Running For My Bits 2012

2012 is my year of ‘Running For My Bits’ in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Getting my ballot place in the 2012 Great North Run, I decided that I’d attach myself with The PCC to raise awareness, and booking up other runs like the Great North 10k and the 150th Blaydon Race, I thought why not spread it over the whole year?

The following is a series of tidbits about each of the runs that I’ve done so far this year, and which ones I’m planning to do throughout the course of the year.

If you want to sponsor me, you can go to and donate online.  If you’re not savvy with JustGiving then you can send a text to 70070 with the code ‘LEAF50’ followed by the amount you want to donate (e.g. LEAF50 £10). It’s as easy as that!

7th Jan – Great Winter Run, Edinburgh
5km – 29m 52s

The first run I completed this year was the Great Winter Run in Edinburgh.  Since completing the Great North Run last year, I hadn’t really done any running in the lead up to a lap around Arthur’s Seat, and in hindsight, I ruddy well wish I had.

5km is a forgiving distance and was a nice way to ‘ease’ into the year.  The course was around the roadway in Holyrood Park, climbing up and around the crags.  Now, Edinburgh in January isn’t quite Hawaii so the weather was certainly sharp.  Once you reach the top of the course, at about the 3km mark, you can definitely feel that Christmas turkey and new year booze hanging around he midriff!

Thankfully though, the last 2km was all downhill with the wind behind us so it was a sprint finish.  Less than half an hour after I started, I had my first run in 2012 tucked under my belt.

I’ve been running with the Sweatshop Running Community at the MetroCentre on Monday nights, but with all the work to do getting the flat in shape, my running took a backseat again.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still running maybe twice a week, but not running ‘for’ anything.

25th Mar – Sport Relief, NewcastleGateshead
6 miles – 50m 57s

Fast forward to the end of March and I had my second run, a 6 mile effort on The Quayside for Sport Relief.  Oh my it was foggy as heck when we got up, but despite the nip, by the time the race came around it had got out nice and sunny.  Unfortunately, in comparison with the Mile I completed in Saltwell Park for Sport Relief back in 2010, the Quayside version wasn’t very well organised at all.  There wasn’t much communication from the organisers to the runners that had turned up but once the race was underway, everything was groovy.

The mile loop started at the base of the Sage/Baltic car par, over the Swing Bridge to the turning point outside the Guild Hall and back.  The 1-milers kept to the left on the last straight and down to the Finish line at the Millennium Bridge, while the 3 and 6-milers turned back onto the loop at a small U-turn.  We had to keep count of the laps we completed so we knew where to go, which was no problem.  The problem, however, was when we needed to cross over to start another lap when the 11am runners were starting.  Traffic.

The course was simple but a nice run.  In the build up to the 2011 Great North Run, I ran the Quayside mile (looping round the Millennium Bridge and Swing Bridge) a few times, and it’s nice to take in the scenery and pass other runners as you go.  The sun was shining but it was still nice and cool, perfect running weather.  The small hill leading onto the Swing Bridge was a lung-buster at the end of laps but there was a band of drummers egging everyone on..  6 miles in 50 minutes wasn’t bad and acted as the kickstart to my regime again.

Since Sport Relief  I’ve signed up to, and ran in my first Parkrun at Saltwell Park.  A tough course for PB’s but fun nonetheless.  The next race I have booked is in June, the 150th Blaydon Race, followed by the Great North 10km in July.  I’m in the process of looking into booking up more local runs to get my overall distance ticking away.  Until then I’ll be doing Parkrun every Saturday and running myself through the week.

9th Jun – 150th Blaydon Race, NewcastleGateshead
5.9 miles – 52m 24s

So much for kickstarting my regime.  Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself when your belly moves with it’s own opinion on gravity.  I managed to get through a whopping 6(?) runs since the Sport Relief 6-miler before this one but i was feeling good about it.  Getting caught up in the atmosphere eased the fact that peak race fitness was snuggled up in front of a fire somewhere, eating chunky chips and gurgling full-fat coke.

Being the 150th Anniversary of The Blaydon Races, it was very much a big deal…to those who knew it was the 150th Anniversary of The Blaydon Races.  We were promised can can dancers and a group rendition of the song at the start line, but to be honest I still couldn’t tell you where the start line was, I started my Nike+ before I even got around the corner from Balmbras!

Just as we trotted along past the Central Station the refreshing drizzle took an almighty turn and ended up as a Jumanji-style flash monsoon.  I said last year that running the Great North Run with rain made is so much cooler, but this was crazy!  It was comical how heavy the rain was but thankfully that brought out the fun in everybody, I honestly can’t recall anybody complaining.

When you go along Scotswood Road in the car it baffles your mind a bit; you were sure it was shorter the last time you were on it.  Think of that but running.  That hill is endless but thankfully it’s downhill so it’s quite forgiving.  Pulling yourself over the bridge in the industrial park is a huffer, as is the final run onto the playing fields but if those spectators were standing around in the rain then they deserved applause at the finish too!

All in all it was a really enjoyable run.  My shoulder locked up a bit in the industrial park but it was enjoyable and certainly conditions gave it that extra character.  Unfortunately it got a bit farcical at the end with a terrible timing system (My ‘official’ time was 55-56mins.  Strange when i started Nike+ BEFORE the start and ON the finish line) and mix and mash goody bags.  Mine was fine but my dad only got half of the stuff in there.  Also a bit miffed there wasn’t a medal, just a Blaydon Races trolley token (that doesn’t work in Asda trolleys).

Onward to the next race and I’ll say I’m going to train more but I don’t forsee it (Two weeks of 12 hour shifts helped scupper that one!).

22nd Jul – Bupa Great North 10k, Gateshead
10km – 58m 07s

And so, the last organised event (as of 25/07/12) before my second foray into the biggest half-marathon in the world.  The idea behind this race is to help gauge how training regimes are trundling on ahead of the Great North Run, but seeing as mine has so far been invisible, this was a chance for me to stretch my legs and take it all in.

I missed this event last year due to a holiday, but a friend of mine completed it and reported back to me that it was a tough course and he wasn’t wrong.  You don’t realise how undulating the course is, especially west of the Swing Bridge.  I knew that the back leg of the run was going to be harder than the first 5km due to the climb from the river back up to the Stadium, but you’re rewarded with a lap of the track and a sprint (if you could muster it, which I just about managed) finish in front of the main stand, full of spectators.

Tactically, this was a disaster of a race for me.  From the start heading through the industrial areas smudged up in the crowd makes you want to stretch your stride just that little bit longer and up the pace.  For some reason I thought that I could keep that pace constantly and decided to try and beat my 5km PB in the first half of the race, then ease off a little but keep a high tempo for a good finish.  I initially wanted to make sure I did it in under an hour, but hoping to be in and around my best 10km time too.

Going hell for leather in the first 5km paid it’s price and I had burnt myself out with another 5km to go (my first two miles clocked in at under 8min/mile, which then rocketed up to 10min/mile on the back stretch).  The last, long hill up to the back of the stadium was almost mocking us in it’s length but you knew it was only about 500metres to the finish from the the top.  The run in the stadium was a good way to finish and I clocked in at 58mins 7seconds, not what I wanted but at least it was under an hour.

Training MUST begin now otherwise I’ll not finish the Great North Run until next December!

16th Sep – Bupa Great North Run, NewcastleGateshead & South Shields
13.1 miles – tbc



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