This week, my girlfriend came and went, I got extremely angry (the video will show you how much) and I saw some beautiful scenery in Oregon.
I met up with Anna on day 29 and she said, “I have a surprise for you! Wait here.” I love surprises, so I waited excitedly.
Two minutes later, Anna came around the side of the coffee house, frolicking in slow motion, singing the Superman theme tune, but wearing a bright Wonder-woman outfit! It properly made me smile.
If you don’t know who Anna is, she’s my girlfriend. I’ve been with her for 3 years.
Anna has also run the length of New Zealand and has a best-selling book out called ‘The Pants of Perspective’. So, I’ve definitely met my match and she keeps me on my toes!
She’s joining me for a week of running – which I’m so excited about. There’s not too many partners you can take on an adventure like this, so I’m a very lucky boy.
For our first day of running, Anna mapped out our route for the day. She’s more of a planner, and I’m really happy to now have one less job for the day.
Off the highway, running along the coastal backstreets, the hills were ridiculous. It was either pushing Caesar uphill at a snail’s pace or trying to hold him back from going down a steep, steep hill and wheeling as fast as a racing car. There was no rhythm in our running, but we beamed at each other the whole time. It’s been two months since I’ve had my soulmate by my side.
The hills were tougher than usual, as Caesar is now obviously much fatter, carrying Anna’s stuff too, though she’s a pretty minimalist kind of woman and doesn’t need make up or a hair dryer!
After seven miles, Katie and Jeremy from The News Guard turned up to do an interview. Afterwards, journalist Katie was like, “I live 10 miles up ahead in Depoe Bay. Why don’t you stay with me?”
It was too good to be true, so we said yes.
Running on, we finally found a running rhythm together on the flat road and knocked a fair few miles off.
Halfway through our run, Anna turned to me and was like, “what must the cars think on this highway? A woman pushing a stroller (baby pram) down the highway? They must think I’m so irresponsible.”
If I was ever in any doubt that one day Anna might be motherhood material…a few miles down the road, Anna ran off into the bush to go to loo, and I thought, “that’s my girl!”
Hitting 15 miles, the inside of my left knee became sore and Anna got a little tired as well. She seemed to blame not getting her eating right, but I blamed the distance.
Towards the end of the run Anna said, “you know, I was a bit anxious wearing a costume like this in public, but I think I’m now too tired to care!” I nodded in agreement.
Arriving at the journalist Katie’s house, there was a feast of salad, ravioli, sausages and red wine waiting for us – we had dinner with her friends, Eric and Josh, and a bed for the night.
It was a top-ass tough day, but one to be very proud of. Well, just having a helping hand in pushing Caesar was like being given some extra superhero powers!
The day after, we were treated to free cups of coffee at the Pirate Coffee Company while my first YouTube episode uploaded on their Wi-Fi.
Running along with Anna for the first few miles there was soooo much honking from the cars. I think two capes flapping doubled the honking odds.
On route, we bumped into a walker called Dave. He advised us to go on a quiet road, which would take us off the 101 and he also said it would be a flat with no hills. I will never trust a man named Dave ever again!
During our break, Dave caught us up and confessed, “I thought it would be better to not tell you about the mountain you had to climb.”
We all smiled.
After 10 miles and a lunch break, it was time to go for another 10-mile run.
A mile in, I stopped to look out over the ocean – Anna took a picture and said, “you look like you’re saving the world! No big deal.” A few miles later, Anna spotted a broken road. Sure enough, I took a picture of her with her fist punching into the road, so I said to her, “just breaking roads with your fist. No big deal.”
By 16 miles, my engine was empty. I tried to focus on the positive of the day so far, and the good news was that running a half marathon (13 miles) has started to come somewhat normal. So, I reasoned that now I just need to make a 20-mile run somewhat normal too. I just need to keep pushing the boundaries.
I carried on trudging along and Anna seemed to be good shape with fresh legs. Or maybe she’s just actually Wonder Woman!
At 20 miles, we were just starting to discuss stopping for the day when a beach trail appeared.
