Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dubai Marathon 2013

Despite the lack of training, I headed to Dubai last Wednesday to run the Dubai Marathon. First task was collecting the race number from the race official hotel which was quite posh. It was well organized and collecting all the stuff took only a few minutes. I was expecting to see many runners there but there were no expo to look at the latest running products and socialize with other runners.

Collecting race number, JW Marriot Hotel
The couple of days before the race spent chilling out, hanging around with my family and of course carb-loading!

On race day it was not easy to get to the start line as metro was not working untill 2pm! And almost everyone had to take a taxi or drive there. The taxi drop-off point was quite far from the start line but I had more than enough time to get there in time. It was quite chilly with a fairly intense fog which remained for a couple of hours.

The course route recorded by my gps watch
Marathon started at 0700 hrs. And probably because there were not too many runners (around 2500) everyone started at the same time and in a single group with the elite athletes in front. The Course is  out-and-back, flat and boring. When you pass the 8km mark the course continues on a straight road and you don't leave that very road until 34km. On Friday's hazy weather you couldn't see much farther and it did help a lot. 

Somewhere between 10-15 km. 

Overstriding! That's not a good running form
I ran the first half of the race in a very good pace (5:15 min/km). With lack of training for this marathon that was quite fast, but once again I was feeling great and had no reason to slow down. The race was farily well organised with supplies of water, Sport drinks and sponges. I would prefer to see some bananas and energy bars as well. 

The second half 
Getting close to the finish line
 It was after 28th km that I had cramps on my quads. I was indeed waiting for the pain, I knew it will come at any minute, I knew I hadn't trained hard for this and now it's time to pay for it. From that point to the finish line my pace dropped and I was running at a slower pace and had to walk several times (less than a minute each time) every time that I had cramps. It was probably due to the lack of magnesium. I just didn't have enough of that before the race. 

After 38 km almost everyone was struggling and there were words of encouragement coming from spectators (who were cheering along the way but mainly in last 6 kilometers) and mainly from the other runners. There were also some 10k runners who had finished their race and came back to cheer for marathoner. This is the part of a marathon that you know you've made it. You know no matter how bad you feel you must go on. And on this marathon I also had my family waiting for me at the finish line. So I had every reason to give it my best. I dragged myself to the 41km mark and speed up from there to finish strong. Finally crossed the finish line in 04:05:37. 

Another marathon is done. Looking forward to the next one.

Ps. You can check out the route, pace, heart rate, etc here

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Endurance sports, the first experience

While I was looking for Dubai marathon official photos, I found that marathon-photos still holds some photos of me back in 2009. As I lost all my digital data in mid 2010 I didn't have any copy of these photos I got the hold of them.These are taken in June 2009 during Northern Rock Cyclone. There were three different routes to chose from (31, 62 and 100 miles). I did cycle the 62-mile route and that was my first experience in endurance sports.

Back then I used to ride my bike everyday for transport and getting fit.  On weekends I would cycle from Newcastle to Tynemouth and come back. I got to know John - one of my cyclist friends who has cycled across country and beyond a couple of times - and had a couple of training sessions with him. The longest distance I had ever gone on a bike before this event was around 30 miles. So tacking 62 miles sounded like a big challenge at the time.
The start and finish line of the all races was in Kingston Park Stadium.  As I said before I would usually use my bike for transport, so I cycled to the start line which was around 10 miles away from home. I was not an experience cyclist at all and needless to say I was overweight and you can clearly see that I am not even wearing a helmet. (I still wonder how they let me ride that day. I don't remember any other cyclist without a helmet). I had no time goal whatsoever , neither I had a specific strategy to finish the race. I just wanted to cross the finish line.
There were several hills along the course and the worst were a couple of back to back punishing hills in the last quarter of the race (I do not remember the course completely, so if you are thinking of attending this event you better watch the course profile). When I got to that uphill part I saw a few cyclists who were walking and pushing their bikes. That was when I decided no matter how bad I feel or how slowly I move I would never step down. Those were the moments that I experience the real struggle for the first time. The first time that I was challenging myself to endure. And as I climbed the second hill I could already feel the victory.
I crossed the finished line in 4:37 and cycled all the way back home. A year after that I started running (another endurance sport) and now running is an important part of my life.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Dubai Marathone done.

