Run on, through the wind. Run on, through the rain. Days 103-105

Yay! Lordsburg day! Beer will be there...won't he? The amazing El Charro cafe will fill me with burrito goodness and all will be well. Well Beer wasn't there. I waited at the train station for a whole five minutes. Mostly while I was wondering what to do as El Charro was closed. I was rescued by the revelation that I could listen to the Liverpool match via the club website and that was my next couple of hours sorted. Thank god we won, or that would have set my day on a right stinker of a course. My plan for the next couple of days was to find whatever road/track that flanked the I-10 and try to avoid going on that, if I could help it. I can't find any categorical definition of what I can and can't go on, so I'm on the seeking forgiveness path with that… After initially struggling down an irregular track with an uncanny ability to place a pointy stone right under the ball of my feet when I was touching down in shoes designed for a uniform surface, I eventually (thanks due to the gift of satellite maps) found that there was an immaculate gravel road on the other side of the train tracks that as ok, legally as well as physically, for me to run on. No traffic, apart from the odd mile-long train and nice and straight and flat. It was of course still nice to tear myself away to see Nads every now and again, especially at an old gas station with some great graffiti that reminded me of Melbourne. Ah...Melbourne. As the sun was off to bed, I crossed the Continental Divide for the second time. All the water drains from here to the Atlantic now. No turning back. Standard faff on my part meant a dark finish, so IronMan lights on, I coasted down a lovely quiet service road to a rest area, where Nads had already set up camp. Almost 45 miles on a day where most things went right. Apart from the start.

Start: Just past Jct of Highway 70 and State Route A024. Finish: NM Rest area, off I-10, just shy of Wilna.44.7 miles. Day 103 Tune of the Day: Dire Straits: Going Home. Inspired by Lordsburg and a great road trip song.

A good day was followed by a rough night. We were parked pretty far from the road, so I was hoping the inverse square rule was going to be my friend. However, the lack of any physical barriers to the I-10, the colossal volume of traffic, even in the early hours and a howling wind meant a restless one. All three of the culprits were still up to their trick as I got going and while the first two were of no consequence, the last one was. At least I found the exit to the service road in the light, rather than my barbed wire clamber in the dark of the previous day. This wind was as bad as anything, maybe even worse than the Morongo Valley day in California. Running on my rail track sneaky sneaky road until I found myself on a service road, I struggled with every step. Breakfast consisted of me moaning. It's so weird how much more this bothers me now than when I'm training for something like a race, where I'd love the wind and consider it strength training. It's all about getting to the end here, as fresh as possible, so this was making me a right barrel of laughs. One positive was being sandwiched on my service road by a mile long freight train, with trucks flying by on every side. This sounds pretty terrible, but it was how I imagined big stretches of the run. Real, working America, with me as an observer, a passing connection between the real world and the one I create through my music and thoughts for the future. A moment. Of course, then seeing a road sign asking me if I wanted Truth or Consequences, or Elephant Butte, stopped any real philosophy from dominating. Lunch consisted of me moaning even more as the wind was meant to get worse. Good news – it didn't! Bad news: It started belting down with rain. As I ran the last 10 miles in full on charlatan mode, as I was wearing a very waterproof Team GB jacket donated by Chris Finnill, who'd actually earned it, I was transformed to a day on the Yorkshire moors and half expected the Brownlee brothers to whizz past. The sight of Jenny parked up through the murk induced a more extreme version of “Jenny fever” where I seem to get 20 or so seconds quicker per mile, when she is in sight. One of the best places to be in a rainstorm for me is in a caravan, or now, our RV, so I got all cosy and waved two fingers to the elements over a big feed of sausages and mash. Have that.

Start: NM Rest area, off I-10, just shy of Wilna. Finish: Butterfield Dairy. 41.1 miles. Day 104 Tune of the Day: Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter...or at least a break! Seriously though...what an absolute belter of a song.

Today was supposed to be the 100th day of full running and the first day of the second month of this leg. The 13th. High times indeed. I felt funny about something though. A sense of foreboding. I felt good, personally, so it wasn't that. It was Jenny. No fault of hers, the overnight rains had, as a riposte to my pretty good job of avoiding hypothermia, turned the parking spot into a bog. Pre-emptive measures of hastily gathered straw under wheels, and reversing, which appeared the best direction to go, were fruitless. We were well and truly stuck, even with 4WD. Adding insult to injury it was freezing cold and the second we were mired, it began to hammer down again. I ran to try and get help, eventually finding a nice local farmer who offered to get a tractor down, but gave no guarantees it wouldn't pull something off the front of Jenny and Nads was on the case of calling Coachnet (Our RV AA/AAA/RAC analogue) who were ace and sent someone down. As this was sorted I told Nads I had to go and hoped she was down with that. She was. Phew. It took me tens minutes to get my numb, swollen hands into my gloves and off I went, missing one of my headphone earbuds which had somehow gotten lost in the farce and mud. Meanwhile, one guy arrived to tow, quoted Nads an extortionate price and said in as many words “Do you want towing or not. I could leave you here”… You can guess how that went. Coachnet had already sent another company out and they did the job with a smile and efficiency. GOOD. I'd got myself 9 and a bit miles down the road, bumping into a couple of people who stopped to ask if I was ok, after seeing the RV at the side of the road (Thanks, guys!) and was rewarded for my efforts by sinking ankle deep into some mud as I crossed a road. I was drenched, feet wise anyway, so I just washed them in a puddle and splashed my way into the Apache Homelands Restaurant where I met the lovely Tammie and Connie who fed me roast beef and mash, listened to my gripes and we were soon joined by a local couple (Larry and Marie) who joined the chat and by the time Nads arrived, hungry as a bear, everything felt better. Mileage wasn't really the main thing now, so I didn't mind getting warmer while Nads ate. Come on Rob. Get on with it now. Big one. I got up and put down 18 miles in one go with minimal breaks, though the last few miles were a little fraught as this was full blown interstate running, finishing outside a Border Patrol station. We were pretty sure we could run on this stretch, but these roads aren't ever...relaxing, shall we say. On the way here, I saw my first cows actually lying down since I've been here (that thing about rain and cows must be true, mustn't it - despite my veterinary knowledge telling me it's coincidence that it was bucketing down?), wild deer and jackrabbits, racing into the distance away from this new, weird looking potential predator, but the best thing was...drum roll… IT'S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP (IF YOU WANNA ROCK AND ROLL) coming on shuffle for the first time on the whole run. About 500 hours of music, so about 6,000 songs and this had hidden for so long. The thing is, like an end-of-level boss, it's unlocked a bonus – I will now allow myself to just have ACDC shuffle days, now the dam has been breached. This means everything will be alright, I'm sure. Let's draw a line under his chapter and be glad we got over a marathon out of it.

Start: Butterfield Dairy, Deming. Finish: US Border Patrol Checkpoint, nr. I-10. 27.5 miles

Day 105 Tune of the Day: Many of Horror – Biffy Clyro. Strange choice, given the obvious opportunities for other songs given the topics of the day and the late appearance of you know what, but in the absence of music for my first run, it was a constant ear worm from a great band, that started the improvement in my mood.