Aftermath of JOGLE

The short story: I didn't finish JOGLE; indeed I barely made it over half way.  It wasn't for the want of trying but ultimately my body let me down and I'm not sure I could have done much about it even with the benefit of hindsight.  Most people tell me that it was still a huge achievement and perhaps over time my view of it being a failure will change.  The stats:

  • 361 miles in 7 days
  • 442 miles in 11 days (after 2.5 days of forced rest)
  • 881,403 steps.
  • 6,480 metres of climb.
  • Scotland covered in 6 days 9 hours 30 minutes

What could have I done differently?  I talked about this with my wife at length, and we have both come to the conclusion that physically/mentally etc. I was fit enough to complete it.  The issue was that the timetable I had allowed was too aggressive for my body.  I had worked on a minimum of 52 miles a day, but the issue with such distances is that every additional mile required has an exponential effect on the body.  For instance the difference in going from 10 to 15 miles a day would be fairly minimal for me.  But ramp up the requirement from 45 miles to 50 a day and it is pushing the body towards its boundaries, with the knock on impact of reduced recovery time as well.  Eventually, these boundaries are pushed too far and the body breaks down.  Had I changed the goal from 16 to 18 days from the outset, it would probably have resulted in a different outcome and probably a more enjoyable experience.

In the first day my fatigue was mostly muscular, particularly my quads.  Over time though they recovered and as expected the issue started to become my feet and particularly my ankles that were starting to swell.  However, on the whole we were managing the issue having learnt from earlier challenges.  Then half way through day 7 a pain in my shin started to develop fairly rapidly.  I suspected a shin splint, which was strange as I've never been susceptible to them in the past.  As it turns out, based on my symptoms I think a stress fracture is the more likely culprit and the fact that I subsequently covered a further 130 miles with what is effectively a broken leg, shows how determined I was to not give in.  Ultimately the pain and swelling got to the point where it was physically impossible to cover any more distance.  Even then, my decision to call it a day was driven more by my daily mileage slipping away making my timetable impossible; if I could have hobbled the remaining 370 miles I would have probably done so.  I would have completed the challenge, but at an immense cost and probably with mental tarring and few, if any fond memories of the venture.

Its easy to think that the challenge is 100% about me, but the reality is that it was a team effort.  Unlike many others who have RV's and full support crew with the sort of distances I was covering, all of this was being done without complaint by my wife using her car.  Prior to the journey people would think she would be extremely bored sitting around, but this is nowhere near the reality, she was as much on the go as I was - helping me get ready at 4.15am each morning, making sure I had food and drinks on the go, checking at various rendezvous points, extra supplies, sorting accommodation for each evening, preparing my arrival, sorting dinner, clothes for next day, massaging my feet, ankles and muscles, the list goes on.  Suffice to say, she was just as tired as me at the end of it all as I was!  This is partly what makes the ending more galling - I let the team down.

What was a typical day? Normally it was a 4.15am alarm, followed by the quickest of breakfasts, sorting kit etc. and often a short drive from our accommodation ready for a 5am start.  I would then be left to get on with it by my wife (as much as I liked seeing her, it was often best for her not to be around as it sometimes encouraged me to take a rest!) until about 9.30 - 10.30 where I would have a 10 minute break.  I would then continue until lunch which depending on my energy levels and progress was anywhere between 12.30 - 14.00 and I would take somewhere between 20 - 40 mins.  From that point onwards breaks were as and when needed.  Some days this could be hourly just for a few mins, but on other days I pressed on.  The day would typically finish around 7.30pm, but towards the end when I lost the ability to run due to injury, I was having to continue until 8.30pm - 9.00pm to make enough distance.  I was usually 'buried' by the end of each day, uncontrollable shivers and hot/cold flushes reflected how tired I was but it was a case of take on some quick energy gels and suck it up.  I would then aim to eat, shower, massage and be in bed by 9.15pm, or at least within an hour of finishing on longer days.  You would think I would sleep really easily, but the reality was the opposite - just about everything ached so the quality of my sleep was usually mixed at best.