I am going to write about it in details. But for now just wanted to let you know I've run the Dubai marathon in 4:05. Have a great day everyone.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Trained or not, heading to the start

Packing for Dubai now. Dubai marathon starts in less than three days. And that is going to be the first race of 2013. Although I haven't trained as much as I had to do I am going to give it my best this Friday. I know I am not in the best shape now but I am quite prepared for the challenge. I am ready for the torture. Stay turned!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Random notes on running a marathon; Confessions of a not-quite-prepared runner a week before a marathon

  • Running a marathon is all about commitment, dedication, passion and good spirits.
  • No matter how hard you train for a marathon you could always have train harder. 
  • The whole journey of training for a marathon can be as enjoyable as the marathon itself. I am not only talking about the great feeling you get after a workout but also about sacrifices and kicks up the arse.
  • Marathon can be a real torture, especially if you are not completely prepared for that. 
  • Pain is an essential part of this game. So if you feel all right during and after a marathon, you  probably haven't done your best.
  • Mental preparation for the marathon is at least as important as physical training.
  • When you are not completely ready for the event, you can still go for it. But you shouldn't expect it to be easy. You should be prepared to embrace the pain.
  • Endurance is the ability to stay outside your comfort zone. 
  • The moment you cross the finish line all the pains fade away. And they come back a few hours later during your recovery.
  • During a marathon you might think that you will never do this again. But you will find yourself planning your next marathon a few days later.
  • You probably get through some stages that you cannot go on. But you can always take another step forward until you cross the finish line. Mental toughness is a must.
  • Marathon is much more about challenging yourself rather that competing the others.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Badwater, another inspiring story

Following my previous post you will find this film inspiring.  Dariusz Strychalski's journey to Badwater ultramarathon.

THE WINNER / ZWYCIĘZCA from SensiMedia on Vimeo.
Short documentary about polish man overcoming his own weaknesses in Death Valley in USA during one of the hardest ultramarathons in the world. The race is 135 miles long and has to be completed in 48 hours. Hilly surfaces and temperatures over 115F make it all the more difficult, however the the crucial fact is that Darek has partially paralyzed body and eyesight disorders. Despite of his impairments Darek takes part in Badwater Ultramarathon together with other healthy people.
What led Darek start in the ultramarathon, what kind of experiences he had and did he complete the 217 km race through the desert you will find out while watching "The Winner".
Cinematography and editing by - Jakub Górajek

Friday, 11 January 2013

How to keep up with your training plan

Training for a marathon -or any other distances- requires planning. So you sit down, evaluate your current situation and ability, set a goal and write down a training plan to achieve that goal.In an ideal situation you keep up with that plan and never miss a single training session. But how about if you missed many of those sessions? We all have numerous reasons and excuses for missing those workouts, but at the end it doesn't matter so much. The goal is getting ready for your big run.

As you might have known until now I haven't been able to keep with my training very well. I missed days and weeks of training and now I am quite close to the race. What I'd rather do in this kind of situation is not going back to my training and do the exercises I had to do three or four weeks ago, but jumping to this date on my plan and alter it to meet my needs. Yesterday I went for a long run after a few weeks followed by a fairly intense plyometric workout. And I am going for another long run this week. You might consider it too much as I've got only two weeks to Dubai Marathon. But I found if I push my body I usually get better result. So I will leave the tapering for the very last week.

I have to admit that I am not in the best shape now. But I am ready for the challenge. I am ready for a big torture. If it goes as bad as it went in Frankfurt, I will find a way to survive. And if it gets worse than that, well, I will embrace the new experience.

How do you keep up with your training? What would you do if you missed those workouts?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Running on the sun: The Badwater 135

Just watched Running on the sun: The Badwater 135. And such a great documentary it is. I just cannot recommend it enough.

Badwater Ultramarathon is considered one of the toughest races in the world. 135 miles across Death Valley in mid July with temperature as high as 50 degree Celsius. I first read about it in Ultramarathon Man where Dean Karnazes writes about his experience. Then I got to know a few others who finished it including Scott Jurek and Reza Baluchi an Iranian ultra runner.

So if you are in need of inspiration, get the hold of this film.

Friday, 4 January 2013

This is not an excuse. You cannot train with this bloody pollution

Here are some photos of Tehran. Photos on the left are taken on 17th and 21st Dec 2012 and the ones on the right shows the situation this morning.

How could you run in this kind of situation? Or would you?
Have a marathon planned in three weeks and all I can do is training indoors. I had a long run planned for this morning but I didn't go out as I could barely breath. When you are running or doing another endurance sports, obviously your body needs more oxygen for your muscles.You breath harder and that inserts more toxin into your system. This is about the only time that exercise can bring more harm than benefit.