My friend Tess' mission for just over 10 years has been to focus on  peace and environmental harmony on our planet, by carrying out climbs, runs or walks, and bringing together heart messages from thousands of individuals, to make a difference both at an individual and a collective level. You can read about what she has done here: http://climbfortibet.org/

Her last destination is to the roof of Africa, Kilimanjaro and she has invited me to be part of that group. So in September, for the world peace day, we hope to be on top of Kilimanjaro singing songs of peace and reading the thoughts of thousands from across the world. As well as coping with the steepness of the mountain and enduring the extreme altitude we will be struggling with the dragging of a peace-tyrethat  will hold all the Messages, as our symbolic of “PULLING TOGETHER FOR PEACE”.

In addition to peace messages, we have been honoured to be carrying with us a lantern containing the World Peace Flame. This is the sacred flame that burns eternally in North Wales. It came together in 1999 as living flames sent by peace-makers from 5 continents of the world. This is a potent representation of Peace. See www.worldpeaceflame.org

So for my part, dear readers, I ask you humbly if you would think of a pledge to the environment or messages of peace and then send us that message on the Peace Messages page.

My Environmental Pledge
Having read much about our destruction to our weather regulators (our rain forests are still being documented as being decimated at an alarming rate and has been reduced from 14% to currently at 5%) from our craving for resources and thus leading to sea acidification and pollution,

I pledge to reduce my consumption rate of plastics and demand for "things" to reduce my inadvertant contribution to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, reuse as many resources as I can (yes this means trying to fix things) and have very little to recycle or to throw away to reduce demand for consumables and thus another inadvertant contribution to the destruction of our world's rainforests. If you would also like to make this pledge with me, add a comment with your name and the country you are from.

If you want to make a different pledge or peace message, then please add that message here: http://tyregirl.com/peace-messages.html

And finally a song for you all to sing to put you in the mood for peace and harmony.

 
 
Picture
Rec celebrates our 21st Marathon
3:00am: The soft tinkling of a wind chime played outside on Jenn's porch. In the next room, Jenn's wake up alarm began buzzing and was promptly switched off. Silence crept back in and so I continued to rest on the bed listening to the melodious sounds of the wind chime tinkling.

3:50am: Caught my alarm before it blared off. From there it was all go and by 4:20am we were on the road to Williamson, me following Jenn's car. Coming from the UK, was glad I did not have to think about the driving differences. Lucky Rec could stay asleep listening to the drone of the car engine.

Picture
Unlucky me, had to stay awake or risk crashing the car. From my own past experiences, I know that sleepiness comes in waves and can be so overwhelming that the mental self can just cave in to the mere thought of sleep. Driving an automatic does not help the monotony of motorway driving.

15 minutes into the drive, the eyelids wanted to shut. Time to drink water and eat a cereal bar, then a short sing song. Tried listening to the radio, decided it would lull me to sleep.

Half an hour into the drive, I contemplate about closing one eye at a time. Focus.....focus....focus.....time to rip open the jelly snakes and hopefully 5 shots of sugar would do the trick washed down with more water. Obviously I was not focused as found my car had wandered into the other lane. Good thing we were in the "sticks" thus it was too early for any sane person to be out driving.  Wound down the windows for fresh air and spoke out a prayer that we would arrive there soon and safely.

With the morning glow appearing in the sky, thought about sucking on a green tea bag. John Denver's song "Country Roads" entered my head. Yes the mountains do look blue in the morning glow.

Soon the "sugar fix" was doing its job and making me feel a little more alert. After a couple more mind games and one and a half hours of driving we got there safely and in good time.


Picture
Click to see description of course at Hatfield McCoy website
Being out of the car into the fresh air and sensing early morning excitement, mental fatigue soon disappeared. Prepared Rec and secured bucket on whilst talking to Jenn and others intrigued by Rec.

Checked had water bottle, gels, cereal bars and a sandwich. Threw a rain coat into bucket. Thought I had everything but would later realise I had forgotten suncream, hat, and salt sachets.....and by mile 2, I would have a nagging thought that I had forgotten to lock the car.

