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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Brighton Marathon 2011 Race Report

Better later than neither with this race report only just 2 months after the race.

The route can be seen on the official web site and my reconnaissance of parts of the route a month before the race.

It was a hot sunny day with temperatures over 22c forecasted, more suited for a 10km not a marathon but I was prepared for warm runs based on some of the Ironman races I have done in the last few years in very warm conditions. The aim for this race was 4:27 (10 minute/mile pace) but that was based on cooler weather conditions.

As I got of the park and ride bus to the start there was a few of my club mates walking past, you could not have planned it better. Due to the delay getting to a race car park and then waiting for a shuttle bus there was enough time to put my tracksuit in the race bag and put on SPF 50 cream and place the bag in the trucks to be taken to the finish. As I was queuing up for the toilets pre race the gone want off for the start (that happened to me at London marathon as well).

I got to my section start point and there was already another section that was 1 hour behind my estimated time, so I would have a lot of overtaking to do. Before I got to the start line I was lapped by the leaders who had already done about 1 mile around the park!!

Out of all the people there the person next me was from a club about 5 miles away from where I live, so we got talking and did a couple of miles together dodging through the runners overtaking a lot of runners before I decided to slow down as was a bit too fast for me.

The first 6 miles were around the city centre which there was plenty of support including some of my family. I saw the Brighton council offices (looks like an Indian building) but was not happy about the international food market, cafes and bakeries that we past that were already open.

There was a slight incline on the way out of the city eastbound which was a lot more runners than I expected so I had to put in a few bursts to find some gaps to run in at my pace. I put in a few more bursts than planned especially after a couple club mate overtook me. It was good this section as you could see the other runners including some club mates going back in to city after completing this section of the course (about 7 miles). The course along the coast was undulating and exposed to the elements which was a slight sea breeze and sunshine.

My kit choice was quite good at this point as my base layer top had a zip so I could adjust when hot or colder (due to wind) and also a Ironman cap which I turned around to not burn my neck on the way out (learnt this from past races).

For nutrition I had a few gels, salt tablets with me and sticking to the blue (football team colour) powerade drink which they had en-route or orange. I was sticking to my plan which my non GPS watch would beep at regular intervals when to have gel or drink, so far it was working ok.

There was then a loop of over a mile which I had seen some of it so was prepared for the short sharp incline at the far end. I was not prepared for somebody falling in front of me in the gravel section through a school, luckily there was first aiders there only a few meters away. There was a lot more support here than I thought there would be. After this loop through the village you headed back to the seafront and the biggest incline on the course which they made you go all the way to the top before turning back towards the city. There was a good view of the city from this location, however I knew there was a cafe down on the seafront from my course reccie.

It was starting to get less congested now as the distance/pace and temperature was starting to take effect, the runners were quite.

The few miles back to the city centre were undulating until near the pier where there was a slight downhill as you went past the finish which was on the level below. I also knew this is where a lot of take away’s were located in this mile so I had to push through the mental barrier at this point. Then up the slight incline the other side of the pier but there was plenty of support.

It was getting a bit warm now so I my multi layers was starting to get a bit warm but was glad of the few showers they had placed along this route. I was starting to yo-yo between me and a club mate for a few miles until I started to pull away after an aid station at 15 miles.

This next few miles was going to be mentally tough an out and back along a straight road but I was presently surprised that there was lots of supporters all the way along with some music at the turnaround point. There was even person with hose pipe to cool you down if you wanted to. On the way back I tried one the water pouch things they had which was a good idea but I decided against using these as were a bit too fiddly for me when fatigued at the end of the race. So at the next aid station I got a water bottle and added a salt tablet to the water. I felt better than expected on this section of the route perhaps as on the way back I saw a few of my club mates who were still behind me.

The next few miles there was a less supporters as it was heading out of the west of the city. In the distance was a yellow and green top that I recognised and about 19 miles over took the norwich city supporter, I had a few polite words as I went passed him. Now I had additional motivation and could not slow down and let a norwich city support overtake me as an Ipswich Town supporter.

The wall was there at 20 miles so I had to physically hit the wall, it appealed to my sense of humour.

The route then went round and an industrial park and power station, there was very little support at this point but was music and a few aid stations which were needed in the heat. At about 22 miles I used the provided toilet facilities which were further than expecting, it was too crowded to use the planned locations and I did not want to queue up at the other toilet points.

Now we turned back and were heading east to the finish, so mentally it gave you another boost. At 23 miles we went through the wall again, so I hit it again.

Hopefully I would not hit the wall again in the race!!

This was also my trigger point if I was feeling good to pick up the pace which I was able to do. The next two miles were along the promenade which was starting to get more crowded as you got closer to the finish, some bits were narrow but I was ok getting through the section.

As I was feeling strong still I picked up the pace all the way along the promenade this is where my mental training techniques were coming in to play more. When we go to the statue were we turned on to the main road which was less than a mile to go, so time for another increase in speed. There was a slight downhill so I was using that to my advantage and was overtaking lots of people. When we got to the pier it was only 200m to go which the finish seemed further along than I thought but I gave it a last burst of speed to the finish.

From my watch I completed it in 4:10 which was 17 minutes quicker than planned and at an average speed of 9:31 minutes/mile. I was glad to change in to some cool dry clothes and have various recovery drinks and water, I must have had 2 litres in the 30 minutes after crossing the finish line but I did not feel that dehydrate while running. Below is my mile split data from my GPS.

Brighton Marathon 2011 Splits

Analysing my GPS data my first two miles were a lot quicker than planned pace with the second mile being 1 minute quicker than planned. The rest of the race was only slightly quicker than planned pace except mile 10 long downhill section, mile 14 adrenaline from crowds and racing club mate at half way. Mile 22 was only 40 seconds slower than the previous mile despite a pit stop. Then when I kicked from 23 miles the splits were 9:00, 8:38, 7:28, 6:35 (last is per mile pace based on the 0.37 miles). So the last few miles were my fastest and with the last 5km being a time of 24:27.

This shows I could have pushed a bit more during the race but was unsure due to the heat. This also means I had strong mental techniques to push through the hard bits at the end. Also my nutrition was ok during the race and I had identified at about mile 15 to have water only for a couple of miles instead of isotonic drinks to help settle my stomach a bit from all the sugar food/drink head in the last few hours.

Overall I am pleased with my effort at this race, I would do this race again.

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