The Great North Run weekend.
To me this is where my running all started. A quick re-cap - I entered the GNR 2008 via a MIND charity place in March 2008 - eekk....my 1st half marathon, now I need to start running & training. On the 5th October 2008 I went through the finish line at South Shields in a time of 1:57:19. Last year (GNR 2009) it was my 13th Half Marathon (& 1st in fancy dress - ran as Asterix) and finished in 1:48:04. This year it seemed a bit special that I would be running my 21st Half Marathon at Newcastle.
So the weekend. Like last year I flew up from T5, and again I ran the Bedfont parkrun before the flight - well would be rude not to. We got there to Bedfont early (I was with my cousin who had managed to get a ballot place in the GNR but dogged by injury), saw a couple of ex-club runners beforehand. I do like Bedfont as the corners seem to work for me. While I didn`t feel like I went for it I managed to beat last year`s time by 11 seconds;
Splits - 7:07, 7:23, 7:27, 0:42 (0.1M @ 7:00/m) - final time 22:39
Pleased with run and course PB. A quick chat afterwards & jumped in the car for the short drive to T5. No problems with the flight except for my Cousin, Colin, posing for the full-body scanner :-)
Arrived at Newcastle via the Metro from the Airport (great service that), and wandered down to where they were holding the Great North Games & a walk around the expo. Race morning woke early - not as early as some thou - looked out of the window to see rain pouring down - a wet run then! Breakfast done & out the door nice and early. Met up with Colin under the footpath bridge. Shortly afterwards, as I`ve just been reminded, the `usual RW suspects` arrived in shifts - Shielsy, Mick the Mackem, Dasher Dart, Shrek, Spongecake, Vicki GW with her amazing outfit, Mandie & Steve in fancy dress complete with bike :-) , WTS, Rtg, RLTW, Stringy, Old Shawdowfax....I`m sure there was a couple more but I`ve done well remembering that little lot! Stayed till about 10.15, did a short warm up as I made my way to my zone (Left hand zone B and on the left). Didn`t see Vicki GW or Jovi Runner.
Soon the hooter went and we were off. I had a rough plan 1:45 + /- 5 mins . Crossed the start line within 3 mins - saw Minnie & Mickey Mouse (30 GNR Club) & wished them well. Almost silently we made our way under the carriageways but soon enough the cheers & shouts were heard and we were off. The crowds looking down is still very much amazing. A quick check at the mile one marker - a fraction fast but ok. Saw Floella Benjamin, saw another 30 GNR club- Geordie Nick in his Buzz Lightyear outfit - shook his hand. I was a little earlier for the Red Arrows at the Tyne Bridge (around 12:xx) - I didn`t wait around so I carried on. Saw Vicki with her pink dress at I think around the 3M marker - just after the water station - I graped a bottle as I thought she might be a bit warm.
Even though the course is undulating I didn`t find too much a problem, the only thing that caused me `concern` was that I was caught in two camps - Shall I race it (@ 7.30/m - sub 100) or steady as she goes @ 8.00/m - so I did a bit of both. Also I ran through a few more Chi Running drills than I guess I would normally - column, lean, feet moving in circles, heels up, elongate the neck & bar through the ankle (like the kids robots) which lead to short strides.
Saw the chuckle brothers which was so funny - well done them. The miles ticked away, no Powerade, just water & a gel @ 9M, soon enough mile 10 came round & the Fetchpoint - looking forward to this point. Thanks guys esp Lisrun. Soon enough the final incline - kept it steady. The sea seem to appear from no-where, down the hill which I have to say was the most painful part of the race & along and into the never-ending but fantastic final mile. Through the finish and pleased with the result - two course PB`s in two days :-)
After a quick chat with Dave B (storming run) & HOD I made my way to the pub to meet with the `usual suspects` - I do love the buzz of post race chatter. Waited for my cousin to finish & made our way to the South Shields Metro station, should have caught the ferry to North Shields but we would not have raced Vixx76 for the metro (which I think was a draw in the end)
Splits from this year & 2009 in brackets.
Mile 1 - 7:24 (8:01)
Mile 2 - 7:52 (7:59)
Mile 3 - 7:46 (7:57)
Mile 4 - 8:01 (8:08)
Mile 5 - 8:08 (8:29)
Mile 6 - 7:35 (7:57)
Mile 7 - 7:33 (7:46)
Mile 8 - 7:45 (8:09)
Mile 9 - 8:03 (8:23)
Mile 10 - 7:56 (8:26)
Mile 11 - 8:00 (8:34)
Mile 12 - 8:03 (8:37)
Mile 13 - 7:32 (7:59)
Last Bit - 1:38 (1:33)
Final Time - 01:43:15 (01:48:04)
5 Km - 00:24:19 (00:25:08)
10 Km - 00:48:57 (00:50:36)
15 Km - 01:13:25 (01:16:15)
Overall Position - 3,313rd (4,926th)
(* Didn`t record 2008 stats)
Overall a pleasing run (3rd fastest half of the year behind Brass Monkey & Bracknell) and I know I can go faster on this course.
Out with friends on Sunday which is just so fantastic as it just finishes the weekend off perfectly. It was a wet weekend but certainly didn`t damper my enjoyment – roll on next year.
Next up is the JW Ultra this Saturday, then the `silly season`.