Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Brighton Marathon 2011

I've been building to this day for so long & as usual with these things, its been and gone in the blink of an eye. It seems like it never happen, other than when i try and get up off of the sofa after sitting down for a while.

The weekend started as we left home at 10:45am, heading to Brighton with a stop at Nymnan's National Trust garden for a spot of lunch and a brief stroll to admire the magnolias & rhododendrons.
 We continued our journey in the early afternoon & were doing fine until we reached the Brighton side of the South Downs and from then on we crawled up to the roundabout & junctions for the A27.  I was starting to give up on getting to the expo, but we decided to try taking the A27 towards Worthing to the next junction and then drop down into Brighton from the Hove end & along the seafront. Again all was going well until we reached the seafront, the Brighton Centre was almost in sight, yet we were sat still, so i got out and walked.

The main reason I wanted to go to the Expo was to find the Rock Tape stand & turns out it was worth the traffic, as after a ten minute wait i had my shins taped up by a lovely lady & even better - she had purple tape!

So onto the day itself.  I got up & sorted my self out, enjoying a peanut butter & banana wholemeal sandwich for breakfast, taping each of my toes up with extra long Elastoplast plasters & smothering my face & arms in sun tan lotion.  David dropped Mum & I off a street above Preston Park and we wandered into the park just after half 7.  We had no trouble in getting there at all. The Park slowly started to fill up & i too heed of the advice that i had picked up from various places, including the Runners World Forum, of keeping off of your feet if you can.

Mum needed to escape Preston Park before the start, as for the first 2 miles the loop goes right around the outside of the park, so at 8.30am i took my fleece off, close up my kit bag & took it to the lorry and said good bye to Mum. I had decided to kill time i would join the queue for the loo, hoping i would reach it before i was supposed to be in the corral & thinking that by the time i got there i might actually need to go! The plan worked & by 8.50am i was lined up, ready to go.
When i got to my Grandparent's on Saturday i found a little good luck charm, made my Nan with my sponsorship money, so i decided i would give him a piggy back all the way around.

The start appeared to run very smoothly - nothing like the half hour delays I'd heard of for 2010 because within 14 minutes (according to my chip time) i was across the start line & my 1st marathon had begun!

I felt quite good at the start, made sure not to get caught up & carried away at too fast of a pace, running the first mile in about 10 minutes and the 2nd in about the same.  By mile 3 i had caught up with the 5 hour pacer, Robin (they had official Pacers from Clif Bar) and decided that i would stick with her and her gang, and push on later if i was able. Initially i was hoping to get under 5 hours, but after a comfortable 11 miles i started to feel pain and not where i first expecting to feel it. My main worry coming into this was my shins, I'd struggled so much since i started training & even in the last few classes & runs but for the whole 26.2 miles i honestly didn't feel a thing! I think i will certainly be trying the Rocktape again! I have heard through other who ran on Saturday & used the tape that they were pleased with the results from it too.

Any way back to mile 12 & the pain in my right foot. Every time it hit the pavement the pain level soared, i slowed to a walk by the water station which eased the pain & as much as i felt like i wanted to stop, deep down i knew i couldn't & wouldn't.  My longest training run was 9 miles, so i kind of knew after that point that anything could happen. My next goal was mile 15, where my support team (Mum, David & Nan) were - only 3 miles away. I ran through the half way point which i was rather glad to see even if i had lost sight of Robin and her balloons and from there to the bottom of Grand Avenue (mile 15) developed a run/walk  strategy of no particular time pattern. I was trying to walk a minute then run as much as i could but the running times got shorter & shorter i think. Knowing my family was at the top of Grand Avenue, i was determined for them to see me running, so i made sure i ran from the bottom to the top, fighting back the tears & grabbing Mum for a hug, muttering an expletive in her ear about the pain before getting on with the job in hand. I have heard since from a runner's world member that all she wanted was her mummy around that point - and she's 51 yrs old! Its not a very flattering photo but this certainly shows a very unhappy face.
After a loo stop, to try & see if that would make me feel any better, even if i didn't really need to go & 3 more miles of run/walk, 8 or so Clif shot blox at more water, at the top of Grand Avenue i started to run back towards my support team. By this time i had chest pain which i believe to be my upper abdominals cramping, but i certainly wasn't going to let that on to mum, I'd given her enough to worry about the first time! I did genuinely feel better mentally, even if it meant i was still doing a run/walk pace.
After a quick hug i left them with the remark "See you at the finish line!" Again although it was a walk/run, it didn't matter so long at  crossed the finish line, but of course that wasn't quite good enough for me, so i set my self a new target. I decided i was not going to be passed by the 5 hr 30 pacer, and kept going but also kept an eye over my shoulder every now & then, watching for those red & white balloons! As i entered the power station stretch i ended up walking along side a lady called Yvonne. We discussed our race so far, our aches and pains etc. I told her my plan about tagging onto the 5 hr 30 pacer group and as we were talking i realised they had passed up! So i started to catch up asking Yvonne if she wanted to join me, which she did. So we joined Sharon & her group. I love American people, they are so enthusiastic. Sharon, like Robin, was full of great advice along the way although we did almost lose her to a speed bump around the power station loop! The pace for this group was roughly 5 minute run & 1 minute walk, although it felt like the minutes kept getting shorter! The more i ran, the more my feet started to burn & generally hurt, but i was not letting go of this pace group. The crowds picked up towards the finish, Mum, Nan & David apparently had quite a struggle to get towards the finish.

