Brighton Marathon 2012

I ran Brighton last year – it was my 15th marathon, but only my 3rd road marathon, having stuck to off road stuff since London and Edinburgh in 2009. I loved it, despite dying a bit in the heat, and entered for 2012 as soon as entries opened.

Fast forward a few months and literally the day after I ran my first sub-3:30 at Portsmouth in December, I received an email from a friend who’s involved in the brighton marathon saying that Saucony and RunBrighton were looking to put a team of pacers together. It immediately appealed – I was in the middle of training for the 10 in 10 and doing more road marathons, and the opportunity to run an evenly paced marathon and give a little back and help some others out was too much to resist. That, and I’d get to use the VIP areas at the start and finish ;-)

So, the weekend.

Up early on Sat, brekky and off to Brighton to meet up with the other pacers at the Hilton Hotel. After encountering our “flag packs” for the first time, trying them on and doing a bit of strap adjustment, we went up the road a little way to meet up with the RunBrighton training group, and our lovely Dips, who was in full running gear but wasn’t coming for a run. A few (ok, a lot) photos and off we went for a gentle 3 miler along the prom and back. It was a good opportunity to try out the packs, which turned out to be pretty light, but a little cumbersome and it became pretty apparent that the flags started acting a little like sails when the wind picked up. I also bashed mine a couple of times against signs and stuff and made a mental note to try and remember that with the flag I was effectively 10ft tall!

A bit of video of the pacers and Run Brighton group..

After that it was off to the expo for a bit, to man the Run Brighton stand, give out pace bands and pacing advice and so on. Lots of people were taking 2-3 pace bands – realistic, fall back and one for a good day. Some people took so many they might have ended up with a rainbow effect all the way up their arms. A lean, african-looking fella came over and asked for a 2:10 pace band :-) Brighton University had a treadmill set up with a thing to breath into whilst running to measure vo2 etc. They were measuring running efficiency and calculated a score taking weight into consideration. Mine was pretty pants tbh, but then again I was running in jeans – that’s my excuse anyway ;-)

My family got the train into town and I met them and we had a nice bit of lunch, followed by a panic-driven trek across Brighton to all of the places Mrs D had been that morning in search of her lost purse. It turned out she’d left it by a till in a shop and nothing was missing when we tracked it down (phew). Then a bit of shopping and some fun on the beach with the kids and they headed home. I popped back into the expo for a while and then bought a book and settled down in Starbucks for a bit before the Fetchie dinner at Carluccio’s which was really nice. I got to the premier inn near Crawley that I’d booked for the night just in time to see a bit of MOTD and hit the sack.

Sun morning and the alarm went at 6:15. I had a quick brekky (coffee, cereal and toasted muffins) and set off back to Brighton, parking at a friends house near Withdean stadium. A short walk to Preston Park and into the VIP area to assemble my flag pack and finish getting ready. Saw Dips here who looked nervous but in the swing of things and I headed off for the Fetch photo in the park before donning my flag pack and getting into place to start. As seems to often be the case with races, I lined up and someone tapped me on my shoulder – Phil, who had pulled out of the 10 in 10 a while ago with an injury. Small world! Off we went and I was glad of my Endurance Life arm warmers (free with a mag subscription) as whilst it was nice and sunny, it was really cold.

early on at Brighton

And then it was just a matter of trying to stick to pace. I’d planned on trying to be consistent the way round and do a 3:58 or so, which meant around 9:05 on average. That was really hard though – much slower than my normal marathon pace and also slower than my easy training pace. It was very easy to get swept up in the moment, particularly when passing some enthusiastic sections of support, and find myself speeding up. After a slightly quick 1st mile (8:46) and a much too quick 2nd (8:22), I steadied the ship and settled into a near 9:00 pace. Clubmate Dave M passed I think just after the 1 mile marker and we had a quick chat before he shot off ahead. Things were getting pretty crowded – it’s always busy in the pack of 3:45-4:15 runners, but of course as a pacer I had a group of people sticking with me. Some people wanted to chat, which was fine and others just wanted to be there. Occasionally I’d find someone on my shoulder and they’d tell me they were going to stick with me, and proceeded to do so like glue, which lead to a few bumps as I had to move around a little to steer my group around other runners. I had a gel at about 10 miles but was feeling relaxed. I had more or less the same group up to around 11 miles and then as we passed the halfway point I noticed a few different faces around me. I forget where but Magpie Rob caught and passed me somewhere around here (perhaps 9 miles or so) and I saw and waved to a few fetchies on the out and back, which was great.

A few times I’d turn and look behind me and it was brilliant to see a big group of runners. When going up towards Portslade where the course is an out and back, things got more congested. I just concentrated on keeping it steady. There was some great support here and I even had a few “well done 4 hour man” shouts :-) I saw clubmate Ivan a couple of times on the out and back sections who looked to be going really well, with a smile on his face. Back out nearer the seafront and through Hove and the vocal support at Fetchpoint at mile 19 (brill shouts from Ogee and BCRB) and I had another gel just before a water station. The section around the power station seemed a little quieter than last year and whilst the sun was out a bit more, it was still really good weather for running and my group kept going. By the time I got out and back on the seafront near Hove though, the pack was thinning a little. I knew I was a bit ahead of schedule and tried to slow a tiny bit but mostly just tried to keep it consistent for anyone following me.

The support in the last 3 miles along the seafront was incredible. Lots and lots of shouts of support for the 4 hour group and whilst they weren’t directed at me, I felt very proud to be leading them home. The Running Sisters water station at 24 miles was one of the best sections of support and then it was the home straight – just over a mile to go. Brian, one of the other 4 hour pacers (there was a third, who’d rather irresponsibly gone off far too fast and didn’t slow, but her flag broke and she ended up finishing behind us) and I knew we had a bit of time in hand so we started slowing a bit and sending people on to the finish. I even did a bit of backwards running here so i could encourage runners behind me and tell them they were going to beat 4 hours. I felt really proud :-) I crossed the line just shy of 3:57, with Brian about 15 seconds behind me. A good few runners came and shook my hand and thanked me.. a brilliant feeling :-)

All in all a fantastic and rewarding experience. No less demanding or hard on the legs than going for a PB, but in very different ways. After getting my goodies and collecting my bag I went off to the VIP tent for a beer and some food and then caught up with Dips before I headed off to the pub for a great get together with lots of happy Fetchies – loads of PBs and great first marathons :-)


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