Whilst out running on Saturday afternoon I noticed this sign on Madeira Drive. I quite like it.

Anyway the weather forecast at 6am suggested it could be as cold as 4 degrees. Given my ‘half a wardrobe’ approach to packing for the weekend you would expect that to be no problem at all. I had forgotten to bring gloves though!

James texted to say he was well on his way down by train but the train and the station were suspiciously empty. As he put it, most of the runners must have opted for the ‘risk o’clock express’.

Start – James and I met in preston park. It was cold. It probably shows in the picture. James appears suitably attired for the prevailing weather. I’m clearly not!

We parted company having discussed our aims for the day and wishing each other well. To the pens we go…

The start went off smoothly. The only oddity was that all of the pacers were at the very front. Weird and the result was tat a lot of the field felt a need to fight their way to the front to catch up with the appropriate pacer. Odd.

Out towards the marina I felt ok. I spotted James not very far behind me after the first switchback turn. I’d kicked off with a target of 7 min 45 sec pace over the complete course. I was on target, almost to the second by the 10 mile mark. The absence of that short steep bit behind the school was welcome and the course is better for not winding through the school car park with it’s road bumps!

By the half way mark I was a few seconds ahead of target and still feeling good. At about 15 miles I spotted James again. He was at this point only 8 minutes behind me and so looking good for his new PB he wanted. I was on for 3:24 still. Heading down towards the power station stretch people were starting to drop. Given I was still on for well under 3:30 these guys must have been going at a rate, but were now reduced to a run-walk tactic.

The power station sections was worse for the lack of ‘The Wall’. Why wasn’t it there? I liked it personally!

Still on target. In fact I was about 30 seconds ahead of where I needed to be. Briliant!

As I rounded the docks area I checked the garmin once again to find that somehow I had lost exactly a minute on my target pace. I’d been reading it wrong and I was behind, not ahead! I needed to crack on. Mile 23 was a bit quicker. As I turned on to the seafront stretch, a little over 3 miles to go I decided to push hard. The next three miles fell pretty quickly. 7m10s. 7m12s. 7m11s. By far the fastest three miles of the whole marathon. A final push to the line at about 6m30s pace and I crossed the finish in 3h22m23s.

James came in less than 12 minutes behind me to set himself a new PB by fifteen minutes! well done mate.

I later found out that my friend Keith had also knocked nearly fifteen minutes off his PB too. Fantastic performance both of you!

Once I’d had a shower and some lunch I wandered back down to the seafront. We’re now talking about 6 hours since the gun went. I hung around for over an hour cheering people on as they finished. I know I’m in a different place when it comes to marathons. I want a good time, I want to be faster than before whereas these guys want to complete the amazing feat that is a marathon. I heard a few years ago that less than 2% of the population will ever run a marathon. I’m not sure if this statistic is still valid, but it won’t be all that many people who will have done one by the time they’re in a box. To all of you who achieved your goal yesterday, I say well done, I am impressed. You ran a marathon! Be proud.

Anyway, here’s a gallery of some photos from the day. Registration opens on Tuesday 17th April. Get your name down!

IMG-20120415-00047IMG_3359_CroppedIMG_3362IMG_3363IMG_3364IMG_3365IMG_3366IMG_3367IMG_1963IMG_1964IMG-20120415-00050IMG_2060IMG_2062IMG_2071IMG_2071IMG-20120415-00053

I had a great day and completed the 2012 Brighton marathon in 3h22m23s. I’m very pleased.

Well done to everyone who finished today. Be proud of yourselves!

I’d also like to personally and very publicly congratulate two very good friends of mine, James and Keith, on both setting PBs (by about 15 minutes each!!!) today. Very well done guys and I’ll see you at the start line in 365 days ;-)

Full report tomorrow.

And rest.

I’m at the Brighton Marathon expo. The race timer is up, counting down to the gun. 22 hours to go!

Just met Keith, the guy I first got to know exactly two years ago now when I ran the very first Brighton marathon. Nice bloke, great to see he’s doing well in his training, surprised to hear he has a significant birthday coming up next year and is planning a marathon to match it. I hope I’m still running when I’m your age Keith. Good luck tomorrow, see you at the finish!

I’ve also just seen Chris from the Chester marathon. Lovely to speak to him and catch up. Chris is significant in my running history. He tried (and repeatedly failed) to talk me into the Chester marathon at several finish lines. Eventually I gave in. It still stands as my PB marathon. Go do it on 7th October! Enter here!

