Jonny Dry’s latest article recording his progress towards his goal of completing the 77 mile run.
It is 4:30am on a Sunday morning. If I’m honest, I haven’t slept all that much. I seem to have been in a state of hyper awareness since Friday, and tonight has been no different. I can hear Tom stirring as I make my way downstairs. I’m feeling more than a little guilty at making him get up this early. Breakfast is a simple affair of porridge and water. Surprisingly, it’s in fairly honest quantities as well. My carb loading has been ticked in the two days prior. I’m confident at the moment. I’d decided fairly early on that thinking about the run in its entirety was madness, so I really only have the first couple of hours or so in mind. These I know will be bliss – the quiet seclusion of my own feet and breathing as the moon gives way over the coastline to bright morning sunshine.
I have, therefore, a rather notable skip in my step as Tom and I amble down to the Prince of Wales Pier. Everything is quiet, no cars, and no people, just the silent orange glow of street lamps. It is, for most, an ordinary Sunday and will continue to be so. I, though, have created an atmosphere of expectation within myself. Suddenly everything around me seems to have some form of significance, as if placed there for my distinct attention on this particularly crazy day. Greeting Amanda, Kristy, and Hannah on the pier is particularly special. The tension in me ascends another level. I’ll be off in a little over ten minutes. All that remains is to wait patiently for 5:00am to strike. Again, I’m calm. I have very little in my mind for the same reason as before: thinking about the full distance is impossible. And yet, on the inside, I’m running on some kind of drug. I’m lightheaded, things don’t really seem to fully register, and time has vanished altogether. We begin counting down, our voices echoing off the surrounding buildings and taking themselves off round corners. And then we stop. I begin running. The silence almost returns if it wasn’t for my feet and breath.
What I find most strange is that this state of being continues for the majority of the day. The only word that springs to mind is solitude. People have asked me, ‘Don’t you get bored?’ I think my answer to this now is that if you get bored you’re thinking too much. Your mind is elsewhere: on a deadline you need to meet, how much longer until you get back, or how bloody hard it’s getting. A successful mental state should revolve around your immediate personal condition and very little else; a state of flow, where you’re looking but not seeing. Imagine thinking of absolutely nothing. Exactly, it’s impossible, but that is the precise mind-set that running should evoke. There is, consequently, very little else I can say about the majority of the run. Most of it was completely disengaged.
There are, however, specific points that stand out like icebergs amongst a vast flat sea. The first of these was Coverack, where I met my parents for the first time. I knew they were in Cornwall. Indeed, I’d been for dinner with them the night before. But seeing them there was surprisingly emotional, most significantly because it drew me out from my inward looking state and brought me very sharply back into some form of existence. The second was the Lizard, which held a certain significance as it was where I’d begin turning back on myself to circumnavigate Mount’s Bay. It was here I remember taking a sharp breath in. I’ve stood on the Lizard before and looked back round towards Porthcurno and Penzance, it is a mighty long way and the enveloping sea haze makes it appear even further. Today though it looked incredible, a huge great ghostly line that almost looked like it didn’t exist. It was here at the tip where the wind that would accompany me for the remainder of the day also began. It was a bitter wind that caught me straight in the face and stripped away any warmth as soon as I stopped moving. In fact from Porthleven, it got to the point where my blood sugar was so low and my pace was so slow that I was struggling just to keep myself warm. This culminated with me running through Penzance in a baselayer, windproof top, and a thick synthetic jacket just to keep my body functioning. Inevitably though it was damage limitation. Those who have read my last article will know I stopped a short while later in Mousehole. I know the exact point where I stopped last time, getting past there will be an almost indescribable feeling.