This week my virtual runners are Jane O’Keefe, Joanne S, Angela and my sweepstakers. Thank you for your support on this exciting week of running.
Distance: 6.4 miles
Run notes: Tonight I had to go to my Mum and Dad’s to check up on things, so incorporated a run into it. I wanted to get a good stretch into my legs building up to the Great North Run at the end of the week. The plan said to run 6×6 minutes at 10k pace so that’s what I did. It was the perfect temperature for running, slightly overcast and not too hot.
If I am ever not really feeling up for a run I always helps when the run has a purpose, and this run had a double whammy. Training and sorting the bins out! That’s how this girl rolls! By the time I got home I had a real sense of satisfaction, then I checked Strava. I had done it. I had hit 900km! It’s incredible!
Average pace: 8:34/mile
– Mile 1 – 8:48
– Mile 2 – 8:38
– Mile 3 – 8:15
– Mile 4 – 8:20
– Mile 5 – 8:30
– Mile 6 – 8:41
– 0.4 Mile – 8:55
Achievements: 1x gold cup (8th) on segment, 3 x segment Personal Records
Distance: 0.8 miles
Run notes: We didn’t have time but I really wanted to get out and try and sort out my trainers and how they fit when I was wearing them in time for the Great North Run. When I had running in my news trainers (I now own two pairs of Nike Pegasus trainers, one my actual size and the other a larger size). So I got my actual size trainers on and ran round the block – literally. I was out for less than 10 minutes, but was pleased to see that this could be a way to build up the miles if I am stuck.
I still wasn’t sure I have my trainers laced up quite right but they were better than they were.
Average pace: 8:34/mile
– 0.8 Mile – 8:55
Location: Newcastle to South Shields
Distance: 13.1 miles
Run notes: This was it. One of the runs that I had really been waiting for. The Great North Run.
Earlier in the week I had received a good luck card, individually signed by all the members of the MS Trust fundraising team. A really lovely touch.
The build up had been happening for a while thanks to my fundraising sweepstake that had been recommended to me by another runner in the MS Trust Running Club. My supporters had paid £2 a go to randomly select a time out of the lunchbox of destiny (it had started out as the tissue of destiny but I had to upgrade as I was transporting it to and from work). My friend Joe (so super tech smart) had kindly built me a brilliant app which recorded people’s selected times and they could search for it if they needed a reminder. The whole thing had been an absolutely brilliant way of building a sense of excitement. I was thrilled with how many people took part in it. Colleagues from work, friends, family, Beth’s friends, Chris’ friends, Mum and Dad’s friends, Paul’s family and friends. It was just incredible. It honestly made me so supported.
As the weekend started the tension started to build (in a good way). On Friday colleagues at work wished me the best of luck (but not for me to runner faster/slower than their time!), I received lots of texts from friends on the Saturday sending me good wishes (but to be careful not to run passed their time!) It was all in good fun, but it honestly made me feel so supported.
On the Saturday night Mum and Dad to undertake their usual fantastic sorting of logistics (cars etc) for race day. Then they took us to Avantis for a lovely early evening pasta fueled carbo-load before we headed home to prepare our things and get to bed for an early night.
We woke up early and that’s when the butterflies really started. I had my motivational music blasting as we got ready. You know the type of songs: Heather Small’s Proud and The Eye of the Tiger. Er then I foolishly let Paul pick an apparently motivational track. Er no. Luckily Dad rescued me when he came to pick our post-run bags for them to bring to the finish for us (including my mobile so no more music).
Paul and I then walked to the start line, it’s about a mile away from our front door, and it was a nice way to calm the nerves while getting there. The weather was looking perfect for a long run. It seemed like runners and their supporters were appearing from no-where on our way. A bit like J.K Rowling’s description of the wizards appearing for the Quidditch World Cup if you’ve read Harry Potter.
I was walking with my small bottle of water and Boost gobbling as I went. Once we got to the Central motorway start line the initial timed challenge started. Could we find a toilet before our designated start pen was closed?! The queues for the portaloos were huge. Luckily some girls at work had advised me to bring my work pass and get myself to a work toilet. After several attempts at walking into locked buildings we found doors that would open. Thank you!
Paul deposited me at my holding pen before he walked on to his. I must admit this is the most stressful point of the Great North Run. There is a designated time they will close your pen, but there are literally hundreds of the right runners still waiting on the outside to get in. I was one of those runners. But somehow I had managed to get near the front of the queue and eventually got in.
I then became really nervous and at this point thought it would be best to untie and retie my shoe laces 15 times. That’s not an exaggeration. I counted. I must have been so annoying to the runners who were packed in around me. Even as we started to move forward towards the start line I was still going. I didn’t want to let anyone down on this run and I knew there was a lot of people really interested in my time.
Finally I stopped tying in time to start running before the start line. Alan Robson the local radio presenter was enthusiastically talking people through the whole start experience, so I knew there was at least 3 dinosaurs and a couple of minions up ahead of me!
I have always said that the Great North Run is a brilliant run that everyone should experience once. The crowds of people who come out to support the runners, shouting people’s names, offering sweets and cut up oranges and cheering well wishes is just incredible. If you want a personal record this isn’t the best run for you, because it is so full (there was 60,000 other runner alongside me), but it will leave you with the best feeling in the world. And that’s exactly what happened.
