A Stitch In Time Saves 4:28

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I completed my second Pier to Pier event on Sunday and I’m still smiling! Smiling because I loved the run and smiling because I got a new personal best.


The day started great. I’d had a decent nights sleep considering two kids getting me up at the crack of dawn. I had a small bowl of cereal and a glass of water with a splash of orange juice. Martin kindly picked me up just before 8:00am and we set off for Shields. Having met up with Peter and John, they registered and we made our way down to the beach. I had a quick wee and couldn’t help but laugh when the guy stood next to me, dropped his mobile phone into the urinal. Nasty!


Walking along the beach I heard a “Fancy seeing you here.” It was Hilary from Gateshead parkrun. Peter and I had just volunteered the day before so it great to see her and her family there. I spotted a few other familiar faces including a woman who I used to work with. The race was delayed for ten minutes for one reason or another and then we were off.


A very quick mile along the beach and we made our way up on to the grass tops. For the first 5k I felt great. The four of us hadn’t planned on running together so we all just went at our own pace. I felt strong, confident and most of all, I didn’t feel out of breath! I For some reason the next few minutes didn’t quite go according to plan. I suffered with the worst stitch I’ve ever had. I had an issue with a running stitch early last year and I thought I’d seen the back of them. The stitch was so painful it stopped me in my tracks as I couldn’t breathe without pain. I was devastated. Devastated may sound like a strong word but seeing other runners flying past you and all I wanted to do was run, was hard to take. Knowing I felt strong and not out of breath, I felt embarrassed. Why was this happening again? Was it my breakfast or was it that I was running too fast? Suddenly I felt an arm around me, it was Peter. We walked a little until the pain had gone and then we set off again. We then passed Amy and my family before I said to Peter to go on his own. I really appreciated him stopping like that. I’m not going to mention my stitch anymore and I was in two minds whether to mention it at all. I don’t ever want to use something as an excuse but then I realised that my running stitch has been part of my fitness journey since last year. My next few runs should be interesting.


I can remember one point from last year when I had a split-second thought that maybe the distance was a bit too far for me. Thankfully that thought never came yesterday and I really enjoyed the run. I knew my time from last year was just under an hour and I was very happy with it at the time. Since then, my running has really improved and I felt confident of beating my time this year. Once I hit the promenade at Seaburn I flicked my Nike+ SportBand from distance to time. When I realised my time I let out a little smile and picked up the pace.


I crossed the line in a time of 55:16, that was a huge 4 minutes and 28 seconds off last years time. I couldn’t believe it! I was really, really happy with my time and I said to Amy the night before I was aiming for 55 minutes! It’s funny how you know your own body and what times are achievable. Amy could tell by my face that was something wasn’t 100% right. I guess at that point I was still in a bit of shock.


The Pier to Pier run was again extremely well organised and I owe a massive thank-you to both the Sunderland Strollers and the South Shields Harriers. This year we received a fantastic Hydro Belt with water bottle plus a bag of crisps, bottle of water and a Mars Bar. Can’t really complain about that!


The lads did fantastically well too. Peter came in first (despite stopping!), then Martin was just infront of me and John just behind. I think now’s as good a time as any to write a little bit about John. Last year he watched and supported Peter, Ray and myself. Since then he’s lost over two stone through eating sensibly and training hard. Running is a big part of his training routine and I was delighted to see he had signed up to a handful of events this year. John’s own fitness journey is inspiring and one of hard work and dedication. I said to him on Sunday that I’m more proud of what he has achieved in the last year than I am of myself. I’m just pleased I can be a small part of John’s journey and I’ll continue to support him all the way.


Thanks for reading,


About The Author

Following the birth of his son in 2009, Paul was unfit and sluggish. Since then he's been training using a range of exercise techniques and gained some valuable information over the years. Events he has completed to date are Total Warrior, Pier To Pier, Bamburgh 10k, Hamsterley 10k, Blaydon Races, Newcastle Stampede and over 50 parkruns. In 2012 he created his own challenge called the '12 Days of Christmas.' He raised over £1000 for Percy Hedley by running 60 miles to celebrate their 60 years. In 2013 he ran the '12 parkruns of Christmas' with friend Lee Nyland. The pair raised over £1400 for the Tiny Lives Fund.


  1. Great write-up. It’s a run I’d really like to try next year. Hopefully see you there, stitch-free this time! Marc

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