‘It’s not exactly the most relaxing activity, granted, but I always imagine I’m sweating out all the things weighing on my mind’ – Becca Fitzpatrick
If the best ideas are born out of necessity then what are the worse ideas born out of? Boredom? Perhaps. Insanity? Possibly. Being drunk. Definitely.
Rewind to 2017 and I’m sitting in a pub in South Shields with a massive glass of wine having just completed the Great North Run for the first time. I’m on a total runners high. I get an email from local charity St Oswalds Hospice saying that if register for the next GNR now, it will only cost a tenner; not the usual £50 it would cost by entering the ballot. Past me thought that would be a great idea! Present me now hates past me. For good measure I thought it would be fun to enter Dave too. So present Dave now hates past me too.
All smiles after last years race
Perhaps I’m looking back with rose tinted glasses but in comparison I felt like I sailed through my training last year whereas this year I struggled massively. I had a very ill timed holiday for two weeks mid June where I ate too much camembert and drank too much red wine so getting into training when I got back meant I was starting on the back foot. Last year we only had a weeks holiday at the beginning of August by which time I’d broken the back of my training plan so getting back into it didn’t feel so hard.
I also had intermittent problems with my left knee. Nothing too serious, discomfort more than anything, but it meant my longer runs were uncomfortable if not painful at times which made me not want to do them. In fact there was one point where I considered deferring my place altogether but that just felt like I was just delaying the torture even more. So with the loving encouragement of Dave and the promise of all the wine and pizza I could eat at our friends Claire and David’s waiting for me at the other end. I went for it nonetheless.
All the gear but no idea
The morning went off without a hitch really having slept pretty well the night before. I was a little nervous about the toilet situation however as last year I stopped halfway round to queue for a portaloo. A visit to a sheltered bush near the start line put rest to those nerves though. I’d also forgotten from last year how long it takes to actually cross the start line when you’re at the back in the pinks. Thankfully I met up with my friend Anna in there so we gave each other a pep talk and generally calmed each other down before we crossed the line (and she shot off like a badass ahead of me).
I’m not going to bore you with the ins and out of every corner or hill because I feel like I did that last year. What I will say is that it was hot, I was under prepared and I was half a stone heavier than year. So the fact that I was only a minute and a half slower this year is somewhat of a miracle. It helped that friends Claire, Sophie and Graham cheered me on from the sidelines of the Tyne Bridge with loads of words of encouragement, some sweaty cuddles and this awesome sign!
I was pleased that apart from a few unavoidable bottle necks I ran pretty much the whole way and I had an awesome playlist compiled by all my friends so I had my friend Jayne’s words in my mind; ‘one song at a time and one foot in front of another’. I just tried to concentrate on the music, the sunny warm weather and the jelly babies being thrown my way!
And Dave? Well he smashed his half marathon PB by 12 minutes, because he’s a running badass as well.
I’ve heard conflicting advice as to whether doing a big half marathon for the first time is more enjoyable or whether knowledge is power and you can plan your performance better because you know what’s coming. For me, the first time was definitely more enjoyable because I had no preconceived ideas and was really carried along by the atmosphere of the crowd.
There’s a lot to be said for the ‘runners high’ because once I had finished and was tucking into a bowl of chips and a large glass of wine in the local Wetherspoons I did find myself wondering whether with better training I would be able to get a new PB but considering it’s now 3 days later, i’m still walking down stairs like an incontinent old woman and i went to bed with more toenails last night than I woke up with this morning, i think I can safely say I’ve officially retired from half marathon running.