Some things happen to the body that most people can relate to i.e. injuries / swollen feet etc., but then other things happen to the body that perhaps a 'normal' person wouldn't think about.  The first is that with the amount of calories burnt, you are more or less non stop eating.  Over time I started to develop various sores in my mouth, blood blisters etc. and my tongue felt like someone had roughed it up with sandpaper.  Likewise, without putting a finer point on it, when eating c. 7,500 calories a day it has to come out the other end so I was constantly needing the toilet and it become a daily complaint... 

Despite covering 441 miles in a week and a half I have not lost any weight, if anything I might have gained ever so slightly.  This shows that I got my nutrition more or less spot on.  The focus over the next few weeks is to let my body repair itself.  Beyond the obvious injuries that need to heal, there is a level of tiredness in me that a good nights rest simply does not fix.  There is tiredness and what I'm now terming 'pervasive tiredness'.  You wake up tired and it stays with you all day and you feel like constantly needing a nap even though you cant in practice.

Normally, ventures such as this would have a blow by blow account as each day passed, but the truth is that most of the days just merge into each other.

Day 1 - John O'Groats to between Helmsdale and Brora (57 miles)

I always knew this would be the day to over achieve and with the benefit of fresh legs I had worked on the basis of doing at least 65 miles.  The weather was dry but with a very gusty cold wind.  At 5am I was off and I made sure that I kept going at the slowest jogging pace that felt comfortable.  All was going well for the first couple of hours but then fairly quickly my quads lost all energy.  It was almost like a switch and although I reached Wick (16 miles in 2hr 40) I was pretty shocked how I was feeling.  From this point on I decided to walk and conserve what energy I had left.  I met my wife at 8.30am for my first scheduled stop and explained my predicament - it was like my batteries were empty.  I pressed on, alternating between walking and a very very slow jog, but as the day progressed it eventually got to the point of a fast walk only.  On the outskirts of Dunbeath (37 miles) I started to bonk completely so took lunch and had a good 45 minute rest.  We talked about my predicament and wondered whether my adverse reaction to my Covid jab the previous week had something to do about it (I collapsed twice 24 hours after receiving the jab) as something was not normal.

I knew it was going to be a struggle to get the rest of the miles done today and was even thinking I might not achieve the average target of 51 miles for the day.  I remember having to check in with my wife every couple of miles such was my level of fatigue, although I did start to feel a bit better in the last couple of hours of the day.  There were a couple of sharp climbs around Helmsdale and Berriedale that are famous around LEJOG/JOGLE circles but to be honest I thought they were overrated.  Between Helmsdale and Brora I called it a day, having barely done my bare minimum target for the day and feeling pretty dreadful.  Dinner was mini Fish and Chips at Brora before retiring to a B+B in Golspie.

Day 2 Tore (just outside of Inverness) - 54 miles (111 miles total)

Another 5am start and the weather remained dry but the same cold wind cutting through.  I was dropped off by my wife and I alternated between a slow run and walk for the first few hours.  My quads had improved overnight and as the day progressed the issue was more about the pounding the soles of my feet were getting.  Sore is not really an adequate term how they get - something more akin to someone branding your feet with a hot poker with every step is somewhat closer to the mark.  You just learn to live with it and block it out as much as you can.  Despite this I was making good progress and actually trotted past the B&B where we staying and I figured my wife was currently having breakfast.  At just gone 9am we met up just before the crossing of Loch Fleet and she passed on a delicious sausage sandwich.  At this point I was feeling reasonably upbeat again.

