Yeah! :) :) :)
I was cautiously aiming for a time of around 2.30 knowing that the longest training I'd done to date was a mere 8.5 miles. I crossed the finish line with a fairly triumphant (for me) provisional time of 2.16.21. Almost twice the time of the first runner across the line!
I was really pleased as this is a PB for my meagre three half-marathons to date. The last one being several years ago and I've done nothing competitive since. Somehow I managed to complete the previous two having done a lot less training and being fully prepared to walk in order to finish.
This year - however, I had the added pressure of sponsorship to spur me on. It was a perfect day for running - not too cold, very little wind, overcast but not raining. I had my porridge for breakfast and managed half a banana before the race, although I didn't really feel like eating but knew I needed to. Set off in good time and headed along to park at the marina along with several hundred other runners.
There was a great atmosphere down at the start line and I spotted a few familiar faces and someone I used to work with who was running for the first time. You've never seen so much lycra in one place. How some people manage to walk around in nothing more than shorts and racing vest, I don't know. I'm there with the hat, gloves and windproof until I've at least warmed up. Over 4000 runners set out along the road, past the Pavillion and through the town centre into the North and South Laines, then all the way along the seafront down to Hove Lagoon and back then out to Roedean and down the slope for the homestretch back along the undercliff. For the first time - apart from the first mile or so, I was actually passing people, a change from my first race when I was constantly being passed all the way down to Hove Lagoon having started too far up the field. I have to admit to walking on short sections (especially up through the tunnel) and taking a loo break on the Hove promenade on the way back - oh and a very welcome bottle of lucozade (thanks Rob - it definitely helped!!). If not for that I might have got below 2.15.
Although the finish line was a very welcome sight (why do they have it so far along Madeira Drive?), I have to say I felt far more comfortable on this run than in previous years and was pleasantly surprised when we saw the 12 mile marker and I was still running - not sure what happened to some of the other markers - they were a bit sparse - or maybe I just missed them. I didn't exactly sprint for the finish - I didn't want to keel over yards from the finish line like a couple of unfortunate people who were being attended to on the home stretch. I had to walk back to collect my car - amid the rustle and crinkling of foil blankets that were serving their purpose against the apparent drop in temperature and a cooling wind that had changed since the start.
A warm bath and a good soak as soon as I got back and I've spent the remainder of the afternoon on the sofa just 'resting up' and massaged some oils into my aching muscles so hopefully I'll still be able to walk tomorrow.
Well I'm not exactly planning the next one but actually the thought of a full marathon doesn't seem quite such an impossibility.
Results and photos on: www.sussexbeacon.org.uk