Brighton Marathon 2016 will be the seventh year since it began. I have run the seaside city marathon every year since the very first one...
Like most recent years, the event sells out fast with charity, elite, club and fun runners from all over the country and overseas. Brighton has something unique for everyone and will always be special to me as my home race...
Before the Elite runners arrive
Just like 2014 and 2015 I am invited to the Elite start at Withdean Park.
300 runners who ran a sub 3hr 15min at previous years can join the super Elites, for the flat and fast one mile stretch along London Road. Once here we meet the other runners from the mass start of Preston Park.
300 Elite Runners at Withdean Park
My Brighton finish times are as follows:
I have yet to break a sub 3hr time at Brighton.
Meeting friendly faces and first timers to the Elite starting pen
By 8:50 I say goodbye to Sunday and Helen as they make their way down to Preston Park. As we only live opposite Withdean Park, I can stroll out to cross the road and hand over my drop bag within 20 minutes of race start!
This year the organisers muddled up the drop bags. Volunteers at the Expo apologised for this and we were given one, two, if you were lucky, very small bags, the size of a shoe box to put your change of clothes in.
We decided to use the previous bag from last year as it is three times as big! Major error for Brighton Marathon and they tried to rectify by email explaining it was for security purposes. If so then surely we would have been prepped before collecting numbers at the expo?
Church Road the return leg...
Just before the start as we all prepare to go at the starting pen, I catch up with running friend Caitlin Block, who is experiencing her first Elite start and hoping for a PB today. She will also be running London next week. The minutues fly by and we are off...
It is glorious sunshine and a chilly 5c at the moment nut warming up to about 13c later and a light breeze. Perfect conditions for us.
I remove my gloves within the first mile as the sun has heated me up nicely already...
Water cups at the plenty
The first five miles of weaving in and around the Dome, where I see Tina supporting. The Royal Pavillion and then up St James Street, I try to stay comfortable with my pace at average 6:40min/mile and will see how this goes until the halfway point.
I take in all the big crowds and support from the spectators and charities filling both sides of the streets. I look out for any faces I may recognise along the seafront to the Marina. It is really quite difficult to focus on anyone inparticular as the crowds are so big.
I still hear my name shouted out plenty and 'feel the force Luke' that I usually get often...
It is only once we reach Roedean and out towards Ovingdean can appreciate a slight gap and see more from the road side.
On the bend into Roedean I spot Annie and her daughter jumping for joy and shouting out kind words. I see them once again on the return leg back to the seafront.
Power Boost Hi Fives on Church Road
Soon enough after the water station, passing the Marina then the Pier and up Kings Road towards the halfway marker and over the timing mat in 1hr 30min.
I realise this maybe quite a struggle to make any sub 3hour today. Already I feel my body and legs tire from the pounding road and really not sure I can sustain this pace any longer.
I have found the past year my road training has been much more relaxed in favour of running off road trails and hills. I am so unconditioned on flat road and feel quite inexperienced now on how to pace and race road marathons.
It hasn't helped with working silly crazy hours around the clock at work. It really has put training secound place over the winter. Which never used to be the case. I didn't suffer as much before the shifts changed.
Luckily I am going back to a better pattern and will have my old routine back again soon.
Finding my strong halfway
Once at Church Road where the cheering support is crazy loads, such a buzz, I spot Mum and Dad and hi-five to them as I pass.
This leg is always mentally tough, as the out and back section is over 4 miles in total. Which is not so much for an Ultra Runner but it is to a non-road running fan!
I get to 15 miles and drink some more water. I am carrying my bladder pack this year, which I never usually do but the cups always slow me down.
I start to develop stitch and it gets quite uncomfortable. I have to drop my pace and then press on it with my fingers. My pace slows to an average 7:20min/mile and on some parts of the return leg I am running over 8:00min/mile.
I spot our friend Will just before the road bends back onto the Seafront, he can tell I am suffering...
Hove Lagoon counting down the last few miles...
I manage to cope with it but it is not so easy. My mood is low and I am gutted I cannot pick up any faster. Even without a stitch I have no more power to give in my legs. My body is saying to stop and slow down...
This is not good...
The sun is still strong and I can feel it heating my face and head. It feels much warmer than it actually is. The problem without any cloud coverage is the route is very exposed to the sun and I always find I suffer with too much when we been having more cloudy conditions for training. I start to feel a little peeky.
I take some more water and some coffee chocolate coffee beans to see if that helps.
Helen interviewed by Channel 4
By Mile 20 and towards the Shoreham Power Station my stitch has subsided but my legs have no more to give now... my pace is even slower at 8:15min/mile and I cannot pick it up any quicker. My quads are screaming with every step.
It really is not my running day today.
I do not remember suffering so badly last year. I analise everything in my head and let my thoughts run away with me. I think of all the problems I am going through, but just try to focus on each mile marker and get from one to the next.
The sun feels really warm on my head now and I am starting to feel sick from it.
Caitlin flies past me on the Hove promenade looking super smooth and fresh! She looks to be on a pb target easily enough!
Sunday at Church Road Hove
After King Alfred's on Hove seafront I know I have friends supporting at mile 23. I concentrate on getting to them and then after that will be the Pier, where the finish is in sight...
