Tuesday, 29 May 2012

USA Day 20 - Revisited (20/05/2011)

Day 20 started with a bowl of "Wheaties" that were marketed as the "Breakfast of Champions". The energy they provided lasted about 3 miles! I rarely ate anything other than porridge for breakfast after that incident on the run across the USA.

It was nice to wake up in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park right on the Arizona/Utah border. The support team (including Comedy Jon pictured below) had enjoyed a look around the surrounding area. It's a shame I didn't have the mobility or time to join them.

This wasn't to be the last time during the run across the USA that I wouldn't have time to stop off and have a look at the local sights. That's not a complaint by the way. There was a job to be done. Eat, run, eat, snooze, run, eat, run, eat, blog, sleep was the typical order of the day.

It was a very misty start to day 20 and 3 layers were required to keep warm at 5659 ft. The support team dropped me off 7 miles away from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and I ran back to meet them for a second breakfast of porridge then pasta!

The scenery in the state park was amazing and I could see several quad bikes driving up and down the frost covered dunes.

The Dunes were formed from the erosion of pink-colored Navajo Sandstone surrounding the park. High winds passing through the notch between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains pick up loose sand particles and then drop them onto the dunes. The dunes are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old.

The second session of the day was 10 miles long. That's Kirsty pictured below at the 14 mile point. The RV then moved on to the other end of the valley and park up at the 17 mile point.

At the 17 mile point Kirsty and Jon did some washing and drying of my kit. I later found out that it was a job that Stephen refused to do stating that "it wasn't what he'd signed up for".

I took the picture below at the 17 mile point looking back down the road which was 4 miles long. I'd been able to see the RV, in the distance, for quite some time. "So near, yet so far" I kept thinking. 

After some more pasta, I had a tactical snooze along with the rest of the support team at the 17 mile point. I used to try and limit the snoozes to about an hour. Sometimes I felt needed longer. If I slept for more than 1 hour I'd either feel better or worse. You could never tell how I would respond after a tactical snooze. This particular one saw an improvement in pace afterwards.

I joined Highway 89 after 18 miles of running. I immediately hit a huge down hill stretch and the traffic was noticeably busier. Another 3 miles of downhill running saw me reach Mt. Carmel Junction where the team had managed to find some free wi-fi. 

To the west was the Zion National Park. In the early days of planning the route across the USA I'd hoped to run through it. Unfortunately, this wasn't possible due to the tunnel that didn't allow pedestrians to travel through it.

The rest of the day's route took me up the Long Valley Scenic Byway. It lived up to it's name and there was lots of lovely scenery to take in. 

I was stopped by some Americans at the 25 mile point and I gave them the directions they asked for. Needless to say that I was very familiar with the surrounding area!

I met the RV for the final time after 30.3 miles of running. Comedy Jon had played a blinder in negotiating a free night at the Bauers Canyon Ranch RV Park. We didn't have a hook up to electricity or waste/water services but it was a safe place to stay.

It had been a tough old day. The first of many in Utah where I would do a lot of climbing. This particular day had seen an elevation gain of 2011 ft with a drop of 2005 ft. Those statistics meant that I would have to put ice packs on my shins overnight. This was to ensure that I didn't get the dreaded inflammation in my shins. A condition that had plagued me during the build up to the run across the USA.

Thanks to Comedy Jon's shortcut on day 19 and a good day of running on day 20, the mileage deficit was down to just 27 miles. That was taking into account my 2 contingency days. Based on an average of running the required 31 miles per day I was actually 54 miles behind schedule. Never mind! All things considered, I was happy with 566 miles after 20 days. I was also happy that the fund had exceeded £30,000 on day 20. There was only one way to celebrate and that was with a sports massage from Kirsty on my calfs, feet and lower back. 

The final action of the day, as ever, was to update the blog. The hits kept growing the more I continued to update it. Despite my tiredness it was imperative that I told the readers what a great day it had been.