So after a great W7R3 last Thursday I psyched myself up to ditch the dreadmill and hit the streets for the first time on Saturday. I mapped out a relatively flat 5k route, although every direction from home has varying degrees of hills so I picked the shortest/steepest one hoping I’d cover it in my warm-up walk and planned the route from there.
I genuinely didn’t sleep well, I was so excited! (Who am I and what happened to the old me?) I was awake long before my half 6 alarm and closing the front door behind me at 7. Just got to the summit of “that hill” as Laura was encouraging me to start running for my first 28 minute session and off I went with no hope or expectation about what was to come other than to see how it felt on the roads and give myself a benchmark for post-graduation. Well imagine my surprise when Laura chimed in at half-way when I'm at the furthest point from home and still feeling OK! I turned out of the direct sun and into a steady, flat section for about a km, kept plodding, a short but brutal hill up and over the canal/railway slowed me down a bit but then I turned back onto the straight and I could almost see home in the distance. At this stage it became a long steady climb, hardly noticeable in the car but oh-so-apparent in my legs by now! Half way up Laura told me I could slow down (28 mins done) but in the back of my mind I was thinking I might just be able to get all the way round my route. Half a km from home, so about 4km along the route, a “proper” runner coming in the other direction on the other side of the road gave me an exaggerated cheery wave and a loud “good morning”, and somehow I fought the urge to shout “this is my first 5k!” at him. Part of me thinks that’s because I still couldn’t quite believe in my head that I was going to do it, knowing that to do so I would have to finish on that initial slope that I had so *cough* cunningly used for my warm-up walk. Another part of me thought he looked so excitable and enjoying himself that he might just come sprinting over and give me a great big bear hug and until that point I hadn’t even had to stop for the traffic and didn’t want to break my rhythm. (Rhythm? Get me! That's what a runner would say!) So on I trudged, as far as home and seriously considering stopping there with the prospect of having to tackle the hill.
But whatever it is that Laura has planted inside my head flicked a switch and on I went, round the corner and back up the hill. And just as I was reaching the top, breathing out of my backside but almost starting to celebrate, I realised that if I’m going to put myself through the torture of running up a hill I might as well reward myself with running down the other side! So I carried on for another 300m or so, not much I know, but another moral victory. And then I’m done!
I did it! Me! 5.4k! Woop woop!
I have to add, no land speed records were harmed in the making of this blog. I only have the timings on the podcasts to go by but I’m reckoning about 45mins for the 5k. Plus warm up/down and the extra little victory parade down the blooming hill. I marched home, back up that hill (hill? pah!), through the door, up the stairs and dived onto my partner/the bed in all my sweaty, red-faced, exhausted glory and celebrated with a big hug and a little cry. And then I was glad I hadn’t shouted the “real runner” across the street after all, because she’s been my biggest cheerleader through all this and she deserved to be the first to hear about it.
Today, I ache like stink. Quads, shins, shoulders, ankles. Everything. Even a long swim yesterday and a short one today hasn’t ironed out the kinks. But the biggest ache of all is my face. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling all weekend.