A tough but great day at the Great North Run this year, despite a disastrous race. This year was a GNR with a difference, in that it had its millionth finisher and, being a week early, the temperature was pretty hot. As always, the atmosphere was fantastic at the start, and full of runner camaraderie. It was also nice not to be shivering in the rain for the first time in 3 years!
I wasn’t sure how I was going to find the race this year, but I quickly found this out when after the first mile I was already feeling sick with the heat and wondering whether I was actually going to make it through the 13.1 miles. At the start we had been warned this was not a day for PBs, and I am terrible at running in the heat. From mile 1 onwards, I decided I was going to have to nurse myself round. The main thing, I decided, was to run the whole thing without walking and to actually make it to the finish. I took on water at every stop, and with a brief respite when the sun went in behind some clouds at miles 6 and 8, I managed to plod through it. By the long incline at mile 11 however, I felt as though I was literally dragging my exhausted body along, until I finally saw that glorious sight of the sea before dropping onto the sea front.
I don’t know why the last mile of the GNR always seems so long. I know this isn’t just me as every other runner says the same thing. This is a painful stretch along the sea front where I usually find myself willing the 800m marker to appear. This seemed to take a long time this time this year. Luckily the crowds at the finish were just brilliant and helped keep me going until finally crossing the line – with my second worst half marathon time ever, a full 13 minutes behind last year (and that was with Shingles).
I still felt proud to have just finished the GNR this year. It was a struggle from start to finish, and given that right from the start I had my doubts about finishing, it felt great to finally cross the line and my medal was hard won. Already looking forward to next year!