As we reached the last couple of mile Sharon said she wouldn't be offended if we walked a faster finish and pushed on for the finish, which is what i did. With about a mile to go, i decided i wanted under 5 hours 30 and picked up the pace & amazing felt stronger than ever - its all in the mind.  As i reached about 400m i heard "Jennifer!" so i turned to look.....
With my head held high i finished with an official chip time of 5 hours 27 minutes and 10 seconds.
From there i collected my medal, avoided the blankets (i felt i was far too hot for that personally), got my timing chip taken off, was handed a goody bag (nothing hugely exciting in there, although the andrex wipes came in handy as my face was so salty!) & a t-shirt before collecting my kit bag & heading for the Charity tent.

The charity tent (again although nothing hugely exciting) was at least a seat for us all & some shade plus it meant i could meet my support team without crowds. First job was to take my shoes off & get some air to my feet, then i got changed into my swimming shorts/costume behind a spare space blanket and we headed for the beach.  The water was icy but quite nice on the burning feet, i didn't feel like my legs needed it at the time, but a couple of days later now i think i should have been braver and gone a little deeper, but i really hate swimming in water where i can't see what is around me in the water. I munched on my bread pudding, from the bakery that i had waiting for me in my kit bag. I would like to say i enjoyed it, but i think i just ate without thought. I'd already devoured the banana they gave us by that point and the Clif Bar in the goody bag didn't last very long either.
The sea was great until a wave caught me off balance and i lost grip of my flips flops with me feet! i thought they were lost forever - like i say i don't feel confident venturing too deep in the sea even though i know I'm a strong swimmer - but they floated back just within my reach. Which i was very glad about, because the pebbles were rather painful on feet that were already very bruised.
After a dry off & another interesting (& very skilled) change under a space blanket held down by stones it was time to head home to Nan's for a bit of dinner before the journey back home here.
Even as we were leaving the beach though some people were still finishing, mainly those in costumes or carrying something, like a tiger....
Over all, a great day, despite my melt down in the middle. I went from the loo queue to the corral within minutes and from where i lined up it took only 14 minutes to cross the start line, which isn't bad with 8000 people, mainly in front of me. The water stations were well organised & there seemed to be plenty there, as with the powerade although i didn't take that at every station and only had a few sips when i did.  It just felt a bit hot for something sweet. I wouldn't have minded some Clif shot blox at mile 12, i tried them in training & quite liked them - however they had run out!!!! (this is really my only complaint of the whole day) i did manage to get plenty at mile 18, i think i got given 6 and then a member of the public was handing out some a bit further on, so i had a couple more.  There were jelly babies, wine gum, jelly beans - every jelly sweet possible being handed out & it was quite cute with some of the little kids feeling important handing them out & holding their hands out for a high five. I did given a few high fives to little ones, it was so cute it really cheered me up. And the finish area seemed to go smoothly too.

Thank you all for your sponsorship. As i write this now i have raised a total of £2024.60 which is something i never thought possible.  I am taking a walk into town today to pay in a cheque i didn't get a chance to before the day, and I'm hoping the stroll will loosen me up. A trip to the gym is in order too, although only to use the Power plate for a massage & if i can take the pain, roll my muscles out on the foam roller.

The only question now is do i sign up for next year? I might leave it a while before i decide yet, there's still a bit of time.