Where do I begin? Should I start at the finish line or maybe 3 am in the morning? I have so many emotions today, less than 24 hours after.
But alright – I made it to finish line and I got a medal – now lets start at 3 am.
Sunday morning, 3 am: fire alarm. Seriously, I am in a hotel and the fire alarm is sharply screaming thru the night. I grab my jacket, my iphone and the key card for the room. I am very proud of both phone and keycard. This is my 2nd time I have been awaken by a fire alarm in the night, in a hotel. The first time I forgot my iphone. And jacket. But broght keycard and a sweater. Coming down to the lobby I am painfully aware of a party still going on and I forgot to put on shoes. Who forgets their shoes? Well, me obviously. It’s four of us coming down at the same time – wearing pyamas – but one man is fully dressed, looks like he never got to bed. We are slumped on a corner of a sofa, half asleep. From the hotel crew it seems no panic and I think they’re deciding it’s a smoke alarm that’s gone off. 15 mins later some people are coming in from the street heading up to their rooms. I am sligtly irritated that they can do that, that noone is telling them what’s going on. But I am too tired. After a while, three policemen are coming into the building, in Sweden it’s always someone from the firebrigade saying it’s safe to go back in again. Nothing strange there. After an hour the fully dressed man is raising his voice, wants to know what’s happeining. The cute receptionist is looking at the man, looking at me, turning around to look at the two women… he looks pussled… oh, I thought you were just hanging out here. You we’re cleard to go in half an hour ago… I am wearing Hello Kitty-pyamaspants! And I am barefoot! Seriously (the response to that is “we have seen everything here as we don’t have a dress code”)! The cute guy is tilting his head and says you probably thought the police had something to do with it? It’s another thing, it’s a guy that escaped prison, turnes out he’s here, well not escaped, on leave from prison…. he didn’t return on time… would have been exciting if it wasn’t for my alarm clock was set on 6 am.
6 am. Managed to fall asleep again and woke up with butterflies all over. Shower and instant oat meal, two packs.
Funny story: at the local shop I’m standing with three of those cups that you just fill up with water, wait a couple of minutes and then – wow – porrige! A couple comes up to the same shelf, the man (runner) takes three just like me, his partner points to the boxes next to it – ten bags/portions of porrige for two (2) pounds the cups are like 2.10 each. She says “you’re gonna eat more anyway. He takes the package instead. I take the package instead. In the morning I realise these bags are for milk and to microwave, not instant! I made it instant anyway. Two packages in a mug, filled up with water and put a “lid” on. When I returned from the shower it was ready!
Porrige and a cup of tea was my breakfast.
At quarter past seven I am heading out to walk to the start area. It was already warm and sun’s up. I haven’t been running in warmer conditions since last summer. And, confessing to that I may as well say I haven’t done any long runs either. Not since december when I did 30 km. This year I think 16 is the longest. Or maybe it was 12. I don’t know. I have been running 3-4 mornings every week and gathered between 25 and 40 km a week. I am a slow runner. But I am thriving. I don’ give up. It was kinda magic with everyone joining from every street, all going the same way.
First thing arriving – a porta loo, lovely. I don’t think there’s too many of them, but I don’t have to stand in line so I’m good. I find a place to adjust my shoes, strap on my fluid belt (ultimate direction) and deciding to put my soft shell jacket in the drop bag. Need the loo again. Whereever I look there are lines. Extreme lines. It’s like a spiders web all over the area. I decide on one and stood there for over 30 mins before unloading a bottle of pee. I droped my bag off at 9.05 and headed to the green quarrel, for us that will need more than five hours.
It’s warm. I stand next to the rhino. He’s a superstar. The first lot is leaving at 9.15. Every time a quarrel leaves we’re counting down. Excitement and cheers. The pinks are leaving just before us. Elvis is the last to leave the area. I don’t spot him again. We are out just before 10 am. Feels good. Good atmosphere. Sun’s shining. Everone is chatting and laughter is spread around Preston Park. It actually feels very good for a long time. Leaving Preston Park we smell the bacon from some random vendor. Some of the runners around me starts talking about breakfast, myself a want to throw up. I am a vegan runner, but I am not here to start a war. Try to hold my breath instead. Looking at my watch I can tell I am doing a good pace, around 7.30 mins/km. I told you I am not quick. Running past the Marina (believing this is where we’ll turn as the pinks are coming towards us again) and turning left into a cute little village instead. I am passed by an ambulance. I run out of the village next to a uniformed police man. He’s wearing heavy working boots and helmet. We are all affected by the heat now. The policeman is getting shouts and blessing from spectators as well as fellow runners. He’s offered drinks but politly refuse, someone suggests he should remove his helmet but he says he’s not allowed to. What a true hero. I don’t think he made it to the finish line.
