With only 11.5 miles running in February there were definitely no expectations of a good run for Brighton Half Marathon. Find out how Mr Smith managed to achieve a new personal best and all about the run…
Having no expectations can be good as it means there is no pressure before the race. Waking up at the normal 5am time Mr Smith was ready for when his lift arrived, for which he is was very grateful.
A nice pleasant journey down to Brighton and then a bit of a social over a cuppa before the run, it was time to head off for the start.
It was quite a long walk down to the start line, but good chatting and getting in to the atmosphere of the race. However, the bag drop was so far down from the start/finish line that it became something of a rush to get to the start.
The bag drop was fine, but then getting back to the zone meant only about 6 minutes before the start and it was packed, so Mr Smith was right at the back. Organised chaos maybe?
The time was up and we were ready to go. Given the rush though Mr Smith was not happy with the way the shoes were feeling, so stopped 10 yards before the start line to re-do them, a wise move.
This did mean he was now in the 2:00 plus zone, but he set off at a steady pace without too much trouble. Heading down the front and turning right through town he was in a good rhythm and then it was heading up the hill, without dropping the pace. This meant over taking quite a lot of people, and the consequent troubles this causes having to get round people, including a few that could not run in a straight line and running with elbows spread wide. This is one of a few narrow parts of the course.
Getting to the top of the hill brought the breeze on, which was chilly but manageable. Then the turn to come back down. It was one of those runs where you did not realise you had been coming down hill a bit, so it was not all down hill, but that was fine.
After about 10.5 km it was back down to the centre of Brighton and then down the front. This part of the course really was too narrow for the volume of runners, with quite a lot, including Mr Smith, being forced in to the lane for the oncoming runners (luckily it was the front runners so they were spaced out). This should be looked at for future years. This lasted until about km13.
Things were still going along nicely, with a pretty consistent 5:20km pace (a lot within just a few seconds of that time), but then at 15km the ankle really started to play up. The tendon that was operated on last March, which Mr Smith thinks has been the root cause of recent troubles, flared up and became really painful.
The biggest problem was that this was at the furthest point away from the finish line, so there was only 1 thing for it, keep running! The pain was on the edge of manageable and the last 5km were not good coming back down the front.
There were a few points where Mr Smith thought about walking, but 2 things stopped him. One being that it may have hurt more to walk and the second was that he was on for a big personal best. It was then that the stubborn side kicked in and he kept on going and even managed to muster up a quick last kilometer and increased the pace through to the finish.
Crossing the line, Mr Smith stopped the watch at 1:53:16, which was over 2 minutes quicker than the run in Copenhagen, a 2.2% improvement.
Although the training has been tough in the last month, the coaching has definitely helped.
Now to get back to the bags, a long walk for it, whilst collecting your own goodies. Medal collected, t shirt on and some food consumed the bag was picked up. The big problem was then trying to get back to Brighton centre through all the people. Definite lack of crowd control and what should have been a 10 minute walk took getting on for half an hour, not good.
However, by the time Mr Smith got back he met up with some of his Genius Jogger friends and it was a great way to end the morning.
The official race video
Overall, a great course for a quick time, but the organisation needs to be better and they need to sort out the narrowness of the course in places, about 4km in total was far too tight for the number of runners and maybe an extra drinks station would not go a miss. However do not change the supporters, they were great with lots of cheering and encouragement. Hopefully Mr Smith will be back next year, injury free and really going for it.
Finally, Mr Smith has worked out his 5km splits: