Good afternoon all. Welcome one and all to this, my (finally!) Run Report of yesterday's Brighton Half Marathon. It'll be a long post; you've been warned! First off, a great many thousand million thank yous to everyone who replied in my post from't finish line. And also to those who encouraged and supported when I had my 'I'm not sure I can do this' moment, which thankfully passed. I think it was Pre Race (I know this should be hyphenated but in the interests of abbreviating, I've chosen not to. That's how I roll sometimes; I drop the hyphen because I like to live on the wild side. ) Paranoia (PRP) more than anything, a phenomenon which is well documented and tends to happen before a big race.
Even on the Saturday morning when I woke up with a Sore Left Calf (SLC) I was thinking about not going, but by that point I'd told everyone I was going so was going to go whatever happened. And if I was going, I was running, no matter what. Onwards. Always. So, up I get on Saturday morning, at 0533. My coach to Brighton via London Victoria Station (LVS) was at 0645. I'd got most things ready the night before so just had to have breakfast and get ready. Got a taxicab out to the coach station; it's walkable in about 15-20 minutes or so but wanted extra time in bed so decided on the taxi. Nice Friendly Driver (NFD) and before I know it I'm at the coach station. In my bright pink (and it really is, too) Brighton HM hoodie. Coach, the 560 National Express, arrives promptly and on we get. Not too full today. Plug my phone into the charging point and we're on our way. Have a quiet hour or so and then start composing my Off to Brighton post. During which I see on the matrix signs: "M1 closed 15A - 15". I await the diversion announcement. It duly comes and we divert down the A14 to the A1, which, strangely, is something I had to do myself driving the work van to Croydon on Wednesday, due to three lanes being shut on the M25 anti-clockwise.
That puts considerable time on us though and despite that I had about 50 minutes between coaches at LVS, it soon became apparent I wasn't going to make the 1100 025 coach to Brighton. Ah well; I don't have a lot of luck with coaches at Victoria, though the last one was my fault and no-one else's! The journey proceeds well apart from the delay and I miss the 1100 Brighton coach by about three minutes. I really don't do well at Victoria. Off to the National Express Desk (NED) and the fellow is understanding and swaps me onto the 1200 coach at no cost, and apologises too. I tell him there's no need, as it wasn't his fault, unless he flipped the car at 15A of the M1 just to be awkward and then hot-footed it back to LVS just to have a chuckle at me. Hmmmmm. Nah, he can't have!
The wait passes well apart from it being freezing and pigeon-filled and I'm soon on the 025 bound for Brighton. Now getting really excited. It takes about two and a half hours, calling at a few places, including Gatwick South Terminal (GST) and it passes quickly and soon enough I find myself at Pool Valley 'Coach Station' in Brighton. I say coach station, it is just an area of about four coach bays, but it's right on the seafront near everything, just down from my hotel, so who am I to judge their coach facilities?! Off now to check-in to the hotel, the seafront Travelodge, which is situated slap-bang behind an Odeon cinema but overlooking the sea. My room had a nice sea view, anyway. The Odeon does become tempting for later (the Cineworld is the other end of the seafront) but I do manage to avoid the temptation as I really need the early night and rest!
I drop most of my stuff off in my room, taking just my rucksack and sparkling water out with me. Time to do some exploring; I decide that next time I will stay for the two nights as there's a lot to take in here. Heading out of the hotel I proceed left down the seafront and walk down onto the beach by the pier, then head over to the Oscillating Wheel Friend (OWF) as you know me, I love my heights. Fairly quiet so straight on, capsule to myself. Steve Coogan is providing the Rather Interesting Commentary; three revolutions on the wheel was nice but sadly I've been spoilt by The Shard. I call it The Shard Principle, (TSP) whereby it's so bloody tall that anything not as high just isn't as breathtaking. I mean, the view was nice but it was no Shard! But three revolutions for £8.00 wasn't bad I suppose. And from up there I spied the start/finish line being erected, which will be my next port of call. After a wander down the pier, which I really enjoyed.
