The Great North Run, you know the one, the half marathon that crosses the iconic Tybe Bridge, the one with the Red Arrows flyover, the biggest half marathon in the world, yes that one.
I have ran this race for the last five years, ever since I started running. I imagine I will always run this race. I envisage myself hobbling up the John Reid Road in my nineties, with my race race number pinned to my walking frame. This race is special to me.
However, this year when my number dropped on the door mat, I didn’t feel the usual buzz and excitement, I felt an unfamiliar pang of dread. I had been given a stripy “faster paced runner” bib. This meant I would be towing the line with Sir Mo and his speedy pals.
This would have normally excited me, but training has been sporadic over the summer. Speed sessions have been replaced my ice cream and picnics. I knew I wasn’t in PB shape and I definitely was in “faster paces runner” shape, I knew I would end up disappointed.
Then I got chatting to my good friend Deborah, she was also entered and also dreading it for similar reasons. We decided to run together and to run for fun. Her goal time was sub 2.35. The minute we made that decision, our mindsets instantly changed and we began to look forward to what lay ahead.
The big day arrived and we assembled in Deborah’s pen. We giggled our way through the warm up, Oohed and Aaahed at the Red Arrows and cheered as the Elites set off.
It took us almost 40 minutes to cross the start line but we were off. We kept a nice steady paces and the miles flew by. At half way we passed the 2.35 pacer and the 2.30 pacer was in sight. We continued at a gentle pace, making the most of the legendary Geordie Hospitality.
We laughed until our bellies hurt, we oggy, oggy, oggied, danced at the bands, ate sweets, oranges, ice pops, we even had a cheeky beer at mile 11.
Soon we were on the final stretch and sub 2.30 was in sight, I picked up the pace and with a little gentle encouragement (sorry Deborah), we crossed the line in 2.28 with big smiles on our faces.
This race will go down as one of my favourite races ever. Sometimes you just need to take the pressure off and just run, run with a friend, run for fun as long as you run with a massive cheesy smile on your face.