It’s been a week since Brighton Marathon. My legs have almost recovered and I’ve had time to reflect on how it went.
I had made some bold claims about wanting to run a sub 3 hour marathon in 2016. This is the benchmark for good amateur club runners. My best time is 3:21 and I set this on the marathon leg of an Ironman triathlon, which means it’s at least physiologically possible for me. I made a bet with friends, started training and clocked a 3:28 at the Marine Corp Marathon (Washington DC) back in October. I was lighter and the base fitness was in the bank.
This was quickly followed by injury, surgery, a job change and a house move. The fitness was lost, some weight gained and my goals quickly re-assessed.
I had a decent block of training from January to April and dipped under 1:30 at the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon. A sub-3 was not achievable, but my 3:21 personal best was the new target.
I like to run the day before big races and I am collecting as many different Parkruns as I can (Parkrun Tourism). I’ve collected all my very local runs, so went over to Wormwood Scrubs Parkrun for a gentle jog around a very boggy field.
Drove down to Brighton and joined a massive queue to collect my number - it’s worth registering on Friday if you can. Stayed at the very lovely Pelham House in Lewes, right by the station which is just a short train ride from Brighton.
Race morning was very relaxed. Short train ride and a 15 minute walk to the start at Preston Park. Luckily I paid my entry fee with an American Express card, who were an event sponsor. This got me into the AMEX tent for free coffee and biscuits, a place to sit and some minor celebs to chat with.
It was about 9 degrees and sunny at the start, which is perfect running temperature. I was in the sub 3:30 starting pen and when the race started got into a nice even pace. The first four miles wind you around Preston Park and then onto Marine Drive for the first big out-and-back to Ovingdean. Everything felt good and before long I was through 13 miles and on target for under 3:20. A minor hiccup at about 16 miles when I tripped and fell over a timing mat. My hands broke my fall, I suffered a few cuts and a dent in my pride - but was quickly running again.
Then, at almost exactly 20 miles, it went from being an easy run to a fight to hold my pace. I had been eating and drinking, so it was not an energy problem. It was lack of fitness. There is nowhere to hide in a marathon. I reminded myself that 6 miles is a long way to walk and that I didn’t want to get caught by my friends on the course behind me. The final out and back towards Shoreham was ugly, with a couple of tactical walks at drinks stations.
And then it was done! 3:26:10 was the official time, into the first aid tent to get the cuts patched up and then a massive roast dinner in a pub in Hove.