My Great North Run Story – by the Big Taff Man

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I’m nervous. In a way I haven’t been for a run before.

It was 2013 when we started running regularly – it started with doing Parkruns, but they didn’t really get me nervous. I got a bit worried when we did our first 10k, but by the time we did our first half marathon I wasn’t nervous at all as we were fully in training for our first marathon. When it came to that (which you can read about her) that was Hell of a Hill and so while I was a bit nervous I always had in my head that we were probably going to end up walking lots of it. This year we’ve already done 3 half marathons, the first a week before the wedding, the second a fun one in Birmingham and the 3rd only two weeks ago on the Severn Bridge?

So why is this weekend making me nervous?

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Wind the clock back 15 years to a young Taff sat on the sofa around this time in September with my mam, watching the coverage of the Great North Run. I remember watching it every year. While we’d end up doing the same for the London Marathon that never drew me in the same way as the Great North did. I can remember telling my mam that one day I’d do that run, but there was one condition:

I’d only do it when I felt that I could do a time I could be happy with.

So years of weight gaining and no training happened and the thought of actually going and running Great North seemed more and more of an improbability that I’d even think about entering. But still every year I’d tune in and watch the highlights and inevitably tell someone – I’ll do this run some day.

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Then we start running regulary and even in those early days the thought was there – maybe I’ll get to the point where I can think about entering.  We get engaged, we run our first half marathon and I smash it by getting a sub 2 hour time, then we follow it up with our first marathon, and then in January 2016 the ballot opens for this years Great North. So I enter both myself and my fiancée and wait.

And on Feb 10th I get this

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And immediately I was excited. A dream was coming true. Unfortunately Rach didnt get in but she wasnt really bothered – she didnt feel like I did about this race

A couple of weeks later I did only my 2nd ever but also my first half of the year, a week later got married and then it took pretty much till May for us to start training again properly. Then July we do the Black Country Half and we run together for the whole of it.

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We end up with a time of 2:08.

And I was disappointed.

It was a pretty flat half, and although I was at times slowed by Rach, there were also moments where Rach carried me. So I started to worry

Then training carries on and doesnt go so well, I hurt my ankle at one point, then start to feel a pull in my calf. We get to two weeks ago and we run the Severn Bridge half. In the run up I start talking about how I feel that the run is going to end up being more of an experience run. On the day I  change my mind and go for it. At the start line I position us behind the 2 hour pacer, with a plan of sticking close to him and looking at pushing on in the second half.

Within 2km he was so far ahead of us that I’d lost sight of him.

2016-08-28-032We finished in 2 hours and 14 minutes and 48 seconds.

And I was disappointed.

Because I felt like I really pushed and tried hard, and through parts of it I struggled, even having to walk at 11 miles as we hit a massive hill because I gave myself a stitch from stupidly drinking water too fast.

And ever since I’ve been worried – because Great North isnt just a run to me. Its the culmination of a promise that I made to myself when I was younger, a promise that when I do it that I’ll be happy with what Ive done. I didnt want to go there and just enjoy it – yes I do want to enjoy it but I wanted to do something I was happy with. Not necessarily get a PB, but finish and feel like I’ve achieved something, and done myself proud. That Ive really earned that medal

So as this gets posted I’m going to be sat in work, roughly 48 hours before Great North, before my dream run and I’m going to be sat there nervous.

Nervous because I feel like I’m going to let myself down.