My energy levels did not improve much from the stop so had to focus on a fast walk where at the Glen Morangie distillery (84 miles) I had lunch which from memory was some sort of instant curried rice concoction expertly put together by my wife.  Up to this point I had been following the A9 the whole way; for the first time I would take a small diversion and take some minor roads through to Alness.  For whatever reason I had a huge energy low in this section, my feet were incredibly sore and I was starting to bonk.  I had a forced 10 min break, a change of shoes and an energy drink to try and perk me up.  It did the trick and I soon realised that running hurt my feet less than walking.  Running it was!  Not only that I was actually going at a cracking pace rather than a shuffle.  So much so that I bombed through Alness and back onto the A9 and barely stopping.  For the last 3 hours or so I pretty much ran throughout.  However, back on the A9 where it was a bit more ropey running against the flow of fast traffic, I played the game of run on the road where there was gaps, before hopping onto the verge for a quick walk as the traffic passed.  I again called it a day at 7.30pm which felt about right as in the last 15 minutes or so of the day I was starting to lose energy again.  Dinner tonight was a Chicken Royale at Burger King before retiring to the Inverness for the night.  A bit more upbeat today.

Day 3 Newtonmore - 53 miles (164 miles total)

Proper rain.  I don't mean the normal day to day rain but the sort where it is driving down.  Horrible especially when having to start the day off this way.  No real matter as the aches and pains diminish somewhat when the new battle is to focus on the weather.  The first hour or so was to focus on getting to Inverness and then beyond.  The original intention was to try and keep off the A9 and follow some minor roads and forest tracks, but the weather was so poor I decided to just keep to the verge of the A9.  It was safe enough on the verge, my feet were already soaked and it was a bit shorter.  I should also mention that for the most part up to this point no navigation was needed - either it had been a case of follow the relatively quiet A9 or just quickly consult the maps in the car.  From this point onwards there was a bit more navigation required so I carried the maps in a 'waterproof' case.  Unfortunately I discovered the map case was not very waterproof after all and were as good as useless.

After an hour of this I diverted off the A9 at Daviot onto a minor road, but by doing so I discovered a short cut that involved a rope swing bridge high above a river.  Not for the feint hearted but I was glad it was there as it wasn't clear from the aerial photographs that it existed in practice.  Still more rain and no point in running in this.  I remember finding a bus shelter in the middle of nowhere and having a quick 5 min break from it all.  Not long after I met my wife for the first time of the day and gobbled a sausage sandwich and a hot cup of tea.  It did the trick and I trotted a slow run until I eventually hit the A9 again and a cycle path in various forms that gradually ascended up Sloch Summit at a little over 400 metres.  What comes up, must come down and I lunched at Carrbridge (home of the World Porridge Championships apparently) and the start of the Cairngorms at about 1pm.  Another curried rice thingy for lunch and the rain was now starting to ease off.  Overall I had a good morning considering the weather and took the break for lunch just when I needed it.

The focus for the afternoon was to get to Aviemore and then beyond.  The weather was a mixed bag and so was my energy levels.  It was now becoming the norm to have a lull in energy after stopping for lunch and I remember the road between Carrbridge and Aviemore being quite a challenge in the wet and fast traffic.  I rocked into Aviemore at about 3pm and tasked my wife to find a map case that actually worked!  For some unknown reason I took a decision to take a bike trail between Aviemore and Kingussie which I know made it more of a challenge for my wife to find me and with hindsight I somewhat regret, as it was clearly much longer than the road option.  I think (!) my thinking at the time was that it was softer on my feet and the road section to this point had been quite ropey.  I reached Kingussie at 6.30pm in what was now fine weather and despite feeling now very tired I decided to eek out the extra 3 miles to our night stop at Newtonmore - extra miles in the bank plus the benefit of being able to start directly from the B&B tomorrow morning.  My wife went up ahead to check in and make home, but those simple 3 miles were as hard as ever - no energy and my feet were like hot pokers.  My wife found me on the outskirts of Newtonmore walking extremely slowly and me pleading with her where the B&B was.  The finish for the day couldn't come soon enough.  Dinner was half a pizza from a truck stop down the road and what was becoming the normal evening shakes and shivers.

Somewhat worryingly my ankles had started to puff up, not to dangerous levels but were becoming a bit of a concern.  I tasked my wife to find ice the following morning.

