Brighton Marathon 17 3/12
Let’s get one thing straight before I start. If you want to run a road marathon, run the Brighton marathon! It’s tough both mentally and physically, but it’s beautiful and the support is sensational. I’ve run it twice and will run it again and nothing will stop me from thinking that’s a good idea. As long as my body holds up I’ll be back in 2018, and I’m telling anyone who will listen that it’s a good idea to join me.
Preston park was on fire with people revelling in pre race sunshine. It was already hot when I arrived at 8:30. There wasn’t a queue for a porter loo that wouldn’t take you over 45 minutes, and leave you heaving from the questionable stench! But hey that’s race day for ya. I love the vibe at the park, and it wins at getting you buzzing and raring to go. Runners tend to be a friendly bunch and especially on a beautiful sunshiny seasidy day.
I rocked up to find my new bestie Emma waiting for me. We’d met at Brighton Half and were both chasing down sub 4 so kicked it off together! She made my hair look awesome and we entered the blue wave full of excited/nervous chatter! We kicked off somewhere near the back of the blue wave, and had a plan to run the first Half in 2 hours and the second half in 1:57. Emma was pulling me back for the first few (+10) miles as I am totally incapable of pacing myself and the crowds were electric even at 9am! Every time someone shouted I couldn’t help but speed up.
No joke, I welled up at mile 2 because I was overwhelmed by how packed the streets were with people so early on, who don’t know me at all, but happily shouting my name. My last 3 marathons have been somewhere out over the Southdowns with the odd cow and die hard cheer squad member for a shout. This instantly reminded me of the reasons you have to run a city marathon at least once!
Plus this was a big day for me. It was a year on from the day that changed my whole world, and today was the day it would change again because today I would do it, that thing I’d been wanting to do for so long, been training for for the past year, I would sub4! And at the start line I honestly believed that more than I believed anything!
The first half was a delight. It was hot hot hot and it was apparent that today was not going to be easy. But we stopped at water stations, grabbed vaseline from the paramedics, wiped sweat away, and paced it consistently. We got to half way in just under 2:01 feeling fresh. I looked at Emma and said “we just have to do that again with a big push in the final 3rd and we’ve done it”. I think at that point we both totally believed in it. We saw our friends and family so much throughout that first half, and it makes all the difference in the world to run past them waving uncontrollably!
In the next mile or two we ramped up the pace and everything felt good, then my right side went to pot. I knew all too well what it was and what it meant. Emma saw me pull back and asked if I wanted to stop and stretch I said no, let’s run through it so we carried on for another mile. She was pulling me along and with every step I was losing pace. Church Rd was once again where it would all fade for me. I tapped emma and told her to go I couldn’t hold it, I was in pain. If you ever have an issue with your ITB you will know the pain that it causes, it’s a real sickly, nauseating, every step feels it kind of pain. The exact same pain in virtually the exact same place from a year earlier. I kept telling myself to push through and it would ease but it didn’t and it wouldn’t. I was confident if I could just keep running I would find that strength I needed to bring it home. There was know way I was giving up on this.
By mile 18 I’d done the math and unless I was about to 10k PB it was all over. My head dropped massively and all that ‘keep going girl’ attitude i’d been pushing myself with was fading fast.
What came next I wasn’t really prepared for. The power station is a horrendous section of Brighton Marathon and it takes some mental toughness to get through it on pace and unscathed. As i said I’d run it before and was fully aware of this, but on Sunday it was particularly horrible. It was the hottest day of the year and with the streets rammed with 150000+ people and 12000+ runners it felt even hotter! People were honestly collapsing left right and centre and receiving urgent medical attention from paramedics; Loved ones were crying and I stopped to check on person after person seizing up at the side of the road. I have never in my life seen so many poorly people as I did in that power station, and it massively freaked me out.
I saw my run club buddies and balled my eyes out because I was in pain, I was scared for the people around me and I knew I’d lost the sub4. When I looped them for a second time I think they knew I needed them as they shouted louder than anything I’d ever heard and it spurred me out of that marathon war zone and back on to the friendly seafront where my folks were stationed. I was so close to pulling up and walking, maybe walking home and shutting off social media forever and throwing in the marathon towel, so yeah when I saw them I was a tad emotional. I looked at them and shook my head to say it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t going to do it. I know this number only matters to me but in that moment I felt like I’d let them down.
Back on the seafront every time any one shouted my name I welled up. Because I felt like I’d let them all down, like I’d let myself down. And I know how totally crazy that is and sounds. I was about to complete my 6th marathon the 4th in 4 months and the 3rd for my 12in12 challenge. I was injured, it was hot, and I was about to PB. Yet I still felt totally awash with failure.
Coming down that final home straight I just cried and cried and cried. Not because I didn’t love it, or because I didn’t do it, but because I’d just run flat out as hard as I could in conditions I’d never run in before, at a speed I’d never run at before and it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t hold back on any of those feelings and they just streamed out my eyeballs. I saw my husband and sister in the stands and shook my head at them too, this wasn’t going to be a race photo finish of shear joy this was going to be a race photo finish of shear deflation. I was truly beaten by Brighton and I needed a hug.
4 hours 11 minutes 7 seconds and I had nothing more to give.
When you finish a marathon you think amazing I’ll go celebrate with all my peeps but note you generally have to walk for about 30 minutes to find anyone. So as I was crying collecting my medal and t shirt and feeling rather sorry for myself; I was truly thankful to the people who came up to me and told me well done, or asked me about the 12 in 12 or just gave me the knowing nod of ‘yeah that was hard’. I have to say as well the Merch from Brighton this year was really good and I’ve been proudly wearing my Tshirt, carrying around my tote bag and showing off my medal.
I will end how I started this. Brighton is a great race. There are things for them to learn from such a hot day, and yes I’ve heard the horror stories. But that being said I think we were all surprised by the heat a bit. The temperature said one thing but how that felt on a course lined with so many people, the tarmac radiating up at you and at times shade nowhere to be seen is something entirely different. Everyone who crossed that start line yesterday is a hero in my eyes!
The support you get around this electric city is like nothing I have ever experienced. It makes my heart swell and eyes well up just thinking about it. I’m blessed to live anywhere near this community of awesomeness. Thank you to every single person who lined a street from shoreham to rottingdean, you made so many people able to finish yesterday and I honestly believe that a fair few of you saved lives!
I’m still a little bruised in the brain and heart by the events, but I’m proud to have taken another 6 minutes off that marathon time on a day that was not designed for PBs.
I continue to love running, not because I find it easy or because I’m any good at it, neither of those things are particularly true. I love it because it challenges me, it makes me feel all the feels: angry, sad, elated, frustrated, overwhelmed and overjoyed! It introduces me to incredible places, people and things. And it reminds me that I’m stronger than I ever could have imagined I would be; and well on the good days and on the bad days that just makes me feel like one heck of a badass lady!
#clareruns12in12 Marathon #3 charity
This all began last year when I ran Brighton Marathon for Mind. If you want to know my story and why I will forever run for them, with them, volunteer, raise money, awareness and share my story about mental health then check out my Why Mind blog post.
I will donate my race fees in awe of every Mind runner I saw on Sunday, for the friends I know who are suffering right now, for the people who I’ve lost along the way, and for every other person who at any point needs to know that it’s ok to not be ok. There are people who are here, and who want to help you, and whether you’re the helper or the helpee, you are incredible.
If you too want to donate to Mind then please do so via this link, or Text MIND to 70660 to give £3.
If you would rather get involved in another way then why not do a fundraiser, volunteer, or cheer with Mind at an event near you! I will joining them on the sidelines of london in just 12 days cheering all you amazing runners home!