So Sunday morning came, and despite the weather telling me it would be dry on Sunday morning, it most definitely wasn’t.
Despite having slight vest regret, I had my clif bar and some water, and then we walked down to the start together. The hotel was booked was only a 5 minute walk away, so that was very handy indeed. At the pier Andy took my jumper and then left me to find my start pen etc.
Now, I like the Brighton half, and I have completed it several times (this was my fourth time, and Andy did it once and I watched when I wasn’t well) but last year and again this year it was much more badly organised. Walking along to find the start pen, I could not actually find an entrance to the pens, and in the end someone else moved one of the metal fences so I went through the gap. In previous years they have had marshals manning the entrances, checking bib colours and so on.
FatBoy Slim (or should I call him Norman?) was starting the race off (I think I saw him warming up before the start), and I could hear his interview on the tannoy before they did the countdown. They also had their first wheelchair race, so they gave some instructions about letting them pass if they were behind you. As each wave went off, they let off cannons although they were filled with just smoke it seemed? Last year they were filled with coloured paper which all fluttered around- not sure because of the wind they could not have them filled? They played “Right here, Right now” at the start and so then of course I wondered for a while whether musicians listen to their own music or do they feel a bit weird when it’s playing?
I had no real plan for the race- I knew I would not beat my pb (set last year in Brighton), especially with the windy weather, but I was aiming for somewhere under 2.10- so long as I was under 10 minute miles I thought that would be tough but still enjoyable.
The start through the town and past the pavilion flew by, and before I realised we were heading up the coast (up a slight incline). The clouds were so low that they covered the tops of the buildings. I knew that Donna (my lovely run leader) was marshaling for the BOSH people, so I was keeping an eye out. As I was heading up the steeper hill, around mile 3, I spotted her and gave her a big shout- I was just thinking about using my arms going up the hill as she always tells us to on our club runs.
At this point the faster runners were on the other side of the road, heading back down, so I spent this section of the race looking out for Norman Cook/ FatBoy Slim. He said he was aiming for under 1.50, but I knew he would be a bit further back as he started the runners off before joining in. I didn’t spot him anyway.
There was a great drumming band near the top, and I thought we were about to turn around (someone behind me even said “here’s where we turn”) but we went past them and carried on going. It was fine but as we were high up it was quite exposed, and when we finally did turn (just after 4 miles) it got very tough as then the wind was blowing into my face, and it started to rain, so I couldn’t see through my glasses and had to keep taking them off and wiping them. I got fairly cold at this point and briefly wished I had bought a new jacket on Saturday. Heading back into town was good, but then slightly demoralising as I reached the half way point I passed the finish when the first racers were actually finishing.
The water stations were a bit of a pain- the first few were on the out and back section, but usually they are on one side so if you want to avoid it you can run into the middle of the road. This time they were handing them out in both directions so there were people running in both directions trying to avoid them. They were trialing these new pouches (which must be more environmentally friendly than bottles- I hate bottles they are such a waste of water and plastic) so all the volunteers were shouting “squeeze and suck” as people didn’t know how to use them. Of course the volunteers were brilliant- they must have been totally freezing out there.
I do love running in Brighton because there is always great support, and this run was no different. Despite the miserable weather there were loads of people lined up along the streets, and the crowds seemed to get busier further along the route too. There were children holding big pots of jelly babies and jelly beans, and people had brought their own musical instruments along so there was always lots to look at.
I was still feeling OK as I ran out towards Hove- there were a couple more drumming bands along the way which are always good. Each time I looked at my watch it was showing 9-something, so I knew I was OK for 2.10. The bit to the final turn around point seemed to go on a bit more, and I was starting to feel a bit thirsty. The water station was as we turned, but I was distracted by an ambulance reversing (the marshals were making people move over more) and by the time I looked back there was only Lucozade- I think the water was further back. I did consider running back but with only 3 miles to go it seemed easier to just carry on (I would only have had a few sips anyway).
Miles 11 and 12 were fine and I enjoyed watching the huge waves crash onto the beach, but mile 13 was so tough- I felt like I had started to fade, and I just had no energy left- someone stopped and walked and I was so tempted but the people watching were all cheering so I carried on.
The finish line seemed so far away and I had no energy for a final sprint- even though it was my fastest mile I was still overtaken by loads of people in the final funnel- I was very glad to stop.
I was given a foil blanket (hurrah) straight away, and then someone had some Lucozade so I took a bottle as I felt like I needed some energy and fast- I felt a bit like this (but way worse) after the Bath half, and that was in cold wet weather- not sure if that affected me more than I realised.
I was given a medal (from the mayor- decked out in all his bling) and then joined queue after queue to get some cereal bars and other bits.
I might eat the cereal bar, but nothing else appeals.
Last year there was a big fuss because lots of people missed out on the very nice technical t-shirts as they were being handed out further back- some people only realised when they saw photo of them on social media. I wandered on for a bit but could not see them anywhere, and could see loads of people with medals and no-one was wearing them so I gave up looking. I the had to battle along the seafront to meet with Andy- it took me 25 minutes from finishing to getting back to the pier- only a 5 min walk if that. I was glad I hadn’t looked any longer because the front was so crowded I would have missed the check out time.
He had brought me a cup of tea (and a cinnamon swirl for later) and my jumper so I could swap out the foil blanket. At least it had stopped raining, and the sun did briefly come out.
We then rushed back to the hotel so I could have a shower and half dry my hair before we had to check out at 12. After my shower my skin was so sore (I knew this would happen and had bought some cream the day before)- when my skin gets cold and then warm it just goes bright red and burns- ouch! After checking out we sat in the lobby for a bit while I had the cinnamon roll and basically enjoyed sitting down for a bit.
My time was 2.03.23, so quite a bit faster than I had planned (and a clue as to why I was not feeling so great in the last half mile).
I saw later on their facebook page that lots of people were wondering about the t-shirts- they said it was a one- off last year, but it’s a shame as lots of the other Vitality events do t-shirts, and it makes it more value for money. Plus it’s such a great promotional tool- I wear my technical t-shirts a lot, and I like looking at them on other runners as I find out about other races that way too. It’s also a shame that it wasn’t clear because of the mess that happened last year.
We had just enough time to get some lunch to take on the train (and I got a lovely latte from Bluebird Tea co, plus some more tea- I didn’t like the sound of the peanut butter and banana one as I don’t generally like banana flavoured things, but this had little bits of dried banana in it and smelled pretty amazing so I treated myself) and then we had to get to the station. I had to re-wind my podcast to about 30 minutes in as it turned out I slept most of the way on the way down!
The peanut butter and banana rooibos tea was a lovely treat to have in the evening in front of the TV.
Another lovely weekend in Brighton, although I think next time I’ll do a parkrun on the Saturday and no race on the Sunday- much less stressful!
Do you like technical t-shirts from races? Do you look at technical t-shirts when you are out running? Do you wear them? I do if they are the right size (cough Oxford half not having enough small ones for the slower runners…).What sort of weather do you prefer to run in? I know I struggle in the heat but perhaps being cold and wet affects me more than I had previously realised.