Monday, 7 May 2012

USA Day 6 - Revisited (06/05/2011)

I started day 6 of the run across the USA at 07:28 after writing the following blog post "Here we go for another day of running in high temperatures. I feel really good today and ready to get some more miles in. The majority of blisters are responding to treatment and I have no aches or pains to speak of whatsoever in my legs. My feet are still swollen though. Basically, it's minor stuff, which is great at this stage.".

Before I set off, I'd read some very negative and bitter Tweets received from an American who was currently walking across the country. I'd received so many positive message during the first 5 days. You might be surprised to hear that I found it very refreshing to read comments of that nature. You can become blind to so much positivity and encouragement. After a while it ceases to have the effect that it once did. That's not to say that I didn't appreciate those kind messages. I absolutely did and they really helped push me along from time to time.

I allowed the negative comments to spark me into defiant life in day 6. Here was a person who I'd not met before questioning why a British person was raising funds for British charities by running in his country. He mentioned the fact that so many other British people had tried and failed to run across the country. He implied that I'd be no different. I think he felt threatened by my presence in the USA. Perhaps he felt, in some way, that I was belittling his effort to walk across the USA. I wasn't the only person who he'd contacted in such a way. I wasn't angry with him. I pitied him. Ultimately, I was grateful for his comments. They gave me a renewed focus and if I was determined before to finish the run across the USA in 100 days, I certainly was now!

That wasn't the last time I created a nemesis in the USA to motivate me. You will read about other such situations over the next 94 days worth of blogs.

Anyway, back to the actual running. The first 4 miles were done on Interstate 40. This was the first of only 3 times I had to use an Interstate road during the run across the USA. There were plenty of passing HGVs and concentration levels were at an absolute maximum.

I was soon running on the familiar Route 66. This particular stretch of that road was extremely quiet. A car would pass every 1/2 mile to a mile. It was a very peaceful place to run with the least amount of dogs that I'd seen so far in the USA.

The scenery was getting better as each mile went. The road was as straight and long as the eye could see in many parts. There was a beautiful backdrop of desert mountains in many directions. The Mojave Desert was truly a fantastic place to run. 

I managed to run 15.1 miles in the morning session before stopping for pasta made by Richard. His cooking was improving by the day. After the restart, I ran underneath Interstate 40 at Newberry Springs. 

I focussed on whatever mountains I could see in the far distance. It wasn't too long before I passed them and I was able to focus on the next lot. With a good mix of tunes on my iPod the miles seemed to tick by quite nicely.

The second rest of the day was at the 25 mile point. I could see the RV parked up in the distance and was looking forward to a short break from the sweltering heat. Before I got there I passed a house to my left and was stopped by a very concerned looking lady who was very keen to know what I was doing near her property. She was backed up by another lady who was holding a shotgun. I explained that I was running across the USA to raise money for charity. I could see that it was taking her a while to "tune in" to my Geordie accent. I talked to her in a slow and calm way. All of a sudden the penny dropped. She believed my explanation and was visibly relieved. She explained that there had been some trouble the previous night. She had initially thought that we were the troublemakers coming back for more.

After a quick sandwich it was back on with running the final miles. In order to squeeze a few extra miles out Richard agreed to run mile 32 - 33 with me. He would then turn back and fetch the RV. I managed a total of 33.3 miles with an 2000 finish. This was the earliest I'd finished running in 6 days.

Richard took the usual GPS reading so we knew where to return the next day. I drew my usual line in the sand at the side of the road. and made a note that I'd stopped running near 2 bridges. It was obviously very important that I ran in an unbroken line across the USA. I'm pleased to say that, I never got this wrong.

The resting point for the night was a truck stop in Ludlow if memory serves me right. It made a change from a Wal-Mart car park!

Not content with running with me, driving the RV, cooking during the day and lancing my blisters, Richard still had an ace up his sleeve! I tweeted the following that night:

"Sweet Potato Mash with Chilli Chicken and Chorizo Sausage. Best RV meal to date. Well done driver Richard."

"Driver Richard has just played a blinder, surprising us with Apple Turnover for pudding. Some boy! ".

That meal, after running 33.3 scorching hot miles in the Mojave Desert, was quite amazing. I don't think it would have done very well on Masterchef but it was, for me at that moment in time, a meal fit for a king.

The 179.6 miles that I'd ran in 6 days had involved 8800 ft of climbing with a burn of 23,400 calories. I was a mere 6.4 miles behind schedule. Things were going well. I knew, however, that I was only days away from the Mojave National Preserve and more hot weather was forecast. It was never a good idea to get complacent and I never did during the entire run across the USA.