Amazingly, I've completed the 25-minute final run of week 6! Never thought I'd make it after really struggling with run 2 a couple of days ago, so am feeling extremely pleased with myself.
The 25-minute run has, however, confirmed a growing problem - I'm running out of track! Let me explain: I live on a farm, in a very rural area, in one of the wetter and colder parts of the UK. Laura Ashley dresses do not feature greatly in my wardrobe, but my collection of thermal underwear, woolly socks, fleece tops, waterproofs and wellies is impressive!
For the past four years, we've had plenty of rain - so much, in fact, that the ground is now completely saturated and there's nowhere for the water to go. On a farm, this means mud, lots of it. And I mean liquid, ankle-deep mud which even Goretex-lined trainers can't cope with because it simply seeps over the top.
This has only left me one option when running - the tarmacked lane between the farm and the nearest village. I have no idea what the precise distance is, but until I got to the final workout in week 5, the dreaded 20-minute run, the lane had served me well, being just the right length to take me back home again at the end of the cool-down walk. During that run, however, I found that I reached home again before Laura announced the end of the run. This only left me with one option - turn back towards the village, then double back home. Today, at 25 minutes, I had to go even further back towards the village before turning for home a second time.
Not the end of the world, of course, but after six weeks of running, I know the lane far better than I really care to. By now I know the location of every crack and pothole (and there are plenty - Third World countries have better roads than my rural corner of Britain). I know where the rabbit warrens are, where the deer and squirrels hang out, and where the buzzard likes to perch in an old oak. I know what time not to run if I wish to avoid morning drivers, my dog walking neighbours, the post van and most of the tractors. Week 6 has, however, added another challenge - since the lane isn't long enough to complete a full 25-minute run without doubling back, I now have to run the dastardly Hill not once, but twice and will soon have to face it a third time. Also, pretty as the countryside may be, I'm getting bored with this particular stretch of it.
So what to do? Driving somewhere else is out of the question - my local garage now charges a whopping £1.51 for diesel so car travel has been seriously curtailed. I could walk to another stretch of reasonably quiet road, but that means trudging across the fields for 40 minutes in wellies while carrying my running shoes, and a change of footwear (and probably the shedding of a few layers of clothes) before I can start the run. Then a sweaty walk home. Somehow, I doubt that's going to happen.
All in all, I think I'll have to stick to the lane for the time being. The ultimate solution may be to take up the triathlon - cycle to the river, swim river, run on the quiet roads on the other side, swim back across river and cycle home. Mmmm, just thinking about it has made the lane, even with The Hill times three, seem rather more appealing.