This race was in some doubt after my recent car troubles. But my fabulous Fetchie friends Lesley and Jeff came to my rescue. So on a sunny Sunday morning, I headed over to South Shields, recalling memories of the Great North Run, ready for a pick up.
All on time and off down the road to Hartlepool with much chatter in the car and Jeff predicting a sub 45 for me but I wasn’t so sure. The marina looked lovely in the sunshine, with the masts of the tall ship Trincomalee poking up through the skyline. It was still a bit chilly, but I Geordied up for my first race of the season in short sleeves and capris.
On the Race HQ boat I met Jason out for a rare road race and Dave, just spectating this one. But always two happy Fetchies it’s lovely to see. As we lined up at the start, there was some confusion over which way we’d be heading and it seemed this year we ran our laps of the marina in the opposite direction. That caught out Lisa on photograph duty, but she got some great pics on our second time around.
Soon we were running out along the promenade, into a slight headwind. I had to remind myself this wasn’t a 5k and tried to pace myself accordingly. I zoomed through the first mile in 7:59 which would have been a fantastic target pace if I’d kept it up, but I dropped back a little as the distance took its toll.
It was nice running today, in the sunshine with a slight cooling breeze (Flip – where were you?). And having never run the distance before, I had nothing to prove other than to run a good race in my own head.
As so often I was out on my own. I stuck with an older guy in a Heaton Harriers vest for a while, but we kept dropping back and then re-passing each other. I now can’t remember if I eventually overtook him or he got away from me. I didn’t realise Lisrun was taking pictures taking photos until he gave me a shout.
There was another guy with rather squeaky, shuffly shoes that I ran beside for a while, trading places until I passed him. There were moments when I felt it was tough and my legs lacked speed and then others where I seemed to be able to put a bit of a spurt on. Whenever someone came alongside me to make a pass, I pressed on and tried to keep with them for as long as I could. I had a number of these mini races and they helped keep me focused.
I saw the race leader bounding back along the promenade with a huge lead on the next runner and then a succession of speedy athletes going past. I almost missed Ha!Ha! until he have me a shout. But I yelled out to Jason and got back into my race.
There was a girl in a pink top, wearing a jacket around her waist. I passed her quite early on and then she came back at me. I overtook her again, squeezing in between her and another girl in turquoise who I stuck with until the turn.
One out of the headwind, the sunshine was blazing and I was starting to feel the bike miles in my legs. Still I pushed on, relishing the run by the sea, knowing I’d done more than half race distance. I saw Lesley looking strong and smiling and gave a few shouts to other runners as we passed.
Heading back towards the Marina and I was really struggling. But every time I felt I wanted to slow down, I tried to dig in and make my legs move faster. In the last mile, a guy in a yellow top fought to gain on me and I tried to make myself hard to pass, but eventually he had more in his legs and I had to let him go. At this point I was wondering how I ever ran 10k only 3 weeks ago, because this was feeling tough and I could feel my running losing form.
As the finish line approached and supporters began to appear, the girl in pink came past me. “Go on,” I said, “You worked for that.” She was off and away and I thought I wouldn’t catch her. But as I started to realise the finish was closer than I thought, my legs powered up and hit a sprint before I even asked them to. I really don’t know where it came from, but that sudden explosion of power and strength was exhilarating and I beat her to the line – my time 43:03.
I spoke to her at the water station afterwards and she said it had been her first race and she was really pleased with herself. She had every right to be.
Hartlepool water has never tasted so good as it did at the finish. Then back to see the rest of the runners coming in, congratulate Jeff on predicting my time better than I did and see a smiling Jason chuffed with a cracking run. Cheered Lesley over the line – still smiling.
After some grub and chat in the pub, it was a happy car load that headed back with talk of more races still to come. It’s promising to be a grand summer with my running buddies.
Stats and stuff:
5 miles 43:03