Tag Archives: Great North Run

A Great Run Up North

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 The day I was to run 13.1 miles for SANDS finally arrived! It’s not an over exaggeration when I say that I’ve been working towards this goal all year. 12 months ago I could just about manage 5km every week or so. Three days ago I quadrupled that effort and completed my fourth ever half marathon, my first in nine years. Most importantly due to the generosity of my family, friends and colleagues, my Justgiving total now stands at £2,278 for the SANDS research fund.

Here’s how my day went!

Adam and I woke up at 5.30am in our lovely comfy B&B room to the sound of Dylan singing ‘Bob the Builder, Can you fix it’?? He was ready to get up but we weren’t!! A few shushes and we managed to sneak another hour sleep before getting up. The owner kindly got up early too in order to serve us breakfast. We sat and chatted with a couple from Liverpool who were also going up to the run. I managed to stomach a bit of porridge, some fruit and yoghurt and poached egg, drooling at the sight of Adam’s amazing plate of sausage, bacon and black pudding!

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Breakfast done, we packed up and got on the road, exchanging ‘good luck’s with the Liverpudlian runner. On went the Rocky soundtrack to get me pumped and motivated. I’m a sucker for Sylvester Stallone’s boxing saga. It makes me think of the early days when Adam and I first got together. I’d never seen it before and he introduced me to each chapter over consecutive weekends.

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The nerves started to kick in as we approached Newcastle. We parked the car just after 9am in the city centre near the Metro and followed the crowds to the start line. Even though the race didn’t begin until 10.40am, with 40,000+ runners plus spectators, we didn’t want to risk being late. Dylan enjoyed seeing all the people and picking out the runners in fancy dress. I told him I wanted him to tell me about all the different characters he saw when I finished. We parted ways as they went to find a place to watch the start. I queued for my last toilet break and collected the safety pins for my running number that I’d forgotten to pack. I knew a few other people taking part but with the huge volumes of runners (it is the world’s biggest half marathon you know!), meeting up just wasn’t an option.

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I finally found my starting ‘pen’ after walking past thousands of others. Given my predicted time I was near the back of the pack. And then I waited, and waited and waited. The start gun went. I waited some more, the Red Arrows flew over, waited a bit more again and then 32 minutes after the start I crossed the line!

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Waiting patiently for mummy!

My first priority once running got underway was to find Dylan and Adam. We made sure that co-ordinated so I was on the right side for them to see me. After a couple of minutes I saw them, Dylan on Adam’s shoulders waving. I managed a high five with them both, big smiles all around and then after that I was able to properly settle into the race.

So, I haven’t mentioned the heat yet. How can I have got 500 words into this blog without talking about how incredibly flipping hot it was. We spent half of July staring out at rain dripped windows and in September suddenly the country breaks into an unexpected heatwave! That was the first real obstacle. Adjusting to a race that could have been in Nigeria instead of Newcastle. I took advantage of the majority of the first mile going under the city underpasses and then afterwards tried as much as possible to go along the shaded parts of the streets, although there weren’t many of these.

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We crossed the Tyne Bridge (always exciting) and apart from being hot, I felt as though the first 5km was pretty comfortable. Although there are A LOT of people running, I remembered why I love the Great North Run. For one the crowds are amazing. There aren’t many sections of the race where there aren’t spectators shouting encouragement, handing out jelly babies or ice pops. Secondly I love reading all the different running shirts and seeing who people are running for. Some people think that runners are crazy putting themselves through the torture and pain of training and racing, but it truly is an amazing sight looking at all the good causes and thinking how many charities will be benefitting as a result of this one half marathon. I saw a few SANDS runners. I didn’t pass many of them (it was generally them passing me) but for those I did, I tried to have a bit of a chat and motivational high five with them.

The heat aside, I felt like I was doing pretty well and enjoying myself until about mile 10. At that point I was thinking ‘all the hard work done, not far to go now, it’s only a parkrun (5k) which I do every Saturday’. I might even have stupidly thought ‘easy’! I think that caused me to hit the brick wall. My legs turned to jelly, every leg muscle ached and every joint groaned. Olympic walkers would easily have overtaken me as I stumbled along. The last 3 miles were pretty much pure agony. So rather than dwell on it (I want to wipe it from memory) lets skip onto the finish.