Day 4 Between Pitlochry and Dunkeld - 50.6 miles (215 miles total)

Although my ankles had improved a bit overnight I was sufficiently worried about them to concentrate on a fast walk for most of the day.  Walking sounds easier than running, but when walking fast the energy required is roughly the same as a slow run.  It was a really nice minor road through to Dalwhinnie Distillery before starting the very long ascent of the Drumochter Summit at 462 metres.  Although it follows the A9 it was a mixture of new and old bike path, tarmac and gravel sections that kept things interesting.  The scenery was stunning and although I was anywhere between adjacent to 100 metres away from the trunk road, it felt isolated and remote.  I had a welcome boost by seeing my wife waiting with another sausage sandwich and tea - she had managed to find a way onto the path from the A9.  As progress was slow through walking and the long ascent/descent I decided to have a quick lunch break at Calvine consisting of a tin of chili con carne.

The afternoon was a bit flatter overall and passed through some interesting villages such as Blair Atholl.  Despite being accustomed to a mid-afternoon bonk in energy levels I felt pretty good today.  I went with a really fast walk all the way into Pitlochry without stopping.  The weather was by now getting pretty warm so my wife purchased me a Mr Whippy which went down a treat.  I left Pitlochry just after 5.30pm and the target was to make as much progress as possible towards Dunkeld where we were to overnight.  After 6pm I was feeling tired but ok so asked my wife to get ahead and to check in and make the room ready.  By about 7pm I was done in, now barely making much progress at all - I was hoping that my wife would be just around the corner.  I reached our rough meeting point but she was not there so I seriously contemplated just sitting down.  Thankfully I decided to continue and it turned out she was just around the corner!  I had the worst evening shakes yet - I needed several gels to perk me up even just a bit.  Because I had walked almost all of the day I did not finish until 8.10pm.  The hotel in Little Dunkeld had a posh restaurant but also did take away.  It was salmon steak, new potatoes and veg.  I could only manage half of it.  The good news though was that my ankles were no worse. I also had my first ever tick bite.  Another day ticked off.

Day 5 Queensferry (near Edinburgh) - 51 miles (266 total)

An overcast start to the day but otherwise dry.  Generally progress was decent, neither slow nor fast.  I was somewhat worried about the section leading to Perth where there were significant roadworks on the A9 as it was being converted to dual carriageway with a contraflow in place.  I went along a minor road for as long as possible, but just my luck, this same access road was being used for the site compound.  Eventually I came to the end of this road and I had to nip across the new road and contraflow to the other side.  Thankfully no one else was there but on the other side there was a new slip road recently built so I followed that.  By pure luck a new tarmac footpath had been built so I followed that until the roadworks finished before re-joining my original routing.  I then met my wife for a 10.30 am McDonalds boost before I trekked into Perth itself.  Some further running thereafter and a lateish sandwich based lunch today on the top of a hill on a minor road in the middle of nowhere in what was now sunny weather.

The afternoon was difficult.  Again, the same issues as before - zero energy and the soles of my feet were so sore it was agony.  It was going to be one of those afternoons.  I frequently had to do a mile or two before a couple of minutes rest before schlopping off to do a couple of miles more.  Simply my progress was nowhere good enough.  I battled my way through Kinross, Kelty and Cowdenbeath and eventually the energy lull passed and I was starting to go at a pace somewhere between a run and a shuffle.  I declined pretty much all of the opportunities to stop now, fearing that by doing so it would break my momentum.  I then tasked my wife to go ahead again and I would be determined that I would cross the Forth Road Bridge tonight.  I ran and ran and ran without stopping and eventually the bridge came into sight on the horizon - impressive doesn't do it justice.  It just acted as a spur and running across the structure makes you realise how big it is in reality.  My wife was waiting on the other side before the mile or so drive to the hotel.  Dinner was a McDonalds with an ice cream sundae.  I didn't have the shakes tonight and for the first time it felt like JOGLE could be on.

Hello Mr Blister!

