Day 24 (Thursday): "We are in Newcastle-under-Lyme tonight just to the west of Stoke-on-Trent.
It was a dramatic day today. Gary Lewis, who is attempting 7 marathons in 7 days with me this week, was complaining of chest pains after yesterday’s run. Doc checked him out and was comfortable that he could run today. However, Gary had chest pains again in the early stages of the run this morning and after 5 miles he stopped and was taken to A&E by one of our drivers to be checked out as a precaution. He had lots of tests and was discharged and the consultant he saw is in touch with Doc. Gary hopes to be running again tomorrow if he feels OK.
Gary has done fantastically well to complete 4 marathons in 4 days so far, from a farily limited training base.
I was running on the road for the first 10 miles today and then went back on to the towpaths, and again they were in disappointingly poor condition. I had been making good time up to that point but lost momentum on the towpath and slowed right down so the whole run today took just over 7 hours. I was pleased that I picked up speed on the last 5 miles and finished strongly.
The canals run through private land and there are not always paths alongside them and the terrain can be very difficult to negotiate. The team have been excellent at changing the route if we decide the paths are too difficult, whilst making sure that we end up at or near our pre-designated finishing place. Nicky and Raj have been doing a great job of having the back up car parked ahead of me at every junction. Seeing them in their high-visibility jackets pointing out the way I need to go is a reassuring sight indeed. We did have a couple of route mis-haps today when we went about ½ mile in the wrong direction at the start and had to turn around and come back, and also when we found a bridge had collapsed making the road impassable so we had to take a different route.
Doc is also doing a sterling job. He does the shopping for anything we need. He makes rolls for everyone at around about the halfway point. Today’s were salmon, lettuce and cucumber. He also has supplies of hummus and smoked fish in the campervan’s fridge for me. I eat some hummus with rice cakes or oatcakes immediately after the run on the way back to the hotel.
We are already planning what the schedule will be for Saturday as the Wales v France Rugby World Cup semi-final match is very high on Doc’s list of priorities that day. At present we are intending to make an early start from the hotel, leaving Doc there to watch the rugby and then for him to catch up with us as soon as the match is over.
I think today was the first day we have had without any rain. We ran through some beautiful countryside and we saw indications of a hard winter ahead – flocks of fieldfares and geese heading this way.
My feet are less swollen than they were but they are feeling very hot. I am starting to wonder whether they will ever go back to the way they were before the run and whether any of my shoes at home will fit me after the run. I am going to give my feet another soak in cold water now to try to cool them down before I turn in for an early night."
Day 25 (Friday): "Today we had beautiful weather. Gary reported in full of the joys of spring having been given a clean bill of health after a day of tests at A&E.
We started at Newcastle-Under-Lyme and headed through the countryside over rolling hills and parkland. I took a wrong turning and lost the back up vehicle but got back on track after a mile or so. The back up vehicle came to find me and I had already realised my mistake by then and had turned around and was heading back. Gary got ahead of me during my detour and, even though I know it is not a race, I was determned that he should not get to the finish line before me. Nicky and Raj knew Gary was ahead of me out of sight and I asked where he was several times and they denied all knowledge knowing that I would chase after him when I saw him. Which I did, though he waited for me at the end and we crossed the line together.
We passed Izaak Walton's cottage where we ran with a couple who live in Nantes and are training for the Paris marathon. Doc met some very kind people on the route today who enquired about the run and one asked if he there was anything we needed for the trip that they could help with. Doc is so organised that the campervan is fully stocked.
We finished in a great time today - just 6 hours. I am also due a couple of apologies. Although I left Gary after about 5 miles yesterday he completed about half the marathon, not 5 miles as I said yesterday, before being taken to A&E. The difficulties with Endomondo appear to have been caused by me knocking the keyboard whilst I am running and I will try to take more care int he future. Sincere apologies for this. Today, for example, it registered about 41 kms run and we actually ran 44 1/2.
Amanda visited this evening from Nottingham with some delicious muesli bars and we had a lovely evening with her.
Tomorrow is another change over day so there will be some logistics to work out, as well as the rugby which Doc and Gary intend to watch. The rest of us are planning an early start and it looks as though the route will take us out to the west of Birmingham through the countryside. Canal towpaths have now been completely abandoned.
Thank you all so much for your messages of support. I am sorry I cannot reply to them all, but they do give me a huge boost.