The Brighton Marathon: a moment I will never forget
I ran the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 15 April. This was my third marathon and the first marathon in my attempt to run two marathons in as many weeks. I was a bit unsure of what time I would do. I had recently run the Wilmslow Half Marathon in 1:54. This time was outside of the sub 1:50 I'd aimed for and I really struggled towards the end of the race. It suggested that I might scrape a sub four-hour marathon in Brighton but only just. I was worried.
Still, I dusted myself and stuck to my training. Significantly, I went tee-total for four weeks before the race, cut out caffeine and sugary treats, and I made sure I got plenty of sleep. In other words, I became boring. People were continuously questioning why I was going to such an extreme and at times I struggled to answer them. But I stuck to it because I am, if nothing else, extremely stubborn.
A moment I will never forget
Something paid off. I ran a personal best in Brighton of 3:51:09. And, yes, those 9 seconds are going to haunt me for a little while, I reckon. I knew things were going well at the half-way point. I'd run only one minute slower than my time in the Wilmslow but felt a million times better. My splits were fairly consistent all the way round, hovering around the 8:40-8:50 minute mile mark. If anything, I kept having to consciously slow myself down, especially when the crowd were particularly vocal.
I kept waiting for the moment I would start to feel bad, waiting for the dreaded moment when something would go wrong. But I kept overtaking people, running consistently, and feeling good. Of course, 'good' is relative in a marathon. Things ached and I was working hard, but I felt nowhere near is bad as I have done in the later stages of my other marathons.
The other shoe never dropped. I started to struggle quite a lot in the last two miles but by then I knew that I could finish at a pace not far off what I had ran for the whole race. To put it into context, I lost over a minute per mile during the late stages of my last marathon. I barely lost 15 seconds per mile this year and that was only for the last 2 miles. I just had to dig deep, concentrate, and give it the best I had. Before I know it, I'd finished, gobsmacked and overjoyed. A race volunteer put a medal round my neck and I felt like a superstar. Most of all, I was so pleased that I gave a good account of myself, particularly since my fundraising total has reached over £600 thus far. It's important for my motivation and for my fundraising goals to get as many donations as possible, obviously, but it's also a big commitment to live up to. So far, so good.
The next challenge
I enjoyed Brighton 2012 so much that it's a bit of an anti-climax being back home after having thousands of people cheer me on, essentially for 26.2 miles, and the magic of seeing my time as I crossed the line. I ran every step of the way with one of my oldest and best friends and we crossed the finish line together, a moment I will never forget. I feel incredibly fatigued. I'm sleeping or napping every chance I get, but my legs don't feel bad at all, especially after having a sports massage this evening, so I'm feeling confident for the Manchester Marathon in less than two weeks' time.
I have no time goal for Manchester. I'm happy with my time in Brighton and don't need to replicate it so quickly. I'd like to run steadily and enjoy my achievement for the next one. Saying that, if my legs are up to it, I would love to go for sub-four hours.
Onwards, then, onto the next marathon. I doubt I will ever do a challenge like this again but I am immensely proud that I am doing it. I just hope I can enjoy Manchester as much as I did Brighton, regardless of what happens.