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I travelled down to the south coast early on the Sunday morning to join a house full of Eagles for the 2013 Brighton Half Marathon. The Son was meant to be spending the day with Mrs Dan but he ended up joining me for the day as Mrs Dan needed the time to prepare for a seminar later in the week. Thankfully he was happy to get up at silly-o-clock to join me and a handful of other Eagles in the car for a pleasant drive through the early morning fog.

We arrived at the temporary Brighton eyrie as the main group of Eagles were making their final preparations for the run and we all walked down to the race village. The weather fairies were being kind as the sky was clear and the sun was beginning to shine down brightly.

The baggage drop off point glimmered like a mirage in the distance and certainly took a while to walk to. I dropped off my bag was able to keep my hoodie on for warmth safe in the knowledge that I could hand it to The Son for safe keeping. We had a few minutes for a quick walk along the beach and I joined the large group of men using the bushes as a temporary toilet facility. Once again I felt for all the women in the mammoth queues for the tiny amount of portaloos.

My marathon training is in full force but I was not sure just how fast I would be able to run. At registration I had put myself in the 1:45-2 hour starting pen, which matched by PB of 1:54:10, but with my faffing around making sure The Son was ok I found myself pretty far back in the pen.

I handed my top over for safe keeping to The Son and the race was soon underway as my fellow yellow pen runners shuffled towards the start line. The Son jogged along the side in the spectator section to give me some encouragement and then I was off into a small loop of the town. The crowd of runners combined with the narrow roads made the first few miles quite congested but I was able to give a wave to the Eagles cheer squad and chat away to a few other Eagle runners as I slowly caught them up.

I was getting into my running groove as the sun began to drive some warmth around me so I decided to pick up the pace as we ran out on the coastal road to Brighton Marina. I was still weaving past people but with the crowds continually thinning out this was becoming less necessary.

As we looped around back on the same road for the journey back into central Brighton, I realised that a temporary bus lane was in operation along the section I had just ran out on. I did not really notice it when I passed by earlier but it did not look very safe as buses plowed through at what appeared to be fast speeds with just a flimsy tape separating the bus lane from runners. It would have only taken a runner to trip and fall through the tape at the wrong moment and there could have been a serious accident. There were also a lot of runners using headphones who might not have been able to hear the buses approaching from behind and if they moved out then again someone could have been seriously hurt. I noticed that a few people posted about this onto the Facebook group after the race and it is definitely something that needs to be looked at before the 2014 race.

I was still chugging along at sub-5 min/km pace and overtaking all the runners ahead of me. In the distance I spotted a pace making group who I assumed must be the sub-1:45 group so I set them as a target and soon caught up with them only to find it was the 2 hour pacing group – I really had started too far back!

The route continued on the coastal road and the race leaders began to pass on the opposite side and it was not long before I reached the furthest point where I looped back with a cry of “only a parkrun to go!”. The sea breeze could now be felt as a head wind but I continued my quiet quest to pick off the runners ahead of me one-by-one. The Eagles cheer squad had setup around the 1000m to go point and with their encouragement I picked up my pace for the last burst down past the pier and into the finishing straight. I knew that a sub-1:45 was there for a taking and I crossed the finish line with a Garmin time of 1:43:42.

I was dead chuffed with my finishing time as my A goal had been 1:46 and my B goal anything sub-1:50 so I had smashed both out of the ball park. I also knew that I could have pushed for a sub-1:40 time but for the early congestion and general chatting to any Eagle that crossed my path.

Some interesting stats pulled from my Garmin splits:

  • First 5km completed in 0:26:14
  • First 10km completed in 0:50:48
  • First half of the race completed in 0:53:12
  • Second half of the race completed in 0:50:07
  • Last 10km completed in 0:47:23
  • Last 5km completed in 0:23:18

The eagle-eyed might notice that the times do not quite add up to my finishing time but I rounded down the km splits to make my calculations easier.

The stats that leap out at me:

  1. A 3 minute negative split.
  2. A last 10km only 19 seconds off my current 10km PB.

My marathon training is going well and I am in good condition so roll on the Reading Half where I hope to take another small chunk off my new half PB.

After the race I was able to meet The Son next to the café in the kids playground area where he was tucking into a packet of crisps just as my official finishing time of 1:43:42 arrived by SMS. He had used my running time to get himself a hot chocolate from Costa, enjoy the views from the Brighton Wheel, and join the Eagles cheer squad.

I also took the opportunity to get the back of my finishers medal engraved with my official time before we joined some fellow Eagles for a brief wade / swim into the sea. I have to report that the short swim did wonders for my leg recovery and I was glad to have brought a towel and spare clothes with me.

Our group finally made its way to the Fiddlers Elbow where the Eagles had reserved a set of tables ready for our post-race refreshment. The Son was content to occupy himself with his iPod Touch while eating burger & chips while I wolfed down a lamb shank with roast vegetables as we nattered away about the race. The group began to splinter off as some Eagles decided to head off to another pub so I took that as our queue to drive back to London.

I had a great day in Brighton and a great run to take 11 minutes off my previous half PB. We were lucky to land on a perfect day for combining running and sightseeing – clear sky with bright sunshine but still cool enough for a fast run. I plan to return for the 2014 race and The Son has his eye on running the junior race that takes place immediately after the last half runners exit the start area.

  • Rank: 1543 / 7539
  • Position: 1703 / 7539
  • Gender place: 1434 / 4324
  • Category place: 957 / 2633
  • Category: Senior Men
  • Finish time (gun): 1:47:27
  • Finish time (chip): 1:43:42
  • Finish Time (Garmin): 1:43:42