Friday, 20 July 2007

Day 14 review - More pain, more progress.

After another bowl of porridge for breakfast, Jeeves and I returned to yesterday's place of triumph - Carter Bar. I was shattered (again!). Although I had slept in my own bed for the first time in 2 weeks, the bairn decided to join me at 3 in the morning. That was the signal for him to kick and punch me for my remaining time in bed! I have missed him though so I just put up with it.

Meanwhile, back on the descent from Carter Bar, the pains in my shins (a most over used phrase these days!) were at their excruciating worst. I was close to tears at one point as the pain was becoming unbearable.

Never mind! I got to the 1st banana stop at 9 miles slightly slower than usual. More guests had joined this crazy run. Imagine my surprise when my Uncle Bob, Aunty Carol and Aunty Joyce had set up a picnic with Jeeves. As was the case with Aunty Ada and Uncle Brian yesterday, none of these good folk are actually related to me. I have known them since I was a small bairn and you know how it was with calling everyone over the age of 16 Aunty and Uncle. Oh yes. We had respect in them days. I have for some time considered them all as my extended family and after the run is over I'll be making up for the lost time I've been spending training for this run. To quote the popular TV show Shameless - "They know how to throw a par'te". Usually with a game of bingo thrown in mind! And prizes too! Useful ones at that!

Back to the picnic - Now this was more like it! Far better than the usual bananas. We had sandwiches, quiche, salad, crisps and a tremendous cup of tea. I even let Jeeves eat with us. Which goes against the master/servant rules I think. I don't spend long on these banana stops so there was just about enough time for some photos and a daft laugh and I had to be on my way again. This little timeout gave me such a boost and I was able to shut out the pain over the next 8 miles.

I had agreed to meet Jeeves in another 6 miles but I was going so well that I waved him on twice and made it to the 17 mile banana stop quite positive and happy that my shins were no longer reducing me to tears. The section of the A68 that splits from the A696 was far quieter than the previous section so I had far fewer HGVs to avoid. That helped things along quite a bit also.

Jeeves couldn't maintain the high standards set by the previous banana stop so it was just bananas this time. In fact this would be his final banana stop as his stint as the support crew was about to end in 5 miles time.

I was soon on my way again through the village of West Woodburn. The 600 ft climb over 2 miles out of that village was the signal for more shin pain.

Just as I reached the last mile of the day (on the down hill bit!) I saw another familiar face. It was none other than John Mallon! Over 3 days, John and I ran across the 84 mile Hadrian's Wall path in 2003 and raised over £4000 in the process. That's us pictured in the Roman Centurion outfits that we wore all the way to Wallsend. John, who is attached to Blyth running club, was on a training run for the up and coming Helsinki marathon.

John will be joining myself and 15 Northern Rock staff this Sunday for the "Pennine Challenge". This 22 mile route runs from Castleside through to Middleton in Teesdale. In order to get there on time I need to make up the 5 miles I'm behind tomorrow. More of that later.

John accompanied me to the finish point of the day for a quick photo before Jeeves and I left for Central Station. I drove the support car into Newcastle (once again going against the master/servant protocol) and each press of the pedals was complete agony for my shins. I thanked Jeeves (aka Burnley Keith) for all of his hard work and he was left to make his way back to Stockport on the train.

Burnley Keith has been a real asset to the team this week. His organisation and navigational skills have been first class. He has seen at first hand all of the effort that I've put in and will be writing a post on this blog over the weekend to that effect.

It worth mentioning that Keith is a generous sponsor and has put up the costs for all the accommodation this week (which saved him having to put up the tent). Keith is also self employed and has given up a week of his own time, sacrificing any income that he may have earned. Keith has a big family so he'll be spending some well earned time off with them in August. Thanks for your invaluable help this week Keith.

For the sake of my shins, on the way home (Wahooo! My own home!) I called in at the local hospital's minor injuries unit. The nurse I saw was really good. She said that there was inflammation from the something or other to the mid something or other. In other words the tendons around my shins were inflamed. I came away with various bits of medication after we had both agreed that "rest" was not an option. She seemed most impressed with my efforts and was quite keen to get me out there running again. God bless the NHS!

So! We are now at the end of week 2. I've now ran 355 miles and I'm only 5 miles behind the planned schedule. I'll be attempting to make up those 5 miles tomorrow in order to make the start of the Pennine Challenge on Sunday. It's going to be an early start and a late finish!

In terms of the required 24.1 miles a day I'm 18 miles ahead of that schedule. The planned mileage reduces after tomorrow for the final 3 weeks so I'm less likely to lose any more miles. The thinking behind this was to front load the run with all the big miles in Scotland; while I was fresh and still had the legs to do it. The remaining mileage is by no means easy but it is slightly easier. Don't tell the missus but I'm hoping to make up some more time over the final 3 weeks in order to get to the Bolton game on the way back to the North East. I haven't yet figured out how I'd get the ticket delivered to me down south as yet!

Apart from my shins, I'm in tip top condition. I've lost a stone in weight in the first 2 weeks. My blister pain has almost gone, albeit thanks to a daily routine of "bursting" and "emptying out" the blood blisters. I've got no other joint pain or muscle pain. I haven't been attacked by any flies for quite some time now. Long may all of that continue! My mental armour has taken a battering over the last 3 days. But just as the pain in my shins are getting me down, something happens to distract me from the misery; a familiar unexpected guest on the run or a new article on not to mention the fact that the fund seems to increase almost every hour of the day!

And while I'm on the subject of the fund I must express my gratitude to the hundreds of sponsors who have taken time to make a pledge and leave a morale boosting message. I will get round to contacting everyone of you who have left an email address at the justgiving site after the run. Also, the continuing support from Niall and Biffa at continues to play a crucial part of this run. I look forward to sharing a few beers with the lads after the run has finished. I'll have to get some practise in first mind. It's been New Year's Eve since I last touched a drop. I'll be taking a bottle of Brown Ale with me to Lands End for consumption as soon as I finish!

This is Mark Allison signing off from his own house (again, wahoo!!!). May tomorrow bring me the required mileage I need to be at the start point on Sunday and may the medication make me as spaced out as the nurse promised. NO MORE SHIN PAIN PLEASE!!!!!!