Week 9, run 1 - shark week: One of the hard... - Couch to 5K

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Week 9, run 1 - shark week


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.

14 Replies

You go girl! You're doing brilliantly, and I loved the fact you get to see a shark sticking out of the roof of a terraced house. There are certainly no equivalent attractions in downtown Luton. ;-)

thegirlfrommarzGraduate in reply to Razouski

Thanks, Razouski! I may be slow but at least I’m steady!

The shark sculpture is brilliantly weird - it really livens up what is otherwise a normal and boring suburb.


I was in a similar position. So I looked up my nearest park run. They give you directions and a breakdown of the course. Now I have 5km runs nearby.

thegirlfrommarzGraduate in reply to Kezwah

I signed up for Parkrun yesterday so will definitely give it a go!


Well done! Amazing feeling when you can run for 30 and still feel ok. Remember the leap from 60 to 90 seconds?

thegirlfrommarzGraduate in reply to Jay66UK

Thanks, Jay! Sometimes it’s hard to remember just how far we’ve come in such a short time.

In the words of Tracey Jordan:


Jay66UKGraduate in reply to thegirlfrommarz



Well done 👍😀 Fantastic achievement. Can’t wait to get there and “The City” sounds like a great place to run with all the shark inspiration!! Reach those spires!! Only 2 runs left for you now b4 you graduate. 🏃‍♀️💪🏻🥇🏆


Grin away Kate!! Top job!! The shark does indeed look a bit floppy these days. Unlike you hon. And another lovely post too. Wowsa 👍👍🏃‍♀️

thegirlfrommarzGraduate in reply to sallenson

You didn’t see me on the way round. Floppy as anything. 😉


Just done the same run around University Parks, dodging bikes and squirrels. At least there are no traffic lights. Must go and check out the shark again - haven't seen it for a few years. 2 more runs then maybe a park run!

thegirlfrommarzGraduate in reply to Nakimbugwe

I used to run round the University Parks when I was a young whippersnapper and lived just down the road - it's a great place to run. There never used to be any bikes to dodge in the Parks, though - have the park-keepers given up on their zero-tolerance regime when it comes to bicycles??

NakimbugweGraduate in reply to thegirlfrommarz

No but my run to the park is along the cycle path!


Fantastic picture and fabulous run! Well done 🎉

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