2019 Week 10 – Hatta Hills Half Marathon

OK, fair disclaimer before I even start writing this baby… this race is not something new to me. I ran in the inaugural race in 2016.

However, I have nothing else to talk about that was absolutely new for the last week, so I’m considering these factors as new for this post, and about this race:

  1. A friend of mine has recently started running and it was to be her first time running in this race
  2. It’s the first time that her & I have travelled together for a race (we spent Thursday night before the race in Hatta together)
  3. It was the first time either of us stayed in the particular hotel
  4. I ran the race much faster than I expected to, which was a much better finish time than the first time I ran it – so a course PB!

Our accommodation

We drove up to Hatta (just short of 2 hours – with traffic – from Dubai) and spent Thursday night at the Arabian Holiday Resort.
It was a very basic ‘resort’ but it covered all the right bits and pieces that we needed:

  • Clean, comfortable beds
  • Warm running water (although I didn’t turn my water heater on so had a cold shower post-race!)
  • Breakfast post-race
  • Friendly, helpful staff
  • Only 15-minutes drive from the start line

The morning of the race was nice and cool, and the atmosphere at the race village warm and energetic… just the way it should be!

Start-line views

They called the 21km runners to the start line so I said bye to AK (she was running 10km) and told her to shout for me when I crossed the finish line πŸ™‚

I had pulled a muscle in a race the week prior so I’d done very little training during the week and I had told myself that I needed to keep things very steady and easy for this race. My goal was to finish just one or two minutes faster than the last time I ran this, and as long as I stuck to taking it easy I shouldn’t have a problem.

After the first few km’s I was coming in a little faster than my plan but I was feeling absolutely fantastic, so I made sure to not go any faster than that, and promised myself that when I got to the big ass hills, that I would WALK up them. No matter what.

Not a friendly hill – everyone walks!

Next thing I knew I was passing 10km’s and I was feeling fab. Just another 11 to go. Then it was 10, and then we were into single digits… and I was still feeling fab. At one point I came up next to another runner who was walking on a flat stretch, and I could see a hill coming up ahead of us, so I told him to run to the hill and then he can reward himself with walking up it πŸ™‚

With each km that was passing, I kept thinking to myself that I knew I was doing better than planned, and the best feeling was that I kept thinking of just how much I had struggled in these last few km’s the last time I ran this race. I recall being almost in tears at 17kms because there was yet another little hill to go up and I just could not bear the thought of it. The last km of that race was awful for me and I remember coming across the finish line and swearing it blind because it too is UP.A.HILL!

Some of our views at the top of the hills

But this race I was smashing. I got to the 20th km and because I knew that 21 had that sneaky hill at the end, I decided to push super hard in the 20th km (I would normally try do this in the last km of the race) so that I wouldn’t feel too bad when not being able to push at the very end. And boy did it feel great! That 20th km was done in only 2 seconds slower than my very first km. I was killing this race!

I eventually ran into the hotel grounds and began to make my way up that gradual incline to the finish line (AK was waiting on the sideline for me as promised πŸ™‚ ) and I drew my last bits of energy and gave it my all at the end to cross the finish line in a time of 2:07:34… a whopping 9 minutes faster than the last race… and 8 minutes faster than I had set out to do!

2019 Week 7 – Bloomberg Square Mile Relay

Boy oh boy what fun this was!

About 2 weeks ago I received an out-of-the-blue message from a friend, Joe, asking me if I would be free on Wednesday 13th February, and if I’d be up for running one mile as part of his team relay.

And since I didn’t have anything stopping me, I jumped at the idea of something running-related as my something new, and I’m certainly not one to back down from any sort of run challenge… especially when it’s only one mile!

And that’s how I came to be part of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay.

The Bloomberg Square Mile Relay has been going for a number of years now, having started in London. This was the fourth year in Dubai and it did not disappoint. Over 100 teams of 10 runners per team, making up over 1,000 runners on the night – and an overall brilliantly organised event. This is definitely one that I’d like to get my company involved in next year!

It’s a simple concept.
10 runners each running one mile in a relay.
Have fun!

Here are a few of me on the night πŸ™‚

2019 Week 6 – I FINALLY BROKE 2 HOURS!!!!

If you’ve ever read any of my running posts, you’ll know how long I’ve been chasing after that sub 2-hour half marathon goal.

And I’m as pleased as punch (go clichΓ©s!) to say that this past weekend I finally did it!!

Official Race Results

About a week before the race I decided to check hotel availability in RAK because I hadn’t planned far in advance for this race like the way I have in the past… and I was really happy when I found something only 7km’s from the start line, and at a great price. So I booked the room and looked forward to a decent night’s sleep the night before, instead of having to be up at like 3am to get on a bus and drive through.

My sleep was on and off the whole night – kind of the norm the night before these big ones – but I woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm went off and felt reasonably ready to face the day. Smash a banana. Chomp a few gu’s. Out of the hotel and down to the start line in the cold and dark. But I was feeling ready for this race.
I hadn’t given myself the target of breaking 2 hours because after my last half marathon in December being so disappointing (I’ve just realised I didn’t even write about it!), I didn’t want to potentially have that heartbreak again… so I aimed a little more reasonable and set myself a target of sub 2:05.

I saw a few friendly faces prior to the start and then made my way over to my mass start chute and waited for 7am. And then it was Go! time!

At training during the week of the race, my coach and another runner and I had been chatting and they said to me – “It’s your race. Run it for you and nobody else. Don’t worry about if people are overtaking you. Don’t think that you’re not good enough. Stick to your race plan and run for you.”
And that’s exactly what I did. I knew that I wanted to keep an average pace of approx 5:50/km and so when I fell in line with 2 girls doing a 5:40/km pace I stuck with them… and before I could blink we’d run 5km’s! Then 7.5km’s. And then it was the 10km mark… the km’s were flying by!

At about 12km’s I heard a ‘Go Hazel!’ from the road and looked over to see one of the guys I train with supporting the runners. I was feeling really good at this stage still and kept my pace really perfectly. Another short way down the road was another supporter who I train with, so more smiles and waves πŸ™‚ And then just before 14km’s, at a u-turn there, the runner I’d been chatting to with my coach ran past me so big waves and shout-outs to each other there.

It wasn’t long after that that the 2 girls from earlier came past me. I checked my pace and saw that I was still strong at 5:40/km so decided to not try and stay with them, as they had now increased their pace out of my reach.

Once I’d gone past 15km’s I could feel the legs starting to get tired and by 16km’s I was really starting to feel the distance, especially at this pace. Then it was 17km’s… only 4 to go. Then 18. And that was when I needed to stop for a very short walk – maybe about 50m – and then got into my steady pace again. I then saw a fellow runner at 20km’s and called out to him – only 1km to go but boy was I feeling tired and beat by now! My runner friend kept calling out behind me, shouting words of encouragement and I cannot tell you how much it helped! And once I reached the banner that said 500m to go, I picked up the pace with each 100m that went by until I was pushing as hard as I could for the last 100m. I was watching that clock and knew that I was in by a few seconds and so I dug to the deepest pits of my gut and pushed with every bit of adrenaline that was now coursing my veins and I ran across that finish line with a sub 2-hour finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next big race will be a 16km (10-miler) on 1st March, and then a repeat of the Hatta Hills half marathon that I ran a few years ago. Some exciting running ahead and hopefully a new PB at the 10-mile (at least, that’s the plan!)