Week 6 – RAK staycation

A while ago I booked a hotel for the RAK half marathon, as one does otherwise they fill up super fast. I decided to book it for the whole weekend so that J and I could enjoy a whole weekend there and make a bit of a staycation out of it after the race.

Then my plans were shattered when I was told NO RUNNING ๐Ÿ˜ฆ , but I was not going to let that stop me enjoying a weekend away from Dubai… so we still headed out to RAK for the weekend! Off to Double Tree Hilton Ras al Khaimah we went!

As miserable as I was that I wasn’t there to be racing the next morning, it was actually really enjoyable knowing that I could enjoy a beer (or two) with dinner, and not particularly worry about what time I went to bed… which meant that we sat around enjoying a lazy evening ๐Ÿ™‚

Nighttime view from the rooftop bar

Friday morning was up a tad early so that we could head out to the race and watch. It was a great morning out (albeit I was a bit emotional and miserable that I wasn’t running). There was some amazing running on the morning, and it was great being able to support friends and team mates!

RAK half marathon finish line

After that we headed back to the hotel. We thought about finding something to do for the afternoon – maybe being tourists or something – but in the end we both thought that a nice relaxed day would be much more fun. And so we just chilled around the pool and did very little else!

Full rooftop view

But in order to make it so that we weren’t total hermits, we did actually leave the hotel that evening and went and had dinner at the Double Tree Hilton Marjan Island ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all a great little break and weekend out of Dubai – both Double Tree hotels were great and I would definitely recommend both of them, depending on your budget and needs.

And just a little something extra for this week: I watched my first-ever superbowl on Sunday night (er, make that Monday morning, 4am!)

The Superbowl!

What fun it was meeting up with friends at a pub in Dubai at 4am, cheekily enjoying a beer, and then some McDonald’s for breakfast! And at least the team I was told to support won, so it made for a really fun morning out ๐Ÿ™‚

RAK 2017 in the bag

Another RAK half marathon isย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ – 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

About to cross the finish line

About to cross the finish line

Done and dusted!

Done and dusted!

RAK Half Marathon 2016 – 10 year anniversary

The RAK Half Marathon turned 10 this year and they threw out all the stops for it! It was really fantastic to be part of the run this year, especially after missing last year due to being ill ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The same as the other years I’ve run this race, I took a friend along with me (Al), we headed up to RAK on Thursday evening and spent the night there so that I could load up on a decent meal, get a good night’s rest and wake up at a fairly reasonable hour the morning of the race.

I mentioned a few weeks back that this year’s training was very different to years in the past – I did not start with any proper half marathon training in December like I often do because I was on holiday back home, so instead I just hit it hard when I got back to Dubai mid-January. The week before the week of the race saw me do an incredible 47 km’s during the week including the Wadi Bih run that I took part in – probably not the wisest idea ever, but it wasn’t planned out like that and I actually felt absolutely amazing.

The week of the race I went for a sports massage and my therapist told me that I really need to take it easy this week, even though I was very tempted to do just a 5 km run or so. He suggested that I rather do some light cycling (which I did at the gym) and foam rolling, and RELAXING. I listened to him, even though Iย reallyย wanted to still be doing my regular gym sessions.

Anyway, the morning of the race rolls around, I had a good night’s sleep the night before and am feeling ready for this… although just a touch nervous.

I didn’t put any major expectations on myself for the day – I was just aiming for a time better than my last half of 2:17 (my personal best being 2:14).

The gun goes off and we head out over the start line and next thing I know the 1 km mark is upon us, I blink and all of a sudden I’m at the 2 km mark already! The km’s just kept flying up to me, even though I was trying to drop my pace to closer to 6 minutes per km… currently they were around 5:40. Eventually when I got to 10 km’s – 56:33 – I decided then to just go for it. I wasn’t going to try slow down or even speed up. I was comfortable at this pace and I was feeling fantastic, so I would just keep going and see what happens.

One foot in front of the other, sip of water, munch on a gu chew, more water, one foot in front of the other… the km’s kept rolling on by, and next thing I knew I was looking at the 19 km banner – only 2 to go! I had a tiny struggle between 19 and 20 km’s – my second slowest km dropping down to 5:54 – but then it was just around the corner and the home straight was in front of me! I gunned it, getting that last bit of adrenaline pumping through me, hearing the crowds, seeing the banners that they had up for the last 200 m, 100 m, and BOOM!

I crossed the finish line in a (gun) time of 2:03:45, and my nett time was an astonishing 2:02:05!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another personal best, and knocking an amazing 12 minutes off my previous personal best!

And the best thing about it was that I did not feel completely drained afterwards – I bumped intoย my massage therapist and he laughed at how much energy I still had… but that was the excitement of smashing my time ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

We then hung around for the Big 10 draw (10 random bib numbers each won a prize worth AED10,000 – most of them cash!), then headed back to the hotel room for a very well-deserved shower, and smashing some food into my face.

Thanks to RAK Half Marathon for, once again, an amazing race – excellently organised, well supported by volunteers at the water stations, race village and just all over the place, and a great new route!

And just to make the post a little more exciting… here are a few photos of the day:

Just before the race

Just before the race