So, on the Ninth of Jooon, I completed my very first Blaydon Race and I absolutely loved it!
From start to finish there was not one thing that put me off from entering next year, even if I didn’t really train for it, I still had a smile on my face and loved every mile that was presented.
Leading up to it, I wasn’t feeling as nervous or sick as I normally am when it comes to racing. It was odd, “maybe it’s because it’s on a night” I thought to myself, nonetheless, I still maintained my plan to keeping myself as fresh as I could before heading to the start line.
On the morning, I enjoyed a lovely lie in, it’s very rare I get to have one these days but I made sure that I took full advantage of my day off from work and stayed in bed for as long as my body would let me. This was followed by breakfast (oats with a hit of honey, coffee, fresh orange juice and a pint of water) which I did not hang about in terms of eating it.
After that, I just chilled out, watched a few episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man and the occasional look-through my social media pages, before I knew it, lunchtime had arrived. Nothing exciting, just pasta with tuna and sauce, followed by a handful of nuts.
As you can tell, not a lot of excitement to go off on as the time wore on, but around 17:00, I had my go-to pre-race snack of peanut butter, jam and mashed banana on toast. That was it. Time to get into race mode and zone out. Cue, my Spotify playlist.
The songs were the perfect blend to up the ante and had me focused throughout, going over the race plan I put together – steady first mile then turn over after each. I knew what I had to do, but the main goal to aim for was easy, enjoy myself.
At 18:20, I met my friends and members of the Run Eat Sleep group on the Metro and had a quick lap around the block near the start line, just to keep me ticking over and prepare the legs – it’ll be the fastest I’ve ran since the Alnwick XC, so I had to be ready.
Of course, it was crammed at the front, there was a slight delay to the start, but it didn’t disturb me, I was ready to wait 30 minutes if need be.
As the horn sounded, I clicked my Garmin away and off I went, “remember where you are, show respect and don’t go too hard” were the words I kept saying to myself. During my first Great North Run, I got caught up in the moment and ended up opening my first mile in nine minute, two minutes off my average I’d been training at. I remembered this and tried to focus on getting out and safely.
The first mile was clocked at 7:18, a perfect opener, exactly what I needed to see. I felt good, so I maintained the pace and prepared myself for the Scotswood Road. Little did I know how much of a struggle it would be.
Mile two, 7:10 and feeling comfortable. I felt great, a completely different runner than what I was last year. Knowing that I could maintain the pace and not really feel any fatigue really pulled me along nicely. But the length of the Scotswood Road did throw me off a little. I knew it was long, I’ve been told about it, been driven long it and even cycled along it, so I knew it may be a tough challenge, but by gum it was hard.
The heat and the sun didn’t help either, it was baking from the word go and the sun was starting to set, proving to be a constant annoyance and I was constantly frowning to keep any rays out my eyes, but I carried on, trying to maintain a good pace.
Mile three, 7:14. The heat didn’t look like it was bothering me but I did start to feel dehydrated a little. The amount of sweat I was kicking out was probably the main reason why I was, I had drank enough the night before and made sure I drank enough, without bringing on the dreaded ‘gloopy’ sound you tummy makes when you know you’ve taken on too much. The end was in sight of the Scotswood Road, thankfully!
Mile four, 7:37. Here is where I had a slight wobble. This was when the course was starting to wind up and I finally got a drink of much needed water, maybe it was by legs starting to feel the opening few miles or the heat finally making me pay? I couldn’t be sure, but I was a little disappointed when that flashed up on my watch. But it was around here when I caught my second wind and picked up, “turn the legs over, turn the legs over, relax, turn the legs over, you’re there, you’re nearly there, just hold on, just keep gan!”
I remember looking at my Garmin, waiting for it to click 4.7 miles, “one mile to go, let’s move it!” I shouted, yeah, I shouted it, there were a few runners out there who looked like they were struggling, so I wanted to encourage them to keep them moving, the end was in sight.
Mile 5, 7:18. Now, here is where I wish I researched where the finish was, because if I had known, I would have started the sprint finish a lot earlier. Instead, I left it until the last 100m or so to do it, narrowly missing out on catching someone id been tracking for the last few miles or so – all fun a games though!
In the end, I ran 41:21 – which I was over the moon with considering it was my first time doing The Blaydon Races. Okay, I was a bit annoyed that I couldn’t really train properly for it, but knowing that I could run that, with little training, shows that I’m in good shape, strong and I have stuff to go work on, as well as having the ability to drop a BIG 10K personal best.
The atmosphere was incredible especially at the finish, cries of “go on Shields” helped me massively, it really pick me up. I’ll definitely be back!
Next up, the Morrisons Great North Run!