Week 3 – IGNITEDUBAI Race at Meydan

This week saw another running first for me – a new race held out in the grounds of Meydan Golf Course, sponsored by Puma… the #IGNITEDUBAI Series.

Although this was the first race of the new series, I knew it was going to be a good race because I have been running in races done by the organisers (Super Sports) since I started running in Dubai, and I know that they know what they’re doing and always put on a good run.

#IGNITEDUBAI

#IGNITEDUBAI

Of course, this was no exception.

It was a night race, which felt really weird. I’ve done one night race before – the very first We Run Dubai – and still have no idea how to fuel / eat properly before the race.

And unfortunately this time it failed me completely… but I’ll get to that 😦

So, I arrived early at the event, heading over straight after work, and spent the time doing a few warm up runs and just generally pottering about a bit, until they called the racers to the start line for the countdown.

In the starting chute

In the starting chute

We headed off, and my first 4km’s felt great, getting them ticked off in just 21 minutes! In the 5th km I took a tiny walk break as had probably set out just a tad too quick, but was then back on it and again feeling pretty strong.

Until just before the 7th km mark. That’s where the wheels fell off. Quickly.

My gut decided that it was time to find a toilet. NOW. But unfortunately there are no porta-potties on this run because it’s just a 5km loop, out on the back roads of the golf course 😦

I had to stop and walk a bit, and then carried on again – it’s only 3 km’s to go! I kept chanting the distances to myself… getting closer with each step. I managed to find a batch of strength and took off with a shot, trying to get to that finish line the toilets as quickly as possible 😮

Running across the bridge - very blurry as taken while actually running ;)

Running across the bridge – very blurry as taken while actually running 😉

The 9th km was a total fail (7:30 it took me to finish it!) and at one point, with probably only about 700m (yes, 700m!) to go, I actually sat on the ground and had a little cry, and had 2 people stop and ask if I was ok. “Yes”, I said, and waved them on – wasn’t going to go into the gruesome details 😳

Well, I eventually managed to stand up, pull myself towards myself and get to the finish line! I even managed to smile as I crossed that line in just 57:22 – and made a beeline for the toilets! 🙂

So, what did I learn from all of this – well, to not eat chocolate before running!! That was the only thing that I had done differently to any other day when running in the evenings… not the right day to risk something like that, but honestly, I really did not think it would affect me like that. Lesson learned 😉

All in all it was a good race – very well organised, as always, and we got to enjoy a post-race meal that was part of our race fee that we paid. The course was relatively simple, but a decent enough route, and had some corners, u-turns and 2 tiny little hills as we ran up, over and down the bridge.

Set up for post-race dinner :)

Set up for post-race dinner 🙂

The next race of this series is in February – unfortunately I’ll be on holiday at the time so I’ll miss it, but the one after that is in April and I intend on going back, and more than making up for my fail of this one!

My next races coming up are Wadi Bih in 2 weeks, and RAK Half Marathon in 3 weeks! 😎 Always running ❤

Pre-race smiles

Pre-race smiles

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Week 34 – Salalah Half Marathon

When I first sat down and drew up a bucket list, on it I included running international races. So when my race/running buddy, Nat, suggested a half marathon in Salalah, I jumped at the opportunity! I can finally say that I have got a foot in the door! Albeit only in a neighbouring country, and my bucket list does state that I want to look at races further afield than just around here in the GCC / Middle East…. but, you gotta start somewhere, right?!

So, I made sure from that point that I did not skimp on my weekly runs and did my best to get some proper distance in – after all, this race was a half marathon! But, running in the UAE, in mid-summer, is not an easy feat. Temperatures over 45 °C, humidity between 60% – 80%. I got out the door as often as I could, and ran for as long as I could although unfortunately never getting further than 9km’s 😦 But I was not going to let that deter me. I’ve run about 5 half marathons before and I knew that I could do it!

We flew out to Salalah after work on Thursday evening and arrived at the hotel late at night, so we simply hit the sack. Friday morning we were up for breakfast and then headed over to the start line to collect our race bags. Since we then had a few hours to kill before having to be back for the 4pm start, we asked our taxi driver to show us around. And what a treat that was! He took us up into the mountains, past the Sultan’s palace and down to the beach, and then back to our hotel so we could grab a last minute nap and lunch before the race.

We headed across to the start line at about 2pm as we were told to be there early to collect our bib numbers and timing chips. We then hung around waiting for other runners to arrive, and for that inevitable countdown to the start of the race.

I think I'm ready :)

I think I’m ready 🙂

Was I nervous? Yes. But to be honest I carefully pushed those thoughts from my head because, although it was humid and crap weather (drizzling and grey), I had been training in this kind of humidity so I had planned my race around that. Just go with your body. Don’t push yourself too hard as this is the first race of the season, and you clearly have not had nearly enough time on your feet to be warranting any great times. Just get out there, and enjoy the run!

No turning back now - lined up for the start :)

No turning back now – lined up for the start 🙂

I decided to run without knowing my pace – switch those little voices off – and went entirely on feel. I felt great setting off and settled into a nice rhythm with a couple in front of me. For ages it was just the 3 of us, until I eventually passed them at about 4km’s (there was no signage on the route so everything was guestimating).

