I ran the Worthing 20mile race last year and completed it in a very pleasing 3 hrs and 16 minutes and 56 seconds.

Which was a minor miracle.

I entered it because it’s in late March so your longest pre-marathon run is in a race. Great way of testing kit and gels and lube and all that stuff ready for mara race day.

My training for Brighton marathon was going really well. I’d lost weight, got fit, had a brilliant personal running coach and was knocking out 6 sessions a week.

My Saturday pre long run preparation was always the same:

1              Drink at least 3 litres of water throughout the day

2              Don’t do much apart from a couple of miles walk

3              Eat a massive amount of pasta for dinner and have a couple of glasses of Barolo for nerves.

It was a ritual. I never strayed.

Saturday morning before the race I got a call. “Let’s meet up and go in town and have some lunch”. Cool I thought. I can walk there and back which will be good, eat well and then get back early.

We met at an Italian. A cheeky beer whilst perusing the menu will be okay I thought. Look they’ve got Barolo on the wine list and I always have that pre-run I said. Get some of that too.

Fish to start. Good protein. Rubbish with red wine. Better have a glass of Chablis. Big starter, large glass. Then pasta and meatballs. Red wine. Lovely.

I knew I had to go back so thought better have a coffee. Double macchiato. I think it’s illegal in an Italian to have coffee without having a brandy and it was cold outside, so just a small Remy for me.

I felt well good. I hadn’t drunk for ages so I was ‘mildly euphoric’. It was chilly outside and still only around 3pm. Plenty of time to hydrate, small dinner and sleep it all off.

“Grand Budapest Hotel is on at the Komedia. Afternoon showing”. I’d been in Budapest only 2 weeks earlier and I love Wes Anderson films. Most of my life has been as weird as being in the ‘Royal Tenenbaums’ so his films feel good. Familiar. “They let you drink in there”.

Well. It’s still only early. Film. Hydrate. Eat. Bed. I’ll get a taxi home. I’ll be okay. I also love being led astray.

The thing I’ve always found with afternoon drinking is that when you suddenly have to deal with sober people and situations you start to get a bit louder….and it’s no good stopping or you’ll get a headache. Also. You’re always a bit more drunk than you actually think you are.

“Ok. I’ll need water as well though” I said as we headed to the Cinema. Then it started.

“Who’s that” “I don’t understand what’s going on” “I’ve spilt my drink” “Watch this I’ll do the popcorn trick” “OI CAN YOU SHUT THE FRICK UP” “Do you know what’s going on” “I’m well confused” “What’s he been in before” *constant mobile ringing* “haven’t you got a race tomorrow?”

Not my finest hour and I’m really sorry if you were in there.

“Hey look, it’s nearly 6pm. Footballs finished. Let’s go see who’s out and about as we’re in town”

I remember leaving the pub later that evening after meeting mates and vaguely remember getting home. I do however remember the sheer panic I had when I woke up at 3am. I was quite, quite thirsty. What an idiot.

All that training. All that restrain. All that effort and hard work. All those freezing cold nights. All that running on the seafront in horrendous weather. All that eating right and drinking litres and litres of water. All that running up the Sussex Downs and miles and miles on Sundays. All that, then I go nuts the day before my longest run and last pre-marathon race.

I felt quite special when I woke up. I couldn’t see very well either, I think that was all the Laphroaig that caused some temporary blindness. I had a shower. Tried to get dressed. Threw up. Had a shower. Ate. Fell asleep again.

I was being driven there and poured myself carefully into the car. I was extremely sheepish and quiet. When we got there was no parking. “I’m not staying for the race. I’ll drive back to Brighton and come back and pick you up later”.  I said it would take me over 3 hours, or that I’d probably be in the medical tent area being hydrated. I said please don’t be late as I’ll need to get home quickly to die slowly in my own bed after the race.

I walked tentatively towards the start. Threw up. Continued wavering around then just sat on the floor near the start line and waited for the starting gun/horn, or whatever they used….it was loud though. We start. It took a while for my legs to get going and for me to start to see again. I don’t remember anything until about the 3rd lap apart from my awful aroma of alcohol and gel bars.

The last 4 miles hurt. Really hurt. I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t dare think about what an idiot I’d been the night before as the thought of it just made me want to throw up. I saw the finish, I was actually going to make it! The last 400metres were excruciating, I crossed the line, had a medal placed around my neck and was given a peck on the cheek by a brave girl with no sense of smell. I felt bloody rank, yet with an overwhelming sense of massive achievement against my own stupidity. I was happy with the time too, although even more happy that I wasn’t being resuscitated in the medical tent.

There was no one waiting there for me. I looked around and hobbled along, picking up a water bottle and made my way to the road. Then I heard a voice.

“Oh, you’ve finished then. Sorry, I completely forgot about you. Why didn’t you slow down at the end and wait until I got here?”


So. What’s the story.

Trust your training. If you follow your plans and do everything you need to then you’ll be okay. An ultra-runner said to me last week, ‘it’s all in your head’. Get the training and miles in and you’ll be okay. If you do that you’ll cope with any hiccup or things thrown at you you’re not expecting. Like a day out with me.

Be sensible. To a point. You’ve got to have some release. Let’s be honest, most of us are never going to win a marathon or get selected for the Olympics. Ease up on the seriousness. When you’re training for your Spring marathon do the best you can. Train hard, eat well, be brilliant and enjoy the running….

….just don’t forget to have maximum fun along the way too.