After a miserably wet day on Friday, last Saturday dawned dry and reasonably bright, so the weather was no excuse for not setting out for Eastbourne, anticipating a reasonably good time, despite my lack of training. However the contrast with Clarendon a few weeks earlier could not have been greater! Firstly it was just Mark and myself, rather than a whole minibus full of Joggers, and secondly Beachy is a very different course.
I had not run a marathon before Clarendon since Brighton back in April and had missed more runs in the summer than for several years. Despite this and through starting slowly, I had felt pretty good over the last 6 miles at Clarendon, partly, but not entirely, due to my running companion.
I therefore started Beachy more slowly than I had ever done so, walking up not just hills, but relatively slight inclines. I tried to make up for this by running the flat and downhill sections fairly quickly, but I was nevertheless slightly surprised to be joined by Mark, who had said he would be running particularly slowly as he had laryngitis, after about 10 miles. It was muddy underfoot in places, but the weather was fine and the views as superb as ever.
However I stuck to my plan and it must have taken me longer to get to Litlington after 18 miles than it ever had, although I comforted myself with the thought that I would repeat my Clarendon experience. I could not have been more wrong! Those last 8 miles at Beachy are tougher than any I know in marathon, which I should have remembered, having done them on 23 previous occasions, so it’s as well get to Litlington as quickly as possible.
A combination of gels and Neurofen kept me going, together with the inimitable banter with Mark and I was able to muster quite a fast downhill mile, although I was pipped at the finish not only by him, but also an American young lady we met. I realised afterwards I should have carried a bottle of water to be refilled at the checkpoints like I did at Clarendon, as it was quite a humid day and it’s impossible drink enough out of a half filled cup.
The next time I run Beachy it will be my 25th and I am determined to prepare better. As one of my friends said, if you don’t, it will bite you, as it’s not a marathon to be taken lightly.