Monday, February 18, 2013

Brighton Half Marathon Race Recap

In case you didn't know (sarcasm! I know I've been spamming your Twitter feeds...), I finally ran my first half marathon yesterday in lovely Brighton! It was everything I expected and more!

If you just like stats and don't care about the aches and pains or when I coughed up water at mile 3.5, here's the Spark Notes version:

1. I didn't negative split like I intended..... Actually, I positive split the hell out of this race! But I kind of don't really care about that.

2. Lovely (mostly) flat course! Just 2 inclines towards the beginning of the race that weren't too difficult.

3. I only really announced it once, but I did have a time goal. Most importantly, I just wanted to finish. But I did beat my time goal with minutes to spare (and not seconds like I anticipated!!)

My goal was to finish around 2:30:00.

I finished in 2:24:45!

I forgot to stop my watch at the end!! I was too busy focusing on the pain in my legs and trying to find my hard earned medal!!

See! Queen of positive splitting.... But I'm okay with that.... It didn't ruin my race.

And my Garmin was mostly accurate throughout the whole race which I am super thankful for! The road signs weren't too far off from what my Garmin said. I read this article a day or two before the race and I am so glad I did! It just gave me a lot of insight that probably saved my race yesterday.

With the Spark Notes out of the way, here's how it all went down.

First, let me just say that I don't get nervous.... Ever.... I wasn't nervous to move across the world. I wasn't nervous the day of my wedding. But thinking about running this half was making me nervous. I think it's because my last 2 weeks of training were kind of messed up. When I say "kind of messed up", I really mean "I didn't run for 2 and a half weeks because I was sick and then my family was in England and then I got married".

I thought, "well there goes all my awesome training down the drain..."

(I tried making up some training this past week.... I had to skip my intended long run of 12 miles and just do a kind of taper week instead. Don't follow the Taylor fever wedding training plan; I had no idea what I was doing.)

Yep... Combined 2 weeks of training into 1.....

Needless to say when I woke up yesterday, I felt more confident than I should have. I wasn't feeling as nervous or negative as I was before. I thought of my great 11 mile run (from close to a month ago...) and just said, "If I could do it then, I can do it now!" I forgot to tell myself that I'd need to add on 2.1 miles more than that, but whatever.

Selfies at 5 in the morning!

I wrote 13 on my hand. Taylor Swift writes 13 on her hand when she performs, so I always said when I ran a half marathon I would write 13 on my hand, too. 13.1 miles in the year 2013! How perfect?! (And no, I didn't accidentally wipe the permanent marker on my face or something totally embarrassing... Come to think of it, that's quite shocking I didn't make more of a hot mess out of myself...)

The drive there was nice and relaxing. I ate 1 and a half slices of toast with peanut butter and cinnamon and a pack of fruit punch sport beans.

I thought I had used up all of my weather luck getting perfect wedding day weather.... I was wrong! Yesterday's weather was absolutely perfect! The sun was shining but there was a chilly breeze. Which is why I changed my outfit about 8 times while waiting to start.

Squinty from the sun!

I ended up wearing a tank top and shorts without the jacket, but made a last minute decision to wear leg warmers. (You know, as one does when they think leg warmers are cool...) I definitely could have done without the leg warmers (I ended up pulling them down to look like really awkward socks at mile 11), but compared to what everyone else was wearing, I looked pretty comfortable! Yes I was freezing at the start line. I actually heard people talking about how crazy I was and pointing out the goose bumps on my arms. I wanted to be like "Oh you are so cool, people! Talking about my goose bumps like you own the place!" but refrained... Anyway, the people who were bundled up like we were in the arctic looked like they were regretting their hat, gloves, thermal shirt, fleece jacket, trousers, and electric blanket (kidding about the last one) at about mile 1....

A little past the start line! Not me... faster people...

I started about 9 minutes after the gun went off. I remember it was pretty crowded at the start which slowed everyone down. I remembered the article I read and tried not to weave at all. I knew we would spread out eventually, so I just waited patiently until we got to bigger roads.

The first 3 miles went by super fast. A few times throughout the race I remember going "OMG I'm running a half marathon!" I knew I was going faster than I should (goal was to stay around 11:30 miles... I was doing about a minute faster) but I felt great. There was a water station at mile 3 that had pouches of water called "rip and sip". Best idea I've seen so far in a race! The tops were like fuel wrappers (like Gu or SiS) and they were easy to drink from.... Almost too easy.... Between miles 3 and 4 I ended up coughing up loads of water that just "went down the wrong pipe". It went everywhere. I should have stopped running and pulled to the side, but didn't. Oops! I had already spilled it everywhere; the damage was done.

The first turnaround point was probably one of my favorite spots. I knew that once we got back to where we came from, we'd be about half way. I loved watching the runners coming the opposite direction both before and after the turnaround. I thought that they all looked like they were working so hard. I thought maybe that's how I looked, too, instead of thinking I looked sweaty and disheveled.

I think Alex took this while looking for me between miles 6-7. I could be wrong though.

I saw Alex and his mom and dad around the halfway point. I screamed my head off and was so excited! I still felt really good at that point, so was excited that I was able to give them a thumbs up instead of looking miserable.

