Sunday, 19 September 2010

Great North Run

I was really slack on the training going into this, in fact it was pretty much non existent! I think I did around 1-2 runs a week in the month running up to the race; going no further than 11km, and that distance I only did maybe twice. A far cry from my usual 55km per week! Needless to say a PB was not a probability today!
I drove up to Middlesbrough the night before the race and checked into the Marton Hotel & Country Club. It sounds a lot grander than it is and it looks a lot more dilapidated than it did in the photos... I was most unimpressed to find out when I checked in that it was undergoing renovations and as such the showers had been removed from most rooms! I'm not a bath person at the best of times and the thought of getting into one after a run when I just wanted to get home was not what I wanted. I had a free transfer service with my hotel booking and checking the details I realised I had to drive to a car park 10 miles away to join the coach! The pickup was at 07:00, so that meant me leaving the hotel at 06:30 to be there 15 mins before. Not brilliant when a) the race was 45 mins away; b) didn't start until 10:40! I tried to get an early night the night before, but went to bed at 21:00 only to toss and turn all night. It seems staying in a strange bed the night before a race does not bode well for me. Thinking of it I've never performed well when I've slept away from home...
My alarm went off at 04:45 much to my disgust and I hit the snooze button a few times before dragging myself out of bed. Breakfast was kindly put on at 05:00 for the runners and consisted of cold meats, toast, cereal and luckily for me porridge! It was the plain kind and there wasn't any honey to sweeten it so I added marmalade instead which was an interesting combination! After breakfast I had a little time to kill as I'd done most of the prep the night before and strangely enough I'm quicker in the bath than I am in in the shower in the morning so I took a quick nap for 30 mins. At 06:30 I went to make my way to meet the coach only to find two parked up outside the hotel waiting! That's another half hour I could have had in bed! Sitting on the bus I realised I didn't need my car keys and ran upstairs to put them in my room, I got back to the bus and decided to set up my iPhone with the correct playlist only to realise my last sync must have deleted all the music! Another trip upstairs to collect my iPod and I was ready!
Arriving at the start area at 08:00 with Claire, a lady I had met at the hotel the night before, we decided to kill time by taking a long slow walk around the park adjacent to the start. 2 hours and 40 minutes is way to early to arrive! The rain was coming down pretty hard as well so it was all we could do to stay warm, amazingly about an hour before the start the rain stopped and I was able to get rid of my outer clothes and drop my bag on the luggage bus. The ace itself started on time, but being so far back in pen F I didn't get started until nearly 11:00! Within the first mile I knew it was going to be hard work, my legs didn't want to move at the 08:28 pace I was setting., an it was all own hill from there....
Head through the many tunnels it was all "Oly, oly, oly!", "Oi, oi, oi!"; I've never heard so many olys and ois in my life! And yes, that includes Napa. Usually in a race you find that after the first couple of miles the runners thin out and it gets easier to run at your natural pace rather than around and in between people. That did not happen today, it felt 10 deep each side the whole way through and even worse at the end, not that I had the energy to run fast a clear streak might have motivated me a little... My toes had been feeling numb from the cold start, but became painful after 5km. I had a long way to go and I was determined to get through so I bit my lip and dealt with it; flexing my toes as much as I could in my shoes!
The best part of the race was the Bupa Boost area around the 10 mile point where you could get a massage, a handful of jelly babies, or a wedge of Vaseline. The support around the race from spectators was great; there were servings of sweets, ice pops, oranges. Kids giving high fives and teenagers using the free water to spray the runners! This didn't impress me much and seemed more malicious than helpful, one runner decided to squirt the kids back and that impressed me!
All in all, I can see what draws people to this race, but I do not think I will be back to do it again. There are so many races that I have enjoyed far more a lot closer to home that I would not drive 3.5 hours each way again to only run 2:17:14!

1 comment:

  1. I almost ran the GNR 3 years ago, My hotel kept messing me around until eventually they had a group booking and stated that they favour group bookings over single bookings and cancelled my room. So my GNR dream ended before I even finished training (about 3 weeks till race day). Unfortunately it's put me off and will probably never do it. And as you say all that travel and stress for a much slower time than you would of liked.... all my friends who ran it had the same and some said it was oversubscribed and felt like a fun run and not really one for the 'middle of the road' runner (i.e- not elite but not slow). Well done though!