If your sitting halfway across the world what else is there to do? Running the 2013 Dubai Marathon was an experience that will be hard to forget for both good and painful reasons. It turned out to be one unique travel opportunity. Not only are you in a new part of the world; your seeing it in a truly exceptional way. Places and people you wouldn't have seen normally while taking a path that is definitely less traveled. They don't close six lanes of traffic for people to walk down the street everyday. Add police cars, motor bikes, mounted cameras and helicopters. Then it becomes even more fascinating. Did I mention you get a chance to run a course that world competitors
are running at the same time? Read more for my biggest takeaways from my first marathon and why you should consider one on your next overseas adventure.
"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."
Emil Zatopek, Czech runner; winner of four Olympic gold medals:
Ok, old Emil Zatopek may be a bit pretentious, but there's little else that will test you to see if your a bx@ch or not more than running a marathon. Its one of those things in life that most everyone can do, but most won't do. There's a bunch of great reasons not to do it, even some medically sound ones but I think its important to push oneself, especially physically. I can't remember the satisfaction from getting an A in school but I sure as hell can remember finishing a marathon in the time I was gunning for. It gives you something to plan for and keeps your workout schedule together.
I'll admit I tend to be incredibility hard headed. I need to have some serious consequences to motivate me to do things, usually something that can physically hurt me if I screw it up. For me, the marathon was the perfect thing. You train for it...... or you get severely injured. It kept me on track for months and I got myself in great shape. I do however, have room for improvement the next time around. Its a excellent way of committing yourself to get in the gym everyday.
Consider this; it is a great social event, especially in a foreign country. "Yeah right Larry, you can meet people anywhere, you don't need to run 26.2 miles". Maybe true, but you won't meet as many people who are physically fit, determined, and mentally capable as those who finish this thing. I'm not saying that marathon runners are perfect people. I would say your chances of meeting someone interesting, friendly, and fit are better than in the back of a dingy club somewhere though. You may meet up with another group of people that are as well put together as you. And btw, the Ethiopians have a serious fan club.
Still not convinced to become a "human car"?.Are you the type of person that your house or apartment looks like it was the scene of a burglary. Shirts, books, hangars, dvds, maybe a random cereal bowl on your nightstand. While this is one of the few problems I do not have, some individuals do. Add structure to your life. Adhering to a training schedule gives your life structure and organization. For many people, this structure can stave off depression and give them a greater sense of purpose. You may start realizing that after keeping a workout schedule, cleaning the house or the car has never been so easy. Here's another one, give yourself a story. Training for, and running a marathon will give you some memorable moments. I give you (exibit A); after finishing said marathon neither myself or my buddy Ben were feeling to wonderful. After leaning up against a fence it was over for Ben. We thought it was funny for a little while then we got nervous. Good to know he is still with us.
Ok so I've already given you a few solid reasons to consider a marathon. Don't forget all the weird stuff you get to see after the marathon. That's right folks, a lot of these marathons have post events which can vary greatly. This one was definitely strange but we were in downtown Dubai; it can't get better than that, regardless of the creepy stilt walkers. Those of you who have a fear of clowns, there is a creepy ass clown smiling at me in this video. After this we had an incredible lunch in a very relaxing downtown hotel. See the rest of my visits to Dubai on my (Dubai) travels page.
The Finish Line
In the end, it was all worth it; sure it was months of training a few exploded toes, and that last hellish 6 miles, but you never forget and its good to know what your body is capable of doing. Most people really aren't in synch with their bodies. After this, you know exactly where you stand and what you need to work on for the future.
Watching the tops of buildings peek out of the fog like ghosts was surreal. Passing by people staring from the side of the road was equally haunting. They came from everywhere, out of shops, hotels, even mosques. Exchanging glances was almost as interesting as the skyline itself. I think this could be the start of a new pass time when I travel to overseas destinations. If you still aren't convinced here's my parting shot (101 more reasons). My only piece of advice I will offer is this. I understand I am not a professional marathon runner because I have completed one marathon but just so people don't think its a good idea to run a marathon on a whim. (I don't want to get sued if you die).
I ran x5 12milers, x3 14milers, x1 16miler, and x1 20miler as capstones during training. I also did weight training x3 a week. Get with someone knowledgeable and get a marathon training plan before you decide to commit your $$$ to the entry fee. Happy running and great travels!