Yes the Tyne Bridge and the Red Arrows. They were the best bits. Apart from getting a sub 2 hour for my first ever half. The atmosphere was pretty much dead. Not that I have a great deal of running experience but Manchester 10K was buzzing all the way around. Newcastle is off course a lot bigger and therefore people lining the streets or having music at every point is hard to do and because of this there was a sheer lack of drive to encourage you forward.
Now I love Newcastle, and it contains one my favorite bridges and we crossed it within the first two miles, the Red Arrows for the first time started the race with a fly over followed by their tradition fly over at South Shields and of course the Tyne Bridge where they did the missing man formation in tribute to the pilot who tragically lost his life back in August.
So the day started at 5am and eating my breakfast. My very kind best mate has agreed to drive me up as a couple of months ago I was unsure if my foot would be fit enough to carry out the miles I was asking of it and as a consequence the hotels were all booked up and those that had rooms were charging an arm and leg for them and I needed both my legs to run. So with that alternative means of transport was needed. The plan was to drive up and drop me in Newcastle for about 9 as the race started at 10:40 and the pens closed at 10:30. This would give me enough time to find the porter-loos and spend 30 minutes queuing and then spend a good amount of time soaking up the atmosphere and warming up. He would then drive to South Sheilds. It turns out that he arrived at the finish line five minutes before I crossed it apparently it took him nearly 3 hours to travel the 13.1 miles from the City to the coast.
As I entered my pen and began warming up, listening to the music travelling down the central motorway with the annoying local DJ informing us of the weather conditions and the special people who were running, small tears came to my eyes. I never ever thought I would be running a half marathon and never thought I would be taking part in the biggest. I started to think of the money I had raised and the messages of support from my friends. This time last year I was out of breath and curled up in a heap after running for two minutes and now I was limbering up and stretching my calves ready to embark on a distance that for many isn’t even thinkable.
I was slowly getting worried, as I had never ran 13.1 miles before, and my longest distance had been 11.5 and that hurt, at ten miles my legs were like jelly. But the pistol sounded for the women’s race and shortly after those iconic planes though over with a large applause and cheering that started the main event and thoughts of not crossing the line flew away like Arrows above me.
I was off, I had set my watch and it found it’s satellites, I went to start it and found it had gone to sleep desperately I tried to wake it up wishing it would quickly latch back on to the GPS signal it had found minutes before hand, by the time my left foot had crossed the start line my Garmin was ready for use and I pressed the start button. I was now running at 7 minute a mile far to quick, I also now needed another pee. Of course the great thing about men is we can do it anywhere, and within minutes the field of male runners were heading to the bushes and trees myself included.
Off we went, 55,000 of us for the ones at the back of the pack it would be 40 minutes till they crossed the start line. As I climbed the first hill I quickly descended into one of the tunnels where ‘Oggi Oggi Oggi‘ was sung. The crowd at later stages would also chant this but there would be no retort of ‘Oi Oi Oi’ as there was no point in wasting breath.
At the 2 mile stage I was running on one of my favourite bridge’s as the red arrows flew over. I was comfortable and had settled into a comfortable 8:45 pace. Which was just as well as the next 10 miles had several gentle climbs. By the half way mark I was feeling good and was on course to get my sub 2 hour.
There was music and bands in some places, and water and powerade in all the correct places. at 8 miles I started to slow down, but then the Bupa Boost came, loud music and lot of support allowed me to strive forward for half a mile my pace increased. While the atmosphere was not as intense as Manchester 10K the locals came out in force with sweets, water and oranges to show their support. My name was called out a couple of times by strangers willing me on.
By the time we got to the 10 mile point I knew I was almost home and dry. Well not that dry as the heavens started to open which was a welcome rest bite from the sun and helped me to battle on up the last hill to the roundabout before the coast. As I reached the top and I saw the sea on the horizon and it was a steep hill down and a sharp corner to the left to reach the 12th mile marker. This was the longest mile in the world, but I sped up and sprinted to the finish as the rain battled on down and echoes of cheering surrounding the coast road, I held my head high and crossed the line in 1 hour 51 minute and 25 seconds.
My legs felt like they would drop off, and the only fix was to head to the charity village to claim my free cup of tea and get a wonderful photo for their website. The day ended with a fantastic display from the Red Arrows and a pleasant car trip home. The question of would I do it again, never even crossed my mind as half way round I had already planed on entering for 2012. I enjoy long distance running and am now hooked on the running bug more than ever, I am in search of all kind of half marathons and hopeful this time next year I may talk about going the whole 26.2 miles. As for my sponsorship that has been the hardest part, and I still have a way to go until I have met my pledge but my Just Giving page is still open for any one who wishes to contribute. www.justgiving.com/thomas-Scott1
I’m now resting for a week, until I go for a quick run before my 10K race on 9th October and then I might enter the Birmingham Half on the 23rd October. Running is addictive and the weight loss, competition, feeling good about yourself is all side lined by the fact that running rules and is fun.
I like it, and I loved this run.