I can hear everyone before I see them shouting out 'come on Lukey' it is such a great boost I am needing right now!
Ann-Marie, Julie, Lucy, John, Lee, Kev, Matt, they are all here with their best lungs on them!
It spurs me on to keep moving and I get my head down and thumbs up to everyone who calls my name...
Off the prom at the West Pier and then the last final mile into the finish. It's great to see the other runners passing towards me the other direction, but I do start to feel for them as I so struggled today.
That last .20 of a mile at the wheel, where the crowd support is so loud, I get goose bumps. Other runners sprint on past me but I no longer care, the finish is in sight and I have no more push I can give.
I look up at the clock as I cross the finish line. Not what I was aiming for but considering the odds against me its best I can manage.
Smiler at Church Road
Handing out space blankets is our running friend Nik. She gives out congratulations and hugs which helps lift my spirits and appreciate what I have achieved.
Brighton Marathon number 7 complete, which didn't go quite as I planned but a medal and memories to add to the acheivement is always a boost.
Pain is temporary I guess...
Well like previous years I signed up at the Expo for 2017. Two days before this race even started.
I am on a Brighton running streak and it be a shame to miss one, even if this year wasn't my best or favourite time.
Another year another Brighton medal
I may start to frame the first collection of five medals as they are the larger distinctive size with iconic pictures of our city.
I get my drop bag and more water, change and head on back to the finish line to see the other runners finishing.
Soon enough other running friends come in and I use the app to check Sunday and Helen's progress.
Brighton always gives a fantastic show and I cannot imagine a year not running it. It's just a shame it wasn't to be my best this time!
The Brighton Collection
Brighton Half Marathon saw a record number of runners hit the Seafront for the 26th annual event. Some 9,000 competitors towed the start line this year!
Not quite as many as the celebratory 25th anniversary of last year, but still a huge turn out!
This year myself and Sunday decided to catch the last bus to The Steine before road closures. We had some time to chill and have a coffee at Red Roaster in St James Street before walking down to bag drop by Dukes Mound.
The crowds are already moving slowly to their designated bag tents and as I am a lower number I can drop my bag quickly and make a move back down to the start in the other direction.
I wish sunday the best as he has much further to wait for the bag drop at the top end.
9:00 THE START
After making my way through the crowds to the starting pens, which seems an endless mission. I go past the purple, yellow, catch ultra running friend Ian Wingett with his family and fight my way across to say a hello and good luck to him....
Always good to bump into local faces.
I finally make it to the red pen for 1:20-1:29 time frame, like last year and enjoy the chatter and conversations around me. I hear my name being shouted out and pleased to see Mark, Matt and Lee nearby.
Mark is a pacer again for the 1:30 time so that can be my marker, just like last year was.
I am really not sure where my fitness is at and especially on road, so will just pace myself the first half and try to pick it up for a negative split... if possible?!
I keep an eye on my pace and try to keep it around 7:20min/mile until feeling ok to speed it up some. I just run on how I feel and to see where my fitness is right now. I have not been able to train as much road and always take to the Trails usually instead...
After three miles into the race, I spot Mark and then Lucy, a big grin, supporting and cheering from the roadside at Sussex Square.
After the Marina and the switch back along the seafront I see familiar faces approaching as I pass. I shout out to friends and spot Elliot from work. He is training for his second Marathon this year. We high five each other as we pass.
At the water station by Dukes Mound I have a few sips before disposing of the bottle. Back along to the roaring crowds at the Pier and the half way point, before picking up pace to the West Pier and Hove.
I see Ian, Jen, Jim, Tina and Steve marshalling and supporting the runners along this leg. Always a boost and great to see them doing a fantastic job for everyone!
By nine miles and at Hove Lagoon, reaching the bend and back onto the promenade it is the final home stretch to the Pier!
I spot the 1:30 Pacers and see Mark. I shout out to him as I approach and hear him call back to me to keep it up...
I feel I can pick up my pace a little harder and manage to sprint it for the next few miles, passing King Alfred's then overtaking other runners right until the West Pier.
I have been hitting 6:15/6:25min/mile and trying so hard to keep up a negative split...
I feel my breathing getting faster and more rapid, my body heats up. The road is starting to feel tiresome and too tough. It's very hard to maintain the speed and I try my best but my pace starts to drop...
The support and cheering from the roadside is the only thing distracting me from the discomfort and my legs screaming at me!
Once at the Pier it is the last 200 metres and the finishing clock is in sight. It gets nearer and clearer and soon enough at last I pass under and catch a glimpse of 1:27....
It looks to be very similar to last year!?..
I feel so winded and relieved to have finished. That was so difficult towards the end and too fast for my liking!
After I catch up with fellow runner Lesley and collect my medal I get the text result through and shocked to see I did exactly spot on the same time as last year! To the second!
1:27:29 in 268th position.
Not too shabby and pleased that my fitness hasn't dropped for racing road. I haven't exactly been training road and only just been getting my mileage back up again after a winter break.
Well deserved Bloody Mary followed by a big burger with all the trimmings at our favourite post race spot Al