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It's All Gravy

Straw poll, who thinks it is acceptable to have gravy in a butty? Answers on a postcard but donations in support of gravy, much more appreciated!

I have a problem with this advice. 'Don't run down the hills,' I was told this morning, keep a lid on it. Bloody hell, I felt great today, I had an amazing sleep last night and woke up feeling amazing, asked how I was, I replied 'It's All Gravy'. Apparently, it is supposed to mean good but maybe I'm behind the curve with the 'kids'. So back to my problem in hand, don't run down the hills. Three issues with this; one, gravity, two, it's downhill, three, I don't normally do as I'm advised. Now, the but. Last year on Day 4 of the Ten in Ten, my wheels came off, not a wobble, or a flat tyre but they detached, became adrift of their axles and from there it only got worse. The plan this year is to simply get to the end of Day 4 injury free, so after today we are 3/4 of the way there. Hills, remember I mentioned them. Funnily or coincidentally, I was lucky enough to do some hill training with a good friend, Sarah and some of the Toasties (remember them) a few weeks ago. Now Sarah, is a proper trainer, she's trained GB orienteering and is a tidy runner herself, so she's sort of worth listening to, she even sent me a few links about running uphill and downhill to read up on. With the instructions of Dr Katie ringing in my ears and a sage reminder at the start to ease off, amazingly (most of the time) I did as I was told. Yesterday my IT band and quads were sore and all of this support just reminded me to protect myself, afterall we've still got seven more days to go.

The difficulty with me is that when I'm hyper, I'm hyper, like, daft manic and it is virtually impossible to get me to calm down. As my pre-run massage started I noticed that Sam's hands were cold and Áine's were warm, it got me to thinking about how these would be two cool super-powers to have, you could melt Mr Freeze and ice the Human Torch. Thankfully, Tony Hooper was on the next massage plinth and we began to explore other ideas for super heroes, I mentioned that a few years ago I jotted down a silly idea about 'Cow Man'. We managed to put some meat on the bones of the idea, whilst splitting a rib or two. We now have a name for our graphic novels, 'Uforia Comics'.

Our hero, Cow Man lives on Jersey, he fell into a vat of over pasteurised nuclear radiated milk as a teenager and started growing extra nipples. When he drinks a pint of milk his nipples grow into full udders and he turns into Cow Man, complete with black and white suit, but it has to be full fat pasteurised for him to turn. When tackling 'crims' he sprays them with milk, and only really uses full fat cream in dire emergencies. His 'kryptonite' is lemon as it curdles his milk. The only clue to his secret identity is that he has moobs. His alter ego, is Ernest Ramsbottom, mild mannered dairy farmer on Jersey. He has a sidekick, Highlan' Coo, who wears a shaggy coat whose super power is worrying people with his big horns. As yet we have not found an arch nemesis other than a lame idea about a flock of sheep who are known as the Robbaaas. Just like in the Incredibles with the unnecessary and gimpy Frozone,we equally have the relatively useless comical Gooseman, who swoops in and 'strains' at villains, perhaps to distract them? Maybe he is attempting to lay the golden egg but all he seems to deposit are tiny nuggets of other constituents but definitely not 'Au'.

Back to today, steady away again, consistency is key, as is not injuring oneself, especially so early during the event. By gum it was warm too, reminiscent of last year. Not quite every hill but a few icky downs, I chose to walk. Coming in to Box 8, with a little skip, (I want to enjoy myself as well as raise money and run marathons), I strolled down the hill. Apparently, someone asked the amazing Aly Knowles what the heck is he doing? Aly's answer, she told me was that, 'he's listening'. I'm satisfied with that. Me taking advice is rare and I'm happy I've accepted and I'm using the learning and experience from last year, the sage wisdom of Dr Katie and many others of the support staff.

The run has been so good today; tidy, consistent, gratifying. Most marathons I've run, in fact every marathon I've run, I've hit a blip, a period of a mile or two (or longer) when an emotion or a thought hits you, that keeps you in check. Now, I know it wasn't 'fast' but I'm delighted with my time and performance so far, it still hurts, afterall, I've just run three marathons but today was magical. For four and a half hours, I've listened to music, sang songs, came up with daft ideas about Cow Man et al, even made up a joke whilst thinking of my children who unfortunately, I will miss celebrating completing (I hope) this Ten in Ten. So a joke for my children, 'What did the horse use to cook his Christmas Turkey with?' Answer, 'Aluminium Foal'.

Which reminds me, during my run, I'd hit shuffle on my i-phone playlist. Big mistake or rather a welcome distraction as I received an eclectic tune mix from a wide a selection as Chopin, to Jake Bugg, to P!nk, to Cher to themes from Walt Disney to Mickey Mouse singing ' Frosty the Snowman' (which by the way has the perfect rhythm for me for running) to the Sugababes (how I secretly love the Sugababes), 'people are all the same and we only get judged by what we do, personality reflects name so if I'm, ugly then so are you, so are you'.

Leading in to this year's event I certainly didn't prepare as well as last year (I worried), I've done more marathons but I didn't feel in as good a place as last year, physically, mentally or emotionally. After today though, I'm delighted I stuck with it, happy that I clung to my notion and commitment that I needed to take on this challenge again.

So overall, an utterly fantastic day, with great people, dedicated runners and charity fund-raisers, amazing support staff and brilliant students from the University of Cumbria. It just goes to show that not running downhill can actually help, less (James the Lesser) is more. Physio after the run today was a tad painful but Sam and Áine continue to work magic and have me in and out of the physio room before most of the other athletes. Either I am in amazing condition or they are just the best, better than all the rest? You decide ...

Unfortunately, I need to congratulate Man City on winning the Premiership, I wore my old Liverpool top (gifted to me by my good friend Mark O'Reilly) this morning and will continue to do so for the rest of the day, roll on 1st June. The finish line song today was, you guessed it, You'll Never Walk Alone, that was for you, Malc Collins.

Today's marathon is dedicated to my sister, Emma. There's always been a degree of sibling rivalry and familial one-upmanship. Today, she is looking after my three children. One of my issues is that I take people for granted, including those closest to me. So, thank you for always being there for me, Emma, for all of your devotion through the years, thanks for being my sister (not like I had a choice). Here and now I also publicly apologise for splitting your head open with a clog, but deny ever throwing you down the stairs. I also forgive you for asking Mum, whether you could have my bedroom when I was dying of a broken clavicle and then again from appendicitis. I've chosen my disciple for today, but you are my rock.

Tomorrow, we get to the meat of the matter and I face my own personal Demon Day, the day during which I got injured last year. My goal coming in to Brathay was to remain uninjured at the end of Day 4, I hope and pray that what I've done so far has gone someway to ensuring this happens. The balance is that not every day will be like today, so it is simply a case of taking the rough with the smooth. Wish me luck, and let's just hope that tomorrows blog is not the title of a Boomtown Rats song...

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