My Great North Run

Race No 17 – The Great North Run

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I have been looking forward to this race for ages, to me the Great North Run is as much of an iconic race as the London Marathon & I still can’t get my head around there being 55,000+ people crazy enough to get up on a Sunday morning to run 13.1 miles, but as race day approached it became apparent I might not be running anywhere

The week before had seen me cover 23 miles as part of Team Naturally Run in the Spitfire Scramble & boy did my shins know about it, every step was uncomfortable

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There was never any question that I wouldn’t travel to Newcastle or take part, the question was whether I would be running rather than walking

I have a fab bunch of friends from all over the country and we meet up a couple of times a year which usually involves, a run, lots of food and lots of alcohol, I am not even sure when we decided to make our weekends more torture than social but in the last year we have completed the Amsterdam Half Marathon, Bath Half  & now the Great North Run together

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This time we had a new edition to our gang Lois’ sister Elenaor who was not only running her first Half  Marathon but was also running her first race (crazy lady) understandably she was feeling a little nervous so I offered to run with her.

After what seemed like the never ending walk to the baggage buses we then joined what seemed like a never ending queue for the toilets, giving us just enough time for a pre race selfie

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It was then time to get into our pens, actually I think the race had actually started before we headed to the pens, I am usually one of these people that has to be every where annoying early otherwise I get anxious but this time I had a strange sense of calm, we were in one of the last waves and had been warned it might take us 30 mins to cross the start so Elle and I even managed another quick toilet stop while waiting in the pens

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OMG!! Look how long that queue to cross the start line is

As we were edging closer to the start a gasp went through the crowd as the Red Arrows flew overhead, soon we were off, we kept a steady pace going for over two miles taking us over the Tyne Bridge, we had agreed on a short walk after crossing the bridge both of us were already feeling the strain me in my shin and Elle in her groin, I only had 2 Ibuprofen on me which we shared with Elle juggling with hers trying not to drop it as it rolled down her arm while running again

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This was probably one of my favourite races, the crowds were really great cheering my name (top tip to newbie runners wear your name on your shirt, the cheers you get will really lift you) and running with Elle was a pleasure, in fact I think all races should be run for fun with a friend rather than chasing a PB

The route itself was quite boring, mainly on motorways, I also and I am not sure why thought it was a flat course but it really isn’t, also it was hot and because we were running on motorways there was little shade, but the miles went quickly as we chatted and Elle joked that I was like a Drill Sargent setting us targets of where we had to run to before we could stop

Finally after what seemed like endless straight roads I saw the sea which could only mean one thing, the finish line was insight, well not quite, we had one final killer hill, this one was downwards but they are just as mean, your legs just want to go, but they can’t as they are tired and it hurts a whole different batch of muscles going downhill, we ran about a 1/4 of a mile with the Karaoke guy who i’d seen when i spectated at this years London Marathon, how he sings and runs I’ll never know, I struggled just belting out Delilah with him, hearing the rest of the runners and the crowds singing was bringing tears to my eyes as was the pride I felt at knowing Elle was so close to finishing her first Half Marathon

With around 400m to go we heard an announcement over the tannoy that the Millionth finisher would be finishing very soon, I had completely forgotten that this was the year that the Great North Run would be celebrating its millionth finisher, the first race in the world to ever achieve this.

My friends and I had joked that after winning much sought after ballot places in the 2014 London Marathon, Great North Run & Royal Parks Half Marathon, then being part of a team winning a place at the Spitfire Scramble and hearing just a week earlier I had won a place at the Great South Run, that someone somewhere wants me to run even though I was often not so willing, and as we guessed the Millionth finisher would win free Great Run Series races for life it seemed like fate/the running gods might want me to win this too

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Elle and I are in this crowd somewhere

I can honestly say that when the confetti went off just as I took that final turn for the last 50m it was relief rather than disappointment that crossed my mind, Elle and I crossed the finish as the confetti was still flying in a not to shabby 2hrs 48.14

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We may not have beaten Mo Farah but we did beat the groin strain and shin splints that had plagued us since mile 2

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Trying to meet up with the others at the end of the race wasn’t the easiest, mobile signals were poor, and getting back onto the metro was even worse, it took over an hour to get into the station, this was the one negative for the race and would put me off entering again unless I stayed in South Shields this time, but it gave us time for one final selfie photo before heading back to the hotel and getting ready for our night out

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The lovely Lois had managed to get us all free tickets to go and watch Ant & Decs Saturday Night Takeaway at the Metro Arena, seeing Lets Get Ready to Rumble performed live was the perfect end to a lovely weekend

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Love my friends & loving the fact out next meet will hopeful be  more restful at Centre Parcs next March

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