It’s been a while since I posted here. I wonder how many times I’ve written that before. I’m making no promises. I won’t say I will start posting again regularly and I won’t say I’ll be back soon. I might be. But I might not. My posts trailed away at around about week 11 of the Brighton Marathon training. I was reaching the crux of the training plan and what with work and weekends away I had no time to sit down and reflect. I now find myself with a moment in time and having been inspired by other bloggers I figured I’d let you know how the big day actually went.
To summarize, it went very well. The months of training meant my legs were in good shape and my lungs were ready. I learnt last year that you can’t skip training because you will get found out on the day. Missing runs means you will not be good enough on the day. It sounds simple but it took a painful marathon for me to find that out.
My diet helped. With my first marathon I was still in the state of mind that I could eat anything I wanted because of all the running I was doing. Whilst that was possible when I first started running and working out, it became apparent the old saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet” is 100% accurate. This time I watched what I was eating. I made sure I was fueling myself correctly and tried not to fall off the wagon with the booze and junk food. Yes there were slip ups. There always will be. But I always got back on track.
I had a pretty big scare 2 weeks before the big day when during my taper I foolishly took up my skateboard for the first time since I was 15. I was skateboarding with my girlfriend’s niece. She had just got her first scooter so I thought I’d show her some moves. She wasn’t particularly interested in my moves so I showed my girlfriend instead. She also wasn’t particularly bothered so I tried to win them both over by going off a curb. Something which was so natural and easy back in the day. Needless to say I bailed. Cuts and graves on my knees and hands. It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen over and man did it hurt. I can’t believe I used to do that all day. I got up feeling sorry for myself and by the time we had got home my ankle was swollen and sore.
I spent the next few days icing it whenever I could. Every evening I would come back and ice it after work and then do some exercises to try and keep it moving and encourage healing. I had told everyone that I was tapering and now it was about resting and not doing anything stupid. Now I had a sprained ankle a couple of weeks before a marathon. I definitely learnt that lesson. I thought I would be a DNS but somehow we managed to get it sorted in time. It still hurts now sometimes, but for the day when I needed it most there was no pain at all.
We drove down to Brighton on the Saturday morning. Spent the day wandering around, picking up the race packet and generally taking it easy and avoiding eating things like garlic bread and ice cream. By mid afternoon my ankle was throbbing so we got a taxi back to my parents caravan just outside of town. After some rest and tea it was back in for a great Italian meal then back to our Air BnB for bed.
I woke after a pretty rubbish night’s sleep. Not really an issue as it is rare that I sleep well before a big occasion. Especially in a foreign bed. It didn’t matter. I was ready to get up and run this thing. The months of training had built up to this moment and nothing was going to get in the way. We awoke to a stunning sky. Blue and sunny yet there was still a certain crispness to the air. Perfect marathon running weather.
My breakfast consisted of 1 tin of rice pudding, some strawberry jam and 2 pieces of peanut butter on toast. I’d discovered this to be both the best for my j pouch and for fueling long distance running. We set off for a slow walk to Preston Park to meet the crowds and get in the queue for the toilet. My girlfriend and I parted ways as she set off to the first good place to see me. I had her, my mum and my dad positioned at unknown spots around Brighton. They spent the day trawling through the crowds trying to find me and I cannot thank them enough as the support they provided was a fantastic boost.
Before I knew it we were off. Running through the park at a good pace. A sub 4 pace. I felt good for a lot of the race. I got through the first 5 or 6 miles with ease and enjoyment before the first long out and back section began. It was about 3.5 miles out to the nearby village of Ovingdean and then all the way back along the seafront, through Hove and back inland to Portslade by Sea. The distance from one side to the other was 7 miles and we obviously went through the half way stage which I did in 1 hour 57 minutes. Well on track.
By mile 16 in my first marathon I felt broken and I knew it was going to be a struggle to finish. At Brighton however I just kept popping out the sub 9s. However, by the time I got to the power station somewhere around mile 21 I was feeling the pain. This section is pretty quiet and the power station is quite ugly. Things just felt negative. All I kept saying to myself was just get this next mile done at a good pace. You are ahead of schedule so just keep the number low.
I could see my times starting to slip so did some maths in my head and knew that I could probably come home in the last few miles at 10 min/m pace and still get sub 4. Somewhere around mile 23 I high fived my Dad. Somewhere around mile 24 my girlfriend ran with me for a bit. She asked how I was. I said I was fine. I was fine. I didn’t feel wonderful but I wasn’t going to stop. I knew I could keep going. And I knew I was going to hit my target.
As I approached the finishing straight the crowds were ginormous. So many people. It was such a buzz and then to see my Mum frantically waving from the finish line grandstand gave me that last kick to power across the line in 3:57:56. Over half an hour quicker than my first marathon and the feeling was incredible. I had run the thing well both in terms of my time and in terms of everything else. The pacing, the training, the diet and the hundreds of miles all paid off and came together in those wondrous 4 hours.
After that it was time to sit for a bit and eat. I had pizza. The perfect post race fuel… Then it was time to rest and chill. Time to head home and relax. I spent the next week feeling very pleased with myself. That annoying smugness that comes from knocking a marathon out the park. The feeling has faded now though and whilst I’m still very happy with what I’ve done it’s all about the next thing. The next big challenge.