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YEY I finished!! The last mile along the seafront seemed to go on forever but finally it ended. I’ve got to give a massive thank you to the commentator at the end, who, at the time I rolled in was encouraging the crowd to give us a standing ovation and huge cheers. They obeyed, and honestly I felt like I’d just won an Olympic medal! Crossing the line I managed to keep it together physically and didn’t collapse! Mentally I almost crumbled and cried, but again just kept a hold of myself.

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After collecting my medal and bag, I eventually managed to make my way to meeting Adam and Dylan. It was too busy for them to stand at the finish, Adam instead keeping Dylan entertained watching the Red Arrows display. Hugs all round and an ice cream for Dylan (it has been a long day for him), it was great to see them both. It had definitely been the right decision leaving Jude with my parents, he would have enjoyed the planes but that would have been about it!

The journey home was long and tiring, but all in all it was a great day. My time?? 2 hrs 34. Not my worse and not my best. To be honest, given how I’ve felt over the past couple of weeks, I was happy to get through the full 13.1 miles and finish. Completing this was less about the time, and more about raising money and raising awareness of stillbirth. And for Ewan to know that I ran it for him.

If you would like to donate to SANDS, please visit my Justgiving page www.justgiving.com/runningforewan

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A well earned bath

12 months later….

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Almost 12 months ago, I wrote a blog making a bold statement. That I was going to take part in the Great North Run in a years time. Here I am, on the eve of said race, sat in a lovely B&B farmhouse near Hadrian’s Wall, about 40 minutes away from Newcastle. It looks like I’m doing it then!

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Adam and I drove up to the North East today with Dylan. We made the decision to leave Jude back at home with grandma and grandad. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow and whilst it would have been amazing having him watch me, it would be hard work for Adam. Dylan is a good age (4) to appreciate what will be going on, Jude at 19 months would not! I’m not worried about him, he’ll be being spoiled rotten.

The B&B is so peaceful. I only booked it about 4 months ago, which is too late to take advantage of any budget accommodation in Newcastle city centre. So instead of paying a small fortune for a Travelodge room 5 miles away, we decided on going a bit further afield. Being surrounded by field upon field of sheep is very relaxing indeed. Dylan was super excited when we arrived. He loves a holiday and hasn’t managed to hide his disappointment that it’s only for one night.

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How am I feeling about tomorrow? Mmmmm surprisingly calm given that I haven’t really had the preparation I was hoping for. I was going great guns with my training until mid-June after my 2 x 10k races, then I went off the boil a bit. A month later I got back on it and was doing reasonably well getting the miles under my belt, culminating in my longest 11 mile run 3 weeks ago. Then it’s gone a bit pear shaped since. Work has been crazy busy (anyone who works with me or in Further Education knows that is a bit of an understatement!). I’ve barely managed anything in the last 2 weeks at all and have felt pretty run down with work over the last few days. I have managed a couple of good nights sleep though so hopefully that will help.

Don’t expect any amazing times from me. I’ll honestly just be happy to make it round and enjoy the experience. At one stage I was really hoping to beat my best time and was aiming for 2 hr 15 mins but I can’t see that happening now. By getting round in one piece I’ll hopefully make everyone who has sponsored me proud. Most importantly I want Ewan to be proud of his mum. I can’t believe that the total raised so far for SANDS now stands at £2138! A huge thank you to EVERYONE who has sponsored me. There is still chance if you haven’t done so already – visit www.justgiving.com/running4ewan.

So if you find yourself at a loose end tomorrow, get BBC 1 on from about 10am. Maybe the tens of thousands of runners, raising money for amazing causes will inspire you to take part next year!

I’m In!!!!

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An excuse to get some new running shoes!!

Well if you like my Facebook page then you can guess what this post is about. I can’t say it more simply that I GOT IN! Yes, I’ve finally got confirmation that I have a charity place to do the Great North Run in September. Crucially, the charity place is for SANDS.

