Running Against the Clock

Having survived the second truly hellish night I began discussing with Lluís the possibility of my arriving on time for the half-time whistle at Carrow road. I had no doubt that I would make it to Norwich, but after all the problems and the exceedingly slow pace I had run during the night, I was terrified that I may not make it in time for the very narrow window of my planned arrival. He assured me that if I managed to pick up my pace and keep it for the 50 or so km that I still had left to run, I would be able to arrive as planned.

But I wanted more, I wanted to arrive a bit ahead of time so as to be able to avoid the tremendous stress of not knowing for sure. Lluís told me at what pace I’d need to run – a pace which normally would be slow for me, but in the exhausted condition that I was in, it seemed excruciatingly tough.

Nevertheless, I delved deep within myself and found the strength I needed – I did what I always try to, which is do the absolute best I possibly can. I reached for personal excellence. As long as I could physically run faster, I would, no matter how exhausted I felt, or in how much pain or discomfort I was in. I picked up my pace and struggled to keep it.

The next hours, while most people following the challenge via internet were now saying that I had done it, that it was now a sure thing, a piece of cake, were utterly shattering for me. I ran on along the A11 a rather dangerous dual carriageway, with Lluís behind me encouraging me all the time, constantly struggling to keep the pace, my eye constantly on my watch as I monitored my speed. It was a struggle which lasted from dawn until past midday – there was no respite. If I had slowed down at any stage I would have risked not arriving on time.

Details will come in the book, but it’s necessary to say here that the long road into Norwich ended as it had begun and had been throughout the challenge, as a true example of great team work. The police gave the team permission to drive slowly behind me, for my safety, so for the last 30 km, Mark had to drive the poor van at 5 miles an hour, foot ready at the break to stop whenever I did.

During the last 17 km I picked up my pace even more and began running relatively fast. It was mind over body, I ran oblivious to the pain and exhaustion, only focussing on arriving as early as possible. I only slowed when bouts of nausea threatened to overcome me.

Frank was by now on the bike and this increase in my pace had him delighted, as he was finally sure I’d make it on time. He’s seen me reach within myself when I’ve appeared totally spent, and he had hoped I’d be able to do the same this time also.

I ran pushing myself as hard as I could, music blaring in my ears, as Frank sang and cheered me on above the roar of the traffic.

At some point Jeremy of the Trussell Trust stopped on his way in to the stadium to hug me and cheer me on. There were several cheers, toots and encouragements from the other drivers; it seemed that news of the challenge had travelled. Every encouragement helped me a little more.

The route had proved to be considerable longer than we had planned, and as the challenge was for me to run 315 km, they decided that as soon as my GPS showed that I had completed the distance, they would stop me.

So there on the outskirts of Norwich, I had my first arrival, celebrated alongside roaring traffic together with the team. I had done it! Together with Frank, Mark and Lluís – I had completed the 315 km and I still had time to get to Norwich Foodbank and from there to the stadium…

8 Responses to “Running Against the Clock”

  • vilaprat:

    El esfuerzo para mantener el ritmo fue titánico!

    Para hacerse una idea, hay que decir – ya lo ampliará¡s en el libro – que en un momento dado me dijiste que lo estabas dando todo y no podí­as mantener el ritmo. Entonces te dije que miraras bien por donde estabas corriendo, llevábamos kms de falso plano, con una subida constante, de las que te rompen las piernas y te dejan sin fuerzas. Si encontrarte esto en una media maratón o una maratón es garantí­a de pasarlo mal y no poder hacer una buena marca, cuando se llevan 298 km en las piernas, con más de 12.000 metros de desnivel acumulado, es realmente una auténtica tortura.

    Pero a parte de tus piernas y tu mente, la garganta de Frank fue de gran ayuda. Estuvo casi dos horas animando, gritando y cantando!!!! Increí­ble!!!!

    Lo de Mark es para ponerlo en el libro Guiness. Casi 60 horas sin dormir, a 7 km/h en una furgoneta, en una carretera casi recta, atravesando colinas, con un paisaje casi monótono (prados y granjas de cerdos en libertad) sin dormirse!!!! … Que gran tipo!
    Tú, Frank y yo es normal que hagamos este tipo de cosas, estamos algo locos – pero de locura buena – Mark es una persona normal, seria y respetable! Un auténtico gentleman. Suerte que contamos con su ayuda, no me imagino ni por un momento, a mi en el volante de la furgoneta en las carreteras inglesas!

    No hay dolor!
    No hay cansancio!
    A Kilometrar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Quim:

    He leído tu entrada de hoy y me he quedado 5 minutos delante de la pantalla y el teclado, bloqueado y con la mete perdida en lo que acababa de leer, intentando poder entender cómo se puede sufrir tanto y cómo se pueden sacar fuerzas para seguir adelante. Sin duda, una lección de excelencia: chapeau Alex.

  • Alex:

    Gracias Quim! Estupendo ver a ti y a Anna el viernes!

  • Wifi:

    Me dejas sin palabras. Solo decirte que al leerte se siente una emoción especial. Enhorabuena y a kilometrar.

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