Race Report – Dubai Marathon 2014/01/24
Planned: under 3:03 but secretly hoping for right under 3:00 (& of course, faster would also be nice…)
Actual:…2:58:59!!! New PB by 4 min 44 sec from Berlin in September 2013… 3rd best Swedish woman and 25th among women all categories… (with strong representation of elite women from Ethiopia and Kenya on the leaderboard…)
SUB3: Enough said! This marathon is likely to be remembered 🙂
place (M/W) 25
place (ag) 3
age/grade: 77.74% (2012 Dubai:66.6/ London:66.47/SF:65.66/Berlin:68.29/2013 Dubai: 72.35/Boston:72.19/Stockholm:73.1/Berlin 75.74% )
time total (netto) 02:58:59
time total (brutto) 02:59:03
average pace: 4:14min/km
Split time diff min/km
10K 41:51 41:51 4:11
HALFWAY 01:28:32 46:41 4:12
30K 02:06:20 37:48 4:13
Finish 02:58:59 52:39 4:14
After final try of gear for the race, check of what to take to the start and when, having all the alarms set for the morning preps, setting my virtual Garmin friend to 4:14… 😉 (not that I really plan to follow it, but that would be cool, huh?), took a warm shower which should make me tired and sleepy…not!
19:25 – drinking 3dl Gatorade (mixed blue and orange 🙂 ) and 2dl water, aimed for bed. Probably too early. Eyes closed but mind alert. Almost sleeping when bouncing noise started outside (on the top of the constant far away noise from the cars – can really hear them from the motorway?!?). Bouncing noise continues until passed 9-ish. By then I have got up twice already. Then just laying down in the dark, trying to count sheeps when they turn suddenly into runners crossing the finish line. Yapp! Fun and I did not drink any alcohol… No more Gatorade-mix I presume! Checking the clock every half hour or hour. No sleep. Read a little. Still no sleep.
11:58pm – Still turning in my bed…
And same 30minutes later aso… Went up at a moment to applicate patch on my little stiff shoulders, but did not help the sleeping.
Before the race
SO when the clock rang 2:55am, I had just fallen asleep probably. Got up for preparing my porridge (still need practice to do that in the microwave…)+ banana, cranberries, gojjiberries, nuts, little sugar and oat milk. Orange juice and C-vitamin on the top of this (&allergy medicine and iron tablet as well). Water and back to bed.
3:30&4:00 am – Same procedure for water. Hesitated in drinking some Gatorade as well but skipped it. To keep it safe… Put chillout music as well but still in bed.
4:30am – Sloooowly getting out of bed, shower, more water, getting my hair ready and massage with red tiger balm (worked fine yesterday…. & I know, should not try stuff the days of a race…my conscious has already said that). Sun cream all over, hoping it would work without having running cream in the eyes. Running gears are: More Miles short short, SOC sport bra (yes, it is important and will write later why), SOC purple singlet, pink Kalenji socks (you can run and be colour-conscious 😉 they suit well with the singlet and the shoes), sunglasses & ASICS Gel DS Skyspeed.
5:00am – Already? This arrived too fast! Still preparing myself, changing tactic for the gels: 2 in side pocket of my singlet, 1 in back pocket with Dextrosol and 1 in the hand. Lifting up my singlet so the gels are making a little bump on my back, but better looking like a camel than burning my chest again. Throwing change outfit and extra shoes in my marathon bag and sunglasses on the head, wind-jacket on, it is time to leave.
5:44am – jogging easily to the start. Quite nice in the air, moon shining in the sky. Feeling better than last year. Following the human wave growing to the start. Lots of traffic there as well.
6-ish – Arrived at the marathon village. Photo pre-race taken? Check! First stop at the loo as there is no queue. Lots of ambiance there. The place is better I think than close to Burj Khalifa (although it was nice to start there). Dropping my bag around 6:15 am. Last visit to the ladies (now it is a queue..) and aiming towards the start.
6:35am – Start to jog light a few 60m as not much more place for warming up. 5 minutes or so of this. Then wait a bit while walking and then 2-3 minutes of same 60m with acceleration one way and easy jog back. Not much of a warmup, but that will do.
