Another great half marathon – tho not a personal best

Today I ran my third Dubai Creek Striders half marathon. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and wonderful event, even though I didn’t quite achieve my goal of bettering my personal best time from last year.

Early on it seemed it wasn’t going to be my day.

I started out a little behind where I wanted to be, so I sped up which is usually not a good idea. It wasn’t helped by my shoe lace coming undone. I felt like a rookie, even more so when, unforgivably, it came undone again at the 13km mark.

After the first glitch I did find a bit of a rhythm. I enjoy this time, trying to find the right pace. It’s when my mind starts getting into an even more ridiculous mood. One thought I remember playing with was it’d be funny if the marathon had evolved from something invented as the “half marathon”. Perhaps someone dared to ask, “Hey, why don’t we take this half marathon concept and double it into a full marathon.” Sometimes it’s worrying how my mind spends its time during a run.

After 4-5kms I hit trouble. This is the first time in a running event that I’ve suffered stomach cramps, and that I’ve had to stop during the race for a toilet break. Possibly related, it was the first time I’ve eaten my neighbour’s oily curry the night before a race.

I crashed and burned, or more correctly, I stopped and pooped at the first public toilet I could find.

The toilet happened to be a “squatty” – hole in the ground, however beggars can’t be choosers, so I did what I had to do.

Overall I finished in 1:37:33. Altho the race officials won’t hear a bar of it, if you remove the 22 minutes* I spent trying to manage the awkwardness of the bathroom, I would have had a podium finish, probably finishing 3rd overall. If you also minus tying laces twice, I may have given Cheetah from the Striders a run for his money for 1st place.

After the pitstop I felt physically fine. However I couldn’t really push up the tempo a whole lot. It may have been due to the missed chance to finish close to my best. Or another thought I had was, perhaps I’m rubbish at pushing myself to run fast when there’s no automated voice from my iPhone and the adidas miCoach app telling me to.

My real running goal is for the full Standard Chartered Dubai marathon on January 25, 2013. I’ve been training very well for it. I feel I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been. When it came to this half marathon though, I didn’t do as well as I’d like. The old adage, ‘Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance’ may help explain why I didn’t get a finishing time to reflect better fitness than where I was last year.

It was lovely to see the Dubai Creek Striders official pacers doing a wonderful job to finish within their respective times. I loved their easily identifiable Pacers shirt with the time they’d finish, with a big “Inshallah” written beneath.

Any disappointment in my own missed goal time was long gone before the homeward stretch up to the Dubai Creek Yacht and Golf Club. This is where I saw my family, and my boys are now at the age where they run beside me to the finish – and I don’t need to slow down very much.

If crossing the finish line after 21.1km wasn’t satisfaction enough, there was a spectacular buffet breakfast with all the trimmings. Old runners, new runners, fast runners, slow runners, many of us went on to eat like Kings and Queens. A finisher’s breakfast is well-deserved. And as a result, it tastes amazing!

All in all, I had a wonderful day. I love seeing the beauty of a fit city participating as a single community. Runners come from all walks of life, yet for the few hours of this event we all shared something special which we’ll always have. And for the great majority of people, we’ll probably all do it again.

* may be exaggerated.