Part 1 of this post is here, covering the build-up and the first half of the race. On with the story…….
Sunday – Miles 13.2 to 26.2
So far so good. Through halfway in 2:06 and more importantly still feeling comfortable and starting to go a little faster. The music was definitely helping just to provide a little distraction, although the downside with bone conduction headphones is that they are difficult to hear when the surrounding noise is loud as was the case at certain points on the course. Then again, it was great to see and hear such fantastic crowd support for the race and the lack of music really didn’t matter at those points.
At 14 miles you turn right off the seafront in Hove and very quickly turn left onto a dead straight 2 mile stretch that just seems to go on forever, and when you do reach the end you just come back along the same road and end up in the same place you started from! On my two previous attempts at Brighton I’d already been starting to struggle at this point, and had really disliked this section of the course, but this year was different. I wouldn’t say I was looking forward to it, but still feeling relatively good and confident I looked at it as a chance to knock off another 4 miles. Things were going well on the nutrition and hydration front as well, I’d been drinking to thirst and had eaten 1/2 of an Eat Natural bar at that point, and so far my stomach felt fine.
Back on the seafront and 18 miles down next up was the Shoreham Power Station loop, the bit of Brighton that everyone seems to dread and that you warn first timers about. It’s dead flat (as is the entire second half of the course), and the power station is at around the 21 mile mark but you can see the chimney from just past 18 miles and it just seems to take forever to get to it through the largely deserted and featureless roads through Shoreham Docks.
I had a quick chat with Darren from Paddock Wood AC who was one of the 4:15 pacers just before we entered the docks, and as with the dead straight section through Hove I still felt good and wasn’t worried about this bit either, knowing that once it was done and dusted the finish was almost literally in sight. By the time we finally reached the power station I was starting to feel the pace properly for the first time, and having had a little more to eat my stomach was starting to feel just a little bit delicate. Add to that heading into the stiff breeze once we started heading home and I knew it was time to dig in, knowing a good time was now within my grasp.
The final challenge is the last section along the promenade, which starts just before the 23 mile mark, so you’re a Parkrun or so away from finishing, but you can also see the pier from that point (the finish is just past it) and rather like the power station chimney it never seems to get any closer either! Despite the breeze, my increasingly tired legs and my slight stomach issues I was still keeping up a decent pace around 9:15 minutes per mile and constantly overtaking people.
It wasn’t until we got to 25 miles that I finally slowed as my legs really started to feel tired, so the final mile was a bit of a shuffle as I could feel the possible onset of cramp in my hamstrings and calves, but I knew it was in the bag then, and I was delighted to cross the line in 4:07 having managed a negative split of 5 minutes as well! Almost as soon as I crossed the line I could feel I had absolutely nothing left, and as soon as I’d collected my medal and my bag I propped myself up against a portaloo (oh the glamour!) to recover. My stomach definitely wasn’t as happy as I was at this point and I was sick (more glamour!), although that did actually make it feel better and having sat there for 15 minutes I was feeling ready to move on.
I was a little disappointed I couldn’t enjoy the free pint of Erdinger (alcohol free beer) on offer afterwards but it probably wouldn’t have stayed down long! I grabbed a can for later and a bunch of other freebies and headed off for the park and ride bus, very tired, but very happy.
Bath, sleep, social media catch-up, food, beer and sleep again!
The only way to start the day was with the all you can eat breakfast at the hotel, and I certainly ate a bit more than my usual bowl of porridge or cereal! That was followed by a day of ‘active recovery’ walking around Lewes, including up to the top of two towers in the Castle as well as a very steep street. We’ve never been to Lewes before so we wanted to take a look around. It’s a lovely old town with some historic buildings and pubs, and is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
And that was Brighton 2019. I’m planning to write a preview blog for the London Marathon (three posts in a week – unprecedented) so I’ll reflect a little more on the race in that one. In the meantime I hope you all had a good Easter weekend and enjoyed the chocolate and the sunshine.