So there I was, on my warm up walk, when who should be walking along but Gary. He was wearing baggy slacks and an old parka jacket, munching chips out of a paper bag. I felt so good this morning, I was beginning my Graduation Run. How excited am I? So I bid him good morning. He scowled at me. Oh, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. This is Gary, isn't it? You could see he was looking at me as if to say "What on earth do you think you are doing? What have you got to be smiling about? Why did you say good morning? You don't know me. You look ridiculous in your little black beanie hat and red woollie gloves! Call yourself a runner! Bah! You're a plodder, that's what you are! Fancy a chip?"
So, I decided to fix the cheesey grin on my face and ignore Gary. This is my Graduation Run and nobody is going to spoil it, not even Gary! I walked through the town and over the beautiful bridge across the river. I had to jog on the spot for what seemed like an eternity on an island in the middle of the road until the cars finished passing and I could continue on my way.
It's 4 degrees, the air is clear, the sky is blue with a few white clouds dotted here and there.
Just as Laura said "right, you can start your run now" or words to that effect, I thought, how perfect is that? I have just reached the water's edge to begin my run along the river. Just brilliant. Another cheesey grin went across my face. I started to run (well plod). I passed a rowing club, then another, my aim was to see how close to a beautiful island I could get, the view was just amazing! There were so many trees in the background against the Chilterns, green, brown, orange, red, trees to one side of me, the meandering river to the other. A lone sculler sculled past as I ran along the tow path. This is my idea of heaven. A four rowed past, then another. A cyclist came towards me, I smiled and wished him a good morning. He replied "good morning" with a smile. A couple of ladies were walking their dogs, "good morning" I said, smiling, they responded with a good morning too. Oh, yes, this is just brilliant. What a fabulous day. A man was walking his dog, I said "hi" (not sure why I changed from my usual GM, perhaps I was getting a bit weary?) but he responded with a "good morning" which made me think "yes, that's what I should have said, sorry." Then a REAL runner came towards me, oh gosh, a real runner! I was so excited! As he passed, my hair flew out behind me. He must have been going so fast, I thought, to make my hair do that!
I am nearing the island, I don't think I'll get there, I think to myself, but it is definitely getting closer. Then, before I know it, I am there, I have got to the island and I am running alongside it, and I am almost at the other end of it when Laura says "that's half way". Oh my goodness, I think, I have reached the island and now I can turn back. But part of me doesn't want to miss the beautiful view that I have been enjoying up until now of those hills and trees.
I turn around, and gosh, the town looks a long way away. But I can see the church! The church looks particularly beautiful this morning against the azure blue sky. There are little houses along the opposite side of the river bank near the church, (they only appear little because they are far off in the distance) but I am still by the island and to my right and left there are just green fields. A beautiful blanket of green fields. I smile again.
I see a friend in a sculling boat, actually he was my rowing partner for years until he ditched me for a younger model. To be fair on him, I had a shoulder injury, but I still felt like I had been dumped Anyway, I called out "good morning" to him and he stopped sculling. "Oh, hello" he said, then . . . as realisation dawned on him, he continued with "oh, well done, well done!" Then a very elegant lady, who was walking towards me, said "that man is talking to you". I smiled at her. The thing is, neither of them knew that this was my Graduation Run, and I was not about to stop to have a chat when I was over halfway through Week 9 Run 3!
Before I know it, Laura is saying I have 60 seconds to go, oh goodness, really? Only 60 seconds? I suddenly think about my pace, I am definitely plodding, when did that happen? Or have I been plodding along all the time? No, I definitely put on a sprint past the sculler who dumped me (how very childish!) But I must have settled back into a slow plod. So, I decided, this is it, go for it girl, run like the wind. And . . . I . . . ran! I actually ran! For the first time ever, I really ran for the last minute. I could imagine you all lining the riverbank, clapping and waving, cajoling me on, come on, you can do it. And before I knew it, I had done it. Laura was saying "that's your 30 minutes over." I actually felt a little sad, so I ran a little bit more (not much) and then I went into my warm down walk.
The broadest grin breaks across my face, as I realise that I have in fact completed this all important run, that I really am now a graduate. Oh gosh, I am a graduate, oh heavens . . . me? a graduate? As the comprehension of my 9 weeks' effort sinks in, I think my grin gets ever broader. I didn't think this was possible, but it was.
I begin to walk back through the town, "good morning" I say to various shoppers, a few (fellow) runners (!) and I notice that my voice is warm and genuine and full of joy.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot, for those of you who like statistics, I managed to get 6 PRs this morning and my 5k was 34:32.
The photo is from Wednesday, just before my early morning row, and even better, it's the right way up!
Happy running everyone X