I hadn’t specifically trained for this half-marathon. Over the past few months, I’ve been more focused on improving my cycling and swimming. As well as improving my speed over shorter running distances (5k-10k). I felt very unprepared for the Brighton Half Marathon, and even considered pulling out. My triathlon club friends persuaded me to use it as a long training run, to enjoy it with no pressure and no time goals.
Typically, I decided to do the opposite and I put a lot of pressure on myself to complete the half-marathon in under 2 hours.
It was also looking unlikely that Glen would running the Brighton Half. He has been out of training for almost 8 months following a pretty serious knee injury last June. He’s had intensive shockwave treatment to heal the damaged tendons and he has followed a rehab programme to get him back into running very gradually. Only very recently has he been able to run without pain, but building up from no mileage to 13.1 miles in a matter of weeks looked unlikely.
We had booked and paid for the hotel in Brighton several months ago, so we decided to head down for a long-weekend and make a judgement on whether we would run closer to the date.
Of course, we did join the crowds at the start line on Madeira Drive last Sunday morning. We couldn’t miss the Brighton Half after hearing so many amazing reports from previous years.
I felt fantastic for the first 8 or 9 miles. I overtook the 2 hour pacer quite early on, and powered up the hills keeping my pace around a 9 minute/mile. I felt confident that I would achieve my sub-2 hour time goal. I took in the sights and enjoyed the views along the sea front. The miles flew past as I pushed hard. I noticed that my 10k time was a PB- 55:46!
The out-and-back loops meant that faster runners passed alongside us heading in the opposite direction. I scanned the crowds looking for Glen and hoping that his knee was holding out.
I’ve recently began having strength training sessions with a personal trainer, and he reminds me of the importance of posture while running. His voice in my head reminded me to pull in my core, roll back my shoulders, stand tall and hold my head high. Making these adjustments to my form helped me to run stronger and breathe easier.
The race was going so well until around mile 9 when I began to really struggle. My legs got slower and slower, I just couldn’t keep up the pace. I tried to push myself on, but eventually slowed to walk for a few moments. At this point, Lauren caught up with me and I picked up the pace to chat with her for a while. It was definitely a boost to see someone I knew when I was struggling so much.
I passed through the water station just before mile 10, and started to feel really despondent, I knew that it was “less than a parkrun” to the finish line but the distance felt endless. My 10 mile time was also a PB at 1:32:09- so there was still a chance at finishing in under 2 hours!
My pace had slipped into the 10-11 minute miles and I became more and more frustrated as my goal time slipped away. My Strava splits times show how much my speed dropped in the last few miles…
I trudged on just wanting to finish. Alternating walking with a slow jog, being overtaken by so many people. The pier came into sight then the wheel and finally the finish line…
I crossed the finish line and felt a massive wave of emotions… relieved to be finished, anxious to find Glen, disappointed with my time… I had tears in my eyes as I saw Elle, Georgina and Bethan wave to me from the sidelines.
I caught up with Glen at our meeting point, he had been waiting for almost half an hour, having finished in 1:35:54! An amazing achievement considering he was unable to run at all just weeks before!
I finished in 2:04:24. A totally respectable time, but I’m still not happy with it.
Reflecting on this race, I’ve decided I won’t be running another half-marathon in the foreseeable future. I’ve run four half-marathons now, and I can’t say that I have particularly enjoyed the last three races. I struggle so much with the distance, particularly the final 3-4 miles. I find it an emotional rollercoaster and I always end up disappointed in myself rather than proud of my achievement. I just don’t want to keep doing this to myself. I need to work on my mental strength before I can confidently enter another half-marathon. It’s the negative thoughts and doubts which creep in and ruin the race for me.
My heart lies in triathlon, I’m much happier when I’m swimming, cycling and running. It is somehow less gruelling when the distance is broken up into three separate disciplines. I need to do what makes me happy, and right now half-marathons are not the one for me.
I hate to be so negative about what was essentially a great event. I loved running along the coast. I loved the chance to spend a long weekend in Brighton, it’s 7 years since my last visit. I loved that it was the 25th Anniversary of the Brighton Half Marathon. I love that so many others smashed a new PB including Tess, Beki, Elle and Stephanie. I love the chunky pink and purple medal! I love that Glen is back on form with his running. I loved seeing an elderly man running wearing a T-shirt saying it was his 80th birthday- what a legend!
Did you race last weekend? How did you get on?