The Minute You Think It's Going Well... Days 19-20

Another RV park, another train line. I set off on my own this morning as I didn't want to stress Paul out with clock watching (as he'd had a good sleep!) and my sights to report first thing were a distribution centre called Koala Express (Ah...Australia) and a discarded kitchen knife at the side of the road. Christ. Im not getting my prints on that, I'll stick with the Mag-Lite. I got to run over a boring concrete (so I thought) bridge adjacent to the old classy girder one which now looked like a scene from 28 Days Later and as I was taking some snaps, I noticed that the bridge I was on, wobbled. A concrete bridge – wobbling like the Millenium Bridge before Health and Safety got at it. Spider sense said to get off the bridge and get into the town of Liberty and up one of the first hills I've seen into Dayton, where after a breakfast, Paul's speed boots were back on. That wasn't the only thing in common with some of yesterday's running. The shin had joined us and came along quietly-ish and laughed at us as we struggled in the heat. Lunch at least was going to be somewhere nice as we reached the shores of Lake Houston and parked at the marina. Lunch was had, stinky kit was hung to dry to stop it festering and Nads remarked at how far we'd come after we worked out we were almost a quarter done on the way to Santa Monica. I'm pretty superstitious and said I'd start to think that if we'd got three quarters and finished my lunch. As I got up I thought it was strange that the chair had creaked and as I turned around to look at it, it creaked again. I wasn't on the chair anymore. It couldn't have been that. It was me. I had creaked. My shin had creaked. More precisely I was pretty confident it was the anterior tibialis muscle and/or it's tendon sheath that had creaked. My heart sank and my mood plummeted. This could be big.

We had arranged to meet the staff at VitalPet Eastex Veterinary Clinic in Humble as our end-point that day at 1630 and we were already behind time a little, so we elected to walk the first few miles, cutting lunch short. Paul must have felt awkward as even though I have been deliberately not getting ahead of myself, I'd been happy with things and now I was barely talking. It was really hot, we were dehydrated despite drinking lots and I was clock watching and shin listening. Creak. We rearranged for 1730 and with some running and a bit of getting lost we got there on time. We got off track as I was chatting to Chris Finnill, a Trans-USA crosser and GB ultramarathoner about my pace/distance/previous history and his experiences. He's an invaluable source of information and I think I need to listen to his instructions and stick to them. I'll take another half mile if it means I get some sense talked into me! I ate dinner, hardly saying a word beyond thanking Nads for her efforts and sat down to finish the previous days blog, just as my computer did a forced restart and even with Paul's tech skills and me thinking I'd saved it, a load of work vanished. A perfect end to a perfect day. Now if the belief that Americans don't really get British sarcasm is true and needs to be demonstrated, that's an example of it right there.

Start: Cedar Grove RV Park. Finish: VitalPet Eastex Veterinary Clinic, Humble. 33.04 miles

I can't sleep. I don't know what it is. Sometimes I blame it on the noise, sometimes the heat. Sometimes poor hydration, sometimes over-hydration. Sometimes it's an ache somewhere, sometimes it's just my racing mind, but I can't sleep. If I can't sleep, I can't recover. I'm not recovering. I'm getting fitter, but I wake up and the shin… After being in the complete bummer of a mood last night, I wake up before the alarm again, but this time I get up and promptly doze off again. The grating seems to have gone. Has it? Hmm. I was gutted I didn't really get the chance to say bye to Paul properly as it's been great having him here, but I think even last night's moanfest didn't take away too much from his enjoyment and he was in great spirits despite me tramping around the RV at 0600, knocking things over. Nads was up now and we discussed the plan, which was for Nads to stay put and wait for the Science in Sport delivery and for me to set off, do some walking and come up with a plan. I walked for a mile or so and called Leigh at the Chiro Clinic in Liverpool and my summary of the signs had him in agreement that it sounded like anterior tibialis tendinitis, a condition with a very variable recovery period, but one that would ideally benefit with rest, which isn't really in my dictionary, or unfortunately, agenda. He advised that I should probably seek someone to provide some “mild discomfort” to loosen my calves off to reduce the load on the tib-ant and to check a few things out. Sometimes walking can aggravate this muscle as much as running and therefore I thought I'd do a bit of running mixed in. About half a mile in, I reached the 500 mile point of the journey at a surreal urban scene of plush offices chairs in an area of waste ground near a tree with a sign on it saying “Tree of Love”. How I could do with some love from the tib-ant. My heart wasn't in it this morning and I was hungry so I stopped at a service station for some food and a drink. The lady behind the till asked me what I was doing and I began the process of getting some dollar out of my zip lock bag that also houses my gummy bears and occasionally written details of the quest. It just happened that this was my last one and as I pulled it out my brain queried if it was the last one. That was it. Floods of tears. Actually sobbing in a bloody service station. This has meant so much to me for almost ten years and it was under threat from an injury that I couldn't even pinpoint exactly why it had happened as it was undoubtedly multifactorial. She told her co-worker about what I was doing and both of them were so kind, which made it even worse. I thanked them for their support and went over the road and hid until I could stop crying. I managed to put in 9 miles, during which Nadine had been calling local physios. Unfortunately Texas (and some other states) has a ridiculous law which strikes me as pure money-making shenanigans justified by paranoia over legal action that means you can't just go to a physio and get looked after. You have to see a doctor first. Now as a vet myself, I admit to having strengths and weaknesses and one that I have found many doctors have is in diagnosing and treating sports injuries, so I was hugely sceptical and frustrated at this turn of events. The staff at the clinic I was at were lovely and courteous but I still felt aggrieved, with my tiredness not helping. I did my best and succeeded at staying as chipper and civil as I could and the staff I think saw my strife and ensured that I was able to be seen by a physical therapist (American speak for physio) called Whitney at ErgoRehab that afternoon. She was really young and I have felt the same feeling when clients have thought or said the same about me, but she had a very relaxing way, concurring with the diagnosis and setting about her work. The area was ultrasounded, a stress fracture was hopefully ruled out and the pesky tib-ant and calves were manipulated with “moderate discomfort”, before I had to get the razor out. It was time to lose my K-tape virginity! My weird long short/compression sock tan is even weirder now my leg is sans hair, but the tape makes it look badass, if any of you were about to take the mick. She was fairly optimistic that it will be ok and said she expected more problems in someone who's done this so far. Time will tell.

Anyway. I can't sleep. Tonight I ain't taking any chances. I'm in a hotel. We had a nice Mexican. I have air con. It's quiet. I do have an ache (and a shaved leg), but I've got a new day tomorrow. I've got Nads. I've also got Texas and hope. Walk on, with hope in my heart. Time will tell.

Start: VitalPet Eastex Veterinary Clinic, Humble. Finish: Westfield Urgent Care Unit. 9.1 miles.