We wheeled Caesar a little way along it hoping we might find somewhere to camp and a fire pit popped up, as did a wind sheltered sleeping spot in the middle of pine trees and a spongy ground as good as a mattress! It was like someone had made the camping spot especially for us.
As I accumulated wood for a night time fire, I gathered up way more than usual – to impress Anna with my fire skills, of course.
Three years ago, on one our first dates together, I was trying to impress her, and I couldn’t get a fire going, so I’m still trying to make up for my failed attempt all those years ago!
After a roaring fire and a dinner of tinned fish and chocolate covered strawberries we climbed into my tent and drifted off into the land of nod.
Waking up in our tent, Anna said, “is that black spot up there a slug that’s crawled up our tent?” She poked it and was like, “Yuk! Slimy. Definitely a slug.”
We moved our tent into the sunlight to dry off from a rainy night.
As we got running, I was dead to the world and miserable. Anna said, “are you okay?” I said “na, my body feels awful and I feel miserable.”
Anna sweetly replied, “that’s alright, looking at your face, you’re doing a good job at being miserable.”
After a few miles, I woke up to the world and let Anna know I was back and alive.
At mile 10 we took a break for food and to do some social media. After a big meal of tacos with all the trimmings, a couple of hours passed really quickly. Anna got itchy feet and said, “come on, let’s go!”
I was like, “but I’ve got more social media to do, I need to do yoga, and I need more rest.”
Anna didn’t say much but ploughed her extra energy into a nap on the grass outside instead.
Just before we set off, we chatted things through and Anna explained, “I just wanna get the job done for the day so we can have more time later – but I know you like your rest in the middle of the day, so we’ll do it that way. But it doesn’t make it easy!”
We both agreed that we adventure slightly differently. And it’s hard for one of us to adjust to the other one’s routine.
Our first little disagreement. It’s always nice to ‘have it out’, ‘sort it out’, and remind ourselves that we’re individuals and very independent people.
A few miles into our second 10 mile run of the day, a Sheriff pulled in and put his blue lights on. Anna turned to me and said, “oh noooo, what have we done?”
As it turned out, the deputy Sheriff of Lincoln City, just wanted to wish us luck and pass on a special coin that read on the outside, ‘in the service of mankind’.
Me and Anna ran off and she said, ‘I thought we were going to get arrested!’
Right after not getting arrested, a couple appeared at the side of the road, and they were flying a drone camera overhead. As we ran past, smiling and waving at them, Anna said: ‘who are you filming?!’ And they replied: ‘You guys!’ As it turns out they’d tracked us down and come out to film us.
Reaching 20 miles, I felt like I’d managed to turn the day around. From having not even enough energy to smile, to seeing the best in mankind, and feeling so alive!
Eating pancakes over breakfast the next day, Anna looked at her body, looked over at me and winced. I read her body language as ‘I’m hurting this morning.’
I knew she was sore after running 80 miles in the last four days – and I liked it. I liked knowing I wasn’t the only one suffering.
I thanked her for the look of pain and she said, “I’m glad to be of service.”
In the town of Yachats, I was asked by a man named Shelby to give a talk to 12 kids at a home schooling group. During the talk, one kid pointed at Caesar and said, “what about your baby? Is he okay?” I replied, “we tend to leave the baby alone to sleep. He sleeps a lot”
In the background Shelby pipped up and said, “sorry, I should explain. That’s my daughter, I told her that you were pushing a baby with you named Caesar across America. I read it in your blog the other day and thought your baby was called Caesar.”
It made us chuckle and I couldn’t help but think, I might need to improve my writing skills and not assume that people know every tiny part of the story!
After the talk, the kids all came out of the classroom and ran down the road with us to show support. Well, I say ‘support’, they just all decided it was a race and wanted to whoop my butt. And they did. I told them that one day I’d be back again without overweight Caesar to beat them all.
It really was amazing to have kids join in the adventure like that and was a great start to the day.
Running on, hitting coastal road, Anna turned up it up a notch and said, “here give me Caesar. I wanna fire him up these mountains. It’s my final day of running so let me damage myself. I get to rest after this and you don’t.”
