I can’t believe the Great North Run 2018 has been and gone! It feels like only yesterday that I signed up to do it, when in reality that was back in February! This year has literally FLOWN.
This was my third time running the largest half marathon in the world and I thought I’d document my experience for anyone considering participating next year. If you are, do it! It really is an amazing event to be a part of.
(Please note, I documented the night before and the day on my iPhone 7 plus so sorry for the rubbish quality photos!)
The Great North Run itself was inspired by former Olympic Bronze medallist Brendan Foster. Foster had previously taken part in New Zealand’s Round the Bays Race in 1979 and decided he wanted to create a similar run experience near his hometown in County Durham. He helped to organise the ‘Gateshead Fun Run’ in 1977, an event which would pave the way for the Great North Run to become one of the biggest half marathon’s in the world. Starting just outside the centre of Newcastle before crossing the famous Tyne Bridge into the borough of Gateshead, the race passes through some of the region’s most well-known suburbs before reaching the picturesque South Shields coast.
Every year the Great North Run creates such a buzz around the North East and it makes us locals so proud to be from here! It brings athletes (good old Mo!), average Jo’s (like me!) and even the best speed walkers in the world together for 13.1 miles. The event raises thousands, even millions of pounds for charities all over the country and it’s fantastic. This was the 38th Great North Run and I raised £335 for the MS Society.
I’ve trained hard this year for it. Through a heatwave, horrendous blisters and sweat, I made it to Septemeber 9 raring to go. I’ve been on a bit of ‘Body Transformation’ programme for the last six weeks and not only have I shed a few pounds but my fitness has massively improved. As it approached D day, I was feeling so confident about the whole thing. In my head, I really wanted to complete it in around 2 hours. My best time is 2 hours and 8 minutes but that was when I was about 8 stone wet through and didn’t have 800g of silicone on my chest. But, I was hopeful. Like I said, I’ve been training hard and had massively improved time wise since I first started again.
I pretty much rested most of last week which was lovely, I lead a very busy exercise schedule and try to work out at least 5 times a week so it was nice to just relax for a few days before it. I even had a cheeky pamper, I had my nails done, a spray tan, my hair did… because let’s face it there’s a lot of cameras around on the big day and I wanted to look half alive! (I know, I know, I’m so vain!)
The weekend arrived and it was time for the most important and fun aspect of marathon preparation, carb loading. After all, carbs are a great source of energy, and you need a lot of energy to cover 13.1 miles. I did my research and decided to start carb-loading two-three days before the big day with the right kinda’ carbs, like sweet potato and lots of fruit but on Saturday I went all out and headed to my local Italians for pizza and pasta. I ate my dinner around 5/6pm so that my body had enough time to digest and absorb the goodness and then I hit the hay early to ensure I’d had enough sleep beforehand.
The big day arrived. It’s honestly more nerve-racking than you think. I was totally bricking it, even though I’d already done it before. I fueled up with a begal, peanut butter, strawberries and honey along with some water, got ready and then it was time to go. I wee’d about a million times before I left the house because it is my worst fear of needing a wee mid half marathon!!
And then just like that, I was in my zone waiting to start. There’s excitement in the air at the start line as thousands of people gather to begin in their running zones. The clock stroke 11am and I was off. The first 2 miles felt like they went over so quickly, mainly because I speed off and then the run over the green bridge is when you know sh*t just got real. I get goosebumps just thinking about it, utterly fantastic! And then the rest of the 11 miles were a blur.
I hate running in the heat and unfortunately for me, Sunday was a scorcher! There was no breeze meaning I kept overheating resulting in me having to stop a couple of times. I actually walked a mile but the supporters kept me going. There’s a huge sense of team spirit amongst runners, whenever you see anyone slowing down you give them a nudge and some supportive words which was what I needed at mile 10. It felt so close yet so far away in the heat.
I managed to push on, and then I saw the sign for 1 mile to go and legged it. Literally poured my all into that last one and ran as fast as I could. The atmosphere as you approach the coast is just wonderful, there are crowds screaming your name to keep going. It really is breathtaking.
And I did it, I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 26 minutes. I didn’t get the time I wanted but nevertheless, I’m not disappointed or upset, I gave it my all and that’s good enough for me. Running the Great North Run wasn’t to prove anything to myself or anyone else, it was to raise money for the MS Society and I achieved that. Go me!
I keep saying this but it really is such an amazing experience which I’d urge everyone to do at least once in their lifetime. It gets harder every time I do it, but, it’s worth that feeling afterwards. The aches, the pains are shadowed by the sheer buzz you get.
Meeting your loved ones after is quite overwhelming too, I think it’s just relief that it’s over! For me, it was certainly a relief. The rest of the afternoon I spent with my family and had a slap up meal at Ramside Hall, where I ate and drank to my heart’s content as the calories really don’t count after you’ve run 13.1 miles. I literally burned 1,800 calories! It was brilliant.
Once I’d ate as much sticky toffee pudding as possible, I rolled into after a hot bath and relaxed. All in a days work eh!
Will I do it again? Probably! If you ask me this straight after I’ve done, I will definitely say no but I always do! It’s just so good not to do it! I’ve loved having something to work towards this year, it’s what I’ve needed to keep me going. Running is so therapeutic, it totally clears your mind.
I’m going to keep it up and keep running, who knows next year I might even do it in the time I wanted!
Have you done a half marathon before?