Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Day 33 review - Eventful to say the least!

The day started off with a short drive to the start near Tiverton from the digs in Exeter. This was the beginning of Katy and Jack's 3rd and final stint on support duty. It was good to have them back on board.

The first challenge of the day was a 700 ft climb over 3.5 miles. Unlike, yesterday there was no hint of any pace. My legs were like lead! Obviously, something to do with the fish and chips I had for tea last night and the cereal and toast for breakfast. There were not many carbs in that lot. By the time I got to the summit the temperature had gone up a couple of degrees and I felt then that I would be in for a tough day. I suppose it was about time I had a tough one because I've been on good form this last week.

The first banana stop was in Crediton and was actually in the form of a jacket potato. Once this kicked in, I thought, I'd be back up to my recent fast pace again. It didn't work and I seemed to get slower if anything. The surroundings weren't helping any. It was mile after mile of hedged single track road going up one minute and down the next. I hardly got to see any scenery due to the high hedges and each mile seemed just like the last one. When you're running slowly, believe you me this is very mundane! I made it to the 14.3 mile point and, with Katy, made a decision to have a long break.

We drove to the Travelodge down the road that Katy had booked this morning using the automated telephone system. The receptionist couldn't find the booking but we showed her the text message confirming it and she gave us the keys. I tried to get an hour's sleep before tea and Katy and Jack went for a walk. They didn't get far as the receptionist collared them. She said that the booking was actually for 2008 and we would have to pay an extra £59 and claim back any money that had already been paid. Katy offered to pay the difference which wasn't an option. Then she spent an hour on the phone to the reservations department. Isn't that what the very nervous receptionist should have done? Call me old fashioned but I thought we were the injured party here. When you tell an automated system that you want a booking "TODAY" you shouldn't expect a booking in July 2008. After spending many minutes on hold, Katy returned to the room and I took over talking to the guy in reservations. I asked him what would happen if we didn't pay the extra £59. "You'd be trespassing" was the reply. I told him to call the police and he put me on hold for 5 minutes. When he returned, he told me that it was up to the hotel to sort the problem out. Time was getting on and we had already lost over an hour's daylight trying to sort out this problem. We had no choice but to get back out on the road and leave the gear in the hotel. Any consequences would have to be dealt with when the real business of the day was finished.

I started running again just after 20:00., over an hour later than scheduled. The first 5 miles were done on single track roads again. After being chased by a dog I got Katy to light the way in the car. My pace was much better than the first session of the day and I soon got to the A30. This is where the "fun" started. By now it was after 21:00 and the light had faded quickly. I could just about make out the white line on the side of the road and managed to keep the pace up until cars started to pass by. At this point, it was a case of running blind on the grass verge or on the large stones at the side of the hard shoulder. It was complete madness!

I got the shock of my life when I saw a shadow of a man in the trees to my side. Imagine my relief when I realised that it was actually my own shadow cast from the cars on the other side of the road. To keep my mind off the shadows and various other noises coming from the road side I tried to calculate when I only had 100 miles left. It was actually when I'd joined the A30. Wahoo!!!!

After 23.5 miles, I met Katy at a layby on the A30 and we set off for the hotel. There were no police there to turf us out. Shame! It would have made for a brilliant news story! "Mega Marathon Man thrown out on street.".

Today's sessions have involved the most climbing since 21st July where I managed 28.5 miles. There were more climbs today than on the Pennine Challenge day. No wonder I didn't get up to full speed early on in the day. I used the hotel incident to my advantage, though, in order to put in a quick finish. There's nothing like using a bit of anger to motivate yourself into putting one foot in front of the other a lot quicker than usual.

So with less than 100 miles left and 4 days in which to run them, things are looking good. I'll not be taking my eye of the ball for a moment though as that busy A30 is as potentially dangerous as any of the other A roads I've ran on in the last 4.5 weeks.

I haven't had any painkillers for 2 days now and the strapping on my hamstring went 5 days ago. I just can't understand where the pain has gone. My shins have felt great for the last 2 weeks and my hamstring has behaved itself for nearly a week. My mental endurance has been put to the test and that is also intact again. I could not be in better shape to face the last 4 days and 95 miles of a very gruelling tour. It's like being 3 - 0 to the good and just having to see the match out. Not something you usually associate with a team playing in Black and White!