Dubai marathon was supposed to be an A-race but as it turned out I messed up big style. Hands up, it was my fault and here’s why:
1. I was overtrained
I knew I was pushing my luck; I’d not had a break from running for over six months. I only took five-days post 100-miler and I needed rest. So it was, I was worn down before I even stood on the start line of the race and my body had been trying to tell me for weeks. In my usual bravado ‘aka deaf’ style, I’d totally ignored the warning signs in my eagerness to enjoy the winter running season in Qatar.
I’d been battling my old right hip, which as it turns out does know best. I’d been messing around easing up, pushing on again, but it was defiantly saying ‘no’ and my hamstring was a pinging.
Looking back at my training diary, I can see the notes: ‘Feel tired’ but still I didn’t take a break.
I even had some spot bruising on my right hammy six days before the race, but I was stupid and decided I could push through. Well I couldn’t.
2. Fueling? What fueling?
Somehow, I totally forgot my fueling strategy. I was clean out of my faithful Honey Stingers heading in Dubai marathon– not sold in Qatar and no easy way to smuggle in – so I tried to wing it on Mule Kicks alone. Mule Kicks are a brown rice syrup, agave nectar (posh honey) based gel – also not sold in Qatar but I had some in stock.
I was ravenous from 13km into the race. My stomach was a-rumbling and I had nothing solid to stick in. (I even contemplated stopping at a petrol station for sweeties 😉 until I realized I had no cash on me!) Two gels (and I didn’t get much of them down) plus a swig of Isostar was never going to be enough to get me round a marathon. During a 50km race, I would have consumed over 500 cal, okay at a slower pace, but I attempted to race a marathon on less than 250 cal. Fool!
3. I went out too quick
So, I’m sort of going to blame the elites for this. Dubai is a T-shape course, so you get to see the pros on the other side of the road, twice. First pass is on a 10km loop from the start back to the finish before heading out for the main 32km effort. At 3.5km I saw the elites heading back – they were at 8km! “Wow! They are on fire!” I thought to myself…and so did everyone else.
Dubai 2016 featured a very small field – less than 2,500 marathoners. We were all spread out
within a kilometer, and the straights on course are very straight. You can see runners a couple of 100m ahead but you are never actually with them. Most of the race I was alone. When the runners ahead of you spot the elites on the other side of the road the domino effect takes effect. We all gradually picked up pace trying to maintain the same distance between us and the runner ahead…the first runners being elites trying to catch up with the faster elites. We were doomed!
From 23km, the course was littered with dropped elites and still my alarm bells didn’t ring. They’d pulled out because the pace was too aggressive. And the elite pacers got it wrong too – the men’s winning time was one second outside the course record. We’d all gone out too hard.
Might be a taboo subject, but one which affects us women. Not much I can do about these, unfortunately.
Nurofen once did a great advert to demonstrate the restorative powers of ibuprofen in tackling period pain. It featured a dressmakers’ dummy with a boxing glove inside continuously punching the lower abdomen. As all women will testify – that’s exactly how it feels – plus you feel bloated and need to pee every five minutes. And that’s how I felt from 28km into the
marathon. Forget sore quads from hitting the road, all I could feel was pound, pound, pound in my belly, and as all runners know ibuprofen is a no-go due to the risk of stomach bleeds.
I would have to suck up those hormones and roll on home. Bad timing or what? At 34km, I desperately wanted to be a man! And yes, I’m guilty of thinking evil thoughts towards every man passing me as I got slower, and slower, and slower. Lucky for them that none of them dared opened their mouth to speak to me 😉
I started the race heading for a 3:10, and actually finished in 3:17 something. I was mad but not as mad as my right hammy which is now sporting a bruise from top to bottom. My body has finally got its way and I’m on three-weeks’ box rest.