Well the fact that I am writing this blog is proof I have survived the Great North Run. I would love to say it was easy and I would jump at doing it again. However I can just about move so jumping is out of the question, and I think I might give it a miss next year. I am however not ruling out not doing it ever again.
I will get back to the Great North Run shortly. However I have had quite a busy week with work. After having two weeks off I had a lot to catch up on so it wasn’t until the end of the week that I felt I had caught up. Oh well that’s just one of those things. On Monday night though I had a nightmare journey home. The North East was hit by the remnants of Hurricane Katia. So there a lot of very strong winds. I find it amusing that the media and therefore the public liked to call it Hurricane Katia still even though it was just a storm by the time it got near the UK. The winds were still very scary and they brought down a tree onto the train line. This meant a replacement bus home instead of the train. Now I have nothing against buses, however that journey home had to be the scariest journey I have ever had. At one point the bus leaned to the side and it went very quiet on the bus and everyone at the same time checked their seat belts. Thankfully we made it home in one piece but it was scary.
Ok now for the Great North Run. During the week I would be lying if I had said it not been playing on my mind. As the today got nearer I was filled with a mixture of emotion. I was partly nervous but also partly excited. I knew I was going into the race with amazing support from friends and family and I suppose I didn’t want to let them down. Also I was doing it for charity as well which added responsibility to the cause. Most of all I didn’t want to let myself down. My biggest fear was that I would struggle so much and have to be picked up on the sweeper bus. Thankfully this was not the case. Some of you who know me might wonder why I would want to do the Great North Run. I’m generally not a sporty/athletic person and normally this is something I would avoid. However I said this year was when I was going to challenge myself and this was something I wanted to do. Most people watch the race on the telly and say ‘I’m going to do that one year’. I was one of these people ,and I always thought despite saying this I actually probably wouldn’t. Well as many of you know this year I turned 30 and I thought if I was ever going to do it then this was the year. It is also quite fitting as those of you may have worked out I was born in 1981. This is the same year as the very first Great North Run, so I just felt it had to be this year.
The day started off early, I had to get up at 5:30am (I didn’t think this time existed on a Sunday morning). I got home and had breakfast which as advised was porridge and a banana. No coffee though as it was recommended not to have caffeine (I know I know) anyway needs must so I had water. I got dressed and headed to the train station. East Coast trains had arranged for a special early train as normally the first train would have been 9:30am. This was great and I was full of praise for them. That was until I had waited 45 minutes for my train. The delay was due to engineering work that had over run. Of fall the days for this to happen. As always no announcements from the staff at the station so we were just left waiting and checking the board or in my case the train times app on my phone. When the train arrived it was jammed packed and we still had a stop to go before Newcastle. At Durham things got worse as people were so desperate to get on they were stood in the toilets, sat on luggage racks even the tables. My friend from work who was also doing the run told me she saw someone in tears because they couldn’t get on the train as it was too full. Next time East Coast try to put another train on and be on time. Is it too much to ask for one day a year??? Anyway we finally get to Newcastle and walk to the start line. Everyone says there is a great atmosphere and it is true. Everyone is there for the same thing and people look out for everyone else. I was in Block J which was towards the back so it meant a long time standing around after the starting gun. I crossed the start line 35 minutes after the race had officially started. While on the start the Red Arrows flew over us all. Normally they only fly over the Tyne Bridge but this year they did it as a mark of respect to the pilot who died last month. It is strange but we all gave a huge cheer when they flew over. They are just as much a part of the event as anything else and it does give you a boost to see them. the race was started by the World Champion for 10,000 metres and 5000 metres, Mo Farah . It is inspiring to see such a top athlete come to support this event. Sadly I was too far away to give him the high-five but anyway it was good to see him.
I was determined to run as much as I could during the race. So I did keep running non stop for just over the first three miles. This was tough due to the fact that I had not had coffee I had started with a coffee headache, this did eventually subside after a few miles. This early part included the Tyne Bridge and I was determined at all cost to run over that bit. The reason why is that it is such an iconic part of the route I had to do it. The problem is on the other side there is step incline to go up which did slow me down a bit. Basically my race pattern was running and walking. Sadly I couldn’t run non stop but I did keep moving always. The first three miles were baking hot. Seriously it was very draining and I was saying to myself ‘Where’s this rain they mentioned?’. Well be careful for what you wish for as shortly afterwards it did rain but just lightly. However the rain came back a lot heavier at probably the toughest point in the race. That 6-7 mile part of the route is tough anyway as you are about the half way mark and you do start to struggle. It was at this point in my race that a very heavy shower hit and I looked like I was entering a wet t-shirt competition. So I was very tired, and cold and wet but I knew I had to keep running as I knew it would keep me warm. This was my lowest point in the race but it is true what they say the crowds just always lift you when you need it.
Talking of the crowds they are amazing on the route. All the way along people were there cheering everyone on. Even in the rain they were there supporting us mad fools. Some were there just handing out water they had provided themselves or ice pops or in one case chocolate donuts/profiteroles (bless him he meant well but at that point in the race it was the last thing I needed). It just shows the generosity of the people in the North East. They will always find the time to help others. It really did have faith in society again. So to the people of the North East thank you so much!!
When I have either talked to people who have taken part or have read about other people’s experiences, they all say that just before the 12 mile mark at the roundabout on the hill ,the sight of the sea makes you so happy and gives you a much-needed boost. I thought yeah whatever until I got to that point and although I still had 1.1 miles to go I had to fight back the tears as it hit me then for the first time that I was actually going to do this. From this point I had a downhill run and then it was flat for the last 1.1 mile. Just after turning the corner onto the last bit I saw my mum and dad. This was the first time I had seen someone I knew and it just filled me with joy. This kept me going until the end. I finally completed the run in 3hrs, 9 minutes and 9 seconds. My position at the end was 35913. When I said I was doing the race I said the time wasn’t important. I am not an athlete, I generally don’t do sport and I have never ran this far in my life. This was so far out of my comfort zone it was ridiculous but I set myself the challenge to complete it that’s all and that’s what I did. When people asked me how long I expected I said 3hrs 30 minutes so I was within this time. However saying I’m not bothered about my time now I have done it and realised how close I was to getting under 3hrs I do wish I could have pushed a bit more. At least if I ever decide to do it again sometime then I have some sort of benchmark. Still I am very pleased with my time and my achievement. I said this year was going to be my year and I would try to achieve things well this is certainly an achievement. Also well done to everyone who took part in the run and to all those dedicated volunteers along the route you were all amazing.
I said I was running the race to raise money for charity. The charity I was running for was a local charity called Darlington Hospital Radio. This is a charity that I am involved in and knew that any money raised would go a long way in supporting that the station carry’s on broadcasting. Unfortunately at the time of the run we don’t have an online donation system although we are working on this. So sponsorship has had to be done in the old-fashioned paper way. However if anyone still wants to support me then they can either see me in person for those who see me regularly or you can send a cheque to Darlington Hospital Radio. I will put the address at the bottom of the blog if you wish to do so.
Here is the address for Darlington Hospital Radio.Darlington Hospital Radio (Radio Skerne) Darlington Memorial Hospital Hollyhurst Road Darlington Co.Durham DL3 6HX
Once again I want to thank you all for you support whether in person, via Twitter, text or Facebook. It really did help me at the low points to think I had this support. So I’m off to rest now and will speak to you again in next weeks blog.
Top TV programme of the week : Great British Bake Off
Top song of the week: Ed Sheeran – You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
Book I am currently reading: White Oleander by Janet Fitch