Dubai Marathon 2014

Dubai Marathon has always been my season opener since I started running. Not that I have run for many years. I did 10k in 2012 and the full marathon last year. I could have gone someplace else like Muscat or Mumbai, but Dubai seems like the more logical choice since it's closer and I will be going with a lot of running friends from Doha. I was accompanied with three Malaysian friends from #Pelaristyloyo, Aizal, Yasir and Ashran aka Bulat, other than friends from Doha Bay Running Club, Otmane, Joost, Davy, Erin, JC, John, Wendy, Scott and many other.

I did my marathon PB in Dubai last year, and I failed to rewrite it in my subsequent races in Paris and Munich. Known for its fast and flat course, Dubai seems perfect for a PB aspirant. So that was my goal, a PB. My coach wants me to run at a steady pace between 5:00/km - 5:20/km for a 3:45 finish while paying attention at my heart rate.

I started the race conservatively before settling into my race pace. I was running with Davy and Gareth. It was fun running with them. We were chatting and Davy was a fun guy to run with. He always has something to joke about. And Gareth was always being one of my idols in DBRC. I was 4km behind him last year and it feels surreal to be able to run with him today.  We had fun cheering our faster DBRC runners as they passed by on the other side of the fence after the 1st turn around. First, as expected was JC just behind the East African elites, then came Joost, Rupert, Karl and Tony, and Scott before the three of us make the turn. Wendy, John and Otmane were not far behind us. Then came Erin, Rita, Aizal and Yasir.

We were still running at the same pace approaching the half way until Gareth and Davy slowed down. I kept my pace and found myself pretty much by myself. I crossed the halfway check point in 1:47:12 which was my 5th fastest half marathon to date. I still felt pretty strong at that point and maintained the same pace. I soon found Scott not far in front. I made him as my target and increased my pace slightly. I soon found myself just a few steps behind him. I gave him a pat on his back when I overtook him . He was so relaxed while I was not exactly so. Scott was asking about our plan after the race but I was not in a state where I can have a comfortable conversation any longer. I pressed on and was running faster than my planned marathon pace hoping for a negative split. Something that I have never been able to do. I started to feel tired and hungry. Then, just like the Law of Attraction, I saw my dear friend who I fondly call Kakak May Lee in the middle of the road at a water stop holding a tray of bananas. She was an ex DBRC member who recently moved to Dubai and now with the Creek Striders.

The weather was getting hotter as I approached the 30K mark. At that time I could feel that I was getting tired. I could no longer hold the same pace without exceeding the heart rate limit I have set on my heart rate monitor. My HR alert did not stop beeping and I would risk hitting the wall soon if I continue running above the threshold. My pace was dropping from 5:00 at km 30 to 6:00/km when I passed the 36 km. It was there when Scott overtook me. He must have been running at the same pace all along. He tried to encourage me to keep up but I was already too tired. I could only improved my pace slightly to 5:45/km for another 2 km. My HR was good but I found my legs were getting heavier and heavier. I checked my watch, and I could still manage a sub 3:45 is I can run around 6:00 pace for another 4 km. 

I was already celebrating a new PB, 4 km before the finish line. I told myself that, what remain was shorter than my usual 5 km route around The Pearl, but the last 4km felt like an eternity. I could see the Burj al-Arab and the Madinat Jumeirah from a far where the last turn before the Finish line would be, but they were like Fata Morgana. My pace was reduced to 6:10 when I hit 41 km mark. Then I found more and more crowd lining up the street as I closing in the last turn. I dug whatever left inside me and pushed. Fuelled by the words of encouragement from the crowds I found myself picking up the pace for the home straight. The atmosphere near the Finish line was electric with the crowd filling all available seats on the grand stands. 

I heard 'There Syafei! Go Syafei Go Syafei', then I saw Angie, Anna and few DBRC supporters at the stand. I waved and blew them air kisses before continue running in the narrow lane to cross the Finish line in 3:42:40. That was 13 minutes faster than my old PB which I did exactly a year ago here.

I was so pleased that I managed to keep my nagging problems on my knees and ITB in checked. I kept thinking of an imaginary string pulling my head and body up while I braced the core tight and engaged the glutes the whole way. That seemed to do the trick. But I still need to work on my endurance so I wont fizzled out after 30 km. Otherwise a negative split will always remain a dream. I did my second half 8 minutes slower than the first half in 1:55:29 but I did what I meant to do here and I cant be more happier. It is time to celebrate and I was already thinking about all the naughty food to treat myself with later. Dubai, you did it again.     

Race Statistic:
Time (Nett): 3:42:40
Rank Total: 454th / 2156
Rank Male: 371st / 1676
Rank Age Group: 80th / 320
Shoe: Asics Gel Excel 33 


Wan said…
Terbaiklah! Aku stumble upon blog ni..terasa nak berlari jugak.. Semangat dan teruja nak masuk marathon.. harap dapat buat dalam masa setahun ini insya-Allah.. ada masuk Edinburgh Marathon hujung bulan ini?
Betul tu start small from 5km then work your way up. Ha ah aku tgh training for Edinburgh ni. May 25th
Wan said…
Okeh beress.. selamat menjalani latihan marathon edinburgh nanti.. update la blog pasal progress.. dah lama bersawang blog ni.. hehe..

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