So, yesterday saw the first of my 2 marathons in the immediate build-up to the Everest marathon in 7 weeks time. Yep, 7 weeks. Crikey. It really doesn't seem right to have to do a marathon in preparation for a marathon, but that's how it goes when you don't really quite know what you've let yourself in for.
Not having got into London, I'd signed up for Brighton - my perceptions were that it'd be well organised as it's such a big event, flat as it's on the coast, and great to see a huge amount of runners for #TeamMND...one out of three ain't bad, right?!
First the organisation - not the best experience ever: REALLY long queues to pick up the numbers on Saturday (they don't post them out), resulting in being back at the Gatwick hotel restaurant late and having to wait for a table till after 9.00 to eat. Not the best prep! Then I discovered I'd managed to forget my water bladder for my little backpack I carry. No biggie, most would think - but a water bottle is my running comfort blanket so I was a bit concerned - and that concern grew when I found out the water for the run was in cups, not bottles, aargh! You can't run with cups, can't keep sipping when you feel dry or hot. On top of that they started running out of cups (and at a couple of stations we saw, out of water!) fairly early on - really not what you need when you're running a marathon on a blisteringly hot day..... we really felt for the runners behind us who would have even less at the water stations, and hoped some contingency was in place to take more supplies out.
Flat? Nope, wrong again! Plenty of undulations considering it's a seafront marathon. Mainly barely noticeable in the normal world, but legs in a marathon aren't normal, and complain about things that aren't normal to complain about. At one point about mile 21 as we turned a corner I announced 'hill!' at the sight of what, on any other day, would be a slight incline barely worth breaking stride for!
There's always a danger in April that you'll get bad weather one way or the other - and yesterday dawned bright and warm. And got warmer. Lovely for all the holiday makers, not so lovely for runners. Despite lots of sun cream, I still have a couple of bright red bits! Running in one direction was ok as we had a slight breeze in our faces that took away the worst of it, but the other direction was sweltering. Nothing to cool you down; on the seafront, no shade either. It was noticeable that when there was a thin slither of shade next to a wall at mile 21-22, everyone lined up quite neatly and ran along in that patch of coolness! The local support was fantastic: people outside with hoses, water sprays, kids with water guns and a guy with a sponge and bucket of cold water to douse you; the organisers had also set up hoses in one of the quieter areas. Good to be cool but it tends to wash away the Vaseline that stops chafing...!!
The best part of the day was #TeamMND - what an incredible team of runners and supporters. Lots of us met up beforehand, some started out together. The route doubled back on itself on a number of occasions so there were loads of opportunities to see each other for shouts of encouragement, thumbs up, high fives and hugs, and there were also supporters out in force around the whole course, encouraging us all the way. Anyone who runs knows how much it means when you hear your name being shouted as you're running, or see people you know in the crowds of supporters waving madly at you and cheering you on. It really gives you a massive boost when you most need it. One good thing is your supporter photos are usually of you smiling as you're so happy to see them, rather than the miles and miles in between of quiet, and too much time to think about what aches & pains you have or where the niggles are! Support from the sidelines is something that there won't be much of in the Everest Marathon, so I'll need to get my head around that one...
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