Beno’s Brighton Blog
A few thoughts around my/our first marathon experience……at Brighton 2015.
Now Nik Nik and I have done a good few races. Last year it seemed every Sunday we were making our way to some far flung corner of Essex or the Home Counties. Nik Nik did 6 HMs for example including a 1.52pb at Oxford, treading the same steps as Roger Bannisters 4 minute mile (in 8.20 I think)
Last April, having heard all the Flyers stories of a great weekend in Brighton for the marathon, and egged on by a few, especially Lin, we entered the 2015 event. Put it to one side and waited for the training to start.
The training…..now this can obviously be a chore…..not with the Flyers! When Keith produced the “Passingham Plan” a few weeks before Xmas I must admit that the hard slog through late Feb and March looked a challenge. There’s no substitute for doing the mileage and the strength cross training. I’m convinced I would have been injured without it. Lots of focus on the Gluteus Maximus!
The Sunday LSRs were actually a joy. From planning the routes with Keith over a coffee each Tuesday, to witnessing the determination and development of the Group. In the early weeks there were a few training for Great Bentley HM too, and in the latter weeks the fact we incorporated loops into the runs meant non marathoners could join in and keep us sane. We had excellent weather through the winter. We kept saying each week that we were due a real howler and it didn’t arrive until the Colchester HM in week 16.
Injuries were kept at bay personally, although it was disappointing to see a few people drop out through injury as the weeks moved on. There were a couple of killer weeks, most notably a 17 miler that include Bread and Cheese Hill, Essex Way and a number of Keith’s other favorites. During the early weeks I stuck to some speed training on the treadmill but as the mileage increased this was sacrificed to either to preserve the legs or because the legs were too heavy.
A weekly massage to ease the legs was introduced after week 11 and this was most beneficial in improving flexibility. During the longer runs Nik Nik and I started experimenting with all sorts of energy bars, flapjacks, gels, Gatorade, the lot. To be honest I don’t think we really cracked the nutrition. However the first 20 miler I finished strong, which was a good sign, the second one less so and as for our loop of Canvey….well! The taper, I enjoyed to be honest. The Colchester HM, whilst a stinker of a day, was a bit of fun, especially with lunch in The Live and Let Live afterwards.
“Selfie” at Colchester Half
In the week before the big day, we decided to have a couple of days in Palma. Bit of sun, final run, couple of drinks to break the two month alcohol ban and relax. All worked a treat until our flight home was cancelled due to the French air traffic dispute! We panic for a day or so as to whether we will get home in time to pick up number at Expo. Finally arrived home on the Friday a 1.30am. Despite this panic, actually felt fresh going into the race.
Nerves started to build on the trip down. There’s a sign on the A23, that says “Brighton 26″…..yep, I thought. Traffic queues from the junction with the A27. Hit Brighton, park on floor 17 of the NCP. Spot of lunch, Expo. Got number all very easy. First Flyers met Jacky, Debbie, Carol, Richardsons, McFarlenes. Bump into Jacqui Knowles from RRC. Expo manic. Meet friend staying in The Grand for tea. Piano playing too loudly. Massive headache now. Back to hotel for a lie down. Better now….Bella Italia for our pre run meal…table for 47 please. Great to see everyone. Nathan and Noah had already set the running going with good performances in the Mini mile. Meet everyone else, meal goes really well. Well done Mr P. Agree to meet Papa, Steve, Sherry and our friend Martin at 7.45am to walk up to Preston Park. Back to the hotel, write details on back of number. Select the shorts, socks, wristband. Cap or no cap…might be warm, protect head if need be……& get my toenails painted hi-vis orange! Get breakfast ready, 3 slices cold toast I’ve brought with me, honey. Must consume by 6.15 in the morning, to allow time for 3 calls of nature to take their course, before leaving. That’s it, 9pm ish, bed. Set 4 alarms, earliest for 5.50am.
Slept well, wake just before the alarm. Weather check. Looks clear but can’t quite see yet. Breakie, said Toast, Honey 2 cups of tea. Shower, kit on in no time, still an hour spare to let nature take its course. Check phone, Hugh is ill so can’t run. What a disappointment after a tough training plan. Yes its going to be sunny. Good for spectators, need cap and sunglasses. Nature takes course the required 3 times. Hydrate. Nearly ready, selfie with Nik Nik.
Phone rings. Papa in reception. Cheap hoodie on, that can be left at start. Down we go, meet up. Stroll to Preston Park settles the nerves albeit Martin is walking like a snail, not a man who’s gonna run 3.53! Atmosphere building up, really excited, walk past the 10k start. See Adam Hickey warming up and give him a shout. Further back Gill and Becks just about to go off. Shout out encouragement. Meet the Flyers assembling at Alex’s prearranged point. Soon clear that Qs for toilets are very long. Get in line. This isn’t going to work. Leave Nik Nik in Q and dash for trees, return and do so again 10 mins later. Meet Mags, Jo and Liz Jude in Q. Time running out. The girls, excluding Mags who refuses head for the bushes. Now at the start, great atmosphere, we ask a chap to take a photo. Papa, Jo, Rich P, Sam, Nik Nik, Mikki, probably Sue and Damon we are all looking to run 10.30ish pace together. The race is off, we move forward. Elites run past. We spot Justin only. 15 minutes later our wave is off. Rich P high fives Jo Pavey. Very slow start up the hill. Colin and Rich F soon need a call of nature. Down the hill through mile 2, now finding some space and rhythm.
