Great North Run Take 2
Back in 2015 I entered the GNR with a friend I wanted to do something for a local children’s hospice that would be completely out of the box for me. I had never ran before, I hated running. I avoided the treadmill in the gym, even as far back as school I remember getting a detention for detouring across school during a PE lesson which involved running the 1 mile loop around the school grounds.
We entered the ballot and both were successful. Our training started with the C25K app as we had no idea where to start. The app and Laura who would gently coach us through the intervals stood us in good stead. I’m not going to lie I remember the first week vividly and willing her to hurry up and say it was time to walk, I had only been running for 90 seconds!
We trained up to 10k which at the time we thought would be enough. On the day I felt good and I think I would have had a good go at running most of the course. Unfortunately my friend suffered an injury and we had to walk from the 7 mile point. I was a bit disappointed but vowed to get fitter and come back for another go.
I carried on running and after chatting to Paul Nippress in my local pub he advised me to come along and train with EHH. But that is for proper runners was my reply. I came along and really enjoyed my first run, encouraged I joined and have not looked back since.
I entered the ballot again for the GNR not thinking I would be successful a second time. I got in, this time I would go back and run the course on my own, GNR we have unfinished business.
The training runs up to the GNR was not my best, the weather was hot which I now know I do not run well in the heat. I never thought I would say this but bring on the winter league! I struggled a bit with the longer runs but managed to get up to 10 miles.
On the morning of the GNR I felt relaxed and was looking forward to the day. On the walk up to the start area I noticed it felt more organised than the last time, but much busier. I think 57,000 runners were expected. As you can imagine it took a while to get through the crowds and to your start area. Let’s not talk about the toilets! I was lucky as I was quite far up the field in Orange pen D.
I walked past the start line and caught sight of a very relaxed looking Mo Farrah. He was here to defend his title of his 4 previous wins. He indeed did defend this and won for a consecutive 5th year, coming in at an incredible 59:26 victory.
Once in my area I headed to around the middle of the pen and the nerves really kicked in, what was I doing.
10:40 and the race started it took me just under 10 minutes to cross the start line. I pointed at my vest to the commentator who announced to the crowds “go East Hull Harriers” as I knew behind me further down the pens were some other EHH club runners who told me after that they heard this.
I was off and I did exactly what I didn’t want to do, I set off far too fast and chased the crowd. The first mile passed really quickly and the Tyne Bridge was soon in sight. I was half way across when I heard the roar of the Red Arrows, it was a lovely sight I was so happy I got to see them whilst on the bridge.
The underpass approached and Oggi Oggi Oggi rang out around me. As running is mostly an individual event its strange how you feel part of a team when you take part in races, it’s a feeling of we are all in this together and complete strangers are quick to help other runners from small words of encouragement to sacrificing their run to offer medical support to fallen runners.
Pretty much all the route was lined with spectators, the atmosphere was electric. This year your name was printed on the run number so strangers shouting your name, and the encouragement from them all was amazing.
It was a pretty hot day and full sun. I was boiling the heat was clearly affecting people with lots of runners laid out receiving medical treatment. I spoke to a quite a few runners along the way who all said they were struggling in the heat. I felt strong running up to the 10k chip point but was gradually getting hotter. I ran through the shower points and poured water over my head, don’t worry I had my waterproof mascara on.
The course has a few gradual and long inclines, at around the 8 mile point I was starting to feel these that and the heat I was slowing down, the course was packed and I had to walk a few times. I pushed on to the 10 mile point and happily accepted an ice pop from a lovely gent.
I was nearly there I came up over the last hill and could see the sea. Everyone around me cheered at the sight. I knew from before it’s a mile slog from here to the finish so resisted the urge to sprint. Running the last mile was the best feeling the people cheering really gave everyone such a boost. I ran past a man who was limping but still going with the finish in sight, everyone he passed was shouting his name and encouraging him to finish which I am sure he was grateful for after.
On the last 400 metres I ran as fast as my legs would carry me and I finished in a time of 2.13:04. I was pretty happy with this time for my first full completed half marathon due to the crowds, inclines and sun! This gives me a good benchmark to beat on my next half marathon which I am now confident I can complete and if I dare say it enjoy.