6:50am – Well placed in front row, discussing briefly on my right and my left and in French 🙂 Countdown starts, 5 minutes to start… Really? Was not 10minutes left just 2 seconds ago?!?! Fixing my laces on left shoes for the fourth time. Hoping it won’t be too tight as I am pretty bad at stopping to tie my laces up during training, so for a race would not like it…
Few minutes left – we slowly walk our way towards the start. The elite field is way more crowded than previous two years. Getting a great place right behind the two Swedish chicks (Louise Wiker and Lena Eliasson) who are racing for a place in the Swedish team to be sent to the European championship this summer. Luxury enough: both have great pace makers with them (respectively Anders Szalkai and Martin Lundqvist, a giant in green outfit. Ok, both are giants!).
07:02am– Then hold it, hooooold it, hooooooooold it…. And PANG! Start and the race was on! Not too much pushing, although the congestion is certain. Seeing our Swedish elites drifting away and sure I can follow them the first 200m… Tricky start because lots of starters are actually not fast and not planning to be. So they push, run like h*ll the first 200-400m and you are obliged to keep their pace, until they just stop after 5-600m and start cruising. No offence, but could not they start in the second lane instead of the front row? Anyhow, starting a bit fast, but feeling good. Km1 disappears in 4:05 and it was not expected. Stabilising the pace to 4:10/4:11 by km5, which feel fine. By km3 I already have a burning feeling on the back of my left foot, not understanding why because I did put double band-aid on the potential area for blister… right under the ankle… and what I feel is actually in the back of the foot. Skipping thinking of it won’t make it disappear nor getting better (probably the contrary), but there is no way I am stopping to check. Taking a little water & 2 Dextrosol at first water station (5K). Having a bunch of guys ahead of me and it feels ok to follow them. Ok, maybe it is faster than planned, but knowing how I work (or how I think I work) if I slow down now, it is gonna be painful. Up to now it was a bit foggy (well, cloudy maybe), but now the sun is going up and can be seen. Nice because it will not be like last year foggy race. Chatting briefly with an older man in green outfit and he happens to be Norwegian 🙂 Few words exchanged in respectively Swedish and Norwegian and I drifted away with another runner. All goes fine, having music in my ears from start because unlike other large cities races, there is 1) not much public to carry you when it hurts and 2) not many people to hold on to after 10km as most of the runners have established their pace by now.
Km7.5 is the intermediate water station where I grab a bottle, emptying half of it (too heavy to carry otherwise…) and run with it until km9 where I take my first gel (the one I carried in my hand from start). All ok so far. Happy not to have my HR monitor as it would probably have indicated already a high pulse… But feeling is fine. Seriously nothing happening until km10, where I finally catch up with a gal with bright yellow compression socks and top and black skirt. Had her far away in sight from km2, but planned to just keep her in sight as long as possible, but now she was here. Hanging along with her after the 10K-water station but noticed I drifted seriously on the pace during the following km by adapting to hers (4:19), so accelerating slightly, trying to catch up with the previous guys. Completing km15 in 4:08 🙂 So much for NOT compensating for lost time as suggested Pfitzinger… (& no, I don’t do all what he writes and suggest!… But like the style and approach).
From km10, have calculated quickly (the brain is still alert) how many km are left until we turn back. If recalling right, I met the elites men on their way back when reaching km13 and was expecting the elites women 5-10minuted after, but felt it took longer time. Large group of elites runners still. 2dextrosol at km15 with little water. Seeing our Swedish women runners and cheer for them (thinking afterwards they might not like it at all if it disturb their focus…). Anyway, reaching km16 or so and it is time to turn. Wow, so nice because since a while, we were running on the route from last year (i.e. from approx. where we turned then for halfway), but never could guess where we were really as it was the second half by then (i.e. reduced brain activity when reaching this point!!!). But reaching this km16 and a 180-turn, which was approx.9.5km last year, I am “home” now. Accelerating deliberately to get the guys group from the start and hope they keep a 4:10/4:11 pace much longer.
Km17 is tricky as I have to take a gel from my singlet pocket (singlet which I have lifted up into my sport bra to have bare stomach and same in the back). No easy task, real boring solution, loosing time and focus. Have to put the singlet back as well 😦 Gel taken @km17.5 with the intermediate station. (Yes, this thing about intermediate water station: water-station every 5km from km5 to km40 and THEN intermediate station half-way… Could not they say: “water-station every 2.5km” instead? And yes I know there are other stuff like sponges, Gatorade… distributed, but still… Too much for the mind really!). Following the guys group since km16 or so and now it is windy!!! Cannot see any flag like at home to indicate where the wind come from so I can take cover. It cannot be that I am THAT fast and producing a resistance force to the air which can then be taken as wind, right? (No need to explain here, my physics lessons are a bit far away and definitely not a priority at this particular moment). What I noted is that being behind kind of the guys is NOT helping… until I see flags and understand it is side-wind we have… I think… Still cruising (cool, right? 4:10 and cruising!!!). Effortless? Nope, I do feel I am running slightly faster than planned or should, but so what. The two guys from South Africa in the group indicate they won’t hold this pace much longer and will probably follow me rather than the contrary. Hmmm… Here disappears my hope for personal pacers from km21 to 32. Seeing km21 sign and deciding for trying to get another help a bit ahead of me.
