Walking in Memphis. Bloody hell. Days 132-134

I felt a little stiff getting out of the RV this morning. My left quad was pretty tight, so I started off gently and did a bit of stretching, before easing into the normal routine. I had what I thought was a great idea – entitled the Friday Follow, I decided to start it on a Sunday, because I have so many potentially good ideas (so I think…) that I forget, I didn't want to let this one slip. The crux of this plan was to take a photo every four miles, regardless of where I was to let you follow me on a typical day. This was going to be anything but. My quad started to hurt a lot more during the course of my morning, which was at least provided with some distraction in the form of the Liverpool match, where we played terribly, but got a lucky win. As the tension ratcheted up in the game, so the pain levels did in my leg, to the point where I was needing to walk. How had this happened? I slipped on some mud earlier yesterday, was that it? No pain at the time. I also had to contract my quad pretty strongly whilst awkwardly getting into the RV, to avoid a puddle, rather than asking Nads to pull forward. No pain at the time. No trauma, no nothing. Never had an issue here in my life. I reckon it was the step. I rested up a bit and went out for my pre-lunch run. It lasted two miles before I had to walk. I walked two miles further before that hurt too. All documented in a staccato fashion on Instagram. High drama for the season opener. I'm sure episode 2 will have more cheer. I hope.

Start: Highway 70, 2.5 miles east of Brinkley. Finish: Just after junction of Highway 1 and Highway 70. 20.4 miles. Day 132 Tune of the Day: The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again. Whether it's Nads saying we were doing great on leg 1 to me starting a new feature, getting into our comfort zone publicly seems to lead to disaster. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnNJyNBUDhw

I'd run a million scenarios over in my head overnight and bounced some of them off Nads. We decided that I'd start walking and bounce some emails off to Leigh of the Chiro and Physio Clinic in Liverpool and Aimee Lane of Symmetry (my old physio in Melbourne) in the meantime. I probably should have called Whitney at ErgoRehab in Houston too, but I didn't want to be a complete pain!

It was another wet day, all day, so I eschewed traditional running gear and wore my proper walking coat and waterproof trousers and got my head down. First song coming out of the RV: “Rock or Bust” by AC/DC. You couldn't have been more cruel, shuffle. My non-negotiable rule of AC/DC = run was broken for the first time, but only because it was turned off completely. When I felt ready for music again, I exiled shuffle and selected Nick Cave. All day. I watched, through my narrow hood aperture, as the cars on the I-40 sped past as I went past on the roughly parallel 70. It was a metaphor for my current and former states of activity. A couple of people, including a State Trooper stopped to see if I was ok, provoking a smile and a cheery attitude as they don't deserve my current state of mind. This was appreciated though, as once cheery was engaged, it persists for at least a short while. This was prolonged by the support I received from friends and also in the form of the advice that I received, which offered a glimmer of hope for a rapid recovery. After all, it wasn't hurting at all now. I decided to try a little running, only half a mile at first, with a mile of walking, then a mile, then a bit more. At the end of the day I'd logged 27 miles, with 6 of those run. Things were looking up. We drove to our RV Park, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, which I would cross, for the second of hopefully five times tomorrow. We could see the huge tankers glide past from our spot, huge behemoths only visible by the lights on deck. Making progress, reaching their port, turning round and going again. Sounds familiar.

Start: Just after junction of Highway 1 and Highway 70. Finish: Jct of Highway 70 and 79. 27.3 miles. Day 133 Tune of the Day: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Higgs Bosun Blues. There is a line “all the clocks have stopped in Memphis”. I've never wished for anything more. Stop until this leg gets better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GWsdqCYvgw

The nervous wait overnight to see what sort of night my healing process had had ended with the familiar sound of my alarm and then again, of course, ten minutes later. I woke up and it felt a lot better than it had the previous evening and I decided that I was going to adopt a walk one mile, run three, walk one strategy, no big stints, decent rests. This sounded reasonable to me. After all, I was pretty much fixed. The long drive back to the start was made longer by an accident on the interstate but the Highway Patrol got things moving very quickly indeed. This was a bit of a stress as we'd set a time with WREG Channel 3, based conveniently just after I cross the Mississippi for a 1230 meeting. I commenced the exploration of where my vastus medialis' boundaries were. The first 9 miles were a little tense between us and I sensed a degree of upset when I got back into Jenny. I found out 2 miles into the next run that I had overstepped the mark. The golden rule of not running through increasing pain was always there, but it wasn't increasing steadily, it was just painful. 3/10 pain is ok, but where did that lie? Do I have a high pain threshold or not? Is my 6 a 3, or vice-versa? I walked for a bit to mull this over and decided I'd set a limit of “any more painful and that's it”. To be honest it fluctuated, getting easier, then the same, then easier and it seemed to be easier when I ran a little faster. So I tried to keep that easy feeling going. Just before I reached the Big River Crossing, only completed in October 2016, so it wasn't even open when I started my run, I ran into a chap who looked like he was on his lunchtime stroll. Saying hi, I was surprised by the reply. “You're the guy running across the country, right?” It turns out that Richard was a producer for WREG and was writing the news article for the 5 o'Clock News that I was going to be on. He remarked that I looked as though I was running well... I bumped into the rest of the crew actually on the bridge, pretty much on the border. I came clean about the injury in the interview. I was pretty sure I'd torn my medial quad, or vastus medialis and I was trying to see if I could run through it. It was exciting being in Memphis, with its amazing history, Elvis and of course the gateway to Tennessee, though this time would be a flying visit. Twinned with Liverpool, we need to spend some proper time here and it's pencilled in for a future crossing. In the meantime, I decided to run the road less travelled, through the contrasts of rich and poor and...my leg was killing me. 4 miles in to a 12 mile stint to the outskirts of the city, which I'd hoped to punctuate with a lunch break, that was it. Walking. I had just about enough clothing on to prevent the cold making it absolutely miserable, but it wasn't pleasant. Nads would be clad in blankets in Jenny's chilly confines in a car park, somewhere. I love walking, but as with any idea, it's much better when it's YOUR plan and you're either happy with it, or at worst, had time to come to terms with it. This was neither. However, it's not about today, this week, or even the next month. It's about the whole run, whatever that turns out to be and my desire to do the very best I can for Peace Direct and the WWF and me pushing now, or chucking in the towel helps no-one. We found an RV park and drove there in philosophical mood. It was going to be -4C/25f overnight, so we decided to get cosy and play the long game. We would assess the injury tomorrow and hopefully get walking again.

Start: Jct of Highway 70 and 79. Finish: Perimeter Shopping Center. 31.63 miles. Day Tune of the Day 134: Pet Shop Boys – You Were Always On My Mind. I don't feel I've graduated to full Elvis yet, maybe next time. In the mean time, one of the best cover versions of any song ever, with Elvis obviously starting it all off! Should really be Walking in Memphis, but I just can't bring myself to do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDe60CbIagg

Total: 4429.47 miles