Continuous Improvement

I was looking forward to my run today, not only because I hadn’t run yesterday (it was a swim day) but there was a chance I’d be running with the second of my three inspirational running friends, my ex-housemate and great friend, Pat Hudson.

Pat lives up t’North now so I don’t get a chance to catch up often and when I received a text from him to say he was down in Witney on Saturday, and that he would love to join me on a run to add some moral support to the Juneathon efforts, it gave me a bit of a boost.  I’m loving Juneathon and everything it has done for me so far but it doesn’t get any easier so anything that helps to add interest and extra motivation is key.

Now I hope Pat won’t mind me saying (and he does read my blog so I’m sure he’ll tell me if he does) but he hasn’t always been in the fine physical shape he is now.  The fact that one of his nicknames at school was “Lumpy” gives you an idea.  Yet now, Pat is a runner, through and through.  While my mate Steve definitely holds the medal for being my fastest ex-housemate, Pat is certainly the one with the most endurance, the “Long Distance Clara” of the group if you will.  His suggestion, not mine!

What with travelling down to Cornwall tomorrow and Pat’s guest appearance, it was an opportunity to switch my long run from Sunday to Saturday.  Having grown up in Witney, Pat is just as familiar (if not more) with the streets so I let him take the lead once he’d got his bearings at our house.

We set off at a swift pace.  Whilst the little person on my right shoulder was whispering concerns over going too fast too soon, the one on my left shoulder was egging me on, telling me that it was about time I stopped wimping out of putting in some early pace!  I was happy to let Pat set a decent pace – after all, that was part of the benefit of running with a more experienced, quicker runner.  I needed to be stretched if I was to get any quicker.

The first few kilometres were quick but I was still capable of holding a conversation – just.  We clocked 4km in 20m03 which, considering the fourth kilometre had a long, steady ascent was great!  Maybe a little too quick for a long run?  As the course flattened for the 5th kilometre we increased the pace and went through the 5km mark in 24m37 – just 3 seconds slower than the 5k PB I’d set on Thursday!

Pat allowed me to have a slight respite of a brisk walk given that we were out for a long run and he didn’t want to break me.  We were soon back up to speed and whilst my legs were saying “no” my head was saying “shut up and get on with it”.  It didn’t seem right that we were still hitting each kilometre in 5-and-a-bit minutes – albeit some of the bits were bigger than others!

As we headed down Saxon Way I looked at the Nike+ to see how close we were to the 10k.  Oh, only 9.5km.  We were going to have to do a bit more looping around than I normally would.  This had been a tough run.  Did I have enough left in the tank?

Of course I did!

The Juneathon efforts and my 800km challenge as a whole has not only left me feeling physically stronger, but mentally stronger too.  I have more confidence, and ultimately, with only a few hundred metres to go the good old words of Nike fall into place at the front of my thoughts.

Just do it!

So I did it.  I squeezed a sub-5 minute 10th kilometre bringing me home in another all time personal best of 50m52!  So the real challenge now is to keep things going while I’m in Cornwall, ready for the Thame 10k a week tomorrow so that I can hopefully record an official PB time.

Each success, no matter how small, spurs you on to want more.  It’s all about continuous improvement.

A special thanks to Pat for joining me on the run today and helping show me just what I’m capable of.  You continue to be an inspiration.  And who knows, if I ever lose my mind completely and decide to do a marathon, maybe you’d like to join me?  I can’t guarantee I’ll be up to your 3 hour pace though.  Thanks again – it was an awesome run today.

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