From the moment I crossed the start line I couldn’t stop smiling. I was comfortably running and hearing people cheering my name (I have it printed on my vest) just really boosted me on. I ran under the Swanhouse Roundabout, loudly joining in the obligatory Oggy oggy oggy, across the Tyne Bridge high fiving all of the spectators with their hands out. At the 3 mile mark, it was great to see Eleanor from work cheering me on, to then be passed by a very high kneed John from work – who was laughing as he shouted at me to go faster! I was perfectly happy at my pace thank you. The official advice is to be aware of the first 3 miles because people tend to run faster than they should and the hit a wall and I was listening to this advice.
Unfortunately I couldn’t see my Mum and Dad’s neighbours at the Metro Station where they were located to cheer on their daughter and son-in-law – sorry if I ran passed you! The general pace naturally slowed down around the water stops so you couldn’t push on at these points but it quickly picked up again. There were a couple of times I had to run on raised sections (not a quicker route and was slightly concerned for my ankles) as people of similar paces tended to stretch across the road and if yours didn’t match you need to find a good way to get round them.
On my way I overtook the 3 dinosaurs, 2 minions as well as Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol (these last two meant a lot to my neice Clara post run). Cheering my support for them on my way anyone who can run this in those huge outfits is a star in my book.
Suddenly I recognised a roundabout and realised that I was coming up to Mum and Dad’s concrete bus stop. Ever since my first Great North Run, eesh, 14 years ago Mum and Dad have picked this cheering point. It’s around the 10 mile mark, where a slow slog hill really picks up and stops a number of people. The concrete of the bus stop also causes their cheering to echo making their support even louder. Any of our friends running the route know to get to the left handside of the road at this point for a really big cheer!
Mum and Dad said they saw me from way off with my arms waving manically high in the air so they could see me. I could hear the cow bells we had given them (to help save their hands from all of their clapping). It was so good to see them, hear them cheer my name and feel so strong running up the hill.
Soon enough, I was going down the hill and turning the corner for the last stretch along the front to the finish line. Now anyone who has done the Great North Run will tell you just how long this last section feels, it never seems to end. It was relatively spacious at this point so I did some safe ducking and weaving to move forward at a quicker pace.
Then there it was. The finish line. With arms in the end I crossed the line. I couldn’t believe how great it felt. I checked my watch. Wow. Just wow. I had run a half marathon faster than I had ever run one before taking 10 minutes off my personal best.
I was given a runners goody bag and medal and made my way to the Charities bronze tent. I bumped into an MS Trust supporter with a big flag sticking out of her backpack who directed me towards the Bronze Tent (in the distance). The MS Trust is a small charity, but big or small, I love the fact that they had made the decision to be located in the shared charity tent, to pay less for the privilege meaning more of the money raised by their team of runners actually goes to the charity’s work rather than a tent. When I entered the their was a big cheer from the MS Trust team along with an orange squash (I hadn’t had a glass of that in years and it tasted great) and a biscuit. I was then offered a post-run massage by a lady who for the last four years has travelled up from Leeds just to donate her time giving massages to the team MS Trust runners. It was amazing. My right hamstring had been feeling a bit funny in the last couple of miles and it turns out I had a knot in it. The work on that was not lovely but very much needed.
I then sat in my aluminium blanket cheering in every runner as they came in. Paul arrived about half an hour later (his hands full as he had been scouting around for free things from the sponsors!) and very quickly we were joined by Mum and Dad and their cow bells.
It was such a lovely atmosphere at the MS Trust stand, so celebratory of everyone who came in. My Mum, Dad and Paul were offered tea and cakes, (this made it a little difficult for the cow bells to be rung in celebration for each runner) and Paul was given a massage too. It was great to meet the MS Trust team who are so friendly and cheerful. It really made me feel part of something special. It was also great to meet fellow MS-ers and hear their stories, everyone was so positive, I wish I could bottle the atmosphere and give it to those who have just been diagnosed I don’t believe there would be a better way to show them that life can still go on after a diagnosis.
I received my official time text, I had run the Great North Run in: 01:47:57!
Which meant the winners were:
1st place: Richard Moon
2nd place: Paul Valentine
3rd place: Janet
Together all my sweepstakers had raised over £500 for the MS Trust which is incredible!
When we got home we watched the 6 hours of footage, some of the runners stories were so inspirational. It then dawned on us, we had raced against Mo Farrah. How many people can say that?! (Admitedly 60,000 today but you know…) Then suddenly we saw him. Paul Valentine front and centre of the BBC footage!!
As Paul says, he is now officially a television sports star. He is currently waiting for the call to appear in the jungle or something…
A huge thank you to everyone who was involved in my Great North Run, a most amazing experience.
I want to include this random photo, earlier in the week I had a pedicure by the lovely Layla. I have got into this whole one nail a different colour trend and she laughed at me when I picked my colours based on the MS Trust vest I would be wearing. Imagine my glee when the evening after the race I realised not only did my nails match the MS Trust vest, but the also matched the finishers top too! It’s the simple things. Happy days…!
Average pace: 8:34/mile
– Mile 1 – 8:10
– Mile 2 – 8:05
– Mile 3 – 8:08
– Mile 4 – 8:15
– Mile 5 – 8:19
– Mile 6 – 8:08
– Mile 7 – 8:05
– Mile 8 – 8:10
– Mile 9 – 8:30
– Mile 10 – 8:17
– Mile 11 – 8:28
– Mile 12– 8:16
– Mile 13– 7:55
– 0.1 Mile – 7:21
Achievements: 1 x personal record for half marathon
Thank you Jane O’Keefe, Joanne S, Angela my virtual runners for joining me on a week of great runs – so many high points! Thank you for supporting the MS Trust they really are a great small charity doing some fantastic things!