Brighton Half Marathon
On Sunday the 28th Feb, Brighton woke early to welcome over 8,000 runners! That seems crazy to me, all of us getting up at the crack of dawn to run around this seaside city. It was the 26th Year of the event, but my first time taking part.
This was probably the first event I’ve taken part in with a clear goal, a clear finish time, and potential for disappointment. Time is something that has never really been important to me, I run for freedom and happiness, I’ve never wanted it to become serious or competitive. This was something personal to me though, something I’ve dreamt about, and another challenge I’ve set myself to overcome.
I was going for my sub 2; Yep 13.1 in less than 2 hours. For some this is an easy goal to reach and for others it’s an elusive beast, for me it was a personal achievement that I really really wanted.
I woke up on the morning of the race after a particularly poor sleep, and a week of being full of sickness, I wasn’t feeling it. I was running a little late and was rushed; I could feel the stress mounting. I stopped, looked in the mirror and had a little chat with myself, something I do quite frequently. “Clare, this is what you love doing, this is why you are out in the rain and mud all week, this is how you found yourself, how you truly got to know yourself, this is what you’re raising money for, this is your thing…”
“Now stop being a stressy little B**** (sorry mum) and go have some fun” and that’s what I did.
The weather was decent, cold for sure, but the wind didn’t seem to be too bad (a bit of a miracle for this part of the world at the moment). A friend and I waited at the start line in our 2:00 -2:15 pen, my husband and sister got situated on the sidelines to cheer us on. It was go time…
The start of a race is a funny thing, there are so many people heading towards the line and it takes a little while to get the space needed to find your stride. The route around Brighton is pretty picturesque; you start at Madeira Drive near the wheel, and head up towards St Peters church. After this it’s sea views all the way, heading up hill past the Marina before heading back down towards Hove Lagoon, it really is a beautiful setting.
My start had been slow due to all the congestion and I knew I was going to have to run hard, probably the hardest I ever had, if I was going to reach my goal. Finding space I was able to pick up pace. I tackled the hills under a 9 minute mile which gave me a big boost. If I could do this uphill then surely I could do it the rest of the way.
Back on the flat my hip started to twinge around mile 8, another talking to was needed. This is the thing about running, when you’re pushing your boundaries you might get pain, but pain is temporary and you can handle it, you can handle anything.
It wasn’t until mile 10 that I let myself consider if the sub 2 was actually going to happen. I glanced at my watch saw that it was tight but more than achievable. I knew I had to go flat out on the home stretch. Running back along the prom was my highlight, the crowds were cheering, steel drums playing, and the end was in sight.
I wear my Mind Charity shirt to my races and have my name printed on it. It’s the most amazing feeling to have people call out your name and tell you to keep going. If anyone out there is wondering if they make a difference by adorning the sidelines and cheering us on, then you do; A huge, unbelievable, inexplicable difference to us, to me!!
As I saw the finish line up ahead, everything hurt, I felt honestly like I had nothing left to give. The thing is though, I always sprint finish, a ritual that started when I’d go on runs with my dad about 10 years ago. For some reason it makes you feel even more like a champ to push that last morsel of energy out. I took a deep breath in and went for it, literally everything I had, E V E R Y T H I N G…
I’m not sure if my final sprint counts as a sprint but it was as fast as I could possibly go. I crossed the line with a time of 1:55:45 and not only could I not believe that I had achieved my Sub 2; I had totally smashed my expectations, cue tears!
The Brighton half will forever hold a special place in my heart. I did it guys!