Yesterday saw 50-odd thousand people hitting the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead to run the biggest half marathon in the world, the Great North Run. I happened to be one of these people! After a summer spent standing on a paddleboard and less than 10 runs since then I felt in good shape but not perfect.
Arriving early to find my point in the starting line up I readied myself for what was to be my longest run yet - the previous being 12 miles. I unfortunately started fairly far back, in group F, with people aiming for a much longer time than I wanted; I thought 1 hour 45 minutes could be done at a push.
The atmosphere on the run was incredible from the first step over the start line, my chip marking the start of my 13.1 miles and my finger tapping the timer on my watch. I knew that support for me specifically would come at mile 8 but wasn't worried about a lack of cheering and encouragement - thousands of people lined the course to offer a whole load of stamina inducing cheers.
I found the run very comfortable - at around 10 miles I over took a friend who commented how fresh I looked, I'd caught up with many people who started in groups way ahead of mine - maybe 10-15 minutes earlier. My last 3-4 miles felt a lot quicker, I was working on over taking and by the last 2 miles just pushing towards the finish line, at the same time the rain started, having threatened all morning when we'd actually had sunshine.
Almost breaking in to a sprint for the last mile or so I crossed the line in 1 hour 40 minutes and 38 seconds, so close to below 1.40 - something I would have been incredibly chuffed with. Despite this I was incredibly pleased and felt surprisingly fresh when I was greeted with a bag full of goodies and refreshments at the charity tent.
1 hour 40 felt great to me, I'd beaten my target, but I know that I could hit 1 hour 30 with a bit more training and less people getting in my way; it's a real shame that a whole load of people probably put 1 hour 20 or whatever and actually surpass 2 hours; people should be a little more realistic!
I was raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital - a cause very close to my heart and an incredibly worthy one, the specialist hospital saves the lives of many incredibly sick children every year and needs as much money as possible to keep doing so; I hate asking for sponsorship but if you're feeling generous: http://www.justgiving.com/GreatNorthTom.
My time of 1 hour, 40 minutes and 38 seconds saw me finish in 2,922nd place, 1,534th 0-34 year old and 2,694th male. I'd never felt so alive as I did yesterday and really see myself pushing that time and the distance in the future - running is now a new hobby!