It’s a week to go. An actual whole week until I run 13.1 miles through the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead. I’ve raised so far £780 for Gateshead Youth Council so far which is fabulous. I’ve upped my target to £1,000, and I’d love to get that, but anything in between is wonderful. It means a lot since none of my friends are particularly rolling in it, and I don’t work for a rich organisation, who has a lot to spare. And pandemic. I felt a bit awkward fundraising post pandemic. Thank you all so much for supporting me, whether you are family, friends or a stranger from the internet, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do this without any of you.
It takes a lot to make a clumsy, uncoordinated, often anxious woman run a half marathon in lycra through the streets of Newcastle in front of a crowd, and really that’s quite a list to make me not do this. Most people who aren’t in any way natural runners run these events for big emotional reasons and for charities that mean a hell of a lot to them, and that is exactly what got me up at the crack of dawn every Sunday morning for thirteen weeks to start a long run at 8 am. And kept me going. If you’d told me when I was 18 that I’d be running a half marathon in my 30’s or even just running at all, and people would support me and *deep breath* actually like me, I would have told you to bugger off. There’s a lot we’d all write to our younger selves I’m sure, much of it along the lines of “Stick with it!” “you’re alright really.” It says a lot to look back and think, yeah you didn’t think ANYONE would ever have real time for you or even want you around, but look at things now, you’re getting supportive messages from friends and family and internet strangers around the country (and world) because they really do want you to do well. Saying that this pandemic and training has eaten up much of the time I want to spend with the people who really do care, which will be rectified once I’ve suitably recovered and feel safer traveling again.
I started training as a way to get through this pandemic, both emotionally and physically. There has been times both recently and in the last decade when I literally wanted to run away. I wanted to get out, not be noticed or missed. Working from home has worked a treat in some ways because I could hide if I needed to. I didn’t need to make small talk in an office and I only needed to speak to people when it was absolutely necessary. I decided that Instead of running away, I was going to run through it, a tactic that has served me well in training. Whenever things feel too much now, I’ve adopted the strategy of going for a run rather than all of the other unhealthy coping mechanisms I could choose from. And it’s worked. I’ve never been one for focussing on my differences, and 18 year old me will clarify, ignoring was the best policy, but running has helped me to talk about them in a positive way. A way that younger Alice really needed to hear. “People don’t dislike you because you have dyspraxia or (then undiagnosed) ADHD, you just haven’t found your people yet”. Realising that I can be a runner has been so powerful.
This week my routine has been all over the place, I say routine, I mean running routine. I’ve stopped evening runs with the running club until the Great North Run is over, as I prefer to get myself through training alone. I feel in control if I organise everything, from the route I run to the time I go. So I’ve ran two mornings a week before work and one weekend longer run. it has been a good routine to stick to, and working from home has really done wonders for this plan too. No I idea how people with a commute and kids fit in training, but hats off to those of you that do. This week I was at work in person for some staff training for the first time since the pandemic began, and it was quite a shock to the system. I did it, and managed to fit a run in around work, by the weekend I was really pleased not to have to go anywhere. Tapering is a weird time to be in, because the event I’ve been working towards is so close, yet doesn’t feel real. I’m also more aware of the potential for injuries so close to race day, and keep checking my muscles for unusual twinges and trying to walk around the house carefully so I don’t knacker my ankle walking into my bed or something. All is well so far, touch wood. Today I ran a nice, steady 8 miles. My last long run before the big day. It was a good run, but I felt more knackered than I did last week after my half. I’ve put it down to a lot of misplaced adrenaline and my brain going into over drive about the big day. “Will I get to my start point at the right time? “Will I get lost?” “Will I cope with a crowd?” “Will I have enough energy to get all the way around? Those kind of questions. I’ve also learned that running Facebook groups are a place to avoid in the week of tapering. It’s full of people panicking, being over confident or comparing times of last long runs. There must be an in between somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet. Someone even posted a photo of the loos at the finish, and someone else commented worrying that there wasn’t enough. Running Facebook is wild, I tell you. I much prefer running Twitter during these final moments. Running Twitter told me to eat a lot of jelly babies, my kind of advice.
This close to the day there’s not a lot I can do, I’ve done the training, eaten well, got my period out of the way before race day (hurray!) and been supported in the best way possible by friends old and new. It has been an epic journey and I’m so pleased to have had you all along for the ride with me. There’s still time to sponsor me and support my fundraising for Gateshead Youth Council, or if you’d prefer to wait until I’ve completed the thing, the Justgiving page will be open for a little bit after the run.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
And pals who haven’t seen me in forever, you can start booking me in now. See you all on the other side. I can’t believe I’m here. Running changes lives, and youth work does too. This wouldn’t be possible without having either as part of my life.
If you’ve got through all of these Great North Run training blog posts, that deserves a medal too.
(If anyone is planning to come and watch, please let me know. It would be great to meet up after…)