Robert Ulrey’s voice spoke soothingly into my ear.
“If you are doing day one you will run five minutes, walk three minutes, run five minutes, walk three minutes, then run five more minutes. If you’re doing day two you will run eight minutes, walk five minutes, and run eight minutes. And if you’re doing day three you will run for twenty minutes.”
That was me. Week 5 Day 3. Run 20 minutes.
Me, who seven weeks ago couldn’t run 60 seconds. Today I was being told to run for twenty minutes.
I hesitated at the door, I was pretty tired, maybe it would be wise to stay home, go to bed early, just relax.
But I was already dressed, shoes on, and ready to go.
Maybe I’d just go and redo Week 5 Day 2. I had managed that.
But a tiny voice in my head replied super quietly. “Just go. Try it. You’ll stop if you can’t finish. Every time you’ve thought you couldn’t finish a C25K level you have finished it. You won’t know if you don’t try.”
For a moment I felt like the little girl long ago being assigned the riding teacher’s beloved and fierce show jumping horse for a morning ride through the forest. I had panicked, convinced he was more horse than I could handle, but a good friend had reminded me that the teacher would not have assigned him to me if she hadn’t thought I was a good enough rider to manage her horse.
She was right. The horse and I both made it through that ride unscathed.
Granted it’s odd to draw a parallel between a recorded voice in my iPod telling me I can run a certain distance and a teacher who knew my abilities well. But frankly, Robert hasn’t been wrong yet. He says run, and even when I doubt that I can get through the run, I do.
One stage at a time I’m acing Couch to 5K.
I have no real recollection of the twenty minutes of that run. The minutes flew by in the same dissociated way minutes fly by when you are traveling. I can tell you that it was raining. I can tell you that I was letting my brain wander from one article idea to another. I can also tell you that I probably killed a few snails as I ran around the block three times. But I was in a zone the whole time I was running and when Robert called the ends of the day one and day two runs, told them to walk, told them to start running again, I didn’t falter, didn’t stop, didn’t slow down. I just pushed on.
By the 18th minute I was chanting “You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.” It’s a good thing it was raining and I was alone in the street. I’m not sure I was chanting all that quietly. And at the end of the 20th minute, when Robert finally said “Day three people, your run is over.” I almost burst into tears at the sheer relief of being done and having made it all the way through the run.
As I walked the 5 minute cool down period I fought back tears and giggled at the same time. I ran for 20 minutes. Me. Who seven weeks couldn’t run for 60 seconds.