Off now for a further mooch about - up to see the Pavilion, which is just the most magnificent structure; the Taj Mahal slap bang in the middle of Brighton; I love it. Next time I will go inside but I really didn't have the time on this visit. After that, over to The Lanes, a lovely little array of tiny little shopping streets, with lots of little jewellers shops and other nice little purveyors of fine things. Very nice. By this point I'm starting to get hungry. I look in a few nice looking places which are already full, at 1715. I find a fish restaurant; I ask the waiting fellow outside who wanders over as I read the menu, if they have fish pie. "Yes" he replies. Okay, I'll have that. Sit down and the menu appears. Fish pie? "Yes". Okaaayyyyy. Fish pie then? "Yes". The fellow points to 'seafood platter'. Ah, right, there's a language barrier. I love fish. I love different types of fish; my brain is broken due to being tired from the journey, the cold and a lack of food as I haven't eaten in a few hours since my sarnies on the coach. It doesn't click that fish on the night before an important HM probably isn't a very wise idea. I mean, I know this, but for some reason it escapes me. Fish platter; how bad can it be?
Me: "What's on the fish platter, sir?"
Waiting Fellow: *blank look* "Yes."
Me: "I mean, what is on the fish platter, what seafood?"
Waiting fellow: *emphatically* "Yes!"
Me: "And it comes with..............?"
Waiting fellow: "Yes. You may have with chips or the new potatoes."
This isn't going well.
I capitulate. I'll have the seafood platter.
I'd like you, dear reader, to imagine my sheer horror, and that is no understatement at all, when what arrived about ten minutes later can really only be described as a masterpiece of deep-friery, and I don't mean that in a good way. Everything on the plate, apart from the salad, is deep fried. Everything. I consider saying something but decide against it; it is evident it would just lead to confusion. I mean, the fellow was nice enough, there was just a language barrier. It was one of those things. The nicest thing was the salad, and the bowl of 'mashed peas' which turned out to be mushy peas. And the new potatoes which were quite nice really. And muscles. Never had those before, believe it or not. So here we are on the eve of a Big Important Race (BIR) and I'm eating muscles which I've never had before in my life, and the entire contents of the sea bed off the coast of Brighton which has been battered and deep fried beyond any recognition; I envisaged salmon, prawns, some cod, a bit of trout, some tuna steak, but what I have is battered cod, some scampi, deep fried squid rings and something I'm totally clueless about.
This isn't going well.
I tentatively eat what I can and then call it a day. I did want my post-race meal to be fish and chips but sadly I've now been put off anything deep fried for a very very long time indeed. That was absolutely frightful. My problem was that I should have snacked as soon as I got there. There was a crepe shop just behind me, on the way down from the hotel, but I somehow missed it on the first walk past. Ah well.
That Hideous Gastronomic Encounter, (HGE) behind me, I decide to head back to the hotel, watch the Voice, get prepared for the morning and have an early night.
Taking the stairs to the fifth floor I immediately barge into the bathroom and clean my teeth 33,000 times. And I can still taste deep fried everything.
Everything prepared, time to tuck up in bed at half nine for an early night. I sleep well, awaking at 0627, with a terrible headache, as I always do when I stay in hotels. A litre of sparkling water and some caffeine-infused paracetamol sorts that out. Breakfast of malt loaf and a Natural yoghurt energy bar gets me feeling perky. Faffing around for a bit, kit on and I'm good to go.
Not before the standard pratting about readjusting my bib number, of course, which is obligatory. It's important to note at this point that all four safety pins are securely attached. More on that later. I grab the 500ml bottle of still water that I bought the night before (sparkling water and running never mix well really!) and head out. I put my Bright Pink Bunnyhug (BPB) on to walk down to the start line with. Exiting my room, I encounter an oldish couple exiting the room next to me; they're off to watch relatives running in the race. They wish me luck; I tell them I'll need it and thank them kindly. Oh, the room; I paid the £10 for late check-out, save me carrying everything about. In my rusksack there will just me my jeans, bunnyhug (hoodie) and wallet. And race tech shirt to wear afterwards. o so I think; turns out I've left that on the bed in the hotel room, but never mind!
