I don’t often get goosebumps, mainly because I don’t often get cold… That clammy feeling when the hairs on your arms stand up is normally restricted for moments of mild terror or excitement.
Which nicely brings me to Sunday… When I got them three times!
Those readers in the UK who watch the BBC will have seen the wall to wall promotion, may have watched some of the runners or the highlights show. It was the Great North Run – the biggest mass participation event in the UK. An half marathon, known throughout the world for its fancy dress runners, charity fundraisers and recreational runners.
As frequent readers will have gathered I’m going through a purple patch with my running, which is nice as I used to go purple when I ran. I wasn’t expecting Sunday though.
Goosebumps 1 – it was wet , windy and cold in the massed start… People were wrapping themselves in discarded foil blankets to keep dry. I embraced the cold… I’ve been warmer in Finland in winter, but not being a warm weather runner I took the goosebumps as a good sign.
And I ran, and ran easily… The 1st mile mark threw me as I misread it as a kilometre sign, I regathered my thoughts and checked my progress. I ran over the Tyne Bridge, legs and arms swinging lungs and heart working like a dream.
The 5km sign came up and I had to double-check my watch – just under 31 min! My 5 km pb is 30min… I checked myself over and decided that I was fine and kept going, knowing that the first 15km of the GNR are the easier running.
10km came up in about 63 min – against a pb of 62min. I was flying, powerade was grabbed, fancy dress groups dodged around and still I felt fine.
I then came across a runner I’ve swapped tweets and tales with – Ivan and Nadine – the original Mr & Mrs Incredible who have been fundraising for 3 years since their son Seb was born with a CHD (they tweet as @seb4chuf) – follow them, their coast to coast events are awe inspiringly insane! So, as you do when you are running well I slowed down shook his hand – I should add that between the costumes and collecting buckets on the pushchair they were probably slower than normal…
Then it was back to it – past Tanni Grey-Thompson at her normal water station at 8 miles, and through the wall of sound at 10 miles and into the last 6 km in 1:36. The last 6 km, and a dream I’ve had for a decade was on – I’ve always wanted to be on the coast road as the Red Arrows did their thing.
The legs were feeling it know, but the brutalisers did their job – I’ve run in pain and this was ache not pain! So on I went, hitting the dreaded hills up to the sharp dip to the coast. My KM spilts slowed, but never enough to make me really worry. The sharp dip was gentle this year, compared to many on the trail and fell runs I’ve done and then I was on the front – 1 mile to go…
And there were the Red Arrows starting their display… Dream time – as I checked my watch to see if a sub 2:20 time was possible my bumps goosed for a second time – two hawker jets did the impossibly close fly-by the red arrows are famous for, parallel to where I was. Head down, run for the line… Cross the line, try and remember to smile (there are cameras) and stop the watch…
16 minutes than last year, 10 minutes off last year’s GNR.
You don’t get much better than that:-D
And then to the Max Appeal / Children’s Heart Federation gang in the tents, the other runners and me swapping tales of chaffing and odd sights seen on the course whilst eating butties and replenishing our fluids levels with water and powerade. The first timers bubbling with excitement, the old lags reflecting on what makes the magic magical.
Then it was time for me to watch my mate Gilly to finish her first GNR – she, like I did all those years, was walking her first one.
Watching her come down the last 400 metres, chatting to her new friend grinning from ear to ear as she did bought on that third bout of goosebumps. The Great North Run is great for many reasons, for me the greatness is most about how it is accessible to most people – and not just grudgingly accessible, but genuinely welcoming.
I’ll put up my usual collection of biometrics when I get to the correct set of IT…
Now it’s a couple of days to recover, then Friday is a 25 miler – the last LSR of the Ultra training…