So, where to begin?
We got the train down to Brighton on Friday night (after a quick dinner at home)- our hotel was right by the station which was perfect as we were both very tired after long weeks at work.
On Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast at Bill’s (french toast again for me) and then spent hours wandering around the shops.
I bought quite a few bits- that lovely Zest pesto, chocolate buttons, pop chips, orange spice tea, apple and pear crisps, a little raw chocolate mint “pie” (bar) and some lime Montezuma’s chocolate.
Plus some cool tins which I am going to use to store tea and hot chocolate in.
We went to the Naked tea and coffee company (they are the ones with the funky tea infuser things) and I had a bit of cake (carb loading you see), and we also spent a long time on the hunt for safety pins, as we had realised (on the way to the train station) that we had forgotten to pack any! Boots and Superdrug had both sold out, but luckily the lady I asked in M&S told me about a fabric shop up the road, and they stocked them- phew! We walked along the seafront for a bit too, but I wanted to rest my legs a bit, so we headed back to our hotel for about an hours rest (watched Mo win the 3000m) before heading out for dinner- I had a lovely salad with butternut squash and lentils at Zizzi’s.
All that fresh air tired us out, and after getting our race kit out we had an early night.
Sunday morning the alarm went off bright and early, and luckily the day was gorgeous- clear blue skies and just a hint of a breeze. We had some malt loaf for breakfast- I think this is what we had before the Oxford half and I quite like it.
The weather forecast said it was going to be something like highs of 6, so I went for a t-shirt and my jacket (mainly because my jacket had pockets), plus tights. Also I could not find my run headband, and I hate having hair in my face, so I went for my ear-warmer thing. I also took my gloves- I think it has been so cold recently that I went a bit overboard!
(Awful photo due to the lighting!)
My pockets were loaded- hotel key card, phone, tissues, hand sanitiser, pacer bands (2.15 and 2.18), little bag of jelly beans… and I took a small bottle of water with a nuun tab in it- I much prefer sipping to trying to gulp down water at the stations, plus the info said two of the drinks stations would be lucozade and not water- bleurgh!
We walked down to the seafront and it was just wonderful- so bright and sunny. There are some pictures here.
I was feeling excited! Andy was in a pen a bit up from me, although in fact there were no fences between the pens, just flags with the approximate finish times on them. I had chatted to Lara on facebook and we had swapped bib numbers- she also told me she would be wearing a pink top- we were both in the same starting pen, and I was very pleased to see her! We had a little chat- it was lovely to meet in person after reading her blog for so long! We wished each other luck and exchanged strategies- I was hoping for pacer runners, but had not seen any while I was waiting- literally as I said this to Lara, a 2.15 pacer runner appeared in the pen! Excellent! My plan was to keep up with the 2.15 pacer, but if I lost her I had the pacer bands in my pocket to look at, as my maths seems to go awful when I run!
My goals were:
B-2.18 (still a pb as my fastest time was 2.19 something at St Albans a few years ago)
C- Sub 2.25
I wanted to basically go for it, and see how long I could hang on for and hope my legs did not fall off!
I was a bit of a way back, but by the time I crossed the start line it had only been about 7 minutes on the clock (way better than the GNR of 40 mins or whatever it was!).
The route was lovely- I really really enjoyed it. The first section went into the town, but was pretty flat, and was only a short loop (maybe just over a mile), before we got back to the seafront again. I knew for the 2.15 finish I had to be going 10.18 per mile, and at first it was a bit too slow because the course was pretty crowded. My first mile was 10.37, but I told myself I could make up the time later on, and needed to warm up my legs first. After we got back to the seafront, we turned left and ran towards Peacehaven (where the infamous fire was at the hen do last year!). I knew this would be uphill, but I did not find it too bad. I was breathing fine, and the hills seem to come in little bits- it would be uphill, then flat, then uphill again. I was also going fast- 10.06 and 9.56 for miles 2 and 3. I was keeping the pacer right in front of me, but she stopped at the first drinks station whereas I carried on. At some point all the runners around me gasped as the front runners sped past in the other direction- they were rocketing! A bit later on Andy shouted at me as he was heading down the hill while I was still going up it- nice to see a friendly face!
We finally reached the top of the hill and turned to come back towards Brighton. It was fab as the sun was then behind me, and there were wonderful views of the sea on the left, sparkling in the sunlight, and the hills on the other side. Plus it was downhill- bonus!
Miles 4-7 went by quickly it seemed (9.45, 10.01, 9.47, 9.52) and by then I was back to the middle of Brighton again- and the winners were heading towards the finish line- they are amazing!
