Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Running Man: Days 29-33 (The End is Now in Sight..!)

Day 29: Tuesday  "Today we started off by going down the Severn Way from Tewkesbury and then on to the Gloucester / Somerset Canal.  We went through the centre of Gloucester passed Gloucester Cathedral and Gloucester rugby club.  The Cathedral and the Rugby Club are both old and impressive and the centre of Gloucester is new and impressive.  I did not realise that Gloucester docks were such an important feature of the old city.

The Severn Way was slow, like the majority of the other off road tracks we have used.  There were no made-up tracks and the path went over styles and through woods - very scenic but very hard work.  Today's marathon was consequently slow taking 6 hours 50 minutes.  On these off-road tracks you can't get a rhythm going to your running or walking.

Guthrie cycled with me all day.  It was glorious weather and the scenery was fantastic.  You could see across the Severn to the Welsh hills.

I had a visit from my friend Barry Griffin from Guernsey along the route, and stopped for 10 minutes to chat with him.  Lovely to see him.

We finished just south of Gloucester on the canal, just short of Sharpness which was our scheduled stopping point.

We spent the evening in the good company of Tony Richards, the Regional Co-Ordinator of the Wooden Spoon and he is going to walk a few miles with me tomorrow which I am looking forward to.

Best wishes

Day 30: Wednesday  "The big news today is that injury unfortunately struck again today, but Doc says it is nothing that will stop me progressing - just a painful plantar fascia problem under the arch of my left foot.

Tony Richards of Wooden Spoon joined us from the start of the route today.  We walked for 6 miles and then he cycled for a further 3.  It was really good to see him and to spend a couple of hours with him catching up on news.  The weather was great at the start and then w were caught in a shower and after that it dried up and there was a mixture of clouds and sun.

The route was not on the Severn Way as we had originally intended but on the B roads close by it.  Again we were running/walking though some very picturesque countryside.

Guthrie took over at the 9 mile mark and cycled the rest of the way with me. At the 9 mile mark I was aware of a bit of a foot problem.  At 18 miles it had become pretty painful so I stopped for Doc to have a look at it. 

Basically, the Innovate shoes I have been wearing (these were the ones I bought in Fort William) have insufficient arch support.  So I have reverted to the Mizuno shoes  I bought in Glasgow.  Unfortunately both these pairs of shoes were bought under extreme duress in that I needed a pair of shoes there and then in order to be able to continue, and they were the only ones available at the time that did the job I needed which was to give sufficient room for my toes.  Fundamentally the shoes are too big for me, other than in the toes, where they did accommodate the swollen, taped toes.  The swelling is now improving I'm pleased to say.  The size of the shoes caused the big blisters on the insides of my heels.

My feet did feel better after changing shoes at the 18 mile point, and running is more comfortable for me than walking at present.  I finished the 26 miles today in 7 hours.

When we stopped at the 18 mile mark, Jannine noticed that the front tyres on the Volvo were completely bald, so had to immediately go into Bristol to get that sorted out.

Tonight we are at the Premier Inn again.  After the generosity of Tewkesbury, we had one free meal last night in Stroud and tonight in Portishead we were given 25% off the bill.  Not as generous as our friends in Tewkesbury but it all counts!

So we have done Day 30 - 3/4 of the days, but only 29 marathons because of the one I missed from Loch Lomond to Milngavie.

Doc and Guthrie are working on my foot and I hope with the different shoes it will improve. 

Best wishes

Day 31: Thursday  "It is amazing how different two consecutive days' running can be.  Yesterday after after I developed my foot problem, it was really hard work.  Today it was a lot easier, I am delighted to report.

Doc strapped the bridge of my left foot, with support underneath, to help the plantar fascia problem.  He also strapped my right ankle.  A combination of that, the ice applied to my foot last night and changing my running shoes has all helped.

We started out at Portishead today then headed south towards the Mendips.  It was bright and clear but very chilly at only 5C on the start line.  Guthrie ran with me initially, and then picked up the bike. We found an easy route through the hills, although we still reached a sufficient height to get a great view over the plain towards Cheddar.   I had 6 miles running on my own and then Guthrie cycled with me whilst I ran the last 3 miles .  We have finished to the south east of Weston-Super-Mare.  It was nice weather all day and I completed today's marathon in the better time of 6 hours 5 minutes.

Tonight we are at the Premier Inn in Bridgwater.  Jannine and Paul's daughter Claire joined us for dinner this evening and it was nice to meet her.  Paul has been doing a terrific job handing out our publicity fliers to anyone passing by.  We were given a 25% discount on dinner again this evening.  Still not as good at the Premier Inn at Tewkesbury ....

I am hoping to have friends and relatives joining me over the next couple of days.  If you know of anyone who might like to run/walk/cycle with me along the remainder of the route, please let them know about the challenge.  All the details are on the website - address below.  It is always lovely to see new faces.  Only just over a week left so not long to take advantage of the opportunity!

Best wishes

Day 32: Friday  "Today's run started near Bridgwater .  Weather lovely again, sunny at first but it clouded over a bit later.

Guthrie ran with me to start with.  He did about 10 miles and then swapped to cycling.  It was so warm in fact that he wore his shorts.  At one point in the run the temperature got up to 20C.

