Brighton Half Marathon (1st ever half!!)

16th February 2014
My Facebook post the night before the race……
Almost 10 months ago I signed up to run Brighton Half Marathon unable to even run 3 miles at that point. It kickstarted my running journey and what an amazing time it’s been! Met some fantastic people, some of whom have become really good buddies and introduced me to the amazing Burgess Hill Runners and the wonderful Clair parkrun. So good luck to all my fellow BHR’s & Clair parkrunners who are taking part tomorrow, my work colleagues that are running and especially all those for whom it is their very first half! Enjoy it!!

 — feeling emotional.

To say I was slightly emotional about this race is an understatement and it really hit me the night before (once I knew the weather was going to be ok and i could stop panicking about that!). It was the main reason i started my running journey, after a conversation in the kitchen at work with one of my colleagues back In April 2013 when a group of them were planning on signing up. At that point i was undecided about running and even 3 miles felt like a really long way and a big effort that i didn’t particularly enjoy, so the thought of 13.1 miles!!! How ridiculous! However, after consulting my husband that evening with my ridiculous thought, he said to me ‘Why not??’ ‘I’ll do it with you!”  and that was it….it began!
Anyway…..the race. The morning dawned sunny & cold which after the weather of the previous month was almost a miracle! The pebbles from the beach in Brighton had all but engulfed the promenade and it had done nothing but blow a gale and rain pretty much continuously (apart from every Saturday morning at 9am for parkrun with the good old Clair park microclimate!) for weeks.
We set off early to get parked up on the promenade before they closed the road off and we picked up 2 of our running buddies on the way.
Alan & Mark looking a bit afraid!
Brighton prom was beautiful, clear blue skies and buzzing with people. Our running club were set to have a large contingent out and we bumped in to a few of them as we strolled around. I knew that Jay and i were in the last pen (2:30-3:30hrs) because when we signed up, we really had no idea how long a half marathon would take us and plumped for 2:30. I was still quite comfortable with this and was aiming to go under 2:30, but Jay was way quicker than me and had decided to work his way through the packs and aim for under 2hrs. I just wanted to get going as the nerves were setting in, so we hung out by the bag drop area and slowly started to peel the layers off and then make our way to our respective pens. This was by far the biggest race I had ever been in at around 7000 people and i wasn’t keen on the whole being squashed in around others, but I knew we would soon be off.
The start of the race
Photo courtesy of Jon Lavis
I was so pleased to have Jay with me before the off.
8 minutes after the gun went off we crossed the line and Jay zoomed off in to the distance and i settled in to my pace. I was going to stick around the 2:30 pacer and keep her either just in front of me or just behind. I had also worked out a strategy for taking my shot bloks and peanut bar! ( I like to have all this kind of thing organised in my head). I knew where the water stations were and i had my own drink too. I already knew that road running was never going to be my favourite thing (I love the trails!) but you can’t beat Brighton on a sunny day with lots of people cheering you on.
I settled quickly in to my stride as we headed out towards Brighton Marina and Rottingdean. I was finding the pace just right and had my eye on the pacer the whole time. I knew if i kept around the 11 min mile mark i should be fine and this was just right for me. I didn’t want to risk my first half by doing anything silly so i stuck to my plan. As we were running out of Brighton, the faster runners were heading back past us. This happened in the Brighton 10k last year and it is great for distraction and also feeling mightily proud of my BHR and parkrun buddies.  I was shouting and cheering as many of them as I could see and even managed a couple of high fives as we passed!
Some of the frontrunners from Burgess Hill Runners & Haywards Heath Harriers
Photo courtesy of Jon Lavis 
Me in the zone!
Photo courtesy of Jon Lavis
Jay looking totally relaxed
Photo courtesy of Jon Lavis
I couldn’t believe how comfortable the pace was feeling and i had gone ahead of the 2:30 pacer. We had made the turn back in towards Brighton and downhill :). It was at this point that i realised i had pretty much been running just behind one of my work colleagues running her first half so i gave her a tap on the shoulder and we exchanged a few words before going back in to our little zones. As we got back in to Brighton centre the crowds swelled and I could also see the runners coming back along the seafront to the finish. I was only at about 7 miles at this point but still felt good.  Another high five with a BHR buddy as they zoomed back past me and i settled back in to the journey towards Hove.  At about 9 miles fatigue started to kick in and the crowds had dwindled. We were moving a little off of the seafront and in to the shade. I could tell i was slowing as the pacer who had been behind me since about 4 miles had caught me up so i started to have a few words with myself and kept looking for the turn point to start heading for the finish. I forgot to mention (not that I am sure you care too much) but i had needed a wee since the start of the race and it hadn’t eased, but i knew if i stopped and queued for the portaloo that going under 2:30 was off (it was that close) so as i passed a couple of loos at the 10 mile turnaround point, i pretended i didn’t see them and started my run for home!
My work colleague Shiv had been in front of me since the Marina, but i had slowly started to catch her up and by mile 11 i was alongside her. For a brief moment i got a burst of energy and took advantage of it but it didn’t last long. I was looking for one of the guys from BHR who had said he would be around the 11 mile point but i didn’t see him (although apparently i did but i have no recollection! oh dear…). Things were starting to hurt now and cramp had set in on my calves. 12 miles down and the Palace Pier was getting closer but each step hurt more and more and the tears were welling up. Coupled with this i was checking my watch every few seconds and i was fairly confident i had done enough, but i couldn’t afford to slow it down to much now. As i went past the pier, the crowds were amazing and really cheering everyone on. Again, i suddenly had a burst of energy, but when i still couldn’t see the finish i slowed up again and my calves screamed at me and the tears started to flow. I had to get there in under 2:30. Finally i saw the finish and i knew i was going to make it. I was frantically looking for a familiar face but i couldn’t see anyone and i stumbled over the line in a haze of relief, pain and sheer joy! I had just run a half marathon in under 2 hours 30 minutes!! Thats 13.1 miles!!
Jay had been at the finish cheering me on but i hadn’t heard him!
I got my medal (amazing bit of bling!), some water and one of those silver foil blanket thingys that i had always wanted after seeing them on TV at the London Marathon!  I was trying not to cry and in so much pain and just desperate to find Jay and then in front of me i saw my running buddy Neil and his wife Nick. I just started blubbing again and Neil thought i was upset, but i was just so happy and relieved to have finished and in the time i wanted. Nick had also gone under the 2 hour mark which she had really wanted, so was delighted! Finally, Jay appeared! He had been there cheering me on and i just had not heard him. I told him i got my time and he had also had a cracking run in 1:52:05 which for his first proper race half marathon was amazing!! The obligatory medal photos followed…
Myself and the boy
In my foil blanket with Neil and Nick on the floor!
Here she is……definitely worth the 13.1 miles!!
I was on such a high after this race and loved every minute of it and have got a reminder set already to sign up for 2015. From my own newbie perspective, it was well organised, good marshalling, plenty of drink stations and I couldn’t have asked for more! As i mentioned before, I have already decided in my short running journey that i prefer the trails, however this will be one race I hope to come back to year after year! Thank you Brighton!!