I set out destined for the Quayside early Saturday morning to start my weekend of running with the Great North 5k. Planning to run a not too fast race as a warm up for Sunday’s main event I lined up just below the Tyne Bridge alongside lots of other club runners and many others taking part in their first ever race.
Result: 20:28, 46th position, 7th 0 – 34 year old woman, 52nd in age and 9th woman.
After the 5k was over there was plenty going on around the Quayside. Two bowls of pasta at the pasta party were consumed for lunch to carbo load ready for Sunday and numerous Soreen samples collected after watching some of the junior and mini Great North Run events and the start of the Great North City Games before heading home to rest ready for Sunday.
So a sunny Sunday morning arrived and people were already milling around outside my window getting ready and waiting for the start. After eating breakfast (porridge with jam and later a banana) I sat down on the sofa listening to the commentary over the start area and waiting to watch the start of the coverage on BBC1. I finally decided to head to the start area just in time for the wheelchair start, said goodbye to my mum who was heading to her vantage point to try and spot me and bumped into an ex-NUAXC team mate.
So the gun was fired and I didn’t move…after a few minutes I began to move forwards towards the start line, finally crossing it nearly 12 minutes after the start of the race (that’s quick compared to nearly 45 minutes last year!). I was off and running and despite the road being crowded started at a pace a lot quicker than I intended. Running through the tunnels along the central motorway under the city centre chants of “Oggy Oggy Oggy! Oi Oi Oi!” are one thing that is guaranteed on the Great North Run.
By the time I reached the first mile marker my watch already said I had run 1.1 miles…I blame the dodging people and squeezing through gaps in the crowd! At times it felt like I was running further sideways that forwards! The big landmark of the Great North Run is running across the Tyne Bridge and I managed to time it perfectly this year, just coming off the bridge as the Red Arrows flew over!
As I ran the first few miles I knew my pace was quicker than I had intended and faster than that of any half marathon I had run before but I felt good so just kept going! This year I knew exactly where my mum was going to be watching from so made sure I was on the right side of the road and kept my eye out for her…I spotted her but she didn’t see me until I shouted at her – at least it was more successful than last year! About 100m further up the road I heard my name being shouted and turned round to see a few uni friends, which made me smile!
I kept counting down the miles of the hilly course, still feeling strong although in need of water…I tried to grab some at 7 miles but the volunteers weren’t the most helpful and I didn’t manage to get any but finally got a bottle and had a few sips about 11 miles. The spectators of the North East are really into the Great North Run, standing at the side of the road handing out jelly babies, ice pops, orange pieces, water and even showering runners with their garden hoses! With about 2 miles to go I caught up with and overtook a fellow runner medic who was running with her mum and then I came to the downhill towards the seafront!
Result: 1:36.36, 1823rd position, 68th 0 – 34 year old woman, 884th 0 – 34 year old, 117th woman.
I was amazed with my time…I can’t believe I managed to keep going at the pace I did!!!
Now I had finished it was time for the thing I love most about BUPA running events….the free post race massage!! Where else can you find people causing themselves and laughing about it than foam rolling post massage!!! After meeting my mum, collecting my bag and getting changed we walked the uphill route to South Shields town center to catch the metro back to Newcastle before grabbing a few bits of shopping and heading home to relax!
So what can I say about my weekend of running…..well the Great North Run is certainly something that should be on every runners bucket list! The atmosphere is just fantastic and nothing like any other race I have taken part in! I still can’t quite believe how fast I ran and that I finished 19.59 quicker than last year and 12.38 than my HM PB! But what I really missed was seeing fellow Hedgies on the course and the fantastic support of the Hedgie family along the route!