Day 203 – The post marathon punishment and the full ‘Brighton Marathon (…The Return)’ race review

I left the run until late afternoon. My left ankle is very dodgy, just like a few weeks ago when it went ping so I’ll be very cautious. I cannot walk down stairs with any control or indeed composure! Every muscle in the lower half of my body aches a lot. I still have a smile on my face, I broke three and a half hours, did I mention it? 😉

Last night I woke up every two hours, doubled up with abdominal pain. No doubt that was the result of the preventative medicine I’d had to take in the morning just before the marathon and I had a thoroughly terrible night’s sleep. I’m still suffering now, 36 hours later. Being this worn out and then getting very little sleep leaves you in a horrible state the next day and I feel truly shocking today! Add to this the neck and shoulder are still not right, I still feel stiff and they ache constantly, my stomach is tied in knots, the abdominal pain persists and you have the recipe for a terrible run.

Today’s run was really tough. My legs weren’t up for it and it hurt all the way to three miles. I managed to keep just over a nine min/mile pace somehow, but not without pushing through some serious pain. Even the act of stopping myself running to walk after I’d hit 3 miles hurt in my thighs, but I was pleased to find that the stiffness in my calves and thighs had eased a little in the post run shower.

And now for the full Brighton Marathon race report

The 2011 Brighton Marathon

It’s been a long build up to today. This is the big one. The truly long run of the challenge year’s calendar.

Brighton hosted it’s second marathon today and along with a good few other runners I know, I lined up at the start to see Steve Cram fire the pistol and set us all on our not-so-merry way, 26.2 miles shy of the finish line.

I’m here today to compete in a marathon, though there isn’t a single person in the field I’m actually competing against. I’m here to beat myself. Break my PB. Even that’s a bit of a misnomer really, having only run one marathon before (and that was Brighton last year). The time to beat is 4h41. It went sort of like this…

07:00 Against all the rules and all of the advice I tuck into a bowl of cornflakes, a full english and a large pot of strong coffee. How bad can it be?

07:15 Off we go to Preston Park. The barriers are up, the marshalls are out, there’s a buzz about Brighton this morning.

07:30 Time for the Imodium to combat the adverse effects of anti-inflammatory pills. This is not going to be a good day!

08:00 There appear to be a sea of runners making their way up to Preston Park for the 2011 Brighton marathon. It’s a hilly challenge in parts and many are here sporting t-shirts advertising they’re return competitors from last year, as is your’s truly. Damian and I find James and our official photographer does a great job of capturing the moment. James appears to be sporting a knee support and receives intense interrogation on the subject. Turns out he’s still as crazy as he ever was and is planning to run his three heroic events this week on said dodgy knee!

08:15 Whilst discussing target finishing times I show my 3h30m target finishing time wrist band on my right wrist and my back stop 3h40m timing band on my left. Damian says that breaking 3h30m will qualify me for the Boston marathon. It’s unanimously agreed that Boston would be a great place to go, so I agree that my target is now to break 3h30! I text my brother and tell him that 12:30-13:00 finish is no longer the target, he should be at the finish line from 12:15, I’m feeling good this morning. Frankly all of this is pie in the sky at this point. I have no real basis upon which to claim I could run sub 3h30.

08:30 Damian and I wander off to the back pen discussing his plan for the run, making sure he’s comfortable with everything and on the way I spot Heather, a lady who volunteered with me on a Sense holiday a couple of years back. Damian tells me I know too many people!

08:45 I wished Damian the best of luck and headed down to the blue pen, just behind the club runners and elites. In the pen I meet a guy called Sacha who is running for Sense. Nice bloke, we had an interesting chat about what Sense do, the 1095miles challenge and his running career too.

The Front Runners at the Start

09:00 Bang, the gun goes. We’re stationary for an awfully long time. Then I hear the PA announce that the 3h30 pacer has just passed under the gantry. He’s some way ahead of me so I resolve to catch him up, but not before a good 15 or 16 miles at least. We’re off. This is exciting. I click into an 8 min/mile pace from the start, only slowed a little by the large proportion of the field who seem surprised by the hill after the first bend!

