Day 363 – Great North Run 2011 Race Report

This is my third effort at the Great North Run. A potted history follows…
2009 – Three weeks into my running career I ran 2h04m and promptly found I couldn’t walk for another three weeks
2010 – Better training got me a 1h59m just two days before I began the challenge
2011 – Well now, here’s the thing…

I woke up in pain. Genuinely. I don’t often wake up and think ‘bloody hell, that hurts’ but I did today (and yesterday for that matter). I didn’t feel good about the day at all. In fact I felt I was going to have to back down to a slower pace as the pain in my shins was bad enough just walking about the house barefoot, never mind pounding the streets!

I arrived incredibly early to the start, to meet a guy called Steve who is a radio journalist for BBC Radio 5 Live.

I’ll post the interview here for your amusement once I’ve found a way to do so…

It didn’t go amazingly. Myself and the ‘barefoot for the last mile’ guy running for CAFOD, alongside whom I’d been interviewed, both remarked afterward that we’d expected them to, as they told us they would, ask us about the charities we were supporting in the third section of our sound byte. I’m reliably informed that a combination of the preceding report on Welsh miners and the scoring of, erm, points(?) in some game called rugby impinged on our slot to plug the charities (the most important bit!) And made it a bit of a shambles. Never mind. I was never meant to be famous πŸ˜‰

On the plus side, being interviewed with, and then bending the ear of the Bupa Physio gleaned some interesting advice on my ongoing issues with the inner shins. Thanks!

Given my early arrival, it seemed the right thing to do to take advantage of it and make my way to the tape, camp out and wait for everyone else to arrive πŸ˜‰ This I duly did, having plenty of people to talk to along the way as it got busier. Cue a guy whom I later found out was called Neil, and whom I saw again around 4 miles in…

Mo Farah fired the gun. Nothing happened for a few seconds, then a sudden surge of the crowd carried me over the line and onto the road ahead.

This year I managed to be at the front. Having last year negotiated rows of ladies wearing fluffy pink decoration whilst holding hands and walking five abreast at the start of the event, I wasn’t making the same mistake again.

Off we went. At a rate. Mile 1: 6m21s. Waaaaaaaaaay too fast! I don’t want to be the bad workman and blame my tools, but this new fandangled Garmin 610 does have a terribly erratic pace measurement!

Slow down. Pace yourself Andy. It’s about the (semi) long game today…

Mile 2: 6m42s. Better.

Mile three and four passed. Both under 7 minutes, but only just.

Then I spotted Neil with whom I’d briefly spoken at the start. I tapped him on the shoulder and said that for someone who had coughed at a guy saying he was going for a 1h30 and said he was mad, Neil was really motoring along. He was well on for sub 1h30. Neil quickly explained that this is how half marathons are for him, the first few miles are good and fast and then the wheels fall off at about 8 miles!

We talked at length about his training, what we both do for a living, his family, his 3 year old boy and my silly running challenge (and the plan for the next year!) all of which I’d deliberately done to distract him. We’d kept the silly pace for another four or five miles and not really noticed. At 9 miles we were both feeling relatively ok. At ten, just about as good. At 11 I told him I was going to wind up the pace very slowly and gradually for the next couple of miles and he looked good to do the same. We shook hands, agreed to meet ‘on the other side’ of the finish line and wished each other luck. That’s the magic bit of running events. You spot someone who looks to be at your level, you talk, you both spur each other on. Brilliant. That’s what I like about running, the camaraderie is immense. My club runs do the same thing, more motivation and encouragement, very good for your running and for you. I stalled for another half mile and then just went for it.

I knew I’d break 1h30 by this point, but the question was by how far. I felt good, but tired. I knew I could keep a good pace but certainly not drop and insane sub 6 minute mile. I went all out.

I crossed the line in 1h28m49s.

Neil arrived 55 seconds later.

My half marathon PB until today was 1h36m. Pretty damn good.

But beaten hands down by Neil knocking just shy of 15 minutes off his PB! Well done mate. I knew you’d do it!

All in all, a very good day. A time worthy of being the final event of my challenge. The Great North Run is such an amazing event that you should get yourself in the ballot for next year and do it at least once in your life. Go on, you know you want to πŸ˜‰

See you there next year… :-)

And finally, I’m reliably informed that I was beaten by a smurf. I thought they had short legs! πŸ˜‰

I think today’s qotd has appeared before and is no more appropriate than today. If it has made a prior appearance, I make no apology, it’s fabulous!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Blue and White Kayano 17s
Miles today: 13.20
Target: 1089
Miles to date: 1678.40
“Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.”
Charles Schulz

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