Day 6 Moffat - 53 miles (319 miles)

My ankles were the same as yesterday which I viewed as a good thing - it showed that we were managing the issue well.  Weather today was a cold but dry start, improving to be very warm and sunny in the afternoon.  I was a bit worried about progress today as it involved traversing the Pentland Hills which was mostly off road followed by some sizable climbs later on in the day.  I decided to run as much as possible and made great progress to the start of the off road section known as the Cross Borders Drove Road.  Road it certainly wasn't; in fact it was barely a path at all.  It was basically a bog.  At first I played the game of trying to hop over wet bits but soon realised it was a losing battle and I was going to get my feet wet either way.  From that point onwards I ploughed on through it all.  It was an interesting section - cursing that it had the name 'road' when it wasn't even a track, to slightly enjoying it as it was so soft on the feet, to hoping the section would finish soon as despite my efforts progress on the 'path' was slow.  By mid-morning the weather was getting extremely warm and at Blyth Bridge I had a tin of rice pudding and rest before sticking to the road for the rest of the day.

Lunch was once again in the middle of nowhere, near a hamlet called Broughton.  The sun cream was now called for as were sunglasses and short sleeved top.  I continued my slow run shuffle.  Around mid-afternoon my right shin started to become uncomfortable and within 5-10 mins became painful.  Deep down I thought this could be trouble as it was different type of pain to everything else I had experienced thus far.  My initial reaction was that it was probably a shin splint, but to be honest having never experienced one before I was guessing.  Every time I tried to run I ended up hopping on one leg a few strides later it was that bad.  The same thing happened a little later when walking as well.  This was really bad news and I conveyed the same to my wife not much later.  At the time I think she just thought it was just another issue to manage but I knew this was bad.  It was a shame, as the scenery was as good as anything else we saw throughout the trip.

As is often the case, it went from outright pain to becoming intermittent when walking giving me false hope.  Eventually I started to be able to run much of the steep section downhill before entering Moffat at 7.30pm to end the day.  A quick wash and I even ventured out myself for the first time and ordered Fish and Chips that we consumed at the back of the hotel.  It was all a false sense of security, little did I know it but the damage had been done.  The shin was extremely sensitive in a very specific area to touch.  The night ended with severe back spasms for no apparent reason, reducing the amount of sleep.

Day 7 High Hesket (South of Carlisle) - 50.5 miles (369 miles)

The day started off with some trepidation and hope that the pain in my shin would miraculously disappear overnight.  Either way, what ever happened today I would leave Scotland.  Any short lived hope soon went away and the soles of my feet were as sore as ever.  What made it worse though was how tired I was this morning, not helped by the lack of sleep overnight.  After a couple of hours of the sleep monsters I had to cave in - I found a gate, slumped against it and got a micro sleep for 5 minutes.  It didn't do much but it was enough, although the roads I were on were not helping.  No scenery to speak of and no interesting villages or towns to pass through.  I had a late morning meet up with my wife in Ecclefechan, famed for its tarts.  The village was not as how I had imagined it to be in my head for some reason.  My wife knew without having to ask how my shin was.  Excruciating.

I soldiered on and it now became my task to get to the English Border for lunch.  This I did at about 2.30pm, so it meant that I had covered c. 350 miles in 6 days 9 hours and 30 minutes.  Deep down I think I knew this was it, the pain was so bad and the leg was getting swollen as well.  Despite this, I didn't consider quitting but at the same time I was in a sort of no mans land with my thoughts as I knew I didn't have the ability to set aside this amount of pain for much longer.

I hobbled into Carlisle and came across someone who has followed some of my earlier adventures online.  It was a great spur even if I didn't chat for long and was probably quite down overall.  I was also having some issues with blisters on my left foot so briefly stopped for some blister care.  The problem was caused by an inflamed right foot that was not replicated on the left foot.  The trainers, being too big in the left was causing friction and therefore blisters.  All I needed!

I came and went through Carlisle and I decided to call it a day at High Hesket which would give me the required mileage for the day.  With a couple of miles to go my body, already struggling, more or less decided to shut down completely.  It was a wobbly walk over those last couple of miles and I finished at 8.35pm.  A cold Domino's pizza awaited for dinner, not that I managed much.

