electrolyte fluid. A couple of minutes later and I was on my way again.

At 16 miles, the constant wind and rain was threatening to take my mind to a place that I would expect it to be on, perhaps, day 20. I was soaking wet from top to bottom. It was time to use one of my secret weapons. My colleagues at work had made a playlist for me on my iPod so I decided to listen to that. There were personal motivational messages from the creators of the playlist together with a few of their chosen tracks. Highlights included - Sun is shining (Mandy's choice), Keep on Runnin (Jonathan's choice), Smack my B!tch up (Ian "The coach's" choice), Run Runaway (Stephen's choice), The long and winding road (Mike's choice). And while I'm on the subject of Mike's choice - The rather hypnotic sounding Indian music was, yes a bit weird, but the two 13 minute tracks made me think of nothing but curry for over 2 miles. Which was nice.

Miles 22 (04:10:32) to 24 (04:39:12) were quite tough and I had my 2nd banana stop of the day at 24.26 miles (04:42:35). The traffic during these miles was quite bad. I had to step off the road 3 times to avoid being hit by the passing speeding cars. There's more of this to come over the next 2 days as the paths are few and far between!

I stopped running in Whaligoe as soon my GPS watch read that I'd ran the planned 25.3 miles. Jack was fast asleep in the car! Due to the rain he wasn't able to get out much today. In fact the only exercise he had was a trip to Tesco in Wick to get some more bananas. He's been good as gold though.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the solid start I've made to this epic run. Energy levels were high throughout. Confidence is still good. Understandably the constant wind and driving rain almost got to me. It'll take more than that though to chip away at my mental armour.

Tomorrow is a massive day. I'll be running just over 27 miles on difficult dangerous roads. I'll need to have my wits about me at all times. Let's hope for better weather so Katy and Jack aren't stuck in the car too much.

Yet again I need to thank those of the Toon Army who, today, made pledges after seeing the article on One of which was Les Usher who I hope to see you on a few away trips next year.

This is Mark Allison signing off from the canny little B&B in Wick. Let the adventure continue and may we see the sun tomorrow, if only for a few hours.