Race report by Jess
Distance: 21.1km. Pace: 4.41/km. 1hr38. Written by: Jess
The Brighton Half Marathon was my first proper race of the year. With my big race of the year being the London Marathon in April I felt this was the perfect distance to stretch the legs at a good pace and see how I was feeling after 13.1 miles of pushing myself.
Clinton and I have been training really hard over the past few months for the marathon so we were feeling a bit sluggish and heavy and had the same outlook of “go out and see how we feel along the way”. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for the Brighton Half this year as I haven’t done a great deal of speed endurance training. But it’s hard to guess what’s going to happen when the adrenaline starts to flow, so I was still optimistic for a PB. Last year I got just over 1.40 (4.47min/km) so anything sub 1.40 would be amazing. I decided to run at a race pace of 4.45min/km – the idea was that if I could keep under 4.45 then I would be able to smash a PB.
I had four days of tapering so I was as fresh as I could be at the start time. The only problem was my lack of sleep from the night before. We’d made the mistake of booking accommodation late, so we ended up having to stay at a hostel – being the only place which still had rooms available. Worst mistake ever. One of the guys downstairs was having a 21st birthday party and all these 20/21 year olds were drinking and shouting late into the night. I had ear plugs in but the noise levels were deafening and I was constantly woken up by the loud shouting. Needless to say I woke up the next day in a grumpy mood.
And to add to the general despair, the drizzling rain hadn’t stopped the next morning, contrary to the weather forecast. By the time I got to the start line my shoes were completely soaked and I was absolutely kicking myself for not bringing waterproof socks.
After taking forever to drop a backpack at the baggage area, we were finally heading towards the start line. It was 8:50 and I was fully conscious that we had only 10 min to run back to the blue pen.
And then suddenly I had another problem to sort out, like immediately.
I needed a wee.
I had literally 10 minutes to find a toilet. I looked around me. Lots of portaloos but also lots of queues. But if I queue I would almost certainly miss my wave and I would end up running with the slower runners, and I would end up trying to overtake people the whole way. Chance of getting PB would then be practically zero.
I made the decision to keep heading towards the start line…
Suddenly I saw a line of portaloos with NO QUEUES. It was a godsend. They were a couple of barriers away so I jumped over them and absolutely legged it. I managed to rejoin the runners at 8.57 sharp, literally 3 min before the start time!
The gun went and Clinton and I set off with a surge of adrenaline and excitement. Having decided not to run together, Clinton and I promised each other we wouldn’t start out too quickly and will reserve more energy for the latter part of the race.
But then as soon as we crossed the start line Clinton sprinted off! So much for starting slow.
I spent a good km just warming up, but then my pace quickly picked up. The great thing about running in a fast wave is that you spend the first few miles with the genuinely fast runners surfing past you, which makes you feel ridiculously slow. This in turn makes you speed up and makes you go faster…
At 5 km I glanced down and my watch registered 23:05. I knew I was getting carried away but part of me didn’t care. Nothing could dampen my spirits. This was brilliant, this was easy!
After the five-mile marker came and went and I was starting to struggle with the the pace I have set myself. How could I be this tired? And still not have reached half way? But somehow I pulled myself through. I tried to pick people off, one by one, and tried to stick to 4.45/km as much as I could.
At the 10-mile marker, I was feeling excited about finishing. I motivated myself by thinking only 5km to go. I was overtaking everyone and I loved the sensation. Finally the finish line came into view. I was finally feeling pretty good about life!
The finish line was fantastic, filled with photographers and event staff who cheered and hung big chunky medals around runners’ necks. The path out of the finish line was lined with volunteers handing out goody bags. I was slight disappointed that there were no event t-shirts this year… but that was my only gripe. Overall it was a great event and I loved the course!
Race report by Clinton
Distance: 21.1km. Pace: 5.10/km. 1hr48. Written by: Clinton
I had a difficult race to say the least. It was like everything went wrong. Firstly, the baggage area was further away than anticipated so we had to jog to the start line, joining right at the back of our wave. Because of this, and because Brighton is such a popular race, the first km was spent dodging through the crowds. Around 2km I realised my right shoe laces were untied- but I just ignored this until around 6km. By 12km I was feeling utterly miserable, my pace had dropped significantly and my recently re-tied right shoe was now too tight making my right foot completely numb. I didn’t realise at the time that this was the problem, but looking back it seems obvious. My GPS watch self-paused (accidently knocked) so my average pace and distance were no longer accurate. I’d passed two water stations and I’d been struggling to work out how to work the clever ‘rip and suck’ pouches of water.
On top of all this, it was about the 12km mark when Jess jogged by, looking fresh as a daisy and didn’t even spare me a glance. Heart broken, I stumbled on, even walking occasionally. I was just trying to think about the next goal (the 3rd water station).
When I finally got there, I noticed a poor guy even worse off than me. In fact, as I looked back I saw his legs go like jelly, left and right, then he collapsed. I ran back and with a few others pulled him off the road. The paramedics arrived within minutes. I did feel a sense of responsibility. I am a doctor and in this situation, I should definitely help. Thankfully: 1) He was breathing! 2) He had a pulse! 3) He was even talking! 4) The paramedics were all over this.
Looking back, the one thing that went wrong for me, was that I went off too fast. My fastest km was 4m10s and the slowest 6m09s. That’s two minutes slower! A ridiculous difference. On top of this, looking back at my training runs, none of the long distance runs were under 5m per km, so it was definitely naïve of me to think I could just go off as if I was running a parkrun and hope.
The other disappointment I had was that there was no finishers T-shirt. I saw a tweet from the Brighton Half Marathon organisers saying there were no shirts due to their sponsors this year. And I’m sure I already have too many finishers shirts but I was still disappointed. The shirt makes it all worthwhile!
So how can I improve my time?
- Don’t go off too fast!
- Tie your laces properly before.
- Don’t tie your laces too tightly during the race.
- Practice opening the alien water pouches before the race.
- Don’t tell Jess your perfectly designed race plan (this one is how to achieve the secondary goal of beating Jess).
- Include some race pace sections in the long training runs.
- Don’t take a bag (or leave enough time to bag drop and get back to the start).
Truth be told, although this wasn’t the time I was hoping for, I had a great weekend and I’m so happy for Jess to get a well-earned personal best. The support and excitement around the event were great as well. I was really excited to enjoy the Sunday roast we had after the race.
Let’s do it all again in two weekends’ time: The North London Half Marathon.