Category Archives: Brighton Marathon

Is it really four weeks since Brighton?

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.

Last minute nerves

The last run has been run, kit is all washed and ready to go, train ticket bought and legs rested. I’ve been pretty happy with training and preparation for the Brighton Marathon on Sunday, more than ever before a race, maybe that’s why I seem to be suddenly really nervous. I feel like I’ve got the running version of stage fright.

I can’t seem to settle, am really twitchy and have persuaded myself to write this so I sit still for a little bit – the up side is that flat is probably cleaner and tidier than ever. Don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep properly for the next couple of nights, but then I expect I’ll sleep like a dream on Sunday to make up for it.

I think it’s a mixture of nerves and excitement. I sort of know what I’m in for, this is my fourth marathon and my second in Brighton, but this time I’ve got a goal that has (hopefully) a bonus prize of a good for age place in London next year. Stakes seem a bit higher now.

To calm myself down, I’m off to do last minute checks on all my lotions and potions and recovery bits and pieces, then tonight I’m aiming for a long soak in the bath and a good comfort food meets carb loading pasta tea.

Here’s hoping I don’t freeze up on the start line.

Good luck to everyone marathon running this weekend, looking forward to all your race reports.

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Some of the “essentials” coming with me

It’s taper time

Ah, the taper, it always makes me a bit anxious. Even though I’ve read lots about the importance of tapering and have always done it in the past, I worry that it’ll leave me less fit or prepared, but still, it’s the right thing to do.

That said, my tapering has gone pretty well, touch wood – and I’m doing a lot of that at the moment. I’ve stuck to my schedule, reducing distance or intensity as advised and am eating sensibly – banana cake is fruit and carb loading in one right? – and trying to keep well hydrated.

My big fear at the moment is tripping over some random bit of sticking up paving stone and ruling myself out of running. Of course, I’m constantly checking the weather forecast too – will I have to run in a jacket, can I ditch the gloves? It’s only adding to the PMT (pre-marathon tension).

There’s now only five sleeps till the big day and I know I’ve got two runs, a swim and two yoga sessions left. Friday’s will be a short shake out run before trying to rest on Saturday, although I can see myself frantically running round the expo, credit card in hand wanting to buy everything. That doesn’t count though surely?

Partly to appease the kids (“Aww, why do we have to come and watch another marathon? It’s sooooo boring.”) and partly to enforce rest upon me we’re planning on going to see the Muppet movie on Saturday afternoon. Otherwise, I can imagine a little light shopping might turn into an afternoon trekking round the city.

We’re staying in a family room that night too, which means an enforced early bed time, a bonus given that I usually find it hard to sleep the night before a race – too excited and nervous – so at least I’ll be resting.

I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s taper blogs and tweets over the last couple of weeks too, good to know we’re all in it together.

Choosing the right energy boost

I’ve run three marathons so far and never bothered with energy gels, snacks on the go or the like and have got round on water and maybe a little slug of the energy provided by the race organizer. This time around though, I’ve decided to give myself that extra little boost as I’d really like to get a good for age place for London 2015.

There seem to be so many different ways to go and products on the market that it was a bit overwhelming. I took to #UKRunChat hour one Sunday, 8-9pm to seek advice and find out what others were doing.

If you’ve not discovered #UKRunChat hour, it’s a brilliant way to connect with other runners on Twitter. People swap advice, give support and make connections with fellow runners. It’s billed as the fastest hour of the week and keeping up is quite a challenge, but it’s also great.

So, armed with a bunch of suggestions I headed to Sweatshop and had a chat with them. I’d decided to try three different options, otherwise I wouldn’t have time to get used to my choice.

First up was Science in Sport, Go Isotonic Gel, 60ml, apple flavour. I don’t carry a bag or a belt or anything and these were really bulky in my back pocket and the corners were poking me too, so was glad when they’d both gone. I found them quite hard to open, I had to rip them with my teeth which wasn’t pleasant.

It was good that you didn’t have to take them with water, they were pretty liquid and the flavour was ok, but a mile later, they were a bit “repeaty” for want of a better phrase. This was not good, feeling a bit sickly.

Next up were Jelly Beans, Sport Beans, 28g pack, orange flavour. The pack recommended one whole pack 30 mins before running then to eat the beans as and when you needed an energy boost.

As someone who doesn’t normally eat jelly beans or sweets for that matter, eating a whole pack before running was quite a big ask. I didn’t really enjoy the jelly bean experience at all. I did pop one every 2-3 miles, or when I stopped for water, but I found that they really stuck to my teeth and I just wanted to brush and get rid of them.

Finally, I tried the GU energy gel, 32g, jet blackberry flavour. I took three out with me and spaced them out during my longer runs. I could just about fit them into my back pocket, so was pleased with that. Again, they were a bit tricky to open, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now. The flavour was ok but I can’t say I enjoyed the texture, made sure I had a good bit of water with them.

