This was only my third marathon, and my last one was two years ago, at Beachy Head, so a very different type of race. My PB is therefore from my first marathon, and i had been quite conservative then, so I knew a good PB was within reach. I had spent several days debating with myself about what time to aim for and consequently what pace to run. The persistent cold weather this year had badly affected my asthma, so my training had suffered somewhat and my Tunbridge Wells half marathon time was nearly 4 minutes slower than in 2012, so in the end I decided a sub 3 was out of reach and I’d aim for 3:05.
I’d been given a place in the elite start by Withdean Park, so walked up from Preston Park to watch the Kenyan team warm up, while I felt like a fraud. Fortunately there were plenty of other mortals, although sadly no one was in fancy address. A dinosaur rubbing shoulders with the african running gods would have been fun. I met up with fellow Tunbridge Wells Harrier, Lloyd and we took our l,ace on the start line. The start was very civilised with no jostling and we were all soon settling into our stride. I was planning on running a steady 7:04 pace the whole way round, but the adrenalin and slight downhill from the start meant I was soon running faster but still comfortable, so I relaxed and let myself go.
The first five miles wind around the city centre, but then we hit the coast road out past the marina to Ovingdean. There are a few undulations here but nothing as hard and I could hear Lloyd behind me chatting to another runner. I could see the elites already heading back into the city, and after the turn around i could see the other runners still heading out. There were plenty of other Harriers shouting encouragement, and supporters lining the road side cheering us on. As I got to mile 10, I checked my pace and decided I was too fast so slowed up a little, letting Lloyd and a group of 6 get away. I then realised I had the wind at my back, and would have to run into it at the finish, so should use the wind and try to pull back to the group.
I’m amazed how many people were there, cheering everyone while the children held out their hands for high fives. It really helped and the miles seemed go very quickly. I was focusing on my form, trying to keep everything light and smooth as I ran through miles 15 to 17. At this point there was a bit more traffic. A number of fast starters were slowing and the group I was in was passing slower runners and breaking up. At the 20 mile marker I was still feeling good, and even think about picking the pace up for the last couple of miles. I grabbed a pack of shot bloks and some water at the aid station and then made the final turn to head back into Brighton.
Unfortunately the last 4 miles were running into the wind, and I quickly realised I could not speed up and would be working hard just to maintain my speed. Again the support was excellent, and carried me back down the sea front to Madeira Drive where I saw my family just before the finish line. I crossed the line in 3:04:29, very happy with the result and my performance.