Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2013 Race Report

My initial target for this race was to break the 3:45 hours barrier, but I was forced to reevaluate my goal when my preparation for Dubai Marathon was dodged with injuries. I will be very happy with a sub 4 hours finish or just rewrite my marathon's PB of 4:11:49 which I did during my debut in Turin last November. I have not had the best of preparation and lost almost 3 weeks of training leading up to the race because of Runner's Knees. I also lost a bit of fitness, did virtually zero strength training and gained some 4kg. That caused me some anxiety. 2 weeks to the race, I was really worried, nervous, scared and anxious with a prospect of DNF (Did Not Finish) the race. I know it's all mental now. I kept visualising a strong finish in my mind km by km before I retire at night.

My strategy for the race was to run my original marathon target pace of 5:18/km as far as possible and keep re-evaluating my condition before the pain comes and deal with it later. I will take 2 paracetamol before the start and at halfway point, hydrate all the way, take a pack of energy gel every hour and chew gummies in between. I will also get my legs taped the night before the race.

At the start
And representing Malaysia, No 302, Mohd Syafei
It was a foggy morning in Dubai, but otherwise perfect for a the race. The air was calm and cool. Surprisingly I was not as nervous as I thought I would, plus I had great support from my fellow Doha Bay Running Club members. That was really comforting. I was near the front of the start line which is one of the advantages of a small size marathons and started of with a steady pace of 5:25/km and cautious not to speed up. My body felt really tight and heavy. I also felt pain down my shins, something that I haven't had for a long time. But I guess it is because I have not warmed up yet. True enough all the pain was gone when I reached km 5. Everybody was still overtaking me but I managed to hold the speed demon inside of me until Km 9 when I started to speed up after the big flag pole and running faster than my target marathon pace of 5:18/km. Now it was my turn to overtake them. One by one. So far so good. At Km 15, I started to feel a little twitch on both of my knees, oh boy. I quickly took 2 caps of Panadol Actifast and maintaining the speed. The panadol really works, I felt great and decided to shift to a higher gear. Without realising that I was actually running at 5:08/km to 5:04/km, a lot faster than what I have trained for. I know I am going to pay for this later, it was a risk but I know the pain will come eventually, it was just a matter of when. But honestly it felt so effortless and easy. People keep saying that the Dubai Marathon course is boring because it was basically just a long 21km out and back route, but I actually loved it. The sights of the elites were very inspiring and I was all pumped up whenever I see friends from DBRC running from the opposite direction. I kept the momentum going and surprisingly, I did not even stop and walk at the water stations like how I did in Turin. I just grab the water bottle, had few sips, poured the remaining on my head, threw the bottle to the road side and continued running like a real pro. 

I passed the halfway point in 1:51:52. It would be my second fastest half marathon ever. Surprisingly unlike Turin, I did not feel a slight fatigue at 21.1km. On top of that my knees seems to be fine. I was so thankful to Allah that I was not forced to walk from Km 21. I kept my focus and continued running at the high gear and make the U-Turn. Now I'm on the faster runners side of the road and still overtaking other runners and only been over taken by few. I would not have imagined to be able to run like this a year ago. I remember how sluggish I was in the 10km race of Dubai Marathon last year. You can read the race report HERE. Then bit by bit I can feel that the effect of the paracetamol started to wear off, but I could still run at a good pace. I kept telling myself that today is my day and nothing can ruin it, not even bad knees, but I had to succumb to the pain and took my first walk at Km 29. Surprisingly I was not heartbroken. Other runners started to overtaking me again including my friend Nicholas Soroka. I continued running and tried to keep him in my view but the pain forced me to take another walk break at Km 33. At that time my average pace per km has dropped to 5:30/km, but it is still good. I am still on track. I tried to gut it out but it was torturing. I remained positive that I would still able to better my time in Turin even if I finish more than 4 hours. I took another walk break at Km 36 and was planning to run non stop the remaining 5 km. But my knees hurt so bad, that it even painful to walk. At km 39 I was almost give up and ready to fly the white flag, but when I checked my watch, I could still pull a sub 4 finished. So I man up and hobbled to the finish line. The last 3km felt like eternity and I just cannot wait to get it over and done with. I saw the clock at the finish gate showing 3:55:34 as I ran past, I raised both hands up, I have sealed my victory.  

I have won the race against ... myself

I cant stop saying Alhamdullilah on my way to the baggage collection tent. I collected my bag, and quickly changed my wet running tee. I was so emotional when I put on my DBRC shirt. I could have not done it without the support from my friends at the running club and I cannot thank them enough. It may not be a sub 3:45 finish as I originally hoped, but I have done what I came here to do, so I could not be happier, and as a consolation, I was the best among the 10 Malaysian finishers in this race Alhamdullilah.

I am officially a sub 4 Marathon Runner. Thank You Dubai

Post Race lunch with DBRC team at Irish Village
My experience in Dubai was made more special as I was not running the race alone. I was honoured to be in the company of Zuki, my friend and room mate in Dubai. He flew from Malaysia just to participate in this race (which is his 12th Marathon) and managed to finished the race despite the cramp he had as early as Km 15. And my friends from DBRC, Peter and Lise Whately, Coach Sarah, John Senger, Erin, Joost, Ziyad, Nickel, Jean Claude, Nick Soroka and his buddies from the Army, Rupert, Rob and Gareth

Congratulations to all especially to Jean Claude who finished in 2:47 to claim 43rd spot and Joost who finished in 3:09 in his debut marathon to clinched 100th spot while many others achieved a PB including Erin who had slashed her old record by a massive 33 minutes. Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2013 will hold a special place in my heart. Thank you.

Race Statistics:
Bib No: 302
Nett Time: 3:55:20
Gross Time: 3:55:34
Rank Men: 539/1851
Rank Total: 643/2410
Rank Age Group (M35): 104/363
Rank Malaysian: 1/10
Shoe: Asics Gel Kayano 19


RaYzeef said…
Great job. Injured pun boleh sub 4, Kalau tak injured mesti sub 3 :)
Uish Ray, Sub 3?? gila ke apa? tu memang masuk sepital la jawabnya.. maybe another 2-3 year insyaAllah
Matjoe said…
tahniah bro. sub 4 hours tu mmg dah baguih
Thanks Bro, tapi jauh lagi nak qualify for Boston.. kena usaha gigih lagi insyaAllah

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