AFTER the Great North Run, my body has gone into meltdown. During the race, I developed a blood blister on my foot, which is still throbbing eight days later.
Then the day after the race, I developed a huge cold sore on my face. To anyone lucky enough to have escaped life without a cold sore, let me explain how truly horrible they are. Cold sores are small blisters that appear around the mouth or lips. They start with a tingling sensation and then start itching and burning. Little blisters form then crust over, so that when you smile, they crack and bleed. I told you! Nasty things!
Whenever I get a cold sore, my mum always responds the same way. ‘You’re run down.’ She’ll say. ‘You’re doing too much.’
She has a point. I usually get a cold sore when I’m not feeling one hundred percent well. I have never had one as a result of running a half marathon, but when you google the causes of cold sores, tiredness and fatigue are top of the list.
‘Blimey,’ Chris said. ‘You must have worked really hard.’
‘I did! I gave it everything.’
Chris spotted me with just 800m to go. ‘You looked strong though.’
I wasn’t. I was dying inside. ‘It’s the sunglasses,’ I said. ‘They hide a lot.’
The 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields last Sunday morning were hard. It’s a long time since I raced that distance. Now I know why. You can’t underestimate the half marathon. It’s a long way. I pushed my body harder than I normally would. It was also hot and hilly. When I crossed the line, I couldn’t have run another step.
‘That’s how it should be,’ Chris said. ‘You have to race hard.’
I had to agree with him. On race day I wanted to test my fitness. I had to push to my limit, otherwise I’d never know what I was capable of.
‘And,’ Chris added. ‘It’s just a cold sore!’ Chris has never been inflicted with a cold sore. He hasn’t had to deal with the horror and pain of your face cracking when you laugh, but I had to agree with him. It’s just a cold sore. It will come and go. And while the cold sore slowly starts to disappear, the excitement of the Great North Run 2016 just keeps on growing.
The Facebook chat, the Twitter chat, the photographs, the TV coverage. The joy of seeing yourself on TV for a full five seconds. The shared memories. The sponsorship. On it goes.
It took a few days for my result to actually sink in. In fact, I’d just been for a mid-week run, trying but failing to get my legs working again. It felt like I’d left them in South Shields. I decided that a bath, a book and a face mask were the best way to recover. Just as my body finally started to unwind, I realised what I’d done. A personal best. A time that I can be really proud of. If I never run quicker, I would be so happy to look back and say. ‘I did that!’
The cold sore and the blood blister, I’m sure I won’t remember them at all.