Last Sunday I completed my third half marathon in the form of the Great North Run! I posted a while back about my new lovely running shoes so if you saw that I’m sure you’d have gathered that I’m that way inclined. Not overly serious and not quite Speedy Gonzales, but I enjoy it and it keeps me fit.
My running story began back at school when I was about 12. I was selected for the county schools cross country trials and I wasn’t sure why. My PE teacher told me that I had a talent for distance running. This was news to me as I just channeled Forrest Gump – keep running until someone says stop. Either way I was pleased to have found something I was OK at.
Fast forward several years and I found myself signed up for the 2007 Great North Run. This decision was fuelled purely on post-university boredom and a charitable reason to run inspired by my Grandma. I ran for an excellent charity, was pleased to finish and had a great day. I enjoyed myself so much that I did it again in 2009 and obviously yet again this year gradually improving my time on each occasion.
This time I used two half marathon training plans (Hal Higdon’s and Jeff Galloway’s) as guides to create my own to fit in with my schedule. The Runner’sWorld website/forums and the odd bit of running inspiration/advice in Zest magazine helped build my running knowledge and motivation greatly.
This run really is something else. It’s the biggest half marathon in the world and this year boasted an incredible 54,000ish registrations so it goes without saying that places are like gold dust! The atmosphere is electric, the runners are excited and celebrities start the race and high-five you as you run past (if you’re lucky enough to be close to the podiums!). The RAF Red Arrows display team do a fly past as you start and it really sends shivers down the spine. Later they do a full display at South Shields to greet the runners as they finish, which itself is brilliant. These special elements combined with the fantastic support from the super friendly spectators make for a great running experience.
Being in the North of England the course itself isn’t in any way flat. I found it fairly easy going until mile 9 where there’s a long steady climb on a straight road. My legs were already getting a bit tired and really didn’t appreciate this! Thankfully the last mile or so is downhill/flat so I managed to pick up the pace for a sprint finish.
Overall I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone who wants to be part of something really challenging, exciting and unique. It’s been a British institution for the past 31 years and it’s only getting bigger and better.
In terms of my running…onwards and upwards hopefully. I’m currently waiting to hear if I’ve got a place in the London Marathon and will be training for the London10,000 in May on the sidelines.