Sunday, September 30, 2007


Well, I said I wanted a smile putting back on my face, and that just about managed it.

I didn't seem to sleep very well on Friday night, and was pretty tired when I dragged myself out of bed on Saturday morning to have my hair cut and drive to Newcastle. I got there and I wasn't that much more awake, but that soon changed.

I was a bit worried that watching an important Wigan play off match in the company of several ex Wigan players would inhibit me a bit, for fear of making stupid comments in front of them! But the match drew me in, and I was shouting at the screen like a lunatic. For some reason the tv cameras kept focussing on a huge Wigan fan celebrating every time we scored, to the predictable changs that he ate all the pies. Someone I'd never met before and doesn't know the history, said "he must have had your share"!

A good win, perked me up no end, then off to a pasta buffet at the hotel, and bed. Again I didn't sleep too well, and was up bright and early for breakfast, then the bus to the start. It was a novel experience being crammed into a van with Terry O'Connor, Barrie McDermott, Kris Radlinski and Mike's wife Erica (he wasn't well enough to take part, but she still did it because it was one of her dreams, and she was doing it for him).

At the start we flashed our passes and got straight into the VIP area at the start. The highlight, for Erica at least, was when she said, excitedly "Paula used my loo!". We got to spot some of the stars, although we were in the "celebrity walkers" bit rather than the "celebrity runners" bit. Although the elites did set off from our side, so we got a close up view of just how tiny and fat free they are. Very scary!

We got interviewed on the BBC before the race. You might just be able to see me in the background if you look carefully. Apparently (and I'm just watching it back and haven't got there yet, so can't verify this), they had cameras live at Erica and Mike's house to show their kids cheering us on. In most of the build up you can see us wandering around in the background - I never thought I'd be on live tv with a load of former pro rugby players wearing lycra!

There's not too much to say about the details of the race. We formed quite a party - 11 able bodied runners, 2 wheelchairs and 2 bikes ridden by the carers, complete with medical supplies. We had a formation which we (vaguely) managed to stick in all the way round to make sure that the wheelchairs were protected. We didn't go very fast (we did the first 5 miles in an hour, then slowed down), but it was nice to just be able to enjoy the experience. Well, I say enjoy the experience but I was spending so much energy trying to make sure no-one got in the way of the chairs that I didn't take in much of the route itself.

But the atmosphere was great, even if I didn't take in the route. We seemed to get even bigger cheers than most when we went past, and the number of runners who came over to cheer us on was fantastic. I actually managed to see loads of people I knew as they ran past us (one of them with the words "this is fantastic, I never thought I'd manage to beat you!"). The Red Arrows went overhead as we crossed the Tyne Bridge (the bit they always show on tv), and seemed to be going up and down the seafront at South Shields for ages as we approached the finish and ran the last mile.

The time wasn't important, but for the record we just sneaked under 3 hours. I'm pretty sure that won't be beaten as a PW for me for quite some time, but this was a team effort, not about how fast I can run a half marathon. It was about getting Erica and the chairs round, and about raising awareness (helped, apparently, by the fact that one of the BBC producers actually has MND and was quite keen on featuring us). It made me more confident that I can run both Amsterdam and New York - for a quite a lot of the time I was switching between walking and jogging at exactly the same speed, depending which I felt like doing. And the bloke who fell off the back of the group first, at a mere 7 miles, is doing New York, so unless he bucks his training up a lot, I will still be in a far better state than that.

It was just one of those days that would have seemed completely impossible if you'd suggested it a few years ago. To run a half marathon with some of my rugby league heroes, and to barely break into a sweat, and to cram into a van with people I've idolised, it was fantastic. Even more so when I realised what a bloody achievement it is for those guys in the chair to get round, and the amount of work it takes to protect them, the respect we got from the other runners, the crown, and the fact that we really did feel like heroes.


Blogger Kathy said...

It sounds like a fabulous run in great company. Good on you for participating.

I wish you and your family all the best at this time. It's so thoughtful of your sister to bring her wedding forward.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Lightning said...

Man - if I could've chivvied Dom up a bit I could've beaten you!!!!! ROFL! ;-) You must've only been in front of us a little bit!

Hope you get a good family celebration soon.

10:18 AM  
Blogger fluffyhelen said...


1:00 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

YP that sounds like you had a lovely day. I bet you will do great in the Amsterdam and NY races! I will be cheering you on all the way! :) Amanda. xox

6:16 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

WOW 100 pounds is so great. You are so pretty and so happy looking in your after picture. Big congratulations hugs to you.

I want to use you in my blog as my inspiration of the day.

God bless

11:34 AM  

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