Going the Distance for Teens Unite: Great North Run 2018

12 October 2018
  • Challenges

Going the Distance for Teens Unite: Great North Run 2018

On Sunday 9th September 2018, I lined up alongside 57,000 runners, including my Dad, ready to run the Great North Run to raise money and awareness for Teens Unite. I took on the challenge after seeing the impact Teens Unite have the lives of the young people and the importance of fundraising in allowing them to do that. This was our first half marathon and before my training I hadn’t even run a 10k, so I was throwing myself in at the deep end and wasn’t sure what to expect, except a lot of running.

The magnitude of the task in hand doesn’t really dawn on you until you’ve run a few miles, so whilst I waited for the thousands of runners in front of me to move over the start line, I felt only excitement to get going, partly due to the unbelievable atmosphere amongst the runners. After a quick group warm up and short wait of around 10 minutes, I was away and feeling good. The general pace of runners around me seemed relatively gentle and I remembered being told that most people underestimate their finishing time to get closer to the start line (I didn’t) so I didn’t feel too worried about overtaking a lot of people.  Motivated by the support of thousands of supporters along the side of the road and without really realising, I was moving pretty quickly.

Every single section of road along the whole 13-mile course was covered with spectators supporting runners and handing out food, drinks etc. and It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere, forgetting about pacing and the lessons you’ve learned in training. Since this was my first half marathon and I hadn’t thought about this at all during my preparation, I did exactly that. I got around halfway in 50 mins (my target was 1:50) - I’d gone out far too quickly, so my legs started to become heavy and breathing was more difficult. It was going to be a very long last 6 miles. At this point the crowd really helped and was the main reason I could keep going at a decent pace for another 3 miles. Then I was really hurting, I started to feel the effects of the 5-hour journey the night before, the fast pace, the hills and the heat and had to push myself more than I have ever before to keep running (if very slowly), until the finish line.

Considering how long the last few miles seemed to take, I was very happy to see that I finished comfortably under target (1:46) and to see my mum and girlfriend waiting at the end. All the pain of the last few miles was replaced by a huge sense of achievement and it was great to share that moment with them and my Dad, who finished his first half marathon in 2:30, also under target and feeling much better than I had at the end!

The whole experience (before, after and for at least half the race) was incredible and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys running or wants a challenge. My only regret was not taking it easy to begin with and taking in the atmosphere and support along the race because it is an amazing experience being supported and encouraged by spectators for all 13 miles. It also really helps knowing that you’re doing it for an awesome cause like Teens Unite – it’s much easier to get motivated for training and the run itself knowing that people have sponsored you and knowing the impact that Teens Unite makes on the lives of young people with money raised by its supporters.

I’m looking forward to taking on my next half marathon, but maybe not too soon! 

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