Passing half-way in 1:28:30, which happily gives me potentially 1min30 extra to drift during the second half and still make it under 3 hours.
After this extra push, I complete the next two km at 4:08 (!) and then 4:09!!! This marathon is great because the km-signs are ca.30-70m after the Garmin beeps. So quite ok. From km20 to 32, taking 1dextrosol every km except when taking gel+1km. Worked fine last year’s race and the following marathons, so let’s keep it up then… Km22 makes me happy, because it is only 20km to go, 2*10, less than half, and soon the mind will be calculating the distance to km35 (Mats knows why…).
Km25 makes me really p**sed, because I try to shout I want an open bottle and get a locked one impossible to open, missing almost the sponge and drinking too fast starting then to cough. (And I am really sorry now that I swore at the kids giving the bottles, but at this time, sorry was not in sight….). Km35 is only 10km away… Finally getting a water bottle a bit before km27 and once again, a real pain to get my gel out of my singlet-pocket-which-is-lifted-up-under-my-sport-bra. Nope, this is definitely not a solution. But now I am finished with all gels but the last one in my shorts pocket. Have been carrying carefully the Dextrosol in my bra (having a sock for it to avoid burn marks). Not optimal either… Lots of work still to do!
Seeing Burj Al Arab (still a bit away), and new strengths are felt (ok, can maybe not be seen in the pace, but the mind was happy, because it meant being closer to the last 12km, or just 2km before the last 10k, or 3km until I could see Mats (yep, at this time, I was really expecting it to happen…). Drifting away started during this “no man’s land”. Could not estimate how much drifting was ok, the brain was almost off and when it was on again, it was stupidly (or wisely?) doing a body check and saying softly that it was high time to call it for the day….
Km30 was tough. No one in sight to pull me or even run beside/behind/in front of me. The loneliness of the long-distance runner?… TELL ME ABOUT IT!!!! Fortunately meeting then more people and finishers from the other races (10k & 3K). And my hope was still to get to see someone at km35…
Passing Medinat Jumeira and continuing on the loooooooooong way to km36 (here there should be more “o” in “long”, because it was really THAT long). Meeting elite men on the other side (they are like few km to the finish line), makes me smile. Better looking at them and the way they make this finish look so d*mn easy (sorry I swear…). “Drifting” is now an understatement. “Drifting” takes a WHOLE new level and sense. I explain why: you find yourself on a long long street for which you cannot see the end (I am sure that if you continue to the end you are falling from the Earth… if the Earth was flat), sun heating your head, no shadow, a *#!$ side wind or wherever it is coming from which is annoying you, three runners ahead but probably respectively 70, 100 and 150m in front of you (in other words: you CANNOT reach them…) and the pavement is seriously getting on your nerve… Not even this description is detailing the feeling of loneliness and the wish to quit that reach your mind and play with your thoughts. Seeing the elite women on the other side brings only little joy to my pain. Yes I said it. Pain has reached the building!!! The blister on the back of the left foot is there to stay since the start (and this was good to let it be ignored!). Have been however throwing water in my legs at almost every water-station, incl. intermediate ones. On the top of that, took 3 or 4 times sponges… So by now I am soaking wet (well, my socks are, my shorts are (yeah, I am not to good at aiming the thighs and generally get most of the water on the shorts. Water which thereafter runs down the legs OR apparently remains in the shorts and makes me a few kg more heavy!!).
