People that know me will know that I like to be incredibly well organised, and I like to know every detail of a plan. But when it came to marathon day, I couldn’t have been more unprepared in the run up with plans. I blame a schedule of studying long hours, working even longer hours and trying to move house the week before the event – it’s certainly true everything seems to come at once! Luckily a couple of work colleagues are Brighton marathon veterans, so I heavily relied on their knowledge to get me race day ready.
After a Saturday night dinner of spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread I slept surprisingly well and woke up at 6am on Sunday feeling relatively calm. I got into my chosen race day outfit and double checked I’d remembered to pack everything the night before in my rucksack for James to carry. I prepared my breakfast and drank a small peppermint tea before heading towards the train station.
There is a lot of debate over the best way to get into Brighton for the race, and after considering booking an extortionate hotel or driving, I’m really glad I chose to get the train. The station was full of a nervous excitement from other runners, and it was clear although everyone seemed to be in their own little world, we were all secretly checking each other out! The journey was quick and easy and we arrived at Preston Park and met another colleague of mine, and together joined the masses to walk through to the start area. Enroute we picked up another colleague who had kindly picked up our race numbers meaning I avoided travelling down to Brighton twice and spending a small fortune at the expo getting carried away!
Number pinned on I joined the epic queue for the portaloo – my only complaint of the whole race was the layout and organisation of the toilet situ at the start area. We must have queued for 45mins for a choice of six toilets, and there were several long lines of queues for other six dotted around.
Just after 9.15, and still feeling remarkably calm, I kissed James goodbye and joined the pink corral to start the race. Before I knew it I was off and running, high 5-ing Jo Pavey at the start and feeling a little bit emotional about the journey I was starting! Then as I turned the corner round Preston Park we were hit with a hill and all I thought was – why did no one warn me about this hill!! I though Brighton was meant to be flat!!!
Overall I found the course to be interesting. The first few miles took us through familiar parts of Brighton centre, and there were great crowds out there. The course then takes you out to the left of the pier in Brighton towards Ovingdean. I enjoyed running out towards the seafront, with a breeze, but found it mentally quite tough to see the faster runners all heading back in the other direction, and to reach the brow of the hill and see that you have to turn in land just to make up the miles.
I know a lot of people dislike miles 14-18 which go through the residential streets, but I personally really enjoyed them, I think because it felt like a training run going through the streets. The support from local residents was fantastic and there was loads of cheering and people handing out goodies, including what felt like the best tasting orange wedges I’ve ever had in my whole life! I had heard how awful miles 18-23, through the industrial estate, but I was not prepared for the smell – it was like awful rotting fish! The miles seemed to go on forever, but I kept my headphones in and just tried to keep moving and just get it done.
The last three miles felt like the longest 3 miles I’ve ever run, despite being something I can achieve in my lunch hour. Although I kept thinking, “just a lunchtime run to go”, I was so ready for it to be over by this point. I hurt everywhere, and I just wanted a lie down! However, the journey through the finishers tunnel was great with an amazing atmosphere of everyone cheering and whooping you across the line, and the feeling I got crossing the line was one of “I can’t believe I’ve done that!”.
Fuelling for success…
My plan for race day was to take gels every 4.5/5 miles which worked out around once an hour, and I stuck to this pretty religiously. On top of this as the day was much, much hotter than I had expected or trained in, I took on a lot of water. I’m not sure when I first took on additional water apart from my handheld, but there was a lot, and I topped up my water bottle a lot too. I personally found the paper cups to be ok, they weren’t the best for drinking whilst moving, but they were great for me to top up my water bottle and have with me the whole route. Around mile 18 I felt like I needed a little more than just water and gels, and despite all previous advice given to me, I took a cup of gatoraid. After taking about one gulp I knew it was a bad decision, it did not taste good! Luckily not long after I saw James who came to my rescue with my trusty Lucozade! That was just what I needed, and I saw him again around 22/23 miles and took a few more sips, which helped. I also had some wine gums in my pouch which were great for a boost of instant sugar which I took between the gel stops towards the ends a little more regularly. I much preferred the wine gums over jelly babies, because I didn’t like the powder of the jelly babies and the wine gums gave me something more to chew on!
Run Forrest Run…
As much as I knew I was going to walk at points during the marathon, I hadn’t expected quite how much walking I would do. I managed to run all the way up until miles 16 or so I think, and then I saw so many people around me begin to walk, and the heat was really getting to me by this point. Stopping to walk was actually more painful than running at points, but I just felt so tired that it was a struggle to pick up my feet quick enough to run! Miles 18-23 there was a lot of walking. Mentally it was really hard when so many people around you walking, looking deflated and exhausted not to get swept up in those emotions, and I walked a lot. I tried a run/walk method using landmarks, promising myself when I got to x point I would start running again, or I could walk, which definitely helped.
As soon as it started…
…it was over. As I walked through the finishers area, gutted I hadn’t beat the time of my colleague at work, foil wrap over me, having wolfed down the banana given to me, I headed to meet James. The finishers area was so incredibly busy, I’m glad other friends had advised James and I to meet further away from the finish, past the wheel. Although this felt like such a long walk, it was a good decision! After meeting James and declaring “I’ll never do that again!” we sat and chatted about how I felt, and I got changed into warm clothes and flip flops (best decision I made to pack them!). Pleased that it was only a short walk to the train station (via the Krispy Kreme shop, obvs) I was so looking forward to getting home and having a wash and just lying down! I know a lot of people stay on in Brighton to enjoy the rest of the day, but all I wanted was to be home and clean!
I’ll do another post looking at all my post-race feelings, now I’m nearly two weeks on, so stay tuned for that!