Here are a couple of pictures. That’s Chris at the Chester marathon stand.

Chris worked his magic again and has sold the Chester half to me. Another makes the calendar! Thanks Chris!

All the best to everyone running tomorrow. Enjoy it! See you all on the other side…

Many fellow runners and fellow ‘I hate being rushed because I panic’ types will appreciate the photo below.

Some people say I’m obsessive about stuff. I can’t think why!

This evening I packed (just) my running gear for the 3 miles on Saturday and of course the marathon on Sunday. I’m not sure I’ve covered every possible eventuality here. It could snow I suppose…

Three caps, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of socks, two short sleeved shirts, one long sleeved, one gilet, one pair of compression shorts, one base layer, one pair of tracky bottoms, five energy gels on a belt, race number 552 and finally a trusty and well worn pair of running shoes!

Damn-it, where’s my Garmin gone! ;-)

Hmm…

It’s less than 96 hours to a marathon. Rest is what I need. Instead I find myself running up a fairly steep incline. John beside me asks if this is what I call a taper, delivered with the requisite level of mild comedy in his voice!

No, this isn’t. No.

Tonight was a quick run. Six miles. And hilly. Completely the opposite of what the ‘rulebook’ says. Cheers Dave ;-)

And so, that’s it. No more running until the now traditional 3 miles on Saturday afternoon before every marathon, to make sure the legs still work and check I have everything I need.

Next stop Brighton!

See you there. Say Hi if you spot my white cap and blue Blackwater Valley club shirt (it will be the only one there sadly) and all the best to any of you who are running the marathon too. Weather forecast currently looks quite favourable, but experience tells me it can all change in a couple of days…

I’d like to say good luck to Reevsey who is running for Cancer Research. Thanks for getting in touch. Enjoy your first marathon!

That’s me for a couple of days now. See you on the other side of marathon number six!

Andy.

5 days to go. It’s exciting. It’s the third Brighton marathon. It’s my third Brighton marathon!

I spent a bit of time trawling the website and checking the final details. My train ticket is booked and I’m all ready to go now. Aside from the legs!

I’ve done a few longer runs since Barcelona and so took the weekend off to try and rest a bit and let myself recover. Doesn’t feel like it’s working really given that I struggled to keep a, 8min/mile pace this evening. All will become clear in Sunday though I guess.

This evening’s run was just a quick (and relatively relaxed pace) three and a half miles, including a bit of a detour as I got chatting to another runner and invited him to join us at the club one Wednesday – see you there Tom.

Club run tomorrow then that’s it until a short run along the seafront on Saturday I think… more tomorrow.

Feeling ok after a marathon is odd. You shouldn’t, but I will admit to feeling reasonable. I chucked the purple and yellow Barcelona marathon shirt on and headed down to the club to see everyone. There were a lot of events happening over here on Sunday whilst I was running abroad. Most notably the Fleet half was run by quite a few of our club. Well done to all of you, especially the ladies who did their very first (yes, that’s first and so not last) half marathon in hotter weather than I had in spain! Dave and Lawrence did a 21 miler in really good times too. It sounds like Steve has injured himself. Hope you’re ok and back soon.

All in all, a good weekend of running for many of the club!

Eight and a half miles done tonight with a pretty fast final mile. Feeling ok. Still looking forward to Brighton and it’s only two and a half weeks away now.

We arrived back at the clubhouse to find a far too smart Nick sat tapping away at his computer, having been delayed by the chaos at Waterloo this evening. We had a brief chat about the Sparkasse marathon and how Nick plans to ‘not race’. Looks like we might jog the whole thing which will probably be a good idea given that Berlin is only a week prior.

I’ve just received a new toy too. It’s the new Garmin 910XT. Expect a review soon but first impressions are very favourable.

Back soon…

It didn’t start well. My alarm woke us up at 5:30. Shame my bloomin’ Blackberry too-bloody-smart-phone had taken it upon itself to add another hour in addition to the one I added last night. Great to be woken up at 4:30 and spend 10 mins trying to convince yourself that it really has gone wrong!

Back to bed. Next thing it’s 6am. Then 6:30. Oh hell, I need to leave at 7:00! Panic. Fuss. Flapping. Kit on. Out of the hotel by 7:05 and onto the Metro. I’ve missed the necessary toilet stop and I’m worried about that.

