Brighton Half Marathon

Myself and Damian decided instead of buying each other Christmas present we’d plan an away half marathon. We did our research and chose Brighton. It was easy to get to from Cork and looked like a great course. So we booked our hotel and the plan was set. After a great end of the year where I had a huge PB in my last half marathon finishing in 1:28:35 and then finally broke 19 minutes for 5km finishing in 18:41, I was hoping for something in 1:27 for Brighton. Unfortunately that plan was put to bed in the 1st week of January when I pulled my hamstring at a park run. It meant for the rest of January I only managed 6 runs, some of them at not much more than walking pace. I had to skip my 1st main race of the year which was a 10 miler and Brighton was in doubt for me now. It was further in doubt when I was involved in a car accident where I ended up in a ditch after hitting black ice and spinning a couple of times. My shoulder was tender for a while after it. Some physio on both a dodgy hamstring and shoulder was badly needed. It must have been a good wake up call because from there I started to increase my runs slowly but surely. I got in a 10km and 14km the 2 weeks before Brighton. It gave me the confidence to go out and enjoy Brighton half, I surely can at least finish it.

Race weekend

We set off for Brighton with a smooth flight and perfect timing for our train from Gatwick to Brighton. From there we walked to the hotel. Looking up the weather we were in for a cold weekend. We needed to make sure we have plenty of layers to keep us warm at the start line. After we settled into the hotel we looked up where we could get some food and we went with Pizza, then back to the hotel to watch match of the day, get our gear ready and get an early night.

Brighton Kit

We were up early, had our porridge and then made the 1.6 mile to the start line. We had to pick up our numbers on the way. It was a nice walk to the start line, the sun was rising and even though it was cold once you were moving you wouldn’t feel it too much.

View on the way to race Brighton

The crowd was starting to pick up and you could see a lot of nervous people around. We made our way to our coral. Damian was in front of me but either way I was always going to go to the back of mine with my goal time now no longer realistic. It was funny to think my last foreign half was the complete opposite, I was feeling fit but the weather was hitting 30+ degrees Celsius.  Here it was closer to 0 degrees with a feel of -8. I had settled on 1:55 time for today. Only thing in common was clear blue skies. I just wanted to go out and get the mileage in to see if there is any chance of me making the Manchester marathon.

Keeping warm before race

Keeping warm before race

Brighton Start

The race kicked off on time which was welcome in the cold. Within a 100m the 1:30 pacing group passed me and moved on fairly quickly. I wasn’t going to get carried away. Within 500m we made a U turn and set off on a gentle climb and headed off on the 1st out and back part of the course. Almost straight away I found it hard to hold back my pace, was running under 5 min per km but was comfortable so said I’d stick with it. I was enjoying the way the run was going and was able to take it all in, getting to look out to sea and seeing everyone work hard. I was only 4km into the race and even though the temp was low I started to warm up. I was wearing more than I would normally do for a race but it was technically training for me. I saw the leaders coming towards me and Paul Pollock was looking strong and already a long way ahead of the chasing pack. Here I decided to take out my phone to grab a picture of Damian on his way back. He was looking strong and high up the field.

Damian looking strong

At 5km you made a sharp U turn and head back the way we came. I was under 25 mins for that split (24:21), a bit faster than I planned. I might as well keep going. At about 7km it was time to take the outer layer off and roll down the arm warmers. Next off came the headgear, oh how I wish I wore a singlet now. It was amazing to see the crowds coming towards us. I really didn’t realise the race was this big. The runners just coming. At about 9.5km we turned off to our right for the only part of the course where we weren’t running along side the sea. The last “climb” was when we came back onto the main road and it was a short drag. I only realised it later in the day when we were walking back to the hotel.

At just under 13km we met the leader again. Paul Pollock still looking good. No one was going to catch him now with about 2km to go for him, funny to think I still have 8k 🙂 I was feeling a bit overheated even with the gear I had on, so I made sure to take plenty of water on. One thing people can forget about on cold days is to take on water as you may not feel you need it. On this next out an back I was trying to keep an eye on the faster runners who were across the way in the distance. I couldn’t see Damian as buildings and the Brighton Huts were blocking the view. I hit 10 miles at about 1:17. I was happy with that, it meant I was still going a lot faster than I planned but I was feeling good and pace was spot on the whole way so far. Now it was time to turn around and head for home.

We got to run along side the Brighton huts for most of this and it was very interesting to see. I hadn’t seen them before and didn’t realise people would be hanging out there what the race and have their own set up in them. It was fairly cool. What wasn’t cool was the cold wind in our face. It was going to be a tough 3 miles back as we were right by the sea.

I really did enjoy being able to take in the surroundings and to see the smile on every kids face as I gave them high 5s. I managed to I kept to my pace even after Darth Vader passed me 🙂 I did start to feel a bit tired coming into the last 2km. Only on the last km did I decided to pick up the pace to break 1:42. I know I wasn’t out there to do a time but it was nice to be able to push for the last km to break 1:42, it was my fastest km of the day. It was through the finish line and to meet Damian who managed an unbelievable 1:20:16. Great result for him and no doubt he will break 1:20 next time out.

Brighton Stats

Brighton laps

Overall I really enjoyed the race. It was well organised, nice course and easy to get to. Only negative would be that it is early in the year but fits well if you are training for an early marathon. We have already discussed heading back next

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