Wednesday, 23 May 2012

USA Day 18 - Revisited (18/05/2011)

The charity fund for St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation going into day 18 stood at £32,789.53. I would always take time to look at the messages left with each donation on and The following were typical of the messages I used to read:
  • "Heard you on Total Sport on BBC Newcastle, Top Man. I'll stand you a pint when you get back!" - Keith Allan
  • "Well done - I heard you on Real radio this morning and I think you are doing a fantastic job!" - Joanne Cummings
  • "Absolutely fantastic. Really enjoy your blog too, keep it up." - Chris Farrell
  • "Hi Mark, I think it's amazing what you are doing. I have donated £20 in memory of my Dad who died a year ago today. Good Luck with the rest of the run." - Derek Law
  • "Keep on Running, Mark - you are an absolute legend and love reading your blog." - Mark Towell
Day 18 saw a cold start in Utah on Interstate 15 just south of St George. 3 layers were called for on a day where a good threat of thunder and lightening was present. The first 2 miles were through some road works where the hard shoulder would disappear every now and again. It was a dangerous place to run and meant a quicker than usual start to proceedings. I eased off the pace when I turned off the Interstate and into St George. 

St George seemed to be a nice little town surrounded by some very interesting rock formations. I was enjoying running through it until the rain started. I got absolutely soaking wet and when I met the RV at the 7.5 mile point I found that my energy levels had hit rock bottom. I had a craving for fatty salty food. After a bit of persuasive talking, Comedy Jon bought me 2 McGriddles from a nearby McDonalds. Say what you want about that particular chain of fast food restaurants but they were absolutely delicious. Just what I felt I needed at the time.

The next 6.5 miles included a nice climb through and out of Washington City. I stopped to talk to Katy and Jack on Skype. After the Skype call Comedy Jon told some very funny stories. His banter always seemed to lift the team's spirits.

As I made my way down Hurricane Valley, I could some huge storm clouds in the distance to my right (south). These hung about for most of the afternoon. 

The area around Hurricane Valley was a lot greener than anywhere I'd ran up to that point in the USA. To see the landscape change so much over the course of just 18 days was particularly fascinating.

I could see big mountains in the distance as I got further into Hurricane Valley. I was quite familiar with my route and was fully aware that I would be running up one of them later that afternoon. 

I met the RV at the 22 mile point in the town of Hurricane where the team had managed to find some free wi-fi.

Just to the east of Hurricane was a steep climb from 3200 ft to 4310 ft. The temperature dropped as I started climbing and I changed into winter gear half way up the climb. It was quite cold and hard to get my mind round the fact that just a few days earlier I was suffering in the heat of the Mojave Desert!

As had been the case on previous days, I started running a lot quicker up the steep climb. I have no explanation for this but the increased pace whenever hills were present was to feature throughout the run across the USA.  

I soon reached the summit of 4310 ft after having ran a total of 27 miles. The support team and I paused for photos and I was soon on my way again for the final session of the day. 

I took the opportunity to look back down East Highway 59 (pictured below) on more than one occasion. I could just about make out the hills that I'd ran up to get into Utah the day before. It's moments like that when you get a real sense of just how far you've ran. Those hills must have been about 40 miles away!

The climb over the next few miles revealed, not only, further beautiful scenery but my final destination of the day; Apple Valley (pictured just around the corner in the image below). 

I reached the final summit of the day at 4690 ft after having ran 30 miles for the day. It was probably the highest altitude that I'd ever ran at. I knew that there was plenty more climbing to be done as I'd be reaching over 11,000 ft in less than a month's time.

I stopped running after 32.25 miles. I felt in pretty good shape despite the distance ran with 3400 ft of climbing into the bargain. You can see the final steps of the day in the video clip below. You may notice the not very scientific method that I used to record the exact end point. 

Day 18 saw the 500 mile barrier of the run across the USA broken. It was the first real milestone that I'd achieved in the USA. 508 miles with climbs of 25,654 ft had taken 157 hours to run over 18 days. Approximately 66,000 calories had been burned over that time. Coincidentally, that's exactly the equivalent of 157 McGriddles.

I was exactly 50 miles behind schedule. This particular stat always played on my mind. It was very easy to lose mileage but almost impossible to make it back up again. You'll see over the remaining "USA Revisited" series of blog posts just how bad the mileage deficit got and the almost catastrophic effect that it had on, not only the run, but my own well being too. 

I dined with the Support Team in the Little Creek Gas Station in Apple Valley, Utah that night. The food was very good. Comedy Jon's funny stories and a sports massage from Kirsty's made a perfect end to the day.