Another 'Where's Andy?' Competition ;-)

The Guys at Saucony Clearly have a Sense of Humour

What little time I’d lost on the way up the hill (to the highest point on the course!) was quickly regained on the way back down. As I passed by the Start line for the second time, I spotted Damian still walking towards the start. I shouted over to him and he replied “Run faster!”

Settled in my pace, the next few miles went really nicely. I’d set the Garmin to ping every half mile and update me on my average pace for that section. If you click through to the Garmin map for yesterday’s post, you’ll see just how consistently I managed to hit my target 8min/mile pace (look at the lap splits).

After about 5 miles I met another Sense runner whose name has sadly slipped my mind. We had a brief chat and on I went. I caught up with Heather on the way back down to St. Dunstan’s and wished her luck before she told me to get going and let her know how I did at the end. At 10 miles I saw Damian again. He’d have been at about 6 miles I guess and he looked like he was enjoying it. Once again, more “Run faster you slow coach” type banter came my way.

I crossed the half way point at about 1h42m. That’s only 6 minutes shy of my half marathon PB so I was a little concerned I may have gone out too quick in the first half. I finally saw the 3h30m pacer in front of me at around 15.5 miles and caught him up by mile 16. I had a chat with him about how he was pacing the miles and he seemed to think I was looking good for finishing it at this pace, mainly due to the fact that I looked ok and wasn’t really feeling it yet. We compared stop watch times and I jokingly said it was so I could work out exactly how far I could let him get ahead of me at the finish! I carried on creeping ahead of the pacer and met a guy called Kris who was keeping an eye on, and trying to keep ahead of the pacer I’d just been speaking to.

Kris and I ran and chatted for the next nine miles. This was a really good thing for me and I think for Kris too. At least four miles just seemed to pass without notice and even the tougher later miles were made somewhat easier as we shared the odd joke, often about how we kept looking back for the 3h30 pacer, and discussed why we had chosen to support the Charities we were both running for. At 24 miles or so, Kris was looking much stronger than me for the finish so I wished him luck and off he went at one hell of a rate! Nice to meet you Kris.

Then my ankle went a bit wobbly. The same left ankle that plagued me all those weeks ago. I plodded on for the last mile trying my best not to twist it unnecessarily and slowed down a bit for the last half a mile. I really had no clue what time I’d run, only that Mr 3h30m Pacer was behind me so I knew I’d broken the revised target!

Moments Before I Smashed the 3h30 Target!

Crossing the Line in Under 3h30m!

Wearing my Post Marathon BacoFoil

I'm Smiling Because I Know it's a Fast Time!

I found out moments later that I had crossed the line in a chip time of 3 hours 25 minutes and 38 seconds (PB). That’s an hour and sixteen minutes off last year 😉

My brother had assumed the faster target finsih time was just bravado and missed me crossing the line by about 5 minutes!

We headed back to the hotel and I showered. Met my brother and had a quick beer, then dashed out to try and spot Damian coming in. I’d expected him at around 4h50m, given the 21 degrees predicted (And I’m very sure it was 21 degrees!) but he was nowhere to be seen. I did spot Keith though, coming in to claim a superb 4h57m. Very well done mate! I even got a photo.


Having decided we’d missed Damian, we began to walk towards the pub that was planned as the venue for post marathon celebrations, with a workmate of mine Sam whose wife Megan had run the event too. As we walked along, there he was! We shouted over, but he’d put the dreaded headphones in and couldn’t hear us. I’ll let Damian blog the story for himself and save the punchline for him to reveal…

And speaking of Damian. It turns out that the qualification time for Boston is 3h05m. Well done buddy, you got me to break 3h30m, even though you were wrong!

Damian and I have agreed to have a go at beating our PB’s in Chester in October.

I said if I ran a marathon in under 3h50m I’d call myself a runner. Done!

Oh, and I’ve redeemed my priority entry for 2012 already. I’m in!


Today’s shoes: Newish Kayano 17′s
Miles today: 3.00
Target: 609
Miles to date: 794.33
“You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will… those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t cross the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted.
– Joe Henderson

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