Back in Japan now. I flew out first thing Saturday morning for a week of shift work at Super-Kamiokande, followed by three days of holiday.
As is usually the case on the day before an intercontinental trip, Friday was rather busy. I took the Oxford Tube into London to work during the day; in the evening, I went to the Oxford Playhouse with my beloved cheshcat
and my darling miss_amaranth
to see a fairly dreadful musical adaptation of Golding's Lord of the Flies
After the show, we went to Indulge
to indulge in some going-away dessert. Then we dropped miss_amaranth
off at the House of the Rising Bun and stopped in to visit our lovely girl, Stumpy. Those of you that know Stumpy will not be surprised to learn that she was very happy to see us. Although, to be fair, any three humans petting her would have been welcome to this attention-seeking kitty!
and I headed back to Chiron Beta Prime. We got in at about midnight and ate dinner. Yes, gentle readers, we had dinner after
dessert -- is there a problem? Following food, it was time to pack for Japan.
All of this was finally accomplished around three o'clock in the morning. With one exception, all of the pre-flight items on my "to-do" list had been ticked off. That exception? My third -- and final -- Bridge-to-10K run. Oooops.
I've done nighttime runs before. Actually, when I first started Couch-to-5K last Summer, I only
ran at night. I'm not too proud to admit that I was fairly self-conscious back then; as an obese and out-of-shape bloke struggling through sixty second bursts of running, I preferred to minimize any "audience" of onlookers. That hasn't been true for many months now, though, and the timing of my runs is dictated more by scheduling than anything else. I prefer to run during daylight hours, but I am also comfortable running after dark if necessary. Between work, theatre, and bell ringing, it is often necessary. I have done plenty of late-night runs, with the latest being a couple where I set out at about half past one.
Even so, there is a big difference between going out at half past one and starting at half past three -- especially when my running workout has grown to 70 minutes[*]. Also, I needed to leave for the airport bus at six o'clock, to be reasonably sure of catching my 9am flight. Thus, I must confess, I entertained the notion of not
running. It would certainly be easier and
would allow me to get a couple of hours rest before my travels. If I did run, I would need a shower after; together, the two would consume nearly all of my remaining time before setting out. I would have a few minutes to stock up on snuggles with cheshcat
... but that would be all.
On the other hand, this was to be my graduation
run! My final Bridge-to-10K workout! After months of effort, overcoming the major setback that was January's torn muscle injury. Yes, I could do the final run in Japan... but there seemed something fitting about completing the programme before my travels.
Thus it came to pass that, at a quarter past three in the morning, I did my pre-run stretches and changed into my running gear. Mere moments before I set out, I received an e-mail from the ever-awesome tawneypup
. She had written to tell me that she had just returned from her
final Couch-to-5K run. Her graduation run sounded lovely, running into the sunset and passing a couple of deer.
Well, that clinched it. If I had not been certain about this run before, I certainly was now. T'would be a beautiful symmetry -- tawneypup
finishes Couch-to-5K with a run into the sunset; minutes later, I set out on my final Bridge-to-10K workout with a run into the sunrise. And that's exactly what I did.
When I left the house, the first glimmers of twilight were beginning to show in the night sky. When I returned, seventy minutes later, it was well past the dawn. I enjoyed a fantastic run, feeling fast and strong, as I ran a variant of my usual East Oxford route whilst watching day break. It was, in all ways, an absolutely amazing run. At that time of the morning, there was a certain serenity in the air. Alas, there were no deer on my path, I'm afraid. On the other hand, the unusual hour meant that there were also very few people -- and cars -- to watch out for.
Crunching the numbers afterward, the numbers bore out what I had felt during the workout. This had indeed been my best run ever. Twas the fourth time that I had run for sixty minutes -- and only the third time that I had done all sixty minutes in one continuous stretch.[**] Of the four runs, this was my best speed and distance yet: 10.7 kilometers (or, if you prefer, 6.66 miles). That's an average pace of 5:36 per kilometer (or 9:01 per mile). Were I "only" aiming at 10 km -- rather than 60 minutes of running -- this average pace would have meant crossing the finish line at precisely 56 minutes. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!
I returned home in triumph as a Bridge-to-10K graduate, with just enough time to shower and change before the aforementioned pre-flight cheshcat
cuddles. Then it was six o'clock and time to catch the coach to Heathrow.
And thus it was that the Nomad became a 10K runner...
[*] Five minutes of brisk walking to warm up, sixty minutes of running, then five minutes of not-as-brisk walking to cool down.
[**] Week 5 Run 3 of Bridge-to-10K consists of two 30 minute runs, with a 1 minute walk separating them.