Back to the pain… My mind is now laughing when/if looking at the lap pace. Still keeping a 4:12 pace for long time though. Have passed by now three elite women who have dropped the race and I think that I saw one female runner far ahead who was not “elite” but fast was her second name, for sure! All good for me as it meant a few free places on the ranking (any thought is good by then for keeping the spirit up). Meeting an elite woman around km33 and I make it my personal mission to not only pass her but keep her behind me until the end. The first one is done without any problem, even though I have now km-pace of 4:20 or so. She seems to have no more strength left (ok. I take this back because she has reached so far and STILL is running to the end. I say “respect” instead). Ok, pain? Drifting? Loosing it? Yaaah, all at once. The countdown from km32 (aka “last 10km as any 10K-race”) is not really smashing clear in my head. Should I be able to make this last 10k in sub40?!? Not a chance with this weather!
Reaching km35 and disappointed not to see Mats and his accompanying thoughts… Matters not, says the mind. He must be at the next km-sign. Nope! None there neither (the mind plays tricks and this one worked up to km39… where I stopped looking for Mats…). Turning-point at the end of this motorway-like street. Km36 is reached. I am not a quitter, so I won’t quit. (On the top of that, this would mean walking back to the start for 6.2km… No way! Call me lazy if you wish!!!). Taking my last gel @km35, cola-taste. I like normally, but today not. Smart mind is telling me the body needs it so let it be then! 6km is nothing. Back and forth to the main tram stop or the arena at home, what I ran yesterday before breakfast, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. From this turn of km36 happens something however (and not a wall). Passing I think 5-7 people until the end. But even better, I have a man running beside me the WHOLE way. Unsure if he should be “that” slow (read: “me-slow“) or if he is actually staying with me on purpose. In either case, he is my saviour. Not a word, just running (& not “around” this time!). Sooo many times until km39 it feels like it should be so much better to stop in the side, take care of my feet, rest for juuuust a little while… But once again, NOT A CHANCE! Seeing km39, checking the watch, quick calculation (& by now doing maths is not on the priority task-list of the brain, if I may add!). If I run @5:00/km, I should be exactly on the 3:00-mark. The watch indicating I am now drifting @4:14, it should be ok. JUST not make the clock change to 3:00:00 when I still can see it. I started pretty much at gun time, but have seen the car prior to the men elites the first time we met and I noted 2-3 seconds difference from my watch.
Km39 is now passed. Left is the distance I usually take as warmup for intervals. 3km. Nothing. Fuel is gaining the brain again. Because btw the legs ARE fine. Ok, there has been 3-4 small cramp-alerts throughout the race but nothing needing to stop. So let the mind keep up for once. Km40 is there, sooner than expected. Getting encouragements from marathon runners in the other side of the road (on their way to the dreadful km36-turn… but I say nothing…keeping smiling). Now it is less than 2km to go. 9 minutes at most (you never know how long are the 195m after km42-sign…). And I see km41… Already? Soon I turn and it should be 500m left. Time for a final sprint (yes, I call this final km a sprint because it ended in 4:09…!!! Where was this pace on the way to km35-36? Huh?!?). Unsure I smile, cannot see the clock with the sun in the face (smart place to put the finish line…)… Noooo it turns 2:59:xx right when I can still see it.. WHAT? 2:59?!? Yiiiiipie! This is less than 3:00, right? I JUST MADE THE SUB3-CLUB!!!
Takes a few steps to notice I did not stop my watch (therefore I continue for a while to be a very happy runner with a 2:59:xx-time…).
Official time received later on: 2:58:59.
After the finish line
Started to howl when seeing my watch (& I don’t care if I look disturbed, really!). Making my way to the massage tent, getting my medal, goodie bag and getting my number for the massage, I start waiting and chatting with the guys under the massage tent. It goes in French, English and Swedish. I stop at Arabic with a smile as I cannot this one. And yes, no woman in sight (but no runner gentleman enough to let me their massage place! 🙂 ). My shorts and socks are wet like I would have showered with them on… Have to work on my refreshing technique as well. Water-throwing and sponges ain’t working well… And Gosh! It is just SO GOOD to have a massage afterwards. Laying down on the massage table.
Takes 2 minutes before the right hamstring cramp like h*ll and when it goes away the left hamstring and calf take the following… Yeay.. 😦 Anyway, nice talk, will meet probably one of the guys in Paris for the Semi.
Putting back my dirty-sweaty-soaking-wet socks in my no-longer-comfortable shoes and aim to the marathon village.
