Lessons Learned from my First Official Half Marathon

1- Don’t exceed your usual pace specially at the start of the race.

2- When you adjust to your comfortable running pace keep going and you may increase your pace as times go by and as you approach the final kilometers.

3- Don’t look behind you, keep focusing, you are racing against yourself only.

4- Don’t judge people by their look and try to relate it with their pace.

5- Drink a sip of water every couple of kilometers.

6- Take small banana piece or a couple of dates every around 5 kilos and don’t over do it.

7- Wear very comfortable cloths that you tried in your previous training.

8- Try to sleep early on the race night

9- If you find a running partner, you will run faster.

10- Listen to your body if you feel tired slow down.

11- Don’t hang much in your maximal heart rate zone and slow down as early as possible, unless you are at the end of the race.

12- Imagine your finish line for encouragement.

Here is The Complete Story – Part 3 – The Event

 

Thursday night, we went to get our race numbers, t-shirts and bags. Friendly atmosphere and a smooth experience. There was live music at Abu el Tig El Gouna Piazza and a free Koshary dishes served by the organizers themselves.

They explained the route, rules and instructions for tomorrow’s big event.

The race started the next day exactly as planed 7:15 am. They prepared the cameras the Hasaballah band and it was a perfect start.

Every 3k there was a water stop, every 4k refreshment stop where you can grab a banana or dates, medical stops and toilets were available through the route.

Live entertainment was there every few kilometers, a guy playing rock music on a hill with his guitar loud and clear, clowns round the corners, a couple of drums every now and then.

Photographers and video directors were there too, and to top it, young children wearing race t-shirts cheering as you approach the finish line.

To be honest I was expecting a nicer scenery route, specially that the race is held in El Gouna, I expected running by the water and through the golf courses, but in fact most of the route was through the desert.

But I expect that it wasn’t possible because of security concerns for passing through the different hotel properties.

Finish line was very well prepared as you expect from any international race.

The after race party was superb, live music by HOH, Hany Adel and Hany el Daqaq.

Bottom line, excellent job by the CairoRunners team, thank you.

 

 

My First Official Half Marathon – Here is The Complete Story – Part 2 – Emotional Breakdown

When you love someone or something, sometimes you don’t have explanations for your behaviors towards your love, but here are some enlightenments of what happened before, during and after the race.

Just before the race started, I had a one very short moment of tears in my eyes, maybe it’s the happiness for finally standing to start what you have been preparing for the last couple of months, maybe I had a short glimpse of the finish line, I don’t know.

While running I had a sense of euphoria that poured tears in my eyes and made my breath shallow and difficult to take but I didn’t mind at all, it’s like meeting the love you waited for so long.

I had another attack when I fought pain at the end, people were trying to boost me up and I was trying to hide my pains and trying to love my journey.

My complete breakdown came at the end, while I am approaching the finish line, you should have seen my face, trying like a kid to hide his cry for losing his love while passing by his friends.

I took a moment by myself and tried to understand what happened and trying to pour what started, but it wasn’t crying, it was some sort of euphoria that breaks into tears and continued as I hugged my wife.

I felt on that day as a man who got his PHD, as man who survived a crashing plane, a real life changing experience.

The next night I signed up for my next race, but I couldn’t sleep afterwards, had a couple of hours of emotional distress, but now I am OK.

I told you, it’s like love, so get ready for some emotional bumps during your journey.

My First Official Half Marathon – Here is The Complete Story – Part 1 – My Race

Until 7 am – 16th of December 2016, my longest run in more than 20 years was my participation in the Pyramiden Lauf 7k race (March 2016).

On that day I decided to participate with Cairo Runners weekly gathering to run for a new challenge for me 8.5K.

On that day a magic moment happened, it’s like breaking a wall or shattering a mental block, I ran very comfortably the whole stretch and making a negative split in each lap.

I went back home thinking, why shouldn’t I sign for the upcoming El Gouna half Marathon ? And I did.

In less than 2 months as you read in my blog I was ready to run my first official Half Marathon. Yes I was running for months and trying to be a regular runner for around 2 years, but I never thought I would cross the 10k so rapidly.

