Sunday, 18 September 2016

Who knew the run could be fun!

We did it. We completed the Great North Run. And we crossed the finish line smiling! Something I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to say! It was a hot day and I had a few difficult training runs in recent weeks but I aimed to enjoy it as much as possible.       
I can’t believe a week has passed since I completed my second Great North Run. I’ve been out for two recovery runs this week, one 5k with club and one 5k just me and my boyfriend Tone. My legs ached a little the first day or two but I feel I am recovering well. So much so that I am doing Redcar Half Marathon with Tone next Sunday! (I know; for someone who considers myself ‘not a long distance runner’ this seem like a crazy thing to do!)
Great North Run day was hot but we got each other round the course. The nerves and excitement really began to kick in on the Saturday when we went to the Quayside to watch my niece, and cousins daughter run the junior Great North Run. This was a lovely afternoon out and we went to the pasta party too, to carb up ready for the big day on Sunday.

On Sunday morning after waking up early and having breakfast number one we met in Exhibition Park for a group photo before heading to Newcastle University so I could also join in with the group charity photo for NETA (North East Trust for Aphasia). It was at this point we ate our second breakfast (Nutella sandwiches) as I was determined not to start the run hungry like I did last time round.
Some of the NETA team
Walking to the baggage bus to drop off our bag made the reality that I was about to run from Newcastle to South Shields kick in. The walk to the pink pen felt quite long but the atmosphere was buzzing and I was enjoying soaking it all in. The sun was shining and I was trying not to think about what this could mean for the run. We bumped into some of the girls from club in the pink pen and took a pre-run selfie.

The red arrows flew overhead and I felt goose bumps all down my arms and excited butterflies in my tummy. It took us about 40 minutes to get to the start line but it didn’t feel this long. On crossing the start line we made a conscious effort not to start off too quickly to ensure we didn’t burn up our energy too soon.  We went ‘left and under’ and I really enjoyed taking part in the ‘Oggy’s!’
The atmosphere was amazing all the way around and once again I was overwhelmed by the general loveliness of all the spectators. We took up the generous offers of ice-pops, jelly babies and oranges! We also took water at each station, pouring almost as much on the back of our necks as we drank, in an effort to stay as cool as possible.
The showers and hose pipes were absolutely amazing and exactly what we needed to help cool us down. I looked at my Garmin and was surprised to see that we had been running for more than an hour. I was expecting it to say to 10 or 15 minutes but it was a lot longer…the time was really flying! We walked when we felt like we needed to walk and kept each other going every step of the way.
It made such a massive difference not running it alone and it was a lovely shared experience for Tone and me. Tone has ran the GNR more times than me but he has always ran it alone too so it was a much more enjoyable experience for us both.
There were a couple of moments I wasn’t sure I would make it to the finish because it was hot and difficult, but I tried to push this to the back of my mind and focused on the mile I was in. I saw a couple of people I knew spectating which kept me going. I knew my big sister Joanne was waiting at mile 10.5 with a hug and some jelly babies and I was so pleased to see her J Joanne then set off to beat us to the finish line (and meet Craig and Toni there). Knowing that they would be waiting for us at the finish made the last few miles feel more achievable.
I was excited when I could see the sea, though I know there was still more than a mile to go at this point.  By this point I was just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, taking in as much of the atmosphere as I could.
I could feel myself getting a little emotional once I could see the finish line and we ran hand in hand smiling as we crossed the line. By this point I couldn’t hold the tears back, it was so overwhelming; I had made it to the finish, hand in hand with my boyfriend.

It was so brilliant seeing Joanne, Craig and Toni at the water station at the end. They looked equally excited to see us! We then spent a couple of hours celebrating in the beer tent before Tone and I got the coach back with our running club.
I am still so incredibly proud that I gave the Great North Run a second attempt and that we crossed the finish line smiling. When Tone asked me if I wanted to do the Great North Run with him earlier in the year, I surprised myself when I said yes. I am so pleased as I did as overall it has been an enjoyable experience (and it is what brought Tone and me together).

Would I do it again? Absolutely! (Though definitely not alone!)
I am also proud that I’ve been able to raise some valuable funds for the North East Trust for Aphasia (thanks so much to everyone who has supported me in any way!) It's not too late to sponsor me if you haven't already - check out my page here.
By this time next week I will have completed my second half marathon in the space of a month…. That counts as a marathon right?!

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