I have a lot of time to think and one thing is vety clear – if we were as civilised to each others in our daily life as we are in a marathon – we would have world peace. You know it’s true.
Coming back into the town center again we’re leaving the seaside and run the longest stretch without a turning point in sight. This is where I need to keep the motivation up. I have been holding on to my water bottle that I meant to throw away at the start and I filled it up at every water station. It’s so hot. This must be how it feels like running in the dessert. I will never run in the dessert. I promise.
At 25 km I get the biggest boost ever, someone is playing “you gotta move it, move it”. It’s a song I love but only my husband knows (I am a hardrocker, remember), I got some extra energy from it. Thank you random wonderful spectator, much appreciated!
Coming back down and you can spot the ocean between the houses, where will we turn? Is there a turn? Why can’t I spot the pinkys? I am totally depening on my watch, the signs are few and in miles. Going out on the last stretch I am really struggling. The heat is unbearable. At one station they are out of water, fear of drying up comes over me. Some people got their garden hoses out and spray us. Also big vertical showers are set up. Beautiful. Much needed.
At 35 km I feel like giving up. I am walking. I send a text message to husband and my mother, knowing they’re tracking me on either Garmin connect or Brighton Marathon’s site or app. Both of them are cheering for me. I confess to walking. I never walk. I decide to walk one km and run one. I think I walk faster than running. I am not hungry. Usually I take a gel ever 10 km but now I had a half at 20 maybe, just couldn’t get it down and threw it away. Now, with 6 km to go I remembered I had a tiny oat & fruit bar with me. Oh, I ate is so slow and drank water and it was wonderful, tasted so good.
At one point, by the sea, a woman in bikini came running on the beach chasing her dog as it chased a group of runners. We all broke the silence of running with a laugh “that woman really had her arse hanging out,” more energy – don’t underestimate a laugh on behalf of someone else. Thank you dog chasing woman!
The Pier never looked further away than it did at four, three and two km. I mean, seriously!! It was so far away, ALL the time!! Looking at my watch it passed 42 before I could see the finish line! But there it was. People cheering! Tears rolling! So sweet. So amazing. I did it. I conquered fears and heat.
I didn’t get a finishers t-shirt, they only had xs left and If I pushed it I could have a male M but that’s about it. They said they’d send me one. I remember thinking I will have to wear the medal for work Tuesday, how else will people know to ask me about the race? I pick up my bag. Both pink and green left.
I forgot worrying about being the last person!
I see the vegan street food, as they’re packing it up, but I am not hungry. I see a coffee/tea/flapjack truck. I ask for a vegan energyball and a dirty chai latte. Five pounds. Very well invested, I find a bench, sit down. Take a sip.. take a bite.
The tide has pushed the water too far away. I would love to stand in the water but I don’t think I can make it there. Or back up again. I think I should buy an official t-shirt, I could wear that for work. I am in no hurry. I will get there eventually. To be honest I wish the non-runner to go away, they’re pushy and in my way (as they think I am in their way). I need the backstage area!
Writing this on the flight back home I can truly say I find all that finished amazing. As I finally left the area runners were still coming in. I finished at 6 and a half hours, they came in an hour later. This heat for over seven hours! Amazing!
For the first 20 km I wanted this to be my annual treat. I’d bring my hubby and mother next year and invite all my friends who lives in England. I even decided on running for the WWF because of the “the panda made me do it”-shirt. At 25 I said I’d never do it again. This morning I still never wanted to run another marathon. But now, well, I need a revenge! Don’t I?
I want to say thank you to all the people, without knowing it, keept me going. The people and kids at the water stations. The paramedics. In the beginning it was the blonde woman in a green Macmillan shirt, my eyes flooded when she met up with her partner and kid (or so it looked like) when we came into town the first round, I lost track of her after that. I followed the backs of some from the deaf kids foundation, and I lost counts of all the tutus. At the end I followed Dee in a very hot pink vest, but begore the finish line I lost her. I tried to find a Vegan Runner shirt to follow but the only one I saw was one I met, about an hour ahead of me!
Brighton, my 25th anniversary was awesome – the best cheers and the best feeling ever, what a memory to treassure!
Ps! The man in a wheelchaire, holding a sign, saying ” if it was easy I would do it!” – it sure put things in perspective. Thank you!