The Big Day: Brighton Half Marathon 2012

Last week I was worried. My immune system wasn’t its usual stellar self and I was feeling decidedly Not OK. A benefit of running is that I just don’t get colds nearly as often as I used to, something I have been a tad too smug about. I suppose its only fitting that a week before the race I start feeling exhausted, headachey and just not 100%.

Panic starts to set in by Thursday. By this point I have cancelled all non essential activity and sought advice from friends, colleagues and via every social media platform and forum I could find. ‘Drink Green Juice!’ a good friend advised (celery, cucumber, ginger and garlic FYI), ‘Lots of Water!’ another suggested and ‘Sleep and Eat Loads’. Thankfully, this was not difficult.

Friday night I head to bed at 8pm and by Saturday I can just about drag myself out of bed, pack my bag and get myself ready to head down to Brighton. R feeds me a lot of homemade stew and tea. Perfect combination of carbo loading and comfort food. It works its magic (that and much pleading to various deities and positive mantras, on repeat!).

Sunday morning (race day!), I’m not feeling like a zombie and manage to put my trainers on without sobbing. We wake up to the most beautiful winter sunshine over the Brighton Marina and although its pretty cold, the scenery distracts from the bite in the wind.

View from the breakfast bar in the Seattle Hotel Brighton. Spring!

Our hotel is a 10 minute walk from the start of the race so we arrive in good time, along with 9,000 other competitors and the pre race buzz is electric. The start is a bit slow (lack of staggered starts usually has the effect I’m finding) but by 9:10 we’re over the start line and building up to a good pace.

The course is fantastic, through the town centre and then looping out past the golf course, with nothing but the sea to the right and then back along the sea front. Heading past 11 miles, there were no tears (unlike the Great Scottish Run!), but come the 12th mile my feet start feeling numb and my hip was niggling badly. That and the fact that my Nike+ was claiming I’d just hit 12.5 miles (and not just 12), made getting to the finish that much harder. Fair amount of chatter post race about the course being 13.6 so the finishing times are slightly out!

Very pleased with my 2:30:01 (for the 13.1, that’s a full 6 minutes faster than the GSR). That includes a 5 minute go slow, where R and I were ‘deciding’ whether or not I’d head off without him around the 10K mark when I wanted to up the pace and he needed to slow it down. He said go. I said no, I’d wait. Major argument ensues, much to the amusement of a Water Aid runner bumbling past us dressed as a toilet and a man dressed as a burlesque dancer.

We had discussed before the race that if either of us needed to take it slower the other should push on. But it was still really hard to actually do it. But with a likely PB to achieve, I did eventually pick up the pace (and over took the toilet). I’m sure it will be the other way around at some point.

Very knackered R

But we did it!

Reunited at the finish line in our space blankets, I tell R that I had overtaken Katie Price (only just!), who still looked impeccable, not a smudged mascara line in sight, and her hair was salon perfect. I’d like to know the brand of her foundation immediately. Also very impressed she co-ordinated both her car and her running gear, fuchsia pink. I’m jealous of both, clearly. I very rarely manage match my nail polish to my pedicure.  Plus her coach seemed pretty awesome. I’d like one of those too please.

I very rarely spot celebrities, so here’s my first paparazzi attempt. I wont give up my day job!

The inevitable come down, from the endorphin rush after finishing the race, was eased slightly by indulging in a completely OTT Italian meal in the Brighton Marina. Guilt free! Post race meals deserve to be relished and laden with as many calories as possible. I hear a collective sigh from my nutritionist friends. Oh and there was pudding too. And then more pizza. One day I will learn.

Pana cotta @ Bella Napoli Brighton Marina

R’s chocolate profiteroles 

Back in London, I’m relishing my day off with more tea and a few ice packs for the old legs. I’ve already started looking into the next challenge. Paris is a bit soon, so thinking it may have to be further afield. Any suggestions very welcome!

Hot and Cold

Just over two weeks to go and with my weekend long run lost to snow on sunday. I need to up my game ahead of the Brighton half marathon. Race numbers have arrived, hotel is booked and the count down begins.

So, Monday or not, I hit the sludgy streets of Ealing en route home this evening. Besides the mounds of grey slushy snow and black ice, it was a balmy 3 degrees, so thankfully I retained the feeling in my fingers. No such luck for my toes, I accidentally hit a puddle or two, which is unpleasant at the best of times, but when the water is recently melted snow its freezing. Bone chilling cold.

The 5.5. mile run home is definitely getting easier, but its still enough of a work out to get the appetite raging. Getting through the front door I was delighted to smell the beginnings of a tasty chicken soup brewing in the kitchen. Perfect!

That is until R throws in an entire scotch bonnet. I still can’t go in the kitchen due to the excessive chilli, and that’s just from the steam. I suffered a major coughing fit and streaming eyes just from a casual glance in its direction. This stuff is hardcore.  I do love a bit of a kick in my food, but this, I would rather not inflict it on my insides. So hot soup and cheese on toast it is.

 Let the carbo loading commence!

Brass Monkeys

Brass monkeys. That means it’s farrrken cold. That winter we thought we were having? Autumn with a wig on. They keep promising snow, but no such luck. No black ice = no excuses.

Layering up to run I’m sure I’m clearly losing my mind, possibly caused by a week without running due to various time constraints. Losing my mind and also, it would transpire, my ability to feel my fingers and nose.

Three minutes into the run and I’m realising I am running A LOT faster. Its so cold the thought of slowing down or stopping just isn’t an option. Result! I find I’m actually overtaking slower runners (well, just the one). I feel like a freakin’ super hero. Then I get a stitch.

1.5 miles from home and my hand have gone numb, so without gloves I’m having to flay my hands around like a deranged nursery school teacher singing ‘twinkle twinkle’. Attracting odd looks at Shepherd’s Bush roundabout, which is an achievement in itself. It’s at this point I remember I’ve left my front door keys at work.

Thankfully, R is home and lets me in, frozen to the core and slightly manic from my cold shock injected speed fest. The combination of being hit with warm central heating and rush of endorphins, means I have to lie very still on the sofa for about twenty minutes while I try and string a sentence together.

5.5 miles logged and in the bank. Need to stop checking accuweather. 7 degrees below on Friday. Will be investing in those gloves, and beanie and maybe more thermals.