Race Report – Dubai Marathon 2013/01/25
Planned: Nothing really apart from completing and under 3:40 (due to last days and weeks of troubling body!)
Actual: official 3:11:55 (corrected from Garmin:3:11:58) – new PR by 10min 35sec from Berlin 4-months ago (Sep-2012)! More than very satisfied of the result especially due to 1) health pre-race and 2) body pain now and then spookying the whole training. No world record this year on the marathon, but a great performance for little me (!) Obviously could qualified as MORE-THAN-GREAT RACE, enjoyed the company of runners throughout the race and afterwards. Great ending at the beach and evening. (For once, the marathon race distance was pretty much the same as my Garmin and close to 42.2km!). Rest for a few day now!
place (M/W) 20
place (ag) 2
age/grade: 72.35% (Dubai:66.6/ London:66.47/SF:65.66/Berlin:68.29)
time total (netto) 03:11:55
time total (brutto) 03:11:58
Splits (from Garmin watch):
Official results: Splits
2:55am – pre-alarm clock – snoozing it as really the brain does not understand under which circumstances I would want to go up so early.
3:00am – same as earlier. Why one earth go up now? And slowly the brain awaken and time to prepare my porridge. Boiling water, pouring it on the porridge and let it like that a few minutes. Worked perfectly. Add banana, tran berries and oat milk. Taking as well regular iron and anti-allergy pill. Drinking 2dl of water (on the top of 1dl with vitamin C). And back to sleep (or kind of).
3:30am – same ritual as usual, but 2dl water is going down (and bed again)
4:00 and 4:30am – similar procedure J Cannot really sleep after that so up to the shower (thanks, there is hot water! Last year had to shower at 4:00am with freezing cold water…). Fixing my hair, getting sun cream on the body after massaging the thighs. They both feel fine this morning (Yippie?). Gear on and it is 4:50am and I am reading… A bit left before the marathon. Looking at my blog and read two more encouragements. Great to have, can tell you! Not believing that it is soon time to go.
5:20am – reception calls for my taxi arrived…20minutes in advance! But staying on the bed still and focused. Reviewing briefly (incorrect here: “longely”!) the route of the marathon, double checking my gear, number, gels and all is set.
5:40am – in the lobby finding a nice block to take a photo of me – still smiling. Always good for checking the before and after state 😉 The taxi brings me to the Dubai Mall metro station in a foggy road. Aaaaaannnd it is 5:48am and I am soon at the start! Still a bit to go. Enjoying the ambience, kind of cozy still. Few more pictures from fellow runners. Queuing to the loo, noticing after a few minutes that I am surrounded by guys only… wrong queue! Surprisingly the female toilets have no queue (that’s a first!). All good, looks like I have drunk good enough and “it “looks well and correctly hydrated. Outside it is kind of freezing – says the one coming from Sweden where the temperature when she left was below 8! But being in singlet and shorts at 6am ain’t something usual (as least for me at home!). Anyhow, by 6:20am cannot wait any longer, drop my bag at the marathon baggage, jog and go for a final visit to the ladies bathroom. So nice and warm inside 😉
Aiming then to the start. There are lots of people already lining up for the 10K but only few for the marathon. Took the opportunity to do some little warmup, back and forth, no pressure, listening to Queen and “The show must go on” on my mp3. Because I decided to have my mp3 in my back pocket, just in case. Last year from km30 it felt quite empty and some music would/might have helped. Anyhow, the marathoners are starting to fill the place, chatting a bit but seriously I keep myself turned inwards. Checking my watch once more, satellites found, multiple heart devices as well J Soon announced less than 5 minutes to go. Can see the elites runners in front of me (standing right at the line) warming up. Cannot see our Swedish star, but she must be there somewhere. Then we (common mortals) finally mix with the elite runners, ready – steady aaaaaaand GO! Fast start especially due (I think) to the bunch of male runners in this race! They want too much too fast. My strategy – by the way – was 1) complete the marathon and 2) finish it within 3:40 or such as this correspond to our Manhattathon time in NY! Cannot be that hard to beat right? Have my virtual trainer set on 4:44/km which corresponds to 3:20:00 time. In my dreams, yes!