I’m not being overdramatic when I say that I was devastated not to get a place through the ballot. I really was. I’ve been running regularly since the start of the year (well at least once a week) and just assumed I would get in. On the day the results of the ballot were emailed out, at least 5 people I knew were celebrating on Facebook because they’d been successful. I wanted to be so pleased for them, especially as most said they wanted to run for SANDS too.

I hoped SANDS would have some places, but also knew that they wouldn’t have many. I sent my application off along with a few begging emails. One of my friends (who got a ballot place) emailed in support saying she’d been planning to run with me. Another friend said that I could have their place if I didn’t get one through SANDS (how lovely).

I really was worried I wouldn’t get a place. And I really didn’t want to contemplate what would happen if I was unsuccessful. As much as I wanted to run, I didn’t want to run for anyone else other than SANDS. The charity is more important than the run.

Now I don’t need to worry about getting in. I just need to worry about making sure I train enough!! I know I can run 13.1 miles. I’ve done it 3 times before, so that does help. Not that it makes the training any easier mind. My regular Saturday Parkrunning will give me a solid foundation but I now need to make time to get out during the week. Bring on the lighter nights!

So I’m sorry that now I’ll be harping on about this for the next few months. Hopefully you will enjoy tracking my progress (and not be too bored with it!). Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be inspired to get those dusty running shoes out from under your bed and sign up for a 5 or 10k yourself. And even better, raise money for SANDS.

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If you are interested in my Great North Run journey, you might want to read my first declaration of intent – Running for Ewan

If you want to take up running and don’t know where to start, why not look at Parkrun – I’m hooked. Read more about it in 8 Reasons to Love Parkrun and My First Parkrun

The Great North Run 2016 – The Story So Far

gnr-largeLast September, I made rather a bold statement. In print, here on this blog. I said that I was planning to run 13.1 miles to raise money for Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society, a charity that couldn’t be any closer to my heart. I threw down the gauntlet for friends (and strangers) to join and a few brave souls picked it up.

I thought the hardest thing would be getting going with the training. To begin with it was. I was juggling going back to work after maternity leave with all the fun and chaos of Christmas. As the New Year passed, I made an unspoken resolution to get back on it. So far I’ve been pleased with my progress. Saturday mornings have seen me up for 9am to take part in every parkrun of 2016, getting a Personal Best at my usual Burnley run and attempting the much more difficult Pendle run. I’ve managed to also to get our at least once, sometimes twice during the week too.

Wettest Parkrun of the year (so far)

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I’ve honestly felt as though I’ve had something driving me this time around. When I’ve run up one of the (many) steep hills near home, or when I was pushing for my PB, at the time I was starting to doubt my ability, I reminded myself why I was there in the first place. I’m not running to lose weight, or to get fitter (albeit valid reasons and actually ones I should adopt too!), I am running for my angel.

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My new Sands training t-shirt

So then came the bombshell. The results of the ballot were emailed out this week. I didn’t get a place. Okaaaaaaay! That wasn’t part of the plan. I’ve been successful in the ballot before. In fact I think I have got every place all three times. I stupidly didn’t think about the prospect of being unsuccessful.

I got in touch with Sands almost straight away to ask about a charity place. Due to the high profile nature of the event (it is the largest half marathon in the world!), understandably places aren’t given straight away to anyone who asks for one. There are 50,000+ participants. Most of them running for charity. I’ve sent off my application for one of their golden bond places. I’ve no idea how many places they do have, but given they are only a small charity, I am hoping for my own selfish reasons that they aren’t over subscribed.  

I have to wait until next month to find out. It’s going to be a loooong month of nibbling finger nails. I thought it might be hard getting up on Saturday to be motivated to run. But it’s starting to become habit now and hopefully if I do get that place, I won’t have lost momentum.

I don’t want to consider the possibility of not getting that place. Not yet. Mainly because I don’t really want to run for anyone else other than Sands. If there are other charity places available, I can’t see myself going for them. With a heavy heart I’ll have to lead the cheerleading for all my wonderful friends who were lucky enough to get places and will run for Sands. I just really wish I can join them. I can’t describe how gutted I will be if I can’t do this.

