Another RAK half marathon – 2017

Yesterday the RAK half marathon impressively lived up to being the world’s fastest half marathon. Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya set a new world record for the women’s half marathon, in 65:06. I heard she was hunched over after the finish looking like she was about to vomit. No history books will mention that.

The weather conditions were absolutely perfect for running. Even before the race the announcer said there are no excuses for not running a personal best time today. I objected to the people around me, “This guy clearly doesn’t know me!”

I started the day with a thought that 1:40 would be a decent finish time, given the training I’ve done. In the end, I finished in a fair 1:39:59 .. And this time was with one toilet stop. If it wasn’t for that huge wee, I may have also finished the run in around 1hr and 5 minutes.

Soon after the start I was alongside one of Dubai Creek Striders’s most charismatic characters, and wellness gurus.  A lot of his recent social media posts have been relating the ill-effects of sugar on us. I facetiously told him to “Leave my sugar alone” .. then nervously overtook him – with an immediate worry that he’s probably right, and my diet will be my demise in this race and he and the rest of the group would overtake me with much cheer.

A single glimpse of something can lead me to think about it for huge stretches of time. Along the way I passed a guy wearing an Iron Man body suit. I pondered, at what point in a race would I deploy the jets. I don’t know how many kilometres I had completed at that point, but I was pretty sure I’d put on the jets right there and then.

That was a more enjoyable thought than when I passed a shirt slogan, “There is no finish line”.  I know their marketing folks are inspiring an ongoing lifestyle, and promoting a continuing journey of fitness. I know that now. At the time, I just muttered “Bugger”.

One distance milestone I do remember was passing the 12km marker. I remember this because the lady next to me said out loud “Single figures”. She didn’t seem to be running with anybody else. So maybe she was talking to us. I thought about it, then thought about it some more. It could have been 5 seconds later I figured it out, and apologetically verified back to her “Ah, [single figures] kilometres remaining!”

I wore the race shirt they provided us. Lots do. Why not, it’s the newest in my wardrobe. At one point I noticed a guy to my right was wearing not only the shirt, but also the same Nike “look-at-me” running shorts I had. He may have seen me looking him up and down, so I shared that we could be twins. He thankfully laughed. Then we both decided to split up before the camera people just ahead could take a cute picture of us together.

It was funny to hear Kat, the default voice of the Runkeeper app, coming from someone else’s smart phone. The guy was getting a comprehensive update on his time, distance, average pace, and I was curious if bladder levels would one day become part of the story. I told the guy I thought the Runkeeper lady only talked to me. But he was quick to explain. That app is important company he has during his away-time running.  It gets him through the many times he’s in the bad books for being anti-social, having to go to bed early & run in the mornings. Then he put up his hands and shrugged, “What else can we do when we love such a crazy pastime as running?” I agreed and wished him a lovely run.

In the final 4-5kms I maintained a pace between slouching off and feeling like I was about to vomit. After giving High 5s to my family (who was leaning inappropriately out over the fence) with 200 metres remaining, I sprinted to cross the finish line – with one second to spare.

I look forward to doing it again next year.