Queue for medal engraving and once more howling when seeing my official time: 2:58:59!!! On the right side of the 2:58! Receiving lots of congrats, must have looked pretty excited then! Picking up my bag, photos and read sms from coach and mum confirming my time. Texting quickly to friends and then walking home. Feeling actually ok (not like I would start it all over again right now, but good it felt). Have drank my Gatorade, bottle of water and eaten my banana. A bit short of food for me I think…
Cold bath in the bathtub (although not freezing cold, it would do the trick), then hot/cold shower and 45minutes with legs up and rest and drinking. Then sms from my friend who is stuck working in Istanbul, so aimed to the mall for eating.
2:00pm – Restaurant finally. Large beef ribs with French fries + water. Served by Sudesh. Eating bread with olive oil&vinegar and sausages while waiting for the food (starving by now!). A bit too much with a whole ribs (although all went down…), but had to add an extra baked potato (& still could have eaten one more…). A bit stiff in the legs while standing up, so walked to do a bit food shopping (mainly fruits) and back home. (Ok, probably walked too much already after the race? Check!) Quick change to bathing suit, fully sun creamed and rooftop for sunbathing under the last sun rays reaching the pool area.
Not much celebration as alone, and definitely tired and not hungry in the evening. Chilling out rest of evening, eating Arabic bread, Arabic pastry (he he he!), drinking peach ice tea and looking at my so well-deserved medal…
Weather: +15°C at start is my guess, 23°C at arrival (real feel ? 25?). Humidity 78+ at start and 60-65 at end. Sun shining from km5 onwards. Side wind from km16 all the way to the end…a bit humid but still ok for running. Unsure the wind impacted much between km30-36, but definitely before and after
> before: oat porridge with banana, cranberries and gojjiberries topped with oat milk
> right after: gatorade, water, banana
> 3 (!) hours after: beef ribs with French fries (liiitle), coleslaw and one baked potato. Water.
> During: vitargo gel @km9, 17.5, 27.5?, 35/35.5? Dextrosol: 2 tablets @km5&11&1@km15&20. 1 tablet every km (between km21 & 32) except the km with gel+one after. Unsure how but think I had some until 36/37?
Gear: Moremiles short shorts, SOC purple singlet, sunglasses – shoes were pretty great as usual. But it is time for replacement really… ;(
Outfit perfect for the weather and race. Only drawback is still the storage of the gels. Should change brand to have smaller ones maybe. No burn mark on chest, but a little one in the back (!) where the zip from the singlet pocket was against the skin… No solution is perfect…
17/ would like to set a 17.5 for effort level. First half was moderate/high effort like 16, although manageable. Second half was mainly high on effort for the brain not wanting to shut up (well, if it would have been for encouraging that would have been fine…but it sounded like a loooong complain instead. Body checks indicated that physically it was fine).
SUMMARY: What a way to start the racing year but with a new PB and yearly objective already reached (told you, history DOES repeat itself… 3rd time’s a charm!). Preparations since Berlin had gone well especially thanks to the clement weather at home allowing outside workouts until the snow and cold reached the city 2 weeks before the race… Tapering period was not easy with REAL rest days and a day of stomach sickness less than a week before the race. Carb loading went ok, but not more.
Overall feeling far from Berlin 2013, which I think is more likely related to the weather conditions than the faster pace itself. Moreover the ambience on the marathon route is pretty differing between those two races! No walking during the race, which makes me super proud and mindset on the top for a lot of the race (the dips were there but short… Just to make the mind wonder if it could really make it. Sooooo 75-80% on the top, as actually the dips were pretty disappearing as soon as I was checking the avg pace, which made me smile every single time (& made me push for it until the end…). Good response overall from the body, no hamstring pain, no Achilles heel shouting and no burn mark…. Sitting for lunch was a bit uncomfortable for the left hamstring, but could not have my feet up on the table then… After not too comfortable night, body is fine the day after (read: won’t try jumping, skying, dancing but the walking is fine!).
Stable and fast pace for the first half and drifting afterwards. In a race with more people, I would guess (!) this would have been less of a problem as could have hang along with others. Not here. Should have my personal pacer next time! Anyone???? Second half almost exactly 2 minutes slower than first one, which makes me thankful to have listened to myself (!) and had a good pace at first to potentially allow such drifting.
IT FEELS SO GOOD TO BE SUB3!!! Feeling like howling again…but I won’t 🙂
(And like other races, a lot of support and encouragements have been received throughout the preparation of Dubai 2014. As usual post & per-race kind words are highly appreciated. Work, personal life and training are not often easy to arrange and combine and having feedback from time to time is just what is needed to continue pushing the boundaries (or even just remaining close to the ones already reached and not dropping back). So THANKS!