I'm in trouble. Send for Bowie. Days 119-121

I'd been a little bereft of something for the last 16 days as Liverpool didn't have any games. They were playing Leicester in the afternoon and my recent find of a link via the club website to listen to fantastically biased commentary was something I'd been looking forward to a few days. The problems started early today. I'd been a little wobbly emotionally for a few days now. I don't know whether it was stress about lack of funding for the run beyond June, being affected by the enormity of the whole shebang and how little I'd done as a proportion of the total, or tiredness, I don't know. As with these kind of things it was probably a combination and things were probably getting made to be bigger than they were, in my mind. Therefore, when I felt a pain in the outside of my knee that got worse over the course of the first two runs, coupled with my dangerous little bit of knowledge, I became very stressed indeed that this could be anything from iliotibial friction band syndrome to some cartilage issue, neither of which would be pleasant, or conducive to 40 mile days. Even running past someone's cool minimalist cactus sculpture and the most Western sight ever, of a Cowboy Church right next to the Rodeo arena didn't lighten my mood. I plonked myself down in the RV to have a drink and raid whatever I could find that interested me in the cupboard. “My knee hurts”. End of statement. “Oh, where?”, Nads replied. “Lateral, maybe inside. It could be bad.” Meanwhile I'm fiddling with my phone to try and get decent reception for the match, getting more and more frustrated. Text report says Leicester have just scored. Cue swearing. It was time for me to get back on the road as Nads doesn't deserve to have me darkening her day when her tasks are hardly the most rewarding (when I'm a grump it's less so!). I think we were getting well and truly beaten by this point as I changed my shoes and headed out of Seymour (another land grab? Well done Seymour!). My feet were killing me. Maybe they had done for a few days. I think I'd run in this set of shoes for too long, but I at least had some reinforcements that I'd bought and I was seriously thinking about a change-out, changing shoes, changing anything. Needed to change something.

It wasn't that there wasn't anything good happening. I was still having some fun with the cows and running past a local scrapyard I took a couple of photos of something that could have been from the Roswell Incident. Basically they looked 10 foot wide flying saucers and I couldn't honestly tell you what they were. I'd say they were flying saucers. Still I was in a complete mind fug and running past a swamp of dead-looking trees I thought “That's me. That's my mood and I don't like it” and that thought stuck with me for the last hour of running. a slight upturn at the corner of my mouth may have been noted if you looked closely enough at the end of the day when I turned round. I sometimes do this and have a little think about where I've been, what I've done etc. Tonight I was looking back at another of those great sunsets that we've been lucky enough to experience. Maybe tomorrow would be better. So many things are sorted with a good sleep. Liverpool still got beaten though. That'd be the same tomorrow. See! I just couldn't see the positives for trying!

Start: Vera, TX. Finish: Jct of Cty Roads 210 and 422. 43.6 miles. Day 119 Tune of the Day: Boomtown Rats – Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays. What could go wrong did – at least there was a hint of redemption in the sunset as I turned around to gaze upon my train wreck of a day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dplpWIpofHI

I looked down at my feet. My second toenail on my left foot looked a little redder than it should be and it was sore. It was time. It was probably time a week or so ago, if not earlier. This toenail and I may part, but new shoes will hopefully prevent any more fall-outs between my toenails and me. Fall-out in the literal sense. One of these Nike Pegasuses (Pegasi? Pegasus?) was so white it hurt my eyes to look at them when the sun shone on them. It also made my leg tan look incredible, darling. Perfect running conditions for me, not too cold and going to be cloudy all day. I like the sun, but it can be so...inconvenient at times. Maybe I should enjoy it while it lasts – I was heading east after all. It was a tired Rob that started, probably not the most well rested, after my emotional tumult of yesterday. The road delivered me to Archer City, which had a retro feel and a tourist office salvaged from an old gas station, with the old pumps and a 50's style mural in place and the ubiquitous water tower/War of the Worlds sleeper cell. I was taking more of an interest in my surroundings today, which had to be a positive thing. I'd also taken comfort from a few nice messages I'd received that day on social media. I ran well, feeling good, passing through Windthorst and the Hoffland Holstein Ranch – though I didn't see the Hoff tending his herd and the miles melted away. Towards the end I began to struggle a bit, but guess what? I just slowed down and continued to enjoy the run.