Back at the B&B we surveyed the damage.  My right ankle was extremely swollen but my shin was extremely swollen as well and very sensitive to the touch.  My mum even made a surprise appearance, even more surprising was that we were staying at the same B&B which I'm told was a genuine coincidence!  It was a shame for her as it was her plan to see me out and about the following day but I think we all knew I couldn't continue with the state of my foot the way it was.  We agreed we would not make a decision tonight and see how it was in the morning.  I could barely sleep because of the pain.

Day 8 - Game Over

I woke up as usual at 4.15am.  I could barely stand, let alone hobble about.  The swelling if anything was worse than the night before.  It was obvious I couldn't start.

You wouldn't believe it but the left foot is actually swollen.  Its just looks normal compared to my right foot.

If there was, say just a couple of days left I would probably have found a way through it, even if it involved crutches, but the problem was that I wasn't yet even half way.  I was obviously left extremely disappointed and a bit lost.  We agreed not to go home today but stay at our planned overnight stop at Burton-in-Kendal.  We stopped by on the coast at Arnside before travelling to the hotel and having a couple of pints in the beer garden at the hotel.

Day 9 & 10

With some persuasion I agreed with my wife to stay on up north.  It was a bit of a struggle to find accommodation on a summery bank holiday weekend in Cumbria / North Yorkshire post lockdown as literally almost everything was booked out.  We eventually found a hotel in Askrigg that had a last minute cancellation and we meandered our way there after a leisurely morning.  A couple of pints of Black Sheep consumed and the grand total of 4 pints over the last 48 hours was greater than the last couple of months combined.

We both still felt a bit lost though and equally afflicted my wife as much as it did me.  I didn't want it to be over, deep down despite all of the pain it was great being in our own bubble, oblivious to what was going on in the world.

Day 10 (part b) Between Shap and Kendal - 27.5 miles (396 miles)

After a very slow breakfast that comprised of waiting 45 minutes for some Weetabix and toast, we went to Leyburn for the morning.  My leg had seemed to have improved considerably.  It was far from perfect but did it seem good enough to give things another crack?  There was only one way to find out.  We decided to travel the 1.5 hours back to High Hesket as all of the key kit was still in the car with us.  With hindsight things were clearly not right, so don't let me give the impression that they were, but I was prepared to grasp at any positive even if my leg had improved from say 0% to 35%.

So there we were back at High Hesket at 1.30pm 2.5 days later.  It was scorching now so I truly had had all types of weather on this trip.  I decided to just set off gingerly and see how things went.  No running whatsoever.  Everything went well.  The odd grumble here and there.  I went through Shap at about 6.30pm and all was ok.  The first test now passed, I decided to continue up Shap Fell which is one of the three famous JOGLE/LEJOG climbs that peaks at 426 metres.  In fairness it is a bit of a beast but still not as bad a most people make out.  On the way up I had the odd fright; on this trip I've seen almost all British wildlife dead in the roadside verge - stoat, badgers, fox, squirrels, various birds including birds of prey, deer (strangely all without heads), but I came across a new entry to the list - an adder.  In fact three of them in a short distance.  As I was looking down I only saw each one of them about a pace in front of me and on tired legs is harder to avoid them than you would imagine!  I assume all three were dead, but if they were they didn't look so.

Once the summit was passed I decided to continue half way down to Kendal.  Only as the descent got steeper in the last 30 mins of the day did it start to cause issues with my shin and at 9.15pm I decided to finish.  Due to the late end I had arranged for one of my emergency 1,000 calorie dehydrated meals to be prepared so I could eat it during the 1.5 hour drive back to the hotel.  To be honest it wasn't too bad - a beef hot pot if memory serves.  The potato shouldn't be as crunchy as it was but overall not bad...

