The Brighton Marathon is always sort of lurking behind the London Marathon. It tries to beat it by being a fabulously supported event that happens a week or two previously, but it doesn't attract the elite runners and always ends up feeling second-best.
I have to say I think VLM nailed it with their virtual event - just look at all the new marathoners we have here in our community!! But myself I was pretty happy I wasn't running it on Sunday. High winds and pouring rain made my heart go out to the bedraggled runners I saw go past sporting their VLM bibs. Still, massive kudos, and they were part of something really quite special!
But I love the Brighton Marathon! It's my local marathon, and I've run it twice before - in 2017 and 2018. And for 2020 I could pick a route starting outside my home, and with over 2 weeks to run the race I could watch the weather forecast for a window of decent weather, fantastic!!!
I confess I had a great run yesterday, and today I feel a bit tired but barely sore. There are a few things that I felt helped me with this and I wanted to share...
★ Relaxed expectations. I had a pretty horrible time doing the MK Reimagined Half Marathon a few weeks back. I was tired and stressed out by work, life, and sleeping badly. I am not particularly fit for long endurance runs at the moment due to Achilles trouble causing me to cut back my running. But after MK I sorted things out, got my sleep time in, and just decided to relax and enjoy my day running round Brighton! On my last long run I tried switching my watch screen to just the watch face, and I found this really helpful for not feeling stressed about my pace, so I did it for the marathon too. In the end I found that I actually ran (albeit fairly slowly) far and away more of this marathon than I have in any of my others! I know a few of us are wondering what we might be able to achieve with proper training, and I am wondering this myself...
★ A spot of yoga! I had a sore lower back during the couple of days before the marathon, so instead of just worrying about it I went for a bit of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube - Lower Back Love! It worked a treat and I did it again the following day. I'm pretty sure a lot of you are familiar with Adriene already, but if you're interested here's the video: tinyurl.com/y6n7bbqk
★ Watching a bit of the London Marathon on Sunday. Seeing a relaxed and smiling Brigid Kosgei, and conversely the look of pain and determination on the face of Sara Hall as she sprinted to beat Ruth Chepngetich to second place, were almost beyond inspirational! I thought about them often throughout my marathon, and tried to emulate as much as possible Brigid's relaxed form, and the grit of Sara! runnersworld.com/news/a3425...
★ Good eats! This is sort of a recommendation 😊 I think I discovered the perfect marathon food. Mochi are little Japanese rice cakes, I got a box of strawberry ones recently (birthday present from Mr roseabi!). They are small, soft, and full of simple and complex carbohydrates. Also tasty! I just Googled them today, and apparently they are slightly infamous for being a choking hazard, so take my recommendation with caution! I found them very easy to eat on the run though. I had two mochi, plus the other assorted goodies in the picture. I had three coffee Torq gels, and it is possible I may never be able to eat one of those again! Back to the drawing board with gels, but the other stuff was very good and I nibbled little and very often. I had a dip in energy at the usual sort of place, 20 miles-ish, bit before, but I managed to keep on with the eating and keep going! NB I didn't eat all the sweets yesterday, so I'm having some now 😁
★ Training thoughts. This is really something for later, but I do like to have running-related ideas to pick apart during a long run. I heard a podcast earlier this week from Endurance Nation, that was about giving up the long run as an element of marathon training, and instead building in a higher frequency of shorter runs. Very long runs are notorious for causing strain on the body, so this is very good food for thought. I actually recommended to someone recently that they should not increase their long run too much before the marathon, but then I failed to take my own advice and ran a 20-miler a couple of weeks ago. While it is true that I do enjoy very long runs, it could be that my recent niggles might have been reduced by using the sorts of ideas in this podcast (it's only short too!) enation.libsyn.com/the-comp...
★ OK NOW THE ACTUAL MARATHON! Are you still there? 😃
It was less windy than was forecast most of the other days this week, and dry, and I didn't want to risk waiting to see what the following week would bring, so Monday, October the 5th was the day! I had picked a route that was basically the same as the usual Brighton Marathon one, except that it started from home to save me having to get over to Preston Park (5km away). Nice! I left home on time (8am) set the "Brighton Marathon app" (aka Runkeeper) going, shoved it into the back of my running vest, started my Garmin, and I was off to no fanfare other than my soaring pulse.
This is actually another marathon tip, I always like to do this. I break the run up into chunks which I think of as a bit like chapters in a book.
