Wow it was warm in Newcastle and Gateshead yesterday! I was up early for the 35th Great North Run the weather forecast of ‘overcast’ proved to be wrong… Oh so wrong.
A record 57,000 participated in the world’s largest half marathon, and I started in a pen significantly further back than I’d hoped. Metro problems caused delays for some runners, and at least one of my running friends missed the baggage coach and ended up running with his rucksack.
Within ten minutes of choosing my low profile Inov-8 F-Lite 195 road running shoes, I regretted my choice. They’re great shoes – lightweight, low to the ground and provide great proprioception. This time last year I ran my half marathon PB wearing the same pair. But last year I had put in serious hours of training with those shoes and my muscles were used to them. This year, by comparison, I’ve been running in heavily cushioned trainers. The sudden change in shoes was not appreciated by my calves, which were stretched more than they were used to in recent months.
However, the crowds were great and as we crossed the start line, with the Red Arrow flying ahead, I was just enjoying myself. The first few miles were the usual mélée of a mass participation event- lots of zig-zagging and running along the side of the road to get to groups running at similar paces. The first 5km flew by, and soon enough 10km.
Soon enough though, the sun started to beat down stronger, and the water stations were used as impromptu bottle showers. I took a full of liquid at each water and Lucozade and kept in the shade where possible. By 15 kilometres my leg muscles were complaining about the lack of shock absorption provided by my shoes, and I was heating up uncomfortably. Fortunately, having done this course twice before, I set myself onto autopilot till the final 1.5 kilometres, when the sea was in sight.
On the home stretch by the sea, I tried to push harder, but was disappointed at the sea of runners moving at many different paces, making it harder to get ahead. I saw a couple of people in a bad way collapsing on the final stretch, but by the time I was near them they were already being assisted.
I crossed the finish line for the third time, happy with the morning out, and happy that I now know where to focus my training. I’m a bit sore today, so I know I pushed myself hard, but I have anlot of training to squeeze in before my next marathon, and I could do with shedding a few kilos of fat that I’d put on for the mountains last month.
Congratulations to all who took part yesterday, and thanks to the event organisers and the crowds and bands who spurred us on to the finish.
Next weekend, South Cheshire triathlon in Wilmslow…