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348 miles

1000milesby 1000milesJul 7th 2014
So here we are, 348 miles in. It feels very bizarre saying that. Since starting, I've made a concerted effort not to add up the overall mileage. I just deal with the day-to-day. If I'm honest, the idea of running this thing in its entirety still scares me shitless.

What I can acknowledge however is the fact that I've arrived in Edinburgh and that I have a number of surplus Michelin road atlas pages floating around the pram. A messy pram generally indicates a good distance travelled.
Scotland has continued to deliver in both scenery and heart. I have really fallen madly in love with this place. The last 250 miles have provided me with everything - I've had rolling fields of green and long stretches of isolation, I've had Forests and flowers (and bugs), I've had snow topped mountains and abandoned castles, and I've had people so generous in spirit that it warms the soul.
The weather, well the weather has been unpredictable in a way that insights rage and hysterical laughing all at the same time. It's honestly ridiculous.

At nights, I've been seriously chilly (this will be no surprise to anyone who's ever shared a tent with me). Despite having a -9 sleeping bag and a silk liner, I've had several sleepless nights trying to get warm. I think the days are so taxing on my body, at night, my body has nothing left to power the internal central heating system so it turns off. Entirely. This, in turn, has meant I've had to change the way I approach the days. Despite normally being a ridiculous early bird, I now get my best quality sleep between 6am and 9am when it's warmed up a bit. And the sleep, well the sleep is amazing - it's so deep, it's like a coma. You know that feeling when you've been outside all day facing the elements and you're just knackered, it's that, but you've also swilled down a couple of tranquillisers with a 'wee dram'.

The weather during the day has also had its influence. When I wake up in the morning I genuinely have no idea whether to pop on my sunnies or seek a cagool fit for some rather vigorous white water rafting. Whatever might appear to be happening in that moment, isn't, and within minutes it can turn from a really sunny, white fluffy day, to torrential rain furiously trying to escape a wind tunnel. Day 10 was one of these days and by mile 19, after I'd given up trying to fight the weather and just accepted that I was the maximum level of soaked it was possible for one person to be, I came to the realisation that it wasn't too bad. There's something about the mountains when it's grey, dark and roaring that gives them an edge - they seem more wild and powerful and you, well, you feel properly alive because the elements are quite literally whacking you in the face.
This is not to say I've embraced the weather at all times, there does come a point when you are so damp and so cold that you can't help but feel a little blue (and look a little blue). This is where the warm heart of Scotland comes in. I couldn't list every wonderful encounter I've had since arriving, it would take too long and a lot of the magic is lost because you just weren't there, but here are a few of my favourites.

The day I sheltered from a furious rain storm under a burger van's canopy. I chatted for hours to the owner whilst eating flapjack and drinking shit Nescafé coffee .. I could probably regale you his entire life story, and him mine.

The day I was ushered onto an empty bus waiting for a group of school kids to return from their abseiling trip (which quite frankly must have been horrifically dangerous due to the power hose that had switched on in the sky - poor critters). I jumped at the offer and chucked the pram under a bush. The bus driver whacked the heaters on full blast and rather ironically (on two levels) gave me a 'double decker' to eat. After half an hour of mindless chit chat and weather speculation he finally said in a thick Glaswegian accent - 'don't ye think you shed gooo and get your beb-bay?'. Gosh how we laughed when I explained that I hadn't just launched my child into the hedge to face a raging storm alone.

The day I ate tea cakes in a cafe with a chap who was 103 - the lady who owned the cafe said he'd been coming once a week since time began. I could totally understand why. The lady was so kind in spirit you felt like you'd rather drink a 1000 litres of tea than leave. She even stocked an eclectic book collection and some old fashioned boiled sweets. Perfect.

These experiences, well these are the bread and butter of this trip. They are such warm encounters, that they make the weather forgiveable in an instant.
One of my favourite chance meetings was the wonderful family I stayed with on day 9. After 10 miles of feeling very sorry for myself because my knees were so uncomfortable and sore - a lovely chap invited me in for water, that turned into coffee, that turned into lunch, that turned into a wonderful day of rest. I hadn't noticed until I took the afternoon off that I was physically and mentally drained from the road. The logistics and the routine really take its toll on you.

Rather than mindlessly run, we went up into the mountains for the afternoon, swam in the rivers and basked in the sun. It was exactly what I needed. It was the perfect.

The family themselves were incredible. They lived in a house handcrafted by the dad and inside, well inside life and love was literally busting out of the walls. I have never felt so at home in strangers presence in my life. I positively skipped down the road the next day, which was helpful as skipping seems to take less toll on the knees.
348 miles
I've been thinking a lot about how to describe to you what your feet feel like after 348 miles of running. I'm afraid that what I came up with, only women will be able to relate to.

So you've been to Primani because you're in urgent need of some pimp shoes to match your pimp outfit. You leave with a pair of stonkers. Platforms on the front and a killer 9 inch heel on the back. 'I'll have legs like a giselle (or Giselle .. either will do) in these' you think. The evening begins and you totter around positively floating above the stratosphere with legs finishing just under your armpits.

5 hours pass, during which time you've been doing your damn-est to match Beyoncé in both skill and dancing vigour, you begin to realise what a monumental mistake you have made. You haven't bought 'shoes' - you've bought Satan's firey horns to stand on. What were you thinking ... You idiot ! You leave for home immediately, get chips and put your slippers on.

Well, this feels the same as that but there ain't no slippers, there ain't no chips, there's just relentless f****g 'Beyoncé-ing'.

Men, if you are desperate for some insight here, go and find a pair of shoes your wife/ girlfriend has only ever worn once, then mow the lawn in them for 5 hours while trying to look effortlessly sophisticated. There's your chestnut.

I've provided pictures but I'm not convinced they do my feet's swollen disgustingness justice. That's a pretty aggressive rash travelling up my legs there. Deeee-lish
Here are 10 invaluable contributions/ statements/ advice that the general public make on a daily basis. If I see any of you along the way - please refrain from any of the below:

1. 'Are you mad?'
2. 'It's all downhill from here' (With a pram, this is no comfort at all as downhill is the absolute worst of all)
3. 'It's only 30 miles away' (Only?)
4. 'Ay you're only a wee lass, does your man not mind you doing this?' (To which I reply, whilst roaring with laughter, 'he disagreed, so I chopped him up and put him in the pram'. Sometimes this is not gratefully received - weird?)
5. 'You'll never manage that' (Thanks a lot)
6. 'You've got a long way to go' (Have I??)
7. 'What's in your pram?' (Concerned face definitely fearing for a child's welfare)
8. 'Your knees will be knackered at the end of this' (They already are.. Mate.)
9. 'You're going to London?' (I've given up on this one, it seems pretty far so I just say 'yeah, running to London')
10. 'Do you want a lift?' ( . )
by guest: Kirsty, Jul 24th 2014 17:44
Ohmigod Claire your blog is awesome. It makes me chuckle every time I read it. You are doing so well. Keep it up chick. We are all missing you dreadfully in the field, but are soldiering on through our tears. I don't know how you are managing in all this heat. Jeez. It is like the South of France in Bristol just now. Perfect weather for laying under a large tree, eating a classic magnum and listening to people generally playing footie and lazing about. Hope to see you when you reach Bristol town. Love and hugs and all good wishes for the survival of your beleaguered feet and knees. Kirsty
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