As I am sure many of you know, it’s marathon season! Manchester was a few weeks ago, Boston is this coming Monday and London is right around the corner. However, my family’s marathon experience happened last weekend in Brighton. It was my dad’s first ever marathon and arguably the biggest event of his running so far! I think it’s fair to say that we were all very excited (especially me as I had always wanted to visit Brighton)!
Our adventure began on Friday. We arrived at the house we were staying in in Lewes and immediately took the train down to Brighton to visit the Event Village and collect our race packs. This was quite possibly one of the best parts of the trip. I don’t think I have ever been so giddy with excitement as I was when I saw the Event Village. The boardwalk was lined with huge numbers of running related stalls. After we collected our packs, I ran around, smiling ear to ear trying to visit as many of these stalls as I could. Fortunately for my bank accounts sake, I managed to restrict myself to actually not buying anything but I was incredibly tempted by the compression socks. We even got to try on some On running shoes and they were amazing! I would have probably bought them right there and then if they weren’t so expensive and I hadn’t only had my current shoes since Christmas! Eventually, after a considerable amount of time, my family were able to drag me away from the village – much to my annoyance. However, I still managed to convince them to let me look in Sweatshop on the way back!
Saturday was just as exciting. My mum, brother and I spent the whole morning walking around Brighton (my dad decided to save his legs for the following day). We got to visit the pavilion, try out the rides on the Brighton Pier which (although they were fun) were incredibly expensive considering they lasted about 1 minute. We even got a chance to go to Infinity Foods and stock up on lots of slightly crazy goodies. At about 1:30, we caught the bus to Preston Park which is where the Mini Mile was to be held. My brother and I were both competing -he was in the under 13s at 3:00 and I was in the under 18s at 3:30 (considering that they had separate races for under 9s, under 11s and under 13s and had about 6 different races per age group, I was a little surprised that they just combined under 15s and under 18s into one race but I guess there were probably fewer numbers).
The atmosphere in Preston Park was amazing! There were loads of stalls, kids running everywhere, music blaring and even a giant big screen. I was excited to run but also not very confident in my chances. I had had probably the worst preparation ever: I had been walking around all day and the day before and on the Thursday before I ran twice (including a very hard track session) which would have been pretty stupid in any circumstances but particularly before a race. As I warmed up, it was clear that my legs were not at all feeling themselves so I decided to make the executive decision to ditch my watch and just enjoy the run…or at least try to!
After my brother’s race, I made my way to the warm up pen – which was packed! My nerves immediately took over and I decided I didn’t want to run. Nevertheless, I forced myself inside and even managed to work my way to the very front (the perks of being a tiny person)! The group warm up was quite possibly the worst part of the whole trip. I was on the far side of the front so I couldn’t see what the leaders were doing and I had absolutely no space so I ended up pretty much standing still for 10 mins…certainly not the most effective warm-up! Eventually, we were set off! As expected, the first 100m was at a blistering pace but as we turned to climb the hill, it settled down a bit.
After the initial rush, I am pleased to report that I wasn’t passed by anyone and instead managed to pass quite a lot of people throughout the remainder of the race. However, as we approached the second half of the course, my legs were started to feel Thursday’s endeavours and I wan’t really feeling up to push myself very hard. I didn’t even sprint with only 200m to go! I crossed the line and immediately regretted this as I clearly wasn’t exhausted but you know what, looking back, I am not too disappointed as, essentially, it was still just a fun run! I came 12th in my age group and 15th overall out of 93 which I am okay with. All in all, the Mini Mile event was lovely! I even got to meet Emma from Fruits and Routes blog, which was really nice! Also, it turns out that the race was actually over 100m more than a mile – so technically it should probably be called a big mile…?
And now onto Sunday, the day we had all been waiting for: Marathon day! My dad left to catch the train early in the morning and we followed about two hours later. The train was absolutely ram-packed – as was Brighton when we arrived! It was a boiling hot day but the atmosphere was incredible! The sea front was full of people cheering and supporting the runners! We positioned ourselves at the half-way point on the course and waited with anticipation for our dad! Whilst we waited, Sam and I did our favourite activity when watching races: screaming people’s names and seeing their reactions (they are generally either amused, surprised/confused or too engrossed/tired to even acknowledge us. In fact, we got so into the game that we almost missed our dad running passed! But when we did spot him, we gave him the biggest cheer we could muster and got a few funny looks from the other runners. We also got to see some pretty amazing costumes. Our favourites have to be a full on Rhino suit and a Darth Vader costume- mask and all!
Our next position was at about mile 25 – one mile to go! It was really lovely to be able to cheer all the runners on and hopefully give them a helpful boost! Pretty soon, our dad came passed again – still looking strong! After he passed, we immediately made our way to the event village, which was even more lively than before! We figured that by the time we had fought our way through the mass of people, dad would have already finished so we spent a long time searching for the meeting point – and ended up walking passed it multiple times before spotting it!
We ran as quickly as we could across the beach to get to Dad! We were all – and still are- so proud of him! He ran a time of 3:42 despite aiming for just under 4:00 and even managed negative splits on the hottest day of the year! I decided right then and there that I will definitely run a marathon myself when I am old enough, more specifically, this marathon! Our dad is pretty awesome!
After allowing some much needed re-hydration and recovery, we eventually left the event village. I was incredibly impressed that Dad could still walk! The worst part of the whole trip followed which was enduring the huge crush of people in the insane heat as everyone tried to cross the bridge -which was the only way to the other side of the road. However, this was made up for by a trip to the ice cream place which even had vegan ice cream!!
I think we can all agree that our trip to Brighton was absolutely great! I really did love it there and I am sure we will be returning soon! I would love to congratulate everyone who ran in the marathon or has already/ will be doing one! You are all amazing!
And one final note of acknowledgement for the one who really outshone everyone on this trip: our dog Ember. She is usually very crazy, energetic and barky however she somehow managed to have the most relaxed holiday ever for her just when we needed it – even during her first trip on a train which just happened to be the busiest train on Earth. Well done Ember!