Brighton Marathon: I high-fived Paula Radcliffe!!!
April 6, 2014
So, today was the big day. Brighton Marathon. For the past few weeks, I’ve postponed everything saying that I would ‘do it after Brighton’.
Getting ready on race morning
Stu and I woke up at 5:30am and I sprang out of bed, ready to make my porridge. Today I opted for 30g oats, 20g dried apricots, 30g ground almonds, a drop of vanilla essence and 1tsp golden syrup, microwaved with some water. Whilst it was cooling (I hate HOT porridge), I got dressed.
The weather forecast for Brighton Marathon had been for wind and rain. Given my problems with overheating, I decided not to change my planned outfit. I had out my black SportZone double layer shorts, Lordshill t-shirt, headband (depending on the temperature), Nike dri-fit elite socks, turquoise Compress Sport calf guards, Shock Absorber ball sports bra and Brooks Vapors.
I wasted a bit of time, so Stu and I didn’t leave the house until 6:25am, but I wasn’t too worried as I knew that the roads would be fairly quiet.
The last part of the journey
We came off the main road and went straight into a traffic jam for the Mill Road park and ride. I saw other people get out of their cars and walk, but I didn’t feel ready to leave Stu at that point (7:40am), so I stayed for a while. By the time it got to 8am, I thought I’d better get out. The instructions said that the last bus would leave the park and ride at 8:15am and I didn’t want to miss it.
I walked down a hill and crossed a road by a roundabout. I’d seen another girl get out of a car. She had flagged down a park and ride bus as she had seen another woman get on it. I jogged over and was able to get on with her. This was a fortunate move as when we got to the bus stop, there was a massive queue. I chatted with the other runner. She told me that her name was Rosie and she was 24 and from Birmingham. She had planned to run the race with a friend, but her friend sustained an injury, so she was doing it on her own and aiming for 5 hours.
The journey to the start was about 2 miles, so it didn’t take long for us to get there. I then went to queue for a toilet with Rosie. All of the queues were enormous, so it took quite a long time, but I wasn’t worried as we had over half an hour before the race would start. Finally, I made it to the front of the queue – what a relief.
The last few minutes before the start
Near the baggage lorries, I saw a man applying Vaseline. I decided it might be prudent to apply some more, but I had forgotten mine, so I asked the man if I could have some. After removing my trousers and hoodie, I rubbed a bit of vaseline on my legs to prevent chafing. I then took out my bin bag, handed in my bag and headed towards the start. I realised that I still had my headband around my neck, so I pulled it up. Rain had been forecast, so I thought it might be useful.
On the way to the start line of Brighton Marathon, I saw Matt White, a fellow LRR runner, so I popped over to wish him luck and then went to the start line. There was some nervous chatter and I realised that I hadn’t put a pacing band on, but I wasn’t too fussed as I figured that some mental arithmetic might help to distract me along the way. I also realised that it felt quite warm, so I removed my bin bag.
My corral started moving forwards and I could see the start line. As I got near, I realised that Paula Radcliffe was on my side of the road, high-fiving runners crossing the start line. She is one of my running heroes, so this was an unmissable opportunity. I headed straight for her and was so excited to high five her.
Just a minute down the road, I saw Stu and Ant, so that was another couple of high fives in the bag. I was aware that we had to run a loop around the park as we’d already seen some of the elite runners go past as we were heading to the start line. What I didn’t know was that we had to go up a hill. We went around a corner. I was amused that although we were only a mile or so into the race, men were already dashing off to water the plants! I felt warm, so I removed my headband and wrapped it around my arm. As I headed towards where we had started, I spotted Ant and Stu again. I threw my headband to them.
I felt quite pleased with my 5km time of 0:30:16.
in this part of the race, I saw Simon on the other side of the road and shouted, but I don’t think he heard me. Then Sarah spotted me from the other side of the road – she was running incognito in an orange t-shirt, which was not what I was expecting. After I turned back on the loop, I was really excited to see Reena, who was looking strong. She had headphones in, so I really had to shout for her to hear me, but I was glad that I got her attention. I then saw Stu with Ant again at about 4.5 miles.
