Week 9 Run 1. Blimey!

The few remaining leaves on the lime trees in the street outside my bedroom window were shivering and the silver birch in the back garden were bending right over in the wind.

Pulling on a swimsuit felt ridiculous. As usual, I told myself that I didn't have to go for a swim at the end of my run if I didn't feel like it, I had only myself to please after all (even Laura would never know if I didn’t.) The problem with the outdoor swim (apart from the water being 8C and falling) is that it does involve a bit more gear. In September, when I started the plan, it was just a case of ripping off my clothes and diving in. Now it's so much colder, I need two swimming hats, gloves, swim shoes, thermals and a warm jumper, as well as underwear and a towel. It's all getting a bit weighty in my rucksack, so yesterday I decided to wear a bit more so I could carry a bit less.

I put on an M&S long-sleeved thermal top, an old moth-eaten cashmere sweater that my son was giving to Oxfam (how different from expensive merino Icebreakers could that be?) and a showerproof fleece that I wear for gardening and sailing. Strange that legs don’t seem to feel the cold – I’m still wearing the Tesco capris I bought in August – perhaps at last I have a reason to be grateful for thick ankles. As I set off I was really glad of the extra layers - I don’t run fast enough to work up a sweat, so who needs hi-tech wicking fabrics?

After my inadvertent overrun the day before (see How Obama got me lost in the woods) I decided I would try the accidentally-discovered longer route again. Except, of course, I couldn’t find it. Next time I’ll take bread crumbs – they worked for Hansel and Gretel , didn’t they? Er… I set off into the woods and found a bridge, but it was the wrong bridge, the Bird Bridge, never mind, I found the right one, the Viaduct, and then ran up the other side of the old duelling ground and found myself going up Kite Hill (great views of London, lethal, giant, buzzing kites in summer, and lots of whizzing tobogganers in winter) a bit daunting when I’ve plotted carefully for the last 8 weeks to avoid anything that goes uphill. Down the other side to the tennis courts, the bowling green and the café and it suddenly dawned on me that I’d just run from one end of the Heath to the other. If you’d told me I could do that eight weeks ago I’d probably have wet myself laughing. Then it was along the paths past the ponds and up the lane to the Ladies Pond for a quick dip. I knew didn’t have to go in, but I was pretty hot by then and why should the septuagenarian emerging from the water have all the fun?

I don’t usually care, or even notice, if people stare at me when I’m running, but yesterday I noticed quite a few walkers looking at me oddly. Was it the outfit? Sheer admiration? Or because I was singing ‘Tramps like us, baby we were born to run,’ at the top of my voice. Maybe they simply couldn’t believe that it was possible for a human being to run so slowly without actually keeling over.

Who cares?

Only two more runs to go. When I started Couch25k I thought I’d be happy with a 20-minute run three times a week. Back home, I worked out that I’d run 3.98k in about 38 minutes, give or take a minute or two faffing around with Bruce and my Blackberry.

Mo and Usain needn’t lose any sleep, but I am ecstatic.

18 Replies

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  • You are - in the nicest possible way - NUTS! Seriously, huge respect!

  • Thanks Deryn. We all aren't we?

  • Sorry, that should have read, We all are, aren't we?

  • I think you're brilliant and a real inspiration to us all. You brought a smile to my face as I imagined you running with all your gear and being so keen to get into cold water for a swim. I mean I love swimming but I really take my hat off to you going for a dip outside at this time of year. Completely nuts but also just amazing - keep it up and more to the point please keep cheering us up with your brilliant blogs :-)

  • Glad you enjoyed it. Good luck with Week 8. Much as I appreciate all her encouragement, I really found that ditching Laura and listening to my own music made a huge difference to the longer runs.

  • Love it, love it, love it!! You know, I never thought about you having to put on a swimsuit for your dip after your runs but of course you have to!!!! You are fantastic and I can just imagine you running along singing your heart out ot Bruce - good on ya girl!! Respect!

    Sue x

  • Thanks Sue. How's your back? Are you still having to rest or back pounding the meanstreets in hot pink and gadgets?

  • Hahhahha!! My hot pink jacket is hanging up calling me out there......

    My back is just about better now, the pain has gone but I'm still aware of it, if that makes sense. I managed to get out for a 20 min run on Friday as I was still off work but did have to stop a couple of times. I hope to be getting out there today too as its a beautiful sunny morning isnt it so cant let that go to waste.....

    Thanks for asking Londongirl, thats lovely of you! x

  • Brilliant - well done you, and I loved reading your blog.

    I'm a slow runner too but it doesn't make the sense of achievement any less. I had to repeat W1 so to graduate last week was probably one of my biggest personal achievements.

    Good luck for the rest of W9 and I look forward to seeing your green badge :o)

  • Thank you. Isn't it incredible to think how far we have come? Doing this programme is amazing for empowerment and self-esteem. I'm seriously begin to think that if I can do this, what else can I do? World hunger? Peace in the Middle East? It seems that if enough people put their minds to it and support each other, anything is possible.

  • Ahhhhh! Londongirl-what a blog! I couldn't contemplate, let alone do it-the swim at the end, I mean. You are one heck of a girl to do what you do-I love it!! Don't worry about speed-I am so slow a tortoise could pass me by, lol!! :-).

    Only 2 more runs and you join us in the Grad Club-yeeeah!

    Good to hear that your back is improving Sue.

    Colette xx

  • Thanks so much, Pearsey. Just back from second run so will blog when I get a minute. Is there a bar in the Grad Club?

  • Well, there IS a virtual bar-so bottoms up when you get back on Tuesday?

    Colette xx

  • What a fantastic blog, I am so impressed that you swim outside for run but even more impressed you can run and sing I find it hard to breath never mind talk! I truely believe you could tackle anything, the middle east should look out!! Good Luck with your next 2 runs I look forward to reading about them

  • Thanks Rolphie. It might not actually be recognised as singing by anyone else - hence all the odd looks - you know what it's like when you have headphones on?

  • Ha! Ha! Me too! They look at me as though I'm nuts! I am-but that's beside the point :-)

    Keep on Running!

    Colette xx

  • So very well done! I admire you for taking a dip in that freezing water! Only a few more runs before you have that badge!!! :-) I usually chill some bubbly to help a graduate celebrate but considering the frigid dips you take, I may just have a celebratory hot cocoa with a shot of bourbon. ;-) Gayle

  • That sounds great.

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