Oh well, I had my passport on me and this being "out in the sticks" in God fearing country probably had very low petty crime rate and perhaps the odd feud or two.

Picture
Rain - a god send for uphhill
The Event - kicked off at 7am and the first mile and a bit was on the main motorway. However there was police car support to stop the traffic for runners to cross the road as well as throughout the event on the minor roads to ensure safety of the runners. Yes there is a great big hill at mile 6 that lasts a mile and thankfully it rained on the uphill to ease the pull of Rec. It was then followed by a glorious wet downhill glide and flew past those who had overtaken me going uphill.

It is hill billy country so do expect to pass lots of hill billies.
Hill Billy 1: Where are you from?
TG: England
Hill Billy 1: Is London in England?
Hill Billy 2: Turns to HB1, now you making us Hill Billies look ignorant!

By 11am the sun was in full stride and one could only pray for more rain and as the day continued, one would also pray for more shade. However, I was distracted by scenery (reminded me of the Malaysian rainforests that I've grown up with), flora and fauna; stopping every so often to watch dragon flies soaring and colourful butterflies floating. Did you know dragon flies are known as mosquito hawks, eating more than 50 mosquitos a day (thanks Andy for the fact).

Heat Exhaustion
However I was dawdling, and if I hadn't dawdled so much I might not have suffered as much in the latter part of the second half. (completed 13 miles in 3:38) I had taken over 50 photos for memorabilia that might have equated to 20 minutes of time. By mile 20 the heat had been stoked up and had to use my t-shirt to cover my head and shoulders as well as continually pour water over my head and feet. Thankfully the water stations were still out and most had ice to fill one's water bottle. Every so often I would lick my lips searching for salt residues from my earlier sweat wishing for the salt sachets I had left in the car. (I had stopped sweating by mile 18).

By mile 22 I wanted to go to sleep, eye lids were heavy, the events leading up the marathon were taking its toil on me.

Mile 23 - a police car pulled over to check I was okay. I was struggling but I was okay after all I'd completed marathons in Singapore's humidity and heat, just that the body had forgotten. The mental fatigue was simple a state of mind that I needed to get over. I always thought it really did not matter how mentally tired I was, physically I was strong and here I was allowing my mental state to affect my physical state.

Mile 24.5 - Mrs Hatfield (event organiser) drove by to check I was okay and that she would be back to check on me again. A mental smack here and thought "no way are you going to be checking on me again. Stop poncing TG and finish the event. There's a hog roast event at the end to look forward to and toe-tapping, lip-smacking, rip-snorting fun".

And that was all that was needed for a small mental kick to get moving. The sun was belting down but the distance was now small. Finished in 8hrs 15mins, happy.......but disappointed there was no hog roast event. However there was BBQ food in a local restaurant/bar and new friends to hang out with (thanks Alexis, Lauren and Mum).

That night I travelled back to the airport and took 4 hours to complete the journey. Of course sensibility took over; when I began to feel tired I would stop and either had a short snooze or a fresh air break. Now at the airport I notice little floating trails of lights. Airport personnel, watches me following and playing with the insects and tells me: "Lightning bugs....real common out here". For me it is magic :-)

Thank you to everyone for your hospitality and friendship :-)

Picture
Hatfield McCoy Overview
Organisation: Excellent
Type of race: Chip timed
Course: Beginning mile and end mile is along motorway, the rest is on minor roads and trail. Lots of scenery and history of the Hatfield McCoy feud.
Volunteers: Excellent
Drink points: Water/gatorade @ every mile; gel/fruit stop after mile 17
Goodie Bag at start point: Cotton t-shirt and a little food
Goodies at finish point: Ice cold towel; medal; trophy; food and drink
Pre-Pasta Party: Didn't attend. Many said it was really good.
Weather: 7am @ early 20s C and by 11am got to the late 20s C/ 70s F
Mid-day about 35 C/ 95 F

Potential Accommodation: Fire station (has to be done if I return!)
Getting to Venue: Straightforward drive from Charleston Airport to the event, all the way on the 119 motorway. The start, Food City is just off the motorway!

