Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Race Review: Brighton Marathon

on April 15, 2015

“Are you ready for Brighton then?” I was repeatedly asked in the week before the marathon, and my response was always the same, “Yes, I’m in the best shape I have been before any marathon. My training has gone well, I don’t have any injuries and I’ve done everything I can do.”

And it was true. This was marathon number 4. 1, 2 & 3 had been exceptional learning experiences, but plagued by undertraining, overtraining and injury respectively. In my eyes, I’d failed at getting my sub 4 hour marathon in 2014, but this was going to be it.

The week before the marathon I began my carb depletion diet on the Sunday. I was less crabby than the last time I did it, which was good, but I was sick to death of meat, eggs and cheese by day 4! My training was slow and careful in the final week; 8 miles Sunday, coaching intervals Tuesday, slow leg turner on Thursday morning and a final couple of miles on Saturday morning.

Carb loading from Thursday was bliss! And a day out with friends to the Expo on Friday had me tingling with excitement, nerves and anticipation. I just wanted to be on that start line!


Saturday night I slept terribly. I mean properly awfully. On any normal night I’m out like a light. I must’ve had about 2 hours in total. But I was still up like a shot at the 5am alarm and we were on our way to Brighton.


I met up with friends in the start area and planned where I’d see everyone along the route.


I was in the first wave of runners from the main start, so I made my way to my start pen and worked my way through to about 10 people from the front. My target was a sub 4 marathon. I knew the splits for that off the top of my head. My training suggested I could sneak in somewhere around 3:50 if all went to plan and I was cautious about my pacing. I had the 3:50 pacing band on. I’d also, rather optimistically, worn a 3:45 pacing band mainly so that I could pitch myself somewhere between the 2, if possible. I’d made my peace with the fact I was likely to be ripping it off after 10 miles.

We started and I was across the line quickly. I knew the first mile would be slow with the crowds and the incline, so I just got myself comfy.

In miles 1-6 everything was going well. I always use the “run the mile you’re in” strategy, and each one was strong. Pace was between the 2 pacing bands. The plan was being executed well. The support was strong and I’d seen friends and my boyfriend, Scott, already. With my name on my club top everyone cheers you on, and I was smiling back at them all. The tried and tested strategy of gels every 30 minutes was working.

I’d read a marathon tip from Xempo the week before and I kept asking myself the question.


Miles 7-12 saw up heading along the seafront towards Ovingdean. Support was less but still encouraging, and as the course loops back you can see the speedy ones coming back in the other direction. My pace was still pretty consistent and each mile was under the 8:35 per mile of the 3:45 finish band….so I was buying myself some time for the harder miles to come.


Back along the seafront and into Hove I saw Scott, friends, family and club mates. The support was awesome and a real boost after the quieter miles. I crossed halfway in 1:51:43. The 3:45 finish band said halfway would be 1:52:30, so I had a few seconds spare on that finish time. It was positive, but I was pretty convinced that would be eaten up in the harder miles to come.

Miles 14-18 were pretty steady. Good support along the route and plenty of water stations. Another out and back, it was nice to see the faster ones coming past. People started flagging. Runners that I had been around for the first half were stopping or dropping back, and a few of them I saw on the loop back while they were still heading out. Remembering my Xempo mantra I still felt OK at this pace. I carried on.

Scott ran alongside me just after 18 miles. I could still chat fine and was happy enough, I knew I was alright.

I’d been warned about the ‘grim’ miles up to and around the power station. Not only was the scenery a bit bleak, it was around that time that ‘the wall’ creeps up on you.

At 19 miles I saw the #UKRunChat banners, which was a great boost. Just after that there were runners heading back at their 23 mile mark, and I began to get insanely jealous of them knowing they only had a parkrun to go! Still my pace was consistent and I saw 20, 21, 22 come and go. Each time my watch beeped my mile had been around the 3:45 pacing band.

With a parkrun to go myself now, I had to really dig deep to make these miles count. I was passing people who were struggling. At 23 I saw my Dad and Stepmum, I was still able to smile and wave. Here’s me at 23.5 miles, courtesy of Bob Fudge.


24 and 25 along the seafront were great. It felt like everyone was cheering my name and I had loads of shouts about girl power. Until that stage I hadn’t realised that when I looked around me I was the only female. Lots of chants telling me how strong I looked. I knew Scott would be at 25 miles, I was starting to flag and I felt weak. I saw him there and told him I couldn’t talk but I was OK.

