We had the final assessment for 8 Weeks to Natural on Saturday afternoon. Like the first session, it was at the Parliament Hill track on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Once again, Simon from Sponge Marketing was playing host, Tom was taking photographs and Helen was our coach. It was a good session for nearly everyone. Danae wasn’t back from her hols and couldn’t make it which was a shame and Tim arrived near the end of the afternoon straight off the plane to Gatwick. That was commitment!
I struggled to do two or three laps of the track. I could walk reasonably well but even a few hundred metres of drill was enough to set my achilles twanging. I couldn’t do more than shuffle round with little fluency or economy. I just wanted to show willing, really. ActionJen had a mahoosive blister following her half marathon debut and was suffering too. We both dropped out after handful of slow, uncomfortable laps and watched our friends whizz around the track elegantly and with hardly any apparent effort.
Helen said that even over the handful of laps we had managed, she had been able to assess our progress. I was pleased that I had discernable progress to show. She said that we could spend the rest of the time on the track or take to the slopes of Parliament Hill for a hill session. I watched with some jealousy as the others had the hill session to end all hill sessions. I love hills. ActionJen and I stood to one side as under Helen’s careful coaching and incessant encouragement, the group flew up and down Parliament Hill. We’ve decided that when we’re both fit again, we’ll ask Helen for a shared coaching session and do some hills too.Sadly, I don’t know when that’s going to happen. I’m making very slow progress. Even the very little that I did on Saturday has put me back beyond where I was originally.
We still don’t know who has won the competition. That’s really not that important. Each of us has made progress towards a more efficient running style, one which in time will carry us farther and at greater speed than we had been able to maintain before. I think I’m a winner from that point of view. I have a pair of delicately trashed Bare-Xs which I would happily run back into a burning building to save once I was sure wife, step-son, cats and chicken were safe and inov-8 are giving us another pair of shoes each. I’ve chosen the Bare-Grips which I hope will carry me through the latter part of the cross country season.
My thanks go to Simon and the people at Sponge Marketing for organising everything, to inov-8 for the opportunity to do it and all the goodies – buy their stuff! – to my fellow 8 Weeks competitors for their blogs and company and most of all to Helen Hall for her coaching, mentoring, advice and encouragement. I’ve loved every second of it.