My word, I’m excited. And nervous. But mainly excited.
This time next week, I’ll have finished* the Great North Run.
It feels a little bit strange, because we’ve been building up to this for months and months. I started training way back in January, just little runs in the evenings after work to get used to the routine of going out rain or shine. I think it’s worked a little too well; I can’t imagine life without running 3 times a week.
“But you can still run after the GNR!” I hear you cry. Well yes, of course I can. But do I want to? I’m pretty run down (no pun intended) and I definitely need new expensive running trainers. I think a little break will be very welcome.
I’m also currently battling a cold, my second in four (ish) weeks. This doesn’t seem fair to me. A friend told me that once you get into the super long runs, your immune system actually weakens and you’re more susceptible to colds and whatnot. This would explain why I’ve spent much of the last month with a Kleenex clutched to my face but it still doesn’t seem fair. Surely being able to run really long distances without stopping should come with some perks? Call me crazy but a weakness for the rhinovirus is not my idea of fun.
Anyway, we did a final warm-up running event last Sunday, just to get in the mood. I’ll admit that the crowd of 340 running the Tholthorpe 10K isn’t exactly comparable with 60,000 running a half marathon through Gateshead but it was nice to do.
|Super keen at the start. Note my brother Niall posing to my left|
It was actually quite fun. Yes, despite it being in the midday sun with little shade, and despite my compromised olfactory senses, I had a good time. It was a good race.
It was also the furthest I’d run without earphones. I was apprehensive about this, as I usually run with them as a sort of mental crutch for when I really want to stop. However, they weren’t shutting the roads for this race so earphones weren’t allowed. I was thinking about using them anyway, or just in one ear, or engaging in some “hide the earphones from the marshalls while running past them” subterfuge, but I decided to just bite the bullet and open my ears to the sounds around me.
You know what? It was really nice. I found it a lot easier to pace myself without any pesky beats to distract me, and I could chat with my fellow runners as we gently lolloped along the back roads. I say chat, I mean trill “Hello! Isn’t this fun?” at people as our paces aligned. I didn’t get much back.
I ran it in 1 hour 58 seconds, 40 seconds slower than my York 10K time. But I don’t really care. I had a streaming cold, the weather was at least 4° warmer than I was expecting, and I’d spent the previous week in Italy eating as much pizza as I could fit in my face. Anyway, the bigger prize is on the horizon.
|Andy doing his best Chariots of Fire to the finish line|
My support team on the day were Andy (as always), my brother Niall and my number one fan, wee Jude, my mum. I say support team, Niall took off like a hare out of a cannon at the start, and Andy (after checking I was alright like a good support team person) gracefully cantered after him. Mum was waiting at the finish line with a camera and a bag of bananas and juice. It’s so lovely doing a race and knowing she’ll be at the finish line. It’s just a shame the GNR is a bit far away.
|With my Tholthorpe mug|
The finisher’s reward for the Tholthorpe is not a medal, but a mug. I find this infinitely more practical than a medal, as what do you do with medals once you’ve got home from the race? Our York 10K ones are gathering dust on the dining room table. You can’t exactly wear them out around town, and they’re rubbish paper weights. Having said that, I may well wear my GNR one to work the next day as a conversation starter- “Oh this thing?”- and to remind people that I ran a half marathon. Not that I’ve not been rabbiting on about it for the past 9 months. But then what do I do with it?
Anyway, we now have two 20th Tholhorpe 10K mugs in our house, in regular use. Much better than a medal.
This is the last thing I’m going to be doing to raise funds for Saint Michael’s Hospice this year. Thank you so much for the support, and if you could donate just one last time, I’d be ever so grateful.
I chose them because they took excellent care of my darling Nan at the end of her life. They were there with endless cups of tea, cake, hugs and support when we really needed them. They get such little funding from the NHS that fundraising is vital for them to keep going.
The target is £1500 and we’re so close to that; we’re at £1020 now!
When I think of Nan and her final days, I think of the peace and love she was surrounded with at the end. Please help someone else’s Nan have that peace too.
*Baring physical, emotional or environmental disaster.