Sami and I at the start.
I am very proud to report that this Sunday just gone, Sami, Dash and I completed the Brighton Marathon – in fact our first ever marathon and the furthest we have ever run. Not only did we smash it, but we did it in style and with beaming smiles on our faces.
Sami and I both run at a similar pace, similar running style, similar attitude (happy go lucky) – we are pretty much the perfect running buddies. We’d both decided on our strategy – run slow and steady (11 min/mile) and don’t stop unless you have to. In our training runs, we’d only ever managed 17 miles and after that 17 miles I felt half dead so we both had absolutely no idea if we even could run the whole way or exactly how our bodies were going to cope with running 26.2 miles.
Massive queue to get out of Preston Park station.
Sami and Dash were staying in Brighton so I decided to meet them an hour before the start. I got to Haywards Heath station in plenty of time, but the ticket office was packed so I had to sprint up the stairs to get my train (good warm up I suppose!). Getting off the train at Preston Park was also fun – that in itself took 15 minutes as the platform was rammed. When I finally got to start, I met sami but unfortunately Dash was running a little late so we had to set off on our own. We did manage to bump into Andy (in fact we bumped into him a few times, albeit when he was about 3 miles ahead of us in the other direction!) about 2 miles in and shortly afterwards Dash rather aptly came dashing up to us with her marathon pro boyfriend (said pro boyfriend ditched us at about mile 7!).
As we headed towards Rottingdean and up the so-called hills – “Hills – these aren’t hills!” [Sian] – we were all feeling pretty sprightly. Unfortunately on the way down the hill (slope if you ask me!) we lost sight of Dash and decided to push on ahead. Sami and I crossed the half way mark at 2 h 37 minutes, which is considerably slower than our half marathon times, but we decided we wanted to leave some in the tank. Running by the pier and seeing the crowds and the cheering really put me in a great frame of mind and that carried Sami and I right through until mile 19! We’d not only smashed our previous best, but we both felt really good. That feeling was short live though as unfortunately the pain from both our injuries – my weak hip flexor and Sami’s knee – really kicked in around mile 20 so we lost all pace. At times we were slowing right down to 13 minute/mile. Despite being 10 minutes behind Sami and I, Dash had managed to catch us up, and Sami and I didn’t know she’d overtaken us!
By mile 24 thoughts of stopping and walking were rushing through my head – and then out of the corner of my eye I spotted my friend who I’d seen at mile 15. Bless her, she came to run with us for a couple of hundred yards and that gave me a sudden burst of adrenaline, which took away all the pain and the prior thoughts of walking. Sami and I really picked up the pace again and even managed a sprint finish behind the man in the Rhino suit (can’t believe a guy wearing a rhino suit beat us?!).
Sami and I feeling very pleased with ourselves after collecting our medals.
I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoy the whole experience. Not once did I ask myself why I was doing it – I was just enjoying every moment. I do feel very proud to have finished with a time 5 hour 20 minutes – of course I would have loved a sub 5-hour time, but given that we were both injured and that I haven’t been getting in much training lately I think we did remarkably well. Let’s not forget too that I only signed up for this a month ago so I do feel somewhat of a cheat! 🙂 Today both of us are relatively unscathed too, which is always a good sign.
Based on the fact that we ran the whole thing and our mental strength, I feel positive that we could complete a marathon in 4.30 or 4.45 injury free.
By the way, if you’re running a long-distance race and your legs hurt, try running backwards for a little bit. It worked wonders for Sami and I. I know it sounds mad, but if you have an injury, sometimes your mind can play tricks on you and you feel pain simply because you’re doing something repetitive that has previously caused you pain. By running backwards for a bit, you are reseting your legs.
So – will I run another marathon? Yesterday my answer was no, but today I am already hovering over the Brighton 2013 entry button so who knows?
Sian has said it pretty well. With injuries considered, I guess running our first marathon was near enough a doddle. Yes it was a mental struggle at times, but for me this was mainly due to my knee feeling as it was going to snap off at every couple miles!
I had trained hoping for 4 hours 30 minutes so was bummed for a moment when we were on our way into hour 5 but in the last week I didn’t think I was even going to be capable of running the entire 26.2 miles let alone non-stop!
Six days prior to the marathon my physio told me the bad news, I had IT band friction syndrome “A very long and painful run” is what he told me. This is what I expected and this is what it was, though not as bad as it could’ve been thanks to the 6 Nurofen I popped!
I am still very much struggling with my knee now, hobbling down the stairs is almost as much of a feat as running the marathon, but I know in a few weeks it will mend and I can consider running again. I don’t ache though (marathon tip: have a sports massage shortly after the race to eliminate the niggles and to speed up muscle repair).
Sunday was such an achievement and has shown me how far I have come in the last two years. I love running and I really want to start racking up those medals!
What’s next, Sian!?