Archive for 26/10/2011

A Trip down 315 Km Lane…

Today at 8am with the dawn, Vilaprat arrived at our home for breakfast and a trip down our collective 315 km memory lane. We reviewed maps, video clips and revisited all of our memories. I took down the detailed notes that I need to start work on my next book, as this challenge was so tough it has left me with many gaps in my memories.

Afterwards the 3 of us set off kilometrating some 12 km along the coast. It was wonderful to enjoy such a glorious afternoon as a team, without the stress, pain and exhaustion of the challenge.

Todays chronicle of the 315 km will have to wait until tomorrow as I have no time left to write it…I know, I know, you’re all hooked on the adventure…but you can always enjoy a previous one by reading my book “The Smile of Endurance” to keep you going! :)

See you tomorrow…

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From Bad to Worse

I was now in unknown territory, I was entering into the second night, and passing my previous limit of 220 km of non-stop running. That night proved much worse than I’d expected.

Lluís stayed with me until just before Cambridge. When he stopped he realised that he had been on the bike for 16 hours straight – he was, needless to say shattered. Frank and Mark had bought him a little plate of pasta which he fell upon instantly and wolfed down before even getting back into the van.

Frank and I carried on into the night. In Cambridge, I had a wonderful surprise; Chris and Angela Mould’s two daughters and their husbands came out driving to find us and to cheer us all on. By this point I was feeling very nauseated, was utterly exhausted and was battling with desperation at the long dark night which lay ahead. Their visit brought me a ray of light which helped me on for a few kilometres more.

As the messages of support came in Frank would pass them on to me – this helped considerably also in keeping me smiling from time to time.

The night was too long and too excruciatingly difficult to describe here in the chronicles – it will have to wait for the book. But suffice it to say that it was perhaps the worst time I have ever had while running. I battled against nausea, exhaustion and sleep – the latter winning more often than not. I fell asleep while running too many times to remember. I lost focus on who I was, where I was, and why I was running through the night. All this, while trying desperately to keep up my speed, as the likelihood of me arriving on time grew less likely by the hour… When all else failed I kept Foodbank in my mind, and the importance of arriving on time.

At one of the aid stations, Lluís drew up beside me running to give me news. Our friends Quim and Fede from Lloret de Mar, were at that exact time running out and back along the Spanish coast, so as to support me in spirit. This unexpected gift lifted my spirits incredibly, and helped keep me going when I so desperately needed it.

The team too was struggling desperately against exhaustion and the cold. Lluís was struggling to keep awake and to provide the aid stations, while the cold invaded his body. Mark, who had not let go of the steering wheel throughout the whole challenge, except when he stepped out at the aid stations to help and to cheer me on, found himself slumping over the wheel frozen and asleep every time he parked the van. Despite all this he never lost his smile. Frank accompanied me almost through the whole night, and had almost as tough a time fending off sleep as I did. Just as I did, he succumbed to sleep too many times to count as he was cyling.

It was a desperate, torturous and dangerous night, and when the fist light of dawn finally touched the sky, my spirits rose slightly – I had made it through the second night! Maybe I could finally begin to pick up my pace, perhaps I could still make it in time for the half-time whistle…

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The Remains of the Day

The day drew on and after endless prayers my leg seemed to settle into a bearable numb pain. The adventure though was only just getting started. Though the team had managed to keep us moving route wise, having connected to the internet they worked in perfect harmony comparing google maps with the road maps (our van satnav had long since died, so that was no help), the route became increasingly dangerous traffic-wise.

The last hours of the day were spent battling along the worst road I have yet to run on. I truly feared for my life, and that of poor Vilaprat who was still on the bicycle behind me. We advanced along a truly hair-raising stretch of dual carriageway, unable to talk, unable to stop except at one or two lay bys, both of us lost in terror at what we were doing.

When finally we came upon Frank and Mark with the van in one of theses lay bys, we realised that we would have to continue along this road for many more kilometres. We had thought that we would change roads at Royston, but it seemed that we had no other choice but to continue on on a similarly dangerous road all the way to Cambridge. Knowing that night was less than an hour away sent me into near desperation. In tears I set about collecting my headlamp and reflective night gear, wondering aloud if we would make it as far as Cambridge, or whether we would be hit by some speeding monstrosity of a truck…And so I set of kilometrating once again, headlight on and with Lluís taking up the rear.

The chronicle continues – tomorrow I’ll take you through the darkness of the second night!

This Friday the video from the challenge should be ready – Vilaprat is putting together this mini documentary, and it promises to be wonderful!

Yesterday Siscu and I went out to Vilafranca to run a 13 km run with V. Trot is really a better word for what we did – it was more about the breakfast we shared with V and the vegerian paella we had afterwards, not about the run, as I’m still resting after my latest ordeal. I have to say though that 13 km seemes delightful after my 315 km!

Last Friday my interview went exceptionally well on TVE  – Teledeportes. Here’s the link to the clip for those of you who understand Spanish, or for those who just enjoy the sound of it!

Alex on \”Conexión TDP\” TVE

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