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!