After that I slowly got closer to another runner who eventually told me to ‘just go ahead and pass me’, because he knew that I was closing in. I comfortably passed him and wished him well for the rest of the race, and then set my eyes on the next person to catch up to and hopefully overtake. Slow and easy.

It was around this point that my music then died. I always run with music so knowing that I still have approximately 14 km’s to go with none was a little worrying… but I had no choice so I pushed those thoughts out of my head. And I did quite well at it… until I reached approximately 8 km’s where my body decided it needed a rest. Time for a walk break 😦 And I now started focusing on every ache and pain in my legs and body.

Taken just before my first walk break

Taken just before my first walk break

I kept pushing myself and was so happy to see Nat as we passed each other around the halfway point (she was quite far ahead of me) – it picked up my spirits just that little bit that I needed. I had come halfway… all I had to do was get back to the finish line now.

The second half of the race was incredibly difficult for me – I was run-walk-run-walking the whole way back. I tried to keep the running bits as long as possible, and when I had people come up behind me that I’d recently passed, it helped push me along to keep ahead of them. And once I saw the lights of the finish line in the distance, I knew that I had to just dig deep and finish the race as strong as possible.

The last kilometer or so I pulled on all my reserves and made sure I ran it all. As I got close to the entrance of the finishing straight, I picked the pace up, and saw Nat on the corner cheering me on! I slowed down just a touch again so that I could take the final corner and then sprint to the finish line – crossing it in a (disappointing) time of 2:27:16.

I was very thankful to then have Nat tell me that everyone had finished around 10 – 15 minutes slower than their target so it made the finishing time a little easier to swallow… I had hoped for a 2:16 / 2:20 finish so I was within the range of everyone else.

We made it!

We made it!

Race overview

As this was the first race held by the Muscat Triathlon Club, there were a few teething problems, but mostly it was a great race (nothing they can do about the weather!)

Having the bag collection and then bib number collection split into 2 was a terrible idea – why they didn’t have it done at once is beyond me and it was very frustrating for runners to have to hang around the start line for around 2 hours for no reason. But they did have a DJ there who kept the atmosphere lively, so not a total fail.

Having a 4pm start was really strange. I’ve done a night race before but I don’t remember that feeling so weird. I wasn’t sure how to fuel properly during the day and was so worried that I’d overeat, or over drink. However, I don’t know if it was a terrible thing to have the later start and I would probably enter another race with a start like this.

The course was an extremely easy, completely flat, out and back route. But there was absolutely no signage in terms of how far you’d run, or which way to turn. Luckily the police on duty knew what was going on and were extremely helpful, even to the point of being very supportive and cheering us on! And the volunteers were just amazing! At one water station on my way back, I was really struggling and walking at that point and the volunteers started running next to me and really helping to get me going again. Unfortunately the water stations themselves were not great in terms of them handing out full 500ml bottles of water. This is a total waste. I also don’t know why they had coke at the water stations… but they had orange slices which seemed a huge hit with some of the runners, so kudos to them for that 🙂

Coming in to the finish line I was hot, tired, sore and thirsty. And they had run out of water! This was not a wise thing to let happen. While they did tell me that it was coming, they should be more aware of how much is left at all times so that they can get more there in time before it runs out.

Overall, not a total fail as an event and I would probably look at doing it again.

(Extremely long post finished 😉 )

Heading back to the hotel after a very tough race 🙂

Last race of the 2015/2016 season… done and dusted!

This past Saturday was the last race of the 2015/2016 season that I will be running – there are a couple more races in the heat of the summer but currently I have not registered for any, and doubt that I will be doing so.

It was a 12 km race, once again held at Meydan Golf Course, and takes place on the roads located around the course grounds.

It’s an extremely flat course, not much to look at, but not a bad course on the whole, and I’ve now run this course possibly 5 or 6 times (twice for the 12 km, and the others for the 8 km).

Unfortunately my last race was a bit of a disappointment for me 😦 I didn’t have any specific goals in mind for the race, but when I finished almost 3 minutes slower than the last time I ran this, it’s a bit of a bummer to end the season like that.

Within the first km of the race I had to stop running and pull onto the side walk to deal with a terrible cramp that I had in my foot, located around my ankle area. ONE Kilometer! So it looked to be a fairly dismal race right from the word go. But I carried on and the cramping seemed to go away, until about 4 km’s. gggrrrrr. So I stopped again, massaged it a bit, again, and headed off, again. I think I then stopped once more at some point, but the final stop was in the 9th km when I stopped for quite a while and when tried to run again had to end up walking for a bit. Totally messed up any chances of a decent finish for me, but I was not going to pull out.

I kept going, one foot in front of the other, and when I was coming up to the last 2 km’s I decided to start picking up my pace a fair bit and actually making a go for the finish line. After each corner that we turned I picked up the pace a bit more, until I was gunning it down the last straight and really gave it my all across the finish line, finishing in a time of 1:08:00, and an overall positioning of 19th in my age category. meh. 😦

But, I cannot complain about this season of running at all – I have had one of the best seasons since I began running so I have to be proud of myself for that! 2 personal bests smashed, and just generally feeling much stronger and happier about my running in general.

I won’t be stopping during the summer, but I will be cutting down on both mileage and amount of times that I run during the week… and I will be picking up on my kickboxing and focusing a lot more on that for the summer 🙂