She honestly runs like a rhinoceros with Caesar. It’s so funny to watch her bum stick out as she charges up hill like a wild animal.
On a sharp bend at Devils Churn, an espresso stall popped up. ‘Espresso time?’ Anna said. ‘Espresso time!’ I replied. A lady in the queue loved our outfits so much that she wanted to buy the coffees for us.
As it turned out, the lady that owned the espresso shop had already read about us in the local paper and so she threw a free brownie into the mix for us too.
At mile 10 we stopped for a break, overlooking the ocean. It was a million-dollar view for sure.
Rummaging in the food bag, I found some left over (slightly mouldy) bestselling Tillamook cheese and took the risk of eating it.
Big mistake – I nearly puked as soon as the cheese hit my tongue!
All fuelled up on food, what came next on our 10-mile stint was really unexpected. The roads were long, straight, and the tarmac was smooth like it had been freshly made.
We ran down the most beautiful roads, winding high above but right next to the ocean the entire time. Luckily all of Anna’s rhinoceros charging up the hills had put us up high to enjoy some amazing views.
We drifted into a runner’s paradise for the next few hours. One minute we’d be looking at a lighthouse in the distance with rolling turquoise sea waves brushing up the red rocks. The next, we’d look at each other like, ‘is this really happening?’
After nine miles of floating across the ocean road, Anna turned to me and said, “I think this is the best day running with you! EVER!” I turned to say, “this has been the best day of this run so far and I’m so glad I got to share it with you.”
We spent the night in the tent and the morning after, Anna went to hitchhike from the town of Florence, back to Seattle to board a flight to Mexico to give a keynote speech.
After a long hug, Anna’s eyes welled up and she said, “I love you, I’ll miss you. And don’t get hit by a car. You’re very precious” And I said the same back. Bar the hit by a car stuff.
As sad as it is, I’ll be seeing her again in a few months, the solo adventure continues…
It’s important that you know it’s not all plain sailing in deciding to up and leave for a whole years adventure.
A few months back, in the middle of the journey across Canada during my Adventureman book-tour, I had an argument with Anna about it.
Last year, me and Anna spoke about how we were going to see each other and keep the relationship healthy while I go on a run for an entire year across the U.S.
Anna (who is a woman who always has a plan) jumped right to “well, I supposed I’ll come out every two months or so to run with you for a week”. She said it so matter of factly, and there didn’t seem to be much up for discussion.
I feel quite protective over my adventures, as they’ve always been solo trips, but now it’s slightly different – I have a loved one to think about.
At the time we had that chat, I still wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to have things that set in stone, but I didn’t say that. Instead I agreed that the two month visits were something that could potentially work.
As we travelled across Canada together for my book-tour, people would ask us what the plan was for being apart while I was on the US adventure. And so I would hear Anna repeatedly say: ‘Oh I’ll go out every two months for a week to see him.’
It was at this stage I began to feel like I wasn’t in control of my own adventure. I never wanted to interrupt and start a discussion about it around other people, so I just stayed quiet. But I knew we had to have a chat.
So one night, I brought it up and approached things by saying, “Anna, I don’t want you to take this personally, but I don’t feel like I’ve had a say, or felt like it’s been a conversation about you coming out to join the adventure. It’s not whether you come out every two months that’s the issue, it’s just that I don’t feel like it’s been a discussion.’
I knew she’d take it hard. There were tears. Lots of them. Understandably, it brought out comments from her like, “But why don’t you want to see me?!” But, it wasn’t that at all. It was just that I wanted to feel like I had a say in when we saw one another.
I carried on and said ‘we’re still carving out our solo adventure pathways, and I’m worried what people will think in it not being ‘a solo’ adventure. It might affect the impact of the adventure, the donations, everything! I’m sure when we have babies, then we’ll be adventuring together with them! I know this!”
As we chatted it out more, it became clear that we had spoken about the plan, but not actually communicated. We realised that Anna is likely to make a plan, make a decision and move on (it’s how she gets so much done in life!). We’d talked about the time frame for the visits, and at the time I’d agreed, so it was a done deal in her eyes. I on the other hand take longer to consider things, and what Anna took as a done deal, I saw as something still yet to be decided.
