6am, all I can hear are tweeting birds. No, not from outside, from my alarm. Outside, it is pitch black, and all you can hear is the howling wind and pissing rain. Oh happy days. I must admit that for a few seconds I did wonder about pulling the duvet over my head and making up some excuse (as if the weather wasn’t enough) for not bothering. However, having DNS’d my last race due to a stomach issue, I couldn’t bear to bail on another race. Going through my mind I also thought “what will I do if it pisses down for the marathon??” I wouldn’t choose not to run it, so I had to get it done.
So everything’s ready and I trot out to the car in the dark, walking around the back to put my new dryrobe in the boot, as I’m SURE to need that later. Oh look, the darkness has hidden that blocked drain and my feet are completely submerged in a giant puddle. Cue running back indoors to change socks and trainers, thanking my lucky stars I have two pairs. Eventually I get underway, and all I can say is i’m glad the roads were clear because the rain was HORRENDOUS. Massive pools of standing water all over the shop, it wasn’t looking good for the race. I gave myself a get-out: if the forecast thunderstorms are overhead when I get there and I see any lightning near me i’m turning around and heading home. Alas, when I got to Brighton, it was dry! Surely this won’t last? Regardless, my excuse was gone, I had to run. I also found a toilet next to a cafe at the last-minute, thank God – my very final excuse now kiboshed, as the pre-race stomach nerves were now, erm, gone, to put it politely.
My trusty bin-bag cloak working a treat against some of the wind, the time came, and we all lined up to embark on our ten-mile journey. They’d put some pace markers along the fence for everyone to self-seed, and I stood in-between the 12 min mile and 15 min mile placards. Judging by a lot of the people around me, however, a LOT of people were clearly kidding themselves and would likely be running much faster. Lo and behold, once we crossed the start line a few minutes later, there was just me, and about 3 people behind me then the two bike sweepers. Hmmm, I really don’t want to have them at my back all day.
Anyway, I knew I couldn’t concern myself with that. Since the Bacchus Half, I’ve done a few runs, but nothing over about 4 miles, as a bout of lurgy kiboshed my training for nearly two weeks. In fact, in the run-up to Bacchus the longest I’d run was 8 miles, and at the end of it I was totally fucked. Needless to say I was a bit nervous about this run. I knew just finishing was the aim, but at the same time I didn’t want to come last. So the plan was to run/walk the whole way, using a 2 min run, 1 min walk strategy. The only time I didn’t do that was right at the start, where I ran the first walk break as it was still fairly crowded and I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. I also missed one walk break – must have in a dwam, and towards the end when it was downhill and i’d just overtaken someone and wanted to capitalise on that! Other than that I stuck to the plan rigidly. I decided to run the run bits to feel – I was wearing a HRM, but decided to keep an eye on pace, which i’ve not been doing lately. The first mile I was running at 11:30 min miles. Hmm, not sure I can keep this up, but fuck it, I feel okay. I have a tendency to start off faster than I know I can maintain, but what the hell, I’m sure it’ll be fine. From about mile 1, I’m beginning to see that there are a lot of people towards the back in my kind of category (fat, old!) who are running at paces i’m not convinced they’ll be able to maintain. Hmm, I wonder if I can pass any of them. Of course I get close then the watch beeps to walk, so I let them go. Miles 1-3 pass in 12:13, 12:20 and 12:25. Not bad for me, especially since i’m essentially walking a third of it. Mile 4 is slightly uphill, and that passes in 12:33. There is one woman who I play hopscotch with the whole 4 miles, and we have a quick chat as we approach mile 5. She says “I think we’ll finish quite close to each other” and I agree, as I can’t seem to stay ahead of her. As we get to mile 5 though, I get ahead and she doesn’t manage to pass me before my walk break is over. I’ve done it, woo hoo! First recorded kill. I’d passed some others I think but I wasn’t really noting it. So I decided to start counting them off. Miles 5 & 6 completed in 12:24 and 12:01 – unsurprisingly this was downhill a lot, and mile 7 also partially downhill so finished that in 12:08. Three miles to go, just a 5k. Having forgotten to have breakfast (bar a couple of bites of a flapjack I bought at the loo-cafe – it tasted hellish so went in the bin), so far I was surviving on a coffee in the car, 2 flapjack bites and 1 Clif Shotblock. I took a second one for good measure and kept going. There are a few switchbacks in the race and normally I find them pretty de-motivating but actually I was fine today. I was running my own race, I felt much better than expected, and I had only 3 miles left. I continued to pass people in miles 8 & 9, completed in 12:23 and 12:27 respectively. Honest to god I think that is THE most consistent I’ve been in a race EVER. Usually I slow right down towards the end, but I was still managing a fairly similar pace for each mile. In the final mile you run past the finish line before turning left and left again to run the last half mile up the sea-front. I had to stop for a second to remove my HRM – I could feel something not quite right after about mile 7, and I realised my HRM had worked its way loose and the strap had come apart. It’s a pretty crap hook that closes it, but that’s the first time that’s happened. Anyway, I managed to get it out from under the two layers I had on and shoved it in my back pocket and carried on. I thought about running the whole rest of the way, but keeping in mind the bigger picture, I stuck to the run/walk, and managed to cross the line in 2:04:01 chip time. In the last 5 miles of the race I overtook 31 people. So if ever I needed confirmation that run/walking works for me, that was it.
I can honestly say I am sooooooo happy. I was dreading it, and nearly didn’t start, but I bloody loved it. The organisation was great, minimal fuss and no issues. Other than the Bognor 10k I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many marshals in a race, and they were all really supportive and encouraging. There were quite a lot of supporters all along the seafront too, so it was lovely being cheered on by them all. I even got a few pirate cheers as I wore my pirate cycle jersey. As I ran down the finish line the guy on the mic said my top was great and very easy to recognise, haha!! He wasn’t wrong 😀 I love the medal and ribbon, both really colourful.
So that’s the first of my three Brighton runs completed. The next run is Brighton half in February, and the full marathon in April. Yikes! Today has given me a lot of confidence though, especially since I felt if I’d had to, I could have run another mile or so. If I maintain the running, backed up by good nutrition and gym work to build my strength and keep my back in a good place, then I should achieve my goal in April.
Happy days! 🙂