The crowds were definitely the biggest at the half way point, which was also close to the finish (so you could see the runners twice throughout the race). The best part was that we had our names on our bib numbers. I would hear random people shout my name or saying "Go Taylor!" (but in British accents, so it was more like "Go Tay-laaa!") and it made me smile and power forward. I don't think I ever want to do a race without my name somewhere on my shirt/bib. It definitely made running that much better.

Pretty pic of Brighton that Alex took

Mile 8 is where I hit my wall. I actually thought mile 6.5 would be where I would tank because we would "only be half way". But no, mile 8 was killer.

The amount of spectators had significantly decreased. It was also one of the first times where most of what you saw in front of you was "one way". Throughout the race you could almost always see runners going in another direction or making turns. This was just straight. And everything was between buildings. I could see runners going the opposite way (towards the finish) in the distance to my left between the buildings, but the turnaround point was nowhere in sight. This was the point that was most daunting to me.

I slowed down a lot. There were no spectators cheering you on. There was no pretty beach side to look at. It was hard.

I skipped the first Lucozade station earlier on in favor of water, but I took a bottle of Lucozade at around mile 9 out of sheer boredom I think. I tasted it and hated it, but just needed something to occupy my time so I just kept it in my hand. I probably only got through a quarter of the bottle before just throwing it to the side. I didn't want crap Lucozade; I wanted a finish line.

The second turnaround point finally came what felt like 7 hours later! Finally, we were running the last stretch of the race all along the beach. The sun was beaming down and it was definitely the hottest point of the race, but it was also quite breezy. The wall I hit was slowly coming down (even though my pace doesn't reflect that).

I had broken the race up into 5 miles, 5 miles, and then a 5K. When we got to mile 10 I thought, "this is it.... Just a Park Run left. I can do this."

I stopped once around mile 11 to pull down my legwarmers and walked a bit to take my last gel.

The last time I ran 11 miles (my longest run before the race), I did it in 2:03:04. This time when I looked I my Garmin at mile 11, I hadn't even hit 2 hours yet.

I decided to stop regretting going out too fast the first half of the race. I knew that even if I did 12 minute miles, I'd still be comfortably under my time goal. And plus, everything after 11 was a new personal distance. I had made it this far; I was not about to give out!

So I just kept going. And going. Seeing mile 12 was amazing. The crowds of spectators were increasing drastically. Everyone was screaming and shouting. I didn't think I'd want to hear the phrase "you're almost done!" at all throughout the race but hearing it was actually kind of spectacular.

They put up signs for how many meters were left starting at 1 KM and decreased every 100 meters (900, 800, 700, all the way to 100). Again, I thought these signs would be an ugly reminder of how little was left, but they were really quite exciting.

I saw Alex and his parents close to the 400 meters left sign. I started laughing and crying and threw my arms up in the air. I don't know what I was trying to accomplish by this. I think I was signaling I wanted a hug, or to be carried across the finish line.

I can't believe I am openly showing this picture to the world! It's dreadful. I swear I'm laughing, not bawling. And there are those cool legwarmers scrunched down like I told you..... And my arms half in the air... Maybe I'm trying to fly?

I didn't even see the mile 13 sign which I'm disappointed about. But I had looked down at the 13 on my hand enough times to remember what my fave number is and how many miles I was running.

I had enough energy in me to sprint to through the finish line. I almost didn't want to stop running. I knew if I stopped, I'd ache. But everyone else had stopped and I didn't want to look like an ass. So I stopped. And ached. I didn't even want a space blanket. I wanted my medal.

New bling!

I knew my time was where I wanted it to be. I dug deep for that. I didn't even care that I went out too fast or that I wanted the second half to be stronger than the first half so I didn't "hit the wall". I didn't care about anything. I just thought, "when can I do this again?!" 

Alex's dad said if I finished below 2:30, we'd have tea at The Grand Hotel, and if I finished over 2:30, we'd have tea at Ted's Cafe. He owes me tea at The Grand Hotel!! (Which we are standing in front of)

And I will do it again sometime soon!

But for now, some thank yous to Body Glide, the makers of the rip and sip pouches, Nando's (which I demolished for lunch), Alex and his/our family, and YOU!


  1. Way to go girl! What a great accomplishment! Wicked about the number 13s. Loved the pictures too because I lived In Brighton until this past December. Such a pretty place there by the sea.

    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

  2. THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING! you go girl :) I'm totally going to pump you for info/tips before my first in September.

  3. Awesome job Taylor! I love race recaps, and this is a great one. Is Lucozade like Powerade? It sounds very British to me for some reason. And I totally would have loved the British accents yelling my name too! How fun. And oh well about not seeing the mile 13 marker! There's always next time!! Isn't it crazy how much crowd support helps? I wish people who weren't runners knew it. It's amazing how much crowds can carry you. Oh, and last thing. I think those rip top waters are a great idea! Congrats!! Be proud! You did fantastic!!

  4. Well done! Have you drank the crazy runner juice that makes you want to sign up for every race you see now?! Been there, done that! x


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