I was relieved to find that I was still running at a sensible and consistent pace when I hit 10km in 1:00:23.
As I was coming up to 7 miles, I kept looking at the other side of the road, trying to spot the speedy Lordshillers. I thought I might see Steve, but he was a long way ahead, so I missed him. I finally saw Simon looking really strong. Then as I was trucking up the hill, I saw my friend Deano windmilling down the other side. I shouted out to him and he responded. There weren’t many spectators at this point on the course and it felt quite hilly, so there was not a lot of chat going on.
I thought that as I’d done 10km, I should take on some nutrition, so I had a caffeinated cherry shot blok. I was hoping for an instant boost, but to be honest, I didn’t really notice any difference 🙁
We headed down a small side road that was quite congested. I wasn’t able to run at my own pace, which was really frustrating. People queuing into the road for the loos didn’t help. After I’d passed the turnaround point and got to about 8.5 miles, I saw Laura for the first time. I was quite surprised as I thought I’d started at the back of my corral and assumed that she’d be ahead of me, but I hadn’t realised that she’d started in a later corral.
Despite the hill, I was still running at a consistent pace and arrived at the 15km mat in 1:30:06.
My initial troubles started as we were heading up the hill. It had become really congested and I couldn’t work out why as the path hadn’t narrowed. I skipped up the grass verge and started moving faster. Then I realised that it was so congested as I was stuck in the mass of people around the 4:30 pacer. I wondered whether I should stick with the group, but I hadn’t been enjoying running at their pace, so I thought I would be better off doing my own thing and running according to how I felt.
I then started heading down the hill which felt great. The pacer had shouted out that there were no more hills left, so I was feeling really pumped. I wasn’t having to pay too much attention to what was going on around me as it wasn’t too busy… or so I thought. Suddenly, something hit me and I was totally winded! A woman up ahead had dropped a gel and instead of ignoring it and carrying on (she had on one of those gel-belts with enough gels to feed all of the elite runners!) she had turned around and run back straight into me. It threw me for a second and being terribly English, I even apologised, although, on reflection, it was hardly my fault.
Anyway, I managed to pull myself together and was still doing an OK pace, so I reached 20km in 2:01:17.
I was quite excited about running the 20-25km segment as I knew that I would have completed half the race and was also expecting some good crowd support along the seafront.
As I turned a corner, I heard the first cheers from LRR supporters: Mike J. and Di. Then just a little further along, I heard the cheers from Team Cleeves on the other side of the road, who were probably awaiting Steve who was much further ahead than me. The next people who I saw were Stu and Ant. I had intended to speak to Stu at this point, but I was too busy chomping on my first energy gel to be able to speak. Oops!
The path then turned away from the seafront, which is where I got my first glimpse of the LRR support crew (at about 14 miles). I was a little bit dazed to see so many of them, but I think it was Irene, Emily, Pete, Rosie and Kirsty. Thanks, guys 🙂
I was still doing surprisingly well and hit 25k in 2:33:27.
The next part of the course was a bit warmer. We were away from the seafront and the crowds were not as thick. It was also the part of the race that I dread the most. I often find 16-20 miles the hardest part of long distance races. However, I was feeling confident that I might beat my dismal time for 20 miles from Bramley this year, so I kept going.
I had been picking up squeezy water cartons at every drinks stop. On this section of the course, I really doused myself with the water. I could tell that I was starting to get quite hot and I didn’t want to have to walk as I was feeling OK.
At some point in this section, Laura passed me looking strong. It was nice to talk to her for a little while. I was surprised that it hadn’t happened sooner as I was expecting her to finish the race in about 4:15.
Overall, I was still doing OK as I reached 30k in 3:07:28.
Miles 19-21 were heading west towards the power station. They felt really tough. It’s at the point when you’ve already run a long way and you’re also aware of just how much further you have to go. I’m not sure exactly what the time was when I passed the 20-mile marker. I felt happy that I was faster than when I did Bramley 20 earlier this year. At about that time, I saw Sarah on the other side. We both nodded to acknowledge each other. Neither of us managed to shout or really wave as I think we were both starting to feel the effort.
