It’s my second to last run in the program and I’m pondering speed or distance all the way back to the Great Lines. Part of me is determined to make it into the fort this time, it’s the middle of the day so there’s no reason those gates should be closed.
I decide by the time I’m hitting the field that I’m going to up the pace, not insanely, but enough so it still feels comfortable. I’m working on the basis I MUST do the 30 minutes, it’s the primary goal and non-negotiable. If then I’ve still got legs I can make a decision about going for the distance.
I am conscious that the hill climb to the top of the fort shouldn’t be underestimated and that’s going to be the tricky bit on this run. So off I set it’s pretty warm and I’ve got my shades on for a change, so I’m looking really cool!
I am struggling to settle in the first 5 minutes, an intermittent stabbing pain in my back reminds me I’ve been sitting awkwardly on the couch again. I try to straighten up and un-tense as I’m running oddly to avoid irritating it. At the ten minute mark, I’ve got it under control, but I’m still not enjoying it. It’s too warm, I’m sweating at an even faster rate than usual, my super cool sunglasses seem to pool the sweat and then releasing it in streams, my eyes are stinging and I can’t see properly. Then to further compound my growing catalogue of issues, there’s a stabbing pain in my left knee, it’s a bit worrying and it takes a few strides before it thankfully subsides, I must have just caught it oddly. This is not fun at all.
I push on to the 15-minute mark, I’m running alternate routes through my mind, I know if I go up to the fort I’m not going to make 5km, I’ll be trading distance for height (honestly I should be a glider pilot). My pace will also inevitably drop off, so the chances are it’s going to mess up both of my secondary objectives. I get to the go/no go point and decide it will be the fort, convincing myself it’ll count more than numbers in the app. That and I will have my 21 gun salute damn it!
It’s tough, I’m slowing right down, but I’m still just about going. I know it’s bad I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, never a good sign it seems to act as my reserve tank. I dip into it at my peril.
I get to the garrison church, a slight plateau before a short shallower climb up to the fort entrance. The sweat in my eyes is continuing to be a constant annoyance and I’m desperately struggling to try and spot if the gate is open from a 100 yards out. To my joy I can see a gap, it’s open, I’m finally going to storm the fort. It only occurred to me writing this now that I should have taken the sun glasses off it would have been far easier, clearly I wanted to look cool more than actually see at the time.
Through the gates, I stop for 10 seconds to snap the photo of the cannons (I earned it) and then up to the top of the fort via a very steep ramp. Back onto the flat and I’m struggling to recover before the next steep (but thankfully short) hill climb up the ridge. I get back on the top of the Great Lines and I’ve got about 3 minutes left. I’m just hanging on at this point (like a spent boxer to his opponent), any idea of a sprint finish or carrying on to hit 4k (let alone 5K) was lost somewhere on the hills. Laura announces the last minute, time is slowing down like a scene from inception.
Finally, my 30 minutes are up. I’m still running for 10 seconds (the time I stopped to take the photo), just to be honest to myself. I engage stagger mode, tip my head down and I have a stream of sweat (not droplets an actual stream) falling onto the dust. It takes me a good 5 minutes to walk it off, luckily I’ve got a 15-minute walk home.
Throughout the entire run, I could feel my demons lurking in the dark places. Every time I confront them, they scuttered away but they are not gone. They are dogged, watching, waiting, biding their time constantly looking for a weakness.
They could smell blood and they were ravenous. I haven’t been feeding them much lately and I could hear them circling, snarling. The heat, the hill, my back, my knee, the sweat I was feeling hunted all the way to the finish line. No out and out attacks, just the promise of one if I strayed off the path. Luckily I’ve got enough experience at this point to avoid the darkest paths through the woods.
Stat wise, my first reaction was of disappointment. The average pace although quicker by 40 seconds over the last time I felt it should have been faster. Luckily the 1km split times, revealed a better story on the flat I was achieving just over 7:30 min/km, which would equate to a sub 40m 5k if it could be sustained.
The stand out track of this run was:
I think this ended up on the playlist when looking for rain-related tracks last week. Either way, it’s a cracking track, especially when you are trying to drag yourself up a hill. My take on the lyrics:
“We will meet you where the lights are,
The defenders, of the faith we are.
Where the thunder turns around
They’ll run so hard we’ll tear the ground away.”
In my mind the light is at the end of a very dark wood and I am the defender of the faith (that I can do this), and I’ll run so hard I’m tearing up the tarmac.
Although no one understood,
There was more of them than us learning how to dance the rain.
(learning how to dance the rain)
There was more of them than us now they’ll never dance again.
No one ever understands, of course. There are more demons than us (me), out there learning to dance at my pain. Now they’ll never dance again! Still amazes me how I can spin lyrics in duress to my own inner monologue.
I have one run left, my final run will be on the flat (not sure where yet, I’ll need to get a spirit level out) and I’m going to aim to run for 40 minutes or 5k whichever comes first and I WILL finish the program in style.