On December 6th 2009 I received a phone call from a friend of mine asking me if I would be interested in running the Dubai Marathon. With not a single thought going through my mind I replied “yes, that would be awesome”. I had just finished playing in the 2009 sevens and had decided that my days of playing rugby were over, earlier that year I had played in the rugby World Cup Sevens so it was a great year to end on. As is always the case when you close the door on something in life you have to open the door on something new, new goals and new feelings.
The phone call progressed quickly to the date on which we would run the marathon. 47 days away. So much time that we didn’t have our first training run until December 18th! A gentle 22km to see what our legs were made of. We had a further 22km a week later and then a 30km running individual fronds of the Palm Island in Dubai, although the cars on each frond differ this was perhaps one of the most mind numbing runs I have ever done.
And so we were set, 3 training runs and it was time to run a marathon on Friday 22nd 2010. I had dug around and figured that sub 4 hours was where I wanted to hang out for this one…..and bang we were off. The field was littered with the worlds best and as Haile Gebreslassie made his way to the start line only 50m ahead of me I felt inspired to be running in a race with a true great. 2k into the run my buddy whose idea it was to run was in trouble, he was stopping at every opportunity with uncontrollable bowels. To hit my target we both decided that I had to go on solo. I was soon to find out A) What I was really made of and B) The huge disadvantages of running in a marathon with a small field. The later bugged the hell out of me for the next 10k as I was unable to find anyone who was running at my pace, after 10k it was a reality that I just had to deal with. Being alone turned out to be quite good fun as I tried to engage with the supporters at various points on the route and other runners who like me did not have an ipod to keep them company.
I was traveling better than expected and was around 2k away from the Burj Al Arab which was around 6k from the finish, this is when things started to suck a bit. Was I hitting the wall? Is this what everyone’s fear was? Is this why people don’t like marathons? I didn’t know the answer and didn’t have anyone around at this stage to ask so I kept going, foot after foot. Just after the Burj Al Arab I heard a familiar voice behind me, it was a German accent as he said “Come on Marcus, not far now” he passed me a bottle of water, I tried my hardest to keep pace with him but all too soon he was gone. As was the water bottle he had given me, in what seemed like one gulp.
That was the last water bottle I would see until I crossed the finish line. This last 6k sucked and sucked on a massive level. No more water stations, no one to run with or talk to and the morning sun was heating up. I was beat. I had two options. Keep on running or keep on running. That was all I thought. When I think back now I know as the day is clear that packing up was not an option. What bothered me the most in my dwindling state was if I would hit my sub 4 goal.
I came in at 4:02. A massive failure! The emotions I was experiencing at the end were unreal, something new. Just 48 days ago I had been playing rugby in front of 45,000 people, a massive buzz, and now here I was having finished my first marathon not knowing what to think or where to look. Speaking to my mentor later that day I swore I would never run another marathon, I was done, he thought otherwise………….. we carried on eating.
And so the date is set 3 years later almost to the day I will again take on the challenge of a marathon and I will run it sub 4, and this will not be my last! It’s strange how life changes isn’t it! My approach this time is different. I am now able to squat 40% more than I was in 2010, deadlift 30% more and will have run twice a week for the 7 weeks leading up to the marathon. It’s going to be quite a day and I can not wait.
To have a look at what training I am doing to prepare for this check out MS Training
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