I’m not going to try any more now ahead of the marathon, so I’m sticking with the GU, the best option of the three that I tried.

I definitely think they’ve made a difference to my training, last year, ahead of Paris, I’d come back completely spent and hungry. My last two long runs, 24 miles each, I’ve felt fairly comfortable and confident I could do the last 2.2 at the end.

Here’s hoping they help me reach my goal in Brighton next month.

Entering the final straight

Passing the 10 week mark of my 16-week marathon training programme is always a big milestone for me. It means there’s just the ‘school holidays’ to go. Only three weeks to tapering, so it all suddenly starts to seem more achievable. So I thought I’d wrap up my training and thoughts so far.

I’m aiming for a PB this year, and have been trying really hard to give myself the best shot at it. This has included doing a marathon workshop with the Run Doctor and actually implementing some of what was said!

I’ve always known that some speed work or interval training was good, but I’ve never really enjoyed it before. This time, after the workshop, I decided to have a go at the Yasso 800s, which seems to have worked well for me. They’ve had a positive effect on my parkrun times too, I’ve watched my 5k PB fall over the past few months, an added bonus.

The other thing that I’ve been doing this time, which I’ve always shuddered at and avoided in the past is strength work. I’ve got a set of exercises that I tried to follow, but doing it at home doesn’t do it for me and I can’t face the gym, so I’ve taken to yoga.

There is a downside to this, I’m now really enjoying yoga too and hate to miss a class! I’ve been doing three a week, two of them bikram or other hot yoga and a cooler, less sweaty, iyengar class. Somehow a 30 day plank challenge seems to have crept in to my schedule too. I’ve definitely seen a change in my body with this and I’m happy, so I think that I can say strength work gets a tick.

Another new thing for me is energy gels. I’ve always been reluctant before, but after my stomach was growling at me after my first longer run, it made me think. I’ve tried a few and settled on my favourite, for now. Still a bit rubbish at tearing open the sachet, but that’s what training runs are supposed to help sort out.

With less than six weeks to go, I’m also off the booze now. I’m trying not to think too much about that first cold pint of beer after the race, but somehow it keeps popping into my head. That and pizza.

There’s just over four weeks to go now, hopefully I’ll be arriving at the start line in Brighton the best prepared that I can be.

Fear of getting caught short on the course

I don’t know whether it’s my age, the cold, that I’m drinking too much water on the way round, or just that worrying about it makes you want to go more, but these days, my long run routes (and, sadly, currently my shorter runs too) are determined by a series of park / public toilets and even a 24 hr garage that I know has a loo.

Or at least, that’s the theory. I had a nightmare the other day, I was doing my interval session, so there is a bit of slow recovery time, it was chucking it down with rain – that may or may not be related – and no one had come to open the park toilets. Of course, this only exacerbated the situation, knowing that I couldn’t go.

Through gritted teeth, I did my intervals, lots of extra deep breathing and concentration. Then, just after I’d finished and was heading off for the cool down run home, a man arrived in a van. My heart lifted, I ran over and asked, all expectant, if he’d come to open the toilet block. He said that he hadn’t but could if I wanted, but wouldn’t I rather use the facilities in the community hall?

What, the place with the shutters down, no lights on and looking about as closed as possible? Yes, I was told, apparently it had been open the whole time. Aaarrrrgghhhh!

I think the longest gap between toilets on my long runs is about four miles, about the same as longest gap on the Brighton Marathon route, which makes me feel more relaxed. Hopefully, knowing they’re there will be enough to make me forget about them and concentrate on the running!

Shopping, shopping and a bit of running

It all started with the Write This Run conference at the Running Show last month. It was the lunch break and I wandered around looking at all the stuff to buy, ‘One little running skirt won’t hurt,’ I said to myself, and ‘Well, you can’t not need laces.’

Skip to three weeks later and my small, but perfectly formed, purchases at the Running Show have been joined by a thermal base layer and running vest from Sweaty Betty (it was my birthday, ok), new Asics running shoes (essential item), three pairs of socks (it was three for two, how could I not?), a pair of Kalenji running tights (after @Cat_Simpson described them soooo toasty (and super comfy)) and a pair of thermal gloves (absolutely essential in my case).

Oh, and a new blue jacket, so I’m slightly more visible in the dark.

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My credit card is exhausted and has taken itself off for a well earned rest. I’m not usually one for shopping but I found myself in a whole new kind of zone, I think it’s over, for now.

Back to concentrating on the running again, it’s suddenly week one of the 16 week training schedule for Brighton Marathon, and my new kit is going to be thoroughly put through it’s paces over the next few months. My new shoes are already a bit muddy and have lost that brand new look. Let’s see how they look in April.