It is so extremely foggy, cannot recall I am in Dubai (apart from my running apparel, reminding that I am not home!). By km1 I decide to put on the music in my ears as the groups of runners are too disparate and cannot drag me well. Passing first km at 4:37 (pace for a 3:15 marathon) – the sign is exactly when my watch pips. Perfect, finally a marathon agreeing with my Garmin! Still too fast as planned to have my 1st km between 4:50 and 5:00. Decides quickly after having the music on that I go for it, keeping the pace as I feel good but keeping careful and listening to the body (which is magically working after those last few days of troubling stomach and weeks of troubling thighs and calf…). Continuing to check on the km-pace and when passing km4 @4:26, I think that there is something strange happening here. Had checked yesterday my race from Dubai 2012 and Berlin 2012 and I am far faster than both of them… But still smiling and enjoying. Meeting French guys from the Djibouti Foreign Army. Cool as I met some of their colleagues last year! A bit of French in the ears on the top of my music is helping! Km5 feeling outstanding and km6 is down to 4:22!!!Am I doing intervals, here? Did not my brain realize it is a 42.2km to do? Still foggy, skipping the water at km5 but taking a bottle at km7.5 to take my first gel at km9 (Staffan’s strategy from Berlin: gel at km 9 – 18 – 27 – 36 : which I am going to follow instead of starting my gel with same km-marks but having always skipped the one at km9/10). Passing the 10km sign in 45:01 according to my Garmin. Feeling good after taking first gel. The French guys are keeping in troup and steady pace. By km12/13, my watch is indicating a pace of 4:30, which sounds impossible. This is for 3:10-marathon!!! Not even in my dreams… OK maybe in my dreams I had seen it, but not 1) with today’s conditions and 2) my preparation for the past weeks (and yes, Staffan, you incidentally name it a few times, but hard to believe right?) . One French guy talks to me and he tells they are several aiming for a 3:15, which suits me very well so tell him to keep me by their side, kind of “no matter what” ;). So much for the asocial woman I feel I am being with my mp3 music in the ear. Seriously, hearing in my head constantly almost what I read in the race-day strategy of Pfitzinger: “First half is for cruising… do not use mental strength yet…” (kind of Obi-Wan voice in the head at this moment…suiting well the DJ Eclipse mix from Maj 2012!). Cruising at 4:30/km pace… ARE YOU NUTS?!?!?! Strategy was also to keep myself 1) well-hydrated and 2)well-fuled with carbs. So every 5km took 2 dextrosol with little water. Recognizing the km18 where Jumeira Beach Park is (where I sun bathed yesterday!) and it is sooooo foggy really that my sunglasses are not leaving the top of my skull. Music on, keeping pace with either the French guys or two ladies from the Dubai creek striders. Feeling good, not really understanding where the strength is coming from: 4:29/km pace when I arrive close to mid-race… Looking quickly on my home-made pace bracelet: Great at least I have some minutes in advance in case… well just “in case”. Can finish under 3:20 if something may happen by the end. The distance between km12 and 21 is pretty empty of people, no one really passing me which I not pass shortly after (and back & forth). Feeling good with personal pacer in front of me – they just do not know it! Km18+ taking my second gel with water. Working better this time as it is orange taste and not filled with “pieces” as the first lemon gel I took earlier. Finally see the elites men passing on the other side of the road – COOOOL, kind of short after followed by the women (including Isabella Andersson, looking strong but after the female pack though). Does not matter really, would gladly trade my current place with hers! A few more km to go, one more destrosol and… the km21-sign shows itself…
Passing half way in 1:35:15 (New PB!!!) And it is soon time to turn back on Jumeira Road. Enjoying so much the turn that I smile and sounds like a wolf in a full moon night.
