Having forgotten that I’d entered the ballot for the Great North Run, I was really happy to learn I’d got a place. This weekend, we happened to be in Newcastle, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to recce the route and even have a little practice. I had a 50 minute long slow run in this week’s programme, so decided to do the final 10km of the GNR route.
I didn’t fuel well, yesterday. We were driving north for 4 hours and while we paused for a delicious, nutritious beetroot and goat’s cheese salad in Waitrose (first world service stations, dahling…!) I completely failed to follow it up with a proper evening meal. We got up early for Holiday Inn scrambled eggs, and Mr P drove me round the whole GNR route. I was hungry as I got out of the car; never an auspicious start.
There were roadworks on the bit of the A194 I wanted to start on, meaning the pavement had been eradicated. So I got out of the car at the junction with the A1300 and started my run with a navigation of a road bridge – up stairs, down the ramp – and a little detour through a housing estate until I linked up again with the pavement. By the time I hit the main road, my stomach was hollow and my legs were like jelly. Why is it when you feel like this your body leaches sweat from every pore?? I felt as though I was fighting a fever, rather than simply running on empty. But whatever. I felt bad, and I knew at this point that the route was going to be harder work than it deserved to be!
I was trying to keep my head up – my lovely friend Trep once told me “nothing hurts so bad if you keep your head up” – and anyway, the point was to practice the route; to take in the scenery, notice some landmarks, get a feel for where I would be in September. I was listening to an audiobook which I’ve been quite enjoying, and so I focussed on slowing my pace, listening to the unfolding narrative, thinking about things outside my wobbly body.
I somehow missed the park I ran past, on the right. Didn’t notice it at all, until I screen grabbed the route, just now. So the focus must have worked! I ran past a couple of men in hoodies, and negotiated my way over a big road, and past a large corporate type building. I was just beginning to think I’d hit my stride. I knew the coast would be coming into sight any minute now, and that when it did, Mr P and a bacon butty would be in easy reach. I was consciously thinking about getting my pace slower than 7:00/km.
And then all of a sudden I stumbled and, instead of recovering and hoping nobody had noticed, I felt the pavement sliding under my hands and heard the “crunch” of my nose on the concrete. I was lying face down on the pavement, with blood on my face. I struggled to a sitting position and grappled my phone out of my pocket to ring Mr P, shocked and trying not to cry. I was sitting on the pavement, back against a front garden wall, speaking into the phone, blotting blood with my sleeve, looking at the bloom of road rash flowering across my hands. I really thought I’d broken my nose, and when I got Mr P’s voicemail I had to make a conscious decision not to panic and get hysterical. At this point, a lovely lad in a white car pulled up.
“Are you OK, love?”
I immediately – and simultaneously – calmed down, felt foolish, and hoped that no dogshit had been involved.
“Yes, I think so. I fell. Might have broken my nose.”
“Do you want to go to A&E? I’m going that way.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ve just called my partner – he’ll be here in a minute. Thank you.”
“OK. I’ll just wait with you till he gets here.”
And he did. Chatted to me, made sure I wasn’t concussed, stood and waited (and got late for his football game) while Mr P came riding to the rescue. By the time Mr P arrived, I was pretty sure I’d done nothing worse than bang myself up a bit. I could pinch my nose, which is enough to convince me it’s not bust, and the road rash isn’t as bad as I’ve had in the past. So all in all, I’ll survive. My face will be bruised, my left knee will be bruised and my hands are developing impressive bruises, but that’s all. Hopefully I’ll be running intervals tomorrow (almost) as though nothing had happened.
I know I’m a proper runner, though. My very first instinct when I hit the deck? To stop my Garmin.