Broken: Well this was how I felt as I ran the last few miles to the finish line, knowing full well that not only was I going to miss my target time for the day, but that I was also going to be slower than my previous marathon time, by a full twelve minutes. And broken is also a good description for my Blackberry, which apparently objected to some combination of heat, humidity or movement, although I’m hopeful that it might sort itself out.
Overall though, it was a GREAT day!
Strangely, for such a beautifully warm spring morning, it started with Kim having to scrape the frost from the car… and me having to drive back from the top of the road to get my forgotten Blackberry.
The day proper got underway at Clive & Nat’s house, a stones throw from the start line, where Andy Adams & Cliff had stayed overnight. We then picked up Andy Pumphrey and Nikki from outside the pub at the end of the road, Andy sporting the Scooby Doo costume that someone had sponsored him to wear. We met the rest of the ensemble in the park, our collective mood light and frivolous, like you would expect from a bunch of folk in their mid-forties.
Mark Johnson & I slotted into the starting queue and just after 9.15 we were off… for what turned out for me to be a race of two halves, although sadly not split in the normal 20/6.2 way.
The day was gorgeous, the crowds were out in force along the route and the early miles nearly flew by, certainly as far as Ovingdean where I got a welcome cheer from Caraline Marsh. Then my knees started to hurt and by the time we reached the marina again I was more than a few paces behind Mark. I managed to hold on to his shirt-tales and was not far behind at the half way mark, but then I started to fall apart.
By the dogleg into Hove, after I had stopped to stretch, he passed me going the other way around half a mile ahead, shouting words of encouragement.
Cliff, wearing his prosthetic kayak and resplendent with split paddles for waving at the crowd, caught up with me as we headed out onto Shoreham harbour, but despite his most valiant attempts to keep me going, I just couldn’t hold his pace. This was all the more galling as he was tagging along behind the 4-hour pace-man.
Mark then passed me again, going the other way on the Shoreham harbour road, probably a good mile ahead, this time shouting more urgent words of encouragement, probably realising how much work I had to do to get under 4-hours. But I was already a broken man, with legs that were just shy of cramping up and only enough time to get to the finish line before 4 hours if I were fresh and those were the only five miles I had to run today.
Despite the pain and the disappointment, the final three-mile drag was truly awesome, with the crowds that had been cheering all the way now being several deep. I’ve lived in and around this city all my life and this was Brighton at it’s very best. Beautiful sultry spring day, calm sea, true camaraderie.
Though I had covered the halfway distance in 1.51.26, which is as fast as I’ve ever run a half marathon, I crossed the finish line in 4.13.36 in 2514th place. Disappointed, sure, but elated also, especially after a walk into the sea to cool my legs down!
Martlet Kayak Club hosted drinks & a barbecue, where Debbie helped me get out of the sea, physio Martina kindly massaged everyone’s legs and Chris plied me with beer. Then we caught the bus back to the start and had Chili back at Clive & Nat’s, our thoughts with Pete & Jacqui, whose son Adam had been taken into hospital.
I know there are some great photos floating around, for example of Cliff demonstrating that he could actually paddle his kayak in the sea, and I’ll try to put some on the site over the coming days.
In the meantime, thank you for your support and kind words!