THE DAY OF NOT’S
After a week of doing absolutely everything, Day 8 was a day for NOT doing things; not running the entire leg, not meeting people at rugby clubs, not running a huge distance and not looking after my body at the end of the day.
I left Sophie’s place feeling completely refreshed. The adrenaline of Week One had carried me along but when my rest day arrived my body welcomed it with relish. Sophie had kindly invited me to go and watch Saltash RFC play the previous day, but I needed time to organise the upcoming week. I had vastly underestimated how much time it would take to arrange everything.
I walked back through Saltash to the rugby club to start my run. On the way, a young fellow coming the other direction spotted my bright orange T-shirt and started reading the logo out loud.
“The Great Rugger Run…. where you running to?”
My response of “London” was met with an expletive that I won’t repeat here. Suffice to say he was impressed. I offered him one of my stickers and welcomed him to follow along online. He took not one but two stickers, informing me that he would keep one and stick the other one on “that bus stop over there”. Terrific.
IS THIS CHEATING?
My run from Saltash to Tamar Saracens came to an abrupt halt when I found out the pedestrian route over the Tamar Bridge was shut and I would have to take the courtesy bus. It was that or 50-mile diversion. I took the bus. I was a little disappointed as I really had hoped to literally run the whole way, but, in this instance, it just wasn’t practical. Oh well…
As I mentioned in my Week One roundup, it was difficult to get in contact with some clubs and Tamar Saracens were one of those. They eventually replied with a lovely message about a week later. However, I did record a little video whilst I was at The Parkway.
I knew there were many clubs in Plymouth, the Plymouth Combination Twitter account boasts 15 in total. However, they aren’t all listed on Google Maps. So it was a happy accident that I stumbled across Old Technicians RFC en route to Plymouth Albion. They play on (what appears to be) a council ground with their clubhouse on a local road. I loved their motto, “Au Plaisir Fort De Dieu”, which means, “To God’s Delight”. Wonderful!
I trundled on to Brickfields, home of Plymouth Albion. Sadly no one could be around to meet me and the gates were locked so I couldn’t even have a look around. I’d played at Plymouth a number of times so I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to relive some old memories.
One tiny trot later (it was barely worth getting out of first gear) I arrived at Devonport Services RFC. The playing fields were a mass of youngsters heading home after battle. I imagine they would have time for a quick shower before tucking into a family Sunday Roast. The club was absolutely swamped with people – fantastic to see. There were so many it took me some time to find Kieran Leach who had kindly offered to show me around.
Kieran was an absolute gent. He had been at the club since early morning and wouldn’t be leaving until late afternoon. Clubs don’t function without the Kierans of this world. Our first piece of business was for him to pass on a set of keys to me, but more on that later…
It’s a fabulous ground at Devonport Services RFC, check it out in this video Kieran and I recorded:
That was the end of my run. 7 miles and 4 clubs. I’d scheduled shorter days to aid recovery, but honestly, I felt like I was cheating. It didn’t feel right to not be completely exhausted at the end of the day, ready to collapse into bed. I knew that shorter days were necessary and would give me the greatest chance of success but my competitive spirit wasn’t happy.
I consoled myself with a bacon butty from the DSRFC canteen – thank you for shouting me that – and sat around in the clubhouse long enough that people started asking me where the toilets were. I initially pointed enquirers in the direction of Kieran, but full-bladdered people just kept arriving – probably over-hydrated in preparation for the afternoon’s games. Eventually, I learnt where the toilets were and directed people myself – nice to be useful.?
The DSRFC girls teams were playing in the afternoon and I was keen to watch some rugby. On a damp day, there was some terrific play on show. Full-blooded forwards battered and there was plenty of skill and excellent running lines from the backs. All supported and cheered by a generous and sporting crowd. Lovely stuff!
Now, back to those keys that Kieran passed on to me. My chief point of contact at DSRFC had been Mike Lewis, however, he couldn’t be around during my visit. I’d asked him about accommodation and mentioned that I really only needed a mattress as I had an inflatable pillow and a sleeping bag. This was highly fortunate as Mike had a rental property that was in between tenants and the only thing left in the whole place was a mattress. Mike very kindly allowed me to stay there. Amazing. We never even met in person!
With plenty of time left in the day, (thanks to Sophie who not only brought my bag to DSRFC but then drove me across town, giving me plenty of info about the best bars on the way, and dropped me off at my digs – legend!) I got showered and prepared for the following day before heading out for dinner. I’d heard the docks were the place to go so wandered off to The Barbican for a huge meal and a couple of relaxing beers. I started off with shandies – isotonic lagers – just to help with hydration.
A couple of beers turned into a couple more as I discovered a bar with a couple of gents banging out anthems on acoustic guitars. The Great Rugger Run had been full-on, so I very happily allowed myself some R&R whilst singing along to Britpop classics!
After a long day of NOT doing things, NOT having the perfect recovery seemed like the obvious thing to do.