Race night, I woke up 3 hours before the start time and ate 2 bananas and slept again, I was super excited and couldn’t sleep well. It was the big day I have been dreaming about.

6:45 am I was standing in the Abu el Tig El Gouna Piazza, warming up and waiting for the instructions to line up for the start line.

Boom, and the race started, wasn’t feeling in my best shape and I still felt some muscle tightness from my previous exercises.

I tried to keep my pace slow at the start, but I couldn’t as I saw every one passing by, and it ended I ran around 30 to 45 seconds per kilometer faster than my usual pace. I knew it, I read it, but couldn’t apply, never run faster than your pace at the start.

As time passed by, I felt more or less comfortable in my pace, at the 16k, when there was only 5 left, I said to myself it’s time to push more and gain a more faster pace. For an extra 1 k, it felt good passing through runner having this extra energy, then came the expected.

Wind started to blow and a couple of uphill stretches and an extra nagging pain started to hit my usual weak point, the right foot and the pace dropped south.

I tried to apply what I read somewhere before, try to accept the pain as it is part of the journey, and if you succeed to love it, nothing will stop you then. I shouted from pain, I searched for cheering claps and uproar noises to soothe it.

2 kilometers to go, some nice gentlemen from the cheering crowds jogged beside me for encouragement, so I picked some pace.

Last kilometer was running through the marina alone, and it felt like the party was over, no crowds, just a couple of kids and the organizing committee showing you the way to the final stretch for the finish line.

Suddenly you find yourself crossing the finish line and getting the medal for finishing.

It felt Amazing. Thank You CairoRunners

 

 

 

A Full Circle of Guilt & Pleasure

Thank god, I feel much better than expected after finishing the 21k, I followed the same routine of recovery: Immediate stretching, good hydration, cold water immersion, adequate healthy food, compression stock, adequate sleeping.

I did not get the back pain this time, but I did get some quadriceps pain specially at the insertion, but it’s bearable. I can’t run, but can walk comfortably.

When I woke up in the morning and thought about running, I said to myself: “Not Again”, it’s like the body feels the pain and saying “Why did you do this to me ?”, it felt like the guilt in the morning that follows sometime a forbidden pleasure.

Although the guilt is only a message from the body to the brain, but at the same time it still feels the pleasure, and you know it’s only hours and you will feel the need to get the dose before the pleasure fades.

I guess I will need to get used to these “Guilt & Pleasure” cycles.

My First 21k Half Marathon

At night I had the same feelings that I had when I did my first 10k one month before, restless and woke up at 4am drank water and slept again and woke up at 6am.

It is quiet amazing how a passion or strong will makes you change your lifestyle without having a second thought.

When I called the elevator to go downstairs, I wished it did not come so fast, because I knew what’s waiting for me, a couple of hours of work.

I started a good start, was well prepared mentally and took 8 dates in small pack inside my pocket as advised by Salah. He also told me to make pit stops for water at any drinking fountains found in front of many buildings, so not to carry any water bottles.

At the 3k I was already warmed up and needed to take of one of the extra layers I was wearing and tied it around my waste.

I met Salah at 4 mark he ran with me for a couple of minutes and said he will meet me again on the way back.

At the 5k mark I stopped for 5 seconds to take a sip of water and continued, I made another 2 stops at the 13 and 18k. I tried to distribute the dates evenly every 5k.

Again I met Salah at the 16k and for the next 3k I made an extra effort and raised my pace which was very useful. It improved my total time and gave me more trust in my body and not to be afraid later on to raise the heart rate a little bit, as I noticed after a few minutes of the “high heart rate” alarm, it drops again in more comfortable zone.

We did saparate at the 19k mark and I continued the next 2 alone, arrived home at the 20k and needed to do extra 0.5 back and forth to complete the 21k. Need to mention that it was Salah who told me to try the 21k before El Gouna to be more comfortable on the race day, thank you Salah.

Well, here it is “I finished my first 21k, I am a half marathon finisher”, yes it needs dedication,work and perseverance, but it all lies in the head. Anything is possible, I feel “unstoppable today” like Sia says and unbeatable. Thank God “الحمد لله”.