Or, The Most Surprising Result of Ironing So Far.
Yesterday was… unexpected.
I’m training for an ironman, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that? You might have missed that bit of what’s going on in my life; triathletes don’t tend to like to talk about what they’re up to. Anyway, anyway, anyway. This means I’ve not really been ‘marathon training’ as such, but I have been ‘training’ an awful lot though and so I’m pretty fit at the moment. I didn’t know if I was marathon fit though, and it was really making me anxious. 26.2 is a long way, and RESPECT THE DISTANCE was ringing in my ears all week.
My friend Kev was the official under 3 hours 30 pacer, and suggested that I run with him for a bit of the race. He makes me laugh and doesn’t run with his arms sticking out, so I thought it would be fun. I knew I could hold 3:30 pace for at least 10K, and planned to drop back when I started to get tired.
The day was beautiful – it always is on Brighton Marathon day, it’s a fact. Sunny, not too hot, with a breeze. Just what you want. I met Kev in the red pen, along with the other 3:30 pacer and a few people who’d spotted him, despite his pacing balloon being blown to Mars. Zoe Ball started the race (who else) and the first few miles felt great, easing our way through the streets of Brighton, with the crowds already full of enthusiasm. The pace felt so easy, and I felt so controlled. We hit 10K and I knew I was going to hold on until half way. We headed out and back along the seafront, the elites cruising back towards us making it look so easy. It was such a gorgeous day: reminding me why I love running so much. Kev and I had made some friends by this point, and there was something comforting in the synchronised thud of trainers against road as we went up and down through Ovingdean, and towards half way. I still felt good… I was lovin’ life, actually. Half way came and went, and suddenly we were at 18 miles, and I spotted Bez, my friends Siobhan, Rose and Colin as we came out of Hove and I couldn’t not aeroplane round the corner. I caught Bez’s eye and I knew he thought I was being an idiot but I felt great. There were only 8 miles to go. I was all good.
It did all fall apart after that a bit though. As we hit 20 miles, I thought I’d try my luck and left Kev for dust. I pushed on alone, like a rainbow ninja, passing people all over the place and grinning like a loon. This was fine, until about 24 miles when I just died on my feet. I heard Kev coming up behind me and knew I’d been a fool. I struggled to stay with him, and the crowd that I’d been lapping up all race just became a blur of sound as I pushed and pushed to hold onto the pace. Thankfully, the final section is slightly downhill, and I managed to force out a bit of a ‘peg it’ finish. I was pretty sure I’d PB’d as I beat Kev, but was so spent I almost didn’t care.
I did though. I sneaked under the 3 hours 30 barrier and ended up with 3.29.17. That’s over a minute faster than at London 2 years ago, and finally a 3.2X time. I’m thrilled, and completely surprised. I’m a paid up member of the cult of Hansons marathon training, a plan with no cross training and ALL the running. I knew I’d get round, I knew I was fit enough to complete a marathon, but I didn’t realise my legs were in shape to PB, I really didn’t. I’m happy.
I’m doing London on Sunday, which is going to be an entirely different challenge. My legs actually feel OK today – I’ve ridden to and from work, and had an easy spin and foam roll in my lunch break, but it’s a complete unknown to me doing marathons so close together. I’ve spent today eating and googling ‘how to spend the 7 days between marathons’, and the general consensus seems to be to rest up… but I’m ironing and I’m Cathy Drewbies, so naturally I’m going to keep this week as normal as possible with my training plan and head out on the bike for some big-ish miles on Saturday. It’s to be seen whether that’s a good idea or not!
Well done to everyone who ran on Sunday and thank you to anyone who turned out to watch. The crowds at Brighton are what make it such a great race, as it’s certainly not the organisation…
Good luck on Sunday, Londoners! It’s amazing and don’t cry on Tower Bridge.