What a weekend! I don’t really know where to start, I guess at the beginning 🙄 The journey to Brighton on Friday was straightforward and easy enough, we parked up and headed straight to the event village to collect our numbers. My husband Dan was doing the fun run (10k) so we both went to pick up our packs together, it was a good time to collect as it wasn’t too busy and there wasn’t a queue. I went straight to the yellow collection point (me & Gouldy had already agreed to both start in this pen so we could go off together) and collected my pack. It literally consisted of my number, timing chip & bag for drop off – nothing else required.
This is the point at which it hit me that I was (hopefully) going to be running a marathon, the nerves kicked in at full throttle and I felt slightly panicked. We had a good stroll around the event village in an attempt to take my mind off it, some nice finishers t-shirts were on sale but I felt it was a bit premature to purchase when I had not yet finished! I did expect to see some bigger discounts on products, but to be honest most things would be cheaper online. We went for a wander into town and grabbed some lunch, Brighton is a lovely place to come for the weekend – I imagine the weather helped with this but I would definitely come back again. After checking in and enjoying a little nap 😴 we headed to a lovely Italian just a short walk from our hotel and then met Gouldy and Bob for a quick drink.
We arranged to meet at the Hove Promenade parkrun Saturday morning, this was a lovely run along the seafront in the sunshine. I think it has potential to be a quick course as it’s on the flat promenade although it is 2 laps which I know puts some runners off. We took it steady, had a good chin wag and enjoyed the views 😁. The winner came in at 16min 06secs 😳 whilst we were just finishing our first lap 😂.
We went for a “little” stroll to the start at Preston Park so we knew where we were heading in the morning and then had a look along the pier. 12 miles later 😳 we relaxed on the beach with a red faced Gouldy and Bob 😂. Saturday night we carb loaded 😀, prepared all our stuff and lay in bed pretending to sleep.
Alarm was set for 6:30, I was up at 5 for my first visit to the loo. I paced the room for a bit, double and triple checking I had everything ready and ate my cereal bar. It took 45 minutes to get to the park for the start and Dan had to be ready to go at 8:30 for the fun run (this is just a joke, a 10k is not a fun run – sorry Dan 🙊) so we arrived at 8am. The queue for the toilets was unbelievable, there was no way Dan had time to wait so he set off and I dropped my bag off whilst it was still quiet. I knew at this point it was going to be a hot day as I was there in my vest and shorts at 8am and did not feel cold 😲. I joined the queue for the loos. I got extremely anxious which made me need the loo even more. I felt sick. I had some good support via whatsapp which helped calm the nerves and then I found Gouldy and she joined me in the queue. We had a bit of a giggle and see our fellow runners Danielle, underground Pete and Vicky all ready for the off. 40 minutes later we get to go to the loo, the least we say about this the better 😷 But I would certainly suggest more toilets for next year. We make it to our yellow pen just before 9:15 when the fastest group set off, about 20/30 minutes later our pen gets the go ahead and we get going. Well, this is it – we get into our pace and we run, there’s quite a few uphills at the start (not grizzly hills but inclines) and with so many people around us it takes a good few miles to get our rhythm going. It was hot, I like the heat but this took the piss – hottest day of the year so far and we run a marathon, what is wrong with us?! We hit the seafront at about mile 6 expecting a nice breeze, I don’t know about anyone else but I didn’t feel a breeze. I did feel thirsty and I’m very glad I chose to carry my water belt because the water was not being poured quickly enough into the cups and then they ran out of cups 😠. Not really good enough on a day like that but luckily enough we had Bob as our support crew and he refilled my bottles. We’d settled into an around about 10min mile pace which was comfortable & I was hoping for a time of 4hrs 30mins so I was happy with the progress. We gave Vicky a cheer as we saw her coming back along the seafront after her turning point and not long after that we spotted underground Pete and Danielle – all looking amazing and doing great. It was a long way out before we reached the turn around, it drew our attention to just how far ahead of us they were and all doing such brilliant times. I spotted Dan supporting at mile 11/12 which was a great boost and then at the half way point, mile 13 I lost Gouldy 😟. This meant a lonely 13 miles remained. At mile 15 the first set of tears started, I could see many runners were starting to struggle in the heat and the water situation hadn’t really improved although they did seem to have more cups, I stopped to get both my bottles refilled but struggled to get going again without my buddy by my side. At this point a lady in the crowd had obviously spotted that I needed some encouragement and shouted out “come on Tiptree”, I lifted my head, gave her the thumbs up and pushed on. It was at this point I saw the 4hr 30 pacer ahead, this is the time I’d had in mind so over the next mile or so I had something in my sights. It felt great to catch up with that pacer, in fact I managed to get ever so slightly ahead – until we hit the industrial estate at the 19 mile mark. My god this was the hardest 4 miles for me, the heat with no shade was very intense. The 4:30 pacer overtook me and I lost him (was a relief to find out this was a pacer from gun time). A lot of runners were suffering at this point, 2 ambulances had overtaken me to give medical assistance up ahead and this was just horrible to see. Around mile 22 a guy was really starting to struggle and fell to the ground, I slowed and other runners had already got to him to help so all I could do was shout to the marshals that assistance was required. I’ve got to admit I did slow right down and stopped for another refill of the bottles, the second set of tears arrived and I had to give myself a bit of a talking to 🙄. As we began the long road back out of the industrial estate there was some shade and a slight breeze which I think we all welcomed. My quads were screaming at me and my feet throbbing but before I knew it we hit mile 23 and I could tell myself just a parkrun to go. I saw Gouldy on her way through the industrial estate and we gave each other a thumbs up – this gave me the last push I needed. The last 2 miles along the seafront had great support, and before long I could see Dan giving me a cheer and there was the 26 mile marker. Wow, I’d done it – just 2 minutes to go I kept telling myself and I picked up the pace (well, it felt like I had but after seeing the recording Dan took I’m not sure that’s classed as a sprint finish 😂).
I’d done it, I’d run a marathon – the relief and joy I felt crossing the line was indescribable. The third and final set of tears arrived but this time they were happy tears and the fact I could still walk was just amazing, after my previous experience I wasn’t sure this was possible. I got my medal 😊 An xs t shirt (you have no idea how happy this makes me that I can actually wear this one!) and my goody bag before heading to our meeting point. Didn’t take long for Dan to meet me with the gift of the finishers t shirt I’d seen the day before 😀. I slowly made my way to the sea for a dip (no Jo & Tina I didn’t go in deep enough but my god that was cold – plus the stones hurt my feet 😂). Gouldy was close behind and once we’d had a hug and some pics taken we headed to the pub for a well earned drink. Would I do another marathon? Yep. Would I do Brighton again? I reckon so 😏 although I think there’s probably better routes out there.