Well after 16 weeks training the day has finally been and gone. I’m sat here writing this with two sore little toes, painful knees, aching muscles and general overwhelming exhaustion but also on such a high!
The weekend started Saturday when I headed down to Brighton via train with my friend who was also running, we got to the expo about 2 and didn’t face any queues, walked straight up to get our numbers no problem. We had a wander around and also recorded some messages on the Saucony stand ready for mile 23 – however on race day that didn’t work! BOOO!
Before heading off to check in at my hotel and then head for ice cream on the beach! Possibly not great pre race fuel but hey ho! I knew I’d struggle to sleep Saturday night and I wasn’t wrong, I tossed and turned for hours before I nodded off and then when I did I kept waking panicing that I had missed my alarm!
Eventually I woke up to my alarm and felt incredibly sick – the nerves were in full swing! I grabbed a shower and got dressed before heading to breakfast. Stomaching anything was hard though and I just couldnt do it! I was looking out the window at mile 25 and just couldnt face eating! 2 pieces of toast and some weetabix later and I headed back to my room to try and not throw up. I KT taped up and then headed to meet my friend at the station.
On the way I bumped into two other buddies so we made our way to preston park together which was nice! The park was huge and spacious so it didn’t feel like there were 16000 runners trying to get ready.
After dropping our bags off we joined the longest toilet queue in history. I may have got a bit annoyed at seeing spectators using the loos! Surely they could wait until we had gone?! 9:15 arrived and we had just finished in the toilet and made our way to the start. Being the last wave we had to wait a while to cross the start but the elites and early runners had already lapped the park and were running along next to us so we cheered them on whilst waiting. And then it was time to go!
Jo Pavey was there waving everyone off and the crowds meant you couldn’t run fast which was probably a good thing. I overtook a few people and then spotted a lovely lady I know from Instagram up ahead so I made my way through the crowds and tapped her on the shoulder. We had a quick chat and ran together for a bit before I headed off. I was trying my hardest to hold my pace back but it was damn hard. Around mile 5 I spotted my friend Debbie who took a delightful picture of me.
I knew my family were along the sea front and I was dying to get there. I was still feeling strong at that stage. I rounded the corner and shortly after heard a shout of HAYLEY that sounds really familiar and looked across and saw my best friend and my dad there. I was ahead of pace so ran over and gave them a huge squeeze before carrying on down the road to find my Mum, the boys and their godmother who were near the marina, spotted them and a high five later and I was heading on up the hill. I know that hill as I’ve run it before when I’ve stayed in Brighton and during Brighton Half so knew how long it was. It didn’t fail to disappoint. I was glad for the out and back though as I was distracted looking out for all my friends and cheering them on as I saw them! An hour later and I was back down the hill to give the kids and my Mum a kiss before continuing down to the town which I knew would be full of crowds. I wasn’t sure where my Dad and bestie had moved too but figured they may be past that section.
As I passed mile 14 I spotted my best friend and ran into her arms – I was starving, I never get hungry on runs – EVER! But for some reason yesterday hunger tormented me the whole way around. I nabbed something that I can’t even remember off her and carried on, she told me she would meet me again at mile 18 so I clung onto that. The road in Hove. Oh. My. God. It was never ending. I looked up at one point and all I could see was runners, I couldn’t see where it ended! I was starting to feel quite sick from all the shot blocks and was relieved when someone had some orange segments. I took a quick selfie at 16 and posted it on instagram – at 17 I spotted a toilet with no queue, that actually contained loo roll! And ducked in so that probably knocked a minute or two off my time. At this stage I was still 10 minutes ahead of my pace but knew I wasn’t going to be maintaining it now!
At mile 18 as promised was my beautiful best friend bouncing up and down cheering on the runners and I ran into her arms. She walked with me a bit whilst I snacked again on her little packet of something lol and then I headed off to get to 20. I knew from there it was just 10k. I got there and faced the long road of hell which is the power station. Going out to it was ok. I saw all my buddies and had awesome hugs and tears with 3 of them as they were heading back but when I got to the power station and turned around oh man that road back felt like it was the longest!
At the St Johns I asked if they had anything salty and she gave me some dioralyte … turns out it tastes bloody disgusting so I chucked that after a few sips and topped up my bottle at the next water stop.
23 soon came around and I started to get tearful about Matilda and why I was running. Once the tears started they wouldn’t stop, every person that cheered me on I cried more. And then I spotted my best friend and that was it I was pretty much full on sobbing. She grabbed my arm told me she wasn’t having it and dragged me along telling me to effectively pull my shit together! It was just what I needed and I love her for it. I was on track to still get in under 5:45 which was my Plan B goal. At 25 I left her and started to pick up a bit of a good run pace and another girl near my felt encouraged and said she would join me so we ran down together towards the finish and declared ourselves finishing buddies. Just before 26 I turned around and spotted a man in a rhino suit about 50m behind us and told her we needed to move our shit or the rhino would beat us. I was not going to be beaten by a man in a rhino suit! By now we were at the roundabout and the finish was in sight. My family were on the left hand side cheering me on as we suddenly found a burst of energy and ‘Sprinted’ (I’m sure it actually did not look like a sprint) down to the finish. I was elated to be there and to get a PB! Arms in the air and we crossed that line! I was so happy! A few more tears may have occurred!
We grabbed our medals and cotton tshirts (WHY?! Who wears a damn cotton tshirt – no one! Get your act together Brighton and go for technical then we could all advertise your great run to others when we are training) and some water and snacks before finding our bags. At the end was one of my lovely friends who had said she would wait for me and I grabbed her for the biggest hug before we headed off to find my family.
I had been fantasizing for half the race about getting into the damn sea so once they were all there I headed in to soothe my legs. Natural ice bath! Can’t really go wrong can you. It hurt like a B****h and I may have swore rather alot but it defo helped!
Overall I did enjoy the race. It was hard, seriously hard, but I knew I had the mental strength to get through and I did. I’ve knocked 27 minutes off my marathon personal best and had a race that was enjoyable, probably because I knew so many runners doing it. Would I do it again …. Yes!
Now to recover for a little bit and then its time to start training for Liverpool Marathon … EEEK!
Don’t forget this is all for an amazing charity – so please do sponsor me!