 
 
Picture
Rec & TG chilling out
6th June: For the first time I was prepared. Race gear and Rec were all packed before the taxi arrived. The taxi driver was a man in his 70s, and tried to load my bag into his car himself. Concerned he would give himself a hernia I load the bag with him.

Toronto collecting baggage: Got talking to a couple of passengers. One guy tells me he's bringing back his mother's "things" so has to collect baggage. The other guy tells me he's smuggling cheese in from Cambridge. I tell them I'm smuggling in a car tyre.

Met friend in the aiport's arrivals. He comments about the big bag. I smile and tell him we've got Rec into the country!

Picture
TG meets the awesome Jenn
7th June: I've got mail! My planets are shifting to align themselves, and a friendly name sparks another to span the web ethos to find me a friendly face to meet out in West Virginia (thanks Andy and James).

8th June: I've got mail! Jenn is the friendly face who will meet me at Charleston and help me get to Williamson. One less stress to think about road rules and directions. Yes the US drive on the "right" side of the road ;-) 

9th June: Met up with friends and had a "heart attack" meal with them consisting of sweet potato fries, burgers, more fries, milkshakes and a thick chocolate brownie to finish it all off..........no I bailed out - swapping milkshake for hot water and "more fries" for a salad!

After allowed Rec out of his corn bag for some air and to socialise.  Went to bed after midnight as my alter ego had to prepare for work the next day.

10th June: Work was a "testing day" and stress levels were very high. Could not eat anything for breakfast or lunch. Dashed to airport head burning with fury and disappointment of the day.

Despite not feeling hungry, forced something down at the airport - dinner was a sushi pack and a small burger washed down with a litre of water.

US customs were unusually friendly and did not check my baggage. My past history flying into the US would suggest that the probability of me being checked is high. Can only think it is due to me being in work clothes or Rec had done some magic and made my gi-normous bag appear normal!

Despite a very rocky start, the planets had aligned (see earlier post) and my stress levels melted away as we touched down in Charleston at 23:45. The baggage collection point was in the same area of the airport as the rental car hire desk. So in time to pick up my rental car and meet Jenn. We drop by her house to have a quick shut eye for a couple of hours before attempting the drive to Williamson.

The next part of the journey would be a fight against mental and physical fatigue, and I would need to play plenty of mind games to stay awake on a drive to Williamson. Part II will be written up by Thursday, 23rd June
 
 
This is an excellent event, although had one small disappointment. Would still highly recommend this event. Will write up this event on 19th June. Got a small matter of work this week.

Just remember if you're having a bad day - go growl at yourself in the mirror even if you don't feel like it......unless you want to stay mad ;-)
 
 
Sssh. Rec is going to be smuggled in. Just like his Dad, Ted, have now managed to find a bag big enough to fit him and bucket. He is now wrapped in a corn bag so that customs will not recognise him and the dogs won't be able to sniff and recognise his rubber and thus do the unthinkable deed of marking their territory on him.

Right now he is happily singing about corn being as high as an elephant's eye from a song from Oklahoma. Can you guess that song? Anyway he wants to sing about another state as he says he's fed up with me singing "Country Roads". Dun worry TG and Rec.....we gonna have a great time. :-)
 
 
Picture
Yesterday I received an email from the Hatfield & McCoy marathon's organiser indicating that cots were available in the Fire Department.

Decided to take one of them as thought this might be better than sleeping in the car and anyhow I get to meet some fellow competitors. The fire chief has told me there will be a 10 year old girl staying there who will be participating in the 1/2 marathon. Err I hope the cots are beds otherwise the floor is good for me.

When I was 10 years old, attempting a long distance run would have been a far flung thought. At that age I was competitive in netball and 10-pin bowling.  Am hoping to meet this lass who would be an inspiration to many if she does complete.

Thought I'd display the weather forecast in West Virginia over the next couple of days. A 10 day forecast says the temperatures are going to properly lie in the 30s by the time I get there. Better get the salt ready! Wonder if there is an aircon in the Fire Dept......