To say my training hasn’t gone to plan would be an understatement. The furthest I’ve run in the last few months is 15 miles, I’ve probably averaged less than 2 runs a week and ever since my knees started hurting in the last couple of miles of the Brighton half back in February, I’ve been confused as to how some runs can be awesome whilst others leave me crying in pain.
I run because I like it. Most of the time, liking it comes from the places I’m running in and the people I’m running with.
This year’s Brighton half was a perfect example of just that. It was nothing like a PB (see last year’s equally as enjoyable race for that). It wasn’t my slowest either, but it was 13.1 miles of pure enjoyment.
Our recently acquired selfie stick (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it) came along with us for the weekend, and captured some fantastic moments.
We went down from London on the Saturday afternoon and spent a few hours refuelling wandering around the shops and along the beach after a way too heavy Friday night. Pro tip: do not drink 47 bottles of beer and stay up until 5am two nights before a half marathon. That is BAD prep.
We stayed in the excellent YHA which was mere minutes from the start line which meant a fairly relaxed morning breakfasting together and a short walk over to join our pens.
My only gripe with this race was the loo situation (it wasn’t going to be anything else was it?!) There was a SINGLE portaloo at the first water station, a SINGLE portaloo at the Red Cross tent at 8 miles (who also win the prize for rudest volunteers) and a couple at the 10 mile station. I’m not sure how many times we have to go through this but IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO HAVE TOO MANY TOILETS. But I can assure you; one is never going to be enough. Race organisers, for the sake of my bladder (and my chances of ever getting a new half marathon PB), sort it out. *breaths*
Okay, back to the fun stuff. A personal highlight was meeting George at mile 3. George was running on his 80th birthday. He did a sprint up the hill spurred on by the crowds and was very sweet in letting us have our photo taken with him. He made me well up and realise that if someone that is EIGHTY is running then I can shut the hell up moaning about my two day hangover.
As anticipated, the stretch out to Hove Lagoon and back was brutal, but after our second toilet break, me and Michelle got into full on ‘let’s get this shit done’ mode and just got that shit done. Also, it was getting closer to our midday checkout time and I was desperate for a beer. Whatever works.
At this point I must mention my incredible friend Stephanie, who ran a stellar time of 1:35. I could (and might) write a whole post solely on how this time blows my mind. It. Is. So. Fast. If anyone, anywhere, EVER needs some inspiration to show how anything is possible if you just put the work in, just look at Steph.
And that is why this race is ace – it allows for both PBs and partypace. And all with the backdrop of a beach. Perfect.
I don’t know if I’m still on a high from running a PB, in the sun, along the seafront, but there wasn’t a single second of this race I didn’t love, love, LOVE.
From my solo breakfast in the hotel, to running into my crew during the pre-race tag-on miles… from waiting in the starting pen and running the first seven (slightly too speedy!) miles with Leah, to still feeling comfortable and confident at mile 11… from running the last half mile and realising I wasn’t crying like I was at the same point in my last half, to sprinting a little bit too early when passing the steel band… this race was beautiful.
This was supposed to ‘just’ be a 16 mile training run – 3 miles in a bit of a loop from the hotel to the start, followed by the race at a slow, long run pace (just like every other marathon training run). Obviously I got overexcited in the race atmosphere, running 5 of the first 7 miles under a ten minute mile pace. But I was feeling gooood.
As we headed out towards Hove Lagoon and the final turn, I deliberately slowed down, scared of hitting the 10 mile mark and breaking down like I have done before. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and my last mile was the fastest of all of them.
This race has definitely jumped straight to the top of my list as my all time favourite, hands down. It was a perfect combination of being beside the sea (which I adore), great weather that turned out perfectly (especially after the windiest of windy days on the day before) and a flawlessly organised race nestled in the middle of a lovely weekend.
Brighton, I heart you.