On Sunday, I ran the Great North Run. It still makes me giddy to say that. It’s a race I’ve always wanted to do, ever since my Dad ran it years ago, but back then I didn’t run, it was just an aspiration. But now I’ve done it and I’ve got the shiny medal to prove it! If you’re thinking of signing up for a half marathon, sign up for the Great North Run ballot now. DO IT NOW. Even if you’re not a runner but thinking you want to be a runner, sign up for the ballot now. Because Great North Run is the funnest, biggest, most inspirational race I’ve done, and I promise you, you’ll absolutely love it.
GNR was my 7th half marathon since I started racing last summer, and 3rd half marathon this year. After a few tough races with a calf injury and a pretty disastrous Hackney Half, I was pretty nervous about this one. I hadn’t done loads of training — the summer seemed to be more about festivals than fitness! — and I've been capping my weekly runs at 8km, struggling with my calf, to the point that I can’t run without a supportive strap on it. The last run I did before the race was a stoppy-starty 14km last week, but it felt good and got my confidence up a bit.
Ed was running too of course so we headed up to Newcastle on Saturday morning. We’d booked a hotel, Signature Sandman at great expense (Newcastle hotels are £££, not to mention at a premium with the world’s largest half marathon going on…) and hired a beautiful Volvo V40 to make the longgggg drive. Hiring a car is the way forward people! If you have to drive for 5 hours, you might as well do it in style and comfort, and the Volvo V40 was perf, with in built sat nav (so no arguments!), comfy seats, and AC, and the ability to connect your phone to the sound system so we could listen to good mixes the whole way up! I can’t say I did any of the driving, but Ed said it drove like a dream and now, obviously, thinks we need one.
We arrived late so didn’t really get any chance to explore Newcastle as I’d hoped, but quickly popped down to see the Quayside at night, before scoffing giant bowls of pasta at Pizza Express. Despite everyone saying we should, we’ve never actually eaten pasta the night before a race, instead always carb loading with the likes of potatoes, chips, pizza… Anyway, turns out people aren’t wrong. The pasta seemed to give us Duracell Bunny status! That and the porridge we had at the hotel for brekkie honestly seemed to make me go, go, go.
This was the first race in ages — since Copenhagen Half last year I’d say — that I actually felt good. I felt confident the whole way round, like I could definitely make it to the finish line. Don’t get me wrong, it was a damn slog. There were a few points when I had to really slow down or stop to walk and take my energy gels, but for the first time in ages, there wasn’t a point when I thought "I can’t do this". Which is amazing, because the past 3 races have been so full of that incapable feeling. I wore different trainers — the adidas PureBoost X instead of my usual adidas Ultra Boost — and they felt amazing. (Another post to come on that!)
GNR is hilly. There seem to be a lot of ups and not that many downs, apart from a sheer drop at 12km! The hills aren’t steep like North London Half, so are more manageable I guess. Along with the red arrows flying over head (then doing the most spectacular loop-de-loop show at the end), the best thing about Great North Run has to be the crowd. The incredible, generous, friendly locals who are on the sidelines the whole distance, handing out ice pops and jelly babies, and cheering your name. It makes me feel quite emotional thinking about it actually but I credit them with creating the great vibe, and helping everyone finish. At the end, we actually got to go in the VIP tent to get some food and a celebratory beer, which was so nice and a great way to celebrate!
I finished Great North Run with a smile on my face in 2:06 — not a PB but a confident run I’m happy with!