Failing Forward, the success of not running from London – Brighton

After Hikebikerun I pretty much fell off the wagon, didn’t train and kicked back, let’s say more than a little!! London2Brighton come around and I’d only ran a 10K and a bumbling half marathon over the Seven Sisters in the months leading up to it.. But I felt good, I’d a place to stay close to the start, so had no excuses not to crack on with it really!



I woke at 4am to get my train to Richmond (I’m a get there early Nazi, awkwardly so too!) it’s raining, I sighed to my self but knew these conditions favored me so the walk just the few minutes to the station saw me soaked! “Well that’s one thing I don’t have to be worried about!” Bloody train closures and a bus replacement, great, a wait and possible only being a hour early! THE STRESS! At last the bus arrived and dropped me and another fellow competitor off right outside RESULT!


We all huddled together all us runners like scared of the rain or stupidly trying to stay just that tiny bit drier, I watched the first group head out at 6.45, SIGH then it’s our turn to be utterly annoyed by the warm up team (just what I need before running 100KM, a warm up and calorie burn!) lining up I always look around to see who’s got new or old shoes on and based on that figure out who I’ll be quicker than!


We’re off people go shooting off along the soaking grass playing field as if trying to prove something, or wanting to get away from the rain! I set off from the back, and plodded, negative splits all the way for me!



Took me 10K to get into things and my the first 12k stop came I’d got 1.10 on my watch, considering in going slow as possible I was over the moon with my pace, we all took tea and snacks on whilst hiding from the rain once again.

We soon left the lovely paths and hit muddy puddle filled off road paths where those who shot off were slowly without trying, being reeled in. Mud, wet and off road is my terrain I seem to thrive in the worst of conditions. Mile after mile got eaten up, I remember now why I always had the desire, not a thought or idea but a feeling to want to be able to run all day. 30K in and I’m settled and in my stride, for those of you who may have gotten to that special place, I was there, no thoughts as if my mind emptied out, it’s a euphoric place where you are totally at one with the surroundings and the environment breathing is calm and steady but your in that zone its not even like I am doing the work I’m in total flow mind/body and soul are in line and working as one.



IMG_2507I hit the wall around 33K but now know what to expect and as soon as the wave hits me I begin to fuel up and up the pace, I know if knuckle down this wave will soon pass, the other end is not far away it normally lasts a few miles! It did drive me a little mad and I let myself have some photo fun along the way… another lesson for next time!



Time seems to become relevant, I am sharing places with a team of two who seem in great shape the pace is quickening with each field and road crossing. Before long there it is 40K! when did that happen, I felt amazing, utterly fresh as a daisy.



I pass through the magical 42.6K or Marathon distance a full 50 minutes short of my previous best. I’m euphoric, the rains stopped I pull in for a cuppa and a bit of cake (aahh come on I’m northern! I’d have eaten gravy if they’d have had it!) I set off in a focused mood thinking maybe I can finish in sub Eleven hours, maybe just maybe I’ve got this in me…… Time to knuckle down and get to work.



IMG_2518I pass through 30 miles with no niggles, plenty of grub with me, hydrated cool and relaxed. I’m on this and organised then my head starts……

“Russ, you’ve ran 30 miles that’s half way, can you do that again? this is unknown running now”


aahhhh the voice of reason, I think back to how empty I left myself after Hikebikerun, and with a busy second half of the year I didn’t want to totally ruin myself and on this occasion I wasn’t willing to find out what else I had in me or if I could go sub 12 or even 11 hours. This angered me, I’ve not trained, I’ve not given myself the best chance of doing well I wasn’t prepared for what this could throw at me, and most of all I wasn’t mentally ready for the fact that my body seemed able to comply with my dreams.

Being fairly positive (which in this case might not have been the best thing in this instance) I managed to see the wood for the tree’s and tell myself

“Maybe its best you stop at the next point, you’ve still got a marathon PB and ran further than you’ve ever ran before.”


I mulled this over whilst plodding along not quiet so motivated as before by now and managed to agree with my head & heart that I would come in at the 57K mark. Yes I would be failing, and maybe I am scared at what I could have done and scared to give something my utter all and be happy to fail a broken hero, or not as the case might have been. A decision has been made, I sucked it up and that was that, the next stop I’m calling it a day. Without a single niggle blister or ache or pain. no seriously!



I came in at 57K told the marshals I was finishing here, they looked at me rather strange as I was clearly in no discomfort or pain. They crossed me off, gave me my shorter distance medal and a T shirt and I collected my bag.

I sat down in the food tent and scoffed down my protein shakes and any other grub I could find trying to be focused on recovery as I was still expecting this run to at some point bite me in the ass. I stopped to look around at all the broken people lying on the floor, I tried to tell myself what I’ve done is right but I felt guilty, people here broken and injured i’m sat here not a single issue other than mental. Still that’s my race over I made a choice its done. The next day I woke up tentatively and inch by inch slowly edged off the bed to see what joys my body would present me with. NOTHING, NOT A THING. I quickly sat back down, I clearly made the wrong choice. I logged on and checked my stats for 57K. 6:11, I had about another marathon to run and even at a walk could have still finished in under 15 hours for sure..

But again, still I had the knowledge I have a new Marathon PB and I can be sure I can cover the distance required if I only push myself.

I’d given up on something when I’d no reason to but looking back I only stoked the endurance running fire even more than before. It’s hard to make calls or decisions right at that very time without being able to stand back and process it all. But knowing I have so much to now take forward into other races and faith that I can trust myself to make a good call when I need to, and find the good in all choices available.

What I have reminded myself of is that I always perform better when quitting isn’t an option, when all the lovely fluffiness of races are not around and that mini bus to the station doesn’t exist and the fuel stop, after fuel stop won’t be there. I still have that Itch, in fact its now bigger, all I want to do is run all day for no reason other than I want to and it feels good. I’ve found a way to scratch the itch for the short term, and the end of year will see me test if my desire to do something “Just because” will out weigh the pain and day after day struggle of running all day……


If you have to give up on something, find the positives, make your choice on how and why and suck it and move on. You can always learn from the situation you put yourself in be it good or bad.


One of my favorite sayings above, I’ve wanted to live by this, have it as a mantle for life. If I’d of carried on maybe I would have finished but become injured, that could have meant never running again, I could be too risk adverse and not living enough in the moment and looking ahead to much. Either way in 2015 I’ve promised myself to do adventures that push things a little more and make me live by that saying, in 2015 I need to force my comfort zone again, I have no excuses to not to be the best version of me possible…..


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