Today I wanted to share with you my experience of running to the start line of the Brighton Marathon on my own before 'running' with around 16,000 others and completing the actual Marathon. This is all part of my own training toward the Western States Endurance Run in June and came off the back of a weekend of hill/mountain training in Snowden.
It's taken me a week or so to collect my thoughts on this as I've suffered with Viral Gastroenteritis which has knocked me for 6. I've yet to resume training and this is deeply affected my confidence and my overall tiredness is not motivating me to get things started again - albeit my lack of energy is probably the driver behind that.
I got up at 2:30am on the Sunday morning having changed my mind at the last minute and hit the sack at around 11pm the previous evening. I had considered staying up all night but I decided I needed at least a couple of hours to power up for what was to come. With all of my gear packed I had enough time to grab a coffee and fill my water bottles before leaving the house at 3am.
This gave me well over 6 hours to make my way to Southwater, along the downs link to Shoreham and then along the seafront to Brighton pier, throwing a left and heading up to Preston Park to meet my other half and get a fresh set of clothes on before I was due to start at 9:15am. Distance wise this adds up to around 30 miles so I knew I had plenty of time in the bank and I had no intention on rushing things along my way. I didn't want to completely tire myself out and I really didn't want to miss the cut offs during the marathon!!
The temperature was pretty low when I left but I still managed to overdress and found myself fluctuating between really hot to far too cold. It was a relief when the sun started coming up at around 5am as I could feel the heat rise and the general sense of well-being I had from that sunrise was absolutely perfect.
The journey down was non-problematic. I ate and drank well with some pre cooked burritos and a grab bag of Mccoys fuelling me for the trip down. By the time I got to Hove at around 7:15am the race organisers had started setting up water tables etc and I started getting the sense that Brighton Marathon was waking up.
I took it very easy on the way from the pier to Preston Park as I realised that I was way ahead of time and my other half hadn't quite made it to Brighton by that point. I ducked into a local shop and bought myself a pepsi to have that lovely hit of sugar I felt I needed. I stopped the Garmin watch after 29 miles and the time was 4hrs 45
Shortly after I met Louise, and got that change of clothes but regardless I felt pretty chilly and struggled to grit my teeth waiting for quite a long time before we were finally allowed to start. The organisation seemed pretty weak as the 9:15am start dragged on and on until we were finally released at 9:42 - busy or not, a half hour wait is excessive and is suggestive that they are over subscribing this race.
That aside, i ran with a friend of mine for the first mile or so before losing him completely amongst the crowds. Not being used to starting in a 'slower' time corral I hadn't appreciated quite how busy it would be and whilst my legs were feeling tired I needed to stretch out a bit and get running before the inevitable happened and I began walking. The longer I stayed at 10m/m the sooner in terms of distance I would be going for the walk/run strategy. I tried dodging a few people and eventually managed to get into a steady pace of 9m/m.
It's always great to see and hear familiar voices so it was so great to see one of my awesome clients Claire and her friend Sarah cheering us all on at around the 12.5 mile mark and I had seen Louise a few miles before as well. Getting that support honestly does give you such a big boost when you're struggling.
I tried taking on a few gels and water as and when I could. I finally gave in to the temptation of walking at around the 17 mile mark and took a quarter of a mile out before pushing on again for a few miles before seeing the charity that I ran for - the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity. After sharing a hug and some high fives I ran on until hitting Shoreham Power Station and taking an extended break.
I walked/ran for around 5kms until I had gone along the beach front and decided to run the last 1.5 miles. I got a great hug from Louise, Claire, and Sarah and strolled on the for the last half mile or so crossing the line in just under 4hrs and 16 minutes - my slowest ever 'official' marathon :0)
After walking what felt another 3 miles to get out of the pig pen the runners were left in I eventually met friends and family and went for some victory food and beer, mission very much achieved and accomplished.
It was good to have some re-experienced running in the dark, running whilst sleepy and getting in a decent distance as well. This will only hold me in good stead and I only wish now that I had organised more of this kind of event as my weekends are fast running out. With this stomach bug still lingering I've yet to run since Sunday and have had to have complete rest. I can only hope that i recover soon and I can get back to work in the next couple of days.
Anyway, more than anything I wanted to say that running this kind of distance comes down to mindset rather than being physically capable. The reality is that you can only train yourself to do a certain level of activity and after that your head takes over. Ultimately if you say you can you will, if you say you can't, you won't.
It's really that simple.
Apply this to all aspects of your life and watch yourself flourish!!!