Walking downhill to the Beachy Head Marathon, whilst mum parks the car. I wonder why did I signed up for this? I am not even trained for 3,400ft climbs! Lack of sleep, just finishing a night shift yesterday, I am tired already.
Number 47 today. The weather out is cold with a minus wind chill.
As I step in line for the toilets, I see Andy, fellow BOSH-Runner from our Facebook group. We chat about the conditions, and wish each other good luck.
I am wearing compression running tights, long sleeve top, an over weather layer, gloves, my Vivo Trails, buff and cap. Mum still lends me her big coat as I am shivering.
Runners huddle in the start area jumping up and down to stay warm.
Miles 1-10 (pace)
9:43 8:09 8:00 7:22 8:43 7:30 8:40 8:23 6:48 8:11
Go! Garmin started, heading straight towards the first hill in front of us.
We climb the steps, steep, and sharp, so cold I just want to warm up. I can feel my heartrate elevate so slow down, concentrating on my breathing.
This is going to be tough. Further up I can hear bag pipe music, I see the player in his kilt. Marshals stop traffic as we head over the road onto the South Downs Way.
After a water stop it is a steep climb into the Trail. Under trees, then hard stones as we descend.
Into a small village and really muddy underfoot. A few more miles, another water stop and an accidental pause on my Garmin we head high up into the South Downs and can enjoy the views. The sun is shining. The trail is flat up here so I enjoy a faster pace.
Nine miles, further downhill, I can see the sea in the distance. Deep into a wood, over styles and then steps lead us high up again. The bagpipe player is at the top.
I look back to see how steep it is. The top opens to a big field and spectators “Well done, keep going, not long to go!” My quads burn and ache from the steep climbs.
10:37 9:14 7:13 7:11 8:03 7:37 10:06 11:53 9:25 10:09
Reaching a water stop, mars bars, hot cross buns and biscuits on offer, tempting but just some water. Downhill, steep and over a bridge. The route leads into the village of Friston. Cheers from the crowd at the pub as we pass. Marshals help us cross the A259 into Seven Sister’s park.
The view is stunning. Lots more cheering and clapping. Fatigued, I have some Cliff shot blocks. After I have an SIS gel with caffeine as I still feel sluggish. Damn you hills…
I am now facing Seven Sisters which means seven cliff top hills… I march up the climbs slowly and jog downhill.
The chalk below makes it hard to tread. The strong winds push at me, almost throwing me over. The lighthouse at Beachy Head looks tiny from here. My aching quads and tired head just want this to be over with and I hit a low…
11:55 At mile 20, I can see a drinks station. I can see the lighthouse getting closer. I drink two cups water and half a mars bar for the chocolate and sugar. Just something to distract the last few hills. Thanking the volunteers I head down the slope.
11:00 10:12 8:49 11:14 10:51 8:31
Two hills left. I keep my head down, not looking up. The chocolate helps, but not much.
12:30 At 24 miles and the sisters behind me. I have conquered the hills, almost. I can see a huge climb that leads to the lighthouse. Still taking it slow, the climb feels like forever, cheers from spectators doesn’t seem enough now.This is NOT for beginners. The hill still becomes steeper. Then finally I reach the top.
There it is the light house. I see runners up in the lead. I race along, feeling better. Through the Beachy Head carpark and to the main road. The finish is close. I run as quick as I can, praying to not cramp up.
I make my way around the cliff top passing spectators and other runners. I can see a glimpse of Eastbourne, the the Pier, even a rainbow.
As the route slopes downwards, then finally the steep hill we climbed at the start. I am flying down now. I whizz past the crowds and then I see the end….I sprint, then a sign of relief, but a big smile as I pass through the finish line.
Today is my 9th Marathon to date since 2010.
Thanks for reading and Run Free!