We arrive at Placa d’Espanya to find some 15,000 other people milling around. In the rush and extreme tiredness I’ve even forgotten to have breakfast. This is going from bad to worse!

I pee in a bush because somehow 20 toilets just can’t stretch to accommodating 15,000 runners full of too much water. I wonder why?

I head into the pens. I don’t much care which one by this point. I am now hungry, exceedingly tired, incredibly grumpy and very very annoyed with myself!

Turns out that the yellow sign matching the yellow number I’m wearing wasn’t an appropriate match. All of the pens have yellow signs on, but with different times marked. I end up one pen back from where I should be (probably a good thing) and sit tight somewhere in the middle of the pack, surrounded by red numbered participants.

The 10 minutes to go announcement comes over the tannoy. Then 5 minutes. Then some cheering, lots of spanish that I don’t understand, probably introducing the elites at the front. Next thing the quiet introduction to ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury, the moving first crescendo and ‘Barcelona’ rings out and up go the fountains and confetti. A truly amazing moment at the start of a marathon and the best one I’ve experienced without a doubt!

This is going to be a tough one, I know it is. My mind says I’m mad to even start and I truly don’t expect to finish. This might be the end of the 12 marathons idea for some time.

The gun fires, just over a minute later I cross the line. About 300m in I hear “Go Blackwater” (I’m wearing my Blackwater Valley Runners club shirt) from a guy with ‘Pim no 1’ emblazoned on his shirt. Turns out he’s a british bloke to whom I replied “And a very good morning to you, how are you doing?” He told me he’d done Blackpool just a fortnight ago so was a bit knackered and so I bid him farewell and wished him luck for the miles ahead. He soon disappeared at one hell of a rate… He was clearly in the right group for his target time!

The first three miles are all climbing, then followed by quite a big downhill stretch which gets fairly steep in places!

5k came and went, at nearly 6k finally the promise of the first water stop comes into view. Who decided to put it on a corner? As we turned left everyone saw the water stop ahead of them and instead of turning left went directly across the road to the tables. I collided with another runner, as did many others. Very poor planning dear race organisers!

At this point I grab a bottle of water and all but drain it. It’s bloody hot! I wasn’t at all prepared for how warm it would be, it is a complete change from the cool british weather of recent weeks and I’m sweating heavily.

The ankle pops at 6 miles. Only a little pop but plenty enough for me to be concerned…for the next 20! This is what happened at 8 miles in Gloucester so it doesn’t bode well and I resolve to take it very easy for a good while longer.

As the miles pass I notice there are very few female runners. Very many Spanish runners and some strong crowds out in support, cheering loudly! The run has a fantastic atmosphere even though I haven’t found my usual person to chat with today.

A clown with a running cap passes me. I’m content to be passed for once, even by a clown! I’m not risking injuring the ankle again and another three weeks off!

I spot a guy with Vibram five fingers not looking too happy at about 12 miles! Much as I’d love to try them, I can’t see running 26 miles without any cushioning being good for you, despite the biomechanics arguments.

I started with 7 gels which is a lot of weight and overkill for the event, but I didn’t once feel like I was running on empty and wanted to see how my stomach goes with a large amount of gels in a single event. It is possible to take so many, I did it but would not advise it! Feeling a bit queasy after the fifth wasn’t a great moment. I think I can be confident that 5 is plenty now.

Lack of a toilet stop this morning is still bugging me. I stop when I see a vacant portaloo but the body is insistent. 2 mins wasted but I feel psychologically better if nothing else.

I didn’t speak to, or even see another British runner for the rest of the race. I can’t see why this should be an unpopular event with Brits. The weather is superb and Barcelona is a wonderful place to escape to. Get over there next year!

The one sight I do manage to notice is the Sagrada Familia. It’s big enough! Aside from that I don’t really remember noticing any of the other landmarks, I was too busy concentrating on keeping the ankle upright and pain free.

A half in 1h53. Not bad when you’re out for under 4 hours I think to myself. Very happy with that but still cautious of the ankle. Having not managed more than 16 miles for over two months and having spent most of that injured, I have reason to be careful.

I still feel good at 16. The ankle is holding up. I’m cautious but fighting the urge to press on and make up some ground. I do some calculations and figure I might be able to make a quicker time if I can keep the pace steady. Aiming for 3h45m seems like a good plan, but at 17 miles I guess that I could do 3h40m if I really try.

