I have been meaning to do my write ups for days now, but you fabulous lot having been keeping me busy by earning lots of virtual bling and entering lots of our future races (I can assure you I am not complaining).
As some of you will know, I have ‘only’ been running for around 4 years now – I have done different distances including fun runs, 5ks up to crazy 24 hour relays. One of my favourite distances is the half marathon, maybe because it was the distance that drove me to start running in the first place. Or perhaps because I am not a great sprinter so the longer distances suit me.
I am known to be a little addicted to racing and have travelled many miles over my running journey to compete (not that I will ever win!) but this year for me has been a little different. I started the year not running as well as I have done, I put pressure on myself to improve and ended up annoying my calf. So I reduced the number of races and ran because I can.
That was until a friend mentioned she had a place in the Great North Run… And I wanted in! I was lucky enough to get a charity place from Scope (for details if you wish to join their 2018 team visit: https://www.scope.org.uk/charity-events/running/great-north-run).
My training went pretty well to plan. My speed (my speed, not that i’m speedy) was not returning. My calf/leg was still causing some issues and I was generally left feeling a little deflated. At times, I didn’t think I would get to the start line.
My friend and I had to most amazing time in Newcastle – the people are so friendly and we were made to feel most welcome. We spent time looking for food, eating food, researching food and found some amazing places.
I was still not feeling too great about my race – I didn’t know how it would go, despite my training. Normal pre-race nerves kicked in. As you would expect, the Great North Run is incredibly well managed (the only and pretty major panic was we almost didn’t get into our starting pen!). After not hanging around for too long we were off…! I went off too fast – I blame the Red Arrows for meeting me within the first mile and getting me excited! By the time I got the Tyne Bridge, I sorted my pace. By mile 4 I was struggling (was there a hill at mile 4 that made it extra hard?) Again, I gave myself a talking to and carried on.
The atmosphere of running along those dual carriage ways with so many other people was incredible and I cannot describe the crowd support – simply amazing! I had heard horror stories of the hill before you get to South Shields, but I was so lucky to be met by a fellow Nottingham Virtual Runner and we helped each other get to the top of that hill. From there, we had some laughs and got to the finish line. I had loved it, I had managed to run it all and only 3 minutes slower than my PB! GNR, I was a very happy runner!
So after the highs of the Great North Run, it kick started my running, my speed came back a little (mainly through the introduction of canicross) and I got over excited and did lots of activity. But, I may have done too much and completely overlooked that the Robin Hood Half marathon was literally days away!
Robin Hood is my local half marathon – it was my first, the race that inspired my running. I had made my calf a little angry again so this one was not going to be pretty. I personally knew lots of people taking part and lots of friendly faces en route. I was lucky that a friend was also in a similar place on race day, so we took it in and got round. It was almost 15 minutes slower than my Great North Run time – but you know what? I didn’t care. I did it and I have the medals to prove it!
So two half marathons in September (a bit different to my challenge of 8 halfs in 8 weeks a couple of years back) and I loved them both for very different reasons. The thing in common is the support, something I will ensure I do more of when I am not myself running.
What’s next for my running? To take the pressure off again, enjoy it for a bit and then I will make a decision! In the meantime, I will keep adding virtual races to keep both you and I motivated to continue!