As it turned out, and through the gradual slowing down of the tears that night, Anna doesn’t actually mind how often we see one other either. And she was quick to remind me “Errr, you know that I do have my own stuff going on too, Jamie!” She just needed me to agree to some kind of time frame, so that she could plan her life too. Fair enough.
Deep down, I knew by Anna trying to be in ‘control’ of things, it was coming from a beautiful place, and was an effort to make sure we don’t lose what we have together, which is pretty darn special.
We’ve both agreed that we’re going to keep chatting it out, and communicating properly, whilst I’m on the adventure. But we have agreed that we should make the time, for couple time.
As soon as I voiced what was on my mind, everything cleared for me. That’s where I went wrong in the first place, I didn’t communicate my needs. I agreed with Anna, when I was actually thinking something else. I was trying to please her and not being authentic in letting her know my own my feelings. That is totally disastrous and my fault.
I wanted to share this because this is all part of the adventure too. And ultimately, spending so much time apart is a sacrifice, but one we are both willing to make.
So, it’s likely that Anna will come out to see me a fair few times in the trip, although we’ll decide when and where works for both of us, as we go along. Our next step is to continue communicating and nurturing our needs as a couple, but also keep supporting the other one in spreading their wings and doing what they love to do!
Let’s be honest, my hunch is that there probably aren’t too many partners out there that would understand that their other half wants to disappear for a year of running, so I’m a very lucky boy!
After Anna left, a man named Steve turned up after finding me using my live tracker.
As he shook my hand, I looked at his face and thought, ‘I know that face!’ As it turned out, Steve is Canadian and ran with me on my final day of my 5,000 mile run across Canada. I know – bonkers!
Steve beamed at me, “I ran 13 miles with you that day in Canada. It nearly broke me. Well, I’m here with the father in law on holiday and thought I’d track you down.”
As he travelled from Canada, I thought I’d spend some quality time with him, so we ate lunch together. Whilst eating, a family piped up listening to our conversation and wanted to buy us lunch, though I put their $20 as a donation to help sick kids. Though, the gesture was lovely.
Running on that afternoon, I ran confidently. Anna left me feeling stronger than I think I am.
In the evening, around the campfire near Dune City, it was all pretty quiet not having Anna around, but I did have quite a few mosquitoes biting me to keep me company, and I was eating some left-over dates too, so you could say that night was just a different kind of date!
In the morning, I woke up with a very sore Achilles heel, but I batted it off with some yoga moves which really helped.
Running off with my new-found confidence, I spent the day just running over the ground slowly and fairly effortlessly, eventually reaching 20 miles. This seems to be the new goal now, 20 miles a day. I’m nearing that marathon a day, 26 miles, which feels good.
That night in Winchester, I entered a mini food store to stock up on rations. At the checkout, I asked the lady “is there any restaurants in town?” I was craving a sit down hot meal. The lady said there wasn’t one.
I was pretty gutted, so I bought all the food out of the hot counter next to her, which was all the fried horrible food that had probably been sitting there for three days or so (okay, that might be an exaggeration but you know what I mean).
As I left, spending over $40, it turns out there were a couple of lovely restaurants in town.
I got soooo angry. All I wanted was a good meal. I started ranting thinking, ‘I should go back and tell that woman I want a refund on all the dog crap food that I just bought.’
Until, I rationalised it out, knowing the woman probably just genuinely didn’t know there were restaurants in town.
So anyhow, I scoffed down all the fried dog food, and then went to the restaurant for calamari, chips and salad. And a beer to chill the heck out.
The next day, my right Achilles heel felt even more inflamed again, but I just got running anyhow cause I knew that’s what would cure it. At least I’ll keep telling myself that!
After 10 miles, my legs were loose, and I hit an all new rhythm in running. My legs just seemed to go round and round. My breathing wasn’t heavy at all and I just felt like I could keep running forever.
