Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Day 15 review - A tale of 5 hugs.

I had just 24 hours until I ran with 20 or so Northern Rock staff on the Pennine Challenge route. The immediate problem was that I was roughly 6 miles behind the planned schedule.

It is worth reminding my readers that I am constantly working to 2 schedules. The first is the PLANNED SCHEDULE. The daily mileage on this schedule fluctuates from 21.7 to 27.7 miles over the course of the entire run. This schedule has been necessary to ensure that I’m at the start of the Pennine Challenge route on time and also to ensure that I’m within a reasonable distance of each booked B&B or campsite.

The next schedule becomes the most important after tomorrow. That one is the DAILY AVERAGE SCHEDULE. This schedule is simply based on the overall mileage of 868 miles divided by the number of planned days on the run (36). This schedule dictates that I run 24.1 miles a day.

So although I was ahead on the daily average schedule this morning this was no consolation as I had to make up those 6 miles to get to the Pennine Challenge start. This wouldn’t be easy as the route just south of West Woodburn through to Corbridge then on to Rowley near Castleside was a constant stream of up and down hill terrain.

After 10 miles of running up and down hills with treacherous blind summits I was struggling to find any pace. I noticed another runner in the distance coming the other way. As he got closer I realised that it was none other than Patrick from work. He knew my route for today and had decided to join me for a few miles. Patrick set a slightly quicker pace than I had done previously and it didn’t seem too long at all before I was in Corbridge for the 13 mile banana stop. I said a quick goodbye to Patrick and he headed off back up the hill to where he’d parked his car. Such is Patrick’s fitness, this wouldn’t have been too much of a chore for him.

Katy was supporting me today and when I met her at the 13 mile banana stop I already felt tired. I took an hour out to get a sandwich and a coffee from a little cafe in Corbridge. After such a long rest I asked Katy to meet me at the end point some 14 miles away (or so I thought at the time!). I had my first hug of the day from Katy and she was on her way home. As this tour goes on I must admit I’m getting softer by the day!

I’d memorised the route from Corbridge to a point further up the A68. The very hilly route took me up and down some steep hills. My memory proved to quite poor as I took a wrong turn and after 3.5 miles I arrived at Riding Mill. AHHHH!!! This is only 2 miles from Corbridge on a flat road. What a nightmare. Due to my stupidity, I was now 7.5 miles behind the planned schedule and 13 miles from the end point. Moreover, I was 13 miles from the next banana stop! Or so I thought, because at that point one of my colleagues, Mike Paul and his missus Michelle passed by in the car. I’ve never met Michelle before but she gave me a lovely hug. I was at such a low ebb, I asked her for another one and she duly obliged. That was 3 hugs so far for the day. Well worth taking a wrong turn for! Mike aand Michelle also had a supply of bananas and I nabbed a couple for the remainder of the trip. After a few photos and another hug from Michelle I was on my way again up the A68 and all of the climbs it has to offer.

Time was getting on and the pace was getting slower and slower. At least, with it being so late, the traffic was very quiet on the A68. Eventually, I got to the 24 mile point at Carterway Heads after almost 7 hours of running. I ate the 2 bananas and had an energy gel before setting off again for the last 4.5 miles. These last few miles took an hour and a half to complete. I felt quite energetic, all things considering, but the pain in my shins had returned and this restricted my speed.

The final 2 miles were up a 500ft climb. This is not what you want when you’ve just ran 26.5 miles. I eventually reached Rowley Station near Castleside where Katy and Jack were waiting for me. Jack ran up to me and I got the 5th and best hug of the day as I carried him to the finish point for 20 metres. By the time I finished it was 21:10. I'd ran for a whole 8.25 hours!

Overall today, I’ve ran 2500 ft uphill and 2500 ft downhill. The most alarming statistic is that I’ve got to run the 22 mile Pennine Challenge route in less than 12 hours! My shins are in a bit of a state and, due to the damp, I’ve got a nasty rash at the rear of both of my arm pits. The good thing is that I’ve managed to get back on track with the PLANNED SCHEDULE and I’m a good 22 miles ahead on the DAILY AVERAGE SCHEDULE. I’ve got a strong feeling that I’ll be calling upon those bonus miles in the not too distant future.