Saturday, 14 July 2007

Day 8 Review - A tough one, despite being mostly downhill!

I got underway at 12:15 today after the support crew and I packed up base camp 3 and travelled down from Inverness to the start point 21 miles north of Pitlochry. I took it very steady from the off as the first planned banana stop was at 14 miles. There were a few clouds in the sky and only a few spots of rain at the start. The rain was never to reappear before the end of the run.

There was a lot less pressure on today and I was able to enjoy the nice scenery as a result. I think I enjoyed it a little too much as my average pace was a consistent 13 minutes per mile for each of the first 9 miles. 9 miles is usually the place for a banana stop and it showed today as miles 9 - 14 were even slower. During this first stage, the majority of running was done on a cycle path quite close to the A9. This made a nice change as I'm getting quite irritated with running on the uneven grassy verges of the A9.

At the 14 mile point it we decided to head into Pitlochry and get a jacket potato. I had a side order of painkillers with my lunch to try and take away the pain of numerous blisters that were present on both of my feet. More of that later!

An hour later and I was back at the 14 mile point and unfortunately back on the grassy verges of the busy A9. It took me a while to realise why there where so few lorries on the A9 today. It was Saturday! I must admit that I've lost track of all time recently. I feel like I've been running for months and not just 8 days. The daily routine now consists of wake up, porridge, run, update website, sleep. I've not had any chance to sneek a look into any of the Whiskey Distilleries or do anything at all touristy.

The next seven miles before Pitlochry were very slow but I wasn't that bothered. The most important thing was that I was chalking off mile after mile. Also, I was running every single mile. I've not walked once so far and do not intend to either. As I've stated many times before - This is a sponsored run! Not a walk, not a ride, not a drive. It's a run.

I passed the 200 mile point just before Pitlochry. It was great to pass another major milestone. John O'Groats is now a few pages back in the road atlas and a very distant memory. I'm now over half way between John O'Groats and the North East. I was boosted by all these statistics and decided to pick the pace up a bit in the final 5 miles. I posted my first 12 minute mile at 21 miles. Then got a few respectable 11 minute miles in before the end. The closing stages were done in bright sunshine and I got a bit emotional as Katy and Jack greeted me at layby 33 on the A9. This was their last day on the support rota for now and I wouldn't be seeing my boy until next Thursday. It's going to be difficult saying goodbye to them at Perth railway station in the morning. Enough of that emotional stuff though. I'm a tough Geordie!!

After the finish, it was a 40 minute drive to Kinross and base camp 4. I couldn't face any tea (or supper really as it was 21:00 by the time we checked in). I'm finding it a struggle to eat after the daily run and for the last few nights I've not had much at all.

So what impact has running 8 marathons in 8 days had on me? The positives first. After day 3, I stopped experiencing any pain in my legs. I now wake up every morning pain free in that region. I attribute this mainly to the "Rego Recovery" drink by Science in Sport that I'm drinking after each run. And that's about it for the positives! There are only 3 negative things to speak of really. The first is my right Achilles tendon. It's been sore and swollen since day 2. I reckon that this has been caused by running many many miles on the A9 with my right foot on the white line at the side of the road. That said, the soreness has gone today and the swelling has gone down a lot. It's no coincidence that I haven't been running on the white lines at the side of the road. I've been spoilt these last few days with uneven grassy verges, 3 foot wide hard shoulders and about 15 miles of cycle path! Hopefully, that problem will soon be over.

WARNING! Some readers may not want to read on. The most worrying thing to date is the amount of blisters on my feet. It started out as two on the inside of each foot. These are no longer painful but I do have to "empty them out" each night when they fill with blood during the day. The painful ones are in the same place on each foot. They are between my big toe and the one beside it. They extend round slightly to the base of my foot and it's like having a marshmallow in there as I run! Again, I have to "empty them out" each night. I've been applying a spray on "second skin" to protect them. Hopefully, this will work better in the next few days. I've got a new blister today. It's on the inside of my left heel. I'll be popping that one in the morning and applying a second skin plaster. Oh and while I'm on about my feet, my 2nd, 3rd and 4th toes on each foot are as swollen as a boxers face after a fight. I've been doing some toe curling exercises since yesterday to improve the circulation in that region. So as you can tell. My feet are in a pretty bad state! But so they should be after running 210 miles in the last 8 days.

Finally, my arms and legs are covered in insect bites. I'm resisting the temptation to itch them and hopefully they will be gone in the next few weeks. I only wish I was fast enough to outrun those pesky flies. And that's about it for the negatives. Hopefully, this has given you lucky readers an insight into what I'm having to deal with on a daily basis other than running.

As I mentioned earlier, tomorrow sees Katy and Jack travel back to Newcastle and the next support person joins the party. That lucky person is Burnley supporting Keith Riley. I'm sure the 1974 FA Cup semi final and Super Mac's 2 goals will be mentioned once or twice over the next 5 days.

Thanks again for all the new pledges today. The amount is now over £12,500. This is making all the pain worthwhile.

I've double checked the mileage tonight and I'm only 3.5 miles behind the planned schedule. I may try and claw one of those miles back tomorrow if I feel up to it!

This is Mark Allison signing off from the hotel in Kinross. May tomorrow bring no new blisters!