Today was always likely to be a good one too! I was getting spoilt. First of all we were joined by Pam, an ultrarunner from Dallas Fort Worth...well, more of a citizen of the world really, but she lives there currently. She's building up to a Badwater one day and has crewed in the past, so she knows how hard core it is. She was flying to London the next day as she works as aircrew and has even met Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan!) on a flight, so we were only blessed for lunch and a short run in the afternoon. She brought goodies a-plenty and was far too generous all round. It's great meeting someone who's crazy enough to “get it” and we may very well get another visit in the future. I hope we do anyway. She however, was not the only guest on this sunny day. Later that evening I was having a reunion with my good mate Tex, or Alan, as people in Texas call him. I feel his pain with a geography based nickname when on home soil. As we were also meeting his wife Suzie for the first time and his new baby Olive, so a slightly different meeting from last time I saw him in Texas where we shot guns, watched ice hockey and drank a lot of beer, but great all the same. He arrived in time to intercept me on my penultimate run of the day and received a good sweaty man hug, for which I heartily apologise in advance to anyone when the hug is on the cards. He didn't care. I set off on my last run with Tex coming to collect me. Maybe I was showing off subconsciously, but I probably ran a bit quicker and reached the lovely centre of Whitesboro in no time. Two kids, maybe around 12 years old rode past on their bike. “Are you running like Forrest Gump?”. I was wearing my Bubba Gump cap and showed them. “That's AWESOME! How did I know? I knew!”. Every time a kid quotes the film it blows me away. The only film I watched that was older than me when I was their age was Star Wars and that was only one year older – this is about 24 years old now! I had another nice chat with a local just at the wrong time...as a walk break was about to clock on and at the start of a big hill. No way could I walk after that so on up the hill I pushed and surprisingly broke the 40 mile barrier on a day that, due to the nice distractions I had bargained for no more than 35. It helped Tex got a bit lost too… So a return to the RV park and Tex returned again, with his lovely family in tow and back to Gainesville we merrily went for dinner. Real cowboy fare in cowboy surroundings. Maybe not the sort of place you'd knowledgeably take the girls to on a posh night out, though I hope it was cheap for Tex! Just the one beer this time – times are pretty different for both of us at the moment and all too short. Same again leg 5?
Start: Jct of Highway 82 and Field Road. Finish: Jct of Highway 59 and Old Sonoma Ranch Road. 40.62 miles. Day 122 Tune of the Day: Midlake – The Old and the Young. Skirting just to the north of the hometown of one of my favourite bands, so I listened to a lot today. This has got a really good shuffling beat that's great for running.
What dies everyone like on a Friday? A Crunchie? No! A milestone! Today was the 4000 mile mark – one that had seemed to take so long to reach for me, but as I've heard – seemed like no time at all to some of you! I guess my days have just been a little intense for me recently. What I need is a good night out… I found the perfect opportunity (if only I could have stayed) running through Sherman. “Dorothy was right though”, sung Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. The second the words left his lips, I looked up and I was right outside “Dorothy's Bumper Club” advertising karaoke that night. Why did this have to be at the start of the day? Even I couldn't make up a good enough excuse to get Nads to drive 30 miles back at the end of the day. If you are wondering – I'd probably have started with Back in Black, and moved onto Maggie May or Twist and Shout. The rest of the day was how I like it, uneventful until the “event”, which was today expected and welcome, despite us almost forgetting about it as things had been so smooth and yielded just under the 45. Nads made...or should I say adapted our 3,000 mile sign to celebrate the occasion and it got a huge response on social media, which was ace. The local Brookshire's supermarket had agreed to let us park up overnight and I'd had my eye on the Domino's over the road where Pam's donation to the cause was about to bear fruit. There was also an amazing deal of pick your own craft beer 6 pack for $9.99 in Brookshire's...so we got two. Sometimes a good night in is better than that night out anyway, especially the next day...just less singing.
Start: Jct of Highway 59 and Old Sonoma Ranch Road. Finish: Jct of Highway 82 and County Road 2905. 44.2 miles Day 123 Tune of the Day: Led Zepellin – Rock and Roll. Finishing for the day in Bonham – the surname of their late, great drummer. This song just encompasses the organised chaos and power of the phenomenon that was John Bonham. I was lucky enough to see Dave Grohl have a damn good go, playing this with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones at Wembley with the Foo Fighters.
Our last full day in Texas...for a long while or for ever...who knows? I had a little surprise lined up for Nads later...though unless she was pretty blind, she would have seen it on the map. Our last town was Paris, TX and it even had its own Eiffel Tower! It was cold today, but the glorious level of cold where you can wear long sleeves and leggings and not get sweaty when you're running. Today also had an unexpected turn for me, with one of my university pals, Sonya Eastaugh having an absoloute stormer of a brainwave, spawning the Gump Challenge. Basically, this is a bit like the ice bucket challenge in principle. The idea is you have to re-enact a short scene/quote from Forrest Gump, using at least one prop, make a donation and then nominate two more people to do the same. The early attempts have hit the spot straight away, with some quite unexpected choices/interpretations. Type “gumpchallenge” on Facebook search and maybe get some ideas. You don't have to be nominated to do one, in fact you starting one off your own bat helps to spread the word! Soon after I'd digested this, I had the great time sink of being able to listen to the Liverpool match, which we won, but the best bit of Liverpool related news was that Robbie Fowler AKA “God” to Liverpool fans, retweeted one of my tweets about the 4,000 mile barrier. Cue my inbox going to into meltdown: “Have you seen...” Yes. Yes I had and today was just grand, thanks! Nads had unfortunately realised the Paris thing (as she's very clever) and had already been to see the Eiffel Tower, by the time I'd run through Paris' elegant town square (weirdly, with not a French Restaurant in sight – surely an opportunity?) and the unfortunately run down outskirts. At least this meant I could get some more miles done I guess, but I wouldn't have minded the detour to see it. I'd been thoroughly soaked as well on the run through Paris in a rainstorm that would have seemed completely in keeping with a wet November Monday in Paris, France, but my joie de vivre was untempered. The north east of the city was an unusual mix of country clubs and grand mansions, though I'm not sure how there was so much money all in one place – I wanted to knock on doors to be nosey and see what these people did for a living. Some of these houses were incredible, with multi-layered roofs that you'd get straight onto your Christmas dream list if you were a roofer and you got the call to re-do one in December. I caught up with Jenny for the last time just as were getting back into farm territory again in a cheeky hiding place behind some highway aggregate and tucked into the microwave pizza left-overs as the temperature started to drop towards freezing again. Brrrrr. Romance isn't dead people.
Start: Jct of Highway 82 and County Road 2905. Finish: Jct of County Roads 195 and 196, Faught. 42.8 miles. Day 124 Tune of the Day: Nick Cave – God is in the House. Welcome to Going the Distance, Robbie lad.
Total: 4056.74 miles