Day 11 - Outskirts of Preston - 45.5 miles (442 miles)

Getting back to the hotel at 10.35pm and I decided to not even bother to shower as rest was most important.  Even though I had set my alarm for 4am I knew that I would start later than usual due to the extended drive to the starting point.  I managed to set off just 25 minutes later than normal - i.e. 5.25am and although it was quite cool at that time of the day it was expected to be the hottest day of the year so far - about 25 degrees in the shade.  This doesn't feel too bad, but when considering the thought of exercising for 15 hours in it, mostly in the direct sunlight, little to no breeze and on the tarmac where much of heat reflects there is little to enjoy about it.  In fact I was thinking it was a toss up between preferring the torrential downpour of Inverness or the heat of today.

I did as much fast walking as possible.  Running was a complete no go now.  I also now needed to catch up miles lost.  Whilst there was no way to catch up 2.5 days lost, I might be able to catch up the half day with some late finishes and the 13 miles or so in the bank from earlier on in the trip.

Whilst my leg was not that painful in the morning, I was starting to develop some blisters again in the left foot due to the oversize trainers I was wearing due to the inflammation in the right foot.  To be honest it was probably just another distraction - something was always painful or discomforting; it was just a battle as to what bit of me was in discomfort the most at any given time!

I got through Kendal at 7.30am and a few miles later (406.5 miles) I was actually now closer to Lands End than John O'Groats!  I was starting to feel a bit more optimistic; things were clearly not great but as long as they did not deteriorate any further than potentially it could still be game on?  Next stop was Lancaster, but not before a lunch stop at Bolton-le-Sands at 1.15pm.  Even though walking, my progress was not fast enough and I knew it was going to be a late finish.  I think my biomechanics were off which limited my pace, but the heat of the day was kicking in.  I was pretty knackered and glad of the rest.  I reached Lancaster at 3pm and kept pushing on, my pace not being either fantastic or poor but at least I wasn't needing breaks which is what kills progress.

At 4pm, just beyond Lancaster University I had a quick 10 minute rest and the goal was to reach the centre of Preston at 445 miles, if not slightly beyond before the end of the day.  I knew this would mean a 9.30pm finish, but with the state of my leg, if this is what was required each day I would do it.  The reality is that with the accumulated effect of the heat, by 6pm I was flagging.  By 7.30pm my shin was hurting something rotten and my wife suggested stopping soon.  I resisted as not only was I not catching up lost miles I was going to fall further behind.  I compromised at stopping at mile 443 on the outskirts of Preston - ok a loss of a further 3 miles but tomorrow is another day.  In the end I stopped when I saw the car at 442 miles - I was spent.  Fast walking for much of the day on legs that are biomechanically not tuned in, with various pain signals in that heat had finished me off.  I could do no more.

When I got to the hotel I said that was it, my shin was as bad as it ever was and more swollen than ever.  To top it off I had sunstroke so struggled to consume anything meaningful food wise.  It was obvious I was kidding myself about the state of my leg.  Reading the symptoms about the differences between a Shin Splint and a Stress Fracture - I can't be 100% but symptomatically mine are far closer to the latter than the former.  That being the case I have probably done around 130 miles with a broken leg.  There is no way I could have done another 370 odd.  Unlike a few days earlier I feel more reconciled with how it ended this time - physically I was able, skeletally I was not.  There was no way my body could have carried me to the finish line.


Much of my thoughts are outlined at the top of this piece.  Yes I'm still disappointed, but when you look at the numbers in isolation they aren't that bad:

  • 442 miles overall in 11 days.
  • Traversed the length of Scotland in under a week.
  • Average of two marathons each day for over a week.
  • Over half way.
  • Potentially 130 miles with a broken leg!
However, none of the above was the goal, hence my current disappointment.  The strange thing is had the goal been to traverse only Scotland in a week I would have come away well satisfied...  Over time I think I will reflect far more positively on the experience.

My initial thought is that this was a one time venture.  I'm not sure I would want to have another go at this.  Perhaps, just perhaps there is unfinished business to complete the rest of the journey, but that is something to think about another time.


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