My Journey to the Brighton Marathon: The Half Marathon

I smashed the half marathon. I think this is the headline since my last blog in October, when I had completed my 10k run, as part of my training. 

Juliette Gaunt
Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

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Training on holiday

I had (luckily for me) been on a week-long sun holiday right before the half marathon and so was feeling suitably anxious about the possible training dip whilst I was away for some R and R, but I needn’t have worried! It transpires an athlete in training for a marathon cannot even be stopped by a sun holiday in Morocco – cue early morning (7am) rises and four beach runs in the seven days I was away.

There is something amazing about running in the early morning (hot) sun, on the beach, with the sea lapping at my (now wet) trainers, as the local folk go about their daily routines around you. I loved beach running. I ran a 5k and two 10ks, with one split session of sprints and recovery whilst I was in Morocco. It really did me the world of good – no tapering as such ahead of the half, but I turned up on the 14 October feeling ready and pumped.

The half marathon

The run itself was extremely wet! It decided to absolutely pour with rain from dawn until dusk that day… not that wet weather stops a marathon runner in training! Although I couldn’t feel my fingers for the first 45 minutes of the run owing to the cold and wet, and when the feeling returned they were numb and then full of pins and needles, the feeling of participating competitively was exhilarating.

The support from my family and the spectators was immense – I had my name on my number and I heard so many people shout my name as I ran past! I ran through many deeper than I imagined muddy puddles and so had rather wet trainers and feet by the end of it, but, I crossed the line in 2:02:24. I had set my sights on a finish time of two hours, so to come in just two minutes later was an achievement. I also felt like I could have continued on; which is always good when contemplating that same distance all over again!

There were no after effects of my run at all – no soreness or stiffness, and my Achilles which had been niggling a little in the run up suffered no lasting pain or damage either…. I have to credit the sports massage I had from the third year Sports science guys in the days that followed – what a treat! I thoroughly recommend them to any staff or student member – it’s free and you sign up via moodle and can go along over your lunch hour. Well worth it – the guys and girls there are friendly and knowledgeable.

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Back to training

I took back to training runs again just 48 hours later following the half marathon – running a slow 5k on the Tuesday evening afterwards…. But that slow pace isn’t for me, and the following Friday I ran another half marathon training run in two hours and 10 minutes in my local area. Since that point, I have been blighted by dark nights and wet weather, but…. This hasn’t stopped me. I have run a half marathon distance once every ten days and I am now finishing with a pace of one hour and 55 minutes… so I’ve already shaved off a good seven minutes in my training runs. I’m really enjoying it! My focus is also on better split timing sessions to increase my overall pace and endurance, and I’m enjoying shorter sprint sessions and some core work in the gym.

Triathlon training

I’m struggling somewhat with the discovery of a new passion in my sporting endeavour as I head towards the end of 2018, and the welcome arrival of 2019 and just shy of five months to go until the marathon itself…. And this is the discovery or triathlon. I purchased my first ever road bike in September, and have been interspersing my training runs with a few road bike sessions of 25-30 miles, out in the countryside. I am totally loving the bike – it’s a whole new cardio experience and I’ve found muscles I didn’t know I had as a result – and I am now trying to cover off two disciplines in one training session as I get used to the notion of “swim, bike, run”! So far, I’ve managed a 25 mile cycle followed by a 5k run. The bike is really supporting my running and vice versa and the ability to train on my bike indoors is very appealing when it is so cold out there.

The Christmas season will not be a rested time for me – there’s more running on the horizon, and I even plan to go out for a 10k on Christmas day….. there’s no stopping me right now. I’ve also signed up for the half marathon in Barcelona, which takes place on the 10 February 2019 – it’s a flat course, and many people often PB because of this, so I’m aiming for a one hour 52 finish – with any luck and a good dose of training between now and then I hope I will manage it!

My journey

Please do keep following my journey – I would really welcome any support you can offer – you can find my fundraising page here.  I cannot lose sight of the fact that I am doing all of this for those babies born too early, too poorly or sleeping, including my own little boy Ben, who, six years later would be amazingly proud of his Mummy for sure.

Read my first blog entry here to see where my journey began.

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