Event 20 - The Great North Run!
Event 20 - the last one - is complete! The event that kept me going through my long training runs is now behind me and my blisters have healed. I used to tell myself when I was out on a lonely run - think how good it will feel to cross that finish line in South Shields... well this is how good it felt:
The atmosphere was incredible and weirdly I wasn't nervous about running further than I'd ever run in my life before. You don't get to 19 1/2 events and just quit do you?! There was no way I wasn't crossing that finish line, it was just a question of how long it would take me (and how painful it would be).
Luckily my knee was fine and I barely noticed the blisters forming. I loved the noise running of all the runners going through the under passes and on to the Tyne Bridge. The thought of seeing my parents just before the Tyne bridge and Tim at mile 4 were a great incentive to keep going.
I broke my race down into manageable chunks of where I thought I'd see people, how far I'd run before, where the drinks stations were and just plodded along at my slow steady pace. My strategy was helped by the super generous Geordie's hosing us down with their garden hoses and giving me a couple of rich tea biscuits at about mile 10. After that I was in unknown territory, how long could I keep going?
Well you don't get to 19 and 3/4 events to start walking.
The hill at mile 11 was really tough though, it seemed to never end. But the sight of the sea just before the 12 mile marker was one of the best sights I have ever seen! I must have looked like such a loonie cheering mid-race when it came into view. I ran the last mile and half sobbing, overwhelmed by the emotion of all of the events so far and knowing that I would make it to the finish but with a huge grin on my face.
But you don't get to 19.95 events to just jog across the line.
One of my friends who does Taekwon put alongside her donation "In a fight, this is the bit where we'd shout 10 seconds to go...STRONG FINISH!!!". Inspired by Lindsay Sharp at the Commonwealth Games I wrote 'Strong Finish' down the inside of my left arm. With about 60m to go I saw my chance, swerving left I sprinted round the other runners across the line for my strong finish. Making me the 996,049th finisher of the Great North Run ever!
As it is my final blog I thought I'd leave you with a bit of a thought piece prompted by an article I read in Stylist the week before the Great North Run. You can read the full article here but it quotes that 41% of UK women are unhappy with their body weight and shape, an increase in the last decade from 36%.
It made me both very sad and very grateful and I'm going to say something controversial for a woman - I absolutely love my body. I'm so grateful that it has put up with the stubbornness of my mind which 187 days ago set out determined to complete all these events. Over the course of this year I have gained weight and gone up clothes sizes. I couldn't even run 5km at the start of this year. But the muscles I gained helped me swim over 21000m and run more miles than I ever dreamed possible. My body has amazed me at it's capacity for stamina, strength and recovery. So next time you look in the mirror ladies please try and remember your body is capable of amazing things, whatever shape or size it happens to be.
Thank you for taking me on this incredible journey, I am truly grateful.