I'd been noting signs for Vashti and a place called Bowie along the way and a very peculiar thing happened. I saw three of them in fact and after each one, the next song that came on shuffle was by that fella himself, the Starman, David Bowie. Surely that can't be a coincidence, can it, but if not...what was it? The final song, features as the Tune of the Day and I listened to the lyrics more intently for some reason. They epitomised the support I've been receiving, but maybe not realising the significance of it as I'd been focused on a lot of details that maybe didn't really matter so much. It came at the right point, with the upturn in my mood allowing me to see the wood despite the trees and emerge from my swamp of yesterday's afternoon and evening. I've put the lyrics at the bottom. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, isolated or ignored, have a read, or pop this on and tell yourself it'll be alright. Chances are it will be in the end, even if it wasn't the way you planned.

Start: Jct of Cty Roads 210 and 422. Finish: Cty Rd 410, between Buffalo Springs and Vashti. 43.1 miles. Day 120 Tune of the Day: David Bowie – Rock n' Roll Suicide. Check out the lyrics in the second half and you'll get it...if you didn't already of course! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXpy3Tl7tN8

I pretty much sprang out of the RV as I was in much greater spirits, aided by the fact that we were planning a slightly shorter day today, as were confined in our distance by suitable stopping places. By short, I of course mean 0.4 miles under the 40! This short run took me to Vashti, though a Bowie song didn't greet me on shuffle this time. That wouldn't be the case for long. An added bonus was finding another registration plate to add to the collection, this time a retro Texas truck plate, which makes two! I also got to have a road pretty much to myself as my second run of the day was on an unpaved road, saving me half a mile or so, but not enough that cars would choose to take it. Win. Having a little break, I was pretty engrossed in something on my phone when I heard a voice. Ray, a local farmer had seen me coming towards his house and came out with two bottles of water. He was pretty hard of hearing, and this plus a Scouse accent made it a little tricky for him to understand me, but he definitely got that I appreciated his gesture!

On this nice roll of things going in the right direction was of course the town of Bowie and not needing an excuse to fill my ears with his wares, I still took it and listened for the rest of the day. When I'm in the mood for a particular artist, it really makes time fly, though I use these little boosts sparingly, so as not to lose their impact. Bowie was a nice little town and on the way out, I made a new friend, whom I named Norbert. Who straddled the dividing line of pony/horse so well I couldn't call it. He was very friendly and didn't have any bitey tendencies, a factor I rate highly in the equine species. Maybe he was as happy as me, for today was the first day of spring and it was as if the animal and plant kingdom knew. I heard crickets for the first time in months, caterpillars crawling across the road, bluebirds flew between trees showing off their bright purple blossom and the black vultures...had returned. I don't know if that's a spring thing, or if the word of my fragile state of mind from a couple of days ago had reached vulture HQ. What a perfect day...almost.

I took a side road to St. Jo, where I was saddened to see the unedifying sight of three dead coyotes and a raccoon dumped at the side of the road. I'm aware that farmers have the right and they would argue the need to cull coyotes in this area (to be honest I don't know enough about the situation to say that this shouldn't happen), but it feels wrong to me; God knows what the poor bloody raccoon did to deserve his fate and regardless of the reasons, to just dump these intelligent, beautiful animals at the side of the road is plain wrong. I hope the perpetrator gets really bad haemorrhoids or something.

Still, the day ended on an upswing when I had a good mile run with a very friendly retriever, only stopping to have a pee on tress and letterboxes (him, not me), chase cats and get barked at by other, yard confined dogs. I got a little concerned as we neared the busy road, but his race was run and he trotted back home. Even forgetting to turn my watch on for this last mile couldn't dampen my spirits. I was back, with a little help from those around me and a bit of positive thinking.

Start: Cty Rd 410, between Buffalo Springs and Vashti. Finish: Jct of Highway 82 and Field Rd. 39.6 miles. Day 121 Tune of the Day: David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust. Not that you need an excuse to listen to Bowie all day, but I took the little one I had. He is just a genius. Wish I could have seen him live, or could he have lived up to the pedestal I put him on? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLYafk0Lui0

Total: 3929.12 miles