Keep everything crossed for me. Legs, arms, fingers and toes.

I will keep you posted.

 

Juggling Mummy – Home life, Work and Fundraising

Juggling balls used to keep things in the air

Wow it feels like such a long time since I sat down at the laptop to write. The blog I posted last week about Ewan’s birth was one I had written (in the main) some time ago and I just updated it and made tweaks. Since we returned from our holiday last month it just feels as though life has been super hectic. I am getting to grips with returning to work, adapting to Adam’s new job and shift patterns, keeping up with day to day house jobs and running around after a now mobile baby and his brother. Then on top of all that, last week I organised and held a quiz to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) and a local charity Friends of Serenity. Don’t get me wrong. I love the crazy, mad busyness. And although some days feel hard, I thank my lucky stars that I have two happy and healthy boys to run around after.

Juggling work and being a mum

I’m not even back at work properly yet. Having gone back to work full-time after having Dylan, I was so pleased that I could finally reduce my hours to 4 days a week this time around. Since August I’ve been doing a couple of days a week, mainly because it is our busiest time. From this week I am working 3 days. So I’m having it easy really. I’ve slowly been getting better and better at getting the boys up and ready and dressed and into work on time. Ok I’ve not quite nailed it, but I’ve definitely improved compared to a month ago!

Adam started a new job in July which means he is away for 27 hours at a time, 2-3 times a week. Although it seems a long time to be away, we’ve quickly got used to it. In the long run it’s definitely better as he’ll get to spend more quality time with the boys. And tonight when I came home from work, my tea was ready and on the table. Happy days!

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My mobile baby!

 

Jude loves to explore, and now he is mobile, it’s going to get harder to keep him occupied in the morning (without worrying he isn’t tearing the place apart!). At the moment he is quite happy playing with toys on the bathroom floor whilst I’m in the shower, but I bet that won’t last for long! Adam put the stairgates up today so at least I won’t worry about him toppling down them.

 

I’ve learnt not to put the telly on for Dylan. At first I thought it would help and keep him quiet. But actually all it does is distract him and make him more reluctant to get dressed/have breakfast/brush teeth. So I don’t mention the ‘O’ word (Octonauts) and he seems quite happy to potter around and play with whatever toys are lying about.

Fundraising and quizzing

I feel like one of the things that this blog has done is to reinvigorate my passion for fundraising for Sands. In the two years after Ewan died, we set up a Justgiving Page, organised two quizzes and ran a 10k race raising nearly £8,000. Recently we haven’t done a lot and by writing about stillbirth awareness I am back in ‘that place’ where I want to get involved and help again. At the beginning of the month I went to the Sands AGM and conference, which I am hoping to write about (when I have the time!). Hearing about all the research that is needed to help reduce the stillbirth rate has really spurred me on.

So last Thursday night, which happened to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness day (15th October), 45 of my family and friends gathered together for a night of me on the mic asking questions about anything from Shakespeare quotes to celebrity couples. Typically I was up until about 12 on Wednesday night still writing the questions. Disorganised as usual! The venue for the quiz was at my local college (which also happens to be where I work!). Because we teach Catering, there is a restaurant for the public to dine so that students can practice cooking and front of house skills. The students made huge vats of meat and veggie chilli for us and kept everyone well fed.

RaffleIt was a great night. Although I was hoping for more people (Thursday nights aren’t the best I discovered for other people to get babysitters), we raised almost £600 from the ticket price and raffle. A friend of mine donated a huge chocolate bouquet which definitely led to more raffle tickets being sold. However what really boosted the total was the fact that college only charged me cost price for the food. This added £125 to the total. I was delighted. I think it helped that my friends made good use of the bar!

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I even managed to light my candle at 7pm before the quiz started as part of the international Wave of Light and kept it on all night.

 

Life isn’t going to calm down any time soon. Especially now I’ve got to start fitting in all the training to get ready for the Great North Run. Seeing as I published it here a few weeks ago, there’s no going back! But I can’t complain. It’s all for a great cause. I’m just learning to embrace the chaos and go with the flow!

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