Week 14 and 15 of 40: I like the bike & joining in the Brighton Marathon

April 2nd to April 15th

In this two-week block I did some long bike-rides and long runs, including joining the Brighton Marathon for 18 miles.

I will return to blogging about my training weekly from next week as it helps keep me focussed on where I am.  But for the last two weeks have both been four-day work weeks, which means cramming… so here goes:

Longer Bike Rides and some good hills

Looking at my Strava records, the blobs I’m happy about, include the two longer rides (big mauve blobs), both of which included a climb up the infamous Ditchling Beacon, which has the following stats: length 0.9 miles / 1.45 km; height gain 143m; average gradient: 9%; max gradient: 16%. It hurts!

The Joy of Off-Road running

I was also very happy about my two long run blobs. First it was so good to get back on the Downs on Saturday as I practised leg 4 (out and back) in preparation for the South Downs Relay in June. Since moving to Brighton I’ve got out of the habit of regularly running off-road – a big mistake, as I really love it. In Eastbourne ,the Downs were less than a mile from my house and I had many tried and tested routes. Where I live now requires a little extra running to and from, but with the South Downs Ways sign-posting there’s really no excuse not to go off-road.

Support team: Triathlon Coach and Physio

I’ve also got started with triathlon coach, Dave Powell, who reminded me to invest in some Whey protein, for post-workout recovery fuel. I’ve also started taking supplements again. Every extra boost helps in preparation for the Ironman. I take CurraNZ, Alive Ultra 50-plus, Spatone liquid iron, which I’m adding to my smoothies and Pro D3 Vitamin D tablets for bone and muscle health.

Dave has started me off with a rough guide of four runs, two long bikes and a My Ride, and two swims (more to come once shoulder rehab is further along).

I also saw the Catherine, a new physiotherapist, who’s given me some exercises for my shoulder, which is still a little weaker post collar-bone break – but I’m confident will now get stronger.

The Sort of Brighton Marathon

And finally, today I joined in with the Brighton Marathon running 18.67 miles at 7.55 (sub 3.30 pace). I decided to run it last week as I realised that I couldn’t defer my place a second time and I think I probably spent around £150 over the two years on my number! I wanted to do a long run and I wanted to be involved in the marathon, which is literally on my doorstep. But I didn’t want to run a marathon without having done a long run of more than 17 miles.

I felt slightly fraudulent as I stood in Preston Park before the race started. As the announcer said things about ‘all those long runs’, I shuffled about nervously (I hadn’t done them!). I’ve done 20-plus marathons, and turning up at a start line this untrained was a first (an average of 25 miles per week as opposed to 50), but I knew from the start that even though I could complete the marathon, I wasn’t going to, because my focus now is the Ironman, and because in some ways I felt I hadn’t earned the right. I wondered if it was a of a bit stupid idea … but as soon as we started running, I was happy I’d made the right decision to run.

I loved been part of the race. I did my marathon morning ritual having porridge, lots of water, and energy drinks, but I was a lot more relaxed knowing I was really just doing a long run and not racing. And because I knew I wasn’t completing today, I chose not to wear my club vest or tell too many people my plan. I enjoyed running along comfortably at sub 8 min mile pace (I’d never do this pace on my own) with lots of other runners to keep me company. I love marathons… and today being so close to my new home town felt really special. A brilliant touch was the row of vintage ford escorts, minis and mods on scooters cheering and hooting their horns as we headed up towards Ovingdean. I felt the race love…

The lack of marathon training started to show after mile 15 as the pace dropped off slightly. I did wonder if some of it was psychological as I’d told myself I might continue if I was comfortably running along at sub 8 at 18 miles. But in some ways I was glad that the pace dropped off, as it reminded me that there is a reason for doing mileage when I’m marathon training. If I could go and run a marathon well off no proper training, then I’d have to ask myself why I’d bothered all those other times. Around 16 miles my hip flexor tightened and the tiredness of yesterday’s bike ride may have kicked in. It was good to feel the discomfort as it reminded me that the more time and consistency I apply to IM training the better the experience will be!

I got to 18 miles, and thought, I’ll just go a little further and then find a good place to stop. A huge part of me wanted to just finish the race. I worked out that the pace was dropping off and would probably mean the last eight miles would average 8.30-8.45, which would add up to at least another 1 hour 10 and that would get me in (totally knackered) in around 3.40. I knew it wasn’t worth it, but I still had grabbed an energy gel.

Thanks Rachael

It was then I spotted Rachel From Girls Run The World. I’d cycled with Rachael yesterday and she was one of the few people I’d told about my plan to stop. I hesitated before going over, but then when I did, and I stopped, that was it – I knew I wasn’t starting again. Rachael got me back in rational mode and reminded me, (as I think I’d asked her to if I saw her) that ‘Today’s not your race… your race is the Ironman’ (wise words Rachel, and as you say, one mile at a time ;).

So… now I’m a bit weary after two long days of training, but, I’m also ready for another week of swimming, running and cycling to prepare for the Ironman in 25 weeks. And to all my club-mates and friends who did train for and complete the marathon – really well done!





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