Into the last week of C25K and it’s all just straight 30 minute runs, the finish line is within sight.
I’d decided to take an extra day after the last run as my quads hadn’t recovered and I’m not going to risk doing myself a mischief, not when I’m this close to finishing. Better to be safe than sorry.
It was the right the move with an extra day my legs were fully recovered and I was eager to get back on the road.
I finally decided it was time to mix it up, to stop circling the local park like a demented fly and start running a route. Out with Google Earth and the tape measure. The largest flat green area in Medway is aptly called the Great Lines and it’s a huge field bordered on one side by the idyllic town of Gillingham and overlooks the historic town of Chatham. Sounds beautiful, and for all the trash talk both towns rightfully receive, on a warm summer evening with a cool breeze blowing across it the Lines is an ideal area to run.
It’s also a run I’ve done and loathed many times before back when I was a kid (when there were still horses on the field) it formed the cross country route for the local school. Many a damp, misty morning I’d struggled to get around this field and that’s back when I thought I was fit. So the thought of going back and running it properly seemed like a fitting way to finish the C25K program. Ok, I’m 30 years late, but I’m sure my old gym teacher will probably still be waiting.
So I’d plotted a route that took me around the Lines and through the public parts of Fort Amherst. Not many can boast Napoleonic fortifications on their running route and I imaged the cannon’s firing in salute as I went past.
It’s a good 15-minute walk to get to the field, lots of good warm-up time. I launch the app 5 minutes from the field and start my mental prep. I’m out here to do 3×10 minutes, and on the face of it, that shouldn’t be a problem. 5 minute warm up over, I set off at a very conservative pace.
It’s fair to say the field has changed a little since my school days, it’s now got a tarmac path for starters, no need to dodge the horse shit in the long grass anymore. The horses are long gone, they even mow it now, it’s a proper recreational area, the UK 2012 Olympic legacy lives on. My only company on the field is an extraordinary number of Ravens, I’m sure if I was superstitious I’d be worried, right now they’re on my path and need to MOVE! Not one had three eyes!
Laura, announces 5 minutes just as I’m passing the Naval Memorial. Ho hum, I was hoping she’d only announce 10-minute intervals. But it turns out she’s going to do practically every 5 minutes, it’s actually a reminder I don’t want when my mindset is 3x10m. Anyway in no time we are 10 minutes in and it’s all been either flat or downhill and I’m absolutely guilty of going slower than I need to, but it’s a new (old) route and I don’t want to get caught out.
Halfway it’s all still downhill, I’m loving it, although that’s about to end as I hang a left and start my run towards the fort proper. Now an interesting fact about forts, it turns out it’s quite an advantage to shove them on top of hills, particularly if you are trying to hit Dutch/French ships from afar as they go up the river. I turn the corner (about the 20m mark) and it’s all uphill in an increasingly steep incline, good job I’ve been taking it easy, I’ve got something in the tank for this.
My breathing up until this point had been well under control, not even labouring at 20 minutes. Yes, it was a slow pace even by my standards but it’s one I knew I could easily keep going out to 30 minutes. Even the climb up to the fort wasn’t proving that tough, I was having to put a shift in, but I still wasn’t tapping into the red. Another 50 yards I can see the gate into the fort, head down I push on 1812 overture playing through my mind.
I get to the gate only to realise it’s bloody locked, damn I check the time, they lock it overnight and I must have just missed the cut. Bugger, that’s screwed up my route, more importantly, no bloody cannon salute for me. I turn round and start heading back down the hill, frustrated but secretly thankful for a downhill stretch. By the time I’ve got back down the road, everything is back under control, Laura chimes in well done, you’re 30 minutes are up.
In the background I’ve also got Endomondo tracking the run and giving me 1km stats, the last one I had was 3km quite a while back and I’m thinking I’m not done here. I’m feeling good (not surprisingly) so I’m thinking let’s see at least what it takes to get to 4k. So I push on, in fact, I’ve picked up the pace dumping the reserves I’d been holding back. 5 minutes later Endomondo chimes in at 4k. I seriously ponder going the extra kilometre, but my quads are burning again and I sense I’m in danger of pushing my luck.
I settle for my furthest distance and longest time so far, 4k in 35 minutes. I’m reasonably happy with that. I might have been able to reach 5k but I’ve got 2 more runs in the program to get there. I am determined to get one under my belt before we are done even if that is looking like a 45 min run at the moment. I think next time I’ll do the same route and try and pick the pace up a bit, and those fort gates better be open or I’m going to be storming the fort.
This run was powered by my standard running playlist (see other posts) the only new track that stood out was:
I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to realise what a great running track this is. It’s got a grinding industrial beat that is perfect for lolloping along to and the lyrics uncannily match my running mindset these days. Right down to my brooding anger for any type of mental negativity trying its luck.
You’ve got to manage
I won’t sympathize
Yeah enough of my bullshit, I’m not entertaining it anymore. C25K for me now is an exercise (no pun intended) in management, managing my wishes and aspirations against my capabilities, a dance along a razor blade.
“And if you complain once more
You’ll meet an army of me”
A warning to my inner demons to not even try it, because there is an army of me. The army is all the other me’s that succeeded in the face of negative nonsense and I can call upon them if need be to get through this run. We are not stopping.
There’s nothing wrong
And get to work”
This echoes my own thoughts and coping strategies in these runs, my routine self-health checks inevitably report there is nothing wrong! Keep my shit together and keep running. All in all, it’s a great track to run to, shame I didn’t have it locked and loaded for W5D3.
I have two more runs to go and I need to run longer and faster if I want to hit a half decent 5k number. I’m probably playing it a little too cautious at this point. The irony from someone who’s couldn’t run a minute only a couple of months is not lost on me. I know W9R3 is not the end of my running so there will be time to work on both of these, I’m seriously starting to think about going to 10k before the end of the year. What a transformation that would be.
But, I need to balance the wish to finish the program with a 5k and not pushing myself so hard I pick up an injury that could take me out of the game, the forums are littered with stories of the unfortunate. We’ll see on the next run what’s really possible.