Ernest Hemingway once wrote: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Maybe running is a bit the same. Only without the typewriter. Or the sitting down. Or the bleeding. Hopefully. W5R3 does tend to bring out the shivers with us newbies though.
We've all read the posts and listened to the wisdom. "Take it slow." "Slow and Steady." "If you've come this far then it's achievable." Believe in yourself." "Believe in the programme." But still. It feels like a bit of an "Everest" moment. (The hillock. Not the double glazing.) And it is scary. Anyone who's not a little bit scared of R3 probably isn't a human being. Or not one I'd feel comfortable being naked in front of.
Blimey. 20 whole minutes of putting one front in front of the other in a style we call "running". Hmm.
I really wanted to get this out of the way early. But the Highways Agency in its wisdom has decided to close off my bit of the A21 until 6am in order to make a hamfisted job of filling potholes. So I'm pacing around for a while. Tea. Loo. More tea. Loo. Loo again. What in God's name have I been eating? I'll never touch another vegetable again. I don't want a Paula Radcliffe incident.
Right. In the car. There are a few bollards stuffed behind hedges. The Highways Agency at its finest. Road still knackered though. Maybe they all went running. Or just ran away.
It's misty and it's been raining. A lot. There are puddles. Great lakes. I get my legs out of the back of the car; I'd stored them there for safe keeping. I look down. Can barely see my feet through the mist but they must be there somewhere.
The ever lovely and patient Sanjeev does his thing about the perfect horror of R3 and how I must be a complete and utter moron for even attempting this. Tell me something I don't know tiger.
Nothing new on the music front. Classical Dead Stuff. I stride into the Wagnerian gloom with only squirrels for company. How they chuckle. Feeling like Jonathan Harker on his first visit to Castle Dracula.
The first 5 minutes of running is awful. A total shambles. Everything groans and aches and says "I want my duvet! Now!" Trying to go really slowly is hard. Harder than whatever my instinctive running pace is. But if I don't keep it slow I'll explode in some awful shower of tea and half-digested vegetables. And no-one will turn my Heart Rate Monitor off.
The Beethoven that got me up that first hill is still with me though. Hang on. I'm further along than I was on Tuesday. I must have started running sooner. I can't be going faster can I? But I'm still feeling borderline human.
Feeling a bit better now. But only 8 minutes in. Still feels like Everest. Some Bach kicks in for me. The opening chorus from the St Matthew Passion. It had to be really. Big occasions need a big soundtrack. That glorious big, slow, comforting thing. One of the less bonkers things someone once said about the opening was that it's paced like a slow heartbeat. I settle in. Rene Jacobs in glorious Hybrid SACD sound that just wraps me up and takes me with it. I have a go at singing along. Give up. Just go with the flow, Stephen. A relentless comforting tread. Bach will get you there. Always has and always will.
I'm still going. Sitting at my typewriter and bleeding. But my legs feel kind of okay. I'm trying to breathe properly. I'm not aware that my heart rate is doing anything daft. But still. This is a long way.
I avoid falling over the gate at the end of the trail and carry on round. Another hillock. Oh, will you please just stop please.
Then more Bach. More Saint Matthew Passion. The big bass aria near the end. "Mache dich, mein Herze, rein." Something about cleansing your heart. No matter. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in 1958 at his youthful incredible best. All warmth and honey and compassionate humanity and total gorgeousness. My God, how that man could sing!
Here it comes. I knew it would. 3 minutes left to run. In gently falling rain. I'm going to do this. And great wracking sobs and I can't tell what's rain and what are the tears streaming down my face. If ever there's been a time just to let go, then this is it. I lengthen my stride and just barrel along. Feeling as if my heart's just been broken and put back together and all's right with the world.
And that's it. Done.
Harder than anything I thought possible. But I'm not a wreck. Not staggering around. I can breathe. Just.
And I let myself do that thing. That collapsing onto my knees and kissing the ground thing. That "I never thought I could do this and I bloody have and it was hard, but it was great at the same time and I never knew I could do this but I bloody have" thing.
Daft bugger me. More an emotional wreck than a physical one. But I've climbed that Everest. This was the big one really. If I can do this I can finish the programme. I know that now. More than halfway through and it's like the first five weeks was about piling huge bricks one on top of the other. And the second five is about taking the bricks off, one by one, run by run. And there's a podium behind there with my name on it. With a damn big cake. And all you lot who have been on the journey with me and made me smile and laugh and wince. And laugh a bit more.
What a fantastic day it's been so far. I'm never going to be one of those "Well I thought it might be a bit tricky, but it seemed really easy and I ran for a few more hours afterwards" people. But this has been a bloody marvellous journey.
Thanks for sharing it with me xx