A combination of factors including Christmas, New Year, Dubai, Phuket visits, Chinese New Year, U.K. trips and crucially a crashed hard drive have all contributed to my inability to keep my blog update recently.
In a fit of madness months ago I entered the Narrabeen all-Nighter to close out the year off by running for 12 hours through trails in the woods of Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Hogmanay.
Credit where credit is due despite serious misgivings Janet and Holly volunteered to come along and support me. In fact they even lashed out and bought a pile of camping equipment so that they could enjoy the evening in some comfort.
Fiona though called it smart and elected to go partying in Sydney city centre instead.
In a nutshell I did not have a great day out. My recent racing , a hard tumble a few days prior and multiple long haul flights in December caught up with me and despite my best efforts by about 30 km into the race I knew I was in trouble, felt broken and must have looked it because Janet told me I should not be running at all.
At marathon distance I decided that I’d better listen to her wise words and called it quits. So I rounded off 2016 with a full marathon which although not my original plan was perfectly fine and banked a great training run for my upcoming Dubai Marathon. Plus we got a nice new tent.
Post new year all of the Craig girls headed off to the U.K. leaving me in Singapore.
Holly headed back to University, Fiona off to Aberdeen University for a selection interview and Janet going to celebrate her mum’s 80th.
With parties and interviews over Fiona flew back to Singapore and I headed to Dubai to meet up with Janet, Gerry, Linda and Andrew. Gerry and myself were having our annual assault on the Dubai Marathon. This though was the first time the good ladies (and Andrew) have come to Dubai when we’ve been racing.
Therefore our pre-race rituals were slightly different this year as we had to be a bit more family friendly and at a very minimum visit a few sights. Andrew wanted to see as many super cars as possible. Which in all fairness he did. I did though manage to get my customary marathon haircut at Dubai’s top Algerian barber-shop.
We were staying in different hotels this year as Gerry had to make sure that his lodgings had water-slides and plenty of child friendly activities while my main prerequisite was a hotel that had none of the preceding facilities.
Race day though we met up quite easily at the start area in plenty of time to drop our bags and lighten our loads. This aspect of Dubai I really enjoy over other big city races. You can literally get there twenty minutes before the off and you’ll still have no problem in getting into the holding pen in time.
The atmosphere was building with the massive Ethiopian contingent along to cheer on their compatriots who usually dominate this race. They are what you can only describe as raucous and really do add to the whole spectacle.
We made our way forward to the start area which unfortunately isn’t seeded or graded so you get a fairly large number of clueless runners pushing to the front who have no idea on what they are facing and seem to think that by forcing their way to the front they’ll somehow get to the finish line much faster.
Consequently the start was rather fraught with at least one elite athlete getting tripped in the stampede but by about 800 meters the road started to clear and athletes thinned out as the sprinters suddenly realised they couldn’t hold their ludicrous pace for six hours or more.
Thereafter we both got into our race rhythm which for me involves never looking at my watch and for Gerry an ability to chuck out kilometer after kilometer at an uncannily steady rate.
By the time the sun came up we had covered around 20 kilometers and the field had largely thinned out.
I’ll not bore you with the race details. Between the two of us we’ve probably raced over the marathon distance around 80 times so know exactly how to handle things. Our training was done and our thoughts were that if all went fine we’d be in the 2.55 range.
We both ran at a pretty constant pace and kept together till the 32 km point where Janet had our “this’ll get me to the finish” drinks waiting for us. As you can see from the photo taken by Janet below we were a bit isolated by this point and the sun was definitely up.
Gerry grabbed his bottle of Tailwind and kept running while I elected to drink mine (flat Coke) properly in one go rather than cart it along and as a consequence I lost a bit of time over the wee fella. However once I had forced some fluid in I got going again and set off in pursuit of Gerry. When I say “pursuit”I mean I hoped to gently reel him back in again.
Over the last 10 km I finally caught up with him, then I passed him, he then passed me, I passed him once again, he passed me again, I cramped badly, I passed him as I shook off cramp and finally I cramped again and he got a slight gap that I never closed.
I had nothing in the tank as I got to the finish line.
Gerry – 2.57.31
Michael – 2.57.44
This was much the same time as we had ran Berlin although in fairness we were probably in better shape for Dubai than Berlin.
I think we found it a touch warmer this year than usual in Dubai and both suffered a bit over the final few kilometers. The roads are rather exposed with no shade at all and temperatures were easily in the high 20’s. In terms of actual run our splits showed a pretty flawless run with only a slight drop off in speed over the final few kilometers.
Still I cannot be too upset as I squeezed out another sub three marathon which isn’t too bad an outcome.