Some History – My First Half Marathon

Way back in August 2010 – I signed up for the 2011 RAK half marathon – following on from a discussion I had with some female friends over coffee one morning.  The plan was that we were all going to run the 1/2 marathon together as a group and would use this as a way of encouraging each other to get fit – fantastic !  So – being the lady of my word that I am (aka sucker!) – I rushed home – logged on and entered.  Then over the next few months all of my potential ‘co-runners’ found reasons not to enter – aka EXCUSES !  So last Feb – I ran/walked my first ever half marathon – on my own.  I wasn’t blogging then so didn’t write a race recap – but in summary – the first 10k was ok, the next 10k sucked and the final 1.09k I ran as fast as possible to the end.  My timing was 2 hours 55 minutes and 16 seconds and I’m fairly sure I  was one of the last people to finish the race.  When I ran (I use that term loosely as technically I jogged/walked!) the race I was still overweight & not terribly fit – but I did finish!  After this I fairly much hung up my exercise and running shoes, had four major surgeries over the spring & summer of last year and then started gentle exercise again in Sept 2011.

Race ‘Training’

When I started exercising in Sept, it was in the full knowledge that I had signed up for a 10k race in Jan and the 1/2 marathon in Feb 2012.  In the true spirit of confession – I’ll own up – I drew up a lovely training plan – it looked great !!  It took me from literally from the Couch to 5k (C25k) then then on to 5k- 10k and from 10k to 1/2 marathon distances.  I even bought the iPhone apps to support this training and new headphones for my iPhone (I digress somewhat but you do know that I love gadgets right?)

From my calculations, if I fully committed to the beautifully drawn up plan, there was just enough time, technically, to train to run the 1/2 marathon.  BUT I didn’t follow the plan – I followed the C25k part which finished just as I went on holiday to Indonesia and then when I came back – I kind of lost my ‘running mojo’ and sort of freestyled my way through my own haphazard running training programme.  Alongside that I did focus quite heavily on cardio training and my pilates instead of running.

Race Recap

So back to the weekend – I arrived in RAK on Thursday afternoon, having not ran outdoors since the 10k run in Jan – with the exception of my 1k timed run for the 12WBT which if you’ve read my previous blog post – you’ll know what I nearly threw up afterwards !!

I did my usual pre-race night ritual – laid out all my kit and ‘carb loaded’ @BettybooDubai style (my twitter name) on Strawberries & wine!  After a ‘leisurely’ 5.30 am wake-up call I got up and started fueling for the race with my apple and oat muffin, some energy shots and plenty of fluid.  The hotel laid on a free shuttle to the race start line so I arrived nice and early.  Overnight the weather had changed, it had warmed up it was windy and a sandstorm was brewing – nice !

I found my preferred starting position which is fairly near the end of the pack and started off a bit fast – but that’s usual as you get carried away with the other runners and the race excitement.  I’d run less than 1/2 a k before my hat was blown off and I had to run back to get it – great start huh !!

I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole race as my typical running heart-rate is still quite high (175bpm which is fairly much at my max for my age), so my ‘race plan’ was as follows – walk through each water station, walk if there was a strong headwind, maintain an average pace of 7.5 and run through every km marker – and, mostly importantly save some energy for the last 1k which I planned to run as fast as possible.

Using my new Garmin watch (see I am a gadget sucker) I was mostly able to do this, although I did accidentally switch it off once ! (I soooo should have read the manual !!)  The first 10k went quite quickly and was mainly uneventful – though I did start to get double vision as I approached the 10k mark so I sucked down a sachet of Gu ahead of schedule (I’m finally growing to like Gu’s – last year I couldn’t swallow the stuff and it just ended up staying in my mouth for ages despite my best efforts to swallow it!).

The second 10k where you go out onto a more industrial estate part of the race – still seemed to suck – not quite as much as last year – but with the wind blowing from the side  – it wasn’t particularly pleasant (however I have to say I have lovely smooth skin today so guess the free ‘microdermabrasion’ effect was good).  It was also interesting to see the police guys waving friends across the closed road on occasions so you had to time your run so as not to collide with the odd car hazard !  The labourers were still there clicking photos of all the women who went past – so no doubt a few families somewhere in the world are looking at pictures of women running and thinking they’ve just seen their son’s Dubai girlfriend !

Fueling with water and energy drinks on the RAK race is great – there are water stations every 2.5k so there is plenty of opportunity to drink – in addition I have to use my Camelbak as I’m unable to drink large quantities of water due to my surgery.  The helpers are also great and friendly and give you that little boost when you need it.

All too soon  (well almost 2 1/2 hours after I started !!) the final 1k marker was in sight hurrah ! and I started increasing my pace and running to the finish line – I’m pleased to say I found my last reserves of energy and sprinted across the line (sorry Russian guy who finished behind me – I had to beat you across the line!).

Pretty cool – I even managed to have my finishing track on my iPhone as I crossed – Chris Brown – Yeah 3x     Also, apologies to the guy who I think said something really encouraging to me as I approached the final half a kilometre – I was so stoked to be at the end and had my music on so loud I didn’t really hear – but your smile helped me across the line !

My official net finishing time was 2 hours 35 and 52 seconds which was an amazing 20 minutes quicker than my time last year  – and a Personal Best !!

Sure I know it wasn’t super quick and I didn’t run it all, heck – I didn’t even train properly and I really struggle to get my race nutrition and race hydration right! (yes the strawberries and wine were intentional ! – I struggle with a tiny stomach capacity).  I’m not really a runner, I’m a formerly fat lady who lost a load of weight, started to exercise and who is enjoying every day as a slimmer and fitter lady who can move her body and finish what she starts 🙂 and who is planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro later this year and do a tandem parachute jump !! #NoExcuses #NoPainNoGain #GoGirl !

Next Year ?

As for next year – of course I’m going to do it again 🙂 – but this time I really will train properly – it would be great to improve my personal best by running the whole race, it would also be great to train and run it with someone – so if you fancy a challenge – let me know 🙂

I’ve still not found my ‘love of running’ or the ‘runners zone’ that people talk about (does it really exist? or are you all saying this to keep me going?) so still don’t ‘feel the love for running’ as such – but I do enjoy a challenge and improving on my personal best – plus it’s great to get a new T-Shirt and medal to add to my little collection !!

Also I kind of semi drunkenly agreed to run the Edinburgh half-marathon in May this year – so let’s see where that takes me !!

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