Now it is according to Pfitzinger’s words, the “no-man’s-land” of the marathon until km32. Recalling the advices: keep myself well-hydrated and well-fuelled in carbs. Recalling this, I note as well that I cannot see my French bodyguards any longer, nor my female pacers, so keeping up with the good feeling (yes, I can assure you that I was feeling good!). I get along with one and other runners with similar pace, b t a bit tricky to keep up as they are too long and have bigger strides than me…until I found MY ULTIMATE PACE-BODY! Unsure whether he liked it or not, but I remain by his side from km23 to 32! My aim was keeping up with him until km32 mark and see that after that either go for it – kind-of or continue to follow. Similar length and strides, he suited me well. Km27 taking my third gel (orange). Between km22 and 32, I took 1 or 2 dextrosol tablets + little water when available each km (apart from when taking the gel+1km after that). Feeling fine, not high, just fine. The body still is making itself reminded that 42.2 IS a long distance to cover! The sun makes its appearance around km28/30 and it starts to get pretty sweaty (well, might have been probably so before, but not with the warmth as it was foggy). Km32 is reached and I do not fear it like last year where my brain stopped working really! This time and with the help of my personal pacer, it went fine. So I could go through the “no-man’s-land” without dying or stopping, so just 10km to go!!!
I noticed by km25 that my pace was no longer under 4:30/km but above. But once again, I had some minutes over thanks to the first half. Kept an eye on my watch and noticed I had moved to 4:30/31 by this km-mark. Noooo worries, body feeling good and after all “all under 3:20 mara is just ALL BONUS” (kind of motto during Berlin marathon which was working fine here as well!).
From km32, it really is different. I could recall that when 30km were left I reminded myself what distance it was at home, then when 25 was left, then 20… But from “it-is-only-a-10K-left-to-go” though and making the brain understand what to do, it IS a challenge! Keeping up with the music (had to restart the “October 2012 – mix” as it last only for 1hour 30+ or so… it does keep up the pace. Each time we received sponges, I carefully wet my left thigh (especially the back), and from km32, just use the water bottle first half to drain my legs under cold water…. LOVELY!!! I ran into a French trooper again but he seemed in pain, so went along for a short while and then moved on. Saw in front of me the Dubai Creek Striders kind of 200-300m in front of me. Still fine, I guess! Some of the elite runners had dropped off the race by now. Feeling good that I am still in the run! Have definitely stopped looking at my bracelet as it is no longer accurate and I do not want my brain to work too hard (!) on calculation when I needed it for focusing on the road and keeping my eyes… well, yes: OPENED! Strangely those last 10km felt not too bad (under the circumstances), recalled the one from Dubai 2012 and Berlin 2012 and really put them in another place of my mind. I just felt good (well, not physically – pain was there, but really the mental was strong to continue).
Reaching km36 – I think, I walk for TEN-LONG-SECONDS. And it took some strength to start again, but it worked. This km is ran in 4min 35sec!!! including the 10seconds walk… Taking my last gel at this mark: Cola-taste: never had it before and indeed as suggested somewhere I cannot recall, having this new unknown taste in the mouth make my brain waking up! Water again when available and dextrosol (new taste as well from mid-second half) every km when no gel is taken. Gosh! What the last km are long. I recall last year hating (really!) the people from km36 onwards to km40 as they were cheering kindly but the pain did not take it in. This time, I might even have smiled actually at this part as well. Not many people anymore at this time. On my own until the end. Km38-mark: French guy in trouble, trying to help a bit, cheering, but it is too tough. Promising him a kiss at the finish line, but he seemed to have a really painful calf cramp. Cannot do more really so off I went. Km 39… ALREADY?!?!? Seeing km40 but not Burj Khalifa… Have they moved it while I was running I am thinking? (Yes, by this time the brain is not ALWAYS thinking clearly!!!). More people on the side, cheering and finally another French trooper. This one I take him along for the last push. I need some energy and yelling at him is actually helping me! We are side-by-side from km41 to the end. Promising once more a kiss on the finish line would he pass at the same time as me! Cannot really understand what I am saying by now. Just seeing the yellow sign and thinking like in London: “800m left to go” Yeeeeeee!…. BUT NO! It is only 400m to go! So reaching in the last strength I have and pushing my body to the maximum I can for the last km and those last long (no actually this time I found them short!) 400m. Brain calculating quickly how fast I can do a 400m in my intervals training…STOP IT! Focus on the race, you iiiidiiot brain! AND I look at the clock 3:11:XX, could not make the 3:10, I think and WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, REALLY?!?!?! Got my kiss from the French guy, so nice and sweaty (blääääärk! But do I really care by now?!?!?). Just want to jump and cry and shout (the first one I really cannot as my legs may still have strength to carry me along, they cannot do the jumping part!). Stopping my watch: 3:11… For just a second, I cannot believe it…
