With a little bit more time available and a desire to get under 5 hours for a marathon I entered Brighton a few months ago. My PB was set at London 2 years ago of 5:02 and for a totally unrealistic reason wanted to go sub 5 as it just sounds more like a proper runner. It makes zero sense but has just been one of those nagging things and the whole, at least you did a marathon, you beat everyone on the couch, only 1% of people do one, I wasn’t hearing at all. Training plan sorted, which looked stretching and doable and checked over by a PT friend of mine and off we went.
Broadly speaking it went well, if you read the blog you can tell I’ve done some good running, had a load of fun and been out a lot more than I would usually. Over 400km since January + some cycling and swimming.
On Sunday I got 5:29 and had a miserable race. After feeling down yesterday (Sunday), today (Monday) I started looking back at my stats and analysing what I’d undertaken this year vs previous marathons and the three big things I noticed compared to my PB training were:
- I didn’t do many pyramid runs (no idea what the official term is but 5k one day 10k the next 5k the day after to build up endurance)
- I didn’t do a half marathon, as a race, beforehand
- I sabotaged myself doing an ultra 4 weeks before and one 4 weeks before that. The last ultra itself was fine (and really very enjoyable) but I lost 2 weeks of training letting my body recover.
- Generally I didn’t do enough training that lifted me out of my plod zone, i.e. speedwork.
So four things sorry… My 18th marathon or ultra and I guess I should celebrate each one of them. But… this is the first one I don’t have that satisfaction over, as every single one of the previous 17 I can talk about a moment or a thing that happened that made it brilliant. That’s not a reflection on the actual race itself to be clear.
Anyway enough of that, a quick review of the actual race.
Brighton sells itself as the number 2 to London and in some ways it’s better, others not so much.
Arrived at Preston Park (where the start is), lots of toilets, lots of space and didn’t feel as manic as London. I paid for my race entry on Amex so went to the Amex area which was lush! Nice area, toilets, coffee, pastries, physios and your own entry into the start chorals! Brilliant. Went to see the physio about some chest pains I had (not the dieing kind as I told her) and she helped me stretch them out.
The start area and the start itself was great, loads of music, interviews and generally felt fun. You then set off for a lap around the park and then some mucking about before you hit the beach and go left for ages, muck about at the end to make the mileage and then come back to above the start area before you carry on into town for bloomin ages, double back on yourself to the startish area, then back out to the power station, the warehouses and then double back on yourself to the finish.
Psychologically it’s quite a tough marathon as you spend 90% of the marathon doubling back where you can see the other runners coming back the way you’re going. Some runners like that (my wife) but I found it tricky. The interesting bit for me was that the power station warehouse bit, and maybe because it really starting bucketing it down there, I found really grim. A friend who did it yesterday as well told me after he had to have a stern word with himself to not pull out there.
In addition, a big shout out to Gavin and Lauren for giving me a cheer. Unfortunately for her, Lauren got a big sweaty cuddle, Gavin was wisely cheering from afar!!! This was her picture at about 12 miles I think
The finish was great though, lots of people despite the rain, music etc and a downhill run to the finish line which is ALWAYS welcome. A nice medal and then a funnel to get your bags and then to the park and ride buses. Very well organised and efficient.
The course is the course and I don’t think there is a perfect course out there. The supporters were amazing with many just out supporting and really helped me and other runners along. One thing to improve (and I know this is very very picky), the T-shirt… you get a free T-Shirt (as is standard) but it doesn’t say finisher, it just says Brighton Marathon Competitor. If you want one saying finisher they’re £28 in the shop. I know it’s a small thing but….
As a big city marathon, I would recommend as its very well organised, nice big crowds across most of the route, lots of music etc and very very busy so lots of people around to keep you going.
For me personally I have the prudential ride 100 to train for in July so the running shoes will go in the cupboard for a bit which is probably a good thing so I can freshen up a bit for whatever lies ahead.
The final word has to go to my two pests who gave me a card to open the morning of the race and then when I came home, knowing I was a bit unhappy, did posters on the front door. For them, mummy and daddy going off to do a race is not a big deal (which is slightly worrying in itself) but they were really pleased I’d done it and were impressed with the medal (for at least 2 seconds before something much more important was happening in their lives!)
So in conclusion, my wife has asked me not to do a big city marathon again for at least a year and I have lots to think about training plan wise before that happens again. For now it’s two wheels for me and learning how to clip in those bloomin shoes and not fall off !!!
Update from Tuesday, Race + 2 days – much like a woman giving birth (stay with me) it doesn’t feel so bad. I’m still a bit ashamed about the time (I know I know) and probably wouldn’t do Brighton again but it’s moving more into the maybe zone. Just like when you have one child and some time after that your wife asks/tells you about having another. It transpires that a response of “I was there the first time you did it, are you really sure, as it didn’t look like much fun” isn’t the correct one to give as all of that has been forgotten.