On Saturday I made the journey up to Newcastle, meeting my sister when I got there, who came to cheer me on. We went for a wander along the river and saw the Tyne Bridge looking like this, which made it seem all the more real.
I saw Jo, and it was good to talk to someone who knew how anxious I was starting to feel! Dinner was carb-heavy, and I kept to advice to avoid alcohol and caffeine. I had a fairly early night and slept better than I thought I might.
After an early breakfast we set off to the start line. Considering our training session the week before had been in glorious sunshine, the weather forecast for the race was pretty awful, mostly consisting of torrential rain and gale force winds. It turned out to be a lot better than predicted, and the rain stayed away the whole time we were at the start, although it was cold and windy, and keeping warm was a priority.
Jo was interviewed on the BBC programme alongside Mel C, and I was really pleased to find out afterwards that they had played a film made at our last training session where I was explaining why I had got in to running in the first place, and why I had chosen to run for Ambitious about Autism.
Before we knew it, it was time for the race to start. We were starting right at the front, not too far away from a certain Mo Farah. Simon had warned us that the start would be really busy, with people jostling for position and trying to push past. There was a lot of that but we all managed to stick together.
Jo was a little speedier than me, so we ran the first three or four miles together, and then I dropped back a little bit. The promised rain came, but not for too long, and there was a tailwind so it helped to push us along. The crowd along the way were everything that I had been told, and more. The atmosphere was incredible and such a help in keeping going. My personal favourite was Elvis in a bus stop - made me smile just when I was starting to feel really tired. I ran faster than I had in training and was over the moon to finish in 2 hours 13 minutes and 2 seconds, just 8 minutes after Jo. Crossing the finish line was such a brilliant feeling, quite emotional and a huge sense of achievement.
My total raised far for Ambitious about Autism was just incredible. I had hoped to raise £500, and ending up raising (including gift aid) just over £1000. A huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me, it really means such a lot.
This has been such an incredible experience. I've absolutely loved every minute of being Jo's running buddy. It's been brilliant to go through the whole experience with someone else every step of the way, to support and encourage me, and help me keep going. I'm also so grateful for all the brilliant expert advice I've received from everyone at Bupa, it has been invaluable. Running with a buddy is definitely much more fun, and I've absolutely got the bug now. Newcastle - I'll see you again, for the Great North Run 2014!