One of the hard things about the longer runs at the end of the programme is finding good routes. I prefer circular runs to “out and back” ones, which means I’m having to find ever-longer loops to run. My local area only has so many interesting features, and even if you count the chippy as an attraction, it’s probably not open yet. 😉
This morning I decided to head down to Rock Edge nature reserve, a former limestone quarry that was once a coral reef millions of years ago. I am tempted to stop and hunt for fossils, but Sarah has no truck with my Jurassic World fancies and sternly reminds me to keep on running. I fight my way through the undergrowth and hope I won’t come face to face with a velociraptor.
Unfortunately Rock Edge is not exactly the Great Barrier Reef, so I am soon back on the road. I set out later than usual, so now I have to dodge pedestrians and cyclists downhill (again - what possessed me to take up running when I live on a hill??), and navigate multiple pedestrian crossings. I feel vaguely guilty for half-heartedly jogging in place as I wait. I can hear Sarah judging me for waiting at the lights, even if the alternative is participating in a live-action game of Frogger. “Go on, petal,” she says, “run into traffic - what’s the worst that can happen? Just don’t stop running.” Or maybe I’m starting to hallucinate.
I reach the halfway point, and almost literally bump into the lovely woman who does sports massage at the local wellbeing centre. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a massage as a graduation present... 🤗
I wait at yet another crossing, attempting to jog on the spot (I suspect I look like I’m desperate for a wee) and consider my options. Suddenly inspiration strikes. It’s been a while since I visited the famous Headington Shark. The shark was controversial when it was first installed back in the 80s, but I’ve always loved the sheer weirdness of a shark sticking out of a terraced house roof. God bless you, John Buckley and Bill Heine, you creative weirdos. I run up the street and do another please-will-someone-direct-me-to-the-nearest-loo jog in place while I take a picture. The shark is looking a bit worse for wear at the moment (perhaps some idiot suggested it try to achieve 5K in 30 minutes) but I still love the fact that a sculpture like that exists in a suburban street.
Today I feel confident enough to try to up my speed - I want to finish this thing with a bang, not a whimper. I push myself for the final ten minutes, pleased with how fast I’m going. Sarah tells me it’s time to stop, but I’m no longer listening to Judgey McJudgerson with her Opinions about high-risk road crossing behaviour, so I carry on for another couple of minutes. I finish with a sprint, and check Runkeeper: 3.82K. 3.82K??? Are you flipping kidding me? I haven’t even managed 4 lousy kilometres? I do my brisk walk home, attempting to sulk, but it’s hard to get a proper sulk on when you’re filled with running endorphins. So instead I relieve my feelings by choosing the 😐 “meh” face when asked how I feel.
Then it hits me: I ran for 30 minutes and I barely even noticed it. When I started this, graduating seemed about as likely as a shark in a roof, or a coral reef inland; but that thing glinting in the near distance is not a mirage; it’s the podium, and it’s only two runs away. I can’t stop grinning.