Out we go now! Bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Yay! It's sodding freezing though. After my experience at the LWR, I decide against gloves and a hat, something which pleases me later when I warm up. On the walk to the start line and race village, it becomes apparent quite rapidly that remaining upright will be quite a tricky task. It is so icy and frosty. Quite a few people are struggling to remain upright here. I hope the roads are in better condition! After a bit of a shuffle, walking beneath the shadow of the Oscillating Wheel Friend (OWF) I eventually reach the start line. The bag drop is further back; seventeen thousand miles further back, it seems. I see now why they advise people arrive for 0800 at the latest! (Race starts at 0900) I didn't realise how far down the bag drop was; I don't think anyone did. It may as well have been in Littlehampton! A minor triviality though; once I knew where it was it was fine. I get talking to a fellow called Neil, who is running in memory of his brother who sadly died of cancer and who is running for one of the cancer charities. Sadly I misplace Neil when I have to nip back up to the lavatories a bit later but I do wish him all the best on his very first race. I hope he did well. Still with Neil however we locate the bag drop and head down to the start again to find the yellow start pen, which we're both in, the 1.45-2 hour pen. The only flag I can see is the 2.15-2.30 pen. No-one at all seems to know where the yellow pen is and there seems to be different bib colours all over the show. I suddenly decide that I could do with another lavatory visit; I wish Neil good luck in case I can't find him again and head up through the scrum to the toilets, of which there are looooooads, though all in one area.
My only two criticisms of the race are that the pens should have been signed with Bloody Great Flags (BGF) so you can't miss them, and the toilets in different areas down the home straight as it's quite a walk to them for the pens. 0845 though, so I have time. I want to go now as I know I'll regret it if I don't. There are loads of toilets though so I'm not waiting too long and I head back down, but rather alarmingly, as we near 0855, there are still people, lots of people, heading back up to the bag drop! Talk about leaving it late! I discover that my bottom right-hand corner safety pin is inexplicably missing. Where is safety pin?! I recall hearing someone saying that there are some in the information tent, which is just down from the toilets, and low and behold, there is a lady holding a whacking great bowl of them. I take one, thank her kindly and attach it to my bib and head off.The area is hugely congested now and I somehow find the yellow pen, though no Neil. All sorts of bib colours here though I can't blame anyone - there's no real decent signing of where you need to be! Ah well, countdown begins - no warm-up on this race, which surprises me!
Start a bit of a trot now to the start line and good God, they have a confetti cannon!
A CONFETTI CANNON! How cool! I like this caper. Nice video/report on the race here, BTW: itv.com/news/meridian/updat...
Anyway, I prod the start button on Miss Garmin and then turn her away from me. I don't want to see my pace or time at all at any point whatsoever. I intend starting steady and seeing what happens. As I'm not expecting much from this race really, I just want to go along at my own pace and not worry about what I should or shouldn't be running to. I try to peg back a lot and just enjoy it. Breathing and calf seem fine. It's very congested at first but soon eases. We turn right and head up by the Pavilion. Such a magnificent structure and great to see it from this perspective. On we go and I look up and see what appears to be a Banksy, two coppers kissing. Makes me chuckle as we carry on to St Peter's Church and the turn-around point, mile one, to head back down and left, to go up the 'incline' to Brighton Marina. I spend a lot of time just looking round, taking it all in. Brighton really is a great place; I love it and want to come back and spend more time here.
The incline builds now and at 2.5 miles there's the first water station. They have both Lucozade Sport and 250ml bottles of water at the water stations but I take only the water, having never tried the Lucozade before. Mind you, that didn't stop me having the muscles last night. Taking water on board and my first energy gel, we go up the incline. Some people seem to be struggling with this and are walking already; I decide to power up it; I deal with hills more severe then this on a daily basis, so it's fine. There's a turn around point ahead and already the 1.45 pacer comes past. Well I guess I'm not making 1.45 then! Just before the Turn Around Point (TAP) there are an excellent drumming band, sort of Gothic drummers, in the grass area in the middle of the road. They're great!
Mile four, the TAP. Time to head back down now and past the Wonderful Gothic Drummers (WGD) and the lovely Marina. The scenery really is beautiful. A lot of people, all muggles, said I was mad to make this journey 'just' for a HM, but for me it was all worth it as this is amazing. The spectator support is incredible too, thousands and thousands of people line the entire route, it's incredible! Just after mile four and the TAP there's a young girl with a big plastic tub of Jelly Babies. I grab a few and thank her. How lovely is that?! I love this about races, it's just all so nice!
Christ, mile four is seriously dragging! It's gone on forever; surely we're at mile five by now?! Say what you like, kilometre marker posts are far more concerting to the mentality! But this is worrying, it's dragging and it shouldn't. Are things starting to get tough already?! I hope not! And here's..............................................
