My Great North Run journey started on 6th February 2019 when I received the email telling me I’d got in through the ballot. I’d only entered about 12 hours before the ballot closed so wasn’t expecting to get in.
My training was perfect, after 3 not so perfect half marathons the previous year due to illness, I was determined this one would be different!
The morning of the GNR started with a 6.00 wake up call. We were staying about 6 miles away from the start and had to get the coach. Time for a light breakfast, (it was too early for porridge, that would come later!) ,all the pre-race rituals and kit on! Arriving at the start was incredible. Standing on the bridge waiting to go down to the start pen and realising you are 1 of 50,000 odd people running that day- alongside celebrities and some of the greats including Sir Mo literally took my breath away. We stood on the bridge eating our porridge pots, we had gone prepared with flasks of hot water! The weather was perfect for me, bright blue skies and a comfortable temperature I was feeling great. I was running with a good friend of mine, Sarah so we just spent the time pre-race chatting, meeting up with other’s from my running club before heading down to the start pens.
We crossed the start line about 15 minutes after Mo, (I wish that was the only reason why he beat me!) and started at a nice steady pace, although Sarah who has run it 5 times did tell me to ease off as I got carried away by the crowds! Mile 1 flew by, going through the tunnels with echoes of “Oggy Oggy Oggy- Oi Oi Oi”, after the 15th time I was slightly less enthusiastic in my response than the first time! Before I knew it we were crossing the Tyne Bridge. The first time a spectator shouted my name, I heard a “Howay Hannah” and was confused how he knew my name…before remembering it was printed on my race vest…and my race bib!
The next few miles passed quickly, and although the temperature was climbing I still felt really strong. Sarah would occasionally tell me not to look up…and what do you do when someone tells you not to do something? yes that’s right, I looked up- and could see hundreds of people climbing a hill ahead of me, so I knew what was coming.
Whilst most people on the course were handing out jelly babies, ice pops and oranges there were a couple of more unusual items on course. At around mile 8 or 9 I suddenly heard a shout of “Sausage Roll anyone”…at that stage of a half marathon, a sausage roll is the last thing on my mind. Then shortly after came “Beer Roundabout”. I’d been told about Beer Roundabout, but hadn’t quite believed it. No word of a lie, people were handing out cups of beer…(mind you, if you’d taken a sausage roll, a beer might have been quite nice to wash it down with). I politely declined this too.
Soon we hit miles 9-11 and John Reid Road. My legs were beginning to get heavy and then I saw dancing/ singing Elvis. I danced my way up the hill to “Sweet Caroline” and high fived Elvis which gave me a boost for a few more minutes.
Soon we were into the last mile, and ran down one of the steepest hills to the last mile along the seafront. It was so steep Sarah and I held hands to keep each other upright. Sarah had warned me, the last mile feels long. She was right. But the crowd support, banners (including one which read “1/3rdof a park run to go) kept me going. 800m to go was the next point, and from there to 400m to go seemed to take forever!! Right, once more round a running track I thought. Finish line in sight. Sarah and I crossed the finish line hand in hand in a time of 2.04.08, a PB of over 14 minutes for me. My first time of running a half marathon without stopping.
What did I learn from GNR? You cant run a half marathon on 1 single jelly baby and 250ml of water and expect to feel good at the end. Would I do it again? Definitely, and Id fuel better next time!