Brighton Half Marathon 2015

Sunday 22nd of February was the 25th anniversary of the Brighton Half Marathon.  Over 7,500 runners completed the course this year.  I understand that 200 took part in the first one.  Quite amazing really.

This type of mass participation event on concrete is the type of event that I have been avoiding and will avoid in general in the future.

However, the chance to run this event came up and given the recent PB’s in the Dark Star Ultra and at Clair parkrun, I decided that my half marathon best was definitely up for grabs.

The day was perfect for running.  Slightly chilly and next to no wind, which is the best that you can hope for in February in this country.  Luckily, the storm that arrived about 4pm didn’t arrive in the morning.  It would have been a totally different story if that had happened.

16613262425_1247aa6568_k15991069934_23837cd27f_k11009207_10152771119372983_5248078408146909899_n11018871_10152771119287983_3829608822681691401_nThe half marathon PB that was there to be broken was set last October in Bexhill at 1.47. 21.  Conditions weren’t ideal on that day and we had to wade through stones on the promenade, so I was very confident that this time would fall.

The start of the event was very crowded.  You need to be there early to drop your bags and get yourself into the right area. One of the big downsides to this type of event is the start. Many people are in the wrong area and you can’t really get into a rhythm until about 10 minutes in. I was even tripped, which is the first time that has happened for a long while. Luckily there was no damage to me or the person in front who I hit as well.

There was a plan.  Every race has a plan now.  I can’t see the point if not.  5 minutes kilometres would guarantee a PB.  The plan was to stick to 5 minute km’s for the first half of the race and then re-assess at that stage. I would speed up if possible and hang on in there if necessary.  It was tough to slow myself down at times, especially on the downhill section back to the sea life centre.  So I got to the 12 km mark and every km had been between 4.59 and 4.55.  Everything was good, the foundations had been laid, so it was time to kick on and see what happens.  Each km from there to the end was between 4.52 and 4.39.  The quickest km was the last one, which is always pleasing (although it was mainly downhill).

10991595_10152771149077983_4107756152928963160_oI am now a real Strava convert and according to their stats, this was my quickest ever 10 miles and my 3rd fastest 10k ever.

To say that I am pleased is a huge understatement.  I did a very good job of hiding it in these photos, but that’s the fault of my face.  I can’t help it.  I’m loving it inside.

I think that there are a few reasons why this improvement has happened.

On the actual running side of things, I have changed the way that I train.  There is no wasted time.  I do 4 sessions each week.  My own interval session, an interval session with the club, a shorter speed session (Clair parkrun when possible) and a longer weekend session.  Each has a purpose and there are no sessions that involve just dawdling around the village for an hour.  There are some more improvements to be made and I will take care of these over the coming months.

On race day, there is a plan. If you’re going to tackle a race with any sort of confidence and goal, there has to be a plan, a plan that is achievable. When you have made the plan, you need to carry it out and not think that you’re Mo Farah, just because you feel good in the first quarter of the race. The difference in getting a PB and not can often be decided in the last quarter, especially if you go off too quickly.

I am also remaining very much aware of some of the points being drilled into us by the coaches and what I learned in the LiRF course.  The most important being to remaining upright (helium balloon on the head) and make sure that everything is pointing forward and driving forward.

20150222_111744

16405773677_28193755b6_k20150222_112406There were some huge performances from the Burgess Hill Runners team.  More PB’s than not.  This is a real testament to the coaches who have helped to guide and encourage us.

So that’s a perfect start to 2015.  Nearly an hour off my previous Dark Star time.  A new PB at Clair parkrun, which had stood for 18 months and a new half marathon PB.

Next up, the Moyleman Marathon.  A new trail marathon for Sussex.  Really looking forward to this new challenge.

Have fun and keep smiling.

Neil.

(The photos are courtesy of Jon Lavis and Caz Wadey, who braved the cold day to take such fantastic shots of us all. Thank you.)

Brighton Half Marathon 16th February 2014

I love race weekends. I love the build up. I love putting my number on my vest and I love seeing friends posting their pre-race thoughts on social media.

I’m not even sure that I used to get this type of buzz before a game of football. Maybe I just didn’t appreciate it when I was younger and I guess I probably played a lot of games without really preparing.

I must admit that I’m losing interest in the big road events. They’re really expensive, especially as both Nick and I are taking part. However, today was amazing.

We had to get up at 5.30am for food, as the trains were not running properly.  We were due to be down in Brighton really early.

20140216_072407
20140216_081057_Richtone(HDR)The weather has been horrendous. It’s been so windy there were 2 trees down at parkrun yesterday. Today could not have been more different.  Sunny and calm. I was totally over dressed for the weather, although, to be fair, I did dress for sub-zero temperatures.

I’d been wanting to go below 1 hour 50 minutes for ages.  I have only done it once before and that was years ago. I couldn’t help thinking that I should be able to, but my training was geared towards the longer events, so the plan was to give it a good go. Set off at 5.12 / km pace and keep it going for as long as possible.

Obviously, I soon went miles ahead of schedule. I was on for a PB at 10 miles. The wheels duly fell off as I headed back towards Brighton after the turn at Hove Lagoon. Not badly though. In the past, things would have gone seriously wrong.  I’m mentally stronger now and I knew I’d still go under 1.50 and that was what I did.

1939575_649497355110850_1102387818_n

1623608_10152015141858763_989772401_n 20140216_122554_Richtone(HDR)It was walking back to the pub for a quick blackcurrant and soda that one of the true meanings of these big road races really sunk home.

There were still lots of people making their way to the finish line. Some of them with times pushing up towards 3 hours and over. For them this is their Everest. In the same way that my goal was to go under 1.50, their goal was to finish. I can’t help but think that their achievements today were so much greater than mine. Most of them are completing the event for charity, probably for a deeply personal reason. Respect to every single one of them.

While walking back along the seafront, Nick and I talked about the last time we were down there for a race, the Brighton 10k last year, when I didn’t run, but took photos for the club. As we were heading home, the guy in the photo below ran past us.

546974_10151143846268870_1905290922_n

This must have took an amazing amount of strength and the day must have been so emotional for him and his brother who was running with him. Everyone stopped and cheered him. I wonder what happened to him. Whatever it was, I think that he made a real impression on a lot of people that day.

Back to today. Burgess Hill Runners showed their true colours.  Over 60 of us ran. There were blue shirts everywhere. A massive range of times from 76 minutes to 2 and a half hours and above I think.  Again it was some of the performances further down the field that caught the eye with numerous PB’s.  Caz completed her first half and went under 2 hours 30 minutes.  Her very short running journey should be an inspiration to anyone who wants to start running and thinks they can’t.

neilandcazWhen we met after the race she was in tears and I thought it’d all gone wrong.  It turns out that she was just so happy.  Fantastic.

Nick went under 2 hours.  Woo hoo.  She just missed out at Bexhill last year and given the fact that she’s been under the weather and had a bit of a crisis of confidence, this was a great performance.

So there we go, another fantastic inspirational day. The type of day that makes me happy.

Two weeks until the Steyning Stinger Marathon.  Bring it on.

For more info see – http://www.brightonhalfmarathon.com