I woke up this morning wondering how on earth I could ever manage to run 22 miles on top of yesterday's 22 miles. My legs were still sore from yesterday's effort but energy levels felt good.
I didn't set off until just after 1 pm and the first thing that struck me was how cold it was. It's the end of May for goodness sake. What is going on with this weather! At least I had a nice tail wind to push me along the way. The first 2 miles were a doddle. Worryingly though, I had some strange pains in my legs for the next 2 miles. Thankfully the pains were never to return after that.
It took me 01:55:56 to get to Stanhope where I stopped briefly to sup an energy gel and some water. The ice cream van that sells hot dogs was there but I didn't fancy one this time and proceeded to leg it up the horrible 17% climb out of Stanhope. I reached the 13.5 mile point at 02:37:34 and by now it seemed even colder than at the start point.
The following 2.5 miles up to what I now call "The Summit" weren't too bad at all. My iPod was at full blast to detract from any pain! I got a lot of encouragement from some of the passing cars. A few drivers and their passengers decided to wave at me enthusiastically and this really spurred be on up to the top at 1675 ft where Katy was waiting with fresh supplies. I supped another energy gel at 16 miles and this kicked in 2 miles later as I legged it up the final climb at a pace far quicker than yesterday.
Miles 18-22 have always been tough in the past. This is the point where I usually have many negative thoughts and enter a mental world of pain and torture. I think John might have experienced the same thing yesterday at this point. Today was different, however. These were miles 40-44 of 2 difficult day's of running. I was almost at the end. I felt great, all things considered. The chemicals in my brain were starting to do all kinds of weird and wonderful things and I got this sudden rush of euphoria going into the last uphill stretch. It didn't stop there. My legs had gone past the aching stage and when I looked at my watch I knew I was on for my 2nd quickest time for this route. I also realised that I was going to be a lot quicker than yesterday. In fact, I finished the run in 04:16:07 with the last mile at 00:08:56. This was a full 14 minutes quicker than yesterday. You can tell from the photo how pleased and relieved I was to have completed 2 gruelling days of running in the North Pennines. My first words to Katy were "King Prawn Madras". I had to replace the 8500 calories that I'd burned somehow!
This time last week I spoke of what would and would not be acceptable. My confidence is sky high now after a very successful week of training. Once again I've talked about high standards and once again I've managed to reach them. If the big run started this week I feel as though I'd be ready for it. Just as well, because in 5 weeks time I'll be starting it for real.