Tuesday, 26 June 2012

USA Day 26 - Revisited (26/05/2011)

The support for Run Geordie Run and the run across the USA had reached a new level by Day 26. I've got hundreds of emails and Tweets from this time. I often look back through them fondly.

Sky's Ben Shephard Tweeted "Mate, hope all's good and the feet are holding up!".

I received a nice email from Steve Harrison. Steve would be joining the support team in early July. Days earlier he'd sent me a photo of Peter Beardsley holding a Run Geordie Run t-shirt. It read as follows:

"Hi Mark, Thought I'd send an e-mail as a change from the tweets! I'm sure you know, but just want to let you know that you've an amazing amount of support back here, at work, friends, anyone I talk to I mention you and what you're doing, including Pedro (Peter Beardsley)!. I don't think people really believed what you were going to do...the blog brings it all home. I'm getting into work later everyday because the first thing I do in the morning is to go through your progress, it's now part of my daily routine. When I say to Linda, 'Mark's just done another 30 or so miles' we both shake our heads in disbelief at how you do it, but we both know you'll do it the next day and the next...  

It was a shame that the Journal reported your 'bad day' incorrectly. As you rightly put it, you're running 3,100 miles across America in 100 day's...you're entitled to a few off day's (although judging by the reports from Comedy John, you're in an off day mood every morning!). Knowing you, the article in the Journal will only drive you on and encourage you to 'put the record straight' as you always seem to be able to turn a negative into a positive (re Comedy John again...after breakfast!). 

I can't wait to get out there, to see you and lend any support I can. It's also nice that it will be your birthday...we'll both be in our 40's! Watch how you're going and from over here it looks like you're getting stronger all the time...you are an inspiration to all who follow you.

See you soon. Steve"

Another email of support was received from Alan Millen who had previously travelled all the way from Switzerland to be at the start of the run in Huntington Beach! Alan together with Tim Readman (aka The Exiles) had previously recorded 2 songs for the 2 charities. They can be downloaded on iTunes. Meanwhile, this is what Alan wrote:

"Hi Mark Having just read your latest update, I want to congratulate on finding the true grit required to get through a couple of pretty tough days. The message in the letter you quoted from was spot on! 

My American expat friend in Switzerland has been truly moved by your updates about running across his home country and the accompanying photos. And am I ever impressed by the Peter Beardsley photo! Cheers Alan".

Day 26 of the run across the USA continued on Interstate 70 at 08:25 (Mountain Time) and 6235 ft above sea level. It was another one of those valleys where you think you've reached the exit only to be  confronted by yet another section. Such were the surroundings, I found it very difficult to work out whether I was running up or downhill. The only way to tell for sure was to occasionally look behind. It was then immediately obvious that I was running uphill. Comedy Jon had the same experience in the RV. We were both convinced that we were travelling downhill. The adjacent down flowing river suggested otherwise.

I later found out that this particular valley in Utah was called Salina Valley. It was yet another fantastic place to run. The surrounding snow capped mountains (part of the Wasatch Range), quick flowing streams and impressive elevation all  made for a beautiful backdrop.

There were a lot of trucks on the Interstate road. I suspected that there may be some kind of mine nearby. I think that it might have been coal.

Thankfully, the hard shoulder was very wide and, while I still maintained maximum concentration, they were always at a safe distance from me.

The first break of the day, after just 6 miles, was on the Interstate/Sufco Coal Mine Road slip road. I had a short tactical snooze before setting off again. I was feeling particularly sleepy and I suspected that there would be more sleeps to come.

The next few miles had the protected Fishlake National Forest situated either side and I continued to climb and climb!

I reached the summit for the day (Emigrant Pass at 7873 ft) after 15 miles. This, apparently, is the highest highest point of any of Utah's Interstate Highways.

The second stop for the was at the 19 mile point on a slip road adjacent to the Fishlake National Forest. I needed yet another tactical snooze! I wrote the following on my blog that day:

"As I was snoozing during the second break I heard Shelli, Comedy Jon and Wee Kirsty talking about why they chose to apply to be part of the Support Team. For example, without the help of an organisation in the US similar to The Children's Foundation, Shelli's son Levi would not have survived as a result of being born 12 weeks premature. Comedy Jon's father survived 2 major operations to treat cancer last year and is now in remission. Wee Kirsty's Grandad died from Cancer and her brother was born prematurely. It was obvious that these 3 members of the support of them were here partly because of past family experiences. I lay there half asleep with tears in my eyes having been inspired by the team. Soon after, I resumed running with a nice warm feeling inside. To be fair that may have been something to do with Chef Steve's latest pasta dish!".

I finally reached the end of the valley and entered open land after 20 miles. I could see huge mountains to my left in the north (pictured below). 

I left the Interstate to join Route 10, heading north, at the 24 mile point. I was fully aware that I'd be on this road for quite a few days to come. 

I didn't particularly like the mile markers at the side of the road (You may be able to make out mile marker 4 on Route 10 below). I tried not to look at my GPS watch too much during the day. This would sometimes, make the miles go slower as would catching sight of a mile marker! 

The only advantage of having the mile markers were that they could be used to mark an exact end to a day's running.

Kirsty joined me for a few miles and we talked about nutrition. The conversation soon changed to how sick I was of pasta and porridge and Kirsty recommended a couple of tweaks to my diet.

The road was very busy with coal trucks and I decided it wasn't safe enough for Kirsty to continue running with me. You can see in the image below that I was a couple of stone lighter compared to the start of the run across the USA. I was also growing a beard "like Forest Gump"!

Comedy Jon ran the final few miles with me. This meant that Stephen had to drive the RV for the first time since he nearly crashed it in Colorado City, Arizona. Thankfully, this particular stint passed without incident.

The scenery got better and better. "This was 'wild west' territory" I thought to myself. To my left in the west was a range of high sandy mountains. The land to my right in the east seemed very flat in comparison. The coal trucks (some pictured below) continued to make their way down the road in vast numbers.

After avoiding the many coal trucks, Comedy Jon and I reached the 32 mile point (pictured above) with the final 3 miles seeing the quickest pace of the day. I still, to this day, look at some of the stats in amazement. I can give no reason for some of the quick miles I ran. 

My final Tweet of the day read "Another 32 miles done today with some serious climbing on a hot(ish) day. Felt great at the end. ".

The overnight stop was in a parking lot in Emery under a huge communication tower. It was yet another chance to cut costs! There were some public toilets nearby that the team were able to use. Again, this was another chance to cut down on costs as it cost money to empty the waste in the RV.

With 750 miles in the bag, I'd climbed 38,389 ft burning 97,000 calories. No wonder the weight was dropping off me!