Brighton Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran the Brighton Half Marathon.

This was to be a lot of firsts:

  • My first Half Marathon race
  • My first full road race
  • The first race I had run with more than ~500 people
  • First time staying away from home for a race I was running

And in the end I achieved:

  • All of the above
  • Running with 8,000 other people
  • 13.1 miles of continual running (no walking)
  • A sub-2:30 time (2:28:08!)

We travelled down on the Saturday, parking in a residential area which appeared to be at the top of a hill, so a walk down to the town. Fine for now, but it would have to be conquered on the way back up after the race… And it was. And it wasn’t fun. But anyhoo… lesson learnt that not all towns can be assumed flat!

20170226_075022.jpgWe had a great flat booked for the night through airbnb which meant we could sort our own pre-race food, and not have to rely on a hotel breakfast (it was about the same price as a hotel anyway). The host also offered us to return to the flat post-run to have a shower etc. which was a lovely touch (our friend Sarah and her colleague were staying in a hotel and were having a hell of a time getting them to give them late check-out or even access to the spa for a shower afterwards).

It was windy and cold, but we still wandered about, going on a ride on the pier and then hiding in a pub for a drink and on to an Italia for lots of pasta/pizza as fuel for the next morning.

The morning of, it looked pretty bleak: strong winds and lots of moisture in the air. From our view over the beach and the actual race village we could hang out of the window and feel the conditions we would be in. It wasn’t getting me out the door quickly.

But we sucked it up, and got out there.

As usual (I assume, having not been in that situation before, but having seen it on telly) there were a number of ‘pens’ which Sarah was a bit concerned about (though I couldn’t find her), and it was snug, but not too bad. Bags were dropped off, and toilet queues were eyed up before being ignored, and we listened to shouting Heart FM presenters start the race. It was then nearly 9 minutes before I reached the start line, which didn’t bother me as I had my Garmin to keep track as well as the chip timing results – I was chasing a time!

This is how it went per mile:

0-1:
Well, this is alright, the rain/spittle is easing off and I have room to move around. I thought Adam said I wouldn’t have to think about falling over, but look at all these pot-holes! Should I cut the corner and run on the pavement like everyone else? (I didn’t.)

1-4:
This is amazing! I have got this! Yeah I’m running up a hill, but it is slow and comfortable, the wind is with me and I am ahead of time. Adam just shouted to me, and he seems to be doing well. I wonder how Sarah & Jennie are doing? I like these Drinq pouches they have given us instead of bottles.

4-6:
What the…!? This wind is awful! I am cold again. I hope my hat and buff are still where I left them hanging off that cone in mile 3. Hey, there are Sarah & Jennie, both looking good! Should I pick up some Lucozade? Ha, I bet that guy is trying to find somewhere to pee. Still doing good for time: don’t pick it up, you still have over half to go.

6 – 8:
There are some finishers: Adam should be coming through soon – keep a look out. I know just what to shout at him. Oh, he must have gone past already. This is nice and flat, this is OK. Scope should be along here somewhere; I wonder if they will have jelly babies? I should probably eat something. Only 5 miles to go! Oh, wait, 6… stupid lap button on my watch!

9-11:
Where the hell is this turn around!? We have been on this long straight for ages and I can see people on the seafront running the other way – when does that happen!? My hip hurts. I need to strengthen my hip and lose some weight. Is that a blister? Slow down a little, you need to survive this; you can pick it up at the end maybe. Shit, is that the 2:30 pacer? NOOOOO!!!! Don’t go past me! It’s alright, just stick with them and it’ll be fine. But they started behind me, so if I stick with them I will be over 2:30! Right, get ahead sharpish.

11-12.5:
Wow, nice mile there, well done. But the slowness now!? It’s OK, just keep that pacer behind you. Just a bit to go. You are just at that roundabout on one of your evening runs, and all you have to do is get home… But the pacer is coming. OK, just stick behind them and get past them when you can. An incline up to the main road: right-o, smash this out and bring it home. Don’t give up now and lose your target when a bit more of a push can get you what you want. A few more minutes of pain. I wish this Macmillan woman would move over.

12.5-13.1:
OK, pacer behind me now – good. PUSH! Watch-time still looking good, just keep it there. Where the *bleep* is that finish line? All the way down there!? Right… hold it steady. Adam is there! He is loud and shouting and making me smile. Finish strong, right to the line. The time looks good, just get there. Arms up, look happy (there may be pictures), stop watch, but not until it hits 13.1.

Then walk. Walk all the 400m to the end after collecting a foil blanket (why not!?), a medal from the Mayor(!), water, Lucozade, protein bar, cereal bar, nuts in yogurt, fruit in yogurt, cereal bar…

I found Adam walking along side behind barriers 5m away, both of us grinning. Finally when we come together he checks I got my sub 2:30 (I was behind on the gun time but ahead of the pacer so he was optimistic for me) and I check he got his sub 1:30 (1:26:46!).

We were happy bunnies!

We managed to find Sarah and Jennie to see how they did – brilliantly as it appears! Both wanted sub-3hr as they couldn’t imagine a 6hr+ marathon when it comes to London, and they did it in 2:41 and 2:31 respectively, so a great effort from both!

Many pictures were taken and we limped back to the flat for a much-needed shower and a sit down, as well as pints of water/hydration fluid and pain pills.

And that was it. Brighton Half Marathon done!

Mini self-interview:
Would I do it again? Maybe, but always nice to run in new places. But
What would I do differently? Not lose a hat and buff by hiding it behind a pill box – maybe somewhere less obvious to the road-sweepers at a big event! Make sure trainers are tighter to avoid blister (it’s not that bad really). Other than that, nothing.
Happy with the result? YES! Very happy with my time, and the effort I put in. It wasn’t my all, but I think I did well, keeping something back in case they accidentally added in an extra mile or something. Easier to get a PB next time too right!? (I jest.)

Results in full were as follows (I’m only listing these because they give them)
Official Time: 1:28:08
Position: 7043/8049 (overall), 3007/3766 (women), 1828/2274 (FSEN age group)
Av. Speed: 5.31 mile/hr
Av. Pace: 11:18 min/m

Just two weeks now to Dartford Half Marathon. The same distance, the same surface, but with more hills. Damn.

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