1703 Gamal Wahab, EGY
Finish time: 3:36:16
Coach’s remarks: An exceptional athlete here Team. Great report Stitch and it must of been your shoes 🙂 Enjoy the read team, it sums up a marathon on good day very very well!
Let me start by thanking you all for your kind words and messages that I have been receiving after the Dubai marathon. Coach and several other team members have asked for a race report so I have put one together .
So as many of you remember the decision to race the Dubai marathon was quite random and spontaneous !! I received quite a lot of criticism since I was told over and over by most of the team members that marathons need months of preparations and planning and that my decision to race was naïve. To be honest I don’t disagree and I have come to experience firsthand how hard a marathon is !! But sometimes you just have to believe in yourself and simply be a bit spontaneous and bold!
I did get support from Venny, Piers , Captain J and Alex Jacobs so thank you guys J at the same time I had a good chat with coach and got his blessing provided that I pace it properly, not have high expectations and just simply enjoy the day more over coach insisted that I only stick to my triathlon program as he feared that I could over run myself before the race and injure myself (I think that was an excellent call so thanks coach!!)
I have recently come back from the 70.3 which I have properly prepared for so I felt I was in good shape and that I have not lost anything since I came back. I just felt that I can do a marathon and believed firmly that I do have a sub four hours marathon in me !!
My race strategy was very simple , I am very comfortable running around 4:45 min / km pace on the long runs and I was told by everyone that I will hit a wall after 30 kilometers and that the last bit is very mental and very tough. So since I was going to hit the wall anyways and since I really did not have any proper long distance training my plan was to go on sub 5 min/km for as long as my legs can hold since I was going to suffer anyways !!!
Slept early and had a good night sleep , got up at three AM, drove from AD , reached nice and early and since this was my first running race I was like this is easy !! I was telling myself that’s it , no need to pump the bike , load the bike with nutrition , body marking , sun screen , swim cap , goggles it just felt a lot easier than preparations for a tri .
Off to the start line after a bit of a warm up , perfect racing weather , great atmosphere and I was ready to go. So off we went and a bit of traffic in the start but no big deal. It took a while to warm up and after the first few kms my average pace was 5:30 min/km so I had to pick up the pace if I was to stick to my plan. Started running at 4:30 min/km but still in my comfort zone until I brought done my average pace to 5:00 min/km and I simply just kept it there . The first half marathon went really quickly I met Liz and Beej around km 19 and they both looked very steady and very comfortable !! Also met Deidge and Freddy and their support gave me a great push !! 1 hour 44 min across the half marathon mark and I was very pleased with that but I also knew that there was no way that I was going to have a negative split so all I wanted was to just maintain my pace.
At 25 km I was going through a bit of a dark patch but then I got very lucky !! I was about to get over taken by a solid group of about 10 runners from the Dubai Creek Striders so I asked them what time are you guys aiming for ? and they replied 3:28 so I said brilliant do you mind if I join ? They were a nice bunch and their pacer replied hop on ! This was the best thing that happened to me on race day !! It felt a lot easier running in a group as we worked together and I was committed to keeping up with them .
Nutrition was going well !! Stuck to GU chumps and had a few gels on the course , water at the stations but no Gatorade since it makes me stitch up .
All was going well until the pack reached km 32 or so and people started dropping out of the pack ! By the time we reached km 37 there was only three of us left and then it was just not possible to keep going at the same pace ! my legs started caving in and the sub 5 min / km was no longer there !! But I knew this was going to happen so things were still going according to plan !! The good thing is that it was km 37 and not Km 30 so I only had 5 more to go my overall average pace by then was 4:55 min/km so I knew I would achieve a sub 4 hours marathon but I had to keep the same pace if I was to go sub 3:30 but I knew I would not be able to !! So the mental battle begun , the legs were super stiff and I was no longer a happy bunny . Kept pushing through and it was not long before Beej and Liz passed by and I would not use the word fresh to describe them but they still both looked solid and consistent , I got a few words of support from Beej that gave me a push to just keep going , I saw Miss Anne P on the side of the road cheering and by then I was hurting properly !! Just keep going your almost there was all that was going through my head and I don’t even recall ever thinking of stopping to walk the idea was just never there. Two more ks to go and I was back to the Emar Boulevard a bit of a limp because of the stiff legs but I was almost home J Looked at the watch and realized that I have lost 7 minutes in the and the average pace had gone up to 5:04 min / km so the sub 3:30 was gone but it was only 400 meters to go and I knew I was going to be sub 3:40 and a sudden rush of happiness hit me !! The smile back again wide across the face and I started preparing for my dancing ritual across the finish line but I realized that I had no legs !! so just a simple wave to the roaring crowds and I was home across the finish line !! 3 hour 35 min and 22 sec !!! I was done I could barely stand but I was happy !! What an achievement !! Who would have thought that I had a 3:35 min in me !! I know I didn’t !! Confused emotions , pain and a bit of disbelief ended with a couple of tears but I quickly manned up and got my act together J So at the end of the day I was extremely satisfied with my run and I honestly did not think that I could hold up to km 37 on a sub 5 min / k pace !! I guess the moral of the story is if you truly believe in yourself go for it no matter what the odds are and you will achieve much more than you ever thought was possible !!