With a little help from my friends

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Months and months of hard training came down to end on Sunday when I stood on the start line of this year’s Brighton marathon.

In the course of the training plan I’d managed to get my first sub-100 minute half marathon (Brighton half), and everything had gone well without any injury or major illnesses.  The only slight concern was the air pollution last week that suddenly rendered me unable to run more than a mile without taking three puffs of my asthma inhaler.  Luckily, and with the help of a little pre-race rain, the air quality had improved by the morning of the race.

Preparations

I’m the first to admit that I can often be more than a little OCD in my behaviour.  Never more so in pre-big race day.  By the end of Saturday I’d completed my TO DO list:

  • Scour charity shops for “disposable” warm top & tracksuit bottoms tick
  • Set out gear to wear tick
  • BOSH running vest tick
  • Pants tick
  • Shorts tick
  • Running socks tick
  • Running shoes tick
  • Garmin watch tick
  • BOSH wristband tick
  • Compulsory plasters for nipples tick
  • Vaseline for “chafing areas” tick
  • Amex VIP-area wristband tick
  • Two yfumble gel holders tick
  • Affix running number to BOSH running vest tick
  • Pack pre-race nutrition tick
  • Soreen tick
  • Bottle of juice tick
  • Pack race nutrition tick
  • 6 x race gels tick
  • Pack post-race nutrition tick
  • Drink tick
  • 2 x caramel wafers tick

All done, I set the alarm for 05:40 and tried to get my head down for a good night’s sleep, safe in the knowledge that I hopefully had everything I need.

Pre-race

Having met up with fellow-BOSHer, John, at Haywards Heath station and made our way down to Preston Park I headed to the Amex VIP-area.  This was a tented area with “deluxe” toilets, tea & coffee, bananas, chairs, heating, water, Gatorade and the ability to leave bags with them to be transferred to the end.  All through paying for Brighton marathon entry with my Amex card.

Whilst this was all very nice, and a genuine race-day bonus (thank you very much Amex) the real surprise was that as a VIP area Radio 5 Live set up there for an interview.  Two minutes later the legend that is Paula Radcliffe popped in to give an interview to their journalist.  Once over I used the opportunity to ask Paula for a photo and offered my iPhone to the journalist to see if she’d take the pic.  She made clear that she’d only take mine if I took one of her with Paula in return! 🙂

paula

Having had my twinkle of stardust I made my way out to the peace statue on Preston Park to meet up with many of the 120+ BOSH runners.  It was great to catch up with many faces I engage with, support, on a regular basis via Facebook.  Diverse backgrounds, hugely differing abilities, united by the love of running.  The group photo says it all.

BOSH at Brighton

If you’re a runner reading this and you’re not a member of BOSH-Run on Facebook, then ask yourself why not?

The race

It was only 20 minutes before the race that I realised that my OCD nature had let me down.  I had no idea what pace I should be running.  Not the best planning given that I was really hoping to bag myself a marathon PB.

With a few mental sums done, I crossed the start line with the idea of running 8:45 min/miles (ish).  My marathon history is as follows:

2011 Brighton marathon – 4:38:55 [done in by the heat & not enough training mileage]

2012 London marathon – 4:00:03 [great run falling short of sub-4]

2012 Marathon du Medoc  – 5:15:31 [a fun run with lots of wine]

2012 Berlin marathon – 3:57:45 [sub-4 smashed]

2013 Paris marathon – 4:13:09 [not enough training mileage]

Having followed religiously an asics sub-4hr training plan downloaded from Runners World my stated aim was to beat 3:55, whilst my unstated aim was to come as close to 3:50 as possible.

Unlike Brighton in 2011 where the heat was unbearable, this year’s race had perfect running weather.  Mild, with slight wind.  Despite efforts to drop my pace, I was running so comfortably that I thought I’d let myself run and see where it led me.

The crowds were absolutely magnificent – I can’t think of having run in a better supported race.  The sides of the road were crammed with really vocal well-wishers.  Wearing the BOSH vest mean that I got plenty of “Go on BOSH” shouts from the crowds, but got far more shout-outs and high-fives from the masses of fellow runners.  Barely three or four minutes would pass without hearing the scream, “BOSHHHAAA”.  Truly amazing and at one point a fellow runner asked me “what is this BOSH thing?” bemused by the shout-outs and vests.

Miles 1-19 were great at around 08:20 average.  Miles 20-26 however were a real struggle.  My mind was screaming at me to stop on the long five mile run in from Shoreham power station, but knowing I was on for a good time I resisted and steadily slowed the pace.

Split Time
1 08:58.1
2 08:16.7
3 08:25.6
4 08:19.0
5 08:17.9
6 08:28.5
7 08:21.0
8 08:23.2
9 08:21.1
10 08:07.8
11 08:11.7
12 08:04.6
13 08:07.3
14 08:18.5
15 08:22.8
16 08:26.4
17 08:26.3
18 08:34.8
19 08:26.9
20 08:52.5
21 09:05.7
22 09:06.8
23 09:11.6
24 09:27.6
25 09:41.1
26 09:42.3
27 03:02.3

Seeing Mrs B and high-fiving my three boys heading into the last half mile was fantastic and I crossed the line in a new PB of 3:47:10.  Job-done!

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Brighton isn’t a city with the history of London, Paris or Berlin, so its marathon can’t compare with them on that front, its route (whilst coastal) is also not the finest, but yesterday’s marathon in Brighton was undoubtedly the most rewarding I’ve run – both in terms of accomplishing my personal goal and the huge level of support from fellow BOSHers and locals alike.