The last run of the program W9D3, it’s graduation day and I’m determined to go out in style by completing my first 5k.
By my calculations (based on previous runs) I’m looking at another 8-10 minutes of running beyond the 30 minute primary goal of today’s session.
Up until now I’ve been running routes that tended to have an incline. My secret weapon in this endeavour is a pool table flat route along the riverside country park, and by a complete fluke it’s almost dead on 5k end to end, it must be a sign.
I decide to walk to the park, which in of itself is a 30 minute walk as I have some errands to do en route. The weather is sticky, it looks like the darkening cloud cover might finally deliver some real rain later, in the meantime a fewer small showers during the day have done nothing but make it feel muggy. Not ideal running weather, but it doesn’t matter I’ve run hotter and damper in the last 2 months.
I finally reach the park and set off at a slightly quicker than normal pace, I’m really banking on the lack of hills enabling me to up the pace a bit, which in turn should mean a time closer to 38 minutes and I can finish just that little bit sooner.
5 minutes in and I’m coming around a blind corner on the outside just as a mountain biker comes hurtling past. It’s clear he’s not going to be able to stop in spite of his best efforts and I have to dive out the way. No harm and like true Brits, both parties are apologising profusely as we head away from each other. Note to self, on tracks with cyclists hug the inside of the corner rather than the outside, it’s probably safer.
Out to ten minutes, it’s going ok, but I’m not really enjoying it. The humidity feels worse than most of my previous runs, and there is practically no breeze. Worse still the tide is out and the river bed is properly stinking, some full on botanicals for you gin lovers. I’ve also realised my originally planned route is going to leave me at the far end of the park, doh! I need to switch it up and start running the long leg out now so I’m running back, otherwise I’m looking at an 1+ hour warm down walk home. I hand’t factored that into my route when I was armchair planning with Google Earth.
15 minutes and I’m going up the only real incline on the entire route, it’s two small hills back to back. Nothing major but by the time I’d got over the second one at about 20 minutes I’m starting to feel it. More so the humidity seems to be making my profuse sweating totally ineffectual. I do a quick status check, everything is fine, no reason to stop running, looks like I’m clear out to 30m.
25 minutes, I’m really not enjoying it now, I’m having to slowly start digging in a bit. Then my phone goes, it’s my sister I’m expecting her call, just not right now. It’s an important family matter, not right now. I do the maths, could be another 12-14 mins before I can ring her back. I tell myself there is no way I’m going to stop before 30 minutes I will complete the program and the primary goal at ALL COSTS!
I push on convincing myself, she can wait 12 minutes. The distractions aren’t helping, I’m now worrying about what she’s going to tell me when I speak to her. The last few minutes of the 30 are grim, but I just keep slogging away at it, I’ve been here often enough now to know the score, my pace is getting slower and slower. I finally get the 30m well done from Laura, and I’m thinking ok let’s just keep going to 4k at least that’s only a couple of minutes away.
My phone goes, it’s my sister again I can’t ignore her this time, given the situation. So I pull up and answer, but I’m secretly relieved I didn’t have to do another 8 minutes. Shame on me! Walking back having spoke to my sister (which was good news) I’m struggling to see this run as a positive. Yes I’ve finished the program that I started all those weeks ago, but I’m frustrated at myself for not finishing it with that all important 5k trophy.
The stats. My fastest average pace to date, resulting in a new PB to 3km.
But, I’m honestly not happy. I’m not happy at getting all the way out to 30 minutes and then being relieved that I didn’t have to do the extra 8 minutes, it’s pathetic. I’m not happy that I let the weather impact me so or that a phone call distracted me as much as it did. I’m really not happy that I robbed myself of the 5K I desperately wanted out of today’s session.
Before I even get back home, I’m critically analysing the run, deconstructing all it’s little mistakes and failures and I’m getting angry, I’m planning the next run in my head and I’m making mental notes to address my short comings.
And I think that best sums C25K for me, it’s true legacy. There is no happy ending, or big celebration party or even a pat on the back. Instead, there is a genuine hunger to go further and faster. Even if I had reached the 5k mark on this run I’d have been annoyed at the time, in fact I realise only now there was no way I could ever complete C25K and be happy.
A little over 2 months ago, I could hardly run for 8 minutes and that was with 90 second breaks, I now consider 20-25 minutes the commute time to where I need to start working. Where before I was beset with malediction both physical and mental, I’m now increasingly able to run without drama, to focus purely on the running.
It’s a truly stunning transformation and one I could not have comprehended even a couple of weeks ago. C25K works! It does exactly what it says on the box, you WILL be able to run for 30 minutes by the end of it. But be under no illusion that it will not be easy, “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy” (Nicholas Sparks). But you might just find yourself standing on the top of this peak espying a misty summit in the distance with envious eyes.
Now I’ve got to go and figure out what I do now. I’m obviously going to go get me a 5k for starters. I’ll probably follow that up with trying to bring my 5k times to something approaching 30m as a hopefully achievable target for my old bones. I might take a closer look at 10k, I like the idea that it goes back to interval training as that has worked so well to get me to 5k, and I understand improved pace is almost a side effect of distance.
I need to put some structure around all this starting with a new app. It’s farewell to Laura, I’ll only hear her voice in my dreams or more likely nightmares; “You’ve got this!!!! Argggghh!!!”. I think I might have a touch of Stockholm syndrome.
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