We see first supporter Debbie Dunn waving a Flyers flag, we return louder cheers. Papa is moving off a bit quick. He’s preached to us for 18 weeks to go off slowly and now he’s putting in a break for home it seems! We remind him to pull back. Then we see the Thornton’s screaming encouragement. They are greeted by similar in return. Next its Jacky taking some great photos for which we pose and Debbie. Round the back of the Pavillion. We see Pam and stop for a quick hug. Round the loop at 4 to 5 miles gives us the chance to see Mags, Carol, Michelle , Sherry behind us. See Jacky and Debbie again to great commotion as we pose for more pics on the run. A guy runs along Sam and asks “what’s all this Orange business?” “Oh we’re just a bonkers running group from Southend” she replies. Then we spot Lin with her Orange pom poms. Quick stop to say hi. We lose 20 seconds on Papa, Sam and Jo. Time we will not make up. Out onto the seafront. Undulating now. Where’s the crowd gone? Gatorode bottle. Drink half. Warming up. See Alex, Lloyd running back. Shout out to them. Then Jason who is high fived. Need a wee, the out and back section at mile 9 provides the chance. Lose 30 seconds in the pitstop, but put a spurt on to catch Nik Nik. On the way back we spot Mags, Carol and Liz now running together.
Mikki is dropping off. Back towards the marina again. Undulating again. Little support. Now the run back into town. Spot the Thornton’s and the rest of the fantastic support team. Give them a round of applause back. Through halfway. The crowds support is unbelievable. So many shouts of encouragement for “Beno”……& “Beano”. A real lift. Without doubt the standout part of the race. Low five as many kids as possible.
Through halfway in 2.19 just outside 10.30 pace but feeling great. Miss seeing Martin Parish but see Loren in the centre of road. Nik Nik going well too. Now out to Hove. A straight stretch ahead. A sea of bodies and backs of heads. Just starting to know I’m in a marathon in the legs. Keep hydrating. As we turn on the return section, mile 16 ish, Nik Nik has dropped off a bit. Trouble! Calves are cramping. She tore her right calf a few years ago. Not now…please. Wait a few seconds for her, walk a few paces with long strides, we pick up, ok for a while. Back onto seafront they cramp again and the dreaded power station section awaits.
A little more walking, but they still cramp. Need the portaloo. No Q. Keep moving I say to her. Back towards the power station. Can see runners turning onto the seafront. This is ok then. Turn the corner. Oh, we’ve got to run up there and back. Dig in. Nik Nik not too bad. Pace has slowed a bit. See Col and Steve on way back, Gary Walsh from Leigh Striders walking. Rich F then see Sam and Jo, they are going great, they’ve dropped Keith a bit. Then Rich P. Into the wind tunnel, let’s get through this and get the wind on our backs. I look down at the one word I’ve written on my arm “Mum” dig in! Wind on back, band playing, large screen…..this is better. See Mags, Carol , Mikki now with Steve Mac. That’s good. He’ll get them home. Out onto seafront, the home straight. Nik Nik is still cramping. She’s gonna have to walk it in. Satisfied she is in ok shape, I go on. Gradually picking up some pace. Onto mile 25, still increasing pace. I’m about to run my quickest mile. At the start on the final mile see Lin and then the rest of the supporters who’s cheers I greet with a clenched fist.
Pick up medal. 4.53. Wanted to cross line with Nik Nik. Bit disappointed. Sit down on a wooden crate to wait for Nik Nik. She’s power walked home from mile 23. We hug. That took guts. She’s a bit disappointed. Why the cramps? We move through and see Keith, Jo and Sue recovering. After a while help Keith into his long trousers. Damon appears and looks like he will sleep for a week. Steve returns from his massage. We make our way through the village eventually and up the steps to find HQ, Betty La La’s. At the top we see Mags, Mikki and Steve Mac at the bottom. Shout and congratulate them.
Arrive at HQ. Congrats all round. Bacon Burger and 3 San Miguel go down a treat. Flyers eventually start to drift off, we leave about 5pm for short walk to Hotel. Up 2 flights of stairs. No lift. Fall asleep in bath, bed for a couple of hours, then a shower. Watch the Masters from bed. Sleep. Wear medal to breakie. Meet Papa and Steve for coffee. Have a little jog to pick up car. Legs feel ok. Surprised. Drive home….good drive…stop at Clacketts to stretch legs. Home, catch up of Facebook pics etc and make note for tomorrow to book for 2016.
A little anti-climax and then the thoughts of what a fantastic time with the Flyers.
If you’d have gone to Brighton on your own as a runner or with a mate or two, you’d have had a great time. But what a difference going with this fantastic bunch. Thanks for the experience all. We wouldn’t/couldn’t have done it without you.
What we gonna do next Papa?