This has got to be one of my most surprising races.
We all know how nervous and mentally (and physically) unprepared for this race I was, with roughly only 3 weeks of actual training under my belt, but I arrived there on Friday morning anyway, determined to prove to myself that I can do it. Just take it easy. Keep at a nice slow, steady pace and cross the finish line. That was my goal.
It was super dark out when I arrived there at 05:45, watching people mill about with stretching, drinking tea / coffee, munching away on gu’s, last-minute toilet stops, handing in bags for safe keeping, checking shoes are tied properly, checking watches, GPS trackers etc.
This was the 3rd race that I’d participated in at the Emirates Golf Club, and the second one organised by FBA Sports – and just like the previous times it was well organised and had a good atmosphere at the start.
Approximately 6am and people started lining up at the start line. I made my way over there at about 06:10, switched on my music and waited for the countdown – constantly reminding myself to TAKE IT SLOW AND STEADY.
06:15 and we’re off.
The map had shown that we do a large part of the golf course, and then a large part out on the road… I had hoped that the road bit would be first thinking that it would be a similar route to the 16 km race I ran last year at the golf course. That way I’d get those 16 km’s out the way, knowing how I felt on that run, and then only have 5 km’s to go.
How wrong I was!
9 km’s of golf course. That’s 9 km’s of tiny little hills, twists and turns, small paths (which once past about 3 km’s wasn’t a problem) and 9 km’s of brick paving to run on… the kind of paving that my feet are not particularly happy about running on. But it was also 9 km’s of great scenery and I felt fantastic the whole way! There was a very long period where I was part of a nice pack of people where we kept pacing each other – every now and then they’d pass me and stay just in front, then I’d pass them and stay just in front. It kinda felt like team work, the way cyclists work in a pack 🙂
Once we reached the almost-10 km mark, we left the golf course and headed onto a bit of sand before we then exited completely and got out onto the road. I was super happy to see a gatorade stand at the 10 km mark… boy did it make a difference to be handed a little cup with gatorade in it (I normally only run with a bottle of water in my hand) 🙂
By 12 km’s I was still feeling really strong – I’d made no plans to pick up the pace, and was keeping my pace really well, with a difference of only about 20 seconds as the biggest margin. I even, at this point, started having wild ideas that maybe, just maybe, doing a marathon would be possible (this idea was very quickly banished once again by the end of the race!)
Up to this point I’d noticed that my GPS tracker was giving different kilometer marks to where the organisers had placed the marks. It was slightly annoying, but I just kept trying to focus only on my per km pace, and not really on the distance I’d run. I knew that I’d felt strong when running this bit in the 16 km race last year so I just focused on that… not that far to go!
I was disappointed at the ~ 15 km water station where they also had gatorade – except here they’d handed out bottles of gatorade and not just small cups with it… so there were practically FULL bottles lying around on the ground where a runner had taken a sip and thrown it away. I’m not condoning the runners for throwing the bottle away. I’m condoning the organisers for handing out full bottles. All I could think about as I ran past those bottles was “How I wish I could have a teeny weeny sip right now”, and even considered picking one of them up. The only thing stopping me from doing that was that I knew that if I broke my stride now I’d battle to get started again. I did enjoy seeing a pack of cyclists come past me around this point – runners on one side of the road, cyclists on the other… talk about a fit morning 🙂
That aside, I kept on going at my almost-perfect pace.., run, stay focused, stay strong. Once I hit the 16 km mark (on my tracker – not their marking), I knew that I had only (roughly) 5 km’s to go. I can do this! It was then a matter of just counting down the km’s. 17, 18, 19. Unfortunately by the time I reached the 19 km’s mark (again, on my tracker) I had to take a small breather. I walked until I reached their 19 km mark (approximately 50 m) and then knew that no matter what I had no more than 2 km’s left to go. Easy peasy.
I didn’t try pick up the pace too much here – I still kept at my steady pace, wanting to finish the race strong. I came across a few runners here at the end who were walking and I encouraged them to run – you can’t walk across the finish line 😉 Right at the end, as I saw the finish line, I picked it up slightly and crossed the finish line in a time of 2:17:47 (for 21.64 km’s as per my tracker). Official chip race time 2:17:43.
I had done it! And felt surprisingly strong about it too!
I went and had a tiny stretch and then made my way to the massage tables and stood in line to get a little 5-minute massage (coincidentally by my actual sports massage therapist from Bespoke Wellness 🙂 ) After enjoying a few minutes of a good old massage and laying down, I went off and got some fruit and a bacon sandwich for breakfast, and enjoyed my gatorade while watching the prize giving and having a good rest.
Once I’d got home and had a nap I then went and checked all of my stats on my tracker… turns out, according to my tracker, that I’d run a PB in the half marathon (21.1 km’s, not 21.6) of 2:14:21! 🙂 But I then also went and checked this against the RAK Half marathon official times from last year and that timer said that my finish time was 2:14:06… so I’m going to say that yesterday’s race was not a PB because I’m inclined to think that a race of RAK’s stature will be the most accurate timing and therefore that time is (potentially) the most accurate. But to have finished (21.1 km’s) only 7 seconds slower than my PB time… man am I stoked with myself! I certainly did not expect that sort of outcome!
I have emailed the organisers regarding the distance, so we’ll see what they have to say about it all, however I have to say that once again this was a superbly organised race and a really enjoyable morning. The course, although mentally tough for so long on the golf course, was actually a fantastic challenge and very enjoyable. The after-race support for the runners – the massage and physio tables, the food, the gatorade, the water, the bag collections etc. – was all fantastic. Well done to FBA-Sports and Emirates Golf Club for a wonderful event!
I’m now enjoying 2 full days of rest and then guess what: run.every.day starts!!!! Excited and nervous about this… I’ll be heading off to a sports store soon to stock up on some new clothes as I don’t quite have enough now to get me through running every day without washing 2 – 3 times a week (and for a lazy person that’s just asking too much 😉 )