It's raining when I go for my jog today, a slow, steady, not-too-heavy rain that soaks my clothes in minutes. It drips off my hair and freezes my hands and runs down my face like tears.
Tufts of grass make my shoes as wet as my hair, the ground bumpy under my feet. Concrete, tanbark, gravel. The slow curve around the oval. A small respite on the perfectly tailored athletics track. Then back to bumpy ground, and the gradual rise at the end of my 20 minutes.
I've decided not to finish Couch to 5K, at least for the moment. I made it to 25 minutes, but my knees and I have come to a compromise: 20 minutes - about 3K - is enough for now. That way there's enough pep left in my knees for walking, and carrying bags, and climbing stairs, and all the other things I have to do.
Here's the plan. A 20 minute jog a couple of times a week, and a broken-up getting-used-to-running jog with my daughter on the weekends. Plus a lovely long meditative walk once a week, and maybe some weights once I get around to it.
Once or twice a week I swim with my son. He swims for his health (migraines and chronic headaches). I swim for joy. To my vast astonishment, I swam a kilometre yesterday, all 40 laps of it, without much puffing. And I used to do 8 laps and collapse!
So would I recommend Couch to 5K? Most definitely. This particular couch potato - or computer potato - is now fitter and healthier and stronger, and has muscle in places where fat used to be. Even better, running lifts my mood, helping me fight anxiety and discouragement as I care for our chronically ill son.
As I reach the end of my run, damp and dripping, Sara Groves sings through my earphones. Many times I've finished jogging, done some stretches, then sat on my rock and stared at my lake with the words of Like a Lake drifting through my thoughts. This song, along with a few others, has supported me through the last hard months.
Today feels like a new beginning, the start of a new pattern, a new way of being. I'm settling into this fitness plan now, making it part of my life, enjoying its benefits. So it's appropriate that this song plays now, at the end of my 20 minute run.