by Sumanth Nayak
Back in the Gulf sunshine and not a moment too soon, it looks like it got real cold in the NE! After four months of hard training, including brutalizing Monday tempo sessions, I decided to really push myself this time and go for 3:05 – an ambitious 10 min PB but the pace felt quite comfortable after all the training. A great run at the Morpeth 11k on NYD left me feeling quite confident but the following day I came down with some flu/chest infection and the two week taper consisted of zero running. Fresh legs but feeling very lethargic, I canned the ridiculous 3:05 plan and revised my target to something slightly quicker than PB pace.
Same pancake flat, straight line out and back route as last year, only in reverse, and a 6:30am start rather than the usual 7. Guaranteed perfect conditions as always; mild, sunny and a hint of a breeze. A packed elite field including previous men’s winners and Seb Coe here to witness the start, a possible WR was being hyped again. At the start, I met up with Steffen of Tyne Bridge Harriers, running in kilt and slippers (yes, they really are everywhere!). 150 different nationalities represented, a real melting pot.
Unsure whether I would even be able to finish this race, I set off at a quite comfortable 4:35/km (3:13 pace) and managed to maintain the metronomic pacing until 35km when bang! complete meltdown. No cramp but just couldn’t get my legs moving quick enough. Jog/walked the rest, helpfully encouraged by a nice Brazilian guy in the final kilometre, and was astounded to finish in a respectable 3:20:22. Sixteen seconds slower than last year and the end of my Gulf PB streak.
Saw an Indian fellow running barefoot, finshed in 3:02! So, if you want to run a fast marathon, lose the shoes! No further Gulf shenanigans this time, I need a rest!