I've done it! I've graduated!

Against all odds, I've just completed W9R3 - so I've officially graduated! I can't believe that I've actually done it! Strangely though, I don't think I feel quite as elated as after the 20min run in week 7 - more a sense of sheer exhaustion and a bit sad that it's over.

I came back from my holiday in Tennessee on Sunday - I toyed with repeating week 8 as running had been difficult whilst I was away because of the heat. But decided to plunge right into week 9. This week, however, everything has conspired against me. Firstly, my suitcases didn't arrive back with me - so my running gear was missing, although thankfully I was wearing my running trainers on the plane. And who changed the weather and sunrise times whilst I was away?? When my alarm went off on Tuesday morning, not only was I jet lagged but it was dark and cold! So my first W9 run was in borrowed clothes, although thankfully it was a nice morning by the time I left the house. I decided to bring Laura back and suffer her choice of music, just because W9 was so special - but she doesn't exactly go overboard with her praise at the end, does she? I was expecting fireworks and fanfares, but it all felt a bit underwhelming. So Laura was promptly ditched again (although I will always be grateful to her for getting me to W7!).

My second run was on Wednesday after work - set off round the park around 7.30pm, feeling a bit tired. But my suitcases were back, so I had layers of new running gear to motivate me and insulate me against the cold! But it was a tough 30min, not helped by the fact that it was rapidly getting dark and the park isn't lit. Thankfully there were still a lot of dog walkers around (first time ever I have been happy to see the dog walkers, as usually the dogs, and their leads, are drawn to me like magnets....). But I quickly realised that cold evenings don't necessarily need multiple layers of long-sleeved tops! I spend most of my run un-elegantly trying to strip off layers whilst not strangling myself with my earphone cords or trip over dogs. I also 'lost' my iPod within my many layers of stripped off clothes, so couldn't actually check the time as I was running (note to self- definitely sufficient justification to buy a Garmin!). But I made it to 30min.

This morning was my final run. Got off to a bad start by sleeping in so the park was already busy by the time I got there at 9.30am. Still feeling a bit jet lagged too, so kept repeating Laura's mantra of going slow and steady. After my warm-up, I set the timer on my Nike app for 30min, so it would count me down (doh, why did I just discover the timer facility on my final run?), and off I went. My confidence started to wane when I realised that there were Real Runners in the park - mainly males of course, and who were overtaking me multiple times as they lapped round the park. I kept repeating 'Laura says I am a runner' to fight the little voices in my head that kept telling me that I wasn't a Real Runner. At the half way point I was feeling pretty tired so without much thought I decided to change direction and lap the park the opposite way - ha, that would stop the Real Runners from overtaking me again! But then I suddenly realised that I had just given myself a hill to climb (well, ok, a minor incline) towards the end of my run. But I couldn't change direction again or the Real Runners would think I was a bit crazy! So, at the '10 minutes to go' point, I was still battling the voices in my head - talk about psychological stress! But at '5 minutes to go' I knew I would definitely make it, and I felt great. In fact, I actually was high-fiving some of the lower tree branches as I ran past them. Such a great feeling!

So it's been a great journey. I'm 51 years old and probably the fittest that I've ever been, so feeling quite proud (even although I'm not a Real Runner of course!). The community on this forum has been so amazing, I'm really not sure that I would have lasted the course without the wonderfully motivating posts here. So, thank you everyone. (Note to self - I really need to work out how to add a profile photo at some point).

So I'm now off to ask for my graduate badge (yippee!) and have a well-deserved breakfast!


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25 Replies

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  • Congratulations! A great post and lovely to hear of your achievement. And of course you are a real runner. I know it can feel like the end at graduation, but really, just think of it as the start of your new 'graduated' running life. You can set yourself new goals, build yourself new running playlists and enjoy yourself. As you do more on your own, you will definitely start to believe you are a real runner no matter what your speed. Good luck on your new life as a runner.

  • Thank you, sprynn! Graduation will definitely be the start of a new journey for me! :)

  • A huge big well done! You must feel so proud! A great inspiration for those of us in the early part of the programme!!!

  • Thank you LadyP33! When I started this in July I couldn't actually complete W1R1, I was so unfit. So the programme definitely works - good luck! :)

  • You are a real runner, well done and as soon as I can get into the right part of the site I will get you your badge. The tech is playing up at the moment.

  • Thank you! I'm happy to wait (the permanent smile on my face is enough for now!) :)

  • Congratulations - Think about Wk1.1 and now - look at the difference and be amazed - you are a star :)

    I think the elation after 5.3 (the 20mins) is as much a part of the realization that it is possible to run for 20 mins continuous without a walk break. After that it's more building up stamina, time and pushing ourselves onwards. But look at it another way you have run for a whole episode of Eastenders - now that really is something. :)

  • Thank you. You're so right! I couldn't actually complete 1.1 back in July - I wasn't hugely overweight, just used to a sedentary life and very unfit. So this is a huge lifestyle change for me too! The comparison with Eastenders is funny - I expect that I'll be motivated to get outside every time I hear the theme tune now! :)

  • Not a bad incentive to get out of the house!!!

  • Congratulations - fantastic post! Of course you are a real runner. I hope you feel very proud of yourself!

  • Thank you, Ullyrunner! It's reading posts from you and other regular faces that have kept me going over the last few months! :)

  • woohoo congratulations. It's a great achievement you must feel brilliant! Happy running for the future

  • Thank you, GettingFitter! (That's a great user name too!) I just need to make sure I keep progressing now without Laura there to push me! :)

  • What an amazing achievement. Good for you. You must feel very proud

  • Thank you! I've been spontaneously smiling since Saturday - I'm sure people think I'm crazy! :)

  • That's fantastic, well done! Hope the breakfast was good x :-)

  • Thank you! The breakfast turned into a whole weekend of foodie treats! :)

  • Well done, and you are quite right to be smiling, big cheesy grins that make people wonder about you are definitely the order of the day. Keep running! That's all you have to do. :)

  • Thank you, Mrs Sparkle! I'm still smiling! I think keeping running will be my biggest challenge now, without the 'carrot' of the Graduate badge and the dark mornings/evenings already here - need to get myself very organised!

  • A well deserved congratulations, you are a true runner woohoo!

  • Thank you, BluebellRunner! I'm still woo-hoo-ing! (Inwardly, of course!!) :)

  • Yee -ah ! Congratulations to you and YOU ARE a real runner , believe it !

    I wanted to sit down on the kerb and sob my heart out when I completed my graduation run. I think it was a mixture of relief, happiness, and sadness that I'd got to the end of the programme, I don't know it was just a whole mixture of things, so I totally get where youre coming from :-)

    Its not the end though its just the beginning . The sky's the limit for you now .

    All the very best to you :-) xxx

  • Thank you, poppy pug! It's been reading posts like yours that has kept me motivated - so a really big thank you. Yes, the sky's definitely the limit (although 5k will probably do for now!!) :)

  • Go you, well done!!! I really like your bit about high-fiving the branches, I shouted 'woohoo' today after completing Wk9 Run1:) So someone else is a magnet for dogs too, good to know!!! I know what you mean about underwhelming praise from Laura, I thought it was a bit flat after Run 1 today, but my own feelings of accomplishment made up for it. Congratulations!!!!

  • Thank you, Marly Parly! I love this website - it's the only place I could admit to high-fiving the trees without seeming mad!! :) You are so close to graduating now, so I look forward to congratulating you soon! :)

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