Does this still count as a race report nearly four weeks later? I think I was in shock after not only getting inside the time I had hoped for, but by a satisfying 20 minutes, that it didn’t seem quite real and writing about it felt weird.
Anyway, I’m over it now, I’ve checked, double and triple checked the results page and it’s definitely true. I finished the Brighton Marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes and 27 seconds which is well inside the London Marathon good for age qualifying time of 3hrs 50. Yippeee!!
To be honest, it couldn’t have gone any better. It was as though all the running gods had got together and decided that it was going to be the perfect day for racing.
All week we’d been promised rain, cold, and strong winds, but I woke up Sunday morning to see that the rain had been removed from the forecast, the temperature was up and the wind was down.
I joined the throng of people walking up to Preston Park for the start of the race, the atmosphere was buzzing, there were lots of marathon stories being swapped and last minute advice being offered. This continued during the traditional half hour wait in the queue to the toilet.
Still, it meant that I got to listen to an interview with Paula Radcliffe, who was there to start the race. It was interesting to hear her coping strategies for the distance, like counting to a 100 three times to pass a mile. I’ve been known to do something similar with times tables.
With 10 minutes to go, I headed down to the starting pens and joined my fellow reds, my Garmin successfully located the satellites, just needed to get going now.
The loop round Preston Park, with its bottle necks, means that you can’t go out to quickly, so avoid that early mistake that can mess up your race.
I settled into a comfortable pace and had to keep telling myself to slow down, I didn’t want to burn out.
I searched around in the crowd about mile three as the family were going to try to get there, didn’t see them, but I hadn’t been hopeful so wasn’t too disappointed, also, got distracted by the new loop to replace the post-Ovingdean hill.
Still, I saw them at 5 miles, was able to nip across to kiss the kids and hand my gloves over – yes, shockingly, I was warm enough to do that. (I’ve been known to still be wearing a jumper at 25C.)
On the way to Ovingdean, about mile 6-7, saw the first of the elites coming the other way, their speed definitely helps inspire you to get up that hill.
One of my big worries coming into the marathon was the number of ‘natural breaks’I might need, eating into my running time. I managed to stick it out till 11, at the bottom of the hill on the way back into Brighton, result!
Saw the family again just after halfway, a great psychological boost ahead of the 14 mile marker, which was where, two years ago, my Achilles had screamed at me to stop and I’d staggered round the last 12.2 miles. I passed the marker with a very loud internal “Whooop!”and started to really relax and enjoy the support around me.
There seemed to be so many more people out this year cheering and holding some inspiring and funny banners.
Checking my timings after another sneaky loo trip at mile 19 and I was pretty confident I was going to hit my target.
After the not-so-picturesque trip round the docks, coming out at mile 23, I felt strong, happy and a little excited.
My last three miles were the fastest of the race and I knew I had a big grin on my face as I passed the family just ahead of the finish line. The crowds were amazing on the last strip down towards the sea front and really spurred me on.
Crossing the finish line felt wonderful, especially as I’d knocked an hour off my last Brighton marathon.
The family where there at the meeting point when I got to it and we headed off for a pint and a slice of pizza.
All that’s left is to say a big thank you to all the organisers, marshals and supporters in Brighton. I hope to run in the London Marathon next year, but I’m sure I’ll be back one day.