The team and I had settled into a good routine by day 7 of the run across the USA. That said, I dreaded the early morning alarm call closely followed by the sound of porridge being made. For as good a job that Richard (pictured below) was doing on the support team, I wished he would just for once be quiet and let me have a lie in. Of course, that approach would have made the run far more difficult to complete on time.
Richard was no fool and the deficit of miles was always one of his concerns. Thankfully, some of the other support team members, later on in the run, were easier to manipulate. You'll read all about my tips and tricks to getting longer in bed in later blog posts. For now though, take it as read that Richard was a tough taskmaster.
As you can see from the picture above, with Richard's long hair and beard some people say that he has a look of Jesus. Imagine my shock when I'd see him at the foot of the bed holding a bowl of porridge with the glow of the RV kitchen light behind him, almost halo like. Seeing that image first thing on a morning when your'e still half asleep can be very strange indeed. Thankfully, he wasn't the Messiah, just a support team member who wouldn't let me have a lie in!
The conditions on day 7 were the hottest of all the days so far on the run. The main problem was that, unlike some of the previous days, there was no breeze to take the edge off the heat.
It was 33 Degrees Celsius and felt much hotter than any other day so far. You could feel the heat bouncing off Route 66. The further I got into the heart of the Mojave Desert the hotter it seemed to become.
The heat, together with the amount of miles I was doing, was making me feel really tired. So tired, in fact, that I'd often run with just one eye open. I was almost falling asleep at certain points of the day.
The quality of Route 66's surface had deteriorated really badly. It's no wonder that I only saw a handful of cars all day. The jagged and sharp edges of the road played particular havoc with one of the blisters on my left foot. Switching to a pair of trail shoes made a massive difference and really helped give me extra protection from the terrible road surface.
I had been running in Brooks Glycerin 8 shoes. The trail shoes were Brooks Cascadia 6. At the end of each session or day the amount of miles ran would be written on a piece of paper and inserted into the shoes. With 8 pairs of shoes on the go it was imperative that I kept a record of how many miles each one was doing. As soon as I got near 475 miles, I would retire that particular pair of shoes.
I could tell that Richard and Stu were really feeling the heat too. When I met the RV at the end of the morning session they'd just woken up. I, myself, had to have what became known as a "tactical snooze". I would have a deep sleep for an hour or so and then start running again. Tactical Snoozes were precious times. I felt that every moment resting really helped.
I started the afternoon session in familiar scorching conditions. I was drinking 1.5 litres of water per hour, approximately and this was becoming a bit of a chore. I'd constantly find myself drinking. I became a little tired of it quite frankly, but it had to be done. From time to time in the run I'd become tired of eating too. Trying to replace 5000 - 6000 calories per day wasn't an easy task.
There was very little sign of civilisation on this stretch of Route 66. There were quite a few abandoned properties alongside the crumbling road. I always found the old houses very eery when I ran past. Why there was the need for the old shack pictured below to have a "keep out" sign attached to it goodness only knows. There was no way that I'd go anywhere near it. I've watched too many horror movies in my time to know what happens next!
The final few miles of the day were done by moonlight. I'd only managed 26 miles by the end of the day. Given the extremely tough conditions, I saw this as somewhat of of victory. It took me almost 9 hours to run those miles!
I'd ran 206.4 miles, in total, during the first 7 days of the run across the USA. This was a new record for me in any 7 day period of my running career.
I was very mindful of the challenges to come over the next 7 days. Getting through the rest of the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas without too much more of a mileage deficit was the main aim. A smooth changeover of crew on day 14 would help with this. Timing was important. Continued maximum effort was important. The forecast of slightly cooler weather was important too. If the forecast was correct, that is!