One down, more to go…

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Feeling fresh at about mile 6

Well, that’s it. I am now a marathon runner. I’ve got an official finish time, aching legs, a medal and a lot of memories from my first ever marathon weekend in Brighton.

My finish time was 3:48:43 which according to the very clever Brighton Marathon app, put me in position 1851 of 10,950 finishers. In my age category, I was in 745th of 4021. For the statistical types out there, my rudimentary maths skills tell me that I was in the top 17% of the field. On my first attempt! Go me!!

Now my original goal was a sub 4 hour run, but my training went pretty well. My training pace had suggested I had potential of a 3:35 to 3:40 finish. It’s race day that counts though and the wheels did come off a bit around mile 20. I finished a bit outside what I thought I could do, but in an uncharactistic move I’m giving a big, fat two fingered salute to my normal self-criticality. Yes, it’s a few minutes more than I’d hoped for, but I really don’t care. I’ve run a bloody marathon, people! My first one. Something I probably couldn’t have done a couple of years back. I’ve run a marathon and I’m proud of my achievement. With the kindness and generosity of a host of different people, I’ve also raised £645 for East Anglian Air Ambulance which I’m really, really pleased about. (It’s not too late – you can still donate HERE!)

I could witter on with more of this self indulgent, ego boosting nonsense but instead I think some observations and reflections on lessons learned are more appropriate. Here goes:

  • Don’t underestimate how busy places get when there’s a marathon in town.
  • Parking, getting around, registration. Every single logistical activity becomes 100 times more difficult when you’re trying to do it with 11,000 other people at the same time
  • Taking the train to a marathon on race day with wife and two kids is equivalent of trying to cram your family into a shoe box already populated with the whole of Sussex
  • Parks and start corrals with 11,000 runners in get muddy. Really muddy. The first half mile of the run was like being on stilts with the build up of mud stuck to the bottom of my shoes
  • It’s great running in club kit. Shouts of “go on Tri-Anglia!!” really help give a lift through the dark places. Fellow Tri-Anglians getting in touch after the event is really great too
  • Good grief! Don’t elite athletes run quickly?!
  • Supporters at a marathon are just amazing. Kids holding out bowls of sweets and fruit to passing runners, grown ups holding amusing placards, families putting up big sound systems outside their houses. Simply fantastic. Some of my favourite placards included: “smack here for fitbitch power”, “smile if you’ve let a bit of wee go” and “hey random unknown person – you’re awesome!”
  • Out and back sections of the course can be pretty demoralising. So can stopping for a pee only to have to run hard to get back to where you were in the race order
  • Brighton has some pretty to cool street art – I’m pretty sure I saw the album cover for the Beastie Boys’ “License to ill” album painted on a house. Smiley faces painted on the road surface were also a nice touch.
  • However elegant and gazelle like I may feel when running, official race photography always seems to reveal a different truth – I look awkward and ungainly and gurn like a warthog being rectally examined with a pineapple
  • The last five miles are horrible. Live with it.
  • There’s a limit to how many gels can be tolerated. My strategy was one gel every five miles. It worked until mile 20 where I concluded that they are frankly a disgusting invention that induce the sort of revolting belching that is worthy of a cow on a diet of coca-cola
  • Crossing the finish line is an emotional thing. As a 42 year old bloke, I would not have dreamed that finishing a running race would have me sitting on a kerbside bawling like a baby peeling an onion. That’s exactly what it did though.

So that’s the marathon journey done for the time being. Will I do it again? You bet. But first I have the small issue of Holkham Outlaw Half to train for. Time to get back in the pool and on the bike. Triathlon season is back!

I will be running Holkham Outlaw Half for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. If you’d like to make a donation, please click HERE

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You too could have this on your house…
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