The Great North Run was on Sunday, and signalled the end of my manic half-marathon week. This was my first half marathon last year, and the night before I was sick with nerves! This year I was looking forward to running it since I am now a half marathon veteran. 😉
All week the weather forecast was showing rain, rain, rain for Sunday so I was preparing for a wet run. Plus my left knee was still sore from my fall last week. So my plan was to take this one slow and chill the frick out. SB heard that it was the wettest GNR on record.
Our club arranges a bus to take us there since we’re local, and it always gets there with loads of time to spare – and most importantly, before the toilet queues grow enormous! After posing for the all-important club photo, we all dispersed to their different starting points. I had my photo with George in front of luggage buses, showing off my high waist tracksuit pants. Jealous? Then George left to go mingle with Sporty Spice and the rest of Team North, so I had some time to munch bananas and stretch my poor left leg out.
One of the highlights for me at the starting point is the massive group warm up: each year 86,000 people are led through a warm up from the big screen. This year they tried to get us to do Gangnam Style too, but it didn’t really work. I have a suspicion that no one really knows the dance. It’s all a big publicity stunt.
As soon as we crossed the timing mats, my knee started to ache. I was worried: I haven’t ever this much pain this early on, and really didn’t want to drop out. So I slowed right down, and it seemed to be ok. Some friendly faces from my club ran past with words of encouragement, and I felt better. In fact, it was only my knee which hurt if I pushed myself, so when I was chugging along I really had to resist the temptation to speed up!
The Great North Run is the friendliest run I have ever done. Ever. There’s camaraderie and friendly banter between all the runners. Both times I’ve done it, the red arrows have flown over just as I’ve run over the Tyne Bridge – amazing (FYI – the Tyne Bridge is Newcastle’s Sydney’s Harbour Bridge). The whole 13.1 mile course is lined with people clapping and cheering – the whole course. Not only that, but people have taken the time to cut up oranges, buy jelly babies and biscuits, and freeze ice pops for the runners. As I was taking it slower, I definitely had
way more than my fair share of all this nice, free food!
I had to be really careful with my tread: if it landed in the wrong way, my knee almost gave way. That was pretty scary. I was trying to take a comedic selfie of me with an orange in my mouth when it happened the first time, and so after that there were no more selfie attempts. Sorry guys! If it landed ok it didn’t hurt, and I saw after 10k that I was on track for a 1:45 time. So I put the phone away and didn’t look at it again – my knee would inevitably get more sore, and I didn’t need extra time pressure!
The course itself is a good one. It’s not the most picturesque, but the crowds definitely make up for that. There are a few gradual inclines, but no major hills. The best bit is when you turn a corner, and see the 12 mile marker and the sea at the same time. It’s a great feeling! There are so many people in this event that it would be hard to get a PB. But that doesn’t matter because this race isn’t about the PB so much as the participation.
Bupa have their organisation down to a fine art with this race. There were loads of volunteers, LOADS of safety pins at the start, medical help every half mile, water in bottles (not cups) along the way, and a 10 mile boost zone of loud music and jelly babies to keep you going. At the end, we got a goody bag with a t-shirt, snacks and our medals inside. Plus, they offered free massages to runners as well. I didn’t take them up on that – I headed to the buses to go home and get dry.
A really nice touch was that every overpass we ran under had different messages to keep you focused and inspired. Things like “My 13.1 miles is made up of every race I said would be my last”. My personal fave was “My 13.1 miles is made up of all the friends I never knew I had”. I know it’s totes corny, but this was particularly true for this race. People actually chose to spend their time, money, and rainy Sunday morning offering us food/drink to keep us going. The final mile is along the seaside, and the crowds are 3-4 people deep cheering and clapping, and they even have the army stationed at the end to welcome you to the finish line. So thank you to the residents of Newcastle and South Shields who stood in the rain clapping us on. It really helps!
I would definitely recommend this run to everyone I know. It was my first half marathon last year, and the support you receive on the way around really helps you through. Plus, there’s about 362 days to train for it now……
I finished with a time of 1:52:30, which I am happy with given I was slower than usual. Even though I knew I had to take it easy, my stupid competitive side still thought ‘if only I had pushed a little more….’. On the other hand, it was also my most fun half marathon, without the pressure of times, and without the pain of a stitch or getting tired I could listen to my tunes and soak it all up. Literally. It rained a lot.
In other news, our dance school had a Showcase on Saturday night where the different dance styles and students performed their stuff. All the students were fantastic!! I led a performance for the beginners/intermediates, was in another routine, and was the compere of the night. I actually fell over the stage and lost my shoe right in front of everyone. Luckily the lights were down, but I made a huge bang! Balance isn’t my strong suit this week….
What has everyone been up to this week? Any stories of running and/or falling like a klutz?