Last Sunday I completed the inaugural Brighton marathon. It was also my first. It was a glorious day – the warmest of the year so far – but still a very comfortable running temperature, without a breath of wind. It belied the 4 months of training through the coldest, snowiest winter in a generation. Regularly running 8 miles in the dark, wind and sleet was not a pleasant experience. But it was all worth it.
The day as whole was hugely enjoyable. There were crowds throughout the course, 8 people deep in some places, so I’m told. Even from a runner’s perspective there seemed to be a celebratory, carnival atmosphere. It was great, too, having my name on my running vest, as I was personally cheered on throughout the distance.
This was particularly welcome when I hit the wall at about 21 miles. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It was far worse. When I’ve been mountain biking I’ve blown up or bonked, when you suddenly run out of energy and it becomes hard to even turn the pedals. That’s what I thought hitting the wall would be like, but it’s turns out to be much more painful. I didn’t so much feel that I’d exhausted my reserves, instead every foot fall suddenly started sending shooting pains through all my leg muscles. It was like being kicked hard with every step. The urge to walk was almost overwhelming, but I knew if that happened I wouldn’t be able to start running again, and I really, really wanted to get in under 4 hours.
So as I passed the 25 mile point, with the end in sight, it was great to receive a massive cheer from friends and family who’d come out to support – thanks everyone! That spurred me on for the final push, and I was mightily relieved to the huge FINISH banner, with its clock beginning with a 3. (And thanks to Jeremy Keith for the photo.)
The official timing showed that I ran the second half of the marathon quicker than the first, which was a surprise. That said I’d tried very hard to pace myself at the beginning (in fact my Nike+ recording even shows a comfort break at about 6 miles). In the end my registered time was 3 hours 51 minutes. Well chuffed.
I ran the marathon partly as a personal challenge, but also to raise money for Have a Heart which funds local charities supporting disadvantaged and disabled children. If you’d like to make a small donation, I’m sure they would be most grateful, and Clearleft will gladly match all gifts made.