MILE 6! Either there wasn't a mile five marker post, or I missed it! That makes me smile and we plod on - I'm now 10K in and everything is going great! I should have known really as the water station was just before it and that was at 5.8 miles! I bin my old bottle and take a new one at that water station. I like these 250ml bottles; much easier to carry than the 500ml bottles and good for winter when not needing to consume as much water. 10K now then, might see if I can press on a bit. Approaching the pier now, and the OWF again and I'm still feeling okay. 7 miles. Scenery still lovely. Ahead, in the other direction, the Lead Time Vehicle (LTV) and leading runner approach. I cheer him on but am gutted. I see the time on the matrix display atop of the car 1 hour 3 minutes. I'm at mile seven. I can't stop myself performing the calculations. Not bad really, considering! I still don't check MG though!
Mile 8. Another energy gel. om nom nom. Hove Lawns are here; this is very pleasant. More cheering from spectators; I like this. A lot. Mile 9 now and the bit I'm really looking forward to is coming up shortly after the TAP - the beach huts! Just before 10 miles there's another water station, the final one. I swap the near empty bottle for a full one and oh goodness this is amazing -freezing and lovely. I'm very hot so pour some over myself and then drink the rest. I'm actually finding this tough now but press on, and I'm enjoying it - it's not horrid or anything. I start a bit more overtaking, which perks me up a bit. Mile ten now, just after the TAP at Hove Lagoons, which are really nice - and we're now passing the beach huts. These things are amazing, so colourful and bright and lovely. Some people are just sat in one, watching the world -and us runners- go by. And why ever not?! I love the whole race -and Brighton - but this is my favourite part, the beach huts. Lovely! Beach huts on the left, sea -and sun- on the right, it's so nice. I actually don't want this to end. (!)
On we go though, 5K left. Time to try and pick it up a bit. I see a couple of people obviously struggling a bit, who I give a pat on the back and encouraging words to. I remember my very first race, the 10K in Sheffield in July, which was almost a total disaster and that same encouragement helped me no end. I hope it helps them. Mile 11 and 12 pass in a blur. I'm pleased as I can't wait to finish but at the same time am disappointed as I want to just keep this amazing moment going. The sea, the sun, the soaring seagulls, it really is so very pleasant.
Mile 13. I push as hard as I can now. The crowd at this point is absolutely deafening. I've done several races now, all 10Ks and the support has been good, but this is something totally different. It's beyond amazing, I can't help but be in awe of it all.
Arms up, MG stopped and it's all over.
I've done it.
I'm gutted at first because the clock reads 1.56 something. Missed my PB by two minutes. Oh well. First look at MG. 1.53.36?! Eh?! Oh God yes, that clock is the gun time!!!! Hngngngng! Shortly after the text comes through.
1.53.33. My new PB. I'm chuffed to bits with that.
I just ran 13.1 miles. It hits me immediately the enormity of what I've just achieved. Not done it on my own though. Oh no; I ran the race myself, but to get to that point I had to start somewhere, and it was last April, well, the 31st March to be prexact, on C25K, bumbling along with Laura. From struggling along on those 60 seconds, I come to do this, the prestigious Brighton HM on its 25th anniversary race, no less. It's an incredible feeling. I also couldn't have done it without the support of you lovely lot and everyone here. All the support, all the amazing encouragement. I just ran 13.1 miles and if it wasn't for everyone here and the fantastic support, I never would have got this far. You see, this is where this forum and C25K gets you. From being unable to run to catch a bus, to being able to run a half marathon. And I'm not some sort of superhuman, I just listened to Laura, and everyone here, and applied all the dedication and strength I could and somehow got here. And if you're new to running and C25K, there's absolutely no reason why you can't do this either! Just keep on with the program and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve!
I grab a goodie bag and a tin foil wrap. Blimey, these things really work! Gas mark 5 for 25 minutes! No medal in the goodie bag! What? Oh, wait, they're handed out separately.
THE BLOODY MEDAL IS BLOODY PINK!!!!!!
They knew I was coming!
It's amazing, my fave medal yet, surpassing that even of the LWR! I can't stop looking at it!
