Brighton Marathon April 2018 by Simon Keates

Race information

Goals

Goal

Description

Completed?

A

Finish!

Yes

B

Finish under 4 hours

Yes

Splits

Distance

Time

1 Mile

8:51

5K

27:06

10K

54:30

15K

01:21:57

20K

01:55:19

25K

02:17:09

30K

02:45:08

35K

03:13:38

40K

03:43:07

Finish

03:54:58

Training

I’ve run on and off for a few years, but only really started taking it seriously in 2016 when a friend challenged me to run a half-marathon that year. It seemed impossible, but the threat of defeat is a great motivator, and we both completed the Richmond Half, in October, in about 2 hours. The next challenge was Brighton marathon 2017, 6 months later, which unfortunately, I couldn’t commit to, due to study commitments (MSc Information Security at Royal Holloway!! Thankfully I passed). The pressure was therefore on for 2018.

Despite a fair amount of training, including 3 half-marathons in 2017, a marathon still seemed quite overwhelming. It took a lot of will power to click the submit button on the sign-up page!

Immediately after signing up, training procrastination kicked in, along with Christmas indulgence, New Year’s parties, and a Sales Kick-Off (i.e., a week of drinking) in January, and a serious dive in fitness…

I got back on track and training fully started mid-January, giving me 13 weeks until race day

The plan was to run on Monday and Wednesday with the club, do a HIIT workout on Friday, and a long run on Sunday, increasing the miles each week. This mostly went to plan, but I did miss a few weeks due to business travel, injuries (Potholes + dark streets = twisted ankle), and being sick! I was lucky enough to do some training runs out of the country – Budapest and Johannesburg. The Jobug runs were tough – 1,753 metres (5,751 ft) elevation and over 20°C (68°F) temperature is quite tough when you’re used to almost sea-level and sub 10°C (50°F) back home in Haddenham.

January/February running is quite tough too. Early sunset meant most of my Sunday afternoon was dedicated to running (I’ll switch to long runs in the morning for future training). We also had some significant rain, so quite a few off-road runs involved wading through overflowing streams! I eventually switched to the Phoenix Trail, just to maintain consistency (no stiles to climb over), and stay dry!

I peaked at 36kms at race minus 4 weeks. This run, and the one preceding it were really tough, especially the last 6km of each. Speaking to Andrew, it was clear that I hadn’t been fuelling correctly, and adjusted my in-run nutrition plan to suit – i.e., gels every 30 minutes from the start. All following runs were great

I also stopped drinking alcohol for the 30 days leading up to the Marathon! No sure how much this helped, so I might suggest a bit of moderation instead – a few beers over the weekend isn’t really going to hurt!

Race

I’d intended to stick with the 4 hour pacer till the end, with a final push at the end to come in as far under 4 hours as possible. Unfortunately, after only about 2 miles, the pacer lost his balloon, and I lost track of him leaving me to my own devices. Luckily (i.e., slightly obsessive), I’d written my own pace cards for every 5km, so was able to track progress. Managed to team up with a few other runners along the way and we stuck together until close to the end, keeping each other motivated, and on-pace.

The crowds were amazing, and it was a great course. With much encouragement before turning left at the seafront, when the crowds did thin on the way out of town, picking up again, briefly, at Ovingdean before we turned back on ourselves, heading back towards the massive crowds at the pier.

The halfway mark came soon after the pier, which was both a feeling of relief, and despair! I was also on the lookout for my wife, who I couldn’t find in the crowds, much to her disappointment.

I think that the adrenaline took over from this point, just getting one foot in front of another, keeping fuelled and watered, and pushing ahead.

I did manage to spot my wife on the way back towards the seafront after the loop around Hove! I think she was quite relieved to see me in one piece, and smiling.

After heading west out of town, we turned back on ourselves after the Shoreham Power Station for the final 6 miles to the finish along the seafront.

At about a mile from the finish I dug deep and gave one final push to the end (after one more quick wave to my wife again!) at as fast a pace as I could manage, coming it at 3h 54m 58s!

Post-Race and after-thoughts

I felt quite good post-race, but did get cold quite quickly, luckily there were foil blankets being handed out. Managed to find my wife and walked back to our hotel for a shower and lunch before heading home. Climbing steps were definitely a challenge, and the next day my left ankle was quite swollen and bruised. Luckily that cleared after a few days and by the end of the week I was feeling fine. I did decide to take another week off to let my ankle fully heal

I learnt a lot during my training too – good nutrition is important (pre, during and post run), the human body is amazingly capable, long runs are long and take a lot of time out of weekend, and cheap headphones are cheap for a reason!

Long runs did also mean a chance to discover some amazing off-road running, and a great appreciation for the countryside right out my front door.

I set out to achieve a sub-four hour time, and trained to meet this goal, but without wanting to sound over-confidant, I do think I could have done a bit better! But for a first time, I’m extremely happy. There’s always next time

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