Monday, 19 April 2010

1. Run 5 Different Marathons - Brighton


I was getting such a buzz from my Loch Ness training that I decided to apply for a second one - to be held 6 months after Loch Ness. It was the inaugural Brighton Marathon, I applied and on 2nd July 2009 I got an e-mail telling me that my application had been excepted. I also decided that this marathon I would be raising money for Guide Dogs For The Blind.
The training for Brighton would start as soon as Loch Ness was over so I wouldn't have to waste time getting fit. I waited 10 days until my training schedule began - the first run was a gentle 2.5 mile jog, after a mile I felt a twinge and by the time I hobbled back home my left ankle was twice the size it had been. I must have injured it on the Loch Ness but amid all the other post-marathon aches and pains had not noticed. Another 10 days rest, ice buckets and medicinal rubs saw a huge improvement but I wore it strapped up, when I was running, for the whole training period. Training for the Loch Ness had been through a lovely summer, I think I only had to train in the rain once. Brighton was very different - all together 3 weeks training had to be abandoned because of snow and ice on the roads. I moved home in early February so I had to learn alot of new routes; in the end that really paid off because my new place is at the top of a steep hill and I was able to run home from work most nights - no more 5 a.m. starts! There was a Face-book page dedicated to the Brighton Marathon and most nights I dropped in to see what everyone else was doing with their training, their eating etc. A Training Day down in Brighton (run by the organisers) was also a great bonus. It was all together a much more social event than my first one. I was running alot more (an average of 5 miles a week) than I had done for Loch Ness and I shed another 5lbs.
My family wanted to come and support me in this Marathon so they rented a cottage in Littlehampton for the weekend. My brother and sisters and nephew, nieces and daughter (12 of us altogeter) came down. It was a really lovely gesture and much appreciated! The down-side came on Thursday when my future brother-in-law got stuck in Poland because of the volcanic ash issue.
The day of the marathon arrived, and my youngest sister drove me into the train station; although there was a sprinkling of frost on the ground - I looked at the clear skies and thought "Its going to be a scorcher." Only 3 people got on the 6.24 train to Brighton, the other 2 were also running in the marathon - 2 stops later the train was packed with runners. Its an amazing feeling knowing you're going to be part of a big event like this. Someone told me that only 1% of the population run marathons - so for just one day every six months I'm in the same group as Paula Radcliffe?
The race started a little later than scheduled and it took me 16 minutes to cross the start line. But once I was off I fell into a nice easy stride - I couldn't believe it when the first hour went by and I had run 6 miles, without any effort. The next 6 miles were tougher because we left the crowds of Brighton, then it was along the coast road out to a village called Ovingdean, there were a few steep climbs (nothing like my run home each night) but it was starting to heat up. I had taken a bottle of water at every check point, the water I didn't drink I emptied over my back and head. As we came back into Brighton we hit the 13 mile point and the crowds at the same time. I looked at my watch and it read 2.29.47, I was a little disappointed because I thought I was doing better and I desperately wanted to crack a 5 hour marathon. At about the 15 mile point my family were standing and gave me a huge boost with their cheering, within a mile I had caught up with the girls I had regularly corresponded with on Facebook page - we encouraged each other but they were flagging and I wanted to crack on. A mile or so later a school friend (who I hadn't seen for over 35 years) yelled out my name and although I wanted to stop and hug her I just screamed, waved and carried on. My family were waiting at the 17 mile point to cheer me on again and it was at this point that I overtook Fat Boy Slim, a local Brighton hero! The route took us away from the crowds now, up towards the docks, Fat Boy crept up and overtook me again and I felt the heat starting to sap my energy; I turned a corner and I saw a row of bunting "GO JANE HEALY". I recognised my school-friends artwork and wanted to shout to everyone near me "Hey thats ME". It was so exciting!


It gave me the pep I needed and in no time I was up to the point called "The Wall" overtaking Fat Boy Slim again and running the terrible stretch between 19 - 23 miles. To the uninitiated this is the stretch where your body starts to scream at you to stop! Every group of para-medics along this stretch were busy attending to people, people with cramp were getting massages, ice packs strapped to niggling injuries, one man was being ambulanced off with an oxygen mask on, another crouching by the side of the road vomiting as heat-stroke looked to be taking its effect. My legs were just starting to ache, my ankle was throbbing, my hips hurt but I didn't even contemplate stopping to start walking. I passed alot of people on this stretch. As we came out of the port and ran up towards the promenade we were running back towards the crowds, suddenly (well not really suddenly) we were at the 23 mile mark and I worked out that if I ran a steady 12 minutes a mile then I would finish in 4hours 54 minutes, which would bring in less than 5 hours. I was pleased that I would at least beat that and that my pace had actually picked up after a disappointing first half split. The crowds were getting louder and the cheering from everyone was so inspiring - I was at the 24 mile point and saw that I had picked up my pace and might be in with a finishing time of 4 hours and 50 minutes. I dug a little deeper and started to overtake other tired runners; my family where there again at the 25 mile mark, I glanced at my watch and thought I was going mad it showed that I had run the last mile in 8 minutes! By now the crowd was enormous and they were all screaming, and clapping - I waved to my supporters and started to fly - I ran the last 1.2 miles in 7 minutes; my finish time was 4 hours 45 minutes 18 seconds! My son was at the finish, standing with a group of young French people - apparently in the final 100m I overtook the person they were cheering on.
It was an amazing race and I blew my old PB right out of the water. I'm sure I was inspired by my family, friend Jackie and the support of the crowd; the fact that I am alot fitter now obviously helped, but my little list of people who inspire me is still tucked into my pocket during those hellish miles. I'm feeling pretty stiff and sun burnt today but later in the week I will be signing up for my next marathon - hopefully in November. I'll keep you posted!