The best laid plans of mice and men… MR. M’S JOURNEY TO THE 2017 GREAT NORTH RUN

In January Mr M wrote his first blog in a 4 part mini series all about his journey to the BIG Great North Run in September. Here is his 2nd instalment including a number of different experiences at a variety of races over the past 6 months. Keep reading to see how he is getting on. 

Remember the chest infection I was suffering from at the
time of writing my first blog post? Well that lingered on for ages, to the
extent that I didn’t feel well enough to go out for my first run of 2017 until
February 18th (a park run). Eight days later I completed the 5k Stroke Association Resolution Run with a still recovering chest and an ankle
I’d rolled in footy training earlier that week. I was just relieved to cross the

Tara, Michael, Oscar (the dog), Emma and Sarah

That was the feeling when I crossed the line of the Freeman Fun Run in April. I’d only managed to run 20km total since the Resolution Run and this was a last minute entry when Melissa had to withdraw. Suffice to say going out for an Italian and drinking plenty of house wine the night before, combined with the temperature on the day and a sadistic route which climbed out of Jesmond Dene did not make it the most fun of runs. I did, however, cross the line in 7th place overall which is quite an achievement and one I doubt I’ll ever match!

Freeman Run – Alison, Ay, Sarah, Emma, Michael + Oscar (the dog)

As April went on I built up the combined running/cycling
distance (111.6 km) cycling to my new job or running in the lighter evenings
after work. The regular footy season got under way with weekly training and
matches to and with my first 10k  (Sunderland 10k) of the year on May 7th things were
looking good, with the slight exception I was going to spend the first 3 days
of that week in Amsterdam with some of the lads from footy…

Suffice to say the beer to exercise ratio of that week
swayed wholly to the former. Despite my lack of preparation it still felt good
to assemble on the start line of a major, mass participation running event
again and when we set off it was pure fun swarming through the streets of my
home city and crossing the Wearmouth Bridge (twice!) The week caught up with me
pretty quickly though and I was suffering before I’d run 3km. Fortunately, and
unusually for a 10k, there were 4 water stations along the route so that helped
in some respects.

Since I started running I’ve found I always have something
left for the finishing straight and this was no exception. I’d pulled out my
headphones after crossing the Wearmouth Bridge on the return so I could take in
the atmosphere and this combined with seeing the race clock approaching the 50
minute mark prompted me to kick extremely hard to get over the line before it.
I had forgotten I hadn’t crossed the start line for a good minute at the start
and so was very, very happy with my chip time of 48:55, a mere 19 seconds slower
than my personal best!

The following  weeks were
a bit of a whirlwind as Melissa and me moved into our new flat and then jetted
of to Vienna for a week (keep your eyes peeled for her posts on our holiday – here & here). Whilst
I didn’t clock up many km running before my next 10k I did get out on the bike
a lot more, especially with the HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle taking place at the
beginning of July. I clocked up a combined total of 163 km between the
Sunderland 10k and arriving at the start of the Great North 10k.

 I felt much better
prepared for the Great North 10k than the Sunderland City 10k, even if I had
played a game of Aussie Rules the day before. As with the Freeman Fun Run it
was another warm day and had there not been a water station at the start line I
would definitely have struggled more than I did.

Michael, Tara, Emma, Tracey, Sarah and Kat

I got off to a good start and where I normally find I have
to overtake several people within the first few km as I find a comfortable pace
I had managed to position myself so that I didn’t have to weave around slower

As with the Sunderland 10k I seemed to be blowing quite
early on and so the water at 4.5 km was a relief. IT’s reassuring when on a
route like this you hit the point it turns back on itself and it allowed me to
take the SIS gel I had been saving for the second half of the course. I
could’ve done with saving some of the water as it left my mouth surprisingly

By the time I hit the base of the ‘Slog of the Tyne’ I didn’t
feel like I had much left in the legs and it took a lot of willpower to not
slow to a walk at any point in the last 2 km, especially when climbing the
‘Slog on the Tyne’ itself. Once we were back onto the roads I realised it wasn’t far
at all to the finish line in Gateshead Stadium, and it was an incredible
experience running through the gates and onto the track of the stadium with the
crowds in the stand cheering runners on towards that finish line. As I rounded
the track onto the finishing straight I opened up the taps even if it left me
feeling like I was close to collapsing after crossing the line. I think I
finished the bottle of water in the finisher’s pack before putting the hard
earned medal around my neck!

I hadn’t given much thought to my finishing time as I knew
how much I felt I was struggling. Melissa had been tracking my run using the
official app and when she told me I had crossed the line in 48:33 I was
delighted: it was a new PB by 3 seconds!

I’d been putting off any proper training for the Great North
Run until after the Great North 10k so where do I go from here?

On Wednesday I’ve got the Durham City Run 10k (a last minute
sign up) and then a two month break until the Gateshead Trail 10k. I’ve also
signed up for the Great North 5k this year to accompany  Melissa. The pace will be slower for me so
it’ll be a nice warm-up for the GNR the following day. It’ll be the first time
we’ll run the full course and cross the line of a run together so I’m looking
forward to that.

The footy season draws to a close in a fortnight (with us playing
in the Plate Final for a second year running!) which frees up my Saturdays and
I can realistically can start doing weekly ‘long’ runs of 10 km building up to
half marathon distance and maybe a bit more. I will also try run from work a
couple of nights a week which is a distance just over 6 km and the majority of
which is uphill. Hopefully all of this should leave me sufficiently prepared
when I come to assemble on the central motorway on September 10th.

My next blog post should come in late August as I reach the
final weeks of training for the GNR.

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