I’ve managed to keep my heart rate low. I’m running well and truly in my comfort zone (around 150bpm) and feeling better for doing so. At 19 miles however the heart rate has suddenly bumped up to 167. I hit 170 bpm by 22 miles. The body is telling me it’s tiring. This is where I really push though. I know it’s an uphill finish and I have no idea how I will fare with a climb at mile 25 onwards so I figure it’s probably a good idea to try and make up a little ground now and then just dig in for the hill.

The finish (of the HALF MARATHON last January) is at the Arc de Triomf which I recognise and enjoy the cheers of the crowds lining the street as I run through. Today I have another 4 miles to go though!

With a really strong finish up the last climb (much like I managed in Lisbon) I clock a 3h39m11s finish time

Best of all, my fastest three miles were 24, 25 and 26! (All of which are not flat!) Taking it easy for the first half paid off, both mentally and physically with the ankle worries and I’m glad I managed to get to Barcelona and have such a wonderful marathon experience.

Post race injury rundown
Chafed inner thighs due to the wrong shorts!
Two very achey legs
10 sore toes and the soles of my feet are very sore (too little training mileage!)

I did it!

I shall be proudly wearing my garish purple and yellow Barcelona 2012 shirt at the club run on Wednesday. Be prepared, it truly is a sight to behold!

3 weeks until my return to Brighton for the third (and my third) Brighton marathon. I’m surprised to be saying it, but I’m genuinely looking forward to it now!

And rest…

I’m a last minute merchant when it comes to pre race prep. Always faffing about at midnight the night before. I’m the same with packing to go away though too. I finally went to bed at midnight. The flight is at 06:15 from Heathrow and the cab is booked for 4am. 3 hours kip it is then!

We landed and put our watches forward an hour. That’s brought the marathon start an hour closer. I’m tired already, this just makes it worse!

Then they tell us the clocks here go forward an hour on Sunday morning.

What?!?

By my maths the 08:30 gun is actually an 06:30 gun now.

3 hours sleep on Friday night was bad enough, but now I’m going to have to be up at 05:30 local time (knock 2 hours off that and you get the real story!) for the necessary pre marathon ritual.

This is not going to be my best performance!

On the plus side, food wise I’m going well. I’ve just polished off my second paella of the day so I have rice coming out of my ears now.

I went for a mooch around the marathon expo today too, after I’d collected my number. Have a look atthe photo of ‘The Wall’ above. They had an Adidas sponsored wall that you were invited to add your moniker to. Made me smile. Turns out I’m in the start pen for sub 3 hours. I think I’ll drop back a bit in the morning and start somewhere more realistic. I recall identifying Barcelona as the marathon to try and break my PB and obviously submitted a suitably optimistic time to boot. Injury and general lack of focus has left me unsure that I’ll finish tomorrow. My PB is safe for an awful lot longer now I’m sure!

My pre-marathon 3 miler in the morning turned into a 3.5 miler in early evening. It’ll do. I had a nice exploratory run around the hotel/marina area. Quite fun, but wow it is hot here!

More tomorrow, once I’ve hopefully finished the fifth marathon of the 12 month challenge…

Andy.

…and I’m worse prepared for this marathon than the first one I ever did. Or any other marathon I’ve done come to think of it!

Anyway, a few hundred quid spent on flights and hotels and a other £50 on a marathon entry sort of commits me to at least cross the start line. See you on the other side of the Barcelona marathon. If I make it!

Have a great weekend, wherever you’re running.

And I’d like to say I wish the best of luck to Sandra and the girls from the club. Enjoy your first half marathon ladies. As I said the other day, you’re better prepared than you think (and much better prepared for your Sunday than I am for mine!) so run steady, stay focused, let everyone overtake you in the first 200m, you’ll pick them off one by one just three miles later when they’re tired(!) and most of all, enjoy the thrill of completing your first half. I am truly impressed by all of you!

If you happen to be at the Fleet half this weekend, cheer the Blackwater Valley Runners on please. And if you happen to be in Barcelona, I’ll be running in my BVR shirt too.

Off to a sunny place, back in a couple of days, hopefully one marathon further on…

Oh, and I’ve fixed the non-working comments box. Spam Free WordPress is a plugin that causes NOBODY to be able to post comments. Finally found the problem!