FUNCTIONAL RUNNING DAY ALERT! Hey – they have to happen, so we'll get this one out of the way quickly. After a good night's sleep I started running still with a really sad feeling about the Marines and decided I'd have a day with no moaning and to get on with the job, just like they'd have wanted, I imagined. I do actually like this running lark, you know, so days like these really can be right up there with my favourite ones. My first run was mostly taken up with me amusing myself with the situation I found myself in, leaving Tucson, Arizona, for some California grass. After all this was the start of really getting (back) through Arizona now. The remainder of the run was all about route tinkering and after a bit of a meander, I teamed up with a slightly sore from yesterday Beer for a run along the I-10 service road. We found ourselves on a great little off road path by the train tracks, where the anacondas of the rail world regularly went past us over the course of a minute or more, before we were eventually shunted back onto the road. Onwards, onwards, Beer running strongly again until his pick-up and then time for me to just get my head down. Tunes on, shades on, stinky, neck protecting cap on, past Picacho Peak (Gotta catch 'em all!), past a cactus with more arms than Shiva and eventually on to a small town called Eloy, our second last stop and namesake of our Tombstone NASCAR buddy. Sierra Nevadas were purchased and as I was pulling on my latest rotation of shoes, what was this? It was only Dickie Beer getting laced up for his second run of the day! We decided on 6 miles as that would take me up to the 40 mile mark, pretty much and it was a good spot to get picked up on a road that didn't really give many options. I'd felt great today and was pleasantly surprised with how easy things had felt. Trust me – this isn't the norm! Beer however towards the end was feeling this one, but still managed to keep his pace (once reminded) and the customary burst at the end was still functioning (without reminder). Our reward for both putting in the miles was a trip to Phoenix, but what I had neglected to consider was the fact that these miles had meant Nads would have to drive in the dark, through a huge city, in a huge vehicle, which she was understandably not ecstatic about and I was feeling very guilty over. Like the champ she is though, of course we got to our RV park safe and sound. SHOWER TIME! Showers are not daily occurrences in the RV, even less so when there's not just the two of us as you really need to conserve water when not in a park and with Beer being the fastidious gent he is, he rushed off for his first. I followed about five minutes after. When I got back, to let Nads go, he hadn't returned. That's not too unusual but after Nads had had her fairly long shower, he still wasn't back. When he finally returned, he informed us that he had been “soaking”. I think he was wanting to impress a certain lady the following day, as the reason we were in Phoenix, was to go the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and San Fransisco 49ers and in the UoP stadium...there be cheerleaders!
Start: Marana Airport. Finish: Robson Ranch. 39.6 miles
It's not all fun and games, NFL or not, there was still tanks to empty, stink tanks to flush, water tanks and bottles to fill and this was done surprisingly efficiently with a team. Yes – even I, Lord of wanting to sit on my behind when not running, got involved. I sort of owed Nads that (at least) after last nights nocturnal driving instigation. Amazingly, the wonderful owner of the Park, Ang said she'd drive us to the stadium so, accompanied by her dog Loki (who I'd given the once over last night, for a few ailments) we set off for the University of Phoenix Stadium and more importantly, the car parks, where the fantastic American phenomenon of “tailgating” occurs. Now I've already seen they're very fond of driving right up people's arses (English speak, American readers – meaning very close to rear fenders), but this is altogether different. It's a mini-festival of barbecues, beer drinking, games involving drinking and others just for fun, in a really inclusive spirit, with both sets of fans mingling together happily. The English weather (and maybe partisan support) sort of stop this from happening at our football matches, so I was keen to see what it was all about. With me installed as “Chief Inserter” due to my big mouth and general lack of being backward in coming forward, we were soon hanging with insert tailgate group who had prepared a full Thanksgiving dinner that we were now sort of invited to! Well fed (Top marks to the chefs!) and a beer later we were off to continue our ligging at another tailgate, where we met Paul, a former high school champion football player who furnished us with more beer and left us with a message to check out his picture on the wall of fame inside the stadium. The stadium was immense and we had the full game experience including super long food queues, over-priced beers and lots of adverts. In between there was some cool stuff – a bald eagle flying over a pitch sized Stars and Stripes for the anthem, lots of tributes to service people and a narrow home team victory after being under pressure for the second half. There was also a huge fight in the stands, which was unexpected, but made interesting viewing… After the game we headed to a local restaurant where they wouldn't serve Nads any beers because she didn't have ID and looks so young, but guess what Mister Restaurant man? We bought extra and gave it to her! IN. YOUR. FACE! P.S. Your food was nice. This was the victory we needed and we headed for home ready to face the next day's running with smug faces on. #WINNING
Start: Phoenix. End: Phoenix. Some miles and a bit… not counted towards trip.
I was pretty pleased with myself for the fact that I was looking forward to running properly again after pretty much a day off in Phoenix where I just turned my legs over a bit to keep me going and after a great team effort to get an early morning shift on, we started back at the Ranch around 830am – early considering the long drive, but not ideal and I headed to a lovely little town called Casa Grande, where we found some free WiFi in one of our usual fast food haunts and ate very inappropriately for two people about to go on a run. We did however find a great little road that ran alongside the train tracks, affording us a pretty much traffic free route and great views of the gargantuan trains that seem to be quiet when you don't want them to be – i.e. when they're sneaking up on you, and noisy when you don't want them to be, but we'll come back to that. Obstacle #1 arrived in the form of the road just deciding it didn't want to live any more, so across the tracks we went, to return about a mile down the road, only to find Obstacle #2 in the form of a marsh deciding it didn't want the road to go on any more. That's right. A marsh. In Southern Arizona. On a road. Champion. We gave up on this and elected to take our chances with the busier road that ran parallel to this until we got to the town of Maricopa. For those not familiar with American Football, they have things called Time Outs, that the coach can call if he wants to change tactics, annoy the opposition or simply to stop the clock running out. Beer has seen that I like to employ these at regular intervals and has renamed them “Faff Outs” (If faffing hasn't reached the American vocabulary yet, it means to procrastinate) and has limited me to three a day. This will hopefully keep me more efficient in the future, but I called one here, where we repeated our earlier classy nutrition/WiFi trick and I could drink refillable Dr Pepper to my heart's content. As such, time had mysteriously vanished and I realised I was heading for a late and dark finish. The guy set off and by the time I reached Maricopa and an amazing California locomotive called the Silver Zephyr the sun was setting. I had my lights, but I really need to get one that illuminates the ground and I had yt another tricky navigate home, until I turned round and had the fright of my life as a golden fireball appeared to set the fields behind me on fire. SUPER MOON! I'd forgotten all about this and seeing it behind me on a furtive glance genuinely scared my like a Neanderthal seeing a comet for the first time and I may have sworn a little in surprise. I got back to the RV to find Nads and Beer out front, just staring. I didn't say anything either, but just put Moon by Foals on my speaker and we listened and bathed in the light and he music, until a big bloody train went past for two solid minutes blaring its horn and ruining the moment. Such is life. The moon didn't even look as super after that, but I'll always have my moment of astonishment on the run earlier and that'll do for me.
Start: Robson Ranch. Finish: Estrella Sailport. 37.37 miles