After the Finish Line:
Walking to get my goodie bag, my banana and direction to the massage area, with a great welcome from the French troopers J One recognize me from last year (what an impression I must have made…. Oh ya, I remember: last thing he saw of me was when I fainted in front of them and was carried to the doc tent!). We have a nice French chat, and it felt sooooooo great. Now I can actually calculate a bit: 10minutes and 35sec improvement from Berlin in September… What about the “take it slow and make small steps improvements”-plan? Who cares? Right now I am happy, I am in pain, I speak French and suddenly Swedish is talked to me. Runner-body from jog has recognize me (how?) and congratulated me: I knew one was registered but unsure how to recognize him! Massage felt good (had drunk my water bottle, my energy drink and eaten a small crisp bag and my banana while waiting). Walking barefoot to the marathon baggage tent. Getting a Swede (among all other guys here running, have to pick up one from a group of Swedes!) to take my finish photo (still smiling!) a bit of Swedish chat with him and his mates and aiming to the marathon village for medal engraving. While waiting, texting to 1) my best supporter for the last week (you know who you are…), 2) my coach (thanks for the support!) and 3) my Greek mate living now in Dubai. Wait for the medal is killing me. I want to shower, to eat, to cry, to do something, whatever but waiting! Finally I get it, as well as my official time: 3:11:55! Yippie! Made it through. Got a first text informing I have improved my placement by 2 compared to last year: 20th of female runners (2ns in my category – first one is under 3hours…).
Weather: chilly in the morning, foggy until km28 or so and sunny afterwards. Windy (slightly) at some places though
> carbo-loading on natural food – not working due to stomach not keeping it. Day before race last meal: chicken + rice. Morning before race eating oat porridge/oat milk/banana/cranberries @3am
> during the race: 1 vitargo @km 9, 18.5, 27, 36. Dextrosol tablets: 1 every km (almost) from km22 (except when gel taken)
> just after race: all that was given in the bag!
> later on: 3 hours after arrival: burger/fries+ Coca cola / tea and dinner later in the day (+ lukum in the afternoon)
Gear: ASICS Vesta shorts/UNICEF singlet – super-flying-lightSkyspeed perfect shoes for this race (once again they DELIVERED!)
Then everything became a big blur: showering in the ladies bathroom, noticing that once again I burned my breast when carrying my gels in my bra… have to find another technique really! Getting dressed, walking around the village and then aiming back to the hotel for changing. Walking a while to find the metro station, for finally hear that they would not open until 1:00pm (it is Friday). So cross the motorway and start walking to my hotel, after 400m take a cab as I really cannot endure it any longer. Hotel, unpack, pack again for afternoon at the beach, taxi to Barasti beach. Then enjoying good company and eating a great burger. Rest of the afternoon under the sun, then back home to my friend before we left again to take a tea (they smoked sisha – not me!) and then time for dinner. Restaurant might be 20minutes walk from the apartment, but cannot really feel my left hip is with me tonight, so we take the car there. Well arrived at the Mall, I almost fell on my left foot, leaving a pretty bad feeling in the left hip, which will remain all evening. Eating at an Italian restaurant, meeting with a former colleague who also moved last year to Dubai with his wife. Really great evening. Then time to go back home and ultimately sleep (not before mailing a last one about the day experience…)
NOTE: Kept myself well-hydrated throughout the day after the race. Not only with the just-after-finish-line drinks but also, water, 2 cokes at the beach, marrocan teas, and more water 🙂 Food to replenish the empty batteries as well 🙂
ALL-in-ALL my friend: This day was GREAT. Not one but two PB, a thigh feeling good (i.e. “normal”), a burnt chest and a hip in pain. For the small price of 3 HOURS 11 MINUTES and 55 SECONDS!!!