The final mile and a bit was the only part I found tough! But the crowds were amazing, and I saw a club mate who looked just as shocked as I was to see me there so soon! I saw I had around 2 minutes to spare on the 3:45 finish. All I had to do was keep moving and I might make it. The guys around me were stopping. I couldn’t stop.

I saw it. The finish gantry. I managed a sprint finish and passed a few more on the way through. 3:42:34, a time I hadn’t even dreamt of.

I almost kissed every single volunteer I came into contact with after that!

Medal round my neck and bag collected, I was on cloud 9. Straight down to the beach for a dip in the sea!


My smiles says it all!

I looked at the stats afterwards and here’s a quick round-up:

1st half: 1:51:43

2nd half: 1:50:51

Finish: 3:42:34

Average pace: 8.29/mile (5.17/km)

Slowest mile: Mile 1 @ 8.59 min

Fastest mile: Mile 8 @ 8.18 min

Finish position overall: 1525 out of 9200

Finish position All Women: 163 out of 3347

Finish position Female age 18-34: 75 out of 1423

I can safely say I could have done nothing more to make that run the best of my life. So far!

So now to invest the same amount of trust in to my recovery and mini semi re-taper type thing for the London Marathon, which is in 10 days now!

As an event, Brighton Marathon was great. Course is good, support is great, scenery (for the best part) is lovely, water stations are frequent and marshals were fantastic. My only criticism was the cups of water rather than bottles, but that couldn’t dampen a top class event.

On to the next!


26 responses to “Race Review: Brighton Marathon

  1. Whoooop, what an awesome run, well done again! See you at London 🙂 xx

  2. Martin Cox says:

    great race review Sarah!! Let’s hope yours and mine London review tells a similar tale. Cracking job! Well done!

    • Thanks Martin. Your support meant a lot to me on the day, especially half way and that final mile. Your training has been exceptional, your London will be fantastic. My legs are feeling good but the fatigue is hanging around so I will enjoy a beautiful sightseeing trip round London and, apart from the pace, hope the rest stays the same as Brighton!

  3. Brilliant time, well done!!

  4. Louise says:

    Awesome race LRG I was also screaming you on with Mr C at Mile 25 and a bit as we knew what a fantastic time you were going to do and so thrilled for you all your hard work has paid off inspiring😆😆

    • Thank you so much, your cheering really got me through that last mile, it was so great to see you both there and at that point I knew I could do it. Thank you again. See you at London!

  5. An awesome run. I hope I can do the same in London for my first ever marathon.

  6. Tiny runner says:

    I really enjoyed reading that – congratulations on a great time and smashing your sub 4 goal to pieces!

  7. AnnaTheApple says:

    Massive congratulations! Sounds like a very well paced and you obviously trained well! Really like that quote – great a advice!
    Good luck for London as well 🙂

  8. cakevsscales says:

    I smiled so much whilst reading that post, you have achieved something incredible – Huge congratulations to you! x

  9. rularuns says:

    Well done, sounds like a well executed plan!! Bring on London x

  10. Wow well done! Sounds like you nailed your race plan! Enjoy your recovery and have a great time in London 🙂

  11. I like your ‘run the mile your in’ mentality! That was an inspiring read, thank you. I’ve been injured for about a year and there’s no way I’ll reproduce my best time in my next marathon this weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it now!

    • Thank you Alison. CONGRATULATIONS AT BOSTON! I’m not sure if you’ve read my blog about my lead up to Berlin marathon. I had been very injured and just had to salvage what I could from it. I learnt so much, and it is still one of my favorite ever runs. Now I get to use what I learnt in races where I can perform to my full potential, and it has helped me no end. Well done again 🙂

      • I didn’t have a plan at all last week, but after reading this I based my whole pacing plan off of you keeping to a 8:29/mile pace and running a 3:42.

        I was chatting to someone at the pre-race dinner the night before and he said you should always have three plans at the start line; a PB, a time you’d be happy with, and crossing that finish line because finishing a marathon is equally as awesome.

        Now I can’t wait to see what I can do once I get healthy.

  12. Rosemary says:

    Well done, Sarah, knew you could do it. Gather that you have bettered your best time, congratulations. All best luck for t he London marathon. Love Rosemary and Grandad Roger

  13. What a lovely positive post! Well done x

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