I have a post-race massage booked so go for that. Grab a ticket and sit down. And wait. And wait. And wait. Hmmmm. We're past my number, which is 689, and I've been here half an hour now, in my tin foil. I could say something but realise I really, really need food. I become aware that my systems are slowly shutting off and I need to eat. I decide to give the massage a miss; I can't wait any longer as it's now 1220 and my coach back is at 1400. And I really need to eat. But where? I'll sort that in a minute - lavatory first. Into the Lavatory Zone and the first one I see is vacant. Or so I think. There's a green bar over the lock hole thing anyway. I open the door.
There's a lady there sat on the lavatory who shrieks in horror. I apologise and slam the door. She then locks it. You see, if she'd have done that in the first bloody place we wouldn't have had that encounter! Maybe she was having a Dire Lavatorial Emergency (DLE) and was so focused on her lavatorising that she forgot to lock the thing.
Food now, but with 12,500 runners, everywhere is packed.Loads of chip shops about but I really can't face that after yesterday's episode. I walk back to the hotel. 1245. Are they serving food? Are they hell. But the nice lady behind the reception desk informs me that the Wetherspoons up the road is good. I head up there.
1250. It's busy but I find a table and get sat down. I decide on the superfood pasta with the addition of salmon. When it arrives, it is completely delicious. So tasty and quite incredible for pub food. That does a lovely job. I finish my sparkling water and head off back to the room to get packed and leave. At 1345 I check out and head to the 'coach station'.
I'm sad to be leaving Brighton. I found it to be magical. not ghastly like Blackpool. It, for a busy seaside place, is really relaxed and laid-back. I really like it. I decide that I want to do the HM again next year. Although, if I don't get into the London Marathon for next year, I might do the Brighton Marathon as that's in April too. Hmmmmm. At any rate, I'm definitely coming back, and for longer.
On the coach now, the 025 to LVS. Hang on. What's that I spy? A lady, rear three quarters on the coach, on the nearside. Pink Brighton HM bunnyhug on. I sit in front of her, say hello and asks how she got on. Her first HM too. I detect a Liverpudlian accent. She did it in 1.56, better than she expected, great stuff. Have you got far to go, I asked?
I couldn't bloody believe her reply.
What are the odds of that?! Both on our first HMs, both travelled down from Sheffield. We chat all the way to Victoria. Once there she goes for a coffee, I get a sarnie and we meet back up at gate 14 for the 564 to Halifax, via Sheffield. We sit next to one another on the coach on the way up north. She said her husband -and everyone else- thinks she's mad going all that way for her first HM. I know the feeling well. We both agree it was very worth it. Turns out she's doing the Leeds HM also and the full Yorkshire Marathon in October. We get on well; I suggest teaming up on long runs as it turns out she doesn't live far from me and we're both at similar stages in training. She started running in June, me in April. She's done bloody well to get to this stage from starting in June - and losing seven stone in the process! Incredible! We swap numbers and look forward to doing some long runs together.
We probably bore the whole coach for the entire four hour journey back to Sheffield with constant running talk. It's so cool to have a running buddy nearby! We're getting the coach upto Leeds together for the Leeds HM in May, so that should be fun. Really nice to have a travelling companion at races. I don't mind my own company but I'm on my own all day for work anyway and it does get a bit lonesome; as much as I love my long runs, it will be nice to have someone to talk to! We talk about running and running nutrition. I mention my love of Very dark Chocolate. (VDC) And in particular Green and Black's VDC. To my utter astonishment she produces a bar of that very bloody thing, 70% Green and Black's from her back and proceeds to share it with me. How very unexpected, and tasty, and lovely of her! She was telling me her daughter will be so happy with the Shiny Pink Medal. (SPM) Never mind kids, I think it's ace too!
Back in Sheffield now, really late, nearly 2200 as we were delayed leaving London. Oh, another thing: the driver of that coach announced that anyone caught not wearing a seatbelt would be ejected. That's a bit harsh!
I part ways with my New Running Friend (NRF) and we each get in a taxi and off I go home.
I thoroughly enjoyed the race and my time in Brighton. Really great place; just a shame I couldn't explore it more. I'll stay longer next time. Despite the minor criticisms of the race, it was really well organised and a pleasure to run. I'm glad it was my first HM and I recommend it to anyone and everyone. It's great!
Thank you one and all for reading. It's taken hours to write this! Thanks so much for reading, and once again, to you all for your continued, and very valuable, support.
Happy running to you all. Always.