5 August 2011
Miles: 35, Spent the night: Youth hostel in Crianlarich hostel
I need to change topics for a moment, vent a little, and return to some fun stuff. A strange part of running a marathon is the what happens to your mind & emotions around miles 21-24. At that point, you’ve gone through the exciting start, enjoyed the endorphins for a few miles, talked with some other runners, seen some sights, and crossed that unique milestone of running 20 miles. At mile 25, you know you’re close to the end, so some reserve energy mysteriously appears, at least for me. But, miles 21-24 are a mental and emotional dead zone. It’s just left, right, ouch, left, right, ouch, left, repeat.
I think I’m at that point now for this trip. Just like the marathons I’ve ran, Idon’t give much thought to quitting. If my body really gave out, I would quit, but that’s never happened. In my last marathon, I over-trained and ran out of energy at mile 13 of the actual marathon, but I still walked and wobbled the last 13 miles.
Back to this trip, at some point today, I had the same feeling as miles 21-25 of a marathon. I’ve enjoyed many great parts of the trip, and always will look back on them with pride. I’ve cycled just over 750 miles, but I still don’t know what the entire distance is. A new emotional challenge I’m facing is that I haven’t had a day off since Day 9 in Clun, over a week ago. I would take a day off now, but I’m not confident that I have enough days to finish, especially if I need to make more repairs.
The day started with some wonderful scenery and some bike trails that kept me off the busy roads. The day also started with a sick feeling in my stomach. I suspect had a bad pint or gallon of water sometime recently, in the many gallons I’ve drank. Later in the day, the bike trails ended and it was all busy roads.
I need to clarify some things for American readers. In the UK, an “A Road” is generally a 2 lane road like an American county road. Also in the UK, a motorway is like a freeway, and a B Road is a nice quiet country road. One difference between A Roads and American country highways is that A Roads are usually narrower, and they have a lot more traffic. For the most part, the route I’m taking has kept me off of A roads, except for today. Previously, I may have spent 5 miles on an A Road. It’s hard to enjoy the scenery because cars and big trucks are always flying by, and when they’re not passing from the back, they’re coming from the front, which seems to be louder. I never have liked loud. When hills come up, my bike becomes less stable, since I’m going very slow. At that time, I worry about swaying out toward traffic. So, A Roads are loud, busy, and risky, can’t really enjoy the scenery.
Before I left the hostel this morning, I fixed 2 punctured tubes from previous days and wrote in this website, which made me leave at 11am. Most of the route was A Roads; my stomach was upset, and I just couldn’t get into the rhythm of things. Around 2 or 3pm on any day, I’ve gotten into the habit of playing some music, to ease the fatigue that builds up. That helped a little, but eventually, I chose to stop at 35 miles, about 5 or 10 less than I hoped. Tomorrow is all A roads, ugh.
I know, I know, I made the decision to do this, so it isn’t reasonable that I gripe too much. But, since when have emotions followed reason, at least consistently? I do like to minimize griping, takes time away from enjoying life and solving problems. And, as Churchill said to the troops in World War II, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” I don’t have it nearly as hard as they did, but the idea still helps. Anyway, it helps to “talk” about it here, and as usual, the comments many of you have really helped, especially when I’m feeling impatient and really annoyed with traffic. I think of those comments and the people who wrote them during those times, sorry I don’t have time to reply to more comments.
My plan is to get to sleep a little earlier than usual, think about all the hard work my parents and grand-parents went through, and make the best of the situation. Another strange motivator is that if I cover 50 or 60 miles, instead of 35, I can have a couple full days off when I’m done. I’m not saying that I’m fed up and only want to finish. It’s not that simple. I am enjoying the trip, the scenery, and people. I’m just looking forward to 1 day off sometime, maybe even 2.