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!

Week 49 – Creek Striders Half Marathon

It’s been 2 days since the half marathon and I still cannot wipe the smile from my face – I had a brilliant race!

I had a time goal in mind – nothing too wild since I knew that the course involved a bunch of bridges and a tunnel and was known to be a slightly difficult course. I knew that I’d be strong enough on the day to at least accomplish my time goal, provided nothing went horribly wrong – my training runs had all been really good and I now had to leave it to the running gods.

Up bright (er, dark, since the sun wasn’t actually up yet when I woke up!) and early, smashed my breakfast and headed off to my friends place to share a ride. Met up with a few other friends and off we went.

It was madness when we arrived there – runners all over the place! Really busy vibe, crazy busy toilets, and energy all over the place. We eventually lined up for the start, wished each other luck and set off once they’d counted us down. Scott, Csilla & I all ended up running together in the beginning; we found ourselves settling in to a really great pace and just stayed with each other for ages!

At about 12km’s or so, the 2-hour pacers ran past us. I was feeling extremely strong at this point and so I said “Let’s keep up with them!” Csilla was on board, but Scott wanted to back off a bit so he waved us on. We ran ahead slightly to get right behind them and then stuck there, feeling really strong the whole time! Eventually at about 17km’s or so we realised that we needed to pass the pacers, and so we did πŸ™‚

But, the strong did not last… at about 19kms I started to really feel it and had it not been for Csilla next to me, I would have backed right off (she said the same thing about me!) We pulled each other along for those last 2 km’s, with the last km being my fastest over the entire course! I mustered up every last bit of energy and crossed the finish line in 2:02:29!

And to put that into perspective – my PB for a half was recently obtained in RAK when I did 2:02:05! On a flat course!

This has given me a HUGE boost of confidence that I will smash the 2-hour barrier in RAK in February 2018!!

The race was really well put together – such a great course with some fabulous morning sunrise views over the creek. I tried to snap a few photos while running but they’ve come out terribly… but the race itself was just great! And finishing it off with a huge bacon (REAL bacon!) and egg breakfast was wonderful!

We had at least 20 runners from the optimalFitness team out there which was great – such fabulous support from other runners and our coach. It really makes a difference knowing that you’ve got all that support πŸ™‚ I will certainly be back for the Creek half next year!

Must.Push.To.The.End!

Smiles all around!

My GPS measured slightly differently so it shows a slightly faster time…

RAK 2017 in the bag

Another RAK half marathon isΒ done and dusted… but this time I was not able to get a PB on the run. I’m a little upset at myself for not getting it, but I know that I have not put in the proper training and amount of mileage needed in order to get that PB, so considering that I at least managed to finish faster than my half in November, I’m satisfied with the outcome.

As always, I spent Thursday night in RAK (this time with Nat) and got a good night’s sleep in a comfy hotel bed before the big day!

We were up bright and early, eating our oats for breakfast and then met up with friends who were running in their first half marathon! Exciting!!!

Our hotel was only 1.1 km’s from the start / finish line so we walked across, and headed straight for our start chute, and waited for the gun to go off and set us all on our way.

My plan was to aim for 5:30 – 5:40 km pace, for as much as possible, knowing that at that pace I was certain to get a sub-2 hour finish time. And my first 10 km’s were bang on!

But once I was just past 10 km’s I felt uneasy in my breathing and had to take a short walk break. I picked it up again after only a few meters, but by the time I got to 12 km’s, based on how I’d slowed down in that time, I knew I was not likely to get under 2 hours…. but if I could just stick to under 6 minutes per km, I was sure that I would still be in line for a PB.

I kept at it, but once again somewhere after 13 km’s I had to stop and walk again. I grew frustrated at myself here but knew that I had a very long way to go, and I was not going to let this race get the better of me. All I had to do was make sure I slowed down and kept to a steady pace… slow and steady.

With the new layout of the course, the 15 km mark is on the opposite side of the road to the start / finish line, so as I was coming up to that mark there were tons of spectators around, giving off such a fantastic vibe (even though it was mostly for the runners on the other side of the road who were crossing the finish line), but I then heard my name and turned to see a friend standing there, cheering for me πŸ™‚ What a way to give a girl her second wind! I immediately felt strength surge through my legs and lungs and off I went.

I got to about 17 km’s and felt the wheels loosen a bit again… another small walk break was needed. And then I was off again, turning the corner, only 3 km’s to go. You’ve got this!

Er, no you don’t. Only a few hundred meters along and yet another walk break was needed 😦

This was just before 19 km’s and I then told myself that it’s just 2 km’s to go – you can run the rest of the way! Go girl!

But once again a tiny walk break was needed while I still could not see the finish line, but then, not far ahead of me I could see the 20 km mark – I was not going to be walking when I reached that, and there was no way that I would walk within this last km!

I shoved out all bad thoughts and put one foot in front of the other, gave the 20 km mark a high five as I ran past – once again hearing my friend cheer me on from the side line πŸ™‚ – and pushed my way over that finish line, managing a strong (almost) sprint for the last hundred meters or so, and finished in a time of 2:05:15 πŸ™‚

About to cross the finish line

About to cross the finish line

Done and dusted!

Done and dusted!