I had really started to slow at this point and hit 35k in 3:45:21, but at least I knew that unless something terrible happened, I ought to get a time under 5 hours, which was a relief.
The last 7.2km were really hard. I desperately wanted to pick up the pace, but my legs wouldn’t obey me. I was looking for any motivation that I could get and did not have enough energy to dodge around people, so I had to say ‘excuse me’ repeatedly to people who were walking in groups.
Somewhere around the 23-mile point, I saw the LRR crew again, which lifted my spirits and Stu also kept popping up. It was a little depressing to see how quickly he could run to the next point whilst wearing jeans and fashion trainers, but I was grateful that he was doing his best to help me.
Stu also reminded me of the phrase that Irene and I always used to use on long runs: ‘parkrun to go’. It makes 5km seem like an easy and manageable distance when you’re tired.
I did spend a lot of time thinking about my posture when I felt tired and I was grateful that I didn’t have a drinks belt weighing me down, but Stu managed to get a photo of me jogging up the last slope where my posture was terrible – oh dear 🙁
The crowd were really good for the last couple of miles. A lot of people were shouting my name (as it’s on my t-shirt). It made it hard to know whether they were friends or just kind supporters. (The ones shouting ‘Tasmin’ were clearly just kind supporters). I did my best to look around and thank people, even if it was just a little thumbs up. However, I didn’t recognise everyone. Somewhere around the 25-mile point, one of my school friends, Alex, was cheering me on. It was really kind of her. I just hope I wasn’t looking too haggard at that point. I had really slowed up and was being passed by elderly people.
My final km split was at 40km: 4:22:18.
I desperately wanted to sprint to the line, but my legs just wouldn’t go any faster. As it wasn’t going to be a PB, there just didn’t seem to be any point. I finally crossed the line in
That’s about 20 minutes faster than I had hoped for at Brighton Marathon, so I felt quite pleased.
My race data
Here’s all of my Garmin data for the race.
I’m quite pleased with my cadence for the race as I really struggled towards the end. I didn’t check on it during the run but was hoping to keep it at 180spm for the race.
You can’t see how slowly I was running after 30km (which might be a good thing). Until then, I wasn’t doing too badly!
The finish area of Brighton Marathon
After crossing the finish line, I had to collect my medal, finisher’s t-shirt, a foil blanket and a carrier bag. Finishers also received a banana, some breakfast biscuits, a bottle of Gatorade and a carton of water. I was grateful for all of these items, but it would have been much easier if they’d all been placed in a bag for me.
I was desperate to just curl up and sleep, but we had to keep walking. I’d agreed to meet Stuart in the finishers’ area by the ‘S’ sign. When I got there, I sat down and removed my shoes before eating some of the food. It didn’t take Stu long to arrive.
Getting back to the park and ride
After I’d used the foil blanket as a modesty sheet to change out of my shorts, we started walking in the direction of the buses. Or so we thought. We crossed a road and asked the people there for directions to the park and ride. They pointed west. We walked quite a long way before we decided to ask someone else for directions. Aaaarrgghh – we had walked nearly two miles away from where the buses were collecting people. We had to walk all of the way back.
We finally got on a bus and after quite a while, we arrived at the bottom of the park and ride. I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t a field or a car park. It was just a long steep hill with cars parked at the side of the road. Stu’s car was about a mile away, just a few cars from the end of the line. It probably did my legs good to keep moving, but I hadn’t planned to walk five miles after running so far!
Celebrating at home
When I got home, I had a large glass of water before showering and putting on my t-shirt (and medal).
I like the ribbon that the medal is on and it’s not a bad medal. However, I was a little disappointed that the t-shirt is a cotton t-shirt and not a technical t-shirt. It will probably be relegated to the back of my drawer, never to be seen again!
I’m now trying out the Actipatch that I received, whilst kicking back with a pizza!
All-in-all, it hasn’t been a bad day!
Here are the stats:
I was 505/956 in my age group (Women 35-44)
5438th/8506 overall in 4:39:44
1453/3031 out of the women (although I think this is incomplete data)