Running down that hill was lovely, but I started to get really hot. I flipped up my headband so it was folded in half and only keeping my hair out of my eyes, I rolled up my sleeves, took off my gloves and undid my jacket, but I was still baking. I was pleased to hit the 10k mark in exactly an hour and spent a long time thinking about how I should sign up for a 10k run as my quickest time is 61 mins and some seconds. I love it how the mind wanders when I run. Anyway, after that we carried on through Brighton, along the seafront towards Hove. It was narrow and at points I got stuck behind people- even if they were only running a tiny bit slower I preferred to pass them. This is where it started to get tough for me, really tough. My legs felt awful, I was worrying a bit about keeping up this pace (the pacer runner was still right in front of me), and so I decided jelly beans were in order. I had a few, but then I started to feel really sick. I had a few sips of my drink which helped, but I had to take massive gulps of air and really tell myself that I was not going to throw up. For some reason miles 8-10 seem tough for me, as you have run a long way, and although you are over half way, you are not close enough to the end that you can convince yourself that it is “only” a few miles. Miles 8-10 went 9.57, 10.03, 10.06, so I was slowing, but still quicker than the 10.18 per mile I needed. I worked out at some point that even if I slowed to 11 min miles I would still make my 2.15 time, and then as my maths often goes a bit wrong when I run (I think during the GNR I thought that 8 miles was half way as I had converted to k and back to miles again for some reason???) I was not 100% sure that I could trust it! Anyway, at some point we turned (mile 9 maybe?) to come along the promenade, and that was amazing as the sea breeze cooled me right down. It meant it was tougher as I was running into the wind, but I was so hot that I didn’t care about that. By then, the pacer had got away from me- I could just about see the flag in the distance but I didn’t think I would manage to catch her up at all. At least by this point the pier was in sight, and I knew I was on the home straight. My legs were so sore, but I knew I could slow down a bit and still manage a great time. I did try to keep up with the pacer, but I was really struggling and lots of people were overtaking me (and normally I start off slower and speed up so this was harder psychologically I think)- miles 11 and 12 slowed to 10.36 and 10.37, but I got to the 12 mile marker at around 2 hours- then the adrenaline started to flow and I had to try and calm myself down- I find it hard to save it for the finish! The pacer must have slowed as I caught her up, and the last mile was made easier as they had signs from 1km, 900m to go, 800m to go etc. By then I was going in my head “9,9,9” (900m to go), then “8,8,8” (800m to go- in time with my feet)- then I saw Andy and I was so excited I shouted at him “look, my watch says 2 hours and 9 mins!!!”- I didn’t stop but a girl next to him shouted at me “don’t look so surprised, keep on running” or something to that effect! That spurred me on too, so thanks 🙂 Actually the crowd support was brilliant- especially once you got back to the centre of Brighton and by the beach/ promenade towards Hove and back- there were loads of people with instruments, signs, cheering people on.
Finally the finish was in sight- what an amazing feeling! Some people were going pretty slow, so I started to speed up and use up the last of my energy- I managed to go past quite a few people, and really pushed myself to get over that line. I had run out of water at mile 12 so I was very glad to have some water handed to me with my medal. Someone else handed me a bottle of lucozade (I was gasping for air!) and I even had some- tastes like undiluted squash but when you are thirsty anything will do!
When I looked at my watch I was in shock! How had I managed that? 2.15 was a dream time- I had no idea I could go that fast! My poor legs were so sore, but I didn’t want them to seize up so I kept on walking (hence the blurry photo!)- my last mile was 10.06 so I had managed to push myself. Only 3 of my miles were slower than the 10.18 needed, the other 10 were faster. I am still amazed!
I took a photo while I was walking as the weather was beautiful- it was so crowded down there.
Then I had to hot foot it back to the hotel- we had to check out by 12, and by the time I finished it was 11.30! In the end I jogged most of the way back- running seemed less painful than walking for some reason.
I got back to the hotel room with 10 mins to spare, so I managed a shower (no hair wash) and a change, and felt loads better. (I had baby wipes on standby if I didn’t make it back in time!)
We headed out for lunch (Giraffe- there was a lady watching the race holding a sign that said “Think of the fish and chips”- well I was thinking of the sweet potato fries!), had a wander in the sun, and then got the train. (Which ended up being a pain as there was a signal failure so the 100 min journey took nearly 4 hours- at least we had seats I suppose).
I think that I have a lot to thank the pacer runner for as I was keeping her in sight, and that was easier than trying to pace myself on my own. There is no way I would have ever run that fast without having a pacer to try to keep up with. I also think that the Sweatshop runs are helping in two ways. One, running faster for shorter distances is helping me run a bit faster over long distances. But two, it is helping me psychologically. When I started back running again in the summer, the first Sweatshop run I did was the first run without a walk break- they pushed me to do it when my mind didn’t believe I was capable. And they are helping me to see that if I push myself to run faster, I can actually manage it and my lungs don’t fall out of my mouth or whatever. I think I just had a different attitude where I thought right, I am going to go for this, and hope that I can hang on for as soon as possible, and hope that my legs don’t fall off, whereas often I am a bit conservative and want to save some energy for the last few miles.
Today, my legs hurt like crazy- I didn’t sleep well as every time I moved the soreness woke me up- should have used the Deep Freeze gel. I put some on this morning, along with my compression socks, and that has helped a lot. But I suppose I pushed myself further than I have before (apart from the marathon because of the nature of that) so I should expect some soreness.
Anyway, I am over the moon! I still can’t quite believe that I managed it (and I know that some people run faster than that all the time, but previously I have run 2.32, 2.19 a few years ago, and then 2.27 and 2.20 in the autumn, so this was way faster than those)- bring on the next races! 🙂
How was your weekend?
What have you achieved recently that you are proud of? Big yourself up!
I want to wear this medal all week!