1. The cliffy bit (0-14 ish km). From home, along the prom past the Palace Pier, along the Undercliff Walk about as far as Ovingdean, then turn around and head back to the Pier. I go this way a lot, so I'm not massively excited by it sadly! This part is all about settling into a rhythm. I had the breeze behind me for the first 8.5 km (all part of the plan!), and by the time I got to the turn I was looking forward to facing the breeze! I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt (THE Brighton Marathon t-shirt, I should say!), and it was cloudy and cool, but I always get very warm running, especially when wearing a hydration vest! However, when I did turn around I realised the 'breeze' was picking up speed, and my pace slowed a bit. Still, I enjoyed the wind on my face and looked forward to the next bit of the run!
2. Brighton (15-21 ish km). Heading North into Brighton, up to and round Preston Park, then back down to the Pier again, passing Brighton Pavilion twice! I made a point of spotting the Pavilion - the first time I did Brighton Marathon I failed to see it at all, too busy trying not to trip over other runners I think! It was nice to be alone and taking in the sights of a recently-refurbished Brighton. They've been working on it for years and now it looks beautiful!! I got a bit lost near Preston Park and went up the wrong road at one point, although still in the right direction thankfully. I found it quite steep and ended up walking up most of it, so I ate my mochi while I walked 😊 I have been avoiding hills recently because of my Achilles woes, and this is clearly affecting my fitness! But anyway, what comes up must come down, so I had some fun making up time down the hill, and continued in that vein along the other side of Preston Park. Nice, I really enjoyed that section!! I noticed there were not nearly as many people around as there would have been at this time last year, and the roads were quiet too, so I didn't have as much standing time at crossings as I was expecting.
3. Darkest Hove (22-30 km). From the Pier along the seafront road to Grand Avenue, up to Hove's main street (Church Road) then from Grand Avenue to Portslade and back. I always start to flag at the halfway point of a marathon and this was no exception, but I pushed myself along much better than I have before, and started to eat smaller amounts more frequently. I decided to celebrate getting to halfway at 22 km, which seemed to me at the time a devilishly ingenious psychological trick! 😁 Well, it was nice anyway. There are a lot of little roads to cross along this section, so I had to keep myself sharp. I allowed myself a little negativity on the 'out' part of this section, because I know it's comparatively fabulous on the way back! I realise it's easier to do this kind of mental trick if one knows a route very well, but on any out-and-back it is possible to use it!! The little section of Portslade on the route is lovely because it has a downward incline, and then coming back (this time anyway) I had the wind behind me - so my pace and optimism increased! At this point also, I seemed to miss every other split notification on my watch, so the kilometres seemed to be disappearing quite quickly and before I knew it I was at 32 km (and into the next section)!! I was tired but I kept trotting along.
4. Past my flat and the Industrial Bit (31-38 km). I always toy with the idea of just going home and getting in the bath at this point - the marathon route actually passes my flat twice 😀 Running against the wind up to just past Carats café at Southwick was hard going! And there were a lot of lorries turning onto the road so I was walking and stopping every now and then. At this point I was super tired, and started to feel something pretty ghastly happening in my nether regions 😮 Luckily there is a public loo by the café, so I wasn't worried - and then the problem just seemed to clear up by itself! Phew!! So I carried on, the wind got stronger and I was DYING to turn around. Part of my mind was trying to tell me that I could turn around a bit sooner, but the rest of it was more sensible - it didn't want to have extra far to walk home afterwards!! But eventually all parts of my brain allowed me to turn around, and it was bliss, and I knew that I could run pretty much all of the final 7-ish km I had left at that point, which was a new feeling and very nice indeed 😊😊😊
5. The last bit (39-42.2 km). Back along the prom to the Pier. Usually this is hell on earth but yesterday not too bad! The tailwind really made a difference of course, but I like to think I had maybe a bit more strength than I have had previously. The sun had come out, so I was a bit worried about getting too warm, but it was fine - actually lovely when I'd finished and had to walk the 4 km home. I had decided to finish my marathon on Madeira Drive, same as the actual race - I always enjoy the walk home afterwards, and I think it helps with recovery. Anyway, I kept plodding on, and even managed to pick up my pace a little bit. I was really really hoping I would finish before I got to the little ramp that leads the prom up to the Pier, but no dice! Mr Garmin told me I'd finished actually right by the Pier entrance, so I stopped him and ran for a little longer, as suggested by the app instructions. Then I stopped and fished my phone out of the back of my vest, which is really quite difficult to do when you don't want to take off the vest! I looked at the app and it took a couple of seconds for me to register that the app had only recorded 41.8 km, and that I was going to have to start running again!!!!!!! Argh! By that time I had been running for a couple of km with an abdominal cramp, which was manageable, but I wasn't a massive fan of it. But needs must, so off I went, clutching my phone and staring down the timer! After what seemed like an hour eventually it said 42.2, and I stopped immediately!!! Finished 😊😊😊😊😊
I am so so happy with this run! Not a pb, but a good time for these times I think! I felt good, I feel good today, I feel all sorts of possibilities...