I was a bit nervous about signing up for the Great North Run in 2016, having only just recently run my first 10k. It felt a bit like biting off more than I could chew. Nevertheless, that spring I found myself a charity place – it was the very first race I ran for the RNLI! – and started planning my summer of training.
The longer training runs were tough in the summer heat, and I inadvertently made them tougher by doing boring three-lap courses of a particularly dull loop near where we live. On my final twelve-mile training run, I was so slow that Geth was able to keep up with me walking, and carried several bottles of water to see me round. That was a long day, but it meant I knew I could do the distance.
I did the race itself in 3:46:45 – a time I have now beaten by more than an hour and twenty minutes and hope to cut in half by the time my half marathon days are done. On that day, though, finishing was the most important thing, and though I had to take a lot of walk breaks, I got to the end, very sunburnt from the ever-reliable GNR day sunshine. I mostly remember my feet hurting so, so much on the long stretches of dual carriageway between Gateshead and South Shields!
At the end of the race, as an RNLI runner, I had the option to visit the lifeguard hut on South Shields beach and have a shower. This was vital for recovery, as I was pretty much dead on my feet after the long day of running! I spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating in South Shields and discovering the atmosphere of the big post-GNR party that takes place in all the pubs along the route back to the Metro station 🙂
I’ve run every Great North Run since – including the virtual version last year. The atmosphere of the world’s biggest half marathon is like nothing else, and I still find it incredible that it’s right here on my doorstep in Newcastle. I can’t wait to get back on that start line this September (fingers crossed!).