Lancashire TelegraphRunning On Empty blog: 12 days to go (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Running On Empty blog: 12 days to go

TWELVE days to go before I tackle the Jane Tomlinson Lancashire Pennine 10K, and it's time to get serious. I've even thrown away my Kenny G album - well, no sax before a big race, I always say.

I've already completed the distance - twice - so I come up with the crazy idea of running from Burnley to Todmorden!

That's eight miles in all, two miles more than I'll face in Blackburn on World Cup final day.

I get ready to set off at 10am and it's already close to 70-degrees fahrenheit.

Then my second ridiculous decision of the day - I don't bother to take any water. I'll live to regret that one - if I'm still alive.

The first mile is the hardest, up that hill in Cliviger towards the Kettledrum pub. I must have run up this 'mountainside' a dozen times in the last few months and it doesn't get any easier.

Then comes the drop onto Burnley Road, and I catch my breath as I head towards the Ram Inn, passing the two-and-a-half mile mark along the way.

I started this running blog 112 days ago, and my biggest achievement three weeks into the training was making it to the Ram. Now I'm passing it feeling full of energy - although with five-and-a-half miles still to go, I'll need it.

I'm out in the country for the next mile or so. No shade from houses or trees, and the sun is sapping my energy and burning my face. I'm getting a good tan though.

I need to stop for a minute to take a rest, and reach out for that imaginary bottle of water. Right now, I'd have kissed Gary Neville just for one sip.

Just in front of me is a plaque on the side of the road, with the engraving 'Todmorden 4 miles'.

I couldn't turn back - it was four miles that way too.

I carry on, reaching the strangely named village 'Portsmouth'.

The road is winding, but flat, and I get a second wind, settling into a rhythm and concentrating on the Ricky Gervais Guide to the Arts podcast on my iphone.

I have to stop a couple more times as the miles roll by, passing an Italian restaurant, a caravan sales park, a shoe factory then eventually Todmorden High School. My first sighting of the word 'Todmorden' means I must be close.

Then I reach Todmorden Cricket Club, one of the many grounds I have covered Lancashire League cricket from. And a club with a great bar ... I'd kiss Gary Neville on both cheeks for half a lager.

The finish line is in sight - Todmorden Bus Station - and from somewhere deep inside I manage a sprint finish. A granny with a walking stick actually passed me, but it felt like a sprint to me.

I've done it. I've made it from Lancashire to Yorkshire, and my stopwatch reads 1 hour 11 minutes. And 1000 calories burned along the way.

I reach into my pocket for my BFH, as Jim Bowen would call it (Bus Fare Home). Well you didn't think I'd run back too, did you?

I've got enough for a drink too, but I have to queue for it in the newsagents as two old women complain how hot it is. "Try running from Burnley in it love," I try to shout but can't muster the energy.

I re-track my course on the bus journey home, and realise how far I've come, not just today but in the past three months. I know I won't be able to walk for three days, but it was worth it - and I didn't even have to kiss Gary Neville.

I'll be running to raise money for East Lancashire Hospice, a local charity for local people.

One in three of us will be affected by illnesses such as cancer at some stage. Every penny really will count. If you can sponsor me, it could not be easier.

Just log on to my website by clicking on this link www.justgiving.com/paul-plunkett

and make a small donation. It takes two minutes, but could be priceless to someone you know.

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