On Sunday I lined up with around 10 000 other runners on a beautiful sunny morning for the start of the Brighton Half Marathon 2013. This was my second half marathon having run the same race last year. In 2012 I was halfway through my training for the London Marathon and Brighton was a test race to see how my training was going. This time things were very different – I’d done much less mileage during my training due to my current focus on fat loss. As I made my way to the race village I was hopeful of beating my time from last year, but realistically just wanting to enjoy the race.
Mr J and I met up with Debbie – a fellow Slimpod Star who was running her first ever half marathon. She had arrived in Brighton with Darin, my London Marathon running buddy who wasn’t running this year due to injury and his partner Hazel who had both come to support us. It was great to have Darin there with us – he’d done a lot of training with Debbie and I know that he wanted to be part of race day, even though he couldn’t run.
Debbie and I lined up to start the race. We agreed that we were going to do our own thing – we’d got different strategies for the race so once the gun went off we said our goodbyes and good lucks and headed off separately. It took us a while to get over the start line as we were towards the back of the field.
Eagle eyed Mr J managed to pick me out in the crowd just after I’d crossed the start line – I’m in pink in line with the 100m to go mark. I set off at a steady pace, keeping an eye on my Garmin for most of the first mile. I was determined not to go out too quickly and to keep my pace at around 11:30 min miles for the first few miles.
Having completed the first mile which loops along a main road along the side of the Brighton Pavillion, we headed back towards the sea front and turned left up towards the marina. Just before the 2 mile mark I spotted Mr J and then Darin and Hazel cheering us on and gave them a wave on the way past.
It had been a chilly start but the day was starting to warm up so I was pleased when the first water stop appeared. I was feeling pretty good – my 4:1 run:walk ratio was going well and my legs were feeling strong. As we headed out past the marina and towards the turn point I spotted Debbie on the other side of the road, a few minutes in front of me. She was looking good and we had a little high 5. Then, just after I’d made the turn I spotted Emma aka @twentyfourhours also looking strong – cue more high 5s. This is one of the things I love about race day. Running is an individual sport but come race day we are all one big family – the support and encouragement you get from other runners is brilliant.
I was starting to feel quite warm now – I’d layered for cooler weather and there wasn’t much I could do other than roll my sleeves up. Coming back into the centre of Brighton and approaching the 10K mark I saw Mr J and then Darin and Hazel again.
The route from miles 7-9 is unforgiving. A straight line towards Hove where you pass all the faster runners who are nearly finished when you know you’ve got another hour still to go. So when I heard someone shouting my name and turned to see Sami aka @FitnessFurse cheering me on it gave me a real boost.
By mile 8 my legs were shouting at me – I’d only done two runs of more than 7 miles during my training and that lack of mileage was starting to show. At this point I realised that my PB was out of reach so I switched to a 2:1 run:walk ratio and tried to relax and enjoy the rest of the race.
I was getting really quite warm by now and feeling a bit dehydrated so I was looking forward to the fuelling stop at 8 miles so I could pick up some water. I was disappointed to find only Lucozade available. I didn’t really want any of the sugary, sticky drink but I needed some fluid so had no option. I was struggling a bit at this point but knew that the turn back towards the finish line was coming up at mile 10 and that I’d be on the home straight by then.
As I turned the corner back towards Brighton I heard “come on Becca” in a voice that I recognised. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be out at this point on the course so was delighted to look up and see an ex colleague of mine cheering me on. Feeling a bit embarrassed that he’d seen me during one of my walk breaks, I started running again with a spring in my step.
Finally at mile 11 I got some much needed water! And knowing that I was just 2 miles from finishing gave me a boost. I was determined to walk less of the last 2 miles than I had last year so I was pleased that when Mr J spotted me at about 12.5 miles I was running. Shortly after I saw Katherine aka @chirpycakes who had finished the race in her target time and was on her way back to her hotel.
Then as I got towards the pier the lovely Sami popped up again with more cheers of encouragement and as I approached the final kilometre I knew I was nearly home. After one last walking break I decided that I was going to run the last few hundred meters as fast and strong as I could. So I gritted my teeth and went for it.
I spotted Darin and Hazel again at around the 300m to go mark and although my legs were screaming at me at this point there was no way I was stopping to walk now.
I crossed the finishing line in 2hrs and 42 mins and 17 seconds. 6 minutes slower than last year which equates to around 30secs slower per mile. Given the lack of mileage I’d covered in my training I was pretty pleased with that. I’d completed my second half marathon and picked up my medal with pride.
Reunited with Mr J we took the obligatory race bling photo
When I posted this on Twitter it was picked up by the local news website who posted it on their website – my 15mins of fame!
We met up with Debbie, Darin and Hazel and I was delighted to find out that Debbie had completed the race about 3 minutes before me and had thoroughly enjoyed herself. Here we are proudly showing off our medals.
I love Brighton and this race – it’s well organised on a scenic route and the weather has been very kind both years that I’ve run it. The only thing that could have been better this year was the lack of water on the course. 8 miles between water stations on a hot and sunny day is too far, in my opinion.
I will no doubt be back next year to revisit this race when I’ll be halfway through my training for the London Marathon 2014. Maybe I’ll see you there?