I was watching TV in 2014 and it happened to be GNR day. I felt totally inspired watching the runners.
I couldn’t even run for the bus and had been overweight all my adult life but had recently lost 5.5 stone a year previously. I’d put some wright back on so decided there and then that i would enter GNR 2015 ballot… buy some trainers in the new year… and follow a couch to 30 minutes program.
I really struggled in January 2015 when I did session one of my 12 weeks and I thought “what have I done ? I’ll never be able to run even a minute without struggling….. why am i even bothering ?”.
It was that voice in my head…. stubborness .. and sheer determination that saw me struggle to walk and run GNR 2015… then I’d already got the running bug.
I battled through injuries and started training fresh January 2016. Several 10k races and running the full 13.1 miles of GNR 2016 I was hungry for more challenges. I’d joined Saltwell Harriers in June 2016 and gone from strength to strength.
My confidence… discipline and general muscle development made me ready for the next challenge. I jumped right out my comfort zone and joined the XC team at the harrier league.
Each fixture is a struggle but I enjoy the sense of achievement and overcoming my weaknesses.
I still suffer from an old horse riding injury in my hip but it just makes me more driven to get stronger and fitter…. bring on 2017 races !!
I ran my first half marathon when I was 12 years old.
It was in the early days of the Great North Run and they didn’t have health and safety back then, never mind a junior run.
My Dad (who ran with the now defunct Gateshead Congas back in the day) just dropped me on the motorway by Claremont Road and said “Right, you start there. I’m going nearer the front. I’ll see you at the end”.
I’ve still got the t-shirt but it’s a bit skinny fit these days.
20 years later I decided to give it another go to see if I could beat my time. Jacqui watched that one on TV and we thought we’d both have a go the next time. Suddenly, we were runners.
A few more Great North Runs later and we had added a couple of other runs to our racing calendar (such as the Pier to Pier and Blaydon race) before Jacqui joined Saltwell Harriers on the recommendation of her friend, Annie Perez. She loved it so much she said I should join too and she’s the boss, so I did.
I’ve been with Saltwell just over three years now and achieved all the PBs I aimed for thanks to the training with the Hoops. Currently, I do all the apparel for the club and my proudest moment isn’t getting a sub-four marathon or any other time I’ve done but looking around after a race and seeing all the squad, dozens of them, sitting around in hoodies emblazoned with Saltwell Harriers and thinking ‘I did that. Everyone can see who we are now’.
We are Saltwell. We are family.
PBs are beyond me now due to injuries so I intend to give something back to the club by turning my hand to coaching and I’m taking my LIRF course in February as the first stage of that.
Running is a huge part of my life and Saltwell is a huge part of that. Long may it continue.
We have our own internal Fell Race Series the format of which is the same as last year. Men to complete 4 races – short, medium & long plus another.
Best position to count. Women to do 4 races – two short and two medium. The long races don’t count in the womens series. However, if they feel they have the experience to do them they can enter. Lowest points wins. i.e 1 point for first Saltwell to finish.
The races are as follows:
Carrock Fell 19 March
Beacon Hill 13 July
Great Whernside 23 September
Fairfield 13 May
Coledale Horseshoe 8 April
Simonside Cairns 10 December
Chevy Chase 1 July
Borrowdale 5 August
Langdale 7 October
So it’s finally 2017 and the countdown has begun, 24 weeks until the big day. Xmas and up to new year went pretty well, I was able to get up to the Cheviots, Roman Wall & Pennines as well as a few hilly runs round Beamish – around 120 miles & 20,000ft of ascent in 2 weeks.
New Year didn’t go so well as I was laid up with a cough & chest pains so didn’t get out for a week but I’m starting to get back into it now. My cough is a lot better but I’m still getting chest pains – the doctor has referred me for a chest X-ray and ECG scan so I’m hoping they come back ok and I can continue training.
Had an initial meeting with people from the club who have volunteered to help out which went really well. It really did bring home how much work is involved in this type of event other than the physical training (logistics, organisation, etc) and I’m so grateful to have so many people willing to give up their time to help.
Iain (Armstrong) is also planning an attempt around a month before mine so we will be doing a lot of joint training and planning which is working out well so far. We’ve been out a few times already to the Lakes & Cheviots with many more to come.
I’m doing the Brass Monkey this Sunday, but to be honest I’m not really looking forward to it. I was when I first signed up as it’s a fast course, good PB potential and it sold out in 38 minutes. It means I won’t be able to get into the fells that weekend though which I’m really enjoying – I’m really not feeling it for the roads.
It has made me think of a more fundamental issue of why anyone runs and why I started running in the first place.
I have, as I’m sure every runner has, went through periods of low motivation when I question why I run and what I get out of it. Every year I set myself goals which are usually times in which I want to run certain distances in, but what does it really mean? So what if I knock 10 seconds off my 10k PB – running is supposed to be enjoyable it certainly isn’t when you’re pushing yourself in the last 3rd of a race (especially if you’ve overcooked it).
Usually it’s time to take a break when that happens, but this year having the BGR as a different focus is really motivating me. There’s absolutely nothing better than to get out in the fells, just run and not have to worry about sticking to a certain pace or certain distance and just enjoy the surroundings and scenery.
Her e’s to the next 24 weeks,
What better to start the year than a 3 mile fell race! When I looked at the route the day before I was slightly surprised that the race was just the uphill and you had to jog or walk the 3 miles back to the start whether you liked it or not!
Fear not, the next day was a beautiful day, blue skies, no wind and i didn’t drink the night before. Sounds perfect right? Not quite.
In my head I repeated ‘It’s only 3 miles. It’s nothing’ and all was well until about 5 steps into the race. I was dehydrated and i’d fuelled up on a single croissant. I’d have probably been better fuelled if I’d drank the night before. Anyways, the only way was up. The race followed a rather picturesque route over fields and fells.
The ground was muddy and boggy and even the harshest of grips were slipping in it. It was half way up when i decided to make a rookie mistake and follow the person in front without checking around for markers. This resulted in a rather painful scramble through heather and marshland until eventually navigating back onto the actual path.
It wasn’t until we reached the final climb that we felt the wind pick up and it was seriously cold! I managed to keep moving up the muddy and rocky climb even when feeling awful. My uphill walking speed is where i am seeing the biggest improvement from training so this gave me the boost required to get up to the finish line.
No-one hung around to admire the view other than the poor marshalls left at the top. The rest of us did a quick U-Turn to get down out of the icy wind and started the descent back down to the start line.
I chose to jog at this point as quite honestly, i walked most of the way up! It was a nice quick descent which i spent talking to some of the Northumberland Fell Runners about other races in the area.. friendly bunch!
Finally made it back to the warmth of the Newcastle Hotel in time for the presentations. The RD made a point about not carrying the compulsory kit, and rightly so! So the prizes were given out only to the people with the right kit which nicely resulted in me getting my first ever race prize!
Brilliant race and, as usual, mistakes made and lessons learnt. Definitely back for the repeat next year.