Now that we are away from the canal system, we are pretty much sticking to our original route as published on our website, running along minor roads as much as possible.  Again it was really picturesque today.  The vistas from some of the high points of land are terrific, the weather has been super, the autumn colours are coming out and we pass through little villages with village greens, and lovely local stone and it has been a fabulous experience.

There was one very big hill today it was about a mile long and very steep.  I think I am getting quite good at hills now and I really attack them.

After about 12 miles a local runner joined us.  He was Mike Griffiths, a butcher, who happened to be out running and spotted us.  He did a few miles with us and it was very nice to meet someone new.

Chris Griffiths (of Two Degrees North, in Guernsey), a member of my organising committee and his wife met us about 5 miles before the finish and Chris ran the last 5 miles with me.  The very kindly brought with them the Guernsey Press, some Guernsey Fudge and some Guernsey Gauche in case I was getting homesick from being away for so long.  Only just over a week to go ...

Today's time was 6 hours and 20 minutes.  I was a bit disappointed as I had done a better time yesterday, but after about 20 miles today I was really exhausted.  I know exactly why that was and it was down to eating some of the wrong foods.  It is very tempting to think you can eat what you like when you are burning so many calories but you have to be sensible and eat healthily otherwise your energy is sapped.

This evening we are staying at the home of Tony Richards from Wooden Spoon and his wife Judith.  They are terrific hosts and it is lovely to be in a home rather than a hotel.

We could not get the campervan parked at Tony and Judith's so it is a couple of hundred yards away in a pub carpark.   As Doc was organising that I was left to take the dressings off my feet which Doc usually does as part of the after-run routine.  By the time he came back to the house I was already soaking my legs in the cold bath so it was too late for my temperature and blood pressure post-run to be taken.  However, generally my weight continues to be consistent, as do my temperature and blood pressure. 

Eight guys from Garenne Group from Guernsey are joining me tomorrow; 3 to run a whole marathon, 4 to do a half marathon, and one to do 1/4.  Doc's wife Heather  - who ran several times with me in Scotland all that time ago in week 1, including a whole marathon  - and my nephew Andrew also hope to be join us, so it should be a very sociable day.

Tony and I went to find the Garenne Group guys this evening.  We knew they were staying at the Premier Inn in Taunton.  We found out that there are three Premier Inns in Taunton and we went to their one last, and they had not yet arrived.  We caught up with them by phone later and have agreed our rendezvous for tomorrow.

Tonight was our last evening with Paul, Jannine and Guthrie.  They have all been super - helpful and willing to pitch in with whatever needed doing - and I greatly appreciate their support. 

Best wishes

Day 33: Saturday  "This morning we left Tony and Judith Richard's house after a lovely stay to go and meet up with our fellow runners from Garenne Group, and also Heather Andrews and Andrew Hardie ran with me today.
We met at the Premier Inn, Taunton, and went to the start line in Stoke St Mary.  It was another lovely morning, but cold.  I started out with extra trousers, fleece, hat and gloves on.
We started off with 3 runners from Garenne, Andrew Hardie and Heather, and it just seemed to be uphill for miles.  I rather lost count of where it evened out.  Despite this we still managed good time and we were close to a six hour 15 minute pace at the half way mark, where we picked up 4 more from Garenne.  Every uphill has the bonus of having a downhill, but not necessarily on the same day, though today it worked in our favour.
We seemed to cross a plateau at which point Andy Hall joined us for the last 10 miles.  His fresh legs injected some pace, and consequently we made better time in the second half.
Doc did his best to feed the 5,000 and succeeded.  Paul Birtwistle was manning the route, directions, water station, refuelling of personnel, and photographs - normally jobs for a team of 4 - as Jannine and Guthrie had gone to the airport for Guthrie to fly home to Guernsey and to collect Nicky, Peter and Sally who joined for the last week to Lands End.  They all arrived at Broadhembury, about 3 miles from the end, where they had a quick alfresco lunch outside the Post Office in the pretty village centre, whilst waiting for us to appear.
Richard from Garenne and I were not popular for picking up the pace near the end, but it meant we made the fantastic time of 5 hours 48 minutes.  We finished outside the pub in Payhembury.  Sadly it was closed and remained closed despite the keen interest from the thirsty runners!
Unfortunately my schedule means that I cannot hang about at the end of a run as I need my feet unwrapping, a cold bath, then a hot shower and the tender ministrations of a good sports therapist to ease aching limbs and make sure I can move tomorrow.
We had to say goodbye to Paul and Jannine there, and to Andrew Hardie and the Garenne boys.  The guys were good company and they have done a great job in raising considerable funds for the cause.
Tonight we are staying at the Premier Inn Exeter, Countess Wear.  I had a surprise visit from Celia and Tony Meadley, who are Scottish dancing chums from Charmouth, with whom we usually meet up in Brittany when we go to the annual Scottish Country Dancing Ball in St Quay Perros.
Celia brought me some delicious homemade healthy oat and date slices all beautifully individually wrapped so I can take them on the road.  Please don't tell the others else they will all be wanting some!
Tony and Celia were able to stay for dinner and we had a very convivial evening at the adjoining Beefeater Grill - great steaks!
The Premier Inn gave us complimentary desserts and coffee today.  We are very excited about the luxury of staying in the same place for 2 nights running so that we don't have to pack up when we leave for the run tomorrow.  Also our room has radiators and a heated towel rail.  So useful when you have kit to wash and dry.
Tomorrow we are into our last week.  Exhausted this evening.  Off to bed now.
best wishes

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