A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED
The 55th Annual Road Running Race from London to Brighton. 54miles 198yds (87.085km)
I have also been able to use my running ability to convert moderate swim and cycle splits into respectable Ironman triathlon performances. I have even become comfortable, in a manner of speaking, with the Ironman.
However, being ‘comfortable’ is not necessarily what sport is about. There are times when you need to increase the challenge, try something new, something harder, something longer. Having never run beyond the 26.2 miles, an ultra would definitely represent that challenge. A time to get uncomfortable again.
Sunday 2nd October 2005.
Last year I supported my brother, Adam, on his first attempt at the London to Brighton Road Race. Cycling the second half of the course whilst administering food, drink and clothing gave me a good idea of what would be involved, although I remember thinking at the time that I was kind of glad I was on a bicycle, not on foot.
We came to the conclusion though, that with ample feed stations, having a ‘seconder’, although an advantage was not a neccessity and that should I wish to race one year, we would both be able to compete unaccompanied.
In sporting terms, this year had been good to me. A reprieve throughout the year from back and sciatic problems, a 2hr 51min London Marathon, four other marathon finishes, a personal best and 5th place at The Longest Day long distance triathlon.
This comfort zone surely wouldn’t last, I needed to make the most of the endurance base and decided now was the time to go for the London to Brighton. Now or never. It was time for some discomfort and the entry form was duly completed and posted, albeit delayed until the final day before closing date.
A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Through 35 and 40 miles the hillier parts of the course were really taking their toll. My back was getting sore, my knees were hurting and even my feet were feeling bruised and aching. Although the Viper/gel combination was helping, I could no longer stomach the figs. I could feel my pace dropping alarmingly, especially on the hills, and through this section I lost at least four places as people ran past looking strong, offering encouragement on their way through.
Competing at Ironman has taught me a lot of things though, one of which is that you are going to experience bad spells no matter how fast or slow you are going, they don’t last forever and you will get through them with the right mental attitude. Just get over it and move on.
I kept reminding myself of Bob Brown’s run across Europe which he has just completed, running a double marathon every day for two month’s, surely I can do it just this once, this one day.
40 miles - 5:07:40 (15th)
I had also now started to count down the miles, so rather than 35, 40, 45 miles gone, it was 19, 14, 9 miles to go which seemed to help in a ‘glass half full’ kind of way.
The 45 mile feed station was a turning point. On a steep uphill I took my bag and stopped to take on some water. I made a decision to walk for the first time, “Just to the top of the hill” I told myself. Well, I got to the top, munched on a fig, and carried on walking for possibly two more minutes.
I was wasting time. I had to make another decision. If I walked the remaining 9 miles I would surely finish, but would have wasted 6 hours of hard work for a disappointing result. It was four miles to Ditchling Beacon, I had vowed to myself that I would run up that hill whatever, so I might as well start from now.
It was probably not much more than a shuffle but at least I was now running again, the quiet rural lanes aided concentration as I made my way to the bottom of the Beacon. I took a gel and started on the long climb. It was actually not as bad as I had anticipated, the gradient gave me a proper excuse for running slowly and I felt some strength returning as I neared the top.
I don’t know whether it was the
panoramic view of a shimmering sea beyond the downs and town, the 'gale-force' wind
whipping me along from behind,
the ‘crazed’ car drivers speeding past within inches of my elbow or the Red Bull
which I had deposited in my last goody bag, but departing the feed station at
the top of Ditchling, I suddenly felt like a different person.
50 miles - 6:41:02 (15th)
A surge of adrenalin entered my body as I started to stride out again down towards the town. I picked up two of the guys who had passed me some miles back and even the ‘second hill’ failed to catch me out as I ground out the last five miles at what felt like 10km pace.
Down the final hill to the finish, my body was so sore but the damage had been already done. I could sense there was someone behind and afforded a glance, sure enough I couldn't have the luxury of cruising, and dug in further to the extent that I almost caught the runner in front.
Crossing the finish line was a huge relief. I had long since given up looking at my watch but was overjoyed to see the clock stop at 7hrs 11mins 26seconds. 12th place and a silver time standard medal.
Finish - 7:11:26 (12th)
The finish area was quite subdued, no
longer on the esplanade, it now resides in a slip road beside a park to avoid
the town centre traffic, it sadly lacks atmosphere. I
picked up my bag, I was suddenly very cold and put on as many clothes as I could find. I wanted to wait
for Adam but was aching so much I couldn’t stand any longer, so found a piece of
grass and lay down, listening for the finishers.
Unfortunately Adam had been having a relatively bad day at the office but despite almost pulling out had managed to get himself back together for an 8hr 23min finish. Good on you bro!
Link to 2005 Results
Link to 2005 Results 10 mile Splits Spreadsheet
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