Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Day 46 - Random acts of kindness (Part 2).

One of the most important types of kindness to get me through the daily grind of running for 37 days was the appearance of special guests en route.

The first such guest was young Steven Moore who'd nicked off school for the day to challenge me to a marathon through the Cairngorms on day 7. This also happened to be my 36th birthday. The fact that I wiped the floor with that Sad mackem Boy has been well documented so I'll not bore you further with the details!

The next guest appeared on day 10 at about mile 250. Mark Fleming made a timely morale boosting visit on the way to the Open at Carnoustie. I'd had a particularly tough day and the boost of seeing a familiar face really managed to make the remaining miles go over quickly.

Three days later and my morale was getting very low. The main reason being was the excruciating pain that I was experiencing in my shins. The tablets that I was taking didn't even scratch the surface of the pain. I knew I had the Scottish/English border at Carter Bar to reach that day and it seemed like 50 miles away and not the required 23.

The first 13 miles were done at an average of about 15 minutes per mile. Then, just north of Jedburgh, 2 guardian angels in the form of Uncle Brian (not really my Uncle but you know how it was in the 70s when we had respect) and Aunty Ada (not really my Aunty but you know how it was in the 70s when us kids used to get a good thrashing for calling an elder by their first name) passed by in the car. Then they passed by again! This spurred me on to a couple of 10 minute miles right through the pain barrier and into the centre of Jedburgh. We stopped for a chat and just as I was about to start running again, a lad from work, Jonathan Jobe, passed by. He'd taken a 3 hour lunch (check his flexi!) to pop up and see me for what turned out to be only a few minutes.

About a mile further down the road I ran into my mates, Dan and James Tweedy who'd also had a drive out to give their support. After so many lonely miles on the road (about 320 at that point) it was great to once again see so many familiar faces.

I eventually made it to Carter Bar that day in an astonishing amount of pain in my shins. Aunty Ada and Uncle Brian were there again to witness the crazy celebrations that followed. I was so relieved to reach the biggest landmark so far on the run and this was the night that I got to go home and see Katy and Jack.

The following day I was joined by more "Aunties" and an "Uncle". You know the drill by now with the respect thing. It was Aunty Joyce, Aunty Carol and Uncle Bob this time. About 10 miles south of Carter Bar they put on a cracking picnic. This made a smashing change from the usual banana break. Once again the appearance of familiar faces served to take my mind off the pain I was almost in tears with, if only for half an hour. You might not think that a picnic in the middle of July is unusual but you should have seen the wind and rain that day!

Later on in the day I bumped into John Mallon, an ex colleague, who was out for a run near his home in Otterburn. He ran the last mile with me after I'd put in a very painful shift of the cruelest climbs that Northumberland had to offer. John was training for the Helsinki Marathon that took place last Saturday. It was at the end of this day that Katy made me go to Shotley Bridge Hospital's minor injuries unit. This was one of the turning points of the whole run as the medication they gave me took only 3 or 4 days to work and it wasn't long before I was running almost pain free again.

Day 15 saw more cruel climbs in Northumberland and the prospect of running 28.5 miles to get back on schedule. Another colleague, Patrick Aynsley-Smythe joined me for a few miles early in the day and saw me safely into Corbridge.

A few miles down the road and the tablets were beginning to wear off. Imagine my surprise when I saw another colleague, Mike Paul and his wife Michelle.
I'll not forget that lovely hug from Michelle in a hurry and it played it's part in me getting back on schedule after 15 days of running 384 miles!

That just about raps up the first lot of guest appearances. There were plenty more to follow over the next 21 days. I'll add more on that subject later this week.