Marathon PB at Dubai Marathon, 27 January 2012

Yesterday at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon I crushed my running goal of 3:30. I crossed the line in a net result of 3:23.32 – which I’m very happy with. The time’s 15 minutes faster than my former best, in 2007; and 35 mins better than my last marathon just over 2 years ago.

I’m not sure why more people don’t run marathons. In the morning for breakfast I ate a whole family block of chocolate, guilt-free. I can justify eating almost anything providing it has high carbs. I guess as my running will now reduce, that diet will be a luxury of the past.

I’ve now run three marathons in three countries. And I’ll deny it if you ever bring it up, but at the starting line of each I’ve shed a tear or two thinking how fortunate I am to be in a position to do this.

My music collection didn’t really help me in such an emotional moment, hearing John Butler singing about having to believe. That was resolved with the next track “Don’t worry be happy” by Bobby McFerrin.

Sadly my iPhone lost its GPS signal for a moment, so my GPS girlfriend was overwhelmingly pleased thinking I was on world record pace. Once the distance is miscalculated there’s no recovery, she’ll tell wrong information every kilometer. This was a bit of a pain, as my phone had become my training partner for the past three months. It was now just a very distracting iPod. The music was at least helpful. Gloria Gaynor singing “I will survive” was timely and encouraging.

On the timing part, I did have the backup of my stop watch, so I could keep an eye on the times of my kilometer splits.

Marathoners generally have an A and B goal, so if things don’t go to plan, there’s still something to aim for. This year a guy ran wearing a 10kg rhinoceros suit to raise awareness for Save The Rhino. So most people also had a C goal in this run to not be beaten by a rhino. I saw him getting assembled at the start line, then thankfully not again for the rest of the day.

The run was fantastic. I ran the majority of training runs required in the three months before the race, so all the hard work was done. In the race I could just relax and enjoy – which I did. Although there weren’t large crowds of spectators throughout, there were still enough people screaming encouragement. Including my family who had come out bearing animal masks, vuvuzellas, and a “Go Daddy Go” sign. Being a Dubai Creek Strider also helped immensely, as wearing the team “vest” got plenty of vocal support from the extended Striders community.

The night before I asked my two sons if they could write some encouragement on my arms, which I could look down and see if I got tired. Myles wrote “Go Ryan” with a smiley, Lewis scribbled all over the other arm, which allegedly said “Go Ryan” also.

It was probably not the most well-executed plan. When I woke up race day at 4am stumbling into the bathroom I laughed out loud when my eyes focused. My face had in permanent pen a mirror image of Go Ryan, where my face must have rested on my arm.
It did come off.

It was tough to stick with the plan of breaking marathon into three parts, running slow, not so slow, then fast. The first 7kms was relatively slow, but then I’d say the rest was a fast medium pace, until the last 4kms when I had to fight to not be too slow. The training prepared me well, but there’s no getting around the fact that 42.2kms is a freaking long way to make the body run. The crowd were cheering the loudest towards the end, which was appreciated. With 3kms to go I caught up with a guy from the club who was struggling. He came back with a bit of a sprint which helped me find an auto drive setting, which pushed me to the finish. On the line I couldn’t help but just stand in a triumphant, relieved, fatigued, blissful, agony.

My family joined me. Then I hobbled to the Dubai Mall carpark. It seemed like a second marathon – along the way giving an understanding nod to other runners hobbling also.

My mind was a bit of a blur also. As I was walking, I heard a voice behind me say Ryan a few times. All I could register though was, I know that name. It was a colleague who ran the marathon also. I cursed the fact he was walking so comfortably, perhaps the benefits of more experience – this was his fifth marathon in recent years.

Once home I cracked open a beer, had a lovely hot shower to wash off the litre of dried sweat, then had a very relaxing bath. My bath may have been 15 minutes, or 5 hours – I have no idea.

That night we had a bunch of friends over for a belated Aussie Day BBQ. I proudly wore my finisher’s medal, which got some mocking. The kids though were very impressed. They spotted on the medal the number 2 of the year, 2012 and assumed I finished in second place. I went with it. So Ayele Abshero Biza won the marathon in a course record of 2:04.23, then I came in next, 80 minutes later. 🙂

One of the 10 year old girls put it nicely, and said it looked like I just got out of bed. Quite different to all the women who just told me I looked like [expletive].

Realistically, I have no future running goals at this stage. I guess somewhere there is a desire to run the next marathon, and achieve the next PB, sub 3:20. Pain in my legs and one foot is doing a fine job to mask such desires for the moment.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement and well wishes. To state something beyond obvious, I couldn’t have run the marathon without the support of many people.