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Brighton Marathon 2011 - so close yet so far!

mhowoodby mhowoodApr 13th 2011
Brighton Marathon 2011 - so close yet so far!
Bit of a bittersweet day for me...

Finished in 3:00:55. A 37 minute improvement on last year. Yay!
Missed sub 3hrs by less than a minute. Boo!
Pacing was perfect for a sub 3, with an average 4:15min per Km. Yay!
Course was overlong by 350m. Enough to take cost me those vital 90 seconds. Boo!

Excuses out of the way:
I knew what I was capable of but given that I've had food poisoning, noro virus and a cold in the last 6 weeks, I had missed some major mileage. So I echo what fellow Thames Turbo member, Marcus said, "If you haven't done the mileage you are always going to struggle in the latter part of a marathon."
A sub-par run at the Kingston Breakfast run 2 weeks ago showed I was 3 minutes off pace at that distance, so I expected it to compounded in the marathon. As a result I had to reassess my goals, so I had multiple pacing times scribbled down in advance.

I got the train to Preston Park, as toilet access is a major part of any pre-race strategy ;) Massive queues for the Portaloos and one last visit for my nervous tum meant I arrived in my coral too close to the start time to make my way to the front, and the 3hr runners. In hindsight I should have ignored the marshal and jumped the fence, as they ushered me in behind the 3:40 pacer. It took me over 2 minutes to cross the line and 3km to weave my way through. It did give me time to run with Straggler, Marcus and Tom for a bit. Be social I say!

Going into the marathon I knew I had to watch out for the my left leg on the hills out of town. This is where I cramped up last year, so I was perhaps overly cautious this time round. I kept my pace 'around' 4:30 through these sections and kept my hear rate low on the inclines. Just getting to Mile 11 cramp free was a big part of my plan, only after that would my marathon begin.

Brighton is a good course, and any point within the town is just full of spectators giving massive support! Miles 19 - 23 are tough though, as you leave the town behind and head for the industrial docks. It can get lonely here, and it's tough to maintain your pace with no-one around. So it was great to see Jo popping up from nowhere to cheer.

The wheels started to come off properly at Mile 24, and my Km time slipped to 4:30 in places.
At this point I was in 56th place overall (that's fifty people strung out from the winner in 2:16 > 3hrs) so it was a lonely run for the final few miles. Only another couple runners in the distance, and no-one behind.
I struggled on, mental arithmetic keeping me occupied as I calculated that I'd built enough of a cushion to sneak under 3hrs.
However, as I started the run down to the pier, with a 2:59 still in my grasp, I knew it was over when I saw a sign for 800m to go and my Garmin told me I only had 400m! Gutted.
My pacing had been spot on, as I knew in advance that an average 4:15min per Km would get me under 3hrs. I just hadn't banked on the course being slightly long. Seeing 3:00:00 click over on my watch, I dug deep and ran the last few hundred yards to keep it under 3:01! I also managed to scrape onto the Top 50 Leaderboard :D

I wasn't expecting quite the reception I got though. With no other runners around, the volunteers congratulated and applauded as if I'd won! This must be what it feels like to be Thames Turbo's James Brown! ;)
A brilliant reception and thanks to all those volunteers that stood around in the heat.
Next time I'll get in with the Elites ;)

Thanks to all the shouts of 'Go Turbo', and my loudest fans of the day Sophie and Abi Frame :)
Brighton Marathon 2011 - so close yet so far!
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