The curve of the Corniche stretches out before me, in the distant haze I can see the spiral tower of the FANAR cultural center. I thought it would be a shining beacon to focus on. It is not, just an architecturally interesting building that might as well be on the other side of the Universe, the way I am feeling. As the sun bakes me and I pound away on the hard concrete bay road that hurts my feet, I wonder what I have gotten myself into.
Some Hours Earlier
As I mingle in the early morning chill, waiting to be told to form up, the 10.5K lap that I am going to shuffle along feels optimistic. In my pre-marathon nerves, I fail to realise that in 2.5 hours’ time, all the 10K and 21K runners will be finished, in 2.5 hours’ time there will only be 70 odd runners spread out over a 10.5K course. This is going to be a lonely marathon. And the longer it takes, the lonelier it is going to get.
The Highs And Lows Of A Flat Circle
The turnaround points at the start/finish and at the West Bay end of the Cornice route are amazing. Places where crowd, well I say crowds, where people naturally gather. Early morning runners and Costa patrons gather and offer support at the West Bay end. At the Souq, the post-race runner hoards mostly stick around and cheer on the few who decided that up-and-down 8 times sounded like a good idea.
The section in between is the toughest though. Between the Ministry of Interior and the beginning of the West Bay sky-scraping skyline – about 2-3K each way – lacks much development (in terms of buildings and facilities) which makes this, accumulatively 5-6K section of each lap very exposed to the hot sun and severely lacking in spectators. It feels like, that for 20-24K – especially in the second half of the marathon, I am left to contemplate with my dark place. The part of my mind that wants to give in to my sore feet, my aching arms and legs, my building desire for a large pizza. Mentally draining, but always temporary.
Not really training for this specific marathon began to show towards the end. Since Marysville, in November, I have not run further than say 25K, so the first 25K were relatively easy. Still pushing through the pain and completing the full distance in 4:44 has given me a solid benchmark for a flat marathon and I know that the next flat one will be quicker.