For my second run of the day, an older man on the street looked at me pretty seriously and said, “who do you think you are, Superman?”
My radar was out trying to work out whether he was joking or not, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he was being serious. So I gave him what I only knew how & said, “no, actually I’m Adventureman and he’s better than Superman.”
Again, not that it was easy, but I continued on and hit another 20 miles and felt pretty darn proud.
The morning after, I got a Facebook message from Maggie Pearce, a Canadian mama bear. It read, ‘call this number, go to this address, there’s a massage there waiting for you.’
It was two miles down the road, so Maggie must be using my tracker well and predicting where and how many miles I’ll be running. I LOVE it when that happens!
Two miles down the road, I had my first massage in 35 days of running. It was MUCH needed.
As I was having it done by Maria, at Maria Forty – Therapeutic Massage, it was like paradise.
As she was massaging, she said, “it was so weird and hilarious, we’ve never had a call before from a Canadian wanting to pay for a massage for a Brit. I love what you’re doing.’
During the massage, I got a little emotional, it was the first time I let go from the pain over the past month. Maria was totally cool with it – I hope!
Leaving the massage spot, I felt like a million dollars (the amount I’m hoping to raise, remember!).
Running on, I felt like the impact with every stride was softer than normal and although I knew it was late in the day for running, I thought, ‘let’s go big and cover some miles’.
Running through North Bay and Coos Bay, the towns seemed pretty built up and I thought there might be a chance to get media.
So I called the local station The World Newspaper and gave the guy a quick rundown of my story. Did I mind selling myself? No. Cause it’s not about that, it’s about the difference it can make to sick kids, so I’ll pitch any day of the week if I think it may help. He seemed super keen, but didn’t have any photographers to come out as it was so last minute.
It’s a bit like that with everything in my world, it’s all so in the moment and last minute, that I get a bit frustrated that I miss out on donations because of the way I am. I also recognise that it’s a strength too in so many other ways but for this and thinking ahead, I’m terrible at it. So, I just said to the reporter, ‘no worries, I’ll just keep running.’
As I carried on running, I tried taking a few backstreets as a short cut. When I hit the road, it all turned into steep hills and on the last five mile stretch, I asked a local if the road would be okay to run through.
He warned me that it was a dead end. “A dead end?”, I gasped. That meant I’d have to back track and also meant that my short cut was now a hillier AND a longer route.
My frustration grew.
Hitting the 101 again after backtracking, my brain went a bit mental. I kept having intrusive thoughts, sentences forming in my mind like, ‘people don’t care about what you’re doing, or why you’re running.’
More anger just boiled over me until I cracked and blew my top. I let a scream out like Gordon Ramsay. I often find it better to film when I’m feeling sad, angry or particularly low. It’s like having somebody with me even when I don’t.
It cleared the blockage well and I carried on firing up the mountain.
Of course, I know people care, I think I just ran too many miles in one go with too many hurdles. Missing out on potentially reaching people that could donate or support really got to me, and something had to give.
As it turns out, Jim (who helped me in Washington State a month ago with fixing Caesar, and even feeding me), drove out to see me again. Nearly 400 miles he drove. 400 MILES!!!!
THAT’S AN 800 MILE ROUND JOURNEY.
When he arrived, I said “Jim, you do realise once you drive back home, you would have driven the length of the UK to come and help me?”
We hugged, and he said, “it’s a pleasure. I really believe and care about what you’re doing. Here, I got you some new lights for Caesar. This should help keep you safe when you’re running at night, so you don’t get hit by a car. And man, you’re going to have to run at night in the desert, it will be so hot.”
Then he grabbed a selfie stick, “and this is a new indestructible selfie stick made by my friends, Mike, Bruce & Neil at the Lund’s Custom Machine Shop in Shelton, WA. With the extra weight, it should keep your arm steadier when your running. I know you said it’s important for your YouTube videos and for fundraising.’
I was blown away.
Now, if there’s ever a caring man, it’s Jim. Everyone needs a Jim in their life! I mean, he quite literally drove the length of Britain to give me lights to keep me alive and to give me a new selfie stick!