Monday, 18 June 2012

USA Day 25 - Revisited (25/05/2011)

I started day 25 in Richfield, Utah with a blog post in response to an article that I was made aware of in The Journal. The tone that the paper had taken was that if I hadn't have read David Fairlamb's letter that I would have given up altogether! It may have been an overreaction at the time, but I wasn't best pleased. Particularly, since the Journal hadn't spoken to me directly about the incident, choosing instead to cut and paste text from my blog. I responded with the following article on my blog:

"Coverage of the build up and the actual run across the USA from the Journal newspaper has been absolutely first class over the last few years. And boy how I have appreciated their support and publicity. The Journal is a voice of the North East in print and is read by many of my friends, colleagues and supporters. 

While it was great to receive further publicity in an article yesterday, it's unfortunate that the lack of clarity led many people to worry that I was on the verge of giving up my run across the USA. As regular readers will have seen on this blog, I had a bad afternoon sheltering from lightning showers and fighting an overwhelming sleepiness (probably due to running at a consistent high altitude). I needed inspiration to get me through the day and remembered that I had motivational letters from my mentors; Dave Fairlamb and Mark Fleming. 

The letter I chose to read, together with the encouragement and support of my Team here in the USA transformed the day into a good one. 

But, let me make one thing absolutely clear. There was never the slightest possibility of me giving up my incredibly tough 3100 mile run across the USA. We all have bad days. I will have further bad days during this tour. But I am here to finish this run and raise desperately needed funds for 2 charities that are very close to my heart. 

I am sure journalists have bad days too but I'm confident that doesn't lead them to abandon their profession. 

I regret the concern that was caused to many followers in the North East by the article. I am very grateful for the many messages of support. The show must and will go on.".

As I would do many times in the USA, I would always look for the slightest bit of confrontation that could be used to my motivational advantage. That's exactly what this article and my response was used for. With that in mind, I started the day with a quicker than usual pace, despite having no breakfast. I also tweeted the following at the time:

"Angry about piece in Journal newspaper suggesting I nearly gave up running across USA. Reality is nearly gave up FOR THE DAY after 18 miles.".

"Reality is not even close to giving up running across the USA while I have a breath in my body. I will have many more bad days but not quit.".

Thinking back, it could all seem like a bit of an overreaction on my part. The fact is that, any tiny crumb that I could use to stir up anger could always be used to help put one foot in front of the other. The times when the chips were down, when there was doubt amongst the people following the journey or when the odds heavily stacked against me were the times that I would, more often than not, start running better. There will be plenty of evidence to back this up during the remaining 75 blog posts to come.

Meanwhile, back to Richfield, Utah at 07:34 (Mountain Time) where I had previously struck a deal with the support team. The following rewards were on offer in return for miles ran before breakfast:
  • 3 miles - 1 McGriddle
  • 4 miles - 2 McGriddles
  • 5 miles - 2 McGriddles, a hash brown and a coffee 
Needless to say that I managed 5.5 miles. The team were generous enough to throw in a doughnut too. Comedy Jon summed up my breakfast quite eloquently here:

As well as a huge breakfast, I was able to talk to Katy and Jack on Skype before setting off. It made for a great start to the day. The Support team were on fine form too and we had a really good laugh during that first break. I tweeted:

"5.5 miles done before breakfast. In the RV crying with laughter. Support Team on very good comedy form.".

The next 4 miles were pretty quick and I reached Lost Creek Road in good time. The next part of the route was off road and very tricky. I arranged to see the support team at the 21 mile point. What lay between 10.5 miles and 21 were a lot of winding dusty farm roads where a good sense of direction was needed at all times.

The plan was for the Support Team to take the RV on the Interstate road and I would run along the mostly off road route. The sun was beating down and I knew I'd have to use my water sparingly. 

As I ran underneath Interstate 70, I remember seeing a huge colony of tiny birds with nests attached to the undercarriage of the road. That was the first of many such sightings on bridges all over the run across the USA.

The residents round these parts were very friendly with the majority of passing folk waiving as I ran past. There were some beautiful looking ranches. It looked like a really nice place to live.

It took several phone calls and text messages to find the RV. Fortunately, things went almost exactly to plan. I had managed to head in the right direction and the RV parked exactly where was needed.  When I actually made it to the 21 mile point I had completely ran out of water and was really thirsty! This wasn't an occurrence that happened too often during the 100 day tour.

The remaining miles should have been on a path running through the valley adjacent to Interstate 70 (pictured below). Due to some flooding on the path, I had to climb through a barbed wire fence and back onto the main road. I didn't have any complaints as I made some quick progress on the very quiet Interstate road. 

Despite a climb of 1000 feet, there was a quicker than usual pace during that last 5 miles for some reason. I also remember that the headwind over that last stretch was particularly strong. 

I finished running for the day after 32 miles and wrote the following on my blog:

"So that's 716 miles ran so far on this tour. It was at this stage of my run from John O'Groats to Lands End in 2007 that I started to become noticeably stronger. With sports therapist Wee Kirsty still performing miracles and keeping me injury free I hope to see a similar improvement. I've got just over a week left in Utah then it's into Colorado and some serious altitude. It's all coming together nicely in the first third of the run across the USA.".

Shelli Mayfield joined the support team later in the day. I had been really enjoying the banter within the current support team setup. Inevitably, the team dynamic would change with this latest configuration. I just hoped that the standards set by Jon and Kirsty would remain intact.

Shelli's first action on the team was to have "clear the air" talks with Stephen who, weeks earlier, had sent her an email criticising her PR